David Schoeneman sent an email, introducing himself and giving me his Albany Park credentials: he attended Haugen Elementary School and graduated from Roosevelt High School; he had been a fountain boy at S&L and a regular at Purity Delicatessen; he got kishke to go from Harvey’s Deli and sold shoes at Maling’s, and he still has his Funny Fellows club jacket.
Did I want to talk to him about Lawrence Avenue, he asked. Of course I did.
First things first. David showed me his SAC jacket, which actually is a remake of the original. Then he took me on a virtual walk along Lawrence Avenue, from Kedzie to “Crawford” (now Pulaski), describing every storefront as though he were standing right there in front of them.
David shared many great anecdotes as I took notes for my long-delayed project of creating a page on this blog listing all the Lawrence Avenue businesses from the forties, fifties and early sixties, similar to my Bryn Mawr Avenue Business Hall of Fame. It will be fabulous once I get back in touch with all of you who have volunteered to contribute and get it done. In the meantime, enjoy David’s old neighborhood photographs.
David took the first photograph with his own Brownie camera, a present from his Bar Mitzvah, in the schoolyard at Haugen. The girls were in his eighth grade class, the class of January 1955.
If you’re wondering about the January graduation date, Chicago public schools used to have half-year graduating classes, in elementary school and high school. The practice must have been discontinued just as I was starting school. When I was in the second grade at Peterson, my class was 2B. By third grade, the letters were dropped, but I think the A’s had previously been used to designate the January classes, and B’s for the June graduates. I’m sure one of you can provide more details.
The Funny Fellows sometimes hung out at Jensen Park, on the northwest corner of Lawndale and Wilson, across from the Albany Park Congregation.
This building, at 4601 N. Lawndale, the northeast corner of Lawndale and Wilson, was the home of the Albany Park Hebrew Congregation. It was an enormous synagogue, with seating for 1,400 and a membership of 2,000 at its peak in 1950. The congregation merged with Shaare Tikvah in Hollywood Park during the 1960s.
And this lot at 3715 Wilson was the location of the Max Strauss Center. It was where the Funny Fellows held their meetings and where, as I tell everyone, I went to nursery school. I actually remember it well, but I was surprised to hear David refer to it as the JPI Max Strauss Center. I’ve always called it the Max Strauss JCC. I discovered these were the same organization: before 1946, the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago was known as the Jewish People’s Institute. The Max Strauss Center was built in 1941, and it was the first branch location opened by the West Side based organization.
South Haven Studs
From left, Funny Fellows David Schoeneman, Martin (Micky) Graber, Bob Marks and Howie LeVine. Bob and Howie went to Von Steuben, Micky and David went to Roosevelt. It was the last week of the summer after high school graduation, a final fling at the beach before leaving Albany Park and heading off to college.
Photos courtesy of David Schoeneman.
Related: Social Athletic Clubs, Chicago North Side, 1940s – 1970