- Erwin was born in Michael Reese hospital at the time his parents were
living at Newberry
& Maxwell Sts. When Erwin was a child his family moved to 1102 S. Wood
St. near Yeaton which is now Grenshaw Ave. upstairs of Cohen's Grocery.
His family had a three bedroom apartment which was always active as by
now Erwin had a younger brother Albert, who later was a grocery
salesman, and five older sisters. While living there he watched the
County Hospital and the Ladies Aide Society Buildings being constructed.
His father, Zelick was a peddler in the US and at times would be gone
for a month or 2 going as far as the MIssissippi River. Some of the
people would pay him with geese, other fowl and eggs. The fowl scared
the daylights out of Erwin. His mother and sisters used to pluck the
geese and saved the feathers for making pillows.
Erwin recalled that when he was 4 he fell asleep under a gas range
that had a shelf. Everyone called it a Polly stove but it was actually a
Parlor stove. At that time the family took coal from outside, from a
shed and brought it upstairs to heat the apartment in a stove that had
Isenglass. When he was 6 his favorite game was Peg and Stick. He cut
off a stick from a broom about 8" long and sharpened both ends. He also
had a stick 3' long which he used to hit the shorter stick to see how
far it would go. He also had a favorite top.
The family took in boarders when Erwin was 5 or 6 years old and they
had their own private entrances. Once a year the family made their
years supply of wine.
When Erwin was 8 (1918), his mother died from the flu epidemic which
spread through Chicago. (Her sister in law Rose also died at this time).
His father, Zelik, was a religious man, and Erwin went with him to
Mincha and Maariv services. Not being to anxious to attend, many times
he told his father services hadn't started and in the end his father
gave him the dickens. He chased him to go to Hebrew School and at 13 he
was Bar Mitzvah.
When the family moved from Wood St.