William Peterson

William Peterson, born in 1913, has been a resident of Edgewater all of his life. His parents emigrated from Sweden, had three children and raised them right in this area. Bill went to Hayt School and what was then Sullivan Junior High. Because of the Depression, Bill dropped out of school and went to work. One of his first jobs was as an assistant to a druggist, Ed Fleming, who incidentally was a former Chicago Cub ball player. Fleming was a popular guy and a lot of oldtime ball players were frequent visitors at the drug store situated where Egan’s Tavern is now, at 6001 North Paulina. He was generous and popular and ran a little side business during Prohibition, which no doubt, added to his popularity. (After that, Bill worked as a route man for Ace Laundry at that time located on the corner of Peterson and Ravenswood.)

Bill remembers much about old Edgewater, going for ice at the ice plant called Egan’s before it became Consumer’s. He remembers the horse barn on Ridge, owned by the Barstow family. The horse teams were used to haul building materials to different sites. They had huge wagons and big draft horses. Also they had buggies, even an old police van with wicker seats in it. He recalls his father telling him about horses being used in the building trades, and sometimes the workers would use blind horses to haul materials. They’d place a brick in their path at the right house and the horses would stop there. Or they would use a bell and the horses would stop when they heard that sound.

He remembers delivering the Evening American in the Edgewater Glen area, and in particular remembers a wonderful old home (where Senn Park in now located on Clark and Ridge) owned by John Egan, a farmer who owned several barns and rode in a big haywagon, driven by a team of horses. He vividly recalls Mr and Mrs. Egan sitting way up on the seat, and their daughter sitting on the tailgate, watching their German Shepherd who was following the wagon. They would come up from Clark and Ridge, up on Peterson Avenue, when it was just a two lane road. "That’s a memory that’s hard to forget," he chuckled.

Bill once worked for a farmer, Zinski, who had his market on the southwest corner of Clark and Ridge and remembers his pay for a day’s work would consist of a quarter and vegetables. He also remembers going with his father to buy salami at the sausage factory owned by the Bush family on Ravenswood. He enjoyed watching them make the sausage and smoke it. He recalls also going for bread at the Wolf Bakery near Clark and Granville. The bakery had a slicing machine, but if the bread was too long, it couldn’t be sliced, and Bill’s mother would be very disappointed with unsliced bread. Also he used to go to a big old frame building where the Maybelline building is now located to buy fish from the "Fish Jock" on Friday. He recollects that there were two drug stores on Granville and Clark. One was owned by Dimer and Steven. Mr. Steven, a registered pharmacist, had a daughter who married Jim Moran, owner of an automobile agency, and well known because Moran himself advertised his business on television.

Bill recalls that crime and accidents were not unknown in those days. He remembers a holdup at the Zinski market in which a long time employee was murdered. Also someone got burned to death underneath a grease pit in the gas station at Elmdale and Ridge. Also, when Bill was employed at Ace Laundry as a route man, the office was robbed and the young office girl terrorized by being threatened with the armed gunman. Another robbery was perpetrated on the route man for Bush Sausage Factory Bill mentioned earlier.

He remembers how very many greenhouses were located in the neighborhood. He also remembers tin smiths and stone cutters being a part of the neighborhood’s economy. Bill’s father ran the Ansel Peterson Automobile Repair business on Ridge and

Elmdale. He had one important customer, Swenson, the states’ attorney, and worked on some of Swenson’s squad cars. Worked on chauffeured cars, too.

Bill remembers the steam engines that ran on the track along Ravenswood. The vibrations were heavy and noisy. When the men had problems on the track, they put torpedos on the track and that would stop the train, or warn the engineer that there was trouble ahead. He doesn’t quite know how the torpedos worked, but he does know they were some kind of signal. Also, when the track would get slippery in winter, sand was placed on the track for traction. His mother would complain about all the noise as the train tried to get going. She hated the soot this method caused, as it got into the house and the vibration shook the entire building!

One thing Bill regrets is that the beautiful station which once was at Rosehill Cemetery was torn down. It was made of the same limestone as the Water Tower downtown is. It was used to bring bodies to be buried at Rosehill and it had sort of a rope elevator there, something like a dumb waiter, on which the bodies were lowered. Another station, a fine old wooden one between Thome and Granville Avenue, was also demolished when Northwestern began modernizing.

Bill then recalled the popular meeting place for families after attending burials. It was called Scotty’s, located on Clark where the Round Table is today. This reminded him of the gala party he attended (though underage) at Scotty’s in celebration of the end of Prohibition.

Turning to the old theaters popular in his early days, he mentioned the Ridge Theater although it was called the L and T at that time. Also, he’d attend the Calo on Clark in Andersonville.

Also the old Bryn Mawr, on Bryn Mawr between Broadway and Winthrop. He would attend every Saturday to see the serials for a dime, and extra for candy on a good day.

The Peterson family were members of the Ebenezer Church on Foster and Paulina, established by ‘a bunch of old Swedes.’ He, his brother and sister were all confirmed and baptized there. Later though they attended Emanuel which was closer than Ebenezer and because other family members were members there.

Bill has sentimental memories of the Edgewater Beach Hotel.

August 12, 1993 William Edward Peterson

CH: For the Archives of the Edgewater Historical Society, will you please give your full name?

WP: William Peterson. I was born here in Chicago, in 1913. I’ve lived all my life in this area. I’ve seen many, many changes of the neighborhood, here primarily. We did live originally on Ridge, just east of Clark Street. Between Ardmore and Clark, there’s a little two flat four unit red building on the southeast side of the street. We moved to 6119 North Ravenswood in 1921. We lived there until my mother had to go into a home in the seventies. We had to sell the home and put her in a retirement home for her own welfare. As far as the neighborhood is concerned, it was a great neighborhood when I was a youngster and it seems to be holding its own in many ways.

CH: Were your parents born over here?

WP: Both my mother and father were born in Sweden. We’re first generation. I had a brother, Eric. He passed away last year at seventy-eight. I have a sister, Lucille. She’s in a retirement arrangement, out in Rockford. She’s been there for the past year. I live at 1637 Glenlake and I’ve lived in a condo there since 1971. I had to stay around to take care of my mother while she was living. My brother’s home was in Missouri. He had quite a large family. This neighborhood is still a primary source of my livelihood. I was in the building trade, and prior to that I went to Hayt School, Sullivan junior high, and then I fell out of school because of conditions at home. It was Depression time, kind of a hard time for us and so I went to work. I worked for a druggist who used to be on the corner here. It’s Egan’s Tavern now. And also I worked for Ace Laundry. I had a laundry route.

WP: His name was Ed Fleming and he was a former baseball player, and he lost his left eye through an encounter with a pitched ball. That happened during a game. His was a very well known face because he had a lot of the Cubs come up and visit him. Ed was a generous man and he had a little side business going at that time - it was prohibition time so they had a good thing going for them. I saw many of the oldtime Cub players, but I never got an autograph from one of them.

CH: That’s a shame. How young were you?

WP: Let’s see. I was about eighteen years old. And then I went to work for Ace Laundry.

CH: Where were you living then, on Ravenswood?

WP: We lived on Ravenswood, well, we were there for close to fifty some years.

CH: So Ace Laundry’s gone, too.

WP: Yeah. I worked in the office for a while. Then I got a route. Louie Gish, the owner of the laundry was a very generous man and I worked there until I got drafted into the military.

CH: Where was Ace Laundry?

WP: His shop was on the corner of Peterson and Ravenswood. He built that laundry and he had a partner named Art Strobe. It was a home laundry, had quite a number of routes that serviced the entire northwest side of the city and the suburbs. The business did very well.

WP: Well, your home machines really took over because they had all the services you would need. The other thing is dry cleaning. All the clothes are wrinkle-free. You can wash and drip-dry. The advantages are fantastic. He didn’t go into dry cleaning; it was strictly a home laundry. I remember walking by there and watching the big machines washing the clothes. It was quite an operation. The reason I went by there was to go to the ice company, Egan’s Ice.

CH: It was Consumers’ Ice.

WP: Yeah, but before that it was actually Egan’s. The Egan family, John Egan’s uncle built the ice plant. He had it for some time, but things went bad for him and Consumers took it over.

WP: There was a horse barn, too, nearby behind the railroad tracks on Ridge. ____________, remember that?

CH: Oh, very well.

WP: I know the family that managed the barn and owned it. That was the Barstow family. They lived right on the corner - the area is now occupied by the firemen homes that they have on Ridge - between Ridge and Peterson. They owned that building. They had quite a number of teams in there and they used those teams for hauling materials - building materials. They had these huge wagons and these big draft horses were really something to see. There were about, on the average, twelve to fourteen horses in there at all times. Going from the building south, they had an open air barn - looked like an old western store where you’d pull in and park your buggy. In that area they had all types of wagons and buggies. They even had an old police van that had wicker seats in it. All that stuff just laid there and went to rot until it was thrown away.

WP: The avenue at that time was Lake Road, and it was a main route. Now I can’t remember when Peterson Avenue was widened, but when it was a two lane road, there was a big old cottonwood tree, a really big one. We had a bag clean on that thing and we used to swing out over a drainage ditch that ran along Peterson for the rain to run off. We used to swing over that. We thought that was something else. Gunny sacks on the bottom, a lot of stuff, hay too, and that was part of our fun around here.

And of course, my Dad’s brother, Albin, used to live 5927 Hermitage. That was my dad’s oldest brother. I had my great-uncle who had built a bungalow on Granville, the first home off the corner of Granville and Paulina. He had a cousin here whose name was Johnson, August Johnson who built that big home on the east side of the street here on Paulina. Real nice home. He lived there quite a number of years. He had a large family. Then he built another, that big multi-flat building on the northeast corner of Granville and Paulina, August Johnson. We had a number of relatives. Had another relative over on what they called Lincoln Street at that time; now it’s Wolcott. My dad’s oldest sister lived there.

I delivered papers in the Edgewater Glen area for the Evening American at that time. There was a very wonderful home on the very corner of Clark and Ridge. I understand that used to be

a years ago. I have no knowledge of it. But there was a farmer in there, name of John Egan. Big strong man. He and his wife, daughter and his oldest son. John had that corner had several barns, drove a team of horses, had a big haywagon there. He had a regular farm off Peterson some place, I couldn’t tell you.

CH: Which corner?

WP: Actually, when you’re looking at Clark and Ridge, it’s the northeast corner, where that hot dog stand is. That was a real nice piece of property. That’s where Senn Park is now. I recall when I was a youngster - when we moved from there, I was about six years old - from that Ridge Avenue address, they trained the R.O.T.C. with wooden guns from World War I. My mother impressed this on me. I lived to be a soldier. They used wooden guns just to get the feel. Manual of Arms. That was something that really impressed me.

My dad also had an automobile repair business in the first building off the triangle of Peterson, or that would be Ridge and Elmdale.

CH: Oh Yeah? That’s where used to have his fruit stand. Prior to that it was a gas station.

WP: Yeah. I remember the gas station. It was run by Mr. Williams’ son. Williams had developed the Maybelline products. I don’t know if it was financed by his father, but the son owned that for quite some time. I can’t recall what took its place after that.

CH: If I remember correctly, there was something about somebody got burned to death underneath in a grease pit or something like that. That’s the reason I think that gas station went down on that corner.

WP: It’s possible, an accident of some sort. Across the street on the southwest corner of Clark and Ridge, there used to be a farmers’ market. I worked for a farmer who had a wooden leg. I’d go there Saturday mornings. He would give me a quarter for part of the days’ pay and vegetables.

CH: That was the Zinskis. (PLEASE CORRECT NAME -EM)

WP: Yeah. I think Richie’s family was very strong in that. In that restaurant.

CH: At one time I understand they owned three farmers’ markets. One behind Duks, they had a meat market in that one. The other one was primarily a summer operation.

WP: Yeah. You’re right. An open air market.

CH: And another one over here across the street where the Zinskis He was supposed to have been murdered, that man, as I understeand it.

WP: Mr. Zinski?

CH: No. Someone who worked for him got shot there. That was one of these simple holdups. He had been with Mr.Zinski for so long.

WP: You’re right. I remember that little man.

CH: One of the girls I went to school with worked at that farmers’ market by the name of Juda Roth and she used to tell on me all the time. She’d tell my sister about everything I did wrong.

WP: Ha. Ha. Right across from the farmers’ market - that would be the northwest corner of Clark and Ridge - because the Clark Street part of it was a big vacant lot - and the other side these people had sign boards in there. But there was an old western style building with a high step up, and there were flats above and there were stores below. The Eisler family who lived around 6000 on Hermitage on the east side of the street. They were all tin and copper smiths. They were very big on making stills for the bootleggers. They were actually sheet metal workers by trade. I knew the one son, Charlie, very well. He passed away not too long ago. He was up in years. That was a long time ago. That was before built the bowling alley there. They tore the building down for that purpose. I knew the family pretty well because I delivered laundry to so many floors.

CH: You had a truck already in those days?

WP: Yeah.

CH: What was over there where the Maybelline is now, course nobody calls it the Maybelline building anymore.

WP: That was a big old frame building. I used to go up there to buy fish on Friday. We used to call the owner Fish Jock because he had a fish store in there. He was very popular, that man. That old frame building was big for the corner, and they eliminated it when they built that building.

There was a family here in the area by the name of Tranch. They were big on real estate in this area and they lived in a real nice home on Ridge just west of where we lived in that four flat. When I was a little guy, we used to go over and see them. They were very nice to kids.

Outside of that, on Ravenswood, when we lived there it was a very active area with a lot of children on the street. There were a lot of old families there, primarily the Winandys. They had a very large family. The sausage factory was there. Arnold Bush had the sausage factory on Ravenswood. I used to go with my father to buy salami there. And watch them make the sausage, smoke it. Had their own smokehouse. The Bush family were very nice people.

CH: Yeah. One of the drivers lived over here on Hermitage and I guess they were waiting for him one day when he came back from his route, and they robbed him. There were robberies going on back in those days, too.

WP: When I worked in the office at Ace Laundry, we had several robberies. One day in particular the robber had taken off but right behind him there was a plainclothesman. The girl, very scared, was on the floor where the robber told her to be, otherwise he would kill her. Right after, there was a shooting on Peterson Avenue somewhere along the line. I don’t know. I wasn’t at work that day. We had rotating shifts; some people would be on, while others took off for the balance of the day. That was quite a thing I missed.

CH: They had violence back in those days, too, huh?

WP: Oh yes. There was a plainclothesman who lived here on Paulina, just north of what is now Egan’s Tavern. Mike Touhy was his name and he drove one of those old time Cadillac touring cars. He was one hundred percent detective, too. Quite an interesting man. And nice family. Jack O’Connell lived next door, and he was out of Summerdale station. He was quite popular and well liked. Billy Dells, from another well known family -­ the wrestler - his father was a fireman. They were another interesting family. He used to come over here. The father was retired and my father was unemployed, so they used to drink beer in the basement all day, and I used to have to go get it.

CH: Ha, ha, ha.

WP: I know the family very well, too. I know ____because he was our age. There’s so much more. On Norwood, the Barstow family was very big. In fact, I think they still own the property there on Norwood west of the railroad tracks. They had a real nice home there, and we knew both Art and Ray. I think Ray is still living. I’m not certain.

CH: Well, the Barstows. They had a big steam shovel where they dug the sand out -

WP: Sand pit. Really deep, just on the other side of the railroad tracks. And they used to also dig foundations for some places with that steam shovel. I used to watch them try to get underneath the viaducts on Ridge when they brought it back home. Had to take down the smoke stacks and it was on a hinge. I think they drove them through, couldn’t take them on a flatbed.

CH: Yeah. You were saying you watched them put the foundation in across the street, over here?

CH: Yes. At that time, they used a team of horses and a hand shovel or a big scoop to dig the foundation for that building. We were very active, as kids. We’d go over there after the workers would leave. They had these elevators that were run by a horse. You know, they’d pull the material up, then it would go down. It was just a matter of sending the wheel barrels down whatever they used for brick hand mortars. Well we took our lives in our own hands, like fools. That was our recreation, so to speak.

WP: Yeah. Right. My father talked of the horses, too. How they sometimes would have blind horses, and they’d just put a brick down in front of their path, and when they got to the brick, they stopped. Then they were at the right house for the material to come off. I guess sometimes they had some that worked with a bell.

CH: Yeah. That’s right.

WP: You rang the bell and they stopped. They used the bell very often.

CH: That’s what they had to do. The horse pulled the materials.

WP: Yeah. There was a lot of vacant property at that time. On the southeast corner of Hermitage and Paulina there was a vacant lot for quite a long time until they built that building there. Any number of pieces of property around here - those were actually places where we could play. One thing I can’t remember is the name of the people who owned the greenhouse on Clark. You’ve told me. This time I’m going to write it down so that I know how it’s spelled. We went in there, and my mother and I used to pick pickles. They had a beautiful farm there.

CH: The name was Dilges. They had a row of greenhouses. But you tell me. You probably remember it better than I.

WP: The house was sitting on top of sort of a little hill. It had beautiful trees and bushes around it. They had a beautiful driveway coming in from Paulina. That whole driveway was lined with lilacs. Used to go in there and steal them. Bring them home to our mothers.

flowers around here then.

WP: We used to ice skate there in the wintertime because the snow would melt and then freeze, and there was plenty of room to ice skate there.

CH: I don’t know why, but the area was lower than the sidewalk.

WP: Right. He also raised celery. Lot of celery.

CH: He raised tomatoes in the greenhouse.

WP: Yep. Had them like small trees that ….bushes so big and they just kept them growing and growing. Clark Street. I remember when [they] widened Clark Street from Ashland to Devon. What trucks that existed at that time were old chain drive Mack trucks, but they used an awful lot of horses. In fact they used horses for moving so many of the buildings that were on the regular narrow street the way it was at that time. That was quite an operation. That was an awful lot of work, there.

Winsbergs, now, on the corner of Clark and Granville, I don’t remember the building that was there, but there used to be a bakery. That was the next building north of where the original building of Winsbergs is now. That was Wolfs Bakery. They were a German family, very well liked; good people.

CH: I remember going there….

WP: Oh yeah. For bread. And they had a slicing machine, but if the bread was too long, they couldn’t slice it. My mother would be very disappointed if I didn’t bring it home sliced.

drug store on the southwest corner of Granville and Clark Street. That was Dimers. Dimer & Steven. And on the other corner was Goodwell.

CH: Yes. Two drug stores in competition with one another.

WP: Yes, but the Steven family was an interesting family. I knew them real well because of the youngsters, the children. The old man was a very nice person. Old Luxemburger, a real gentleman. He adopted Steven from Angel Guardian, took him as his son, sent him to school, he was a registered pharmacist. One of the daughters married Jim Moran. I vaguely remember the wedding. Other than that, Mrs. Steven was very popular because she took part in all the activities in the area. She was well liked. A real nice lady. And all the kids were nice.

And then the building that was - the store was in there at that time when they built the building used to be a big sand pit. The ground was quite high, and we’d go in there in the wintertime and use our sleds. There was a lot of woods in that area. That whole corner, there was an old house on the corner, is that Thome?

CH: Yes.

WP: Thome. Southwest corner of Clark and Ridge. That was the only house standing there in that area, Clark Street from Granvillle to Thome was all wide open. Who lived in there, I don’t know. I never did find out. It was there though until they built the Patio Apartments.

CH: Yes. Still a very good looking building to play in. There was no lack of fun. I can’t complain. I had a good childhood.

CH: Even though it was the middle of Depression and you had to go to work at thirteen?

WP: Yes. But everyone else was in the same boat. We were all the same. It was quite a time. I think maybe it was a good lesson for people. What came out of it? I think that maybe we got to be better people. I hope…. We did, as far as that goes. We won the war!

CH: So, like my sister, you didn’t go to Senn High School or anything. You had to go to work.

WP: No. I went to continuation school for a while; then I had to go to work. My mother had to go out and work - to wash clothes.

CH: Your mother did? How come you picked the pickles over there by Dilges?

WP: We picked them to have pickles at home. She was great at doing her own canning. There were plenty of fresh vegetables. They weren’t that expensive, but European people liked to do their own canning, and they did.

There was a very well known family on Hermitage, I don’t know the exact address, but they lived between Granville on the west side of the street; there are some beautiful apartments in that building, and there were two houses there. One was Velaris, and the other was Allis, two very nice families. The Velaris family, I think there were six people in there. The youngest one was Art; then there was Charlie; there was Clarence; Eddie, and the two daughters, I can’t remember their names. It was their grandfather’s house. He built it as a wedding present for his wife. The inside was something to see. Everything was of that era and beyond that. You could go in there and see things you never knew existed. It was quite a thing.

All these things ring a bell to me, too. I don’t know what they did for a living.

CH: What did this guy do for a living?

WP: Mr. Velaris was a store clerk. He worked over at Rosehill, at one of the stone yards over there. That was his thing. He was a stone cutter. He came from Alsace Lorraine. They had a beautiful yard. He did his own farming. Along with his neighbor who had three lots. So you had a lot of room there. Beautiful lawns. They did very well there. Everybody worked.

CH: Were you involved with any church in those days?

WP: We went to Ebenezer Church over on Foster and Paulina. It was established by a bunch of old Swedes. The people were very comfortable amongst their own. I was confirmed and baptised there, like my sister and brother. Same way. Then we actually went to Emanuel because my aunt and her family were in there. That was within walking distance, whereas Ebenezer was quite a walk. But we did walk there.

CH: To Ebenezer?

WP: Yes. But my uncle Oscar was a contractor and was pretty well off. Oscar Peterson, a building contractor. Actually he was my dad’s uncle, my great-uncle. He had real nice cars. He could well afford it.

CH: He didn’t have that yard over on Ravenswood, did he?

WP: No. I don’t know who had that yard. That was a nice home. It faced Highland Avenue. They put a beautiful building in there, so I guess that was part of the people that owned the property.

CH: These homes you talk about being nice. They were big frame homes?

WP: Yeah. Big frame homes. They had a porch that was all around the front. It was something to see. They were old wooden porches and a lot of people went to rehabbing those places like that. But that’s just one of those things. They were torn down for other buildings to go in.

CH: Yes. Well those porches tricky to maintain.

WP: You’re right. A lot of work and paint.

CH: Just like the riding ______ behind the fence.

WP: Right. They should have gone into a museum someplace. There was some beautiful equipment in there. There was a couple of sulkies with all the fringes on them. They lay there just rotting off.

CH: Well, you know, just like anything else. It costs money to restore.

WP: I recall one time they had a load of hay come in and they had a loft naturally on the second floor so they could throw it down so they could sort it up there. A hayloft.

CH: That was a brick building.

WP: Uh huh. It was brick. But the hay was green, and that’s potent. There was quite a fire going there one time, and my cousin, Marshall Peterson, who lived on Wolcott went in there and got eleven horses out of the barn. He got them out of there. I don’t know if he was ever rewarded for it, but it was something to see because it burned through the roof. That showed how much a building can deteriorate. It was pretty well beat up, but they went in there and rehabbed it, years ago, and in fact they had people living in it on the second floor after they rehabbed it. There was a plumbing contractor who was in the basement when I was around and I was in there one time when a steam engine went by and the whole building shook.

CH: Who was that?

WP: On Ravenswood?

CH: Yeah.

WP: His name was Reich. I’ll never forget him. Nice people. But I was really surprised how we could feel the vibrations from that steam engine.

CH: Yes. You remember those old steam engines? I remember we used to go up there and put pennies on the track and watch ….

WP: Right. When they had problems on the track, they had a procedure where they put torpedos on the track and that would stop the train or warn them that there was trouble ahead. Or when they had trouble; I don’t quite know how the process worked, but the torpedo was some kind of signal. And the wintertime was something else when the track would get slippery, and that train went chuggggggg. They would put sand on the tracks and you could hear all that noise as they tried to get it going. My mother used to complain about all that soot that they would….

CH: Yeah. It would get the house dirty.

WP: That soot would get in the house. And it shook the house, when those heavy freight trains went by! They used to haul an awful lot of freight. An awful lot. They would come from the north.

CH: Where they would come in from would be the suburbs north. and they would go Heinz still had an office over there on Balmoral and Tempel Steel got siding from

WP: I don’t know if they still

CH: They do. Because they have all that scrap.

WP: They had quite a beautiful station over there on Rosehill that should have never been torn down.

CH: I would have thought the cemetery would have appropriated that. That’s the same limestone that the Water Tower is built out of.

WP: Right. And what bothered me was the fact that it was actually Northwestern’s station and they were the ones that tore it down. A lot of stations were torn down when they started modernizing the track. Granville Avenue was a station. That was a nice old wooden train station.

CH: More like on Thome - between Thome and Granville. That’s where I used to hang out. Round Table. I remember when Prohibition ended. None of us kids had any business going in there, but there was a big, big doings going on. We went in there, all these kids in the neighborhood, and that was one evening! That should have been photographed! Ho, ho, ho! It was fantastic. That was a big celebration because it was the end of prohibition.

CH: I know. I went with my father over here to Clark and Devon to celebrate the end of Prohibition. I think on the northwest corner think there is a

WP: Yep. I think you’re right.

CH: Did you go to shows much?

WP: Oh yes. We used to go to L & T on Clark and Devon. First it was the L & T and then it was the Ridge Theater after that. We’d go to Calo; that was another one. Bryn Mawr. And then the Devon. I think it had another name before that; I’m not sure. Every Saturday it was a good deal because you had the serials going and the comics. For a quarter, you were on top of the world!

CH: I thought it was only a dime.

WP: Well, I mean you’d have that to spend. You were lucky if you could get it, you know!

I remember Adam . His father used to have a greenhouse on Paulina, south of Ridge, and Mamie, her mother, father, and Adam ran it. Then later they moved over to what at that time was Lincoln Street, and Peterson. They had quite a nice greenhouse there.

CH: Yeah. That place just burned down. I remember that the girl still thought she was running the place.

WP: Yeah. She was. Mamie was quite a thing.

CH: She was a mover, yeah. Everybody bought their flowers….

WP: Yeah. She did. West there, there were quite a number of greenhouses that were owned by the Shall family, the Thillens family…

CH: The Thillens ….That’s the same one that went into the check cashing business.

WP: Yeah. Milt Thillens and his brothers are involved in that. And there’s a lot of other families in there, that were,…the Baer family was in there, the Merzes, there were so many of those people in there. I was fortunate enough to go to the old Luxemburger shows on Ridge Avenue when they had it there years ago, but then after that they moved around to various spots because that was, oh, that was a different time. They used to have some of the old magicians coming in with their shows and other things. That took place in the late twenties.

CH: Yeah. Where was that at?

WP: I think . The was in a triangle that runs between Damen and Ridge, south. It was in the Ridge area that they had the grounds. They had a little fair grounds in there. There was quite a bit of property involved. And there were several taverns in there that were well known at that time. Old time taverns.

CH: That’s the other side of the railroad tracks, west of the river. Not in Edgewater.

WP: No. Not Edgewater. It might be Rogers Park.

CH: Yeah.

WP: Got to be Rogers Park. In fact, I went to the Rogers Park one hundredth year anniversary that they held at Warren Park. I told this one lady, "You know I own a part of this golf course. I caddied many years. It was my source of income as a kid!"

CH: You caddied, too, huh?

WP: Yeah.

CH: How old were you then?

WP: Around nine. Eight, nine. Hauling bags. You know, there were no carts then.

CH: Edgewater Golf Course?

WP: Yeah. A lot of old families in there. Like the Fargos. Mrs. Fargo. She was a great golfer. She was very good to us kids, the caddies. I never took to golf, but I enjoyed it as a caddy, and, I did some golfing as well, as far as that goes. There was a lot of old Chicago families in on that golf course. They had a beautiful building in there. They were good to us; they really were. The main building was at the east end of the property, so it would face, uh, the parking lot was in back of that, so that would be along Damen, west of Damen. Started there from Damen west. The ground is still pretty much the same as it was.

CH: Speaking of Edgewater. Did you ever have anything to do with the Edgewater Beach Hotel, over there?

WP: When I came back from the service - I was in not quite four years - and I took my wife there for a weekend. We had a real nice time there, and then after that, the hotel was going to be torn down. I said, "We’d better go there so we can say we’ve been there before it’s destroyed." Quite a place.

CH: Well, after the war, I went there, and they had dances there. I used to have an awful lot of fun and good times there at the dances.

WP: This next memory would be out of Edgewater. I don’t know how far Edgewater encompasses.

CH: Foster.

WP: Foster. But further south on the west side of the street, between Wilson and the first street north was Hunting House. And Hunting House was an old dance instructor. We used to go there to learn how to dance. They had dances several times a week. It was a big old-fashioned frame building.

CH: Where was this, on Sheridan Road?

WP: No. It was on Clark Street on the west side, between Wilson going north and the other street, I forgot that street. Our Lady of Lourdes is on the same street. I remember when that church was cut in half and moved.

CH: Yeah. I know. My father talked about it a lot.

WP: And I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, but I had to go down there and look, sure enough, it was fantastic. In fact, I think Popular Mechanics had quite an article on that operation.

WP: They picked it up, moved it, and turned it. It was facing east and west; now it’s north and south, on the opposite side of the street.

CH: I guess they had to fill in between the two pieces.

CH: So you were in the Army, huh??

WP: I was in the Army Air Force and I went in, let’s see, it was April, 1942.

CH: You told me you were a sheet metal worker?

WP: Yes. If they couldn’t fly ‘em, we got them back up, so that they could do more damage.

CH: What did you do before that?

WP: I went to school for aircraft sheet metal work. I figured if I got in the service, maybe it would help me. And I figured I’d do something with the trade. When I retired from the trade, I retired as a sheet metal worker in the building trades. I retired in 1981.

CH: So are there any buildings that you are proud of that you worked on?

WP: Oh yes. I worked on any number of buildings in the loop. I worked on the Civic Center. I was there for quite some time. Hartford Insurance. Continental Insurance. Water Tower; I worked there some little time. I worked on a lot of hospitals. St. Francis Hospital. Worked out of Chicago University. Worked out of town. Caterpillar in Peoria. They built a big complex for testing their equipment. And everything was all Spanish; it was one of the biggest Spanish jobs I ever went on. That was very interesting. We were there for quite some time. And there was any number of small jobs. I actually started in when they were building homes after the war. The home field was a big area of work. I worked for D. A. Smith on Western Avenue. They’re up in Wheeling now. I worked for them for several years. Then I went into heating and ventilating. Sheet metal work. The duct systems in these buildings are just fantastic. It’s hard to believe you can get so much done and get them to operate. But the way the systems are today, their always on their own system, so that they can be controlled. The building can be heated in one area and chilled in another. Today, a lot of buildings, they say, are not healthy because of the way they are maintained; that’s what it really is. People are getting sick. That can be overcome through just a little work on their part.

CH: What do you mean? The ducts get dirty inside?

WP: Ducts get dirty, and not only that, filters are important. They should be changed. But still, they’re phenomenal. Most of those buildings are cooled by chilled water.

CH: So what was transportation like in those days? Did you have a bike, or did you do a lot of walking?

WP: I had a bike. I had a racer bike I bought from a gent in Rogers Park. It had wooden wheels on it. It was a 27" base with narrow wooden wheels, and I used to go with that bike from here to Lake Forest.

CH: You mean it didn’t have rubber inner tubes?

WP: Yes, it had rubber inner tubes. Real nice, but no brakes. You had to use your common sense to stop it.

CH: Drag your feet or what?

WP: No, you just stop pedaling. Didn’t coast at all. Just stopped pedaling. You had to watch your performance, how you handled the bike.

CH: Yeah, yeah. So that if you thought you were going to stop pretty soon, you started slowing down.

WP: Right. Right. Had a uncle, wife’s brother worked for some very wealthy people up in Lake Forest as a gardener, so once in a while I would pedal up there. Traveling was not bad; you didn’t have the traffic you have today.

CH: What did you do? Go up Sheridan Road or Green Bay?

WP: Green Bay Road, primarily. That seemed to be the best route. You didn’t have the traffic that’s there today. Today, you have to know what you are doing.

CH: What about the street cars? You know, the conductor in the back, and the motorman in the front.

WP: We had neighbors next to us, the Callahan family. Maybe you remember them. Leo, he just passed away last year. The janitor’s son over there, one of Leo’s sons, married one of the daughters the old janitor who lived in the building here.

CH: Wallin?

WP: No, not Wallin. Leo just passed away, Leo. I don’t know what happened. He was always such a good man, always said, "Keep yourself good." But things happen, like everything else. But, Leo’s father, he was quite a gent. He knew a lot of Shakespeare. He did. He was well read. He read Shakespeare and Shakespeare. He did. He was well read. He read Shakespeare and other books. He was a real nut on it. Many a night I’d be coming home, either from night school or a date or something, and here he’d be sitting there on the street car, talking to himself, reciting Shakespeare. There is one daughter left; her name is Rita. She was married to Nick Walsdorf. I understand she is still living.

But there were other neighbors there. The Bistoms were the last house to the south there off the alley which would be actually north of Ridge. There’s an automobile repair shop there; I just learned that Bush stored his car there, many many years ago. Arnold Bush. But the Bistroms were an interesting family. Roy still lives on Ravenswood. He has a house of his own there. He does instrument repair and maintenance. He’s sharp on scopes and microscopes also. And he’s quite an inventor. Done a lot of work with snowmobiles and go-carts. He invented different things for the mechanical end of it. He owns patents on a number of items. He’s pretty - he’s well taken care of. And an excellent photographer. Kodak goes to him to see what’s going on. I can’t believe it.

There were some interesting people on Clark Street years ago. There was a tavern just south of Rosemont on the east side of the street, McCormicks. I think the building is still there. That was an old time Irish tavern. He was a real old time Irish man. White hair. My dad had moved his business from Peterson Avenue to where they fix up cars, that re-upholstery shop there.

CH: On Ridge?

WP: Clark Street. That re-upholstery shop there. They do all kinds of fixing up of cars. That used to be an old theater. My dad was in there for a long time, but once in a while he got stuck and stopped for a few too many beers and I had to go get him. So I’ll never forget when I got there, McCormick said, "Well, what do you want, kid?" I said, "I’ll have a beer, sir." Ha ha.

CH: That’s right by the fire station back there.

WP: Yeah. Rosemont Fire Station.

CH: I remember in front of the fire station - the fire truck they had a great big silver dome.

WP: Yeah. That was a pumper. I remember one time they had an old time fire engine with horses and the pumper and there was a parade on Clark Street. They had that unit out. That was a big day!

WP: That was a big day to see that in a parade. In fact, at Hayt School, - I was very young - they had a Civil War vet. He would come every year prior to Memorial Day, and we’d have a celebration. It didn’t last too long, several years. That was in the late twenties. He passed on after that, but he was sort of a man of honor at our little parade on Granville Avenue. He had a huge flag that he used to carry.

CH: Yeah. Do you remember the bus that ran on Granville Avenue?

WP: Yes. I recall that bus.

CH: We used to get on and hang behind the bus.

WP: Yeah. On the back of the bus. Ha ha.

CH: Do you remember that big toboggan?

WP: Yep.

CH: We used to have great big bonfires there on Halloween. Everyone brought a box from behind the grocery stores. And, boy, if they would do that nowadays I mean that pile used to sit there for a couple or three days until it got big enough for the Halloween party. I don’t remember anybody getting out of control, either.

WP: No. There were no problems there. No, that was well run, well maintained.

CH: Why do you suppose why they get out of control now when in those days no one did? Because of drugs?

WP: I think our lives were a lot simpler.

CH: And we were satisfied with less. And families.

WP: And family ties were very strong. We depended on ourselves for entertainment, so to speak. It was a very simple way of living. There were no problems. We’d have our disagreements, but that’s a part of living. But, still we got along.

CH: Did you play cards and checkers?

WP: Oh yes. Played cards and any number of games, as far as that goes. I learned how to play bridge from a couple of girls that I went to high school with. That was really good. But I never followed up on that, because cards never really interested me, but I played cards, if I had to.

CH: Well, my point was that we had to entertain ourselves.

WP: Yes. My one cousin was quite a pianist. It never failed that there was something going every weekend. The kids would have a good time. We’d stand around that piano and sing all the old songs. It was good. We used to sing a lot together.

CH: Yeah. Right.

WP: We don’t do that anymore. We have TV and that takes care of our entertainment, unless we go out for a special evening to see some show or something. But that’s the way it was.

CH: Yeah. I remember I used to whistle all the time

WP: Hey, that’s great. I don’t hear anyone whistling anymore.

CH: No.

WP: Course the music they have nowadays, how could you whistle it?

CH: Right.

WP: Everything came from a person’s abilities in many ways. Or what they liked to do. They had some skill as far as musical ability In fact, the organist over at Emanual Church was [a friend] of mine at that time. Their name was Calaroo; they were old people then; went to Emanual Church, the whole family. My great-uncle, Oscar Peterson, was one of the founders at that church. Contributed, because he did very well for himself. There’s a picture I have at home of an old Oldsmobile with my dad sitting in it, and his brother and his cousin, and that was my uncle’s pride. By the way, there was another Peterson, John. We lived over in the Rogers Park area. Where exactly, I don’t know.

CH: You know - photographs. To have your picture taken in those days, that was an occasion.

WP: Right. Nobody had a camera; they were expensive, you know. Nobody had a car.

CH: No. When did you get your car?

WP: The first car we got, my dad - I’m trying to think of the people’s name,- the party that owned Firestone at that time sent my dad a lot of work when he was up at that theater there on Clark Street. I’ve forgotten his name, but he ran Firestone for a number of years. Cars were a big thing, a real big thing. Anyhow, I lost my train of thought now.