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  1. #41

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    What a great thread to find, this brings back memories for me. Wondering if anyone remembers the camera/camera parts store that was run by a guy named Ed on Honore st. in the Wicker Park area. I think it closed some time in the early 90s. I recall that he had parts for just about anything you could imagine, particularly large format gear. Does anyone recall who I'm talking about? I learned about him from Ken Josephson who was one of my photography instructors at SAIC from 1988-92.
    - - -
    [FONT=Verdana][SIZE=2]"At our best and most fortunate we make pictures because of what stands before our camera, to honor what is greater and more interesting than we are.
    We never accomplish this perfectly..."
    — Robert Adams[/SIZE][/FONT]

  2. #42
    fotch's Avatar
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    Hello JohnnyJr and welcome to APUG.
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  3. #43

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    I worked at Altman's from '73-75 when Ralph closed the store. I can remember some names and personalities very clearly. I first worked the catwalk to get to know the inventory and then worked in Purchasing and the first floor still camera counter. And yes, I can confirm a prior poster's recollection that Ralph required a polygraph prior to hire. He probably made me pay for it. Lillian, Ralph's wife, worked the back office upstairs and they would hail each other, very loudly, over the intercom: "Mrs. A, dial 1-0! Mrs. A., 1-0!" Some of the people I remember are Urban Faber, Steve Berkowitz, Ed Wills, Don Winkler, Gus at photo finishing, Manny, an extremely nice older German man named Harry who went on photo safaris to Africa, Selwyn Schwartz, Bob Moy, an older guy named Bob who was a WWII vet who was present at the liberation of Nazi death camps, Don Tomer who probably knew more about large format gear than anyone else on earth, Don Berberich, and poor Jack Patri. I, too was there when Jere, the Minolta rep, suffered his fatal heart attack. I waited on several celebrity photo people, including Alfred Eisenstaedt, who would come into the store. I still own a black paint Leica M-4 that I bought from Ralph while I worked there. I worked there days while attending law school at night, and moved to Helix when Altman's closed.

  4. #44
    sly
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    Hey! I was there once! I was living outside Toronto, a photography student, tired of using the school darkrooms, juggling the crowded sign up schedule with my classes and part time job. I heard this huge store was closing down, everything was on sale. Time to buy my own darkroom. I drove down with my boyfriend and his pickup truck and bought a D2V, lenses, easel, cutting board, contact printer, timers, trays, tongs, etc, etc, etc. Spent $800. A lot of money for a student back then, but an amazing deal for the equipment I was getting. At that time there was no duty on professional equipment, defined as anything large format. We spent hours at the border. First the customs guys had to FIND the ruling that said there was no duty, then we had to unpack EVERYTHING, and explain it's purpose, and why it was "professional". Some of that was kinda fudged - the 35mm and 120 neg carriers and enlarging lenses are not large format, but I just snowed them under with all the "professional" sounding photographic terms I could think of - just kept talking til their eyes glazed over. Given the time, and my boyfriend's choice of beard and hairstyle (complete with headband) and my long droopy hair and skirt, I think they expected to find some greenery tucked into one of those boxes.

    Sadly I sold all that great gear a few years later - my time was taken up with babies, and we were broke. Always regretted that we didn't sell his truck instead!
    silverlilly.zenfolio.com

  5. #45
    fotch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sly View Post
    ..........................

    Sadly I sold all that great gear a few years later - my time was taken up with babies, and we were broke. Always regretted that we didn't sell his truck instead!
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  6. #46

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    Joined the group just to keep this post going; what a great walk down memory lane. I appreciate the pictures. Wow.

    In the early 60s, the inimitable poet and camera salesman at Altman's Camera, Selwyn Schwartz, put this poor college student onto a new Konica Autoreflex T with a 57mm Hexanon AR f1.4 lens. At the time I liked my results, but envied my UofChicago photographer friends, who all had more money than I did, and were shooting the Nikons and Leicas I aspired to get, and eventually did (the Leicas that is). Having never heard of the Konica before that, I thought I had settled for an inferior kit. I have just begun culling and reorganizing my personal chromes and negs from those early days and will now admit something I would never have done at any time before now. I have discovered those early negs have a quality that holds up against anything I've since shot with any other 35mm format lens, with my Noctilux the possible only exception. I now wish I'd not been so anxious to replace that gear and had a longer history of negatives from that lens. Selwyn steered me right. I followed him as a customer when he moved to Helix. Every encounter with Selwyn began with him asking me what I was reading, and him quoting some lines from one of his poems in progress.

  7. #47

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    Last Day of Sales

    I was visiting in Chicago last week (I moved to New England in 1975 after Altman's closed). I Googled Altman's camera because I couldn't remember the address, and thought I'd swing by to see what was in the storefront these days, and found this thread. I couldn't believe how well people remembered the store, and had to join the group so that I could help tell the story.

    I worked for Altman's for a couple of years up until closing. I started in repairs with Harry Hirsh, then Ralph moved me upstairs to work the camera counter and do mail orders with Cheryl Kooiker. On the last day of sales, a few of us "borrowed" a camera and ran a roll or two of film through to document the occasion. As I recall, I shot a roll of Tri-X using a Leica M5. The only time I have ever used a Leica (when was I going to have another chance?)

    I have uploaded a few of the photos of people who were named in this thread. The first, of course, is Ralph himself. Next is Jon Sienkiewicz and Dave Feinman at the counter. Bob Moy at his desk. Cheryl Kooiker is in the double exposure. Don Tomer and Ed Wills from the Pro Dept. are last. There are more if people are interested.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Altman001.jpg   Altman004.jpg   Altman010.jpg   Altman014.jpg   Altman021.jpg  


  8. #48
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    Great pictures, RRfan! I bought from Altman mail-order, so I never saw "behind the counter". Thanks for posting these! And please post more!
    —Eric

  9. #49

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    Nice pitures. I certainly would like to see more of them.
    Nikon F100, D7000, 35mm F1.8G (DX), 85mm F1.8G, 50mm F1.8G.

  10. #50

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    Altman's Last Day

    Glad you liked the snapshots. As requested, here are a few more from behind the counter.

    In the long shot, Wayne Soderquist is at the adding machine (there were some amazing tabs run up), Raphael Villagomes is at the register, and Urban Faber is leaning on the back counter;
    The guy in the plaid jacket is Bob Moy, who was the manager, and Sven Johnsen is behind him;
    Norm Kucera is in the denim jacket with the bead necklace;
    Evelyn Ruth is the greeter, who kept the hordes at bay until a salesman was available;
    In "please take a number", we have John Robison with his back to us, Harry Nygard with his hand on the back counter, Steve Havenstrite at the register, Marge Thomas, and Bob Oliver (over John's shoulder)
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Altman002.jpg   Altman003.jpg   Altman005.jpg   Altman006.jpg   Altman008.jpg  


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