Kathryn Gladden (Transcript Only)


INTERVIEWER: Kathy Gemperle
INTERVIEWEE: Kathryn Gladden
DATE OF INTERVIEW: February 4, 1986
Kathryn lived in Edgewater forty-five years, first on Thorndale and then she moved to Lakewood. She was not born here, but joined her mother and sister on Thorndale.
First she lived in an apartment, but because of three children, decided to buy a house. She started to give piano lessons and continued to do so for fifty-eight years. Now, Kathryn is teaching children of her first pupils. She received her music degree in St. Louis.
Teaching piano has been a good experience for her. She has 100 students who even come from the suburbs. She’s never had to advertise–word spread by neigh­bors and pupils. She started a rhythm band for the youngest children, tried her hand at art work for them, too, working with crayola and clay. She stopped doing this when pre-schools opened in the area. Then she put on operettas summer after summer with children from the area. The Marciniak children were in them, the Moores and many others. Many of them were from St. Ita’s parish or from Pierce School. This all happened around 1948-1950. Kathryn did a project for Girl Scouts, using glasses partially filled with water to produce different pitches, and then melodies could be played on them including The Bells of St. Mary’s in two-part harmony.
Her house has been owned by three different owners and was built at the turn of the century. She bought it from a family named Harbeson. She was its third owner. During war years it was difficult to find housing because Chicago was filled with defense workers. It was also hard to rent where they could have a piano. Neighbors did not like them in apartments.
The Gemperles had a Victory Garden (actually her brother had it) and Kathryn spent hours canning the produce.
It took them three years to install necessary improvements–new roof, for example. They then made some changes which today are frowned upon, such as painting the woodwork. They did not make any structural changes, but did put siding on the house. Most of the homes that were not brick were painted gray.
The Grostines (?) lived where Barazoni’s now live. Mrs. Grostine wanted to learn to drive a car. She had a big sign in the car which read "NEW DRIVER." She kept it on the car for five years! Mr. Kavalle (?) had the house next door. He was a printer and had a beautiful library of books. They also had the first television in the block. Kathryn’s children liked to go over there to view it and had to be called home to dinner. Rosa and Jeff Pablo (?) lived nearby. Jeff was manager at Orchestra Hall until he retired. Later they moved away to be closer to a golf course.
When a friend of Kathryn’s, who was a playground supervisor at Swift School, wanted to enter a rhythm band contest with her students, she had no piano, so Kathryn invited her friend and her seventy students to come to her place to re­hearse. The students won the contest, but Kathryn and her family lost their lease where they were renting!
Kathryn was early widowed with three children to support. That was when she began to give piano lessons in order to support the family. She enjoyed going to Allied Arts Series on Sunday afternoons and has done so for the past fifty years. She took her children to the Art Institute, to the Field Museum, to the Museum of Science and Industry, to Brookfield Zoo, Lincoln Park, etc. She patronized the old public library in the loop frequently. She enjoyed shopping in the Loop and did so frequently.
Kathryn received her first car from her mother who wasn’t using hers. She has driven ever since. She prefers a large car, first because of her three children, now because she drives senior citizens to events. She’s the only one of her group with a driver’s license. Actually, there are ten of them attending con­certs, etc., so they have to get a second car. Following the concerts, they go out for dinner.
Vi Niehoff, a legal secretary and a good friend, lived with a family nearby–not an unusual situation. Many of the large homes had a small room at the top of the house which was a maid’s room.
Early on, Kathryn often took her children to the beach, usually to the Edgewater Beach; later they went with their friends. In winter there was ice-skating.
Carl’s Neighborhood Grocery was on Balmoral. Josephson’s (?) Drug Store was on the corner and a Jewel was on Clark Street. When her daughters were in high school and they didn’t want Kathryn to hear their telephone conversations, often they would run over to the drug store to use the phone there.
Kathryn Gladden and her family to this day love the Edgewater area and think it is a great place in which to live.