v26-4 From the President

Vol. XXVI No. 4 - WINTER 2015

By Robert Remer

Anatomy of a home tour: The weather reports threatened rain, EHS stalwarts and appreciative home history devotees combined to make this year’s annual home tour the most attended yet. On Sunday, September 20th, over 265 record setting paid attendees got to meander through East Andersonville, visiting seven separate homes, the once Calo Theater (now the Brown Elephant), and our point of registration at the Philadelphia Church.

So much goes into a successful home tour, which is our biggest source of funds to run the museum. For over 27 years now, Kathy Gemperle has been coordinating our signature fall event. Co-chaired this year with LeRoy Blommaert, she and her extensive team have to start early in the year identifying candidate homes or historic businesses. Then they must approach the owners, get their permissions to participate and then proceed to prepare histories and photographs of the buildings. All of which takes a lot of lead time. In the meantime, another team has to prepare and send the marketing materials to go to prospective advertisers, and then approaches have to be made to businesses, elected officials and others to make donations for the ad book, which raises almost as much as the tour donations. Fliers must be prepared, emailed or distributed throughout Edgewater. Who hasn’t seen the yellow signs throughout Edgewater the week before? A huge effort goes just into that one task. But that only gets us to the night before the event when we traditionally hold a pot luck supper to welcome the dozens of home owners and the next day’s docents and volunteers, to share stories, information and eventually a special collegial guided tour of each home. In the hours before the tour, much still has to be done, like getting heavy boxes of hundreds of keepsake tour books to the registration site, or setting up the area so it doesn’t impede pedestrian traffic, and perhaps also putting up a canopy to protect from rain. Oh! And getting enough currency to make change (can’t forget that!). When the clock strikes noon, our volunteers at registration have special and complex duties. Our patrons usually arrive early or within the first hour or two. Our smiling and cheerful volunteers must get them registered, paid up, handed a tour guide with some explanation of where to begin, and send them on their way expeditiously.

Then at each of the homes we have at least two or more really fine docents who control the flow of traffic and explain some of the interesting features of the building or home. Sometimes the owners will also participate in the discussions, but that is not required; we are already so grateful for their letting us into their homes. Then when the clock strikes 5 p.m. the tour is officially over, and the volunteers with some energy left will collect at a local establishment for refreshments and a critique of the day – always a job well done – and always by our great volunteers: Kathy Gemperle, Dave Gemperle, LeRoy Blommaert, Art Arfa, Marsha Holland, Morry Matson, Larry Rosen, Marieluise Kailing, Betty Mayian, Martin Stewart, Thom Greene, Betsy Kane, Barbara Strauss, Dorothy Nygren, Steve Simmons and Catherine Kailing, members of the Philadelphia Church, their pastor Larry Butterfield and Sandra Watson. Thanks also to the Brown Elephant and Steve Pryor and the East Andersonville Residents Council. Thanks also to the many docents and home owners who made the day go so smoothly. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, the annual home tour has just about any type of volunteer task you could think of – so why not think about it for next year and give us a call. We would love to have you.

Voices of Edgewater (and a lot of heart) – The title of our latest fabulous exhibit is Voices of Edgewater, one that took many hands, heads and hearts to put together. Curator Dr. Dorothy Nygren, who already wears many hats, but in particular as our oral history chair, has deftly melded the oral history with artifacts, clothing, photos, maps, statistics and other historical materials, to tell the story of just some of the thousands of immigrants who had, have, and will continue to have lasting impact on Edgewater history. This has been her labor of love for about two years, and how she has labored! Immigrants comprise over 30% of our neighbors. You can’t help but be touched by the stories from the sad to the joyful. You’ll also be able to see how Edgewater, while always welcoming, has changed its immigrant makeup dramatically over time as immigrant groups are continually changing; more recent decades since WWII have witnessed significant increases in refugees. We were especially honored that Congresswoman Janice Schakowsky, herself the daughter of immigrants, gave the keynote to kick off the exhibit as part of the annual Austin Wyman Lecture. We will be having several more programs for the duration of the exhibit through May 2016. We especially want to thank Dorothy and her team which included LeRoy Blommaert, Kathy Gemperle, Roxanne Haveman, Marsha Holland, Nancy Holmstrand, Betsy Kane, Maya Lea, Morry Matson, Betty Mayian, Tiffany Middleton, Tom Murphy, Bryce Payne, Sandra Remis, Larry Rosen, Martin Stewart, Barbara Strauss, and Vitaliy Vladimirov.

Your historical society stays active, relevant, and strong through our great volunteers. Please think about joining us in that effort. You could make some lasting friendships, while enjoying yourself, and making a contribution to your community. Think about it and give us a call.