Jim Huffman

June 17, 2018

Chicken Man & Others

Dear Mr Pinkwater

I am an avid reader/visitor to your web site. Enjoy reading the many posts from your fans or readers. I am from your neighborhood, attended Nettlehorst aprox from the 3rd to the 7th grade, 1947 to 1952. Lived at 3162 Cambridge during those years. While attending Lane Tech, lived at 509 Roscoe, 1954 to 1958 and also afterwards to 1970, 735 Buckingham, 715 Barry & 430 Diversey.

I know this neighborhood so very well, so I enjoy the many reminisces that you & your writers wrote about. I would like to add some to the the many stories. The teacher Mr. Petrucci was the gym teacher when I was there, military veteran, also ran the safety patrol. Mr Block was the Principal, also Ms Aronson , Ms West & Ms Bloom were some of the teachers. The Gyp shop owned by the Richman’s to me was a decent store, I never heard of it being called by that name. I actually felt sorry for them. They were nice people, but a little strange, their products were reasonably priced. The Chicken Man, I first saw on a Broadway streetcar (the older Red cars) in 1945, going south from Lawrence Av. He laid his hat on the floor for tips, which my mother always contributed. Simon’s drugs were owned by three brothers. They were nice guys, knew me & my mother by our names. In 1960, I actually dated one of their cashiers, Holly, for a while. In the early 60s, they were robbed, & one of the brothers died from it, the store then was closed & sold. Outside on the corner was the old newspaper shack with its kerosene lamp inside & a small potbelly stove for heat. A little window would open, place your nickle and a gnarled hand would snatch it & a newspaper would be pushed out of the window, & would close fast. Dewes hardware had or could order everything you needed, they had another location south of Belmont. Eddies was were all the kids went for candy & comic books & had a soda counter as did Scotts 5 & 10, Walgreens, Pape’s drugs, & a slew of other drug stores also. The school safety patrol had three “groups”. South, West & North. We would march back & meet in front in the AM. And PM vs vs. The south group had about 12 or so boys, west about 3-boys & the north about 6-boys. I was assigned to Belmont & Broadway, NE to the SE corner. A cop & one boy were assigned to the Broadway crossing at Melrose. A Heinermann’s bakery on the SE corner, my Angel food birthday cakes came from there. The kids I hung out with were from both Nettlehorst & Mt Carmel. Jewish & Catholic, I never knew of any bigotry or prejudice. We, on our bikes, went everywhere, and in winter on streetcars or double deck buses. On nice days, we rode our bikes from the Loop to Howard to the forest preserves at Cumberland. We all went to the theaters that had the movies we wanted to see. Lake Shore, Essex, Julian, Vic, Buckingham, Mode, Music Box, Century, Parkway, Covent, Belmont, Riviera, Uptown. The Julian would make us check our cap guns on Saturday features of old B-grade movies, cartoons & serials. My first date at 12-yrs, with Judith Ex, was to the Uptown on a streetcar. During the summer we were at the beach, or riding thru Lincoln Park. During the non-beach months, the Swedish Social Club on Wilton near Belmont, allowed us to use their very big indoor swimming pool. Or we would go to a pool in the bldg on the NE corner of Broadway & Diversey. Another indoor pool was in the New Lawrence Hotel on Lawrence & Sheridan. The many stores along Broadway, many were kosher, a poultry, fish, meat, grocery, hardware, dime, many drug, taverns, bakery, shoe repair, etc on & on. Some of the Nettlehorst names: Stuart Glickman, Phillip Fischheimer, Alan Girsh, Norman Dupont, Enos Curtis, Stanley Ostroff, Berny Burlowitz, Charles Kapland, Helen Augenlich, Emma Scori, Judy Ex, Martha Dow, Joann Nelson, David Larson, Johnnie Reimer, Harry Altman, Pinhead Swanson, Arthur Cook, Billy Rojas. In you class photo, I know some of those kids. 

Daniel replies:

What a great post! Your memory is excellent, and your depiction of the old neighborhood gives me a lot of pleasure. I suppose that's because it confirms that the old scenes, names and faces really existed. In so many ways those memories are the most vivid and detailed, including as they do, some of the earliest ones. I hope some of the visitors to this website who were not lucky enough to live on Roscoe Street will enjoy your nice bit of writing.