Albany Park: The Novel

albany_Park_novelBorn into a large Jewish Albany Park family at the height of the Depression, Myles “Mickey” Golde knows a thing or two about the neighborhood. He knows the places where children played their games, where teens hung out, where sports teams competed, where bets were made, and where people went to eat, work and pray.

Like a lot of families during the Depression, the Goldes moved to a different apartment every time they couldn’t pay the rent and were evicted. Between the moves and school boundary changes over the years, the five Golde children ended up attending different grade schools. Some went to Volta, some to Hibbard or Peterson, but between 1943 and 1950 five Golde kids graduated from Von Steuben High School. They all loved it.

The late 1940s were a legendary time at both Von Steuben and in Albany Park. After the war, life became more vibrant. People were making some money, going out and having fun. Oh, and there were a lot of kids around.

“Albany Park was a fabulous community in the forties,” recalls Golde. “It was full of colorful, interesting people. There were smart people, hustlers–all kinds. At the time I was growing up, Albany Park was 90 percent Jewish. It felt like a big club. We all knew each other or you knew someone they knew. ”

From Lawrence to Peterson Avenue, Albany Park to Peterson Park, all the public grade schools fed into Von Steuben. The kids had so many places to hang out. Besides parks and Jewish community center, there was Rudisch’s, Purity, Cooper & Cooper, Glick’s drug store, and Lou’s pool hall, to name a few. On weekend nights there were hundreds of kids at these places.

Golde has taken all these rich memories, mixed in some history and imagination, and written a colorful novel. Simply titled Albany Park, it’s a  work of fiction but you’ll swear you know these people and their lives. The story follows two Von Steuben freshmen who are in and out of love with each other for fifty years. Although the characters leave Albany Park and venture into the world, Albany Park never leaves them.

If you enjoy reading about old school ethnic Chicago, you’ll enjoy this light journey back in time to the latter half of the 20th century. You’ll especially enjoy this book if you remember Albany Park in its glory days, or if  like me, you wonder what you missed. While I recognize most places named  in this book, they just weren’t the same by the late sixties and early seventies. I’m glad I finally had the chance to experience them in Golde’s novel.

(Disclosure: the author provided me with a review copy of this book.)


8 Responses to Albany Park: The Novel

  1. Jerry Pritikin September 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm #

    The cover is misleading… because the street signs of that era were yellow, and the Sears(Willis) Tower was 20 years into the future of the 1950’s. However Albany Park in those days had Milk trucks from Bowman,Kramel,and Western United showing up in the alley’s on a daily basis. The sign of progress was TV antennas on roof tops and Green Hornet street cars replacing the big red wood streetcars that were from the early 1930s. You never heard of robberies,muggings or homes being broken into. There were Kosher meat markets and mom & pop candy stores owners that knew our names. It was pre-franchise days with the exception being Woolworths 5 & 10 cent store. Corner drug stores with names like Singers, or Stineway’s. When side streets had 2 way traffic and telephone numbers had names like Juniper and Independence before them. Movie theaters had names like the Terminal,Metro,Admiral and Alba. It was our world and neighbor knew neighbors, and chances were they were also your relatives. And many of your friends then are still friends now. Often school kids married their first loves… and even though you and your families and friends might of moved to the suburbs or out of state, you are an Albany Parker for the rest of your life!

  2. Arnie Solars September 6, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

    I have always said that I was a charter member of the APHWA:that is Albany Park Heb With Attitude.How correct is the statement,”You are an Albany Parker for life”..I grew up in AP at the right time, the best carefree and enjoyable times of my life.

  3. John Erickson September 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm #

    I read it and found it interesting despite the fact I was a naive youth growing up on the periphery of the Jewish life looking in prior to graduating from Von in January, ’45 and moving on. My life centered in the Foster-BrynMawr-River Park area when Budlong Woods was an empty expanse. I did enjoy relating to much of the Lawrence-Kedzie-Crawford neighborhood, though, and, as said, “you never leave Albany Park”..

  4. Myles Golde September 29, 2012 at 2:15 pm #

    I’ve recently met some people who purchased “Albany Park” after reading your review on “Me and My Shadow.” Thanks for spreading the word.

  5. Myles (Mickey) Golde December 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm #

    Thank you all. I am extremely pleased with the latest (September 30th) sales reports of
    “Albany Park” from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Authorhouse. The reviews have also been terrific.

    How about sending a copy to someone for Hanukkah or Xmas.

  6. Bob Sachs August 8, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

    Graduate of Hibbard and Von Steuben (Jan. 1957). Lived 5012 N. Troy, 4939 N. Kedzie and 5047 N. Spaulding. I write short fiction and much of it comes from experiences in Albany Park. Sites like this are very helpful in adding details and texture to my writing. Many thanks.

  7. Frances Archer August 10, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    Bob, thanks for stopping by. We’d love to review any of your work about Albany Park and share it on the blog. You can use the contact form on my blog to get in touch with me.

  8. Barry Henry January 7, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    I just finished this book. I thought is was very good. I had a hard time putting it down. I can remember many of the places and it seems like I know so many of the people Mickey writes about.

    I lived in Albany Park from 1946-1951 and 1959-1966.

    Great and thanks for writing Albany park.

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