They went to Peterson


Peterson class of 1947

A week ago I reviewed Hollywood Park, a novel that takes place in a Chicago neighborhood during the Depression. The author, Martin Marcus, and I grew up in that neighborhood during different times, so I asked Marty to share some of his memories. He gave me this recent photograph of his friends from Peterson Elementary School class of 1947.

Pictured from left to right, top row: Larry Gordon, Burton “Buddy” Mora, Jerry Gordon (Larry and Jerry are identical twins). Second row, l to r: Herb Fisher, Marty Marcus. Bottom row: Howie Korngold and Noel Perlman.

They were members of Peterson’s first SAC–social athletic club. Theirs was called the Vulcans and it started in 1946 when the boys were seventh graders. All but four original members of the Vulcans are in the photo above. At the time Peterson did have one SAC, the Sovereigns, but it was a junior branch of a Von Steuben High School club. Vulcans were a Peterson club, though they weren’t around when I was in school (Class of 1970). The last surviving SAC at Peterson was the Epsilons, which ended in 1971.

What did they do for fun in Marty’s day? The same Hollywood Park  games boys played in my day–lineball, football, basketball.

Except that in Marty’s day, goats were chomping away at Kedzie Field where the boys played football. The field was bound by Kedzie, Bryn Mawr and the canal. There was was a farmhouse on the property and goats roamed where years later Lerner’s and Zaretsky’s stood and now Northside Prep High School stands.

Marty also remembered jumping the fence surrounding the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Bryn Mawr and Central Park to play football.  I’ve been told boys continued to jump the fence to play football in that corner of the TB Sanitarium grounds into the 1950s, but I don’t think boys played football there when I was growing up. Actually, I’m not sure boys in my years played football at all.

Marty recalls playing basketball using a hoop nailed to a tree at the corner of St. Louis and Bernard. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this custom of  attaching hoops to trees throughout Hollywood Park. One of the older boys who played on Marty’s corner, Howard “Howie” Rosenblum, made All-City teams twice while he was at Von Steuben and went on to became the second highest scorer in Carleton College history.

I asked Marty if he remembered his Peterson teachers. He sure did: Enright, Johnson, Matthews, Wise, Nybo, Schank, Levin, Joseph, Kapinski and Derson. In that order, including the gym teacher, and Mr. Marsh was principal. No doubt I’ve spelled the names incorrectly. I thought for sure I would know a few of Marty’s teachers from my years at Peterson, but only one sounded vaguely familiar.

When Marty told me he was in the first Hebrew class at Congregation Shaare Tikvah, I thought here is one more neighborhood landmark that spans both his youth and mine. But then he mentioned his Bar Mitzvah took place in a storefront on Bryn Mawr. The enormous synagogue with the soaring stained glass window hadn’t been gone up yet at 5800 North Kimball.

About 25 years after Marty’s Bar Mitzvah, a friend of mine was in the last Confirmation held at Shaare Tikvah. She was a couple years shy of the traditional age of 16 for Confirmation, but there weren’t enough kids her age left for a class.

The neighborhood did change dramatically from Marty’s day to mine. But, aside from the goats, Marty and I grew up in the same era of Hollywood Park history, just at opposite ends.







27 Responses to They went to Peterson

  1. Danny March 23, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Wow, so interesting to hear about these guys and think about them at Peterson 20 years before us. I wonder if there are any photos of the classes from the 1940s. Do you think the school has an archive? Funny–the second I read about the basketball hoops nailed to trees I had memories of seeing those back in the day. I had no idea Shaare Tikvah once occupied a store front on Bryn Mawr. And what an incredible memory Marty has about his Peterson teachers. Mine were Reid, Stark, Kipnis, Shapiro, Geib, Rosenstein, Stone, Pink, Krane, O’Connor.

  2. bonnie liss hanna March 23, 2011 at 11:19 am #

    I just want to say how much I love reading your blog – it makes my heart smile – thanks so much xoxox

  3. Frances Archer March 23, 2011 at 4:45 pm #

    Your comment makes me feel the same way. Thanks for visiting.

  4. Frances Archer March 23, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    There ARE archives, but not so easy to get access. Working on it. And here were my teachers: starting with 1st grade. Mininch, Atkinson, Walczek, Gillick, Baretsky, Crane and Vidor. Can’t recall sixth grade

  5. Bob Criz March 24, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    How about (Teachers) Reid,Maturi,Shaw,Luby,Genitis,Blonsky, O’Connor,Kaz(Kazmerick).
    Also small correction…there is no corner of St. Louis and Bernard, they run the same way.
    Believe it was corner of Bernard and Hollywood for the basketball hoop.

    Love these old stories…Great stuff!!

  6. Frances Archer March 24, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    You’re right about the corner of course. My typo not Marty’s memory. I forgot to mention: I had Genitis for French and Kaz for gym. Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Ferne Berman March 25, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    K: Reid Maturi, I also had in no order Luby, Genitis, Shapiro,(times tables), Kaz, Crane, Vidor and Minich, I think

    Keep the memories coming I love it.


  8. Howard Korengold March 27, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    I enjoyed reading your bit which Marty forwarded to me I went to Peterson from K through 2d grade and part of 8th grade. During the war my father was in the navy and we moved around. I donated all of my Peterson memoribilia to the Chicago History Museum which they, to my supprise, accepted. We lived on Bryn Mawr surrounded by praries. Across the street was a farm ran by the
    Chicago Parental School , The neighborhood has changed. Howard K.

  9. Frances Archer March 27, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    Howard, thanks for visiting. And also for letting me know about your donation to CHM. I will check it out.

  10. Noel B Perlman March 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    Frances, thanks for running this with all the information that we can contribute as the group from ’47. Here is some more: As I mentioned in a previous blog entry, our principal competitive sport as an SAC was 16″ softball (unique at the time to Chicago and Cleveland) against the Sovereigns and other clubs from Albany Park; Howie Rosenblum was a Sovereign and also in the class of ’47. More teachers: Mizock, Charleton, Hartrum, Cabinis, Person (this could have been “Derson” from above); “Schank” I believe was Schenk. The backboards nailed to trees were ubiquitous in the neighborhood; there were plenty of empty lots and if the curb was not too high the adjoining streets became courts. These were also good stretches on which to play line ball as they likely had few parked cars.

    BTW, our Principal, Charles Marsh, was the father of the noted music critic at the Sun-Times, the late Robert C. Marsh.

  11. Frances Archer March 27, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    Noel, thanks for all your additions and clarifications. Cabinis was one of the other names I mangled. And nice to know of the Marsh connection.

  12. Howard Korengold March 27, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Frances, One more bit of arcane history. Central Park, between Bryn Mawr and Peterson, was the last street in Chicago to have gas lights, When we moved back in 1947 the lamplighter came every night and lit the streetlights.. This only lasted for a few more months and we Central Parkers joined the 20th century. I’m enjoying. Howard K.

  13. Frances Archer March 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Howard, thanks again for sharing that bit. I lived on that stretch and never knew about the gaslights. Good trivia to impress my friends.

  14. John Erickson March 28, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Prior to ’41 Miss Schroll was principal and Mr. Marsh her assistant. Some teachers were Camp, Sullivan, Gold, Lapham, Miller, Cabinis, Person, Schenk, Tagney,

  15. Bonnie McGrath March 28, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    what a lovely and lively and interesting posting, frances!!!

  16. Frances Archer March 28, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Thanks, Bonnie.

  17. John Erickson March 30, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    In reminiscing about Peterson School I wonder whether the idea of “skipping” still exists in Chicago. During the Depression Peterson was overcrowded, apparently, and the norm was 45 to 48 per classroom. Our 2 rooms starting 6th grade were realigned and half of us completed 6th grade in one semester – apparently to move us to Von Steuben faster.

  18. Frances Archer March 31, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    John, skipping was still done in my day though not as often as earlier and not whole groups. That may have been a change in school policy about skipping grades or a change in the student body. In fourth grade I was in a 4th and 5th split class, but none of the fourth graders skipped fifth. I know that Danny Miller, who has commented on this post, skipped and he was originally three grades younger than me, so the practice did continue. My friends from the Von class of ’65 told me that in their day kids skipped a grade when they were in the lower grade of a split classroom; i. e., all the 4th graders in a 4/5 classroom would have gone on to 6th. Peterson was very crowded at that time as well and those kids attended 7th and 8th grade at Von because of the lack of space at Peterson. I think the upper grades returned to Peterson in ’62. But peterson class sizes remained large throughout the ’60s and into the ’70s. I don’t know if I mentioned to you that last spring Peterson added a wing, including its first ever cafeteria, and this was due to overcrowding. I guess it’s a dense neighborhood for the school’s boundaries.

  19. Johnny Lightning April 9, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    I went to Peterson K-8 ’69-’78. The teachers I had were, Mulvehill, Stark, Bikshorn, Rich, Seidman, Rosenstein, Begley,and Rich. Mr. Kaz taught gym,Miss Levitt was the Librarian and Dr.Stanek was Principal and Mr.Hastings was vice principal. Mr.Crane would come in once a week for Music and a woman from the Art Institute would come in on occasion with filmstrips of paintings etc. My fourth grade was also a split class with fifth,but I don’t recall anyone skipping. Great memories, Great blog. John L.

  20. Paul Malevitz April 24, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    I was born on the west side in 1949. In March of 1958, when I was in 3A, our family moved to Hollywood Park and I went to Peterson School until finishing 6A in June of 1961, after which we all went to Von Steuben Upper Grade Center and ultimately Von Steuben High School. At Peterson School, our principal was Miss Eileen Cunningham, and my teachers were as follows: 3A: Miss Mona Meyer, room 107, 4B: Mrs. Winnifred Blonsky, room 105, 4A: Mrs. Dorothy Shapiro, room 207, 5B: Miss Fay Gillick, room 211, 5A: Mrs. Ann Seidman, room 203, 6B and 6A: Mrs. Anna B. Vidor (funny, I can’t remember Mrs. Vidor’s room number, but the classroom was on the second floor, and the windows looked out onto Catalpa Avenue). The P.E. teacher was Mr. “Kaz” (Kaczmarek), and in 6A, for science lessons, we all went to Mr. Wahle’s room. Thank you, Ms. Archer, for keeping these memories alive.

  21. Frances Archer April 25, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    Hi, Paul. Our recollections of teachers overlaps. Mrs. Cunningham was principal the year I started at Peterson. Mrs. Shapiro, fourth grade teacher of the famed multiplication tables was also there and Mrs. Gillick was my favorite grade school teacher. Wasn’t 210 Mrs. Vidor’s room? I had her too. Not a great year, I must admit. She was known for measuring girls’ skirts to be sure we didn’t wear them more than 6 inches above the knee. Hindsight, Mr. Kaz was ahead of his time in giving us a solid physical fitness program. Thanks for visiting.

  22. Michael Povlo May 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    When I think of Peterson School.. I remember playing softball for the school’s 6th grade team.. our home games were played in the school yard and away games at other grade school teams in the area.. we did well.. I also remember “pinners” with a small pink hollow rubber ball.. played up against the school walls and its ledges.. it improved my “batting eye” and led me to Thillens Boys Major League Baseball.. again fond memories..

  23. Frances Archer May 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Pinners were still played in the’60s and ’70s, but the kids at Peterson today have never heard of the game. I wonder when it died out.

  24. Phil Mellinger October 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Thanks, Frances. Larry and Jerry Gordon (in the photo) and Susie were my next door neighbors. The probable residents in the two farmhouses along Kedzie were the Ehrensafts and the Wirths. At some point, Donald Ehrensaft and Rose Wirth were in my classes. Double promotion didn’t require split classrooms. Anyone could do it. But when was Charles Marsh replaced by Andrew Moore? Is John Erickson related to Jimmy and Paul Erickson? Are you, or is your husband, related to Kenny Archer? Anyone remember what Mrs. Blonsky was famous for? Some of us used to look skyward and thank the powers above for not putting us into her classroom. Unlike the others, above, my gym teacher was Miss McCarthy. I’m doing a book, too.

  25. Frances Archer October 1, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    Hi, Phil. Thanks for visiting and providing so many details. I didn’t realize there were two farmhouses. I thought they were on the West Side of the channel when I wrote the story, but now I’m thinking it was the east side. That would make a difference at the time when there wasn’t a bridge over Bryn Mawr. I think it’s just amazing to imagine children who lived in farmhouses attending Peterson.

    We’re not related to any Archers in Chicago. My husband’s family was from Minnesota. I’ll send you an email, would love to hear about your book.

  26. Mark Savin November 30, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    Dear Frances Archer,
    I happened across your site while looking for an arcane bit of local history, and I am really delighted by it.
    I attended Peterson from K through 6, starting in 1950. Then went to 7th at Von; we moved early in 8th. Teachers–from memory– were Roe (1); Nybow (2); Curran, Gottschalk (3); Shapiro (4); Gillick (5); Schenk, Maslon (6); Harnden (7). Gym teachers were Kazcmarek and, at Von, “Miss McCarthy” a truly remarkable PE teacher.

    We lived on Drake Avenue in Hollywood Park, next door neighbors to the Edelheits on the north and to Rabbi Gutstein of Shaare Tikvah on the south. The Edelheits hoop on the back of their garage was one of the better ones in the neighborhood. My Savin cousins lived across the street at 5819; my Schulman cousins lived a couple of blocks over on Bernard. I had a lot of relatives nearby and a lot of friends. Pretty good place to grow up.

    This is a wonderful bit of very pleasant history for me. Thanks for putting it together. I have lived for many years now in St Paul, Minnesota which reminds me just a little of Chicago.

  27. Frances Archer December 1, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    Mark, thanks for stopping by. We had the many of the same teachers in the mid-60s. I had Miss Gillick for fourth grade and she was one of my favorite teachers at Peterson. And of course Mr. Kaz was a remarkable PE teacher, so ahead of his time. The daughter of my former next door neighbor married into the Gutstein family, and I’ve wanted to write a story about their history in the neighborhood — maybe next year.

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