Steven Balkin

Profile Updated: November 26, 2011
Address: Chicago, IL USA
Spouse/Partner: Barbara Raikow Balkin
Elementary School: Bagley
Occupation: Professor
Children: Melissa was born in 1968, in Detroit, during the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther More…King. She is married, has a child, and lives in upstate NY. My granddaughter Jenna is 14 and is a soccer player for her school but she still does not understand her grandfather's jokes.

-I am most proud of my family. They are nice people most of the time and put up with me.

-In 1963 I went to Wayne State and eventually lived on-campus. In 1974 I moved to the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago and taught at the U. of Illinois at Chicago. Later, I switched to Roosevelt University. If you want to see what I have been doing, you can visit my faculty website:

-The most memorable thing I have done is my trying to save Chicago's old Maxwell Street neighborhood and the St. Francis of Assisi Church. I am also proud of the work I have done to help preserve outdoor markets and Roma (Gypsy) culture.

-Taking care of two elderly sick mothers and having them live in my house was very challenging but I survived the experience and am glad I was able to do it.

-I have my ups and downs and the downs can be very difficult to navigate through. Although I am still a skeptic, learning about Eastern spirituality and Buddhism has been helpful to try to understand the world and cope with getting older.

- My students help keep me young, especially the ones I teach from the People's Republic of China. They respect teachers and are willing to laugh at my jokes.

Mumford memories:

- My favorite teacher by far was Joseph Kertesz who taught music and directed the orchestra. He was very kind to me even though I was a terrible music student. He was amused and tolerant with my weirdness such as my deciding for a year that I wanted to be Swedish and spoke with a Swedish accent in his classes. I loved trying to mimic his Hungarian curses. He was at my wedding and we stayed in touch until his death.

- Mumford students who I still keep in touch with are: Arnie Surowitz, Sheldon Rosen, Bob Shaw, Morris Levenson, Lois Mitchell, and Jimmy Kaufman. I am especially fond of Jimmy's mom Minna (now 99) who let me hang out at her house after school and fed me many snacks.

- These were a few of my favorite things:
Walking home in winter along Wyoming Ave. with Cupids Bow salty french fries smothered in ketchup in a 'dripping with hot grease' paper bag.

Going into Grunt's and getting an old dill sour pickel right from the barrel. Only five cents -- a nickel for a pickel.

Getting a haircut from Leo, the Communist barber, and talking about the plight of the working man.

Asking Mr. Green, the counter man at Fredson's, for a free heel of rye bread and a glass of water to eat with my 10 cent hard salami stick. Sometimes he would even give me two heels of bread.

Hearing Sheldon Rosen do his Oral Roberts healing performance followed by his rendition of the Aristocrat joke.

Going to the Minor Key on Dexter, where Kenny Rosen's sister was the waitress, to hear the jazz greats and sit so close to the stage that sweat from the musicians would land on me and annoint my face -- Baptisms by Miles, Maynard, Yussef, Cannonball, Art, Ramsey, and Ahmad.

The earthy smell from the smoke of the damp leaves that were piled up in the street and set on fire.

Poker games at Arnie Surowitz's house in the attic where each player got to deal and decide the game. There was always friendly rivalry on who could create the silliest version of poker with the weirdest wild cards, e.g. seven card poker with all spades wild plus one-eyed jacks but the wild suit could change based on the last up-card dealt.

Eating a Dinty Moore at Darby's and then walking by Tom's Tavern on 7 Mile Rd, fantasizing what went on there.

Watching The Jack Paar Show. My favorite guests were Oscar Levant, Jonathon Winters, Cliff Arquett, Hermione Gingold, Genevieve, Jack E. Leonard, Alexander King, Buddy Hackett, Dody Goodman, and Jack Douglas with his wife Reiko. I should have done homework and studied instead but this show so captivated me.

The duck pond in Palmer Park was my refuge. Northwest Detroit was so far from Lake St.Clair or the Detroit River that this was the closest body of water I could get to. I do not know if feeding cheese crackers was good for the ducks but it was great to get their attention and affection.

The raspy winey voice of Mr. Spitzer at the Hebrew bookstore on Wyoming near Pickford. I used to go there to pick up Mickey Katz records as birthday presents for my bubbie.

The smoked sable fish from House of Foods at Seven Mile and Schafer. It was a Sunday morning treat. Then going to Zemans to get their seven layer cake. On the way home stoping by Rocky's for a pizza. Then to Lotus Gardens for chow mein. Way too much of my life has been centered on food. It is the fault of growing up in Detroit, the world class culinary center of the nation.

I almost forgot to mention the ultimate of Detroit culinary virtuosity, Greene's Hamburgers at Wyoming and Six Mile. It was my first exposure to the compelling aroma of grilled onions. One of the attractions for dating my wife is that she lived near Tel-Way, another Detroit indigenous slider place but even better than Greene's.

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Mar 27, 2018 at 7:41 PM

Posted on: Mar 21, 2018 at 4:33 AM

Steven Balkin has a birthday today.
Mar 21, 2017 at 4:33 AM
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May 16, 2015 at 7:44 PM

Evelyn, Thanks for birthday greeting. Please Friend me on facebook. I use Steven Oikon for facebook. Also email me your email address: We live in lincoln park with lots of antiques.

Steven Balkin has a birthday today.
Mar 21, 2015 at 4:33 AM
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