The Bungalow

Chicago_bungalow

By guest blogger Charlene Gelber

“So, Morrie, where did you say you lived before moving here to Florida?” inquired Gert, the new lady friend from New Jersey.

“I lived on the North Side of Chicago in a bungalow,” Morrie proudly proclaimed.

“A bungalow? No, you couldn’t have lived in a bungalow in Chicago,” insisted Gert.

“Yes, Gertie. It was a bungalow. My wife Clara and I moved into our home in 1954 and raised our two kids, until we sold it in ’72 to move here to Sunrise, Florida.”

“What, you raised your children in a bungalow? Morrie, you’re kidding me.”

“No, no, Gert. It really was a bungalow. I even planted a tiny spruce tree in the front and I sure would like to see how big it got.”

“Morrie, please, enough. I think you’re pulling my leg. Whatever you do, don’t embarrass yourself and tell my friends you lived in a bungalow.”

“But Gert, it was a beautiful home, our family’s home. I’m going to call my daughter and she’ll tell you.”

Morrie phones me and says, “Charlene, it’s Dad. Here, I want you to talk to my friend Gert.” (And hello to you too, Dad.)

“Hello, Charlene, this is Gert. I know we’ve never talked before, but your father insists you all lived and grew up in a bungalow in Chicago. Is that true?”

“Oh, sure, Gert, in Hollywood Park. It was really like the country, because we had the TB sanitarium on one side and the Boys Parental School across the street. There were no houses across from us and it was beautiful.”

“Oh, my! Well, here’s your father.”

“Bye, talk to you later.” (And bye to you, too, Dad.)

“So, now do you believe me, Gert?”

“My God, Morrie! What’s the matter with you? You tell me you lived in a bungalow and now your daughter says it was by a TB sanitarium and a school for bad boys. I don’t know what to do with you!”

Morrie couldn’t understand what Gert was so upset about and Gert was confused about Morrie’s story. He never mentioned it again.

 * * * 

The next year, Morrie brought Gert to Chicago to visit our family. His first order of business was to have me drive them around the city to give Gert a chance to see where he lived and worked before his retirement. We drove to our old bungalow at 5631 N. Central Park Avenue and parked in front.

bungalow

 

“Well, Gert, here’s my bungalow,” Morrie anxiously offered, fearing more criticism on his life.

“Morrie, you’re doing it again. Stop kidding me. This is a lovely home. It’s not a bungalow. Why have you been teasing me all this time?”

Exasperated and worn-out, Morrie responded, “Gert, this is a bungalow. That’s what you call this type of house in Chicago.”

After seconds of silence, Gert apologetically replied, “Oh, Morrie, I’m so very sorry. You see, to me a bungalow is a shack-like house you rent for a few weeks on the Jersey shore. No one would live there full time, let alone raise a family. I couldn’t imagine anyone living like that and you kept telling me you did. I really had my doubts about you.”

dormer

 

What a relief. Morrie could finally tell her of his life in the bungalow; of his pride of ownership, how he transformed the dormer upstairs into my brother’s room. He praised his workshop down in the basement; an opening into the wall. How he painted the garage a turquoise blue, because the color was on sale. The tuck pointing job he completed on his vacation time. The front steps re-cemented for his children’s friends to gather. The yard filled with flowering bushes surrounding an ornate sewer cover. What satisfaction he received attending to the upkeep of his house.

The TB sanitarium became a beautiful park and the Parental School became the Chicago Teacher’s College and later Northeastern University. The spruce tree was still standing, having grown taller than the house. Morrie spoke lovingly about his bungalow and Gert finally got it.

The bungalow still stands, a testament to the uniqueness of Chicago and of a special man, Morrie Powitz.

(c) 2011 Charlene Gelber

My thanks to Charlene (Powitz) Gelber  for sharing her story about our old neighborhood. Although we met recently, Charlene lived three blocks south of my family’s home on Central Park Avenue. My parents always used to say to the same thing about our street: “We bought this house because it’s like the country here.”

23 Responses to The Bungalow

  1. Elaine August 28, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    Wonderful story; however, I don’t see the spruce tree!

  2. Frances Archer August 28, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    Elaine, I have more from Charlene coming up in the future. The spruce tree is gone. The story was written while the spruce was still standing. As a former Central Park Avenue resident I am guessing what might have happened is either natural disaster struck the tree or the roots may have gotten into the sewer line. It happens all the time with trees planted in front yards and parkways in Chicago.

  3. Judi Edidin Tuchten August 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    Frances,
    Another house type in Hollywood Park and Peterson Park was called a “Georgian.” I’ll work on sending you a picture of my house that I moved into when I was 4. I thought it was a mansion, after moving from a 1 bedroom apartment in Albany Park. Our house was the only Georgian on our block that consisted of mainly look-a-like two flats. Although, there are many interspersed throughout the neighborhood. I lived at 5654 N. St. Louis, near the corner of Hollywood and St. Louis. My parents moved after I graduated from Von Steuben High School. It was where I grew up and I loved that house! Thoroughly enjoy reading your posted information, and happy belated birthday.
    Judi

  4. Frances Archer August 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    Thanks, Judi, for both the birthday wishes and leaving a comment. I’ll check your house out next time I’m in the neighborhood. As a kid, I used to think most the corner houses were mansions!

  5. Riva Blechman August 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    I enjoyed Charlene’s story and hearing the history. I live in Budlong Woods, only a few blocks from her old turf. Look forward to reading more.

  6. Frances Archer August 28, 2011 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks, Riva. I’ve asked Charlene to contribute another story, so look for that within the next couple weeks. I came to Hollywood Park from Budlong Woods, so I feel entitled to include that area in my blog coverage as well.

  7. Sonia Caceres August 29, 2011 at 1:33 am #

    What a charming story Frances…I truly enjoyed reading it. I want Gertie to know that I own a Chicago brick bungalow in that same neighborhood that Morrie set his roots in. I happen to think that the architecture of my 1920’s home exudes an enchanting quality within its vintage walls. Now I understand why I’ve heard some of the people that I told that I lived in a bungalow gasp at the thought of it. It just goes to show that everything in life is all in interpretation…but hearing Gertie’s thoughts have given me a bit more clarity to her definition of bungalow. Thanks for sharing that and a bit of Morrie’s heartful path with us all…it was a lovely read!

  8. sara nuss-galles August 29, 2011 at 1:57 am #

    what a sweet story. having lived in albany park and then rogers park i know those “bungalows” well and always admired them. Mr. Powitz rightfully took pride in the lovely home he and his wife created for their family. thank you, Charlene.

  9. Frances Archer August 29, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    Sonia, how lucky you are! I bet your home is beautiful. Thanks for visiting, and I know the author Charlene appreciates your comments.

  10. Frances Archer August 29, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    Thank you for visiting the blog. So glad to hear you enjoyed Charlene’s story as much as I did.

  11. Christine Hancock August 29, 2011 at 8:13 am #

    Such a charming story, I never lived in a bungalow, we lived in a 2 flat that my father & his twin brother purchased at 3454 N. Lavergne but we were surrounded by bungalows on the entire block. These homes still hold a lot of charm for me.

  12. Frances Archer August 29, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Chris, I totally agree about the charm. Hollywood Park neighborhood has a particularly charming residential area, because all the homes and apartment buildings are brick and many are a vaguely English style.

  13. Mark November 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    Frances, thanks for sharing such a great story. It’s nice to see others who still take pride in their home. The bungalow is truly unique.

    Kind Regards.

  14. Frances Archer November 2, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Mark, thanks for visiting. The bungalows are great looking buildings and have held well through the years. I’m curious about the fact that within Hollywood Park proper – bordered by Bryn Mawr, Peterson, Jersey and Central Park — there are only brick structures, no frame. Would that have been part of the original subdevelopment plans? I believe the area was subdivided sometime in the early 20s, as I saw an ad dating around 1926 if I remember correctly.

  15. Mike Wolstein November 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm #

    Dear Frances,

    Loved reading your material. I grew up in Albany Park and graduated from Roosevelt in
    June of 1967.

    Somewhere in one of the links, I seem to remember a piece about the big snow of 1967.
    I have a few black & white shots that I took during that time, and I’d love to share them;
    there are two in particular that would bring back some memories. If you could give me
    an e-mail address (privately, of course), I’d be happy to send them along.

    Mike Wolstein
    Elk Grove Village

  16. Frances Archer November 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I would definitely be interested in posting your photos from the Big Snow. Here’s where I posted mine: http://francesarcher.com/2011/02/my-chicago-blizzards/. I will send you an email with me email address.

  17. Bobby Leavitt May 26, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    I lived at 5711 N. Drake from 54-64 and we had a bungalow. I went to Peterson & Von and would love to connect with more of my former buddies.
    I live in Scottsdale, AZ. Loved the Hollywood Bowl, Whilrly’s, HotDogs, Tong’s and Plotkin’s Pharmacy.

  18. David magnus July 10, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

    What did those bungalows sell for in 1954?

  19. Frances Archer July 22, 2014 at 8:55 am #

    Well, they were around $25K in the ’60s. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. Bob Leavitt July 22, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    I lived at 5711 Drake and went to Peterson School. I remember the TB Sanitarium and when the built the College on St. Louis & Bryn Mawr.

    I love the website!!

  21. Frances Archer August 10, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by, Bob. The TB sanitarium is an amazing site — we just didn’t know it back then. It was locked up and we had no idea of how the beautiful the grounds are. I was there this weekend, and the trees — some of them are probably 100 years old — are amazing.

  22. Howard Korengold November 29, 2014 at 12:15 pm #

    Hi Frances; I think that I am among the oldest living Hollywood Parkers. I started Peterson kindergarten in 1938. Several of my classmates are still friends. We lived in the 3 flat on Bryn Mawr between Drake and Central Park. It was the only building on the north side of the street between Bernard and Pulaski. On the south side of Bryn Mawr there may have been a building or two near Kimball. Westward from St Louis on the south side of BrynMawr was a farm tended by the parental school boys or rented to a farmer. West of the farm was the Bohemian cemetery. We moved to Albany Park in 194l and I went to Volta. While living in Albany Park my dad went into the navy and we moved some more and went to 3 other schools(and one in Rhode Island for a few days.) After the war my father built our home at 5741 N Central Park. I re-entered Peterson 6 weeks before graduation and graduated with the friends I left in second grade. Howard K.

    rhode Island

  23. Frances Archer December 1, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    Howard– so nice to hear from you. I would love to write up more details about what you remember of the neighborhood. I’ll be in touch. Tomorrow I’m stopping at my mother’s so I’ll take a photo of your old house on Central Park.

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