Do You Remember...
By: Gloria L. Evenson
Do you remember Oscar the butcher? He passed away June 28, 1989, but was around Edgewater a long time.
Originally from a Norwegian farm background in North Dakota, Oscar Evenson came to Chicago seeking work during the Depression. He and his brother Clarence shared a house at 1701 W. Farragut along with Clarence’s four motherless children and two sisters-in-law who did the housekeeping.
Clarence owned a store called Evenson’s Finer Foods at 5125 N. Clark. Oscar worked in his brother’s store several years, taking time out to serve in the armed forces during World War II. In 1948, he opened a grocery of his own at 5013 N. Ravenswood.
Around 1950, Clarence, who had since remarried, sold his store to his brother and moved to Wisconsin. Oscar and his new bride Margaret (whom he had met in the choir at Bethany Methodist Church in Uptown) made many friends among their customers. That was the way the neighborhood was - customers were friends.
Home deliveries were normal in those days and Oscar employed a delivery boy named Leonard Olson whose mother, Ida, later worked as a waitress at Villa Sweden Restaurant, 5207 N. Clark.
The rapid development of large grocery chains and a desire for more time for himself and his wife and baby daughter made Oscar decide to sell the business in 1954 and opt for a more “9-to-5” schedule. He worked at several Chicagoland food stores over the years but seemed to always return to Edgewater and its environs. He was a familiar face behind the counter at Tip Top Meat Shop, 5224 N. Clark, through much of the 1960s.
His last employment was at Sam’s Food Market, 5033 N. Clark (known many years ago as Bosshart’s). Though the store changed hands several times between the 1970s and 1980s, Oscar remained at the meat counter until he was well over 70. He was often asked if he was ever going to retire and have some fun! Anyone who is familiar with Scandinavians, however, is aware that they didn’t know how to retire. Oscar did his job well and efficiently and had a down-home friendliness that made him an excellent salesman.
In 1988, ill health forced him to finally retire against his nature. He will be missed. I may be bragging because he was my father, but he was a part of Edgewater’s history and worth remembering.
Editor’s Note: The Edgewater Historical Society wishes to extend our sincere condolences to Gloria and her family on the death of her father, our friend. And I personally want to commend Gloria for writing three wonderful articles for this issue of our newsletter while trying to deal with her grief and family matters. It surely is a tribute to her professionalism, her Scandinavian stamina and, most of all, her father.