Skrudland Photo Service

Before the digital age, cameras used photographic film.  The film provided a limited amount of shots—12 or 20 or 36 or whatever—and once you shot a picture, there was no going back and erasing it for reuse.  When you used up all the shots, then the film had to be developed and printed.  Most people turned those jobs over to a professional.

On the Northwest Side, many of us used Skrudland Photo Service.  My dad remembered that they had started out in a small building at Central and Addison during the 1930s.  By the time I started taking pictures around 1958, Skrudland’s was operating out of an old bungalow at 6440 West Diversey Avenue.

That Skrudland’s was the first place my parents let me go to solo on the bus.  It was a little under three miles from our house at Montrose and Austin.  I was about eleven, and could have ridden my bike.  Too dangerous, Mom said.  Take the bus.

Getting to Skrudland’s involved taking the #91-Austin bus south to Diversey, then transferring to the #76 bus west to the store—or walking that last half-mile if no bus was coming.  So every month or so, when I had saved up enough money, I’d make the journey with a used roll of film from my old 8-shot box camera.  A few days later, I’d go back to pick up the prints.

The prints came in a pink envelope.  Along with them you got a set of negatives.  If you wanted a second copy of a particular photo, the store could make it using the negative.  The envelope also included various coupons and price lists.  Sometimes there’d be a booklet with tracts from the Bible.

Time passed.  Amateur photography was getting more and more popular.  Skrudland’s opened a second store at 7000 West Belmont Avenue.  They tore down the old Diversey bungalow and put up a new building on the site.  Then they opened another branch in Palatine.

I continued going to Skrudland’s even after I moved to Rogers Park and later Oak Park.  They did good work and their prices were fair.  The staff there was friendly, too.  They seemed to enjoy what they were doing.

Eventually digital cameras replaced film cameras.  Skrudland’s closed the two stores in the city.  I’m not sure whether the Palatine store is still in business.

Those pink Skrudland’s envelopes were always a handy place for me to store extra photos.  A few weeks ago I decided to go through one of them.  I discovered that I had inadvertently saved some 1961-vintage Skrudland’s enclosures.  They might not be worthy of sending to the Chicago History Museum or the Smithsonian, so I’ll share them here.



33 Responses to “Skrudland Photo Service”

  1. 1 Beth Johnson October 9, 2018 at 12:38 am

    I remember Skrudland’s and enjoyed seeing the envelope, price lists, and inserts you shared here. Thanks!

  2. 3 Garry October 9, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    We used Skrudland for many years. Whenever you had a roll of unprintable photos, due to under or overexposure, they sent you other credits for a free roll to be developed.

  3. 4 Debi March 12, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    I have a little booklet. bible. From there 1964 with their name on it ..i read it..what a neat company to care about people souls back then..nothing like todayd

  4. 6 JEAN MATHEWS March 16, 2019 at 7:28 pm

    We used Skrudland for many years. Now I have discovered black and white negotives of family gone by, but have no pictures and I sure would like to print these out and see who they were, mostly all my husbands family, and maybe some of him, and now I have trouble finding someone who could print them out, so I thought of Skrudland as I still had an envelope from back then
    Do you know where I can go to print them out.?

    • 7 J.R. Schmidt March 16, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      Central Camera on Wabash downtown still does film processing, and there are probably a few other places as well.

  5. 8 Diana Mccaskill Bedingfield April 24, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    I am glad you decided to share a bit of your history. My mother carried around this “The Little BIBLE” and on the back is printed Skrudland Photo Service. Hebron, Illinois 60034. so i looked it up to put pieces of my mom’s history together. thank you for sharing. diana.

  6. 10 dianeledet July 11, 2019 at 12:37 pm

    Out of curiosity, did they have a big stuffed bear in their lobby?

  7. 14 Alan Coats March 2, 2020 at 8:11 am

    I will always remember Skrudlands having the most attractive counter staff in Chicago(perhaps the world). I know it is sexist to say that but when you are in your late teens in the mid 60s it is about the only thing you notice. Lastly was Skrudlands near Thunder Mountain?

  8. 16 Luanne September 15, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Such an interesting post. I realized that one of my photos said Skrudland on it, so I looked it up and found your blog! I never lived in Chicago, but my dad grew up there and my grandmother and other relatives lived there so we visited a lot.

  9. 18 Cecil King September 24, 2020 at 12:52 am

    Used Skrudland’s mail service for many years. Always reliable
    Cecil King.

  10. 19 RIck Kot June 12, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    They definitely had a stuff black bear in the lobby at the DIversey store. As a youngster, I remember frequently seeing a piece of chewed gum in it’s mouth. Good times!

  11. 22 Antony Meadley January 3, 2022 at 11:58 am

    I used to use Skrudlands back in 1989, when I lived nearby. Nice people.

  12. 24 Carol (Sergey) Vyskocil March 8, 2022 at 7:29 pm

    My sisters and I worked at the Belmont Store during high school, and then for years…. I commuted to the Hebron facility. What a lot of great memories!

  13. 25 Kathy March 9, 2022 at 11:17 am

    Just found a box of undeveloped film from many years ago and one mailer full to Skrudland Photo, where to now, any chance they’re developable? They were a great company

    • 26 J.R. Schmidt March 9, 2022 at 11:31 am

      If anyone can salvage prints from old film, Skrudland’s can. It’s worth a phone call to find out.

      • 27 Ila March 14, 2022 at 7:21 pm

        Hi from Ks. (<:)
        Approximately 1968 I was given a Kodak 126 instatmatic camera. Alot of memory glimpses were snapped including 8th grade, HS & college graduation & Skrudland Photo developed I don't recall how many of them. I don't recall ever having an order to & from them get lost in the mail. (<:)

        I was glad to read in a couple earlier posts from 2019 that Skrudland's had apparently shared from the Bible. (<:) I recently ran across a Gospel tract that resembled a check format that pointed to salvation in Jesus Christ that Skrudland Photo had given.

        Everyone desperately needs Christ in their life as Lord & Saviour. The world would be a much better place to live if people would follow His Word. He is real & what He says is 100% Truth.

        Thanks Skrudland Photo Service for the good service from yesteryears & for sharing the greatest message the world can hear that can help people through God's Word.
        – – – –
        Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."

  14. 28 Jackie Pehan July 3, 2022 at 3:24 pm

    Found Skrudland coupons looking at old photos. Credit Coupon WORTH 1Oc

  15. 29 Charlie Chaplin July 29, 2022 at 5:58 pm

    I Just found a photo of my dad’s mom. In a nice cardboard envelope you can open and set in a shelf or nightstand. The envelope reads: Skrudland Photo. It’s the only way I know it’s my dad’s mother. She was from Mendota Ill. and died before I was born.

  16. 30 Kay Anderson November 21, 2022 at 12:51 am

    I’ve spent the day going through one of many boxes of pix. Many were in Skrudland envelopes. Some had the people identified, but few had dates on them. It was great when they started printing the year on the back! And of course even better when the pix themselves had the date in the corner! The earliest I’ve found was from 1943. Not from you but I was very happy to find them to see my grandparents and great grandparents!

  17. 31 Kay Anderson November 21, 2022 at 12:53 am

    We used the mail-in from Kansas and Maryland!

  18. 32 Tomasz March 26, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    Just going through my childhood photos. Some in Skrudland envelopes – which lead me to this site 🙂 I live in Poland, but my dad lived most of his life in Chicago and developed film there. Great find!

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