We Get Letters

Vol. XXI No. 2 - SUMMER 2010

This is an electronic letter from John Butterfield of Foley, Alabama

I renewed my membership the other day and wish to tell you how much I enjoy reading the “Edgewater Scrapbook.”

I was in Chicago for several days last July for a Senn High School athletes reunion. Guys that played for Senn in the late 40s and early 50s get together annually. This time we had it at the school. Several of us, from out of town, stayed at a motel on Ridge, by the school. I got a chance to walk through my old neighborhood. Things have really changed, especially the Bryn Mawr/Broadway area. I noted with regret that both Swift and Peirce playgrounds are no longer there. (Editors note: The playgrounds have been moved to a different part of the sites) We had a good talk with the Senn principal.

I grew up in Edgewater and would like to relate my memories. I had the unique experience of sort of being the poor kid in the rich neighborhood. My father, mother and I moved to Edgewater in 1937. We lived in a rooming house at 1215 Norwood (a house mentioned in a Scrapbook article). We lived in one room and shared a bath with other tenants. The Harris family lived In the basement apartment. Their son, Norman was a star on Senn’s football team at that time.

I enrolled in Hayt school (1st grade). I don’t remember much about this period of my life. I do remember several friends that lived on Norwood. One was Dicky Tauber; his father had a Ford Agency on Broadway. There were also two brothers, whose family owned a Greek restaurant. I remember going to the beach with my mother, probably Thorndale Beach.

The next year, 1940, my father lost his job and my mother and I moved to her parents’ farm in Cole Camp, MO. In 1942, my father was making sufficient income to bring us back to Chicago. We moved into a furnished apartment at 1134 Bryn Mawr Ave. This was on the third floor over Woolworths five and ten. One of your earlier articles stated that a three story building at that site was torn down and replaced by a single story building housing Woolworths. This is not true. Woolworths was on the street level. There were doors on each side that led up to apartments on the 2nd and 3rd floors. We had a back porch that stayed quite dirty because of the coal yard directly behind us.

The coal yard extended behind us all the way to Hollywood. The entrance was on Broadway and was about 100 feet wide, extending into the coal yard that took up about half of that area to Hollywood, with the “L” tracks to the east. On the corner of Hollywood and Broadway was a Buick Agency, west of the coal yard. Between the coal yard entrance and the auto agency was a vacant lot. I remember playing in the vacant lot and parts of the coal yard.

I enrolled in the 4th grade at Swift School. The Swift school playground became a big part of my life. The playground supervisor was Lew Krandell. I competed on Swift teams in any sports that were in season; we played against other playgrounds, especially Hayt and Peirce. In winter they flooded Swift playground and it became a skating rink. On this rink, I became a speed skater. I skated for several years on the Swift Skating Team. When I was 15, I won the city playground championship in the 440 yard race. I later skated for the Peirce Skating Club in Chicagoland meets. At Senn, I skated in the city high school championship three years. We won the team championship all three years. I was city champion in the three individual events I raced and we won the mile relay twice and were second in the other. I was charmed in the high school meet.

I remember the Edgewater Beach Apartments at the foot of Bryn Mawr. Several of my friends, Jim Campbell, Frank Kavanaugh, Tippy Lifendahl and others, lived there. There was a gas station on the SW corner of Bryn Mawr and Sheridan Rd. A vacant lot was on the NW corner. We played football in that lot. Between the gas station and Kenmore was a large brownstone. In the basement of that building was a doctor’s office and this Doc only charged $1 a visit.

The Edgewater Presbyterian Church was on the NE corner of Bryn Mawr and Kenmore. Across the street on the NW corner was Goldberg’s Deli. They had the best corned beef sandwiches in the world. Under the “L” on Bryn Mawr was the 1111 Club. They had George Brunis’s Dixieland band that consisted of George on trombone, Nappy Trotter on trumpet, Del Lincoln on piano and Hey Hey Humphreys on drums. George Brunis, from New Orleans, was one of the most famous Dixieland trombone players in history. I have a number of his recordings, which are some of the best Dixieland ever recorded.

The Bryn Mawr Theater was across the street from where I lived above Woolworths. Also across the street was Peter Pan’s that had outstanding milk shakes. Around the corner, on the west side of Broadway, was McGovern’s Tavern; they had some of the best pizza in town. A pizza joint on the west side of Broadway, just north of Bryn Mawr, also had great pizza. There was a fish market on the eastside of Broadway, just north of Bryn Mawr. Heinemann’s Bakery was in the “V” between Bryn Mawr and Ridge, on the west side of Broadway. Jewel Tea Co. food store was on Ridge just west of Broadway. A&P food store was on Bryn Mawr, just west of Winthrop on the north side. There was a Jewish grocery store on Bryn Mawr just east of the “L”. I delivered groceries for them with a red wagon.

There was a millenary shop on Bryn Mawr just east of Woolworths. Walgreen’s was on the SE corner of Winthrop and Bryn Mawr. Senn High School did not have the park and athletic fields on the west side. (Editors note: The land is part of Senn Park) The east side was one large gravel field, with a dirt field in the center. The gravel portion hosted many softball games in the summer. The football, baseball and track teams practiced at Winnemac Park. The players took public transportation to get there. I graduated from Swift in January of 1947 and enrolled at Senn. I quit school during the first part of my junior year, then went back after a year and graduated in January of 1952. My first job after quitting was at the Edgewater Laundry. It was the worst job of my life.

My years at Senn were some of the best years of my life. I was in Alpha Hi-Y, which later became just Alpha because we has Jewish members and the YMCA did not like that. In my senior year I was president of Alpha. We had all the best athletes, class officers and other hot guys in Alpha, which helped us with the top girls in the school. We were probably snobs. I joined the Navy in April of 1952, made it a career and retired as a LCDR in 1975. I did return to Edgewater in 1960. I was a Navy Chief and was assigned recruiting duty in Des Plaines. I wanted to live in my old neighborhood, so my wife and I rented an apartment in a brownstone on the NE corner of Hollywood and Winthrop. We stayed there less than a year, then moved to Rolling Meadows. Growing up in Edgewater is at the top on my fondest memories.

Editor’s note: This story adds to the information about the development of Bryn Mawr and we are seeking photos of the three-story building that was torn down.