Exploring the Jewish Glory Days of Von Steuben High School

CJHS Von program

Please join me for a look back at the history of Von Steuben High School as one of Chicago’s famed “Jewish high schools.” I’ll be retelling some of the fabulous stories I’ve heard from you — readers of this blog — and the photographs you’ve shared.

Starting with the opening of the school  as a junior high school in 1930,  I will share my research into how Von became a predominantly Jewish school, take a look at student activities over the years, and revisit many popular student hangouts of the day.

I am thrilled former Von basketball star, former athletic director and founder of the Von Steuben Alumni Association, Rich Wiener (Class of January ’64), will join me to present great moments in Von Steuben’s sports history. Plus, you’ll hear from a panel of Von experts — alums from the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s — including one of this blog’s many great storytellers, Howard Glantz (Class of June ’55). See Howard’s recollection of Ned Singer’s sporting goods store in my post, “Everyone knew his name.”

Following the program, we’ll have time to schmooze and enjoy refreshments.

It should be a blast from the past and I hope to see you there.

Date: Sunday, August 28

Time: 2 pm

Location: Temple Beth Israel, 3601 Dempster Avenue, Skokie

Fee: Free for Chicago Jewish Historical Society and TBI members; $10 for non-members.

If you plan to attend or have any questions, please use the contact form to reach me. Be sure to say hello so we can meet in person.

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21 Responses to Exploring the Jewish Glory Days of Von Steuben High School

  1. howard korengold July 29, 2016 at 2:25 pm #

    Hi Frances, Would that I could be there in person. I’ll be there in spirit, but age and distance prevent me from being there.
    I hope it will be a great evening. Howard Korengold (51)

  2. Barbara Goldsmith Burkel July 29, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

    Hey Frances, Since I currently live in Charleston, SC, I cannot attend. But I’d be there at the drop of a hat, if I could. Is there ANY way you can send a transcript or provide some other type of feedback for those of us living “off” from what’s sure to be a GREAT Event?

  3. Frances Archer July 30, 2016 at 9:38 am #

    Howard, you will be there in spirit. I plan to share some of the stories you’ve given me, and your photo on Bryn Mawr in the 40s to illustrate how slow development took place in the area served by Von Steuben until after WWII. That’s one of the factors that contributed to Von Steuben becoming predominantly Jewish — there were a lot of empty lots available for building right at the time many Jews from the West Side were moving north.

  4. Frances Archer July 30, 2016 at 9:38 am #

    Wish you could be there in person. What a great idea though to share some of the program on my blog. I will definitely do that in a series of posts. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Charles waldman July 30, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    is it necessary to attach a religious component to the glory days of Von Steuben? this has an exclusivity which makes me very uncomfortable and frankly smacks of the kind of thing that Donald Trump is trumpeting? what about the one black girl who attended von Steuben Jacqueline Shelton and the many Gentiles who are our friends? let us remember the words of John Lennon in the song “imagine” no countries no religion ,just a brotherhood of common people going through the motions of life.

  6. Ben Kirman July 30, 2016 at 3:40 pm #

    Chartes
    I have to completely disagree and take issue with your comment which smacks of political correctnes and an attempt to inject the current election into a historical retelling of one important aspect of life in the Albany Park and North Park communities in the 40s 50s and 60s. Frances is well known for the care and quality of her historical presentations and I only wish that I could be there in person to finally meet and thank thank her for the wonderful work she does to capture and retell a history that is personally so important to me.

  7. Frances Archer July 30, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    Not a religious program! We’re not attempting to explore the complete history of Von Steuben High School, but a particular, brief, era in the history of school, roughtly 1940 to 1965, when the school and the surrounding neighborhoods were predominantly Jewish in terms of the precentage of the student population. While it would be very interesting to document the changes in ethnic makeup at Von, expecially since 1970, that would be a different, longer and more complex subject. I have talked to Swedes who wondered what happened when suddenly the school became Jewish, and Jews who wondered what happened when the school suddenly became largely Hispanic. But that is not our subject. So, no offense meant to any individual who attended Von who feels left out of the this discussion. The good news is that today, with the ease of publishing on the Internet, anyone can write their own version.

  8. Frances Archer July 30, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

    Thanks, Ben!

  9. Mary Hagberg Meyer August 1, 2016 at 6:27 pm #

    Hi Frances! Thank you for all you’ve done to help Vonites relive our time at a wonderful school. Being one of those Swedes, I have to say attending Peterson and Von with my Jewish friends was an enlightening time! When Norh Park Covenant Church discouraged my attendance after my parents bought a bar, I was quite upset. But my Jewish friends did not hesitate to invite me to go to their Temple. I learned so much! Life is not about religious beliefs. It is about acceptance of someone that believes.
    I cherish my friendships with my Jewish friends which continues to this very day thanks to Facebook . Thanks to them, I now crave kreplach soup and meet them at the Bagel to get my fill!
    I wish I could attend but I will be out of town!
    Shalom! ????????????

  10. Frances Archer August 2, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    Mary, I’m so sorry to hear you can’t make it. I’d love to see you again. You were one of the first people I talked when I became interested in the history of our neighborhood. I still want to interview you about your father’s business and his history as a member of the first class at Peterson School. I’ll be in touch after Labor Day.

  11. Bonnie Hanna August 5, 2016 at 2:28 pm #

    Mary Beth -you were and are loved dearly. I remember this Jewish girl caroling with you and the kids from North Park church. see you at the bagel soon xoxo

  12. Mark Magel August 9, 2016 at 10:05 am #

    I am going to try and be there if I can. I graduated in Jan. 65 and probably saw every Von home basketball game from 1960 to 65 and lots of road games also. My memory is still sharp and can still see the likes of Gary’goose” Goldberg, Freddy Weinberg. Richie Wiener, Bob Briskman, Steve Handler, Louie Green. Mark Dolasinski,Artie Gillis, Larry Karchmar, and way too many more to mention. I kept scrapbooks with box scores etc. Wish I could find them , I will look,. and always said that seeing your high school pals play was as good as any sports event I have ever witnessed..Having friends at Roosevelt I also attended many of there games. My uncle actually reffed a few Von, Roosevelt games and was a Big Tten football official and the football coach at Hyde Park for over 30 years. Also used to bump into Howie Carl at Zfaney’s drug store on Foster. Great times and great memories.

  13. Frances Archer August 9, 2016 at 9:37 pm #

    Mark, Hope you can make it! I was in the same class as Larry Karchmar’s sister.

  14. Howard Glantz August 15, 2016 at 11:23 am #

    Talking to friends, I get various opinions of what it was like to go to Von in the 40’s & 50’s. I think it had as much to do about how they felt about themselves as to the interactions with students and teachers. When you’re 14 to 18 years old it may be hard to express yourself in order to alter your experience. Parents were not always involved and kids were left to deal with problems that were more social than educational. Educational problems would show up in grades. Some felt not ready for college, didn’t have direction or motivation. They tried a trade or went to college without knowing which way to go. 18 is young to have to decide what to do with your life. I think, today’s young parents are more involved. Everyone’s experiences were different.

    So come on Aug. 28th and hear some stories and ask some questions

  15. Frances Archer August 15, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

    So true! There has been a wide range of experiences reflected in the comments on this blog and I hope to capture some of those perspectives in my talk for the Chicago Jewish Historical Society.

  16. LEN SKLARE August 18, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

    I AM A CLCSE FRIEND OF HOWARD GLANTZ.
    II LIVED AT 4833 NCHRISTIANA
    7 KIDS OUT OF OUR HOUSE ALL BORN AT THE OLD SWEDISH COVENANT HOSPITAL
    ALL WENT TO HIBBARD AND V0N STEUBEN
    5 BROTHERS, ONE FOSTER SISTER ,ONE SISTER THE OLDES.T. 1 AM THE YOUNGEST.
    GRADUATED VON FEB 1956. THERFE WAS A SKLARE AT HIBBARD AND VON FOR MANY YEARS. LIVED A FEW DOORS FROM ORIGINAL VANGES SPORT STORE. ABOUT A,
    FULL BLOCK TO VON AND HIBBARD. 1/2 BLOCK FROM TERMINAL AND METRO THEATRE
    BEING THE YOUNGEST AND TAGGNG ALONE FOREVER I KNEW HANG OUTS, ATHLETES, TEACHERS OVER A LONG PERIOD OF TIME . KNKEW ALL THE BASKETBALL PLAYERS
    FROM GENE SHANENBAUM, DAVEY MATZ, HARVEY BABETCH; PLAYED ON THE VON TEAM WITH HERSHEY CARL.I WAS TREATED WELL
    WELL BY ALL AGES AND STILL FRIEND WITH ALL AGES BECAUSE OF FAMILY TIES.
    FANTASTIC TIME OF LIFE. NO PROBLES LIKE TODAY.
    RUIDISHES, SONNYS POOL ROOM, JULES POOL ROOM, RIVER PARK. EUGENE FIELD PARK. HIGH SCHOOL CLUB LITTLE GENTLEMEN. COULD GO ON ALL NITE.
    GOOD YEARS AND AND GOOD MEMORIES. WOULD BE HAPPY TO SAME BRIEF ABOVE AT GET TOGETHER.

  17. Howard Glantz September 12, 2016 at 1:52 pm #

    Sadly Paul Green died yesterday. He spoke at this affair went to Von, U of I & U of C . Professor at Roosevelt University all around good guy and political expert on WGN radio, NY Times & more. He was 73.

  18. Barbara Goldsmith Burkel October 31, 2016 at 9:36 pm #

    How WAS the August 28th gathering? Provide as many details as you can! FYI: 15 of my clubsisters, the EL’s (which stood for EverLasting) just held a Reunion in Chicago in honor of our 70th birthdays. We have remained true to our name.
    Barbara Goldsmith Burkel, hatladies@aol.com

  19. Frances Archer November 5, 2016 at 9:08 am #

    I’m sorry I didn’t post an update – I intended to but things got in the way. We had an amazing turnout — over 100 attended. Great stories! I will work on a summary

  20. Barbara Goldsmith Burkel November 5, 2016 at 11:33 am #

    I am delighted to hear there was an amazing turnout; when nothing was posted, I feared nothing had happened. Thanks, on behalf of others who weren’t able to attend as well as myself, for providing highlights when you have a chance.

  21. Chuck Richman November 7, 2016 at 1:51 pm #

    I graduated from Von in January 1959. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend the class birthday bash since I was at the beach with the grandchildren. I resurrected my yearbook just to recall the innocent days. Anyone remember the fictional “elevator pass”. Cheers, Chuck Richman

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