#TBTMemory 64: Spaces and Places

Maggie is handling hostess chores for this week’s Throwback Thursday, which she has titled “Spaces and Places.” She asks us to “[t]hink about the place you most consider home, or answer for all of them.” In my case, that would be this place…

6459 N. Glenwood, Chicago IL 60626. Picture from Google Maps

I talk about it in some detail here. Most of my childhood memories were made here. Here we go…

Did you grow up in an urban or a rural environment? How would you describe the geographic area where you lived? Was it mostly buildings or mostly trees? Four seasons, or always warm or cold? We lived in a very urban environment in Rogers Park, the furthest north part of the city, along the lake. It was mostly buildings, with businesses along Sheridan Road (about four blocks east of us), Devon Avenue (a block south), Clark Street (about four blocks west), and Morse Avenue (almost a mile north). We had a long, cold winter, a brief spring, a hot summer, and a brief fall.

What about the place in which you resided? Was it a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a boat, or something else? Did you like it and do you miss it now? We lived on the second floor of the apartment building pictured above. It was a great apartment, and there are times I think I would like to go back there.

What about the bedroom you had in the home? Did you share it with someone or did you have it all to yourself? If you shared, with whom? How was the space decorated? I had my own room, which was the only bedroom that had a view. I went through a period where I was obsessed with liquor bottles, which I discuss here, and considered my room my “bachelor pad.” My godmother, Fabulous Auntie Jill, gave me a bunch of posters that said things like “War is not healthy for children and other living things” and I hung those up after the liquor ads came down. Most of the time, though, it was a mess…

When you did family activities at home, in what room did you spend your time? What did you do together? TV? Cards? Board Games? Reading? Most of our together time was spent on the back porch, which was more a den with knotty-pine paneling. The TV was there. To do things like play games and cards and the like, our activities spilled out into the dining room. When we had company, we’d spend time in the living room. That was also where the stereo was, so if I had a hankering to listen to the Beatles or Allan Sherman, that’s where I’d go. The stereo was in the sun parlor, which was surrounded by windows on three sides and had the stereo and my father’s big red leather chair and hassock.

Did your friends’ living situation seem similar to your own? Did you prefer to be at your friend’s home or did you prefer your own? Did your friends like to hang out at your house? Pretty much, though the physical layout was different. One friend lived in what might be called a “shotgun” apartment, while several, who had bigger families, lived in houses. I generally liked being at home, and my friends liked coming over, though I really didn’t have that many visitors.

What kind of school did you attend? Large or small? Religious or secular? Public or private? I went to St. Ignatius School, a fairly big school (about 500 kids when I was there). It was two buildings joined together by a bridge, plus a theater-gym complex that was built such that we could get into the theater or the gym from the school. There were several public schools in the neighborhood that were about the same size.

Did you attend church, synagogue, temple, or some other religious facility? If so was it large and ornate, or small and homey? Did you feel comfortable there? Yes, we did: we were exactly one block south of St. Ignatius Church. It was large and ornate, yet I felt at home there. In grammar school, I was an altar boy, and in freshman year of high school, I worked at the rectory, so it was almost a home away from home.

Did you have a hang out spot? Skating rink? Mall? Burger joint? Bowling alley? Friend’s house? About the only place we used to “hang out” was in the alley between the east side of Glenwood and the west side of Wayne. When the weather was good, all the kids in the neighborhood were out there.

Where did you typically go on dates (if you dated)? Movies? Out to a restaurant? At home watching tv? Library? Gym? Dances? Clubs? Mall? I’m not sure how to read this, so I’m going to interpret it my way (Heaven help us all…) I really didn’t date until I was in college. As for the other places…

  • Movies: There were several theaters in the neighborhood, but the only two I went to were The Granada, an old-fashioned movie palace, and the 400, a smaller theater that showed more artsy movies. Both were on Sheridan Road, about six blocks apart.
  • Out to a restaurant: There were two places we would meet Grandma and Florence: the Town & Country, which was on Ridge Road, slightly out of the neighborhood, and The Brown Bear, a German restaurant on Clark Street. We generally dressed up to go to either one of those places. The Town & Country was kind of a posh place (velvet wallpaper, thick carpets, nice tablecloths and heavy cutlery), while The Brown Bear provided lots of gemütlichkeit. They did a show every Sunday night where all the waitstaff (all from Germany) would show off their various talents. The night we went, our waiter, who was from Bavaria, put on quite a demonstration of schuhplattler, i.e. slap dancing. For less formal occasions, there was The Branding Iron (I think that was the name) that served steaks. And, there was a restaurant called Cindy Sue’s that we used to order from a lot: pizza, fried chicken, and hamburgers. I’m sure there were other places, but my memory is hazy on them…
  • Library: There was the school library, of course, but the public library was about a mile hike from our house, so we didn’t go there very often.
  • Dances: There was a girl’s high school, Sacred Heart Academy, that had fairly regular dances on Friday nights. It was kind of a distance, but worth the walk, and that’s all I need to say about that…
  • The other places: Didn’t really do those…

What kind of place did you live in when you first moved away from home? Was it a big adjustment or were you ready to strike out on your own? Describe your first place. We moved from the apartment in Rogers Park to a small house in the suburbs after my freshman year of high school, I lived there until I got married, at which time I moved into a flat in Mary’s family’s building (with her, obviously). It was a nice place: a bit small, and not the best neighborhood, but there were worse in Chicago. It was enough for us, and that’s the important thing…

And that’s it for this week!

10 thoughts on “#TBTMemory 64: Spaces and Places

  1. Porches were always great hang out spots. Especially at dusk for some reason. My parents lived in a shotgun apartment when they moved to Ohio. It seemed strange to me. You always make Chicago sound like the best place!


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