Ethel F. Newman (Transcript Only)


NTERVIEWER: Sandra A. Remis
INTERVIEWEE: Mrs. Ethel F. Newman
DATE OF INTERVIEW: March 7, 1986
I have lived in Edgewater since 1918. I first lived on the corner of Broadway and Catalpa. Our home faced east, and from it I could see the whole area; could watch them flood Edgewater Beach tennis courts for skating in winter. My husband and I had NewGold Pharmacy on the corner of Broadway and Catalpa across from St. Ita’s church. We lived there from 1919 to 1934.
Bryn Mawr in those days was a lovely street for shopping. It had all kinds of shops: lingerie, stationery, groceries, restaurants, doctors’ offices. You could buy yard goods, thread - -numerous things. It was a lovely street. You were never afraid, day or night.
There were very nice homes in the area; I remember when they built the Edgewater Beach Apartments. I lived at 5050 Sheridan for thirty-five years, then at 5250 Sheridan when it was new. I was society editor for the Edgewater News . Because of the store, I got to know everyone. We were all very neighborly. We knew Mayor Kennelly, and Mayor Dever before him. I remember a family who had a little boy who today is an official of Commonwealth Edison Company. His father had worked there, too. They lived on the corner of Lakewood and Balmoral. The neighborhood was mostly Irish–Catholic, many of whom were politicians in the area west of Broadway. There were the Finns, a Judge Ward, who moved into the Renaissance Apartments. There was an O’Donahoue whose offices were above our drug store. His widow later lived in our building.
My husband, Jack, was a graduate of Loyola. In those days Loyola "L" Station was on the ground. On the corner of Broadway and Devon, there was what today we call a cocktail lounge. Then it was called an Inn. Jack waded in snow up to his knees to get to school (Loyola). There were three homes where Sheridan Road bends; one is still standing /sic–actually two, Piper Hall and "Yellow House /. I think they tore some down to build Immaculata /sic–actually Mundelein College/.
The North Side Cleaners I remember. Owners later moved to Evanston. Melzer’s (?) Grocery Store was there a long, long time, too.
St. Ita’s was first housed in a rather broken down structure while they collected money to build the present church. The convent was on Magnolia, and the priests’ house was on the corner of Catalpa and Magnolia; the little church was on the corner of Broadway and Catalpa. Father-Crowe, the pastor, was killed in front of our store.
He was crossing the street and held up his cane to stop traffic (there were no
lights) and this car simply didn’t stop. After his death, we had Msgr. Quill.
The Masses were very crowded. One of the priests from DePaul helped out on Sundays.
There was a family where the grandparents’ name was Moore, and their daughter and two sons lived with them. Their name was Cartelyou. One of the boys, whose nick­name was Corky, worked for us as an errand boy at the drug store. When he was about twelve years old, he told us he was going to be a priest. I almost dropped dead! I said, "You’re going to be a priest!" He wound up not only being a priest, but president of DePaul University! His brother became a teacher.
When Corky was a priest, I had his phone number and sometimes on Friday nights when the priests would be having scrambled eggs or salmon, we would take him out to eat. Sometimes we went to Algauer’s for lobster. We remained very good friends.
One time he did a very dumb thing when he was delivering drugs in an apartment.
He put the change from a $20 bill down in the elevator and when he went back to get
it, it was gone. He often reminded us about that. When he was a priest at DePaul, his office was at Jackson and Wabash. He frequently invited us to visit him there.
He delivered drugs on a bicycle and delivered something to our house. That’s the way I met him.
I attended McKinley High and wanted to go to college, but my folks said I’d have to give up Jack before they would spend money on college. I became engaged at 16, but I didn’t get married because I said I would marry on my 21st birthday. If it was a good enough day to be born on, it was good enough to get married on. So, on my 21st birthday, the 18th of September, I was married.
Forty-nine years before my husband passed away. The Edgewater News had a big article about it. It said there were no children, just his wife who still lived where they had always lived. My heart was broken. Perhaps because of the article, thieves broke in and stole all my jewelry. That was at 5050 Sheridan. Later I moved here for greater security.
My sister was a great knitter who during World War II made things for the Red
Cross and for the orphanage at Ridge and Devon. My husband helped sell War Bonds. I finally made him give up the store; he was sometimes working from 7:30 a.m. until 1 o’clock the next morning. Since we had no children, there was no point in his working so hard. Our only time off was the afternoons of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. The Chicago Retail Druggists Association would send us a sign which we could put in the window to say we were closed. In those days, druggists could be called to handle emergencies. We were always "on call."
I didn’t. I never really embraced the Jewish religion, so I didn’t have any friends there. I did have a lot of Christian friends. On special occasions I went to St. Ita’s for services. I also went to the North Shore Baptist church and to the Presbyterian Church. On Christmas Eve I went to the Episcopal church because one of the officials of the Uptown Bank asked me to go. I enjoyed going to all of them. Today more people call me Granny than if I had seventy-five children.
It was very posh. Ruby Dee and her husband, Ozzie Davis, used to perform there in shows on the Boardwalk in the summertime. We often enjoyed eating in the Colonnade Room where they ate. On Easter Sunday there would be the most beautiful crowd at the Edgewater Beach and when the Catholic boys in the neighborhood were ordained, they would have their ordination receptions there. I attended several of them.
The Connery’s owned the hotel in those days. We planned to live in the hotel, but my husband died before we could do this.
I had urged my husband to retire because we had no children to whom we could be­queath the store. There was no point in carrying so much insurance either because I could always make a living for myself since I was an auditor; I was a CPA. I had been interested in being a lawyer, but my father thought I was too much in­volved with Jack to study law.
We never owned a car. Jack said I was to take a cab wherever I wanted to go, and believe me I did. I lived l 1/2 blocks from the Edgewater Beach Hotel and could to the beauty shop there. Downtown, more shops were along South Michigan Avenue than North Michigan. Everything was south of Jackson. The Palmer House was about the furthermost north.
When I was young and living at home, we would drive north every Sunday.
My father wanted to buy the Oscar Mayer home on 5700 Sheridan Road. The doctor warned against it because of the dampness which was supposed to be bad for sinuses.
When the Edgewater Beach Hotel was going to be torn down, my sister and I were able to get some of the plates of the China service with the Edgewater crest on them. It took two years to tear down the building. They had certain suites re­served for permanent guests. In its heyday, there was always theatrical produc­tions, etc. One of the things that contributed to the hotel’s decline was lack of air condition­ing. My sister and I used to go to the hotel almost every day for lunch.
We travelled a lot, but always in the United States. We had no desire to go to Mexico or Europe. We liked to go to Mac Islands way up north in Wisconsin. We went there by way of Michigan. Esther Williams had many of her pictures taken there. It was a wonderful vacation spot. We often went by boat. I was lucky. I had a wonderful childhood and a wonderful marriage. Because so many of my friends were younger than myself, most of them are alive today.
There was always a great deal of social activity centered around the churches, too. Mr. Newman worked for Walgreen (downtown) after we closed our own store. I would meet him downtown and have dinner with him. I was a Virgo and have discovered that many of my present friends are Virgos.
All my life I had stomach problems and lived on milk–four quarts of it a day. I was always very thin. It was only in 1966, during a series of hospital tests, they discovered that I did not have the proper enzymes to digest dairy products! Imagine, after all those years, although it certainly did not shorten my life!