Izzie, Our Neighborhood Butcher

Remember the time when every neighborhood had shops. As children, we could walk to the shops to buy candy and pop. Our parents would send us to the store to buy an item or two that they needed. Please join me as I go back to the Sixties and visit our neighborhood butcher.

“Jemil (my middle name, which my family always used), go down to Izzie’s and get a pound of hamburger meat.” With this “request”, I would be on my way to pay a visit to one of our well-known neighborhood personalities.

All the years that I lived on Candler Avenue, Izzie’s butcher shop and store was a mainstay in our community. His shop was located on Brush Street just south of Candler Ave. Izzie’s shop was part of our neighborhood “shopping district”, which consisted of another store called H&R’S (Please see my post on this store). There was also a dry cleaners and a barber shop. The barber shop was unknown to me because Dad thought is was too expensive; so I enjoyed getting my haircuts at the Lamar Barber College on Woodward Avenue near the Post Office. It was always an adventure to see what the students at this school would do with my hair, but you couldn’t beat the price of fifty cents.

Izzie’s shop was in reality two shops. Until the early Sixties, Izzie had his butcher shop. Next door was Jackson’s small grocery store. Jackson retired and Izzie bought out the grocery store. He broke done the wall between the two shops and it became a butcher shop and a grocery store combined.

Izzie also kept the same lady who worked for Jackson. I never remembered her name, but she was always kind to me. One time, she had received a silver dollar (Pre-1935) from a customer. I noticed the silver dollar and asked her if I could trade a bill for it and she did it for me!  Also I collected bottle caps and this kind lady would save them for me.

Izzie definitely had personality. He was very pleasant to his customers though his voice sounded a bit gruff. He showed kindness by extending credit to his customers that couldn’t pay immediately. I didn’t know his nationality, but by his appearance, I figured he was of Mediterranean background. His skin looked a bit rough and his hair which was greying was closely cropped to his head. The most distinctive feature about Izzie was that he appeared to have a cigar in his mouth at all times. The cigar looked like a natural part of his body.

Izzie kept a clean and neat shop. When I would enter his butcher shop, the first thing I noticed was the counter with all the various meats inside. Every cut of meat was lined up in its proper place with the price posted for each meat. I remember that the hamburger meat was fifty-nine cents a pound. Behind his counter was a large advertisement for a margarine company. The advertisement had a facsimile of each helmet of every NFL team. One day, I boldly asked Izzie if I could have the helmets after he finished with them.  He said “sure”.  However, when I left Highland Park as an adult in 1975, those helmets were still up on the wall behind his meat counter.

Like many other aspects of my life in Highland Park, Izzie was one of those people who played a role in my life. Perhaps, it wasn’t a major role, but he was one of the characters in my Highland Park chapter of my life that bring back pleasant memories of my growing up years in Highland Park.

P.S. Please visit my other blog where I talk about spiritual topics such as: “Candid Thoughts about Crowds”, and “Five Great Promises as I Travel this Life”. The address is: http://www.markjemilbooth.com.

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