A pet peeve of mine are the generic photos of people at work that a lot of brochures, pamphlets and websites use. You know the ones, they show a generic looking group of people, well groomed, conservatively dressed, ready to conquer the world. Or, you just see photos of hand shaking, cell phone talking, people in a meeting, etc. These photos are often on websites, newsletters & aptly parodied on shows like Family Guy (20-second clip).
My website has photos of real people at work. During the course of creating this website, I’ve had occasion to post photos in a series titled “People @ Work.” Instead of photos of models posing and pretending to be working, my photos are of real people, doing real work and they have real a connection to me.
These photos date back to the early 1900s in Chicago, and are images of my relatives at their places of work. For example, my earliest photo dates back to circa 1903-09 and is a picture of my great-great grandfather in front of his butcher shop on Maxwell Street on Chicago’s near west side. Other photos include my great grandmother, grandfather, and my dad and me at work.
Through Flickr’s photo badge, you can view an ever-changing collage of these photos and click on the images to view a larger image along with an explanation of what you’re looking at, and what the photo means to me. My Flickr badge appears on the right-hand column of my blog. As always with my website, feel free to comment or critique. Alternatively, all of the photos and their backstories are below. Just click on an individual photo to see an enlarged and detailed image.
Maxwell Street, Chicago Circa 1903-1909
The man is my great-great grandfather Meyer Levinson. This is his butcher shop on Maxwell Street in Chicago. We (my family) believe that this photo was taken somtime between 1903 and 1909, before Maxwell Street became a world renown shopping destination in Chicago. We think that Meyer’s shop was at 326 Maxwell, as the address at the top of the left hand window pane indicates, and was between Sangamon and Morgan Streets. However, as this picture was taken prior to 1909, the address doesn’t coincide with our modern day conception of location in Chicago, wherein Sangamon and Morgan are now at 900 and 1000 West.
In 1909, Chicago’s present day address system of 0 North, South, East and West, commencing at State and Madison Streets, began with the Plan of Chicago AKA the Burnham Plan, named after architect and planner Daniel Burnham. Burnham along with Edward Bennett designed the plan. Consequently, my great-great grandfather’s shop had a completely different address than what it would have under the Burnham Plan. Now, his shop is the location of athletic fields at the University of Illinois, Chicago’s campus.
To see a larger version/image of any photo posted in this series just click on it
Chicago Circa 1925
This is a photo of my great grandmother, Minnie Levinson, at her and her husband Abraham Levinson’s grocery store on Oakley and Potomac, 1259 N. Oakley, in the Wicker Park neighborhood (Oakley 2200 west and Potomac is around 1250 north).
This was their first store, it closed around 1925 when they moved to the northwest corner of Pierce Avenue and Robey Street (now named Damen Avenue) almost under the L tracks (short for elevated trains) also on Milwaukee Avenue, about a half block north of the actual Wicker Park.
The other lady in the photo is the owner of a candy store which was across the street.
Her name is Celia Edelstein. The candy store was named Ike’s after the woman’s husband Ike (Isaac) Edelstein and was at 1252 N. Oakley.
Chicago Circa Early 1930′s
In the photo at the right are my at great grandparents Minnie and Abe Levinson in front of their 2nd grocery store on the corner of Pierce and Robey (Damen), Wicker Park, Chicago, in the early 1930′s. To see an enlarged image of the photo click on it. You can view another shot of my great grandmother in her first store in the same neighborhood above.
Chicago Circa 1950
The man on the left is my grandfather Louis (Louie)Wishnick. The man on his right is an Oscar Mayer promotional person. The photo was taken at my grandfather’s grocery store at 3638 W. Wrightwood. This was 1 of 3 stores he owned from approximately 1932 until 1962, when he retired. Each store was your basic neighborhood grocery. Twice a week by 4 A.M. he’d be at the South Water Market to pick up fresh produce. Generally, he and other relatives worked the stores.
The two other stores were located on Madison and Western and Lake near Kedzie.
My grandfather was from Mlawa, Poland, and my grandmother was from Russia, near Minsk. Both arrived in the U.S. at Ellis Island, NY, and met in Chicago.
Interesting labor history note concerning my grandfather and family. My grandfather’s business wasn’t unionized. But, had it been unionized it probably would have been part of the Retail Clerks’ Union, an affiliate of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union (UFCW). You may recall from my previous posts concerning the recent split of the AFL-CIO that the UFCW is part of the Change to Win Coalition. The Coalition broke up the nation’s largest labor federation, the AFL-CIO.
However, here’s a real irony concerning labor history and my family. My grandfather’s brother, my great uncle, Morrie Wishnick, was president (I believe the title was Secretary Treasurer) for the Chicago local of the Retail Clerks Union back in the 60′s and 70′s. And, now I’m a management side labor and employment attorney.
Chicago Circa 1959-60
My intention with all of my posted photos is to depict real people at work. Instead of showing generic models posing and pretending, I’m showing people who actually have a connection to me while they’re at work.
In these 2 photos, the pharmacist in the white coat is my dad, Matthew Krugel. The person to my dad’s left is unknown. These photos were probably taken sometime between 1959 and 1960. They were taken at the same store in Chicago, probably Steinways on Wilson Avenue on the northwest side of the city, where my dad was raised. This was where he worked just after passing the pharmacy boards and before he went into business for himself, thus becoming as much a businessperson as a pharmacist.
A couple of interesting points about the content of the photos and my dad. In the top photo, if you click to enlarge, you’ll notice that my dad is in front of, and may even be holding a display for a product called Vigran. I have no idea what Vigran is for. I mention only because it shows you how little drug names have changed in the last 45 years, e.g., Viagra. Also, on the side, my dad consulted for the Retail Clerks Union in Chicago regarding their prescription programs.
As always, click on the photos to see larger images.
Chicago Circa 1966-67
Here’s a photo of my dad, Matthew Krugel, at work at his 1st store, Bel-Mar Drugs, on the south-east corner of Diversey and Laramie in Chicago’s Craigin Park neighborhood; 5200 W. Diversey.He had just owned this store for a few years when this picture was taken. The store was there until about 1978 when he moved it kitty-corner into a building about 3-times in size. He was a fixture in the neighborhood for about 35 years.
The two customers with him are his aunt and uncle (my great-aunt and great-uncle) Sam and Sophie Davis from Los Angeles, CA. Uncle Sam was a bohemian or beatnik of sorts who, back in the 40′s and 50′s, took my dad and his cousins on cross country road trips.
Often times relatives, even customers, visiting from out of town would stop by my dad’s store and fill prescriptions, shop and hang out. This may have been a carry over from the “old days” when pharmacies also had soda fountains and diners. People would spend more time in pharmacies back then as opposed to your present day drive through and in and out type places.
To see an enlarged view of the photo just click on it.
Chicago Circa 1990
Here’s a photo of my dad, Matthew Krugel, at work at his store Bel-Mar Pharmacy.
This photo was taken around 1990. This was about 4 years before he closed the business. Bel-Mar and my dad were in the Belmont-Cragin area of Chicago for about 35 years (beginning 1964).
Bel-Mar was first on the south east corner of the intersection of Diversey and Laramie. Then around 1977, my dad bought the store across the street (5200 W. Diversey), and was there until 1994. He was the pharmacist, owner and a fixture in the neighborhood until he sold the business to F&M (a smaller version of Wal-Mart; now out of business).
To see an enlarged view, just click on the photo.
2 Photos of Me at Work
The 1st photo was taken at my 2/22/06 employment law seminar at Evanston/Northwestern’s Small Business Development Center. Notice how intently everyone is paying attention. During the entire 2 hour seminar, everyone was hanging onto each word. Actually, I did notice one individual began to drift off a little during the 2nd hour. Hope he caught up on some needed sleep.
To view larger images of the photos, just click on them.
If you click on the image, you’ll see the full-sized photo. This is a photo of my great-uncle Maury Young (far left), 2 unidentified men, and my grandfather Charles Krugel (far right), who’s obviously the person that I was named after, working at Chicago’s Young & Goldstein Frocks in 1944. It’s kind of a cool photo with the lighting, shadows, clothing and machinery. Unfortunately, I know little else about the company or workers.
Chicago 2009–4 Photos of Me Presenting @ May 2009’s Woodlawn Community Service Corporation’s Law Day in at Chicago’s Bessie Coleman Public Library