When living in Hollywood Park meant living on the prairie

Howard Korengold

All the posts (and your great comments) on this blog connect in some way with where I am from and the experiences of others who also grew up in Hollywood Park and surrounding neighborhoods, but some posts have closer connections to Hollywood Park than others. This guest blogpost, written by Howard Korengold, really hits close to home.

Howard’s a fellow Peterson Elementary School and Von Steuben High School alum and also shares with me the good fortune of having lived on on Central Park Avenue across from the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium (now North Park Village). That’s him pictured in the photograph above, standing on Bryn Mawr with Central Park Avenue in the background, around 1940.

Howard and I lived two blocks apart–Howard at 5741 and me at 5915–though we were separated by a couple decades. From 1947 when Howard graduated from Peterson to 1970 when I graduated from Peterson, Central Park Avenue and the surrounding streets underwent a complete transformation.

As a kid walking back and forth between our house and Peterson Elementary School I took a little for granted Hollywood Park’s lovely tree-lined streets and charming Tudor Revival buildings. If I had tried to describe them, I would have simply said it was all–both the buildings and the neighborhood–very old. To me, modern meant Lincolnwood and Skokie.

Hollywood Park apartment building

If you showed up in the Hollywood Park neighborhood after the great post-war building boom, as my family did, you missed the wide-open prairie landscape of Central Park Avenue. And for whatever reason, it seems the post-war developers built apartment buildings and houses that looked exactly like those very first Hollywood Park structures that had gone up in the late 20s — bungalows and a mix of design elements borrowed from English Tudor and cottage styles. It wasn’t that the homes in my neighborhood were old, as I used to think; they just looked that way. In the mid-1940s, they were still using the architectural plans popular in the late-1920s.

My interview with Howard answered several questions I’ve had for some time now about how the area evolved, but I’ll write another post covering what we discussed. For now, I have reprinted the lively recollections he sent me. And by the way, this is Howard’s second appearance on the blog–he is pictured in the blogpost about Peterson Elementary School’s earliest social clubs, the Vulcans. Thank you, Howard, for sharing your stories about our neighborhood!

 

A GUEST BLOGPOST BY HOWARD KORENGOLD

If you go west on Bryn Mawr, to the second lot west of Drake Avenue, you will see a three-flat building. That is where my family lived from 1938 to 1941. I was five when we moved in and my sister Esther was born a few months later. On the north side of Bryn Mawr, ours was the only building. To the west there were vacant lots, which we called prairies, up to Central Park Avenue, which was gravel, not paved. Then the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium took up four block until Crawford (now Pulaski). The Sanitarium buildings occupied a small part of the site, which was fenced in on all sides and left in a wild state.

[Editor’s note: in the aerial photograph below, the building Howard lived in is visible above the letter “M” in Bryn Mawr. In 1939, when Howard lived there and this photgraph was taken, Howard’s building was the only structure on Bryn Mawr between Central Park and Bernard. Click on photo for an enlarged image.)

aerial view of Hollywood Park

Chicago Aerial Survey, 1939. CAPS_1939_19772_2, Chicago Aerial Survey 1939 #19772_2, Chicago Aerial Photo Services Collection, CAPS Collection (University of Illinois at Chicago

On the south side of Bryn Mawr there was, and is, the Bohemian National Cemetery. Giong east on Bryn Mawr there was 2-3 blocks of prairie before civilization. On the site of Northeastern Illinois University was the Chicago Parental School, bordered by Bryn Mawr, St. Louis, Foster and the cembetery. The Parental School was occupied by kids who were either in trouble or had been abandoned. Every day staff would take large groups of boys for walks around the neighborhood. I remember them passing our building. On Saturdays, the kids were marched to the Terminal Theater on Lawrence Avenue to see the double feature. On the Bryn Mawr side of the school lot, there were corn fields. I don’t know if the kids farmed the fields or the land was rented out to farmers.

Yes, there were still farmers in Chicago and I remember other farm sites. We played in the prairies, the main crop of which was ragweed. Ragweed could easily be yanked out of the ground and stripped of its leaves. You then had a 2 to 3 foot long sword for good sword fights.

I started Peterson Elementary School in 1938. There were no buses and we walked in any weather. I remember we played pinners in the playground and line ball on Thorndale or Ardmore, where there were no houses.

We moved in 1941 and I transferred to Volta School in Albany Park. My father, Maurice Korengold, who everyone called Korny, enlisted in the  Navy and we moved some more and I went to Gale and Stone schools. We moved around a lot and so did many families, especially during the Depression.

Korengold house on Central Park

The house that Maurice Korengold built in 1947 at 5741 N. Central Park Avenue.

When my father got out of the Navy in November 1945, he went into the construction business and built our house at 5741 North Central Park Avenue. We moved into our new house in 1947 and I went back to Peterson School six weeks before graduation. I graduated with the some of the same kids I started kindergarten with. But the cornfields were no more. My father built several houses on Central Park using the same plans. If you see other houses like ours, my father probably built them.

In 1947, the cornfields on Bryn Mawr had been converted into a trailer camp. During the war, there was housing shortage and the trailers were occupied by war workers. After the war, the trailers were occupied by veterans and their families. The Parental School was still there.

Central Park Avenue from Peterson to Bryn Mawr was the last street in Chicago to have gaslights. I suppose there were plans to switch earlier, but then the war intervened. I remember the lamplighter coming every evening and morning. In 1948 or so, Central Park Avenue joined the 20th century.

In November 1950, at the end of the soccer season, the entire Von Steuben High School soccer team was drafted into the ROTC. Usually the school gave you a choice, gym or ROTC, but we didn’t get a choice. They must have been afraid North Korea would invade Hollywood Park and wanted us to prepare for the attack. I remember on a December afternoon we were given rifles with no bullets or bayonets and marched down Foster Avenue to the vacant lots on St. Louis. We were taught to assault a North Korean stronghold in the vacant lots. We were victorious, but I cut my knee on a rusty tin can. We marched back to school. I think they called my mother and I ended up getting stitches. The government still owes me a Purple Heart.

The phrase “go by Koepke” sticks in my mind. Bob Koepke lived on Central Park a few houses north of Peterson. That area was really barren in the late 40s. On a tree next to Bob’s house was a basketball backboard. It was a great place to play street basketball because of the paucity of traffic, I remember the thrill of seeing guys from all over Chicago and who were All City, playing there.

by Howard Korengold

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22 Responses to When living in Hollywood Park meant living on the prairie

  1. Jerry Pritikin January 13, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

    There were many blocks in Albany park that had one or 2 empty lots… but the bulk were in Budlong Woods. That whole area was known as “bicycle paradise”. Most of the new buildings were single and duplex houses. In the late 40s, if you wanted to take a drive in the country… you drove to Skokie! The building boom there was great for first time owners. Some houses were attached to another sharing a retaining wall. Back in the early 50s, those unites usually sold for $19 to Twenty thousand bucks.

  2. Mike Wolstein January 13, 2015 at 3:39 pm #

    Wonderful story!

    Although I spent my childhood living a mile south of the where Howard and family lived, I still have interesting memories of that area. My dad and I used to take a hike every Sunday that took us through “bicycle paradise” along the North Shore Channel to Peterson, then west to Central Park and back south to Lawrence ave. One thing I’ll never forget is that there was a fence along Central park between Peterson and Bryn Mawr, and we would encounter pheasants that lived on the TB Sanitorium side of that fence. As we walked by, the birds would be ‘flushed out’; no idea where they were going. I also remember the beautiful Tudor design of the homes along Central Park and wondered why they were so “different” from the others in that area.

  3. Frances Archer January 13, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    Hi, Mike! Everyone remembers the pheasants. Howard mentioned them as well. I’ve heard others who recall that people jumped over the fence to hunt the pheasant during the Drpression. Hell, I remember the pheasant myself–after 1963.

  4. Frances Archer January 13, 2015 at 4:18 pm #

    I’ve heard that people went to Budlong Woods to practice driving because there were no houses there!

  5. ED SONKIN January 13, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

    also, on Saturdays, the boys from the parental school would march to the Admiral theatre on Lawrence and Harding followed by a guard and a German Shepard. up to the balcony they would go. I went to Volta and graduated from Von with Howie. Just north of where Howie lived in Hollywood Park was a Stop and Sock, 2 mintature golf courses and Kiddyland. Across the street, on Devon was the Milk Pail. Date nite was to take a bus or walk to the golf course, play a round and go for a thick milk shake at The Milk Pail.

    Those were the Days.

  6. Frances Archer January 13, 2015 at 6:47 pm #

    Hi, Ed! Nice to hear from you again. From the sound of your note, I’m guessing you know Howie. From Volta or Von, perhaps? I’d forgotten that Hollywood Kiddieland opened in the ’40s, so that is another experience that kids from area shared across the generations. And Milk Pail was also around in my day, but I don’t remember them having milk shakes. I wonder if they had discontinued selling them at some point, or it was just something we didn’t do. I guess once MdDonald’s opened, they may have cornered the market on milk shakes.

  7. Paul January 13, 2015 at 8:00 pm #

    Great story Thank you really enjoyed reading about all the old timers

  8. Frances Archer January 13, 2015 at 8:07 pm #

    Thanks, Paul. There are so many great stories to share!

  9. ED SONKIN January 13, 2015 at 8:11 pm #

    Frances: Yes I know Howie. I believe he is a cousin of my current girlfriend, Sabra Berman Pitler. He’s now living in Florida. Sabra is younger than I…………2 days. She lived in Albany Park on Monticello and Ainsle. She and I graduated from Volta and met up with Howie at Von. The mayor of Chicago’s mayor’s mom graduated a 1/2 year after we did. Jan ’52.

    1 of the miniature golf courses is still open at Lincoln and Devon.

    Nobody mentioned Marie’s Pizza. Still open on Lawrence and Kedvale ( I believe) My Anaconda buddies and I still go there on occasion.

    Becker’s Bakery on Lawrence and Springfield sold the best chocolate eclairs and apple slices. My mom would give me some $ on Sunday’s and I would race over there to get bagels, apple slices, rye bread, sliced of course, and an éclair for Edward. We would then wait for my dad to come home from his drug store and have lunch. Oh, the éclair was eaten on the way home.

    The terminal Grill on Kimball North of the tobacco shop on Lawrence was a good place to go, but for the best hamburgers and fries…………………….Cooper and Cooper.

    Roosevelt High school pool was open in the summer.

    The pool room on Lawrence west of Central Park is where a lot of us hung out. In the summer, after the pool room closed, we would hop on our bikes and ride over to River Park East, climb the fence and go swimming in the dark.

    I do remember that we couldn’t go to Gomper’s park. Jews were sought out and beaten. My Anaconda group had as a member, Babe Anderson. His brothers were in the Stegers, the main group doing the beatings. We were never bother as long as we had Babe with us.

  10. Harriet Wisch Vogel January 14, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

    This blog holds so many good memories for me. I grew up on Springfield and Ainslie from the time I was born (1936) until I got married in 1955. I don’t recognize most of the blogger’s names because I think they are much younger than I am according to what they write about; however, the last one written by Ed Sonkin really brought back some “delicious” moments in my life. My friends and I would go on Friday or Saturday nights to Marie’s Pizza Parlor. The fact that Ed says that it is still there really surprises me…..I went there c way back in the early 50s.

    Also, Becker’s bakery…..even after I was married and moved to Skokie, my dad would go to Becker’s and bring me a rye bread because theirs was the best.

    Ed, it sounds like you graduated from Von in 1952. My husband, Donald grew up on Lawndale and Ainslie….he graduated from Von in 1950. My mom had many friends with sons who were going to Von probably at the same time as you….Robert Kalmin, Roland Shapiro, Chuck Lippa, Mort Malitz…..any familiar to you???? I would go to the Admiral and pay 25 cents to get in and 5 cents for popcorn. Those were the days!

    We moved to Palm Beach County in FL in 1969 and I’ve been back to Chgo. several times. The old neighborhood looks pretty good…at least it did seven years ago the last time I was there. My son took me through Albany Park and actually was able to go into the apt. where I grew up and then went over to Volta and took a walk through. I just googled Earth Maps and took a virtual tour of the neighborhood……I am surprised to see fences around every building. I don’t think that looks good.

    Frances, thank you for the pleasure of receiving your blog!

  11. ED SONKIN January 15, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    Harriet: I graduated from Von June ’51. I was in the Anacondas and my buddies were bobby Kalmin, Chuckie Lippa and Mort Malitz. Howie Bernstein, Stash, Bobby Kalmin, Mel Goldstein and I meet once a month for dinner. I knew your husband. A classmate of mine, Arlene Garipando who lived on Lawndale and Ainsle, just passed away. She and members of her family would turn on and off the lights for us at the Albany Park Hebrew institute on the Sabbath. Her husband is Ron Alhman. graduated Jan ’51. I currently am dating Sabra Berman Pitler Volta and Von June ’51.

    How about the ice cream creations at Rudichs? Chocolate Phos’ at the grocery store on Springfield and Lawrence? No ice.

    Yes…………..Those were the days and a nice neighborhood.

  12. howard korengold January 15, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    Harriet, Glad you like this blog. I hope you enjoyed my story. You must have gone to Volta. I went to Volta as you probably did, but we moved to Rhode Island during the war. I’ve been married to a southside Harriet for almost 60 years. Those WERE the days. Howard K.

  13. Frances Archer January 15, 2015 at 9:55 pm #

    Harriet, welcome to the community and thanks for stopping by. We cover the decades here — there are some stories going back to the forties up until mid-1970s, when I graduated high school. I include people and places related to Albany Park, North Park, Hollywood Park and Peterson. Some stories I find on my own, but more often than not, readers contribute their recollections and photographs. — Frances

  14. Harriet Wisch Vogel January 16, 2015 at 11:09 am #

    Frances: Thanks for the welcome. I really am enjoying this venture into Blogland. ??

    Howard: Yes, I really enjoyed your story. I only remember Central Park after it had been built up and not as prairie.

    Ed: Thanks for the response. Please do me a favor and give Bobby Kalmin my email address. hrv1111@bellsouth.net His mother and my mom were “best friends” and I have so many good memories of our childhood. I would like him to bring me up to date on his family. The last time I saw his parents was when they visited So. FL. probably 40 years ago. I will anxiously wait to hear from him.

    You mentioned that you knew my husband. Fortunately, Don and I maintained friendships with several of our Volta/Von friends through the years. For myself, I continue to hold these friendships; however, Donald passed away in 1990. He had two very close buddies….one of which I continue to remain close to (Neal Mermall), however, the other one recently passed away and I think you might have known him since you knew Donald. It was Wally Ross who also grew up on Lawndale.

    Although Don and I both went to Volta/Von, we didn’t meet until after graduating from high school. Funny thing, he was four years ahead of me in school. So, although I didn’t know his classmates, I was friendly with many of their younger brothers or sisters. One in particular, you mentioned in your blogpost…..Arlene Grippando. Donald lived in the bldg. next to hers. He was very friendly with her…I, however, was in the same class with her sister, Carol Anne. You say that Arlene turned on the lights at the synagogue. The one across the street from where they lived was KJS…I thought. Don had his bar mitzvah from there. My cousin was president of the sisterhood in 1955 and so Rabbi Nathan Levinson performed our wedding ceremony.

    A few years ago I was corresponding with Mort’s brother Carl. We caught up with each other on Classmates. com. I believe he said that Mort lived in the Tampa area.

    Another thing you mentioned was the Terminal Grill on Kimball, north of the cigar store. Did you know that Bobby’s mom and dad owned the cigar store in the early 50s?

    And one more thing….Rudiches! Oh Yes…..do I ever remember the good ice cream!!!Unfortunately, I remember all the good food hangouts we had. That was the start of my love affair with food.

    Nice chatting with you Ed. Oh, and by the way, I do not know your friend Sabra…..I would have remembered such a lovely name. Also, Ed, what street did you live on???

  15. howard korengold January 16, 2015 at 12:52 pm #

    Harriet, I too lived on Lawndale from 3d grade until 1944 when we moved to Rhode Island until my dad went overseas.
    We lived at 5034 upstairs of Donnie Luber. I had a victory garden in Eugene Field park. Joel Kupperman, the quiz kid lived on Ridgeway right across the alley. I remember Bill Moll, Howie Duberstein, Earl Schneider and Bill …Schyman as Lawdaleites. You may have known my cousin Ethel Kurnick from Volta and Von.Are you in Florida? We are in Weston. Howard K

  16. ED SONKIN January 16, 2015 at 5:14 pm #

    I ALWAYS THOUGHT DON LUBER LIVED ON RIDGEWAY JUST SOUTH OF THE FIELD HOUSE. PHIL BLOOM LIVED NEXT DOOR TO HIM. HEY, SABRA IS VACATIONING IN FLORIDA UNTIL NEXT THURSDAY; THEN SHE’S COMING HOME TO SUNNY, WARM CHICAGO.

    EDDIE S

  17. ED SONKIN January 16, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    HARRIET, I WILL PASS ON YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO BOBBY. YEAH, HIS PARENTS RAN THE CIGAR STORE. MY 2 ADDRESSES WERE 5021 N. HARDING (1938-1947). 5038 N. AVERS (1947-1957). GOT MARRIED AND LATER MOVED BACK TO AVERS SO THAT I COULD AFFORD LAW SCHOOL. AFTER I PASSED THE BAR EXAM, THE FAMILY MOVED TO MORTON GROVE, IL. MY OLDEST SON ATTENDED VOLTA. MS JURS ROLLED HER EYES WHEN I WALKED INTO VOLTA WITH HIM.SHE WAS, I HAVE TO ADMIT, WAS MY VERY 1ST LOVE. OH, THAT KNIT PURPLE DRESS…………………..OMG!!!!!!

    I REMEMBER THE NAME AS THE HEBREW INSTITUTE OF ALBANY PARK. LAWNDALE AND AINSLE. I BAR MITVAHED FROM THERE. 2ND FLOOR OF THE NEWER BLDG.

    EDDIE S

    PS. DO YOU HAVE ANY SISTERS OR BROTHERS?

  18. Harriet Wisch Vogel January 16, 2015 at 7:52 pm #

    Howard, I think I may have known Ethel. The name rings a bell, but I cannot picture her. I know who Howard Duberstein is, but never met him. Now, as for the quiz kid…..Joel would come into some of my classes at Volta and study with us….and of course I heard him on the radio…but I don’t know if he was actually in my grade.

    Don and I moved to Skokie after we were married and then moved our family to West Palm Beach in 1969. Weston is a lovely community.

    Never heard of Don Luber…but didn’t Phil Bloom marry Sybil Stone? I believe they live in Delray Beach.

    I have no siblings Ed. If you are thinking of the” Wish” sisters, Lois and Beverly, who lived on Avers Avenue they are not related to me. Although I did, as a teen, receive several phone calls asking me if I was Lois?

    One of my classmates from Volta/Von was Phyllis Kien. You may have known her brother, I think his name is Jerry. They lived near you on Harding.

    I sure do remember Mrs. Jurs and her purple outfit. She was an attractive woman.

    Don told me stories how they went into Hebrew school and checked in and then went to the second fl. boys room and climbed out the window. What about Wally Ross…did you know him? Wally also lived in Morton Grove at 8411 N. Lotus after he got married and was still at the same address until a few weeks ago when he passed away.

    I normally don’t sign onto the blog if I don’t receive a notice in my inbox indicating something has been added, but I think I will start signing in …. I really didn’t relate to the people I have been reading about, but lately the conversations are getting closer to my area in Albany Park.

    So now, I have one more thing to offer…. lately, we have been talking about the Admiral Theatre. I can’t believe what a coincidence this is. Believe it or not with all the things going on in the world that are newsworthy, I came across an article today in my newspaper, The Palm Beach Post, that I did a double-take on. I guess they needed to fill up a blank spot. The title of the article is “Your World at a Glance” and it had several articles from different cities….one of which was Chicago….so naturally, it caught my eye. The article went on to say: Strip club honored for cleanliness. A strip club has received an award for its efforts at dressing up the neighborhood. The Admiral Theatre on Chicago’s northwest side received one of Albany Park Neighbors’ six “Block Star Business” awards this week. The group’s website says the honor is meant to spotlight businesses that work to keep the neighborhood clean and presentable. “It’s difficult to dispute the Admiral doesn’t deserve the award,” a group member said. “They recently upgraded their façade and even during construction it was still tidy, it was still passable.”

    So newsworthy it is not….I guess they intended printing it for some humor.

    Ed, thank you, I appreciate that you will give my email address to Bobby.

  19. ED SONKIN January 16, 2015 at 8:25 pm #

    HARRIET: YES, I WAS THINGING ABOUT LOIS WISH, BUT I HAD NO WAY TO ASK YOU IF YOU WERE HER SISTER. LOIS WAS NOT A VERY NICE GIRL.

    I WENT TO HEBREW SCHOOL, BUT I WAS HEAVY INTO SPORTS SO WHENEVER THERE WAS A GAME I DID NOT GO. THEY WOULD SEND A CARD TO MY HOUSE, BUT I WOULD RUN HOME AT LUNCH, GET THE CARD AND HIDE IT BEHIND THE FALSE FIREPLACE IN THE LOBBY. FLASH FORWARD TO MY SON GOING TO VOLTA AND THEY HELD AN OPEN HOUSE IN THE GYM. THE DAUGHTER OF THE OWNER OF THE BLDG CAME OVER AND TOLD ME WHAT THEY FOUND WHEN THEY REMODELED THE LOBBY……………………………….IN FRONT OF MY MOTHER! SHE CHASED ME AROUND THE GYM!!!!!!

    YES, PHIL MARRIED SHEILA. HIS SON GOT ARRESTED FOR FRAUD.

    THE TRIBUNE CARRIED THE STORY OF THE ADMIRAL. I HAD TO LAUGH.

    PHYLLIS KIEN I DO NOT REMEMBER. HARRIET KUPPERMAN GRADUATED WITH ME. SHE ALSO APPEARED ON THE WHIZ KIDS A COUPLE OF TIMES. JOEL WAS A GENIUS. REALLY. A MATH WHIZ NO ONE COULD STUMP. KNEW BASEBALL STATS BUT DIDN’T KNOW HOW HOLD A BAT!

    YES, PLEASE COME ON HERE OFTEN. LOVE TALKING ABOUT ALBANY PARK. GIVE ME YOUR ADDRESS AND I’LL SEE IF MARIE’S WILL SHIP YOU A THIN PIZZA. STILL THE BEST. DAUGHTER RUN THE PLACE NOW.

    EDDIE

  20. Harriet Wisch Vogel January 16, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

    I guess you are a lawyer Ed! Asking if I had brothers or sisters….instead of just asking if I was related to Lois. I knew what was going on in your head when you asked me that. No, I was just a shy and chubby little girl…..ask Bobby.

    I’d rather have a pizza from Uno’s. Actually, they sell frozen Uno’s down here….but it’s certainly not like the one on State St. or was it Wabash? I’ve been back to the windy city many times and we always made it a point to get to Pizzeria Uno.

    That was a funny story…..about the notes being hidden behind the fake fireplace. I can picture the scene in the gym.

    By the way, it is really cold down here….in the 60s. Br-r-r-r

  21. Jennifer Blitz January 21, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    Thanks for the wonderful memories and the responses…I can just picture the old neighborhood. I currently live in Budlong Woods-Virginia and Bryn Mawr, and think this is the best kept secret in the city! Keep the memories coming…thanks!

  22. Frances Archer January 22, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad to hear you are enjoying the blog — the readers’ contributions are wonderful!

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