Ghost Chicago–Looking for Things No Longer Here–My Childhood

Written by guest blogger Andy Romanoff

I went back to Chicago last week. City of my early years and a place of deep emotional connection. While I was there I visited the old neighborhoods, the streets where I grew up. Much is gone or changed beyond recognition and what remains resonates mainly with me, so I’ll tell you little stories as we go along, stories about why I made these pictures.

Andy Romanoff apartment

©2015 Andy Romanoff

It starts here, the building where I first remember the world. We lived on the second floor in the apartment with the big bright window. This is 5637 N Spaulding, A large courtyard building built probably in the thirties, old enough that the apartment had an icebox. See the white horizontal boards on the right? That’s the back staircase. It was open to the winds and snows of winter then so they finally closed it, but when I was a boy the iceman came up those slippery canted steps with a big block of ice gripped between his tongs and resting on his leather apron.

Andy Romanoff apartment back steps

©2015 Andy Romanoff

Here’s the staircase. It’s been freshly redone but the tight turns and the steep pitch remain. We raced down these stairs to the basement, grabbed our bicycles and rode off looking for adventure. My mother stayed behind washing clothes in the old circular washing machine and squeezing the water out with the wringer. Then she would hang them on the long rope clothes lines that stretched the basement end to end. How endless that must have been, a young woman alone raising two boys.

Andy Romanoff apartment door

©2015 Andy Romanoff

Sometimes we played in the alley. The building was heated by a coal furnace located down the steps behind the door on the right. On the left where the glass block window stands was the coal chute. In the fall a great chain driven coal truck would lumber into the alley. The coal chute would be connected and the back of the truck would lift sending the coal into the basement. On winter mornings, Johnny the janitor would stoke the fires starting at 6AM sending heat up through the radiators and into the apartments. The windows would slowly defrost, the ice changing to mist and the day would begin.

Basement apartment

©2015 Andy Romanoff

Johnny lived here in this basement apartment with his wife Mary and a German Shepard trained in the old country way. When Johnny raked leaves the dog would carry a basket filled with them, walking along side of Johnny to the trash. Our father was dead, a massive heart attack at 37. I was 7. None of this made sense. It still doesn’t. My brother, a year younger connected with Johnny and sometimes followed him on his rounds. My mother was friends with Johnny and Mary and sometimes we were invited to their cottage outside the city. See what I mean about ghosts? Nothing of this is visible, even to me, but being here the stories come.

Kimball avenue chicago

©2015 Andy Romanoff

This is what Chicago looked like then…and now. Small brick houses and large brick buildings, all neat and orderly. This is Kimball Avenue, my route to high school or at least one route. I went to five high schools before we all got tired of the process. Not their fault, not mine.

von Steuben High school

©2015 Andy Romanoff

Schools were giant machines, 3-4-5 thousand kids in a single building, learning the post war skills they would need to be part of the economy, the world. I wasn’t interested. I wanted to be somewhere else, someone else, so I stayed away.

Albany Park

©2015 Andy Romanoff

Mainly I hung around on the front steps of the school smoking Camels but sometimes I wandered around back where the river flowed. Really not much of a river, engineered and contained and carrying the sewage of a million families but water moving past land, the occasional rubber floating by, a marker of the waters’ speed and a telltale that someone somewhere had been close to someone else, had broken the barrier of longing and unknowing. Funny huh?

andy romanoff apartment

©2015 Andy Romanoff

I wasn’t sad. I was angry, confused, lost and empty but I wasn’t sad. Here is the building where my grandpa and grandma lived, my fathers family. Up there, the windows in the middle I think. On Sunday afternoons the family would gather sometimes, the men in the front room just behind those shades, the large brown wooden console radio telling the details of a Cubs game, the women gathered in the kitchen preparing the dinner that would come later. If you were a little boy, grandma would take you into the pantry and slip you a forbidden treat. For an afternoon, life was the way it was supposed to be. Can’t you see it. I can.

Andy Romanoff is a photographer and writer who also worked as a cinematographer, specialist camera operator and businessman for fifty years. Visit his website to see more of his stunning photographs.  

Andy has also contributed these pieces to this blog: Albany Park Cool, Bob and Ikey’s Wedding: An Albany Park Story.

38 Responses to Ghost Chicago–Looking for Things No Longer Here–My Childhood

  1. jerry pritikin aka The Bleacher Preacher December 30, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    It was our world within the Chicago neighborhoods… with family and friends. Mom and Pop stores, none with franchise names. Milk trucks made deliveries and our screen door kept flies and people out with a tiny hook. Very few people owned cars and the streets were 2 way streets. trolley Buses,big red wooden streetcars and the Kimball “el” took us into other neighborhoods or to the beach or downtown. We knew our neighbors and in most cases had nearby relatives. Time ticked slower, as tv antennas started to pop up on roof tops. It was a safe haven,little if any bad news. How lucky we were to have choose up games of ball. Our dinners were cooked in kitchens with gas flamed stoves… no junk food and blue jeans and gym shoes that lasted and lasted yet not costing an arm and leg. Thanks for a reminder of yesteryear. It was our good old days.

  2. Ted Lasky December 30, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    My name is Ted Lasky I lived at 3523 W Leland. Right by Roosevelt High School. I now live in Naperville Il for the past 35 years. I visit Albany Park often. I have similar ghosts. My parents and Grand Parents are all gone, but when I visit Im almost sure I see them!

  3. Frances Archer December 30, 2015 at 10:40 pm #

    Hi, Jerry! Glad you enjoyed Andy’s story. Best wishes for the new year.

  4. Frances Archer December 30, 2015 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by Ted. I agree — when we visit the old places we can feel the presence of former times

  5. Donald Cherry December 31, 2015 at 12:11 am #

    Love the pictures and writing. I was born in Andersonville, grew up there, Rogers Park, and south Evanston (right off Howard). Lived later in Uptown, Wrigleyville. Now, I’m in Japan, and I miss like crazy those old brick buildings.

  6. Barbara Goldsmith Burkel December 31, 2015 at 2:17 pm #

    In keeping with the season, I have been thinking about growing up in Hollywood Park at Christmas time. I am either a week too late or 51 weeks too early. But the recent post describing a walk down our collective memory lane prompts me to share those reflections now.

    Like the neighborhoods which surrounded it, Hollywood Park was almost 100% Jewish. I didn’t covet “Christmas;” I was happy with Hanukkah. Neither my house nor those of my friends ever had a “Hanukkah” bush. We were happy with what we had. All I ever wanted to do was help decorate someone else’s tree.

    In Hollywood Park, that was not likely. I briefly had the chance to do so at the home of a gentile girl my age who lived down the street. But she moved away. I know realize they probably felt uncomfortable being the only ones on the block. But I sure hated to see her and her tree go.

    Therefore, I had to settle for annual rides through Sauganash. What rides there were! Streams of cars, mostly filled with Jews, wound their way around and around those streets. I especially loved the pink trees and the white trees and the blue trees. I would learn much later on that the “purists” who celebrated Christmas looked down on them, preferring the real thing with its real smell.

    I also got to go downtown with my parents to see the Marshall Field windows. After standing in the cold and starring at them as long as possible, we’d go inside and have lunch at the Walnut Room with Uncle Mistletoe. Years later after I moved away, I went downtown with my Mother to see those windows. She never lost her childhood wonder, nor did I.

    Another Christmas in Chicago memory was seeing and hearing the bells of The Salvation Army soldiers hoping for contributions. The fact they stood out in the miserable Chicago winter weather went right through me as a llittle girl and touched my heart. To this day, I can never pass by one of their kettles without putting something inside.

    Years later I learned that the gentile children envied the Jewish ones because we had eight days of celebration to their one. Just another of life’s little ironies within the spirit of the season.

  7. jerry pritikin aka The Bleacher Preacher December 31, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    I lived in Albany Park on N.Troy St. In the mid-40s. It was also mostly Jewish, however there were more gentiles then we believed. At Christmas time, there was sprinkling of Christmas Tree lights. I also remember at the Terminal theater, before the feature started there was always “Season’s Greetings and Happy New Year”.(Not Merry Christmas and Happy New Year)

    I figured out that Santa was a fable, because when we went to Goldblatts, Weibolts or Sears on the same day and there was a Santa at all 3 locations. However, I did wait in line once just in case,and when it was my turn… I noticed a string holding up the mustache and beard! I also remember when Chuck Faso who lived down the block showed up wearing a brand new Army Helmet the day after Christmas… it was about 1944 and the war was still on. Chuck was about 9 years old and my brother Allen and me asked what uncle gave him the helmet. He said Santa Claus! We asked again and he said the same thing… So we broke the news to him. About an hour later his mother came over banging on our backdoor and balled out my mother for allowing us to tell Charlie there was no Santa.

  8. Renee' Chernoff December 31, 2015 at 3:54 pm #

    My aunt and uncle owned the building Andy lived in….we lived at 5645 N. Spaulding in the small white 2-story 4-apt co-op. My aunt and uncle lived on the 2d floor of the co-op, my grandparents lived just across the street. About 8 years ago, my sister and I went back to the old neighborhood to see our old house but the current tenants did not let us in. Just cruising through the old ‘hood brought back a ton of memories…..we also did the Sauganash Christmas thing as well as going to Fields just to see the window decorations….It was a great time to grow up…..

  9. Ferne Berman December 31, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    As usual loved reading stories of the old neighborhood. Thanks, Frances

  10. Frances Archer December 31, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    Renee, that’s amazing! What a small community this internet is! That Andy, who lives across the country, writes a story about a Chicago building he lived in half a century ago, and it’s your aunt and uncle who owned that building. Your story echoes what so many others have shared with me about the neighborhood — relatives living in the same building or same block.

  11. Frances Archer December 31, 2015 at 6:53 pm #

    Thanks Ferne! So good to hear from you.

  12. Frances Archer December 31, 2015 at 6:55 pm #

    Barbara, thank you for your lovely recollections. I don’t recall ever visiting a home with a Christmas tree in Hollywood Park when I was growing up, although I did have non-Jewish friends at Peterson. I just didn’t visit their homes at Christmas I guess. But once we got to Von, we learned about all the Saugnash traditions and I recall every talking about going to midnight mass.

  13. Frances Archer December 31, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by. Best wishes to you in far away Japan.

  14. Ellen Chernoff December 31, 2015 at 8:40 pm #

    Hi Frances,
    Well I was going to comment but my sister beat me to it. Yes, we lived right next door to my relatives building, in fact, I liked a guy who lived on the 2nd floor on our side of the building. I flirted with him out the back bedroom window. Renee also forgot to mention how we all played “flashlight tag” at night in the neighborhood. No need to fear getting shot or someone calling the police on us. It was a quieter, gentler time and did we have fun! Thanks for the article, love your blog!

  15. Lorry Epstein January 1, 2016 at 3:47 am #

    Just Wanted to wish everyone from the old neighborhoods A HAPPY NEW YEAR.
    Its neighbors like you guys that have made Chicago the great city that it is.
    If all the other neighbohoods had Frances to help instill some pride in their neighborhoods our city would be evem greater.

  16. Jeff K January 1, 2016 at 6:41 am #

    I remember Andys old building, right on the corner with Olive, grew up right up the alley from there on Hollywood. Had grammar school friends on Olive, one almost right across Spaulding and some north of Hollywood on Spaulding.

    Ironic, yesterday went down there with my son to pick up my mother (still in Hollywood Pk since ’68) to go out for lunch and were talking about how we used to drive thru Sauganash to see all the decorations. Last time I went thru there was around 20 years ago when my oldest was small. My thoughts were “meh”. No where near as many houses as the old days decorated and nothing special there that you cant see almost anywhere else. I’m not far from Gurnee Mills and the Wisconsin boarder, while not as densely packed in as Sauganash used to be, some houses are just as elaborate and then some.

    I also brought up this blog when we passed Bill Tongs old family restaurant and how they’ve been in the news the past year. Any updates on that?

    BTW the river where it ran along Von was not man made, thats the natural north branch and it didn’t carry sewerage (well..purposely at least).
    And what schools had “3-4-5 thousand kids”????? You can add all the kids from Peterson, Von and Roosevelt and still not hit 3000 let alone that many in one building!

  17. Robert Escher January 1, 2016 at 8:15 am #

    Hi France’s
    Although I didn’t live up in the 5600 blocks of Spaulding or Troy I lived at Irving Park and Francisco. My mother lives in the same house that I grew up in ( 65 years now)) I did go to Roosevelt as well. Before that we lived at Thomas and California and we did live in a apartment building. I live in Milwaukee now, I graduated Roosevelt and 5 days later I was in the Army. As someone else basically said I had to get out and I did for 22 years. ( been out now for 29) but I go back to the neighborhood and drive those streets and although much has changed much more remains the same the heart, the buildings, the streets, still many businesses, and of course the city. I tell myself that I woul never live inside the city limits again but then I wonder and as drive by Roosevelt and the memories awash me I wonder and say naw yes I would. I love the neighborhood and all we did and I love it now. My mothers house sits in the back of the lot, the only one that way for blocks around. Rumor has it that it’s also one of the oldest at being built in the very early 1900’s. It’s old rickety but it’s what my mother and her 8 kids call home
    Thanks for the memories
    Bob Escher

  18. Frances Archer January 1, 2016 at 8:53 am #

    Ellen, thanks for stopping by and adding to this story. It really touches me to see the connections.

  19. Frances Archer January 1, 2016 at 8:54 am #

    Thanks and same to you!

  20. Frances Archer January 1, 2016 at 8:59 am #

    Hi, Jeff. thanks for stopping by. My mother too is still in Hollywood Park so I visit fairly regularly. I don’t have an update on Bill Tong’s restaurant that is reliable; but my mother thought the university decided to build a dorm on their own property and for now are not pursuing the Bryn Mawr lots. Von probably never has had more than students; the reason it’s a small school is that it was a built as a junior high. Best wishes for the new year!

  21. Frances Archer January 1, 2016 at 9:01 am #

    Bob, thank you for this. I am always surprised how many people have stayed in their house in these old neighborhood. It changes and yet in many ways it looks the same in the residential parts.

  22. Alan Shapiro January 1, 2016 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks for the memories to all who have written. I grew up in Albany Park at 4517 N. Central Park. The neighborhood looked just like the ones in the photos. I had friends: Alan Sweetow, Mickey Singer, Michael Presler and Barry Omelinski. My first crush in the first grade was a girl named Hedy. Then in the second grade Sharon Isaacson came up to me and told me she loved me. We moved to California when I was almost ten and now I live in Corpus Christi, Texas. A Jewish Democrat living in Texas. Will wonders never cease?

  23. Frances Archer January 1, 2016 at 10:34 am #

    Hi, Alan, thanks for stopping by and sharing your memories. Its amazing how clearly we recall those early years, isn’t it?

  24. Steve Lipkin January 2, 2016 at 1:50 am #

    Happy New Year!
    Once again your article has brought me memories of a much simpler time. My Mom and Dad moved into 5645 N. Spaulding after living around the corner on Olive Ave. about 1986, if my memory serves. Also, I too remember Shaare Tikva in its new building.
    My two sisters attended Peterson and Von Steuben, but, I was already at Lane when we moved to 3235 Olive Ave. during the later half of my freshman year.

  25. Frances Archer January 2, 2016 at 1:37 pm #

    Hi, Steve. We ought to open a dedicated forum for the former residents of the Spaulding block! Thanks for stopping by.

  26. Eric January 6, 2016 at 11:17 am #

    Always great to read about the old neighborhood. I am younger than most on this blog (Peterson ’79 grad) but wanted to comment on Jeff K’s response about the sewage in the river – specifically at the Bryn Mawr bridge. In the mid to late 70’s, we would hang out under the bridge and would see condoms regularly float by. We didn’t debate it – just giggled (6th-7th graders), but the understanding was that sewage was in that part of the river. I seem to remember that stopped by 1980 and also recall hearing of some type of new filtration system around that time. I do agree with Jeff that 3-5k students in one school is quite high but I’ve been guilty of those types of exaggerations.

    I grew up at 5747 N Spaulding (’73-’85). I was 7 when we moved in and the first floor tenant was an original tenant who was in HS and explained there were less than 4 homes from us (4th building south of Ardmore) and Hollywood Park when at one time Spaulding ran through Hollywood Park to Peterson. I don’t recall the year, 1922 comes to mind..Her father was GC for the the Chicago Fire Department – E. Downs. I’ve looked at censuses on Spaulding around that time and most men held prestigious jobs, attorneys, accountants and business owners.

    Thanks again for maintaining this blog Frances!

  27. Frances Archer January 6, 2016 at 7:49 pm #

    Eric, thanks for the fascinating comment. About Hollywood Park, you do have the correct inforamtion. I had the chance a few years ago to visit the Chicago Park District archives and saw photos and blueprints for the park. I included a photo of the part of the blueprint showing the Spaulding edge of the park when I wrote a bit about my visit here: Your dates are also correct: the park started in 1926, which is also the date that much of the land in the area was being sold for development. The neighborhood might have gotten off to a fast start, but the Depression hit and nothing was built for a long time, until after WWII.

  28. Jeff K January 7, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

    Eric, do you remember Andy and Jay Kaplan? Jay is your age (2 younger then me), the lived at 5711 Spaulding, or Scott & Jeff Barry, Jeff also your age, also on Spaulding just before the park, last set of town houses across from the church. They each moved away around ’74, bit fuzzy on that.

    Anyhow, that “river” Bryn Mawr bridge crossed isn’t the real river that runs past Von. That one is indeed engineered and man made, officially the Sanitary and Ship canal. Some times we’d play under that too or further along the bank to the north, hopping over or going under the fence at one of the many dug out spots (hidden for the most part) so we can crawl under undetected. Somewhere about half way from Bryn Mawr to the playground area off Hollywood there was a tree (along the bank) that had a main trunk that grew almost perfectly horizontal, it was real easy to walk across and sit for a long time. Plenty of branches growing up from that pretty much camouflaged us from people in the park of in the houses, it was one of our favorite hide out when cutting school. heh heh

    In winter we would sled down the embankment from the bridge.

  29. Eric January 8, 2016 at 8:42 am #

    Frances, I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the Hollywood Park early plans. I’m stunned at the amount of trees once there. In ’73 most were gone. They would have greatly interfered with the countless football, softball, baseball and hockey games. I remember a manhole cover in the field about 30 yards north of the water fountain by the field house. I am wondering if that was designed for the Spaulding extension to Peterson. I look forward to future posts!

  30. len January 8, 2016 at 9:20 am #

    I think the waterway is actually the North Shore Channel. Whatever the name the contents were pretty disgusting back in the day.

  31. Eric January 8, 2016 at 9:48 am #

    Jeff, Kaplans – I believe I was ‘aware’ of them but no strong recollections. I am also thinking of a Kaplan family who lived next door to my friend on Chrisitana (5836). There were at least 2 brothers there. Did I understand you correctly that you are 2 years younger than me?

    I do remember Scott and Jeff Barry and believe I knew Scott better. He was full of life. Near the end of the Kiddyland era, he and I rode our bikes on an early Sunday morning to nab as many rubber coated baseballs from the batter cages as we could carry. They were horrible baseballs and never had much use for them. Three times heavier and could not be used for fast pitch.

    River – I never knew that was a man made channel of the river!

    I remember that tree that grew horizontally but we never entertained exploring it.

    We too used to sled down the embankment of the bridge into the park. Mainly on the east side of the Bryn Mawr bridge between the river and Virgina Ave. I went to St. Hilarys for a few years before Peterson and we’d use our books as sleds when walking home.

    I remember 2 accidents Scott had in the short time I knew him before he moved away.
    We were riding bikes on Holly Park side of Christiana, just south of the tennis court. He turned around to talk to me when his front tire went off the sidewalk. There was a depression at that spot where the grass was several inches below the sidewalk and he went down hard, blood spewing.. The other, he was accidentally hit in the head with a baseball bat during a fast pitch game by my friend. I recall they were verbally jarring back and forth about something and Scott turned away before the next pitch.

    I think he left a bit later than ’74 and I do recall his apartment across from the church on Spaulding near the end of the street by the playground. We used to play baseball in front using the church court yard as the field. Hitting the slanted awning on the church was a HR. We used a tennis ball being considerate of the beautiful stained glass windows!

    I also recall being in his apartment the day after my new pet parakeet had escaped our apartment. Scott told who I believe was his grandmother who responded, “Oh no, he’s probably dead by now.” I was hoping for, he might come back!

    Thank you for the response – where did you live? Did you go to Peterson?

  32. Jeff K January 8, 2016 at 2:05 pm #

    The Kaplan brothers, Andy & Jay, were on Spaulding, didn’t know of any other on Christiana.
    There mother had a set of pipes on her, man, we could be 2-3 blocks away and here her call them “AAANNNDDDDRRRRRREEEEWWWWW……JJJAAAAAYYYYYYY”. I swear too they had enhanced hearing too. We could be at Hollywood park or “the new park” (which is what we called the ark along the canal) and one or the other would say, “moms calling us”.
    I lived on Hollywood, 3240-42. From my yard and porch I could see the second floor of their building (they lived on the first). Their father was CPD, stationed at O’Hare (at least for a while) IIRC.

    Scotts grandmother, Goldie, was short, a little pudgy with short red hair (if that rings a bell), and had a sorta deep voice. She lived right next door to me in my building.
    Do you remember the Rich’s? Darrin, Lori and Brandon. They lived right next to Scott & Jeff. Ironically, she lived one door away from me.
    All three of our mothers were friends too and would bowl and play Mahjong together.

    Poor Scott, a rambunctious lad, he was always getting into trouble back then. Did he ever tell you about the time he tried to hang his brother from a ceiling fan? Or, some older kids were picking on him one day. He went home and got his replica 1911 (other then a non drilled barrel it was identical to the real one), found the kids at the park and chased them all away with it. They were truly scared s**tless. Can you imagine the consequences of doing that today?!?!?!?! When he was upset he would turn into the Hulk. He parents went on a vacation and hired a live in baby sitter, a teen age girl, no idea if she was from the neighborhood or not. Anyhow she had a party one night and it didn’t sit too well with Scott. They kept trying to make him stay in his room, he eventually ‘lost it’ and went off on them, took four teen age boys just to hold him down. He also broke down his bedroom door when they tried locking him in there. (I’m laughing pretty hard right now remembering these stories). He seemed to have chilled out as he got older. After they moved from Spaulding they went to Rosemont (IIRC) then after a few years there, out to Texas. Once a year or two they would come back to visit their grandmother and would come over for a visit. Last I saw him was mid ’80s, in our early 20’s.
    Several years ago I heard his dad, Leo had died. Remember the Firebird Formula he had, I think it was a ’72 or ’73, that was sweet.
    One day we were riding our bikes at Ardmore and Spaulding and saw him coming down Spaulding, he stopped to talk to Scott, as he was leaving Scot, who was always bragging about that car, says to him, “hey, show him how powerful it is”. He hesitated a bit then, with prodding from Scott, nailed it engine roaring, tires smoking. I think thats when I started to become a motor head.

    Yep, went to Peterson, k-8, class of ’77 (which should answer your age question, 2 older) and Von all four years.

  33. Eric January 8, 2016 at 4:01 pm #


    I have deep recollections of the stories – he was well talked about in the neighborhood. Was he your age or mine? My definition of full of life comes from your descriptions! I would have love to seen him go out there with that fake gun.. I also had long forgotten the ‘new park’ label but I do now! It was known by anyone when referred to that way.

    I don’t recall any of the Rich’s.

    Thinking of older kids, John Nicolite (sp) comes to mind. Alex Prodonovic was a year or two older than me – they both were on ardmore in between Spaulding and Christiana. Nicolite moved away before ’78 or so but Alex was around through HS. Tishler? Sam Samano? And a classic, somewhere in the middle east side of Spaulding between Ardmore and Thorndale, George Magus. If you ever saw Beavis and Butthead, George was our Todd! He would always talk to us and let us hang out in his basement for about 20 minutes. The Shea brothers, Larry and ?.. Maria Gamino (sp?) had an older brother who was a legend for his car. I did not know him at all, he was in HS when I transferred. They lived on Kedzie, right across the street from the basketball courts, 3 houses down from McDonalds. There was a Carlson brother of Jennifer who was in my grade or one below who might have been your age..

    I transferred to Peterson in late ’77 – in the middle of 7th grade from St. Hilarys, one of the best days of my life since all of my neighborhood friends went to Peterson. You may remember the Bauer sisters on the corner of Spaulding/Hollywood, I went to St. Hilarys with Christine and believe she had an older sister.

    What is your last name? I’m remembering something suddenly. I think there was an older kid, Jeff Kantor who had a sister Laura that lived on Hollywood who in 1980 had a souped up black car that would terrorize us from time to time. I remember an incident in 1980 on Ardmore and Bernard.. It was nothing serious but that suddenly came to mind – is that you? I remember we all liked his sister.

  34. Jeff K January 9, 2016 at 3:06 am #

    He was right in between us age wise. Yeah, it was pretty funny (and some what scary) when he’d go off in his fits of rage, face all red and I swear I saw smoke roll from his ears at times LOL He was hyper active. I think I’m probably one of the only ones that never got into a fight with him, we got along great, just a few minor arguments.

    Alex was my age, 2 years older then you. I remember the Nikoleit’s , though the names Joel and James/Jim come to mind. One I think woulda been between us in age the other older a year or two then me. George Maggos, yep, I remember in hs he mouthed off to a cop who then bounced Georges head off the hood of his car, the second hand story I heard, was after the cop dragged his azz home, his father then whopped on him.? He might also have been one of the kids Scott chased with the gun.
    Yep, Sam Samano(Simano?) Hung out a little with him in HS, he lived on Spaulding 2-3 doors north of Ardmore on the west side. His uncle had this sweet black with red strips/graphics ’73 Road Runner w/440.
    Steve Tishler “Tish” or “Pierre la Tish”(for his love and prowess of hockey). Good friends with him back then, real party head then. Most stories I shall not reiterate in public!
    There were a few Carlson families, one was my age, Wes, I know he had a younger sister but dont recall her name, there was a Steve, I think he was a year older, probably also had a sister, didn’t know him really, and a Scott,, also had a younger sister. He didn’t go to Peterson very long. I ran into him 4-5 years ago at a shooting range in Wisconsin. Didn’t recognize each other at first, started talking about where we we from and it progressed from there, “Chicago”…”me too, north side”…”me too, what school”..”Peterson”…”me too”, what years, me too…holy cow small world what your name…?” That type of thing.
    In hs there was yet another Carlson, Audry. For the life of me I don’t remember if she was from Peterson and a sister of any of the others or another family, she’s the same age as me.

    I vaguely remember the Shea brothers, wasn’t the other one (not Larry) always in trouble? I could be confusing him with some one else.
    Maria Gamino, and her brother dont ring a bell at all. Couple doors south of McDs was the Marvaganus family, Pete and Gus are two of the brothers I remember (I think there was another and a sister or two) One of them had nice cars over the years, one I really liked was a ’77 Can Am, always loved those cars!
    Neither do the Bauer sisters ring a bell. I only know one guy that went to St. Hilary’s, Robert Ippach. A year younger then me, he lived on Bernard a couple doors south of Hollywood. He then went to St. Johns military school in Wisconsin.

    Ahhh Glasshoppah, you memahly is velly good., ‘cept my car was a very dark blue that was always mistaken for black in poor light, vinyl top was black. A ’67 Ford LTD, got it in ’79, had it until ’83. Not real souped up, dual exhausts, intake carb, power tuned. I occasionally would chase people I knew down the sidewalks,LOL, but didn’t really terrorize people.
    Don’t recall any incident at Bernard and Ardmore, mine or any one elses. Though there wasn’t an intersection anywhere in Hollywood park that didn’t have rubber from my tires on it. heh heh My friends at the time, Vic Bedrio and his brother Robert, Tish, Ippach, Antonio (Tony) Perricone and Tom Theodoplus , all (except me and Tishler), lived on Bernard between Hollywood and Bryn Mawr , always hung out together, we’d race mainly on Pulaski between Bryn Mawr and Foster. We mark a lamppost at one end, then another roughly a quarter mile down. Fun times!
    We’d also race almost everywhere on Peterson from McDs to the Edens and on Caldwell along the golf course, and pretty much anywhere we could run two cars side by side on our side of the street, even right along Von.

    One time leaving for lunch, Vic and I were parked in Vons north parking lot. As we backed out we found ourselves facing opposite directions (me west) back to back. We musta been psychically linked as we started doing a simultaneous brake torque. Not just a little quick burn out but an EPIC one, had to have burn down the hides 2-3 minutes. Looking at it later, our tires dug down at least a half inch in the asphalt. HUGE cloud f smoke enveloped that end of the school. When we got back there was fire trucks an abulance and a bunch of cops all around the school.
    It was a nice warm spring day and they had all the windows open. Seems like our combined clouds of tire smoke not only enveloped the school but also it floated in the school, they though the school was on fire.

  35. Frances Archer January 11, 2016 at 8:18 am #

    Thanks Eric. There’s another post here about the development of Hollywood Park, where I looked into the matter of why Hollywood Park’s fieldhouse is so small, compared to other parks in the area like River Park and other parks in Albany Park. Before Peterson Park opened, the only public recreational grounds were Peterson Park and the Peterson School playground. It seems in retrospect that we were underserved by the Chicago Park District. Since the establishment of Peterson Park and its field house, it seems Hollywood Park is somewhat diminshed in importance to the area. Here’s the post I referred to above:

  36. Frances Archer January 11, 2016 at 8:19 am #

    it is the North Shore Channel. I read a fascinating book about the Chicago River and reviewed it here:

  37. Frances Archer January 11, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    Jeff, loved reading your memories of a later generation than mine though I do recognize some names.

  38. Eric January 11, 2016 at 12:22 pm #


    OMG! It was you!! HA HA HA!!! You had quite the reputation in our group. That is definitely the car I am thinking of. I remember the square tail lights. There were 4 or 5 of us hanging out regularly at friends at Ardmore and Bernard (mainly at Leslie Chapman’s house) when you came by and did your rituals. After 3 or 4 drive by’s – you would sneak out of the alley between Bernard and St. Louis but we were too aware to be caught off guard, your finale included your patented sidewalk charge! It was always about a good chase back then and you provided us big time with that one. It was at night and believe there was snow on the ground – not positive though. Years later you would come to mind with the movie release of ‘Christine’! By the way, Sam Samano’s younger brother Mike was among the clan there that night. And yes, we were very aware of the rubber you deposited on many of those intersections and would recognize your car immediately!

    Back to Scott, the more you bring up the more I am remembering. I can remember his fits of rage, and can see his red face. But as you, I never saw that anger directed at me. It’s hard to remember details from 40 years ago, but I have this sense that he was for the most part justified in what set him off but the level he took things was well beyond anything I experienced. He clashed with one of my best friends, Dino. He always challenged Scott and would do his best to set him off. I remember not liking that.

    Yes, Marvaganus not Gamino.. The ’77 Can Am is the car I am thinking of. All of my motorhead friends would talk about it constantly since it was on display for all of Hollywood Park to see. His younger sister Maria was in my grade at Peterson. We had a 20 year reunion in ’99 and I saw her there.

    We didn’t have much interaction with the Shea brothers but I remember now his younger brother was Tony. My impression was Larry had more ‘turbulence’ than Tony but I don’t remember any details, In 8th grade in front of Venito’s (pizza place) on Kimball just north of Bryn Mawr, across from 7/11 – Leson, Mike Samano (Sam’s younger brother – also 8th grade) and Tony exchanged blows, I recall Mike got the better and Larry took exception and chased Mike north down Kimball. Mike was the fastest kid in our grade, add the adrenaline and Larry had no chance – still impressive for an 8th grader to outrun a 10th/11th grader.. Mike told big brother Sam and the following days were pretty exciting. I believe each were affiliated with different ‘social clubs’ so you can imagine where 8th grade boys would take that to. We all gathered around for the 3 o’clock in the schoolyard scene at Venitos a day or two later but they each showed diplomacy and talked it out away from the scene. Six years later – perhaps ’84, I dated a girl who was in my 8th grade class. We went to visit her friend, also, from my 8th grade class. Moments before arriving, the girl I am dating informs me her friend we are about to visit is dating/living with Larry – it was an odd moment but he was a very nice guy and brought out all of his Led Zeppelin bootleg albums which were fascinating to me at that time (today, you can download them anywhere). You could not find a square on my bedroom walls without being occupied by a Led Zeppelin poster – all purchased at Flip Side on Foster. Eighty percent of my wardrobe were Flip Side t-shirts, like everyone else.

    Tish – love the Pierre La Tish nickname is the only one of those I recall. He was fun to watch skate.

    The brake torque story sounds familiar – especially with the FD and CPD part of it. What a legendary moment for you!

    I remember the strip on Bryn Mawr between Central Park and Pulaski being the popular spot for the older kids to race. There were no side streets as I recall..

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