Thursday, October 15, 2009

Family Stories--West of Lake Michigan

The Ivanhoe Restaurant, Chicago, Illinois. The 1950s

I grew up in Chicago on Wellington Ave., just west of Lake Michigan. When I walked out my front door and looked down the street, I'd see two important places. 1. My best friend's home 2. My dad's nightclub, The Ivanhoe Restaurant-which was a speak easy back during prohibition....way-yy before I was born.

I lived in a lovely English Tutor. My bedroom was on the second floor located at the front of the house where I watched the neighborhood. My bedroom walls were pink* and so was everything else in there. On the oppiste side of the house was the backyard. It was large with a sidewalk threading through it, starting at the back door leading to the alleyway. Thank goodness for that because if there wasnt a sidewalk, I never would have been allowed out there. Not ever. Let me explain. Dad loved his lawn. I mean, LOVED his lawn. We kids were not allowed to lay a single toe, much less a foot, on it. I can still hear him yell, "Stay off the grass!" Therefore we played on the sidewalk. If a ball rolled over the lawn, we stood in horror praying it hadn't flattened down the blades of grass too much.

I will never forget when Mom bought us a swing set. It was set up in our recreation room in the basement. An entire playground swing set, with three swings and a slide and monkey bars was down there. I thought nothing about the strange location. It made sesne. It was just how things were done.

For dinner, we'd either go to the nightclub and eat, which required wearing a fancy dress with crinolin slips, or we'd eat at home in pajamas and order from The Ivanhoe. Mom would go around the house and ask everyone what they wanted for dinner that night. She'd write it on her paper and then call it in. Within a half an hour it was delivered on a silver tray to our front doorstep. Princess or not, this was really cool. Only I didnt know it was cool because this is the way our family worked.

Satruday nights were always special. We didn't eat at The Ivanhoe, neither did we order from there. Mom ordered pizza from a real neighborhodd pizzeria! What a treat! We ate the pizza kneeling at the living room coffee table while watching TV. We were allowed one small bottled Coke, only first we had to drink a glass of milk. I think that was to balance out the bad effects of drinking the Coke.

I'd love to hear about your family quirkinesses.


Amy said...

wow! so this is "slice of life" ? what a childhood you had! I've read everything up to this point...will there be more? love the old images very much too!

Keith said...

Its amazing to find your story and the picture you posted. I'm from Chicago but we moved out West when I was 6. So I never lived in Chicago during a time in my life when I would actually remember anything. Well, nothing specific that is. So when I had the opportunity to work a temporary tour of duty in Chicago for work a couple years ago I jumped at the chance. The first thing my parents said was "see if the Ivanhoe is still there". Well I couldn't find anything on it then. But I happened to be looking the other night on Google and found some info on it. Then I found your blog. I would love to see any pictures of the inside of the building if you have any. My parents said it was really cool, like being in a cave. Which I'm sure hails from it's speakeasy days.