Tag Archives | Personal history

They wore jackets

For years I’ve had a memory–really, more of an image–that made no sense to me. I remember going to a meeting with my best friend in the spring of 1970 before we graduated from eighth grade. Older girls, all strangers to me, were in charge. Some wore jackets with a club name stitched on the […]

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Of Porches and Backyards in Chicago

Ever since I read about vernacular photography in a friend’s blog, I’ve been thinking about my old family photographs. Most have purely personal significance. But those taken in our backyard during the late fifties and early sixties capture scenes that were, and still are, commonplace all over Chicago–and nowhere else. I’m writing, of course, of […]

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Touched By Chicago's Swedish History

There used to be a saying, “The Swedes built Chicago.”   Looking around the city today, however, you wouldn’t know Swedish immigrants made up Chicago’s fifth largest foreign-born group until 1960. The Swedish-born population peaked at 70,000 in 1930 and declined to just over 7,000 in 1970. Various neighborhoods once were predominantly Swedish. Around 1870 there was a “Swede Town” on the Near […]

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Baseball’s Been Bery Bery Good to Me

I am dreading Opening Day. I haven’t lost my eternal optimism but this will be the first baseball season my father won’t be calling me to ask,  “What time are the Cubs playing?” or “Are the Sox playing tonight?” or “What station for the Cubs game?” or  “Did you see last night’s game?” Before cable, […]

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Mom and Pop–Part Two

Earlier this week I wrote a post about the business district that ran through the Hollywood Park neighborhood on Chicago’s far north side, calling it a small town Main Street. I had no idea. It wasn’t a small town, it was practically a shtetl, an old world town with a large Jewish population. As it turns out, […]

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Mom and Pop

During the 1960s, on the three blocks of Bryn Mawr Avenue (5600 North) between Kedzie (3200 West) and Bernard (approximately 3430 West) avenues there were two gas stations; an Orthodox synagogue, or shul; an elementary school (Peterson–kindergarten through eighth grade, and still there); Irv’s Barber Shop; a Grocerland and a Jewel Foods that later became […]

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Where You Never Had to Pay Full Price

When it can’t remember yesterday, a country forgets what it once wanted to be. –Studs Terkel For several years after my parents arrived in Chicago from Cuba, they shopped at discount stores out of necessity. On Sunday afternoons we drove all over the city in search of low prices. This was back in the early 1960s. I […]

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Forbidden Places–Part Three

More than the sight of my old house, this takes me back. The corner of Peterson and Central Park avenues, the unused service entrance to the sanitarium. That white square sign hanging on the left-hand side of the gate? Directions to the main entrance, I’m sure of it.  A corner of the guard house, pictured in my first post […]

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