...And That's My Opinion©
By Sandy Goldman
The Rogers Park Community Curmudgeon
Rita Markus Bay was 17 years old when she left Rogers Park with her parents to move to California. Her parents Mitch and Mollie Markus were the owners of Howard Juvenile on Howard Street. Old-time residents will recognize the name. It served as the headquarters for our children’s clothes and toys (long before Toys-R-Us) and for strolling along Howard Street (can you believe that?).
Now in September, 2005 Rita, a senior citizen now, was sitting in my van, trying to resurrect her childhood. But I’m getting ahead of my story.
Some months ago I received an e-mail from Rita. She had Googled “Gale School” (an elementary school just north of Howard) and came up with my web site and the essay “Howard Street—a Helluva Street”. She wanted to know what it was like today. She had the names of several places that she remembered. Most of these places, as you can imagine, no longer exist. Several e-mails between us followed.
Shortly thereafter I received two more e-mails. One was from Ed Shykind in Washington D.C .The other independent of the first from Len Shykind in Arizona. Both had individually googled “Rogers Park” and arrived at my web site. Each identified themselves as family members of the owner of Howard Juvenile store. They also had memories of Howard Street and Gale School, and going to Oberman’s Deli for lox and bagels. Len lived at 1511 W. Jonquil worked as an usher at the Balaban and Katz Norshore and Howard Theatres. Ed says that he often sees Hal Bruno of ABC National News who is another ex- Rogers Parker and former Sullivan high school student. As best I could tell, their connection to Howard Juvenile store was after Rita and her parents had moved to California. It seems that they were all part of a distant but disconnected family. I put them all together and they have since developed an e-mail relationship and shared experiences.
Now we sat in my van on Howard Street parked across from where Rita’s parent’s store was located at 319 Howard on the Evanston side. It is currently occupied by three stores, J Bee’s, The Athletic Shoe and Choice Beauty. Then we drove to the 1500 block of Fargo front and back several times Rita was quite certain that she could identify her apartment in a six-flat. She remembered climbing the back steps which then opened into a small backyard. Our next drive took us to Gale School and although she recognized the front entrance, much of it was different. She demurred on the opportunity to walk the halls.
It was a fun afternoon listening to the stories of her youth. She remembered going to the two movie houses on Howard Street and sometimes even as fat south as the Granada Theatre. She remembered the “Doctors Building” on Howard and Ashland above the Northshore Bank (now ABM Amro-La Salle Bank and at a different location). She also remembered another building full of MDs & DDs at Clark and Howard (later Pivot Point Beauty School and now soon to be condos). She also had recollections of Paulina Street and the many restaurants and lounges.
Because her parent’s store had an Evanston address, she was allowed to attend Evanston High School, which had a most prestigious reputation in education circles. Her days there were not very happy because of the anti-Semitism that unfortunately was all too prevalent in Evanston in the 1940s.
We drove to Evanston High School and Rita easily recognized the main entrance of the old building. The school day was ending and the students were rushing down the sidewalks and into streets. She reminisced that once she was one of them.
Rita came to Chicago on an Elderhostel trip. They took the group to many of Chicago’s attractions. She confided, however, that our tour was the best and meant the most to her.
Shortly after Rita and her family moved to California, I graduated from Lake View High School.
Two days after our tour with Rita, I attended my 55th year high school class reunion. It was held at Allgauer’s Hilton Hotel in Northbrook and was attended by more than 150 people.
Reunions are, and should be, fun! This one was.
It is interesting how quickly old relationships resume and personalities continue. To our contemporaries, no matter how the body changes or how many grandchildren we have or what we have achieved, we remain the same as we once were. While it was a joyous occasion, there were somber moments and memories of those who had died.
We dined; we danced; we drank and we departed.
“Until the next one,” we all echoed. That would be number 60.
……What a week of memories for two former teenagers !!!
...And that's my opinion.
And I'm Sandy Goldman
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