Signs of old times

Three old Hollywood Park businesses, each with deep connections to the neighborhood.


Plotkin’s Pharmacy was located at 3334 W. Bryn Mawr, and owners Irv and Bea Plotkin lived in an apartment behind the store. Their nieces, Arlene Silverman Andreson and Rhonda Silverman, attended Peterson Elementary School during the years I did.

Harry Block, who sent me a comment to an earlier post on this blog, attended Peterson some years before me. His first job was delivering prescriptions for Irv Plotkin,  ten cents a delivery plus tips.


Irv’s Barber Shop was at 5607 N. Kimball, in the space formerly occupied by the ever-popular Mitch’s toy store, which existed before my time but thanks to Dick Whitman for telling me about it.

Irv Olsen was the owner and another barber, Bob, also worked there.  A classmate of mine, Lenny Lowe, told me Irv photographed his young customers and posted their pictures on the wall, with cutouts of body builders pasted under their faces. I’ve also been told that when business was slow, Irv was known to visit with Frank, the owner of the hot dog stand next door.

The small poster propped up against the  lower right side of the window with the word DAY is an announcement from Arie Crown, a Hebrew day school that was at the time located five blocks south of the barber shop on Kimball. I think Les-On Drugs is reflected in the barber shop window.


Bryn Mawr Fair Hardware, 3309 Bryn Mawr, was a personal favorite. My mother went to Maury’s for small things like extension cords and rubber doorstops or getting lamps rewired and screens repaired, but it was loads of fun for me. My grandfather owned a similar hardware store in Beaverdale, Pennsylvania, where my mother grew up. Same dusty displays, bins of tiny parts, nails and screws sold by weight. We felt right at home, and Maury always made us laugh.

His full name was Maurice H. Munson, and he owned the store for 32 years, until 1982. He lived in the neighborhood, just blocks away near Bryn Mawr and Kimball. Maury Munson’s son, Arnold Munson, attended Peterson.

In the background of the photo you can see the Bon Shar dress shop sign. The store, owned by the Sadowsky family, was named for daughters Bonnie and Sharie, who also attended Peterson.

That’s how it was.

Credits: Thanks to Marty Marcus, author of the novel about Hollywood Park,  for sharing these photos he took on a return visit to the neighborhood in the 1970s.

Related: This page lists most of the Bryn Mawr Avenue businesses, their addresses, and their owners.

32 Responses to Signs of old times

  1. Jerry Pritikin May 3, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    While we are remembering, note the old Chicago street sign N Christiana Street in the B & W photo of Plotkin’s Drug Store… I miss those Yellow street signs. I own 4 of them- N.Clark St.,W Addison St.,W Waveland St. and N Sheffield. I thought one day that I would have a 4 bedpost bedframe and would attached them… so maybe I would dream about baseball!

  2. Merle Citrin Monroe May 3, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Two memories of Maury’s Hardware….
    – Wandering around the store with a list of parts for making an electric lamp (for Home Mechanics class). The amazing thing is that the lamp turned out great (remember the plaster of Paris base molded in a quart milk carton?) and we used it for years!
    -My mother collected china teacups. Maury either had a small selection in stock or special ordered them for her. I still have the collection, displayed in my living room.

  3. Ferne Slotky Berman May 3, 2011 at 9:58 am #

    as usual great memories flood back. Don’t know if you included Bobs Pretty Girl Beauty Shop it was on the same side of the street as Hamiltons between Hamiltons and Davis Imperial Cleaners. When the beauty shop left Devon the owners moved to Florida and my mother continued to go there [late 60s or early 70s]

  4. Frances Archer May 3, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Merle, that’s funny you mention the home mechanics class.The other day I was wondering if I remembered that room from Peterson or from Von. I don’t think I ever took the class, but I remember seeing the projects.
    About Maury, he was a warm, wonderful guy, and I knew that at age 8.

  5. Frances Archer May 3, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    Hi, Ferne, I’m glad to hear from you. We have to get together again soon. I didn’t know about Bob’s Pretty Girl … will enter it in the list. Thanks.

  6. Frances Archer May 3, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    Jerry, what a collection. You should take a photo of them and post them on your blog.

  7. Arlene Silverman Andresen May 3, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Love all the pics, Frances. They bring back all the good memories of growing up in the best neighborhood ever! I remember working behind the counter of my aunt and uncles pharmacy. Milt and Morrys Shell (my uncle Morry) gas station was quite the hang out after school and on the weekends. My mom ran Irene’s Dress Shop. I remember Bon Shar always thought I was a “spy” if I went int here to look at the cloths…lol!! Ahh…the good old days!

  8. Frances Archer May 3, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Hi, Arlene. Glad you approve, since you make an appearance as one of the relatives in this post!

  9. Bill Tong May 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm #

    My family owned and operated The Lee (Chinese takeout at 3336 W. Bryn Mawr) from 1947 to 1954, and its successor, Tong’s Tea Garden (3411 W. Bryn Mawr) from 1954 to 1984. Three generations of my family were patrons of Plotkin’s, Irv’s and Maury’s stores, and I have fond memories of all three businesses because we were mutual customers. My grandfather and father strongly believed in supporting our local neighborhood businesses. Plotkin’s was where our family filled our prescriptions for decades. When I was in 6th grade, I needed a small amount of potassium permanganate for an experiment, and Mr. Plotkin gave me a small vial of it.

    Grandpa, Dad, and I got haircuts from Irv’s Barber Shop, and my grade school photo was often displayed alongside those of neighborhood kids. Besides photography, Irv Olsen was a physical fitness buff, which my father greatly admired. Dad always thought (mistakenly) that Irv was German, but he was Norwegian. One time during the late 70’s, I bought an 80 pound roll of roofing material, to be used on my model railroad. I literally bit off more than I could chew, because I should have brought a wagon or cart of some kind, and Irv Olsen saw me struggling with the roll and he helped me bring it home. What a nice guy.

    As a kid, I made many trips with my grandfather to Maury’s hardware store. When I was in 4th grade, I bought dozens of miniature lamp sockets, bell wire, electric switches, and dry cell batteries at Bryn Mawr Fair Hardware. A few years later, when I was building a model railroad in the basement, Maury found in his store a supply of pre-cut hardwood sticks that were perfectly sized for making model railroad structures.

  10. Frances Archer May 3, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Bill, thanks for sharing these stories. You really captured the generous nature of these local business owners and how friendly they were with neighborhood kids.

  11. Mike Fisher May 4, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    I remember wandering through Maurie’s hardware store always looking for ceramic bases for 12v lightbulbs to attach a battery. He always helped me find the stuff. His store was amazing because in such a little place he had so much stuff, even a crank phonograph player.

    Next door was a toy store, wasn’t it next to the Hollywood tap and then it turned into a Northeastern store front?

  12. Frances Archer May 4, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    Hi, Mike. I don’t remember the toy store, just the stationery store where we got our autograph books in eighth grade. But I think you’re right about being it next door to Hollywood Tap.

  13. Michael Povlo May 10, 2011 at 4:02 am #

    This note is for Bill Tong.. I have vivid memories of your family restaurant.. during the late 50s almost every day after school (Peterson Elementary) my friends and I used to stop in at Tongs Tea Garden and order a small container of “french fries” for takeout.. think they cost 15 cents.. I lived two blocks away on Bernard and we’d devour them walking home. they were just delicious.. my family always ordered food from your restaurant.. I just wanted to share my memories with you..

  14. Frances Archer May 10, 2011 at 12:17 pm #

    I will let Bill know of your message. Thanks for visiting. I’ll let you know if I hear of anyone from your class.

  15. Bill Tong May 10, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Hello, Michael Povlo. Thanks for sharing your memories of Tong’s Tea Garden. The french fries that you ordered from Tong’s were hand sliced and deep fried, and packed into square chop suey cartons. During the late 50’s, I would have been a baby (I was born in December 1958), so I would not have remembered that far back. The web address below will take you to an on-line photo album I just put together by scanning old photographs of Tong’s Tea Garden that I had available. A few are from the 50’s, and most of the rest are from the 70’s when I was a teenager and working in the restaurant.


  16. Frances Archer May 10, 2011 at 12:36 pm #

    Bill, everyone mentions the french fries!

  17. Alice Rifkind Gutenkauf May 11, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    I remember my father and uncles getting their hair cut at Irv’s barbershop. During the war we had a victory garden on Kimball between Bryn Mawr and Hollywood on the east side of the street where all the 2 flats are now. At the time there was only one 2 flat in the middle of the block. I worked in the Dime Store, next to the Library, with my friend Audrey Anderson because her Aunt Betty was one of the clerks. I also went to school with a Joyce Citrin – is that any relation to Merle Citrin?

  18. Frances Archer May 11, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Alice, I am so glad you mentioned the Victory Garden. I have a friend who is tracking down the sites of all the Chicago Victory Gardens. She organized a community garden last summer on the site of another former garden, at the SW corner of Peterson and Campbell.
    I’ll check with Merle but I think there were two separate unrelated Citrin families in the neighborhood, and Merle’s family didn’t move here until the early’50s.

    What was the full name of the dime store. Was there a woolworth’s open then?

    Thanks for visiting and bringing up so many topics,

  19. Bill Tong May 13, 2011 at 12:24 am #


    Your blog is such a great treasure to so many of us who lived in the neighborhood. There was a Woolworth’s store on Bryn Mawr Avenue, west of Spaulding; at least, it was there in the 1935-36 photograph that I scanned for you last year from Mayer & Wade’s “Chicago: Growth Of A Metropolis” (my favorite book to read in the library at Von Steuben High School). I don’t remember if i was still there when I was a kid during the 1960’s.

    Alice, thank you for contributing your memories of the neighborhood. We’ve never met in person, but we have shared memories on the (now Memory Lane) bulletin boards over the past few years.

  20. Frances Archer May 13, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    Bill, thanks. It’s as much fun for me as everyone else. I really appreciated that photo you sent me, as it led to all sorts of things. I checked out the building last summer and the tile at the entrance has a “W” still. Here’s a photo, third from the top.

  21. Mindy White May 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    Wow, I don’t remember the hardware store at all. I do remember the toy store and the stationery store. Does anyone remember Mrs. Hamilton? I think she ran a store where we bought our school supplies–loved those “salt and pepper” composition books and the art gum erasers.

  22. Frances Archer May 17, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Hi, Mindy. Thanks for visiting. Did you get autograph books at the stationery store in eighth grade?

  23. Steve White May 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm #

    I’m sure the statute of limitations is up on this one, so I’ll admit it: I used to steal baseball cards from Plotkin’s – lots of ’em (circa 1959-61). Sorry Irv.

    Tong’s Tea Garden…yeah, sitting on those chairs, waiting for Chop Suey.

  24. Mindy White May 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    Frances, I wouldn’t have remembered getting an autograph book until you mentioned it. I wish I still had it.

  25. Frances Archer May 21, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    I wish I had mine too. But I think most of the pages just said, “Good luck at Von.” Or something like that.

  26. Mindy White May 24, 2011 at 5:08 pm #

    Frances, your above comment made me laugh. I remember if a boy I had a crush on signed my autograph book or eventually my yearbook, I couldn’t wait to see what he’d written. Yep, “Good luck at Von,” or “Good luck at Southern.” What a let down.

  27. Richard Dong July 8, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    Love your blogs.

    A small correction regarding irv’s Barbarshop. The address was 5611. Going south next was the Won-Dong family Chinese laundry at 5609. Mitch’s toy store was next at 5607 which was later a hot dog shop (Whirly’s?). I still remember the Duncan yo-yo contests. At 5605 was a shoe repair shop owned by a Greek immigrant.

    I remember
    A toy store on the north side of Bryn Mawr just west of Sawyer.
    A clothing store just west of Plotkin’s. i remember my mother buying jeans there.
    A shoe store on the south side of Bryn Mawr between Christiana and Spaulding. It had one of the fluorescopes to look at your feet. It didn’t work!

  28. Richard Dong July 8, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Correction: The toy store on Bryn Mawr near Sawyer was on the SOUTH side, not the north side.

  29. Richard Dong July 8, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Another correction: The shoe store was on the north side of Bryn Mawr. Got turned around for the two stores.

  30. Frances Archer July 9, 2013 at 5:23 am #

    Thanks, Richard! I really appreciate your fact checking. Do you have any additional information for the list? Use my contact form on the website and I can reply to you via email. Thanks again.

  31. ashley June 1, 2014 at 1:57 am #

    Does anyone remember the small what i think was either a barber shop or hot dog stand with a sign saying david berg hot dogs hanging from the brick front at 1126 w
    Bryn mawr i think thats the right address. I know it was next to the el tracks. There were these old vintage barber chairs inside. I was just a wee girl but i remember my dad would took me there sometimes. I think he met up with a friend there named tborg. Any help would be great.

  32. Frances Archer July 22, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Ashley, thanks for visiting. Im from the area of Bryn Mawr farther west, so don’t have any recollections of the hot dog stand you mentioned.

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