Nighthawks in Old Albany Park


(c) Allan Zirlin

It’s not New York, it’s not a diner, it’s not an image of urban loneliness, but Allan Zirlin’s photograph of Segal’s Shoes at the corner Lawrence and Sawyer reminds me of Edward Hopper’s painting, Nighthawks. Albany Park native Zirlin shot this photograph out a car window sometime in the 1950s.

Zirlin’s been a Chicago street photographer since the early 1950s, but before that he was a native son of Albany Park. He graduated from Hibbard Elementary School in 1948, Von Steuben High School in January 1952.

Allan Zirlin

Alan Zirlin in 1942, standing in front of his home on Bernard, by the footbridge at North Branch of the Chicago River

He lived at several addresses in Albany Park; back then it was common for families to move around within a neighborhood. His family lived with Allan’s grandparents on the 4900 block of Ridgeway; 4927 N. St. Louis, and 4952 N. Bernard by the river. (Update: In the mid-1950s, Bernice and Ned Singer (Ned Singer’s Sports) and their sons, Joel, Jeffrey, Neal, Rick and Bob, moved to the Zirlin’s family’s former home at 4952 N. Bernard. )

One of his memories I found amazing was that from his third-floor porch they could see the chutes dropping at Riverview and the Lindberg Beacon atop the Palmolive Building (later the Playboy Building).

Recollections of Albany Park

“Bonfire was our spot, with the Junior Achievement group upstairs above it. Each booth at Bonfire had those jukebox players. Kids hung out there after the movies. We also went to Terminal Inn and Wing Lee for Chinese food,  Kushner’s deli on the north side of Lawrence, east of Kedzie, and S&L on the corner of  Kedzie and Lawrence. Also we went for challah, bagels and bialys, and kaiser rolls to Kuznitsky’s Bakery–they were part of our family.

Every graduation class from Von had a lunch at Purity Restaurant, which was a Kosher deli on Lawrence near Kimball. We made speeches and teased each other.”

I asked Zirlin if he remembers any other businesses from Lawrence Avenue in its heyday. He remembers: Woolworth’s;  Hurwitz Men’s Wear shop; Tots ‘n Teens;  Community bakery (another branch was on Bryn Mawr); and the Karmelkorn shop next to the Terminal. Central Cigar store on Kimball and Lawrence;  Steiner’s Tavern; Skokie Valley ice cream shop on Kimball north of Lawrence. Lester’s toy store on Lawrence, where Zirlin got comic books and toys, of course; Rudich’s soda fountain; A&P on Kedzie; Heinemann’s bakery; Knopov bakery; Kaplan bakery; Albany Park Masonic Temple north of the Ravenswood L (Brown Line) station; Sonny’s Pool Hall on Lawrence; Singer’s Drugs; and Rol-a-Way bowling alley on Pulaski north of Lawrence, where everyone from Von and Roosevelt went.

You can’t help noticing there were a lot of Jewish bakeries in Albany Park. Here’s an excerpt from an essay Zirlin wrote for the Skokie Public Library recalling the Jewish bakeries of Albany Park:

“Shortly after WWII ended, a baker named Kaufman came to Chicago and opened a small bakery on Kedzie Avenue just north of Lawrence. Bagels have never been the same since. Mr. Kaufman created a new kind of bagel, one without the bullet-proof skin, one that you could bite into with ease yet still had that satisfying al dente feel. He created the now-famous double-bagel, one bagel made from the dough normally used for two. And it had a twist, literally, not just a flat uninteresting appearance.” –quoted from Bagels, by Allan Zirlin

Kaufman’s bakery, now at 4905 Dempster in Skokie, still turns out my favorite bagels, though I miss the Kedzie Avenue experience on Sunday mornings.

Allan Zirlin in 1955, in front of the family Chevy. It was from the third floor of this apartment building that Allan could see Riverview and downtown Chicago

Thanks to Allan Zirlin, I’ll be able to do for Lawrence Avenue in Albany Park what I’ve done for Bryn Mawr in Hollywood Park. And, as I mentioned, Zirlin’s been taking photographs of Chicago street scenes since the 1950s. On Monday, I’ll share some of my favorites photographs of his. But you can check his work out now on his website.

Credits: Thanks, Allan, for permission to publish your photographs, and for bringing old Albany Park back to life for me.


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90 Responses to Nighthawks in Old Albany Park

  1. Jerry Pritikin August 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm #

    My brother-in law used to do the books for Kaufman on Kedzie near the Alba theater/Bowl.
    During the 40s, Berger Shoes on Lawrence used to have one of those x-ray machines that showed how your foot fitted the shoe. They used to allow my brother and me to keep playing with it while shopping for new shoes. There were many dress shops like 3-Sisters or .B Nathens.The first laudramat after WWll also on Kedzie south of Lawrence. The Terminal Inn Chineese food on the 2nd floor on Lawrence and Christiana. The Adrimal Theater on Lawrence near Crawford (Now an Adult x-rated theater). Steinway Drug Store on Lawrence and Kedzie. Let’s not forget the big wood red streetcars that ran from Broadway & Lawrence (near the Uptown and Rivera) all the way out to Milwaukee Woods and Wayland Pool. I wished we could choose our dreams like the latest record hits on a 5 cent Juke Box.

  2. Allan Zirlin August 5, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    And not forget the old red Steetcars up and down Kedzie. Standing at Kedzie and Ainslie and watching one approach from the north coming south, it appeared the front end of the streetcar was swaying left and the back end to the right. We just called it “swing and sway with the CTA.”

    And who at Von would forget Bob Beatty and his ice cream wagon always parked by the curb on Kimball outside the south entrance. There’s even a photo of Von in my yearbook with him in the background. And what was the name of that little store on Kimball across from Von and at the south end of the bridge?

  3. Allan Zirlin August 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm #

    My mom and grandmother used to shop a B. Nathan’s all the time.

  4. Allan Zirlin August 5, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    At the Terminal there was this one older guy taking tickets that looked like Otto Preminger and would never believe that I was under 12 when I went with my parents to the show. I was taller than most 12-year olds and he always gave us the ojo malo (bad eye) every time.

  5. jill August 8, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    I remember hot fudge sundaes at Lester’s. Shopping at Harriet’s Variety Store. And the hot dog place just off the south side of Lawrence (and Monticello?) where they served hot dogs on french bread. Also Cooper and Cooper accross from the el station on Kedzie. There was also a hobby shop on the north side of Lawrence where I one bought ‘mars attack cards’

  6. jill August 8, 2011 at 4:25 pm #

    el station on kimball

  7. Frances Archer August 8, 2011 at 4:27 pm #

    Old station or new station? The old one had a good newstand with candy. Was it Maury’s Hot Dogs you’re thinking of? Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment

  8. Allan Zirlin August 8, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    More pictures can be found on Facebook under my name.

  9. Ingrid Jordak August 9, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    I often walked along Lawrence east to Kedzie when I attended Our Lady of Mercy grade school in the mid-60s. At that time there were still poultry shops that sold live birds. Talk about getting fresh chicken. But, I always felt bad about the birds.

  10. Allan Zirlin August 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    There was one live poultry store on Kedzie near the “L” station where my grandmother shopped. To say it was gross is an understatement, but that’s the way it was back then.

  11. John La Buda August 9, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    I remember a coffee shop on Kimball across from the Ravenswood L, I think it was the Huddle House?

  12. Bonnie McGrath August 12, 2011 at 2:04 am #

    i could see the chutes from my bedroom window at lawrence and clarendon, too!!!

  13. Dr. Larry J. Powitz August 17, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    There was a comment recently about social athletic clubs being a ” vibrant” outlet for teens in the 50’s & earlly 60’s. But this was not the case for those adolescents excluded from these popular cliques with all their unique apparel and inter-teen status. If you were judged not to be cool enough to be voted in—-it hurt those in question at a most vulnerable time in their emotional /psychological development. Many guys and gals in these ” clubs ” were good kids in lots of ways and may have been relatively socially mature—-but the need to be noticed and looked up to and number one was too great. In the process those not in the social—teen mainstream felt bad for a long time. Dr. Larry

  14. Frances Archer August 17, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by to share your insights. As someone who grew up when the clubs were already gone, I didn’t really fully understand that this outlet wasn’t available to everyone. I think you do bring up some good points about those who were left out. It was perhaps more competitive in nature than I realized.

  15. Dr. Larry J. Powitz August 19, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    thanks frances–for including my comment. charlene’s bro—Larry Joel

  16. Bob FIne August 22, 2011 at 6:41 pm #

    I can tell you a lot about Albany Park and Lawrence Ave. particularly. My father, Max Fine opened two Kosher meat markets on Lawrence Ave. first near Bernard St. on the south side of the street and later moved to 3550 W. Lawrence. (The one one near Bernard St. was next door to Lastick’s Furriers.)

    Had to take over the store at 3550 when my father became seriously ill in August 1945. I was attending Valparaiso University at the time having graduated from Von Steuben in January 1945, Also graduated from Volta school in 1941 so I have lived a lifetime here in Albany Park.

    Ran that store until 1953 selling it as a going business to Eddie Hobfall, who ran it for another 15 years at least.

    I still live in Albany Park. Graduated from Northwestern University bachelors degree 1950 and MBA 1956.

    Knew a great many of the business owners in the area during those years when the area was really thriving


  17. Frances Archer August 22, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    Bob, what a resource you are! I will send you a direct email.

  18. Wendy Kruzka November 12, 2011 at 2:32 am #

    Thank you for the wonderful memories. I lived in Albany Park in the 60’s. Remember Mutt & Jeff hot dogs on Kedzie? We also used to go to the fish store and the S&L restaurant on week-ends.

  19. Frances Archer November 12, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    Wendy, thanks for writing. I never went to Mutt and Jeff’s but of course have heard about it. Which fish store?

  20. Sharon Ruble Kvistad March 25, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

    @Dr Powitz-all you said is so true–I was a poor “shiksa” girl growing up in a dysfunctional family that was not well accepted in school boy does your childhood affect your adulthood!!-but I was lucky to overcome all insecurities and become successful in spite of–or because of the isolation I felt as a young girl and teenager–still can look at all comments and pictures here that evoke memories both good & bad–but you tend to remember more good!

  21. Sharon Ruble Kvistad March 25, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

    @Larry Powitz—any relation to Charlene Powitz-went to school at Peterson & Von with her?

  22. Steve Kaplan April 11, 2012 at 12:51 am #

    I lived on Troy/Lawrence 1955 – 1970. Great inner city and safe neighborhood. Mutt & Jeffs, Little Millie and Louie candy store Ainslie and Kedzie, Bru-Dens clothing, Huddle House, Fat Boys and Maury’s, Deborah Boys club, Shalom Temple by Hibbard

  23. Frances Archer April 11, 2012 at 5:22 am #

    Steve, thanks for stopping by. I’m keeping a list of the area businesses, thanks for contributing.

  24. Jerry Pritikin April 28, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    Mentioning the Kosher meat markets brought back memories of the sawdust on the floor. During the war years, my dad used to complain that the butcher had a lead thumb that added to the weight registered on the scales. Wolf’s funiture on the 4700 block of Kezie.
    They sold wood lawn furniture during the summer, before aluminum furniture was made.
    The Ainslie Garage on the corner across from Singer’s Drug store that burnt down in the late ’40s. For a short time in 1946, a C0-0P was opened with a group of small shops under one roof and in the window a do-nut making machine. The Sinclare gasoline station next to stiner’s tavern. Lincoln Ice company on Carmen & Kedzie. Herman’s small grocery store on Troy and Lawrence. The newspaper stands at Kedzie and Lawrence. Few people had shopping carts and lugged their groceries home in 3 cent shopping bags that never seemed to wear out. There were a few beat cops, but never heard of robberies or home breaak-ins, yet just a window or screen door with a nickel hook kept unwanted people from gaining entry. Al the games kids played that needed no equipment, like kick the can,or hide and seek. I love your site, because it always brings back good memories when the future looked a far way, like the 1950s! We all had nicknames, and our mother’s could be heard calling us in for dinner a block away.

  25. Frances Archer April 29, 2012 at 10:04 am #

    Jerry, the smell of sawdust on a wood floor is a very distinct smell that brings back a flood of memories for me. It’s a smell you no longer encounter in everyday life. My grandfather owned a small hardware town in a very small town in southwestern Pennsylvania. We visited once, sometimes twice a year, every year of my life until I went away to college. So, I learned to think of that smell as belonging to his store and it brings back pleasant memories. Years later I entered a hardware warehouse and immediately recognized the smell and was told it was the smell of sawdust.

    So many wonderful images in your recollection here. Other people who grew up in Albany Park during the late 40s and 50s have said the same thing about nicknames: everyone had one. I’m wondering, and I’m sure someone can tell me answer this question, whether the habit of creating nicknames for everyone crossed over from the Yiddish language or was just an urban neighborhood characteristic, not particularly tied to any specific culture or language.

    Always loved Sinclair gas stations because of their logo. Something so appealing about the image of a dinosaur for a kid. Lincoln Ice Company used a distinct lettering and remember seeing their trucks. If I remember correctly the background was gold and the lettering was outlined in blue.

    Thanks as always for visiting.

  26. renee chernoff October 18, 2012 at 3:55 am #

    My grandfather, Louis Moss (shortened it from Moskowitz) owned a butcher store on Lawrence Av in the 40-50’s. Unfortunately, unless I come across some old photos, I am unable to provide the name of the shop as the last person who could have helped out here, my mom, passed away in 2005. I know it was around pre-1950 because my mom was struck by a truck trying to pass a streetcar in the vicinity of the store, must have been around 1949-50 before I was born in ’53.

  27. Richard Hoffstedt February 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    Al What a surprise to stumble across an old Von Steuben classmate. (Jan. 52) Not only were we classmates, but we both belonged to the same club, the Baros. I now have a son who lives in a condo on Kedzie near Argyle. Two other of my children still live in the city. My only grand-daughter is on the varsity girls soccer team at Lane Tech. One of my daughters taught math at Lane for 20 years. Just found out from Dorothy Steinberg that we graduated with the mother (Martha Smulevitz) of Chicago’s mayor. Loved your photos and all the responses. Dick H

  28. Frances Archer February 11, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

    Dick, thanks for stopping by. Your family certainly has long- lived ties with the city. Not only dis our mayor’s mother graduate from Von, but his father had a medical office on the second floor of a Lawrence Ave. storefront.

  29. Irving February 18, 2013 at 10:23 am #

    If I remember correctly, there was a large pet shop on the northeast side of the corner of Lawrence and Harding, and above, an apartment building half-a-block big, with the entrance on Harding, where my father’s parents lived. One or a few doors east of Harding, on the north side of Lawrence, there was my grandfather’s barber shop, from about 1952 until he retired and sold the barber shop, probably around 1965.

    I also remember, as a little kid, my mother, with a little wheeled shopping basket, walking down the west side of Kedzie from Argyle to the Ravenswood ‘L’ tracks to shop at the bakeries, butcher shops, etc., with me in tow when school wasn’t in session.

    After my maternal grandfather remarried, he moved out of the two-storey house on Whipple where we lived on the first floor and he was on the second, and he lived in various apartment buildings on Lawrence, between Argyle and Ainslie, so I would sometimes drop by on my way home from school (Hibbard). There was a phramacy on the northwest corner of Lawrence and Argyle; sometimes I’d stop there on the way to or from school, for a candy bar or cherry phosphate.

    Oh, to be a kid again!

  30. Frances Archer February 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm #

    Irving, thank you for all your recollections. These are great details to add to my Lawrence Avenue project. As longtime readers of my blog know, my next goal is to create a Lawrence Avenue business hall of fame, just like the one I did for Bryn Mawr. This project has been long delayed because I’ve just been too busy. But your contribution will be included. Can you tell me the name of your grandfather’s barber shop? I know it’s unlikely but I have to ask: any photographs of your grandfather? Even if they are not in the barbership, I would include his picture, because readers who knew the barbershop might recognize him. You can send me a note on the website contact form, and then I will reply with my email if you do have a photograph to forward. Thanks!

  31. Irving February 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    What I said about my maternal grandfather living in various apartment buildings on Lawrence between Argyle and Ainslie of course makes absolutely no sense (getting old and fuzzy-brained, perhaps), since Lawrence, Argyle, and Ainslie all run parallel to each other. I MEANT: on KEDZIE between Argyle and Ainslie.

    My paternal grandfather was Harry Anelis. I never paid attention to the sign on his shop window, but I would guess that the name of the shop was probably something like “Harry’s Barber Shop.” (Before we all moved to Albany Park, we lived in North Lawndale, and my grandfather worked in a barbar shop of Roosevelt Rd., near Springfield, and lived around the corner, in an apartment building on Springfield just north of Roosevelt Rd. I think that the other barber in the shop on Roosevelt was a guy whose first name was Label, and that he was the owner.)

    I have some photos of family members stored away in a carton in a closet; but the only one I currently have on my computer of my paternal grandfather was taken in Russia in 1909, with my [future] paternal grandmother, when they were 14 years old. I don’t have any photographs of the barbershop.

  32. Len February 18, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    I recall a barbershop at or very near the location described by Irving. My first haircuts were there and I probably was there as late as 1970. In the 50’s I remember it as Andys. Maybe a variation of Irvings grandfather’s last name?? It was then called Bills and his last name was Cicotte. There was another shop in the general vicinity that I think was a wife/husband team but I think was a women’s salon.

  33. Irving February 18, 2013 at 5:43 pm #

    Thanks, Len!

    As I wrote, I never really paid much attention to the name on the window.

    It migh be that the first year or so he was in Albany Park, he worked for Andy, and then bought the shop from Andy but kept the name.

    If I remember correctly, my grandfather originally had the second chair from the street, but most of the time that I went their, I seem to remember that he had the chair closest to the street. I believe that he said that when he retired, he sold the shop to the man who had later worked the second chair for a while. Even after he sold the shop, my grandfather continued to come in for several years, for as long as he was still able to get around, especially whenever any of his old customers came in for a haircut, some of whom who had been his customers from the old neighborhood in Lawndale.

    If I visited my grandparents on Wenesdays or Sundays, my grandfather would occasionally open the shop, lock the door behind us, being sure to leave the lights off, and take me into the back room, and close the door between the shop floor and the back room, to give me a haircut (barber shops in those days (1950s) were legally required to be closed on Wednesdays and Sundays).

  34. Frances Archer February 18, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    This is a fascinating series of comments. It provides another example of how businesses from the West Side relocated to Albany Park and served customers who also moved from the old neighborhood. And to have the photograph from Russia–what a great connection to their past. This will give a real depth to the Lawrence Avenue history –as soon as I get time to write it. Thanks again.

  35. Mike Wolstein April 25, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    Response for Allan Zirlin to his question: “And what was the name of that little store on Kimball across from Von and at the south end of the bridge?”

    It was called “Rochelle’s”. We always thought it was going to fall into the river because it leaned to the north so badly.

  36. Bonnie July 5, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    Wow, what a great site! It brought back many great memories. I also lived in Albany park, 5000 block of Troy, during the early 60s. It was indeed a great area to grow up in. I remember cherry cokes from the drugstore on the corner of Argyle and Kedzie and apple slices from the bakery on Kedzie and Ainslie. I remember eating Lox and Bagels at the Bonfire restaurant and swimming in the pool at that wonderful huge park.
    Somewhat sadly, I also remember the isolation due to being of the non-Jewish persuasion.
    But those of us in that small minority seem to do well enough. We found each other and hung out together. I remember on the High holidays Von Steuben was nearly empty. Until we got smart and became Jewish for the day. Then it was empty.
    My stepfather was Jewish, so we became accustom to Jewish fare, which I still eat today.
    I remember our principal’s name was Dr. Fink. and everyone thought that was so funny.
    Of the many areas I have lived in Chicago, this is the one I remember most fondly.

  37. Frances Archer July 7, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

    Hi, Bonnie. So glad to hear from you. A couple years ago someone else wrote in a comment about the bakery on Kedzie and Ainslie — I’ll have to look it up. As I recall it was kind of funny. Yes, I can imagine how hard it must have been to be non-Jewish in that neighborhood. I didn’t even feel “Jewish enough” because my father was a non-Jewish and of course my maiden name was obviously not Jewish. But we all agree there was something special about that area.

  38. mrcubby August 2, 2013 at 2:38 am #

    WOW, this is just unreal. I grew up at Sawyer & Sunnyside, went to Bateman & Roosevelt H.S. I went to Mt Sinai Hebrew School, and had a luncheon after my Bar Mitzvah at S & L. This is a wonderful site! I do have a question about Kaufman’s, from what I remember it was located on Kedzie just north of Montrose and I remember Ada’s Fishery opening next door. Our Lady Of Mercy, brings back memories, had many friends there. I remember very clearly even today, when the statute was placed on top of the dome, I think that was 1957.

    Hi Mr. Fine, this is Frank.

  39. Frances Archer August 3, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    Sorry it’s taken a few days to post your comment. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the site. I was pretty young when we went to Kaufman’s on Kedzie, but I remember it being north of Lawrence on the east side of Kedzie, but it could have been further south. I think we have some comments sommewhere on the site about the original location.

  40. len August 4, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    Just north of montrose is correct from at least the early 60’s-probably sooner.

  41. mrcubby August 5, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

    Does anyone remember Stone Drug Store on the southeast corner of Wilson & Kedzie?
    There was a school store across the street, remember buying my baseball cards there for 5 cents a pack. I am still very upset for using all those Mickey Mantle cards as sound generators for my bike!!!

  42. Bonnie August 7, 2013 at 12:27 am #

    I remember a Stone Drugstore on the corner of Kedzie and Ainslie, right across the street from a Jewish bakery.

  43. Roger Cohn August 7, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    The drugstore was Singer’s Drugstore. I was either in 6th or 7th grade when Mr. Singer paid me to do several deliveries – probably at the rate of 10 cents/per delivery. It was my first earned income, & also got me a nickname. I can’t remember the name of the bakery, but my mother would always order half a rye sliced with seeds. They also had great poppy seed homentashen. Singer’s was at the northwest corner & the bakery was at the southwest corner.

  44. Micki sachs richmond August 23, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    These are fond memories of the sixties. Some of the stores Werner candy across from Lincoln ice house on Carmen and Kedzie ( if the breeze was blowing right you would get a nice cool spray). ; Blatz drugstore, se corner argyle & Kedzie; b& b groceries, sheres bakery ,Al’s fruit market,(sons name was Bob) South of Lawrence east side of kedzie was S & L restaurant a few doors down was Bob Gross’ tavern few doors down was,Luckys tavern, Esther’ & Leo’s grocery store was on the nw corner of Kedzie and argyle, taxi cab garage south of Carmen on Kedzie. On Kedzie and Leland on the second floor was the Leland pool hall. I know some one mentioned the candy store but was the Ainsle Hotel mentioned? (On Ainsle and Kedzie? And ladies we can’t forget Scwartz’s corsets on Lawrence .i remember Kaufmans north of montrose on the east side of street next to Ada’s across from fire station, just south of Our Lady of Mercy,

  45. Frances Archer August 28, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    Hi, Micki. Nice to hear from you. Some of these places sound familiar to me, but glad to see you’ve recalled some I don’t know about. Schwartz’s corsets is a story I would like to write but I think it might be complicated tracking the history. They did move to Devon, but later divided into two separate Schwartz stores in the suburbs.

  46. Jack Decker December 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Where did the time go? It seems like yesterday I was riding down Lawrence Ave. on my 650 Triumph Bonneville Motorcycle, deciding if I was going to Mutt and Jeffs, Mauries or Mitch’s for a couple of hot dogs. At all three, it was about 30 cents for a dog and fries. For pizza, we could go to our choice of Napolis, Nicks or Maries at the west end. A one ingredient pizza was around two bucks. On Saturday we would go to the Terminal Theater where admission was a quarter. The first floor was for having fun and socializing and the balcony was used for making out. Everyone was pretty much from Roosevelt and Von and during school days we would eat at either Cooper and Cooper or the Terminal Grill. There was a tendency for Roosevelt guys to hook up with Von girls and Lawrence Ave. was our lunchtime meeting point.
    In my freshie year at Roosevelt I did the talent show with Steve Goodman and we sung Where have all theFlowers Gone by the Kingston Trio. I taught Steve his first four chords on the guitar, but his fingers were small and he kept hitting the frets, so I played the guitar and we both sang. I told him his fingers were too small and he’d never play the guitar. Years later, before he passed away he did an interview with the Chicago Tribune and he commented that I told him that he would never play the guitar. He further commented that he now has several albums out and Jack Decker is still playing Where have all the Flowers Gone. Thanks old buddie, I still hear about that one.
    On warm summer nights we would hang out at Jensen Park and then go to Lesters for a Green River or Root Beer in a frosted glass. The Von kids hung out at Hollywood Park up north. Many of the Roosevelt guys married Von girls, as I did. She passed away at a very young age and now, after three heart attacks and heart surgeries, I have been running from the grim reaper for a few years. I hear the grim reaper now chases his victims in a Vette. Hopefully one of the old Kimball and Lawrence guys will steal his Vette and slow him down in his pursuit of me. A lot of my old friends from both schools have passed on. Again, where did it all go?
    In closing, we were lucky as kids. The fifties and sixties, living in Albany Park was a wonderful time in our lives. Only in looking back, do I appreciate how fortunate we all were to have the multitude of experiences we had on and around Lawrence Ave. To this day, in a way, all of us are like extended family.

  47. Frances Archer December 29, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    Jack, thanks for visiting and I apologize for the delay in posting your comment. I was busy with the holidays. I’ve really enjoyed your recollections, particularly the story about Steve Goodman noting his music accomplishments vs. yours. I’m sorry to hear you are in poor health, but as you fill up to him please feel free to share more stories with us.

  48. Mark Magel December 29, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    Just beautiful comments Jack Decker. So much of it came to life as I read your memories. So sorry to hear about your health issues but somehow I think you will outlast us all. You just never know about those things. I grew up on Carmen and Kimbal in the 50s and 60s. They were beautiful times .

  49. bernie nusbaum February 19, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    debra boys club

  50. Frances Archer February 23, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Hi, Bernie, thanks for stopping by.

  51. Jeff Singer October 11, 2014 at 7:03 am #

    Some may remember that the Terminal Theater had a kids event near every Saturday morning for a few years, showing cartoons. Admission was 25 cents. They would raffle off several items such as toys each Saturday after the cartoons were shown. The Albany Park Chamber of Commerce, whose membership consisted of local retailers, would work with the owners of the Terminal Theater whereby a young kid (or, really, his/her parent) could acquire the raffle tickets for each week by visitng a local retailer in the neighborhood. I recall occasionally a new bicycle was offered to a lucky raffle ticket owner. The Terminal was packed full each Saturday with kids from the neighborhood during the few years these Saturday morning extravaganzas were held–if I recall correctly in the late 50’s or early 60’s. If your raffle ticket number was called, you would run down the aisle of this large theater onto the stage and there receive your toy or gift certificate from a local merchant. My father, Ned Singer, owned the local sports shop (3344 West Lawrence, then 3334 West Lawrence and finally 3247 West Lawrence) during the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s and routinely offered a baseball glove, football helmet or other sporting goods item for the Terminal Theater Saturday morning rafffles. Does anyone recall these Saturday morning extravaganzas?

  52. Jack Decker October 11, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    Why did you have to bring up kids Saturday mornings at the Terminal? I was there on a Saturday prior to the holidays, when Bozo was there and they were raffling off a brand new Schwinn bicycle. The girl sitting directly in front of me had the ticket #4745, which was my address. I talked her into trading tickets with me thinking it would be good luck to have the ticket with my address. She won the damn bicycle and for years, I held on to that ticket, which symbolized what I eventually referred to as “the Albany Park Curse.” which seemed to repeat itself many times in my life.
    Nonetheless, without question, those days in Albany Park were the best days of my life.
    Hot dogs at Maurys, Mitches and Mutt and Jeffs. Pizza at Napolis, Nicks and Maries, dances at the bank parking lot and Alba, nights at Deborah Boys Club and the Max Strauss Center and Root Beers and Green Rivers in frosted glasses at Lesters. As kids, we had it great, didn’t we? By the way, I bought both of my club jackets at your fathers store. What memories! But still, why the hell did you have to remind me of that bike raffle at the Terminal?
    Jack Decker

  53. Frances Archer October 12, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

    Jack, at least someone got to enjoy the bike! And Jeff, I just attended my 40th reunion at Von and one of my classmates mentioned reading my blogpost about your father. He told me a story about your father’s generosity to a couple of kids in need — very touching.

  54. Frances Archer October 12, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    I’ve heard there was also yo-yo demonstrations — not sure what years. Anyone remember that?

  55. Jeff Singer October 12, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    I believe there were Duncan yo-yo demonstrations duirng some of those Saturday morning cartoon extravaganzas.

    Not surprised that you learned of acts of generosity by my dad. There are many more. He grew up in impovershed conditions and never forgot of those in need.

  56. Frances Archer October 13, 2014 at 11:09 am #

    Thanks for confirming my memory, Jeff. More than 20 years ago or so, one of the brothers who owned the former men’s clothing store Bigsby & Kruthers had told me about the yo-yo demonstrations, but I wasn’t sure I was remembering correctly. He had been one of the on-stage yo-yo performers.

  57. howard Korengold October 14, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

    Frances, I also remember the yoyo demonstrations, but at the pre porn Admiral theater. This was during WW2 and the demonstrator, an Asian man made a point of saying he was Chinese and not Japanese.

  58. Barry Henry October 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    Frances, I meet you last night, I was sitting to your right, 10/29/2014 at our Roosevelt get together at Grand Dominion. I was reading this today and saw the post from Jack Decker. Jack and I went to school together and were good friends. If possible could you forward my email to him. I would like to see how he’s doing now.
    Thanks Barry Henry

  59. Frances Archer November 3, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Barry, I enjoyed meeting you and will send a note to Jack with your email to see if that’s fine with him.

  60. Jack Decker November 3, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Dear Frances,
    I just read the post from Barry Henry in response to seeing my post. Yes, Barry and I were good friends and I’d love to be in touch with him. We were part of a very unique group from Albany Park. We were both good students at Roosevelt and hung around with other nice kids, but we were also friends with the greatest of schmucks and the Kimball and Lawrence crowd. We were both well behaved and juvenile lunatics at the same time. I.E.-
    I was suspended twice for riding my motorcycle through the school and throwing a pound of dye in the swimming pool, and the same week I was honored for winning 3rd place in the city science fair at the museum of science and industry. Many a time Bertha Royals the principal repeated the words, “I don’t know what to do with this kid, he’s giving me an ulcer.”
    At any rate, again, Barry and I have so many stories to share and you definitely have my permission to give my e-mail address to Barry and to any others who knew me, in my age group. Thank you, I appreciate it.
    Jack Decker

  61. Dll January 15, 2015 at 11:39 pm #

    Hi-Would you happen to have any old photos of Lastick furs? Thanks!!

  62. Bob Lastick January 16, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    Good evening Frances;
    Finding this website was like taking a time trip back to my youth. My father, Harry Lastick owned Lasticks Paramount Furriers at 3437 W. Lawrence Ave. and was the president of the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce for 40 years. I grew up in Edgebrook but was down at my fathers fur store delivering and picking up fur coats from his customers from the young age of 7 (1949) all the way through my teen years. Much of the time spent at my fathers store was to do errands for the Chamber of Commerce. They sponsored a Market Day when the retailers wares would be brought out on the street, a contest where the kids of the neighborhood would draw scary pictures for Halloween on the store windows, raffles, etc, etc. Much of my earnings went to Mitches Hot Dogs. Every day my father would have lunch either at The Purity or the S & L Restaurant kitty corner across the street at Kimball and Lawrence. Loving hockey as I did I was in Ned Singers Sport shop regularly.
    I could go on & on & on. I am happy to have found your web site and would very much like to share with you mor of our mutual history growing up in Albany Park.

    I has been wonderful finding your blog.


  63. Dll January 16, 2015 at 9:05 pm #

    Hi guys,
    I’ve been reading your posts and they are all very intriguging and heartfelt. Last night I posted about the picture of Lastick furriers. I did so because my grandfather Harry owned Lastick furs( paramount furs) as well as the apartments above. I also believe he was president of the Albany park chamber of commerce. I should confirm this. I believe he rented the apartments above his fur store out as well. I recall playing in the 70s as a child in the fur store and playing and sleeping in the fur vault. I told my father about this website. He was excited to read your post as he grew up in that area as well, probably around the same time that you all recall. Maybe the 50s, 60s. Anyways, thanks for the convo. It’s nice to read about the way the things were.

  64. Frances Archer January 17, 2015 at 9:49 am #

    Hi, Bob, thanks for visiting and sharing your recollections. I tried to email you but the emails were returned as undeliverable. Please send me an email using the contact form on my blog and then I will be able to reply directly to you. Thanks. contact form:

  65. Allan Zirlin January 21, 2016 at 2:03 pm #

    That comment someone made about the SACs (Social Athletic Clubs) at Von brought back memories, mostly bad, about my 4 years there. It was at Von that I first learned about cliques that looked down on us who weren’t “cool” enough to be invited to pledge. Funny, our parents had no clue as to what life was like for us inside those walls on Kimball Avenue. Not only the SACs, but the lettermen’s closed fraternity. I earned a letter at Von but would never wear it because it wasn’t for basketball, track or baseball. So it was meaningless. I was in the ROTC which further degraded my social standing but was an enormous plus when I was drafted into the army. In the army was where I first experienced racial and religious bigots from places I’d never been. Yeah, I spent 4 years at Von, went to my 10th reunion and never went back.

  66. Bonnie February 13, 2016 at 3:24 pm #

    I don’t know why I’m taking a trip down memory lane today but I’m happy to have found this site. I was born in 1957 and from Rogers Park, but my dad and his parents moved to Albany Park around 1933/34 from the west side. My dad went to Volta and Von. My grandmother lived in the same 3rd floor walk-up apartment on Harding near Argyle for 36 years (can you imagine that??) and we used to visit her often. It was a dead end street. I have memories of the S&L restaurant in the 1960’s which was pretty run down by that point. We still liked to eat there on occasion. I’m surprised nobody mentioned the original Bagel restaurant on Kedzie. Did you know they did not serve hotdogs or hamburgers at that location? My parents took us there when we were toddlers and I remember we didn’t stay because as kids we didn’t have a palette yet for traditional Jewish food and we all started crying. Does anyone remember when the Sinclair station used to give out purple dinosaur soap? That was cool. I want to say there was a knitting store on Lawrence Ave. My grandmother used to crochet so she probably went there. Was there an old Walgreens on Kedzie, west side of the street near one of the cemetaries, perhaps the Bohemian cemetary? I remember the inside was really old fashioned looking. I thought Gompers Park looked ultra scary as a kid and we never went there. I understand it’s a very beautiful park now.

  67. Allan Zirlin June 25, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    Reading the posts that refer to the “bakery at Kedzie and Ainslie,” I don’t see anyone identifying it by name. It was Kuznitsky’s, the baker was George Kuznitsky and many of his family (and, by ancestral coincidence, mine) worked behind the counter. Marvin “Maish” stands out in memory. In those days your didn’t “take a number” and wait for it to be called. You came in the door and had to be bold enough to nudge and elbow your way to the counter to get waited on. It was always my task to get the bagels and rye breads for the family. I quickly learned the ins and out of navigating in there. His Passover pastries were a delight for the eyes but to me they were always disappointing in taste. The smells in there were paradise to the olfactory senses.

    Just south on Kedzie was Ben’s barber shop, Lerner’s Hot Dogs and a mom and pop grocery. Further south, near the Alba theater, was the photography studio of Bernard Genus. I had my picture taken there once at about age 10 or 11. Also on the same Kedzie strip was Teddy’s butcher shop owned by Teddy Begoon. I went to Von with his daughter Beverly. What a live wire she was!

    During the war, the price of candy bars like Baby Ruth, Butterfingers, et al rose from a nickel to 6 cents. Maurice Singer’s drug store at Kedzie and Ainslie was the only store that kept the price at 6 cents after all the other places dropped back to a nickel when the war was over. North of Singer’s was a shoe repair shop that, for some reason, also sold the Jewish Daily Forward that I had run and get for my grandfather each day after school until he passed away in 1947. I remember the shoe shop man had no front teeth. North of him was Vern’s radio repair shop (nice guy) where the smell of burning solder was always in the air.

    More later.

  68. Frances Archer June 30, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Allan, great to hear from you after so long. I really enjoyed this comment. Please let me know if you would like to contribute a post or photo to the blog — you are always welcome.

  69. Allan Zirlin June 30, 2016 at 5:58 pm #

    Thanks. Just filling in a few blanks here and there. Writing about this stuff is like going back in time, I can see it as if it was yesterday. Sometimes I wish it was, like a do-over for my life and wondering if I’d do anything differently. I’ll never know.

  70. Mike Wolstein July 7, 2016 at 3:02 pm #

    Wow… this is like goin’ home again! Hi to Jeff Singer, who probably won’t remember me. It’s been over 50 years since I last saw him. I remember his house near that wonderful little bridge on Bernard street… when I was in upper grade at Von (1961-ish) my buddy and I would buy sweet rolls & coffee at Cooper’s on the way to school and then dine
    al fresco under that bridge.

    Jeff reminded me of the raffles at the Terminal. One day I actually won the grand prize, which was a 10″ General Electric B&W portable TV set! Bad part was that one day someone saw the back of the set in my bedroom window on St. Louis, opened the window, cut the cord, and made off with the set. Sets like that were expensive in
    those days!

    And a BIG hi to Jack Decker! Been decades. Sorry to hear of your health problems, Jack. Among his many claims to fame, Jack sat in back of me in Mr. Crescenzo’s geography class in 1963-64 at RHS. Johnny Abrahamovitz was also in that class – one
    of the greatest 16″ softball players ever! Jack was a movie star back in the day, having appeared in a couple of major movies.


  71. Jeff Singer July 7, 2016 at 6:00 pm #


    I was so touched by reading your post. Yes, my family’s home next to the north branch of the Chicago River was located at 4952 North Bernard. The exterior of the home looks exactly the same today, the bridge remains a walking path to Carmen Avenue going north or to Ainslie if you are walking (or riding your bike) south.

    I walk by the house almost every year when I visit Von Steuben for the Alumni Awards presentation to Von graduating seniors. It is very special to walk into Von where I attended Upper Grade Center in the Fall of 1962 thru Spring of 1964.

    I also drive by 3247 West Lawrence which is the last location in Albany Park of my parents’ retail business: Ned Singer Sport Supply Co. And, I still have my Junior Condors jacket, a keepsake that my kids just don’t appreciate!

  72. Allan Zirlin July 7, 2016 at 6:23 pm #

    4952 N. Bernard was my home in 1941-43. An earlier post of mine shows me standing on the front lawn with the footbridge in the background, early in WW2. I don’t know if you remember that horse chestnut tree in front that bloomed every spring with what looked like miniature Christmas trees on its branches. I loved that tree. The front of the house was different back then, there was a screen door at the top of the stairs. And there was a garage out back, maybe it was still there when you lived there. And maybe the walk from the front of the house to the back, between the house and the river wall, was still there. Not any more. There were 10 of us living in that house at the time, a lot of people in that small house. And the attic was unused.

  73. Jeff Singer July 7, 2016 at 8:02 pm #

    The chestnut tree still stands in front of the house.

  74. Allan Zirlin July 7, 2016 at 8:48 pm #

    The last time I was down that street I met the people who own the house and they invited me in. Once in the door it was like nothing Iike I’d ever experienced. After 70+ years since I moved out, there was my grandfather sitting in his “throne” at the front of the living room and two kids were lying on the floor looking at the newspaper. My cousin Carole and me. And my grandmother was in the kitchen past the dining room. I slept in a room at the very back of the house, the “sleeping porch” they called it.

  75. Mike Wolstein July 8, 2016 at 10:40 am #

    Jeff and Allan,

    I am so happy that I could make this connection for the two of you (albeit inadvertently)!!

    That little bridge over the river is one of the few remaining bits of the Chicago “feeling” that keeps my love and memories of growing up in Albany Park strong and fresh.

    It still amazes me how much I remember of the neighborhood, yet I can’t remember why
    I walked into a room. 😉 Even though Albany Park LOOKS completely different, we still remember most of the details of the way it WAS. Such huge changes in such a short period of time.

    I drive by my old building at 4735 St. Louis from time to time, and it’s as though I can see inside of it; it seems we never forget those pictures.

    Another little joy: Phil, the fellow who owns the Kimball-Lawrence Currency Exchange, still works there in the evenings! I stopped in to say hi to him a while back, but he was busy.
    Have to get back there some evening. My father, who was a self-employed business machine repairman and salesman, used to service his typewriters and adding machines back in the 50s and 60s.


  76. Allan Zirlin July 8, 2016 at 8:29 pm #

    There was a time in the late 1930s and early 1940s when my whole family and most of my parent’s friends lived on or close to the 4900 block of St. Louis Ave. I lived at 4927, my 1st cousin lived at 4935, my aunt and her brood lived in the big courtyard at St. Louis and Ainslie. If Lawrence was the main drag then surely Ainslie was right up there. At least in my world.

  77. Barbara Wolf Sabes August 18, 2016 at 5:27 pm #

    I lived in Budlong Woods near Foster and California from 1948 to 1955. My grandparents lived on Bernard just south of Lawrence and my Grandpa’s tailor shop was on St. Louis, also just south of Lawrence, about a block from their apartment. He owned the shop from some time in the late thirties (I believe) until the early sixties. His name was Phillip Wolf and my grandmother, Sarah, also worked in the shop. I could walk there from where we lived, I went to Sunday school at Beth Israel and often walked there. My Dad graduated from Roosevelt – Richard Wolf in 1939. I don’t know if his sisters, Bette and Berna
    went to school there, as they were older and may have gone to school on the west side. For quite a few years when I was young my Dad still got together with his buddies from Roosevelt to play softball on Sunday mornings. They played at Roosevelt.After his game, he would pick up lunch at a deli, sometimes I would come with him, this was in the early fifties. I’m not sure which deli, but always the same one.

  78. Mike Wolstein August 19, 2016 at 1:25 pm #

    Hi, Barbara!

    Interesting that you should mention that tailor store… I lived across the street and a few yards south of that shop from 1949-1970, and I remember it well. One frightening incident I remember, though, was one day when a welding tank (or something like that) exploded at the rear of the building, and whoever was in the shop came out onto the sidewalk with blood all over his head. Was that your grandfather? We all came running out of our homes to see what happened, and we were so glad that he wasn’t killed! I guess he just got hit in the head with a flying object.

    Not a pleasant memory, but it turned out better than it could have been!

    Mike Wolstein RHS ’67

  79. Barbara Wolf Sabes August 19, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

    Do you remember around when that happened, Mike?

  80. Mike Wolstein August 19, 2016 at 11:14 pm #

    Hi. It was definitely in the early 1960s, maybe 1963. The man was not very tall, maybe 5′ 4″, about 65 years old or thereabouts, and was balding. I’m sure he was the tailor, as there there were only two stores between the alley and the cleaners at the corner of Lawrence, and this one was the closer one to Lawrence. That’s about all I remember. The fire department came and went around the back of the store (I remember a TV repair shop there, too). Wish I could be more specific. 1962-63 is my best guess.

    I vividly remember the man holding a cloth to his head to sop up some blood from his head. Glad he was OK. We heard the explosion all the way down the block.


  81. Barbara Sabes August 20, 2016 at 12:01 am #

    I think I remember something like that happening. Grandpa passed away in 1966 and had the store until about 1963. So it was probably him, your description definitely sounds like him. Thanks so much for your input.

  82. Barbara Sabes August 20, 2016 at 12:10 am #

    Your description sounds like my grandpa. He passed away in 1966 and I believe he gave up the store in 1963. I have a faint recollection of this incident. I may have replied twice, I thought I sent it before but don’t see it. Anyway, thanks so much for your input.

  83. Mike Wolstein August 21, 2016 at 5:23 pm #


    It’s incidents like that which stick in one’s mind, and as I said, that one really Hit home. Hard to forget something like that.


  84. Barbara Wolf Sabes August 21, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

    Mike, thanks again for reminding me. After thinking about that incident and talking about it with my brother, I not only remembered it, but recalled that my dad and I had just left when it happened and found out about it after we got home. It was fortunate that neither we nor anyone else was in the shop at the time.

  85. Mike Wolstein August 21, 2016 at 8:22 pm #

    Scary thing to remember, but at least you proved that I didn’t imagine it. 😉

    Did you ascertain what year it occurred? I’m pretty sure it was 1963-ish.


  86. Barbara Sabes August 21, 2016 at 11:05 pm #

    You are correct, either 62 or 63. I got married in Feb of 64 and he became Ill
    and gave up the store at least a few months before that.

  87. Barry Levy September 7, 2016 at 3:49 pm #

    Just found this site..My memory is not as good as all the respondents…All the names of the stores sound very familiar..Attended Hibbard and graduated Von in 67…Lived on Albany and Leland as a real youngster, and then over to 4828 N Albany and Gunnerson..Remember ice skating down the Chicago river, and baseball at River Park every morning in the summer at 9AM…
    Running at lunch time from Hibbard to Mutt & Jeffs to get a seat…50 cents a day got me a dog,fries,and a drink…That left a nickel for candy at the penny candy store on Kedzie, run by a very old couple who some kids just terrorized daily…
    How safe it was….Never worried about being out at any hour…Couldn’t get away with anything…There always was somebody’s mother watching you..
    Wish I had the comic books, baseball cards, and the MAD Magazine’s from back then..

  88. Frances Archer September 12, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    Barry, many of us remember 40 years ago better than yesterday here. There are other readers here from the Class of ’67. I’ve heard about skating on the river — wish I had done that.

  89. Lou Leciejewski September 12, 2016 at 7:17 pm #

    Barry I used to go to River Park during the Summer for swimming after lunch just about everyday. I lived at Central Park & Lawrence and walked up to River Park. On the way home I stopped at some Dairy Queen type ice cream place for a chocolate Ice cream cone. i attended Our Lady Of Mercy Grade School and graduated from Gordon Tech in 65.

  90. Mike Wolstein September 12, 2016 at 8:05 pm #

    Barry! Holey moley!

    We went thru Hibbard Elem together, from Kindergarten (Ms. Glatt, room 101) to graduation from Von Upper Grade in June 63. Hard to believe, after 53 years. Never know who’s going to show up here. Sometimes this blog reminds me of “This is Your Life”. 😉

    Mike Wolstein
    Hibbard / Von / Roosevelt ’67

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