Vera Ingold Leister (Transcript Only)


Vera Wally Ingold Leiser
Vera Wally Ingold grew up in Monroe, Wisconsin and went to school with her husband Fred Leiser there. Fred’s uncle sent him on to high school. He returned to Monroe to marry Wally and follow a career in theater management with his uncle.
They went to the west coast and operated a number of theaters. This was in the days of movies and vaudeville. The show would consist of a main feature, newsreel and a vaudeville act. Will Rogers had his act with his horse. Fred Leiser said, "Will, you don’t need that horse, try it without the horse." He did, of course.
In the 1930’s the Leisers came to Chicago and operated skating rinks. They moved to Winthrop and Ardmore and operated rinks all over the city. Mrs. Leiser became involved with the rink at the Broadway Armory - or the Arena, as it was called then (1937).
"The place had wooden floors but we had to have it sanded and put into condition. We had a carpenter full-time to keep it in condition. We were open evening hours during the week - 7 p.m.-11 p.m. (no children allowed in the evening). On the weekends we were open in the afternoon. We had special things for skaters, waltz contests and other contests. The Home Guard had one night for training. This lasted until the troop build-up for WWII."
The skaters took skating seriously, "Some wore costumes and brought their own skates. We rented skates too." "To operate the rink we had 15, 20 employees including two wardrobe ladies and a nurse. There was a lunch room operated by her and Mrs. Keane. They sold hamburgers and the like." At the rink they had an organist who played a variety of music. One organist – Sterling, later became an Episcopal bishop. He knew his boss, Fred, was a generous guy, helping many in need. He said, "Fred Leiser would make money with one hand and hand it out with another."
The Leisers moved to a house on Winthrop - a big house with 14 rooms and raised their only child, a daughter. She attended Stickney School on Hollywood which was run by the Durrant family who had daughters the same
age. When the Stickney School closed in 19___ the girls attended Sacred Heart.
Wally Leiser has lived many years in her home on Winthrop, enjoying the large yard and gardening. In the 1950’s she received a city garden award from Mayor Daley. For many in the neighborhood the Edgewater Beach Hotel offered a look at another part of the life of the city. Wally tells us the Edgewater Beach Hotel meant "high society."
For Wally, the years in Edgewater have been pretty happy. She still has her home and her cats. Friends and neighbors help her when she needs help and share news with her.