My dad always told me that “charity will never bust you” and
about a sign that he had placed in the window of the Ogden Huddle when he opened
in 1940 offering to feed the hungry for free.
In these challenging economic times, it made me feel very good
to come upon this news paper clip from the Herzl LIGHT. 1948, Herzl Junior
College (now Malcolm X in what is now the City Colleges of Chicago system) was
located just blocks from Eli’s Ogden Huddle on Chicago’s West side. A reporter
from the Herzl LIGHT, Richard C. Blank set out to test the sign to see if Eli’s
would in fact feed him for free. As noted in the article below from the LIGHT,
Blank came into the Huddle as a “humble and low spirited person” seeking a free
meal. My uncle and Eli’s brother, Nate Schulman, greeted him and immediately had
him served dinner.
The article continues that “playing the part of the ‘good
Samaritan is an old story with the Schulman’s.” (Eli, Nate and Bertha). “Eli
started the business eight years ago..and uses the previously mentioned sign
because someone gave him a helping hand when he was hungry and without
The article lists “examples of the different people who have
shared the Schulman hospitality:”
1. An elderly man said he didn’t have the money for a cup of
coffee. He got his coffee and a donut too. A few days later, he returned, and
not only cleared his debt, but paid twice as much.
2. A little old lady comes into the Huddle everyday and Nate
feeds her free because she doesn’t make enough money to live on.
3. Some time ago, a mongrel dog was in front of the store
counter. It was so hungry so Nate fed it. The next day another pooch appeared
and he fed it too!
“When people come in for a free meal and ask what they can do to
earn it it, Nate says “Northing.” He admires that kind of spirit but it would
force him to think up more jobs than the W.P.A. had in the leaf raking
That article was written 60 years ago this year. We are very
happy that our tradition of feeding the hungry continues with our commitment to
the Greater Chicago Food Depository at the Eli’s Cheesecake Festival and the
upcoming Magnificent Mile Lights Festival as well as our Eli’s Giving Back
Program, whereby our associates are invited and encouraged to personally deliver
Eli’s Cheesecakes to a worthy organization of their choice.