1500 Main Street History

This used to be a Grocery Store with a small home in back.  Ginger Cavalier purchased the property in 1974 from the owner/proprietor: Charles Thuerk (pronounced TURK).  Mr. Thuerk had bought the original tiny store in 1921, then moved it to the side yard (it really was a tiny store) and built what currently stands in 1923 for $2200.

The store in August 1932

At the time there was no Jewel/Dominicks/A&P/Kroger etc.  There were grocery “Co-ops” and Mr. Thuerk was a member of The Royal Blue Stores family of grocery co-ops.  These kinds of stores were everywhere all over Chicago and the suburbs.  You had to ask for what you wanted and Charles or his wife Frieda would assemble your order.

Frieda and Charles Thuerk ca. late 1940’s

Charles Thuerk had 3 jobs: He woke early in the morning to deliver milk for another company using a horse and carriage.  Once the milk was delivered, he started his 2nd job: opening the Royal Blue Store for business for the day.  His wife Frieda cooked and baked in the kitchen non-stop.  The kitchen was (and still is) the only room in the store and house behind with no heating source (radiators) most likely because the oven was on 24/7.  When the store was closed, Charles Thuerk could get a few hours of sleep before waking up the next day to deliver milk again, but not before he started his 3rd job: Father to Nine children, all of whom were borne at, grew up in and helped out with the house and storefront at 1500 Main Street.

Located across the street from Washington Elementary School, Mr. Thuerk saw more than his share of children after school.  His youngest son Erv (now age 91) recalls:

“After many years of putting up with the school kids from across the street, he began to lose his temper with them, because the area was changing and the kids would come in in groups and steal candy, pop and ice cream from him and he couldn’t control them. Later on he began to lock the door and only let a couple in at a time so he stopped the stealing when he could.”

Ginger had always heard that Mr. Thuerk would sometimes chase kids out while waving a Meat Cleaver so as to scare them away for good. There has always been an old Meat Cleaver hanging on the wall in the basement.  One day in 2004, Erv Thuerk dropped by after attending his 60th High School Reunion.  We gave him a tour of the house and “store” as it now existed.  He shared with us what he could with the time he had. We sent him home (California) with that Meat Cleaver. (note this was post-9/11!)

We recently took a trip to California to visit with Erv and his wife Shirley. They shared a treasure trove of stories and history with us as both had lived at 1500 Main Street even after they got married.

Do you have any recollections of “The Grocery Store at 1500 Main Street”?
Leave a comment if possible.


  1. Pat Betke Brunger

    I remember Turks store very well growing up in the neighborhood and going to Washington school.

    In the late 1950’s Mr Turk and his wife would put on a Bingo night in there backyard for people who patronized their store. I can remember going with my Mom and having a wonderful evening under lights that they strung every where for lighting. They also provided refreshments and even prizes for the winners. A good time was had by all. This they did once each summer, I just can’t remember for how many years.

    I also remember Mr Turk sitting on a stool by the front door in his white apron or Mrs Turk occasionally.

    • Jim & Ginger

      They also had an Ice Cream Social in the backyard once a year for the Church. Don’t know if that was a separate event or not.
      Here is a pic of Mr. Thuerk circa 1963 so this is probably similar to what you would see at the front. Don’t have any pics of Mrs. Thuerk wearing an apron.
      Mr Thuerk circa 1963

    • Karen Betke Lubeck

      Hello, Pat! I’m not sure if you remember me, but I’m your cousin. Imagine my surprise when I saw this while doing a search for Betke family members. I was actually searching for Grandpa, but came across this comment that your wrote. I hope you’re doing well. I know somebody in the family, a long time ago, did a Family Tree, because my mom mentioned that she was called for information. I would love a copy of that Family Tree, and will pay anyone who has one to copy it, and send it to me. My son is now 31, and I thought maybe he’d like to know some things about the “other side” of the family. We know so little. If you would care to contact me, my address is k.lubeck@sbcglobal.net. Thank you!!

  2. Pat Betke Brunger

    I think the ice cream social was a separate event. Thanks for the picture with his apron on.
    Dick and I went through Washington school together. Another flash back

  3. Lee Nichols

    I remember Mr & Mrs Turk very well. Throughout my years at Washington school I would drop by “Mr. Turks” to buy penny candy from my allowance. You had to go around behind the counter to select your items, so he could keep an eye on you.

    Many years later, I got married and moved into the two flat at 1428 Main Street. I went over to the store and “re-introduced” myself to Mr. Turk. It was an emotional moment I think for both of us.

  4. Wes Baden

    We moved from Chicago to Evanston in 1956 and went to school, grades 5-8 at St Nicholas which was only about 4-5 blocks from 1500 Main. The Boltwood Park clubhouse was just a block east on Main and was a favorite hangout for kids to play baseball and ice skate or play basketball. And then a quick bike ride to Turks for a coke or ice cream bar. I remember the store to be quite busy on Sundays-I don’t remember the bigger grocery stores in the area being open on Sunday and with just street parking available and Main St so narrow, it could be almost dangerous for drivers with people darting in and out between cars to cross Main.

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