Scenes from the End of the Line

One of the regular contributors to this blog, Jack Decker, has generously shared his collection of six photographs of Albany Park during the 1960s. All except one of the photographs were taken around the Ravenswood ‘L” (now the Brown Line.) station at Kimball and Lawrence.

Jack graduated from Roosevelt, but married a Von girl, so he has friends from both schools that he’d love to reconnect with. If you know Jack and would like to get in touch, please use the Contact form to send me your email and I will forward your message to him.

Ravenswood L Terminal

Ravenswood “L” terminal station, circa 1960. Courtesy of Jack D. Decker.

1) Ravenswood “L” terminal station at Kimball and Lawrence avenues.

Kimball Avenue is the station I know best of all Chicago public transportation stops. My first trips were with my mother in the early 1960s, when I always wore a nice dress and good shoes to go downtown. By seventh grade, I was riding the Ravenswood “L”  in raggedy jeans with my friends, headed for State Street stores and a counter lunch in the basement of Field’s or Carson’s. It was a schlep to take the Kimball Avenue bus from Peterson to Lawrence and then the “L”  to the Loop and back on what may have been the slowest route in the system, but the round-trip fare was less than a dollar and we had nothing but time.

Chicago architect Arthur U. Gerber designed the station around 1909  in the style of Craftsmen bungalows which were common in the area. (1) During the years I rode the Ravenswood “L,” I wouldn’t have known what was meant by Craftsman style, but I knew I liked the cozy look of the station. It was replaced in 1973 with a steel and glass building that took away the charm of travelling from Albany Park into the city.

 

Chef Christopher restaurant

NW corner of Kimball and Lawrence, circa 1963. Courtesy of Jack D. Decker.

2) Chef Christopher’s restaurant

Help me out here!  I have no memories of this joint.

 

Deborah Boys Club

Deborah Boys Club, circa 1960. Courtesy of Jack D. Decker.

3) Deborah Boys Club

Not quite in the area of the Ravenswood terminal, but near enough at Ainslie and Kimball. I’ve written extensively about the community center, but I don’t mind saying it again: I really like the sharp angles and long lines of this compact corner building. In fact, it may be the best example of modern architecture in Albany Park.

 

National Bank of Albany Park

National Bank of Albany Park, circa 1960. Courtesy of Jack D. Decker.

4) National Bank of Albany Park under construction

This story that requires more research or comments from the readers, please. The bank in this photograph appears to be the same building as the Albany Park National Bank at 3424 West Lawrence in this photograph from about 1915. Did the name change from Albany Park National Bank to National Bank of Albany Park, or was this a different bank?  And did its name later shrink like a wool sweater thrown in the dryer to Albank?

Update:  Thanks to reader Lisa for researching the background of the financial institution. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune (June 24, 1953) the Albany Park National Bank closed during the Depression. The reorganized bank known as National Bank of Albany Park re-opened in 1953.

 

National Bank of Albany Park

National Bank of Albany Park, 1960. Courtesy of Jack D. Decker.

5) National Bank of Albany Park Grand Opening

It seems pretty clear that this is the same building as the one in the 1915 photograph, yet Jack describes it as the Grand Opening. Was it closed for some time?  And, any idea where the short-order cook who is about to feed the meter worked? Mitch’s? Cooper & Cooper?

 

Terminal Theater

Terminal Theater. Courtesy of Jack D. Decker.

6)  The day the movies stopped running 

Jack tells me this photograph was taken the day after a fire at the Terminal. Much has been written about the Terminal Theatre on Cinema Treasures, a site devoted to old theaters.The comments alone are worth the price of admission.

 

Notes

1. www.Chicago-L.org

Thanks to Mike Wolstein for his help in identifying the dates of the photographs.

,

41 Responses to Scenes from the End of the Line

  1. Paul November 11, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

    I remember a little of this but I went to Roosevelt 57-8-9 graduated in 60 But thank you for the pictures

  2. Jerry Pritikin November 12, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    It was not the end of the line… it was the beginning! However my stop was Kedzie. For most who rode the “el” system it was just a few stops that were at street level. We moved to Albany Park in 1944. It was interesting from that point in time to watch the changes,especially after WWll ended. The advent of TV antennas on roof tops,the post war buildings and the familiar sites that disappeared like Bowman Dairy, and Standard Brands makers of Baby Ruth and Butterfingers near the Fullerton stop. The factory stacks that puffed black smoke into the air. The switching of old wood cars and cane seats to more modern cars. Windows that open that cooled you during the summers. Just the sounds screeching along the tracks. Thanks for making me think of my youth and one of the perks when leaving our neighborhood for trips downtown.

  3. eugene schultz November 12, 2014 at 8:27 am #

    If you notice the newsstand at L terminal, it was the neighborhood bookie joint where we placed our bets.

    The restaurant at the NW corner of K & L became Demars in the early 60’s; I worked at the Ice Cream shop next door.

  4. Pam Damato Carlson November 12, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    I remember the dances held in the parking lot of the bank in the early sixties..Dick Biondi was MC at one of them..my brother and future sister in law won for best male and female dancers on the north side…fond memories of those dances..

  5. Frances Archer November 12, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    I recall a newstand inside the station — were there two? Thanks for stopping by and sharing your recollections.

  6. Frances Archer November 12, 2014 at 9:31 am #

    Pam, thanks for visiting. I hadn’t heard about the dances. How fun!

  7. Frances Archer November 12, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    Jerry, so good to hear from you and as always I appreciate your stories. I also remember that screeching, the open windows. For many of the years I rode the Ravenswood line, there were A and B trains, maybe only during rush hour; not sure about that. But it took me a while to catch on to the fact that some trains didn’t make every stop and I remember having to get off at an unfamiliar stop and figure my way to my destination on foot.

  8. Ralph November 12, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

    @ Eugene “If you notice the newsstand at L terminal, it was the neighborhood bookie joint where we placed our bets.”

    So was the one at the Loyola El stop on the Red Line in the mid 1970’s.

  9. Morrie November 12, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    If I am not mistake Jack lived above Chef Christopher’s restaurant.

  10. Ralph November 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

    Here is a picture of the El from 1929. It sure didn’t change much over the years.

    http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/11081.html

    from the Encyclopedia of Chicago

  11. Jerry Pritikin November 12, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    I was about 8 years old and a friends father asked us to go for a walk. He went into the back of the hardware store on the SE corner of Broadway and Roscoe from the outside door and I could see a bunch of men and some blackboards. I remember him coming out and buying us a couple of Good Humor Ice Cream Bars at a dime each. Somewhere I have a used ice scream stick stamped with FREE ICE CREAM BAR. Bookie joints were every where and even the neighborhood hair dressers My dad’s bookie place was at Joe’s Barber Shop, next to Weinstein’s on Lawrence. But the best action was always the Right Field bleachers just down and to the right. The same place that the stage play Bleacher Bums is set. I remember a guy named Stacy lost an apartment house betting on one of those silly “what if’s” bet. I even had a bet with Pete Rose. I was wearing my Interstellar Propeller and had a press card. Long story short I won the bet! In other words beside the world being a stage… it’s also a bookie joint!

  12. eugene schultz November 12, 2014 at 1:52 pm #

    Yes, the same person owned both. The outside one was for newspaper and bets only. Inside was news, candy, cigarettes, magazines, etc.

  13. Frances Archer November 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Ha. Ha. I stood there waiting for the Kimball bus all those years and didn’t have a clue what was going on.

  14. Frances Archer November 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Great story!

  15. Frances Archer November 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

    Hi, Morrie! Nice to hear from you again.

  16. eugene schultz November 12, 2014 at 5:31 pm #

    I missed a year of college sitting in those right field seats. I think we were paying somewhere between $.25 and $1.00 a ticket back then. The betting was intense. I once bet Al Mozur that he couldn’t stop the game (time out); he threw a ball on to the field but the right fielder threw it back into the stands before a time out. I won that bet, but also lost plenty.

    My grandfather ran the book at his newsstand on 16th and Springfield, one of my uncle’s ran the book in the garment district, another at the main garage of the Checker cab company. The good old days were very good.

  17. Lisa M November 12, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Jack is right! In a Wednesday, June 24, 1953 Chicago Tribune article it says that the National Bank of Albany Park was a “newly organized” bank which was having a grand opening (on Saturday, June 27, 1953) and that the building occupied by the bank had, at one time, housed the Albany Park National Bank which had closed in the Depression.

  18. Bobbie (Lerner) LeVan November 12, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    my dad told me he knew mike todd’s father. he said his father worked at the newsstand at kimball and lawrence at one time. i didn’t know that the terminal had a fire. so sad. i went to that theater from the early 1950s and all through high school. so many memories there. i also remember the dances on friday nights in the parking lot next to the bank. i sure do miss those days.

  19. Frances Archer November 13, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    Lisa! thanks so much for looking up the background. Makes perfect sense. That bank building was empty for a long time.

  20. Frances Archer November 13, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Wow! Bobbie, what a great bit of history to uncover. There are just a ton of interesting bits about Albany Park.

  21. Frances Archer November 13, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    Gene, if you are on facebook, check out the group called “Albany Park, Chicago” There’s a discussion of Terry’s Smoke Shop and related operations. The thread started on November 9. Here is the link https://www.facebook.com/groups/115122635188798/872166682817719/?notif_t=group_comment_reply

  22. eugene schultz November 13, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Thank you Frances; I am on the Albany Park site, and have commented on Terry’s and other issues.

  23. Lisa M November 17, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Thank you, Frances! These are some great stories… and photos.

  24. Ralph November 19, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Another picture of Kimball and Lawrence from 1968, per David Wilson. He has some great pictures from around the city as well.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidwilson1949/3189341963/in/set-72157612263266080

  25. Frances Archer November 19, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    Ralph, thanks for sharing this photo. It is a great one. Kimball Avenue bus had the trolley lines too, if I remember correctly.

  26. len November 20, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Frances, no trolleys on Kimball back to the mid 50’s. Before that, I am not sure. The pictures show the no left turn signs at kimball & lawrence which were the greatest Chicago revenue producers until the current speed cameras which are of course mainly for safety. There was often an officer on foot who would just flag down the offenders and write ticket after ticket.

  27. Frances Archer November 21, 2014 at 8:51 am #

    Hi, Len. Very funny about the no left turn. The tricky ones have the no left turn during rush hours. I must be thinking of another street with the trolley buses.

  28. Jerry Pritikin November 21, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    Kimball never had a streetcar line and always was a bus line as it turned into Homan near Logan Square.

  29. Roger Cohn November 26, 2014 at 12:18 am #

    Kimball had trolley buses between 1931 and 1937. They ran between Petersen & Leland. When they were replaced by regular buses, the line was extended to Logan Square.

    There were 4 streetcar lines that ran through or along the edge of Albany Park. Montrose was converted 7/29/1946, Kedzie 12/4/1949, Lawrence 4/1/51 & Pulaski 9/15/51. The CTA was formed in 1947. Conversion to buses had been slow paced until then, but accelerated in 1948. It took the CTA a mere 10 years to destroy the world’s largest streetcar system.

    Lawrence was the furthest north arterial in the city to have it’s own streetcar line, However Devon Ave. still had streetcars between Broadway & Kedzie, the northern terminus of the Broadway-State line, which was converted in 1957.

  30. Frances Archer November 27, 2014 at 1:06 am #

    Thanks, Roger.

  31. Ira Baygood December 20, 2014 at 11:50 pm #

    When we went downtown, usually to The Treasure Chest Arcade, one of the many movie houses, and to the .99cent steak house on Randolph/State, it was faster to take the Peterson bus to the Bryn Mawr (Broadway) El. (Howard-Englewood, Red Line) and get off at the Randolph/State subway stop. Same way to go to Wrigley Field. The Bryn Mawr Tap was Hollywood Liquors and Lounge, owned by my friend Al’s Dad, Henry Pomerance. I recall many days spent on Bryn Mawr Ave. Lived at 5831 N Drake.

  32. Frances Archer December 21, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

    Ira, I realized at some point it was faster to take the Peterson bus, but I never did it — I felt more comfortable waiting for the train at the Kimball station than on the Howard line, and this would have been late 60s / early 70s, which may make a differeance. I recognize the name Pomerance from our neighborhood. There was a Goldberg family a few houses north of you, same side of Drake.

  33. William Shapiro December 23, 2014 at 4:03 am #

    I remember the pot belly stove inside the Kimball station. Sure kept me warm on those cold winter days in the 60’s as I waited for a bus.

  34. Mike Georgas January 31, 2015 at 9:51 pm #

    I remember walking East on Lawrence from Monticello on the South side of the street with my Mother in 1965 on our way to get my SS# and open a savings account at The Albany Park Bank. I remember they gave me a piggy bank in the shape of their building. There was a hotdog stand inside of the Kimball L station until it was updated and a little store that was like a head shop too. But we were loyal Maury’s Customers I miss that guy he was like the bar tender that would always listen to his customers and give his own sage advice like he was every one’s Father and you can’t forget the Two Barbers who started out as partners and split up only a block apart. Sam and Sol those two guys had the Number Tattoo’s on the inside of their forearms. Everyone who asked them about it got a history lesson that was never taught in any school told with powerful emotion from the personal experience of living through that hell. I just learned that IBM is the company that sold the machine to the Nazis that generated those tattoo numbers they were like a VIN number on a car that told the person’s entire story each number in it’s placement meant something. The next block East of the Train Station is Sawyer Ave. National foods was on the South West corner of Lawrence and Sawyer. In one of the two small store fronts on the East side of Sawyer was where Bill Ayers and his wife with the Weatherman underground had opened up a used book store it was funded by Red China and full of Communist reading material. They were openly teaching the Communist doctrine complete with all the propaganda to all of the little school children in the area during what they called story hour. Their mistake was to let the children bring the stuff home to indoctrinate the parents. My dad and his WWII and Korean War Vet friends wanted to Lynch them it was no joke! They all went to the Seventeenth Police District to raise hell about it. It sure got Richard J’s attention because they cleaned that place out in an hour at the time Bill Ayers was wanted for blowing up the Police Statue that stood on the South Side Of Water Street near by the entrance to the Expressway. When they repaired the police statue they moved it across the Street at the Expressway entrance. Part of my de-briefing of all the Commie stuff was a trip to see those two barbers with my parents and everyone of those Vet’s just to drive the point home why what they did was wrong.
    The same guy is our Democratic President’s friend that’s the history they want us to forget.
    I associate the Democrat ticket with Communism now because of my experience with Bill Ayers and his wife it’s part of the untold history of Chicago.

  35. Annarina February 22, 2015 at 11:55 am #

    I love getting interesting tidbits from my old stomping ground. I graduated from Roosevelt in Jan 1960.

    Thanks

  36. +Howard Korengold March 9, 2015 at 11:31 am #

    Seeing the picture of the Deborah Boys Club brings back memories. My grandparents lived in the apartment building just west of the club. At the time the lot was improved with concrete foundations of apartment buildings which were never built, probably because of the Depression. I was not allowed to play in the vacant lot although I really wanted to. Also, across the street from the apartment was a Jewish home for the aged(They were probably younger than I am now). On a couple of occasions, even though I was only 11 or12 I was drafted to be part of a minyan so the elderly men could do their prayers.

  37. jerry pritikin aka The Bleacher Preacher March 16, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    Back in 1950, when I was 13, I had come out of the Terminal Saturday movie with my friend Marvin Weiss. When we were approached by 2 elderly Jewish men offering us 50 cents each to make a minion after he asked us if we were Jewish. It was held in a dark attic. It was all Greek to me. Marvin was Bar Mitzva (at the Beldon Stratford Hotel). However, We did not participate except to stand up on Que. It may have been part of the Home for the Elderly. As were got older we switched going to the movies on Friday Night at the Terminal.

  38. Jerry Pritikin January 20, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    I knew many good communist who grew up in Albany Park,they were not indoctrinated by China or any other country.They too were Vets of WW ll and Korea, and wars that followed. They learned from their fathers,uncles and fellow workers what it was like before labor unions were created. The picture you painted sounded like the times of Joe McCarthy… turn in your neighbors! Albany Park was a great place because it was the melting block of ideas and good people. I ‘m glad I did not grow up in your household or had friends like your dad… because they were the problem and not the solution… thinking of taking on people who think different then them. The true American way… was through the courts or the ballot box. Lastly,I am proud to say my President has done a great job during the past 7 years. He has surrounded himself with all kinds of good people… not bigots.

  39. Mike Wolstein June 24, 2016 at 5:57 pm #

    My old friend Pam Damato (hi, Pam!!!) mentioned Dick Biondi emceeing the dances at the Albany Park Bank parking lot… I first met Dick doing the same thing at Deborah Boys’ Club on Kimball, around 1960. Dick and I have been “buds” ever since.

    On the subject of the Kimball “L” station: a friend of mine, a lady friend from Von Steuben, and I, used to meet up at the Terminal Grill for burgers and coffee on a Saturday night once in a while. We’d sit there and chat and drink coffee until 2 or 3 AM sometimes.

    One night, in 1974, I believe, we broke up our chat session around 2 AM, and I was too tired to drive home. I had the key to my parents’ place on St. Louis avenue, so I snuck in and crashed on their couch. The next morning, I walked back to pick up my car, which was parked near the Terminal, and the “L” station was gone. Demolished. I saw a worker standing near the corner, so I asked him what was going on, and he said they’d torn the old place down and were building a new one… I was probably the last non-construction person to see the old “L” station building. Very sad.

  40. Frances Archer June 24, 2016 at 6:07 pm #

    Hi, Mike! It’s been too long since we heard from you. Asa usual you have a great story to share.

  41. Mike Wolstein June 25, 2016 at 7:55 am #

    Hi, Frances! Good to hear from you, too. Looking forward to my 50-year (holy moley!) RHS reunion, and another meetup of Albany Parkers.

    Thinking about Dick Biondi… a lady friend of mine is in the process of producing a movie about the life and career of Mr. Biondi, who is a living legend in the world of radio and entertainment in general. Check it out at

    https://www.facebook.com/TheDickBiondiFilm

    In the picture on the front page of this site is a young lady in the crowd while Dick is signing autographs; she looks like a girl who was in my division at RHS! I wonder if it’s her.

    Be well!

    Mike

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes