Posted February 24, 2012 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized
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Although it was only a block from my house, I never went into this place? I didn’t know it was this big… or clean. Great post war theme and layout……….Next door was the Ray Theater that turned into an ice rink.
When we did stay in the hood we went to the Imperial Lounge at Colfax or the Top Hat Go-Go Lounge on Saginaw….
..always felt intimated by fellow drinkers there….even after I was 21.
My uncles, Bob & Bill Lathrop’s place where I spent my First Communion Day afternoon playing on the stage with my cousin, Judy Lathrop, singing over the mike and trying to play the piano. My Mom, Dorothy Lathrop Desmond would NOT let me wear my veil as it would be sacriligious (I agree, NOW). The yeaar-1947!
The last time I was in the lounge was 1959,i was out of work and Bob hired me as bartender trainie,it did’nt work out but we stayed friends. I soon moved to LA,CA.
Looked up the old haunt on Google maps!!! Everything is gone, the other bar a few doors down from Stratoliner,gone the little café for pork chop and chili after closing time, gone one old building is remaining and in place of Strat is a check cashing joint. I guess like someone once said= you can’t go back home?
Absolutely, it is true, you cannot go home.
While the old buildings on the side streets are largely intact, having been converted to condos with iron gates in front, the commercial streets were devastated. My last visit was in the 1980s, and the commercial streets then were a wasteland of wind-blown garbage, bars on windows, cheap liquor stores, and store-front churches, Genuinely depressing.
I used Google Earth a few years ago to zero in on some locations, and there was nothing to zero in on. For example, the house of my old friend, Preston, on Kingston just south of 79th was an informal parking lot. The house of another friend on South Shore Drive was gone.
There has been some filling-in of the big gaps of empty lots in places like 71st Street, but it is all with the cheapest kind of commercial development, little cement box stores or mini-malls with parking lots. The graceful feel of a nice urban space is simply gone, except for a few of the handsome old buildings left like beached whale bones slowly decaying in the sun. And there are still plenty of empty lots and crummy stores.
Nature conspired too in adding to the devastation, with the glorious elm trees having all been removed. Yes, the city has replanted other stock, but a the tall, vase-shaped elms gave a cathedral-like feel to the side streets in our day.
A school like Bradwell still stands, but if you look closely it has become sterile with some kind of screens to protect windows and almost no gardening. My own pictures from the 1960s show vividly the differences with trees and shrubs and tall graceful windows full of light.
The Avalon Theater was nicely renovated and renamed the New Regal, but it soon closed. It’s just not an area with the means to support that kind of thing. Most old landmarks are gone or badly decayed.
I try on this site to celebrate the history and past life of the place, but the recent decades are grim and depressing.
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