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I remember the junk yard being just beyond the viaduct around 116th & Michigan. To the north of the viaduct and on the east side of Michigan Avenue was Panetti’s, which had fantastic Italian Beef sandwiches. I live near Washington, DC, now and occasionally order from Italian Beef from Portillos. For $50, you get the fixings for 8 large sandwiches, including meat, buns, sauce. It arrives packed in dry ice and, if you follow their instructions about defrosting and heating, it is an incredible taste treat. $50 sounds like a lot – but it comes to about $6 a sandwich and is worth every penny.
I remember selling papers to the junkyard but, later, I went there for parts. My first car was a beat-up ‘51 Ford Vic 2-dr HT with an old flathead 8 engine. I recall that the manifold cracked. I picked up a manifold from the junkyard for $5 and put it in myself. Do you remember when there was so much room under the hood of a car that you could sit on the fender with your legs hanging down next to the block as you worked on the car? Today you can’t fit three fingers in there with all of the innards!
Remember at that end of Michigan Ave there was also the RoseBowl (Carmen Salvino), a great camera shop – but I’m blocking on the name – and the Calumet Index offices? I worked for a while at the Rexall at 115th for peanuts.
John – I remember People’s Lutheran – the Boy Scout Troop I belonged to – I think it was 728 – had troop meetings there. The scoutmaster was a this great Italian treasure named Fee Fanizzo – Uncle Fee we called him. For that matter, I think the Cub Scout Pack, which I also had belonged to, was 3728 and also based out of People’s. BTW, there are some good pictures if you go to the main Webshots site and, in the search box, enter Chicago Roseland. The first page or two are some shelter shots, but then you get into the good stuff. Like photos of the Y, Schmid & Lofgren, the Roseland, the State, etc. Regrettably, no Giovanni’s, which is still the standard I judge all other pizzas by. I think they moved to Dolton – and still use the family recipe.
And Doug, like you, I learned to swim at the Y. They had grades like minnow and perch. My best friend and I went one spring break. Fenger had great summer swim classes too. And the Pump at 103rd and the tracks was nice.
Mendel was looking a bit peaked. However, a couple of years ago, I stopped at the old Pullman Library at 110th and Indiana. Same waxed wood smell, old heavy wood tables and chairs and the balcony hadn’t changed a bit. I wish I had a nickel for every time I rode my bike down the hill and picked up a basket full of books at that place. It was nice to see it kept up and took me back to some nice memories. Our old church, Elim Lutheran, at 113th and Forest was OK too. The name had been changed to Reformation Lutheran, but the building wasn’t too much the worse for wear.
I worked as an usher at the State for about a year back in the late 50’s when I was in high school. George Stevens was the manager. We wore uniforms, seated patrons after the movies began, cleaned the ashtrays, filled the candy machines, melted oil for the popcorn machine (a hot, sticky, messy job – but did give us a chance to flirt with the popcorn girls), break up fights and sweep the lobby. The State was a grand old place with a huge balcony, a vaulted ceiling, side boxes, a retractable Wurlitzer Organ under the stage and catacombed dressing rooms behind the stage that dated to vaudeville days. It was both spooky and great fun to explore that hidden backstage areas. The balcony was typically only open on Fridays and weekends or for large draw movies. When closed, we’d go up there on breaks to neck with girlfriends who also worked for the theatre. I’m sad to hear the great old lady was demolished. I have fine memories of the place!