Monday, March 25, 2013

When Rahm Lived In Uptown

March's Vanity Fair magazine has an excerpt from "Growing Up Emanuel," a memoir by the mayor's older brother, Ezekial.  In it, he talks about the family's time in Uptown, where the family lived prior to Rahm's birth (1959) until 1967.  It's a peek through the keyhole at our community fifty years ago, quite a different place demographically than it is today.

Uptown Update did a little poking around to find out where the family called home and discovered two addresses, both of which are still around in the same incarnation they were in the early 1960s.  First, the excerpt about growing up at 705 W Buena:
Later, [mother Marsha] bundled us three boys up and bounced a stroller down the stairs so we could walk a few blocks in the stinging-cold December air to a local market. Along the way we passed some of our neighbors, older Jewish women who clucked in Yiddish, assuming my mother did not know that they were saying something disparaging about the “hillbillies” with all their kids.

Low rents and easy access to public transportation had made our neighborhood popular with poor whites from Appalachia who flocked to Chicago seeking jobs. Distinctive in the way they talked and dressed, these newcomers had met with their share of bigotry, and the term “hillbilly” was a put-down. My mother, who refused to use the word, startled the women with a little Yiddish admonition—“Ich bin a yid,” which means “I am a Jew”—to remind them of the ugliness of prejudice and their own ignorance.

* * *

In 1963, before milk cartons were decorated with photos of abducted children and supervised “playdates” became the norm, I led Rahm and Ari on expeditions around the neighborhood. Although I was barely six and my brothers were two and four, I was allowed to take them to the end of the block, across a street, and through an underpass beneath Lake Shore Drive (a multi-lane semi-expressway) to a public rock garden, where we would pretend to assault a playground fort.
Later, the family moved to 931 W Winona, where the brothers would walk through the underpass to the Foster Avenue Beach and experience prejudice of another kind.  We don't want to run afoul of fair use copyright laws, so won't copy that part.  You can read the excerpt in VF, or the book when it comes out.

Oh, Rahm has one more tie to this part of town:  his mother used to run a music club, the Daisy Patch, just up the road.  Maybe some insight into why he sees Uptown as a Music and Entertainment District?  From the Sun-Times:
The mayor-elect has previously mentioned that his mother, Marsha Smulevitz, once owned a club in Chicago. In Wednesday's interview, he mentioned which onethe Daisy Patch, a bar and music venue that was open early in the 1970s on Broadway just north of Granville. "It was a club for up-and-coming, aspiring bands," Emanuel said. "You'd walk in and there was the bar. Down the hallway is where the bands would play, and there was dancing."


  1. Sunday night he and his family had dinner at sun wah chinese bbq place on broadway!!!

  2. Our 60s band, Gossip, played many times at The Daisy Patch. The manager,Herbie, liked our music, ranging from the Beatles, Cream, the Who, & Yardbirds.