I Scream, You Scream, We All Screamed for Loree’s

Robert “Bob” Dicker behind the counter at Loree’s in 1962, the year he and his wife, Sybil Dicker, bought the snack shop / ice cream parlor.

In this summer of record-breaking temperatures, my mind is on ice cream. In particular, I’m remembering the fabulous ice cream parlors of my childhood. During the sixties, several businesses on Chicago’s Far North Side were famous for what were called “ice cream creations.”

I’m not sure anyone still uses that phrase, but it meant more than a scoop or two on a sugar cone. Drama and excitement were dished out with over-the-top, imaginatively named sundaes, shakes and sodas at places like Buffalo’s on Irving Park, Lockwood Castle on Devon and, in my own neighborhood, Loree’s Snack Shop.

Loree’s was a much-loved restaurant and ice cream parlor at 3232 West Foster Avenue in the North Park community, frequented by both North Park College (now University) and Von Steuben High School students. From 1962 to 1972,  Loree’s was owned by the parents of my Peterson School classmate, Gayle Dicker. I asked Gayle to share the background of her family’s business.

Customer Favorites

Ice cream creations were the big draw, but Loree’s was a full-service diner. Here are a few items from Loree’s menu and the people who recalled them on a recent Facebook thread:

  • Toasted pecan roll and coffee (Debbie Fishbein)
  • Test Pilot Sundae (Merle Citrin Monroe)
  • Eggs over medium, bacon, hash browns, coffee (Les Neudorf)
  • Sundaes with multicolored whipped cream (Ferne Slotky Berman)

Gayle tells me another very popular item was the francheezie, a hot dog covered in melted cheese and wrapped in bacon. She explained that the Test Pilot Sundae had chocolate chips and two sugar wafers sticking out from the ice cream scoops like the wings of a plane. She also recalled milk shakes blended in metal cups on an old-fashioned milk shake mixer, “Sweet 16” sundaes and banana splits as being customer favorites. Her father made fresh whipped cream on site and added food coloring to it.

Syble Dicker at Loree’s, 1962.

The original owners of Loree’s named the place after their daughter. The Dickers kept the name and the menu, but expanded the list of ice cream specialties.

No Piece of Cake

As popular as Loree’s was, it was no gold mine, Gayle told me. Her father put in long hours: breakfast through dinner added up to 15-hour days and Loree’s was open seven days a week. In fact, since her father always worked during dinner hours, Gayle and her mother and sister often went to the restaurant for dinner so they could see Bob. They also got to see Gayle’s grandmother, who worked at the restaurant and lived in the apartment building next door.

The business became even more family-run when Gayle started waitressing in eighth grade. She still remembers the first time she worked a Saturday night and made $13 in tips. At the time, it seemed like a small fortune .

Despite the hardships of owning a restaurant, Bob Dicker loved his work, Gayle says. He enjoyed talking to students and being his own boss. Ultimately, however, the hours were too much for the family and they sold the business. The new owners tore down the wall separating the adjacent storefront to enlarge the restaurant and kept it open as Loree’s for many years. Today, it’s a Starbucks.

Loree’s is one of many examples of former small businesses in this community that were owned by families who lived in the neighborhood.

Current street view from Google Maps.

25 Responses to I Scream, You Scream, We All Screamed for Loree’s

  1. Christine Hancock July 24, 2012 at 7:10 am #

    Great article. It brought back a lot of memories for me. We used to visit Lockwood Castle on the way to going to visiting my grandparents.

  2. Debbie Fishbain July 24, 2012 at 9:27 pm #

    Thanks Gayle and Frances! I miss the old days, places like Loree’s within walking distance. Brings back great neighborhood memories!

  3. Frances Archer July 24, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Hi, Debbie! Thanks for stopping by. Wasn’t everything within walking distance?

  4. Frances Archer July 24, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    Chris, your visits are always appreciated. Hope all is well.

  5. Howard Glantz August 5, 2012 at 1:32 pm #

    The original owner of Loree’s was Jim and Loree Larson who’s Larson’s Sports Store burned down one block west of Sawyer. The Sports Store sold ammunition and the CFD would nor enter to put out the fire because of the risk. I think Loree’s opened in the late “50’s.

  6. Frances Archer August 5, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Howie, thanks for providing that interesting bit of background on Loree’s. Do you know if they were Swedish, and did they live in the area?

  7. renee chernoff October 17, 2012 at 5:58 am #

    they had the best milk shakes on the planet!!!!!

  8. Ben Kirman March 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Hello to all

    Another ice cream type place on Foster just West of Kimball was the TasteeFreez that was owned by my 8th grade teacher at Budlong School in the early 50s. I will need to ask to add his name since he is still very much alive. He was/is a really great guy. When our class graduated in June 1956 he asked several of us if we wanted to work in the shop. It was a one of a kind job and I loved it and remember it to this day. The building is still there according to Google and it is now a Subway. Does anyone remember it from the mid-50s?

  9. Merle March 8, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    I remember the Tastee-Freeze. I think it was owned by the Cohen Family in the 60’s and last I heard, the daughter lives in Deerfield

  10. Frances Archer March 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Hi, Merle. Did the Cohen family also live in our area? Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Ben Kirman March 18, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    My 8th grade teacher who owned the TasteeFreez in the 50s was (stll is) Mr. Spielman. While I and my friends loved working there, business was never very good. Some walk-up traffic, but the site was not really right for this kind of business. It was too close to Kimball to allow street parking and the lot was small and the driveway to it came up too suddenly. My boss sold it in 1959.

  12. Frances Archer March 20, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

    Hi, Ben. I agree. It was not an easy location to walk to, and we walked everywhere back then.

  13. Frances Archer March 20, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Ben, I’m still catching up with all these terrific comments. The building is still there. In fact most of Foster is still there, just different signs on the storefronts. I was at Budlong for kindergarten and half of first grade, early 60s. The kindergarten teacher’s name was Miss Dudee and that’s just one of the things I’ll never forget. I can remember walking along Washtenaw and the older kids teasing us, “what’s your teacher’s name?”

  14. Ben Kirman March 21, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Hi

    I just noticed an error in my original post about the TasteeFreez on Foster, it was just East of Kimball, not West; sorry about that. The owner in the mid-50s and my 8th grade teacher at Budlong was Mr. Spielman. He is still very much with us, just turned 85 and lives in a retirement home in Deerfield; sharp as ever and a really great guy!

    While TasteeFreez strictly controlled what could actually be sold our creative crew came up with some really interesting treats for internal consumption only. I might just have to post about that if anyone might care.

  15. Mark Magel April 3, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    Great memories of Loree’s and the Tastee Freez on Foster. I remember my friend kenny Turkin always driving the people at the Tastee Freez nuts by asking for a chocolate malt and shaking it a lot. The place we always hung out at circa late 50s to mid 60s was Zfaney’s drug store on Foster and Kimball. They had this soda fountain and Mr. Zfaney always treated us like family. I remember the drinks they called fruitees that were non carbonated and I think cost a nickel or a dime. They had the best chocolate sundaes at that soda fountain and it was our place to get the papers, check the scores and just be kids. I wish my kids had something like that when they grew up. Was a special time indeed.

  16. Dan Baughman September 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm #

    Hi,
    I have to share a story about Kenny Turkin….I was in “the Shadows of Knight” with Kenny, and toured with him for about 1 1/2 years. We were in Alabama (1967) just 3 of us out of the 9 in total including Mgr and roadies. We were in a creepy little diner one night w/ low ceilings and a counter with some pretty scary good old boys who clearly hated our long hair. It got REAL tense…conversation degraded to sheep shears and hanging. We kept hoping the rest of the crew (cavalry) would show up)…Well Kenny always carried a trusty Scripto view lighter, you know, the type that had a fish hook or pin up picture surrounded by the fluid.Kenny modified it to use butane, and that little lighter would blow out a rolling ball of fire about 10 ft. away and 6 ft in diameter. Quite a shocker!
    Just as we thought we were goners, Kenny leaned back in his chair w/ cigarette in mouth and let her rip. Kavooooom……the flame rolled out across the ceiling above….easily 12 ft in diameter….. with a mean heatwave that swallowed the room as well. Those men who wanted to kill us were absolutely stunned, and all went silent for a while. A long 10 minutes passed and sure enough our reinforcements arrived. We went on to our next tour date. Kenny was always joking and fooling around, but that evening his antics saved us. I will never forget that night, and the times I spent touring with Kenny…. D.B.

  17. Dan Baughman September 11, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    PS to the story above…..Kenny’s Little lighter only had one BIG shot like that. Then it was outta gas. We knew it……… but thankfully…….. those threatening men at the counter didn’t. His timing was perfect!…. D.B.

  18. Frances Archer September 11, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    Hi, Dan. Very excited to “meet” you hear and thank you for sharing the story of the lighter. Funny now, but probably not then. Share some more stories when you have the chance, especially Chicago area ones.

  19. Mark Magel September 14, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    Thank you Dan for your story on Kenny. We lost him way too young. Kenny’s older brother Ronnie and my brother were best friends and our parents became best friends. Kenny was always getting himself in trouble and I can remember that lighter like it was yesterday. Kenny was not only a great drummer but also a terrific athlete. He could throw with both hands, run like a gazelle and never really practised or cared. He just loved to play and had a zest for life that we all admired.

  20. Frances Archer September 23, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    Mark, thanks for sharing your recollections. Wish I had known Kenny.

  21. Ed McHale August 11, 2016 at 10:33 am #

    Great story. North Park Special was my favorite.

  22. Frances Archer August 12, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    Thanks, Ed! Glad you enjoyed it.

  23. Bruce A. Whisler September 9, 2016 at 11:27 pm #

    Thanks for the memories, Frances. I worked as a soda jerk (oh PLEASE: that was “Fountain Engineer,” lol) at Loree’s through my North Park College years (1961-1966). Bob was my boss for the last four years. In fact, that may be yours truly seated to Bob’s left in the second picture. 🙂 I taught and then was in administration at a university in Florida. I’ve often said that I learned more about being an administrator at Loree’s than I learned in any college-level class, because I learned how to get along with all kinds of different people.

    Bob was a great boss: fair, honest, and generous. I missed him a lot when I moved to New York State in 1966. I’ve kept in touch with the folks at North Park, so have visited that area often when in Chicago. I still remember being there in 2008 and being shocked at seeing the Starbucks, because on my previous visit in 2006, I think Loree’s was still there. Anyway, thanks again!

  24. Frances Archer September 12, 2016 at 6:52 pm #

    That’s an amazing coincidence if it is you in the photo. Thank you for sharing your recollections. Starbucks is still there.

  25. Bruce A. Whisler September 12, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

    Thanks. I’m pretty sure I’m in that photo; I recognize the glasses and the long, narrow tie. 😀 I’ll be up there next week for an event at North Park. Maybe this time I’ll be able to walk into the Starbucks. So far that hasn’t happened, and I’ve made the trek to NP every other year since the Starbucks opened.

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