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  Interviews by
  Charlotte Snow

  Photography by
  Dan Dry


  > > Coming of age
  > > Positively medieval
  > > Elements of style

  > > Gift trapped

Ten Chicagoans master the art of growing older

image: "Coming of Age" headlineFerdinand Kramer, 98  Ferdinand Kramer, PhB'22, sits at his desk in the Monroe Street offices of the real estate firm Draper and Kramer, Inc., where he is chairman emeritus. An array of keepsakes includes a black--and--white photograph of Kramer shaking hands with President John F. Kennedy; Henry Kissinger's profile is visible in the background. Two canine figurines remind this two--time judge of the Westminster Dog Show of the internationally recognized English bulldogs he used to breed. A senior doubles tennis champion on all four surfaces, the dapper Kramer sports a tie adorned with a pin of two gold tennis rackets and a tiny pearl ball.

image: Ferdinand Kramer, 98"I've always had a particular interest in the rehabilitation of the South Side as a wonderful place in which to live. I spent the first eight or ten years of my life at 2912 Prairie Avenue. In those days, that was the place to live. The Marshall Fields, the Pullmans, the Logans, the Swifts all lived within a stone's throw of where I lived. My wife and I now live in Dearborn Park.

"One of the events that got me started in the development of the South Side was a call from Bob Hutchins. He was having difficulty after the war getting young, bright professors to the South Side because of a shortage of housing, and wanted to know if I could help. I said that if they provided the land, we'd provide the buildings.

"An abandoned church at 56th and Dorchester was torn down, and so the land was sold by the University to us at its reuse value--at a loss of $12,000 on the transaction. We then drew up plans for and built a residential building that gave a priority of occupancy to faculty and University staff. It is now over 80 percent occupied by people affiliated with the University. It has achieved its original purpose.

"The so--called golden age isn't all milk and honey. I have a hip that should be replaced. Tennis is now out of the realm of possibility. The past 30 or 40 years, tennis took up a third of my life, business a third, and family a third, so a third of my life is kaput. That's hard to take.

"But I'm pleased that the United States Tennis Association is now hosting a tournament for 90--year--olds that began about seven years ago as a round--robin competition organized by myself and two of my doubles partners and sponsored by Jay Pritzker.

"I wouldn't give students today any advice other than to study hard. I'm sure they figure things out on their own or they wouldn't be admitted to the University."

link to: Hortense Friedman link to: top of the page link to: "Coming of Age" link to: Madeline Stratton Morris


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