JOHN CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – HYDE PARK CHICAGO – PHOTO – CHICAGO – HYDE PARK JEWISH TEMPLE ON 51ST STREET AT GREENWOOD – CLASSROOMS USED AS A KENWOOD SCHOOL BRANCH IN 1950s – A JOHN CHUCKMAN PHOTO   3 comments

JEWISH TEMPLE ON 51ST STREET I BELIEVE AT GREENWOOD - CLASSROOMS USED AS A KENWOOD SCHOOL BRANCH IN 1950s

TAKEN APRIL, 1967.

THIS WAS NICER THAN THE OTHER KENWOOD BRANCH ON 53RD , WHERE I ALSO ATTENDED FOR GRADE 1A, AND NICER THAN KENWOOD SCHOOL ITSELF, WHERE I ATTENDED 1B.

ONE OF MY FONDEST MEMORIES OF THE TEMPLE BRANCH, WHERE I ATTENDED JUST OVER A YEAR, WAS THE DISCOVERY OF THE JEWISH HOLIDAY OF SUCCOTH. I’VE ALWAYS LOVED THE AUTUMN AND HALLOWEEN AND PUMPKINS, AND AT THE SIDE OF THE TEMPLE ON THE SIDE STREET, I DISCOVERED ONE DAY THIS CHARMING HUT CONTRUCTED OF STRAW AND ALL THINGS AUTUMNAL, FILLED WITH SQUASHES, PUMPKINS, GOURDS, AND APPLES. DELIGHTFUL.

I GUESS IT WAS THE END OF THE HOLIDAY PERIOD WHEN THE MAN FROM THE TEMPLE TAKING THINGS DOWN GAVE ME AFTER SCHOOL AN ARMFUL OF SUCH DELIGHTS WHICH I CARRIED HOME, SMILING ALL THE WAY. 

WHEN I FIRST STARTED AT KENWOOD SCHOOL, THEY HAD US ON HALF-DAYS, THAT’S HOW SHORT AUTHORITIES WERE CAUGHT WITH FACILITIES BY THE POST-WAR BABY BOOM. THIS WAS PART OF THE UNDERSIDE OF THE POSTWAR BABY BOOM GENERATION WHICH IS SO OFTEN REPRESENTED ONLY AS HAVING EVERYTHING.

AND THEN THERE WERE THE ATROCIOUS POLICIES OF THE CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS. IF YOU MOVED EVEN AROUND THE CORNER, THEY MADE YOU DROP EVERYTHING AND GO TO A NEW SCHOOL.

MY MOTHER KEPT OUR SHORT NEW MOVE SECRET FROM THE SCHOOL WHEN I HAPPILY ATTENDED HERE, BUT THEY FOUND OUT AND SENT ME TO KOZMYNSKI SCHOOL, A MUCH GREATER DISTANCE AWAY – JUST LIKE THAT, DESPITE ESTABLISHED FRIENDSHIPS AND TIES IN THE SCHOOL.

THE POLICY WAS BRUTAL AND RUTHLESSLY ENFORCED AND THIS WAS IT NOT THE FIRST TIME I WAS UPROOTED, JUST THE WORST.

THE NAME ‘KOZMYNSKI’ IN THOSE DAYS RANG IN MY EAR LIKE ‘ALCATRAZ’ WITH THE WHISPERED LEGENDS OF OTHER KIDS. AFTER ALL, I HAD ACTUALLY STARTED SCHOOL AT SHAKESPEARE, NORTH OF 47TH, A TRUE HELL HOLE AT WHICH I WAS ONE OF THE FEW WHITE CHILDREN AND SUFFERED REGULAR RIDICULE AND ABUSE.

I CAN REMEMBER NOTHING ABOUT SHAKESPEARE BUT BEING LAUGHED AT, PUSHED AROUND, KNOCKED DOWN, AND READING THE WORDS ‘BLACKSTONE RANGERS’ OMINOUSLY CHALKED ON SIDEWALKS AND WALLS. YEARS LATER, I UNDERSTOOD EXACTLY WHAT IT FELT LIKE WHEN SOME POOR SOUTHERN BLACK KIDS WENT TO PREVIOUSLY ALL-WHITE SCHOOLS.

KOZMYNSKI WAS LIKE BEING SENT TO THE GULAG, AND INDEED IT WAS ALMOST THAT BAD. BROKEN WINDOWS EVERY DAY,SOMETIMES SHATTERED GLASS IN THE CLASSROOM FIRST THING IN THE MORNING (I HAVE A SLIDE OF THE SCHOOL FRONT FROM ABOUT 1967 WITH DOZENS OF BROKEN WINDOWS AND THE KIND OF MAKE-SHIFT PATCHES THEY DID WHEN I WAS THERE), GANGS RUNNING AROUND KNOCKING PEOPLE DOWN (A BLACK KID NAMED RAYMOND WAS THE TERROR OF THE SCHOOL YARD), THE CHARMING SOUTHERNER, MR. NEWMAN, WHO USED LITERALLY TO SLAP KIDS AROUND, AND THE PRINIPAL, MS. HOTCHKISS, WHO KEPT A BASEBALL BAT IN HER OFFICE AND DEFENDED TO MY MOTHER THE BEHAVIOR OF A SADIST LIKE MR. NEWMAN.

LEAVING HOME EVERY DAY FOR SCHOOL WAS SOMETHING TO BE DREADED – I’D LEAVE AT THE LAST POSSIBLE MOMENT TO MINIMIZE TIME SPENT WAITING IN THE SCHOOL YARD. AH, SUCH, SUCH WERE THE JOYS OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

MY POOR MOTHER, JUST TRYING TO RAISE TWO BOYS ALONE ON A SECRETARY’S SALARY, HAD TO WORRY ABOUT SUCH THINGS. VERY BRUTAL.

SO AFTER A COUPLE OF YEARS OF THAT WHEN MY MOTHER WAS ABLE TO AFFORD MOVING TO SOUTH SHORE (A RISING TIDE WAS RAISING ALL BOATS), AND I FIRST ATTENDED BRADWELL, I THOUGHT I HAD DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN. IT SEEMED SO PEACEFUL AND WELL ORDERED.

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3 responses to “JOHN CHUCKMAN’S PLACES – HYDE PARK CHICAGO – PHOTO – CHICAGO – HYDE PARK JEWISH TEMPLE ON 51ST STREET AT GREENWOOD – CLASSROOMS USED AS A KENWOOD SCHOOL BRANCH IN 1950s – A JOHN CHUCKMAN PHOTO

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  1. I attended Koz from 1952 to 1956. We lived on 51st and Woodlawn in a building owned by the Hansberry family. The building was very well kept, but our place was small, and when more brothers arrived, we moved, and I had to go to Murray on 54th and Ridgewood Court.

    I never even had an argument at Kozminski, but when I transferred to Murray, I got into fights all the time. I guess Koz really went down the pipes after I left, reflecting the fortunes of the surrounding area.

  2. Attended a Bar Mitzvah in the 50’s for young boyfriend at KAM Temple. President Obama’s home is now across the street.

    Linda Ford (nee Harris)
  3. The Temple is Isaiah Israel, now KAM Isaiah Israel. It was my synagogue during childhood when we lived at corner of 53rd and Ingleside Av across from the college.

    We lived next door to Koz, with a chinese laundry (Henry Wa’s , as I recall, Chinese Laundry) in between our home and Koz.

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