Memories of growing up in an Uptown hotel in the 1930s and '40s | Bleader

Memories of growing up in an Uptown hotel in the 1930s and '40s

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Diane Glick Berolzheimer
  • Paige Wynne
  • Diane Glick Berolzheimer

Chicagoans is a first-person account from off the beaten track, as told to Anne Ford. This week's Chicagoan is Diane Glick Berolzheimer, a child of 1930s and ’40s Chicago.

"My father, Jacob Glick, came to this country from the Ukraine in about 1912. His father had died, and his mother and brother and sister came here before him; he came by himself by boat at age 12. By the time I was born, he owned the cigar store in the New Lawrence Hotel. The building is still there, on Lawrence Avenue just west of Sheridan. My mother worked with him, and we lived in a two-room apartment in the hotel till I was ten.

"There was a swimming pool in the hotel, and I learned to swim there, and there was a beauty shop where I often had my hair cut. My brother and I spent a lot of time running around in the hotel. We could go in the store and read all the comic books and magazines that my father had to sell, as long as we were careful and put them back on the shelf. There were young men who ran the hotel elevators, and we would push an elevator button on one floor and run away to another floor, and push a button again and run away again.

"The hotel is down the street from the Aragon Ballroom. The big bands played there, and the musicians stayed in the hotel. So the only other children in the hotel were the children of people from the band. I became very friendly with one of the girls from Dick Jurgens's band. And I remember meeting the Andrews Sisters one day when they came in to buy cigarettes. It was obviously an interesting way to grow up.

"We never had a car. We took public transportation. Streetcars or buses. My mother's father had a school supply and candy store on Potomac Avenue, right off of Western, and I remember taking the Western Avenue streetcar there, or maybe it was Broadway.

"My father was a movie-camera buff. He started taking movies on 16-millimeter film when I was a year old. He was a big fisherman, and he always took movies of his fishing trips on Lake Michigan, everyone sitting in the boat and smoking their cigars. The movies are all silent. You kind of have to imagine what they're saying to each other.

"We donated all of the film to the Chicago Film Archives about ten years ago. I think it's 239 reels. It's called the Glick-Berolzheimer Collection, 1934—1978. You can go on their website, and they have posted a lot of our films. On the first page for our collection, there's a picture of a chubby little girl standing on a chair, and that's a cousin of mine.

"Recently a news reporter contacted the archives when the Cubs opened this season, and they shared with the reporter film my father had taken on Opening Day at Wrigley with a bunch of his friends, smoking cigars and wearing their fedoras and their suits. It was before the ivy was planted there. Did anyone ever mind being filmed? No, I don't think so. My father was such a sweet man that I think anybody would do anything for him."

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