Narrator: Dorothy Yehl
Date of Interview: May 22, 1978
Place of Interview: Narrator’s home, located at 6025 Lincoln Avenue, Morton Grove
Interviewer: Denise Rossmann Christopoulos
Recorded For: Morton Grove Historical Society
Transcribed For: Morton Groove Public Library
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Miss Dorothy Yehl’s family was of German extraction and among the first settlers to arrive in Morton Grove in the 1840s. She has lived at 6025 Lincoln Avenue all her life. This is the two-story house that was moved in 1984 by the Morton Grove Historical Society and is now the Haupt-Yehl Historical House.
Miss Yehl describes the physical details of the house and blends this with an accounting of a warm and loving upbringing by a strong vital mother, and a close family life. In the interview, Dorothy Yehl describes Lincoln Avenue as a “muddy dirt road” when she was a child and tells stories about holidays and especially Christmas.
Her father was a rose grower for the large Poehlmann Brothers Greenhouses, and Miss Yehl talks about the Depression years hitting her family hard. Of particular interest is Miss Yehl’s remembrances of the family’s first washing machine, gas lights coming into their home, her mother’s medicinal home remedies and the jitney, an open-air bus that used to come through parts of Morton Grove.
DY: Dorothy Yehl
Q: Question asked by interviewer, Denise Rossmann Christopoulos
TAPE ONE, SIDE A
Q: We’ll start with the biographical data. Your parents’ name, mother’s maiden name?
DY: My mother’s maiden name was Elizabeth Haupt, born June 6, 1877, on Waukegan Road in Morton Grove, which address is now 9422 Waukegan Road. She died May 24, 1976. My father’s name is Mathias Yehl, born December 12, 1878, in what was then Niles Center on Dempster Street. He died November 12, 1962. They were married September 25, 1901. There were six of us in the family. Magdalen Yehl Brood, born December 30, 1904. Frances Yehl Holcolm, born January 30, 1907. Ruth Yehl Halliday, born March 1, 1909. Howard, born February 8, 1912. Bernice, born May 4, 1914, died April 27, 1968.
Q: Your grandparents were already in the area, is that correct?
Q: What country did they come from?
DY: Now, the Haupts, Nicholas Haupt on my mother’s side came from . . . (pauses) . . . well, it’s near Koblenz, Germany, and most likely his wife came from there, too. His name is Nicholas Haupt and his wife’s name is Magdalene Haupt. Magdalene Haupt was born in 1854 and died in 1889. And Nicholas Haupt was born in 1835 and died in 1892.
Q: And on your father’s side?
DY: My father’s side, Dorothea Smith Yehl, born February 15, 1850, died June 2, 1924. And George Yehl, April 4, 1844, died February 23, 1894.
Q: And they also came from Germany?
DY: George Yehl came from Bavaria as much as I know, and Dorothea was born in this country.
Q: Do you have any idea what year they came over to the United States?
DY: I don’t know when the Yehls came over, no. And the Haupts, in 1842, but see now that would be my mother’s father. He was just a young boy. But they came over in 1842 as far as I know from Koblenz.
Q: Do you have any idea why they came to the United States?
DY: It tells here about them arriving in New York, and . . . (pauses) . . . it really doesn’t say why.
Q: Castles to Cabins by Schoenberg?
DY: Well, see this book was compiled for several families, and the Haupts are one of them. It tells where they lived and how they arrived here.
Q: Do you have any reason at all why they might have come to this area outside of Chicago?
DY: I was told that they were looking for farm land. And they went all along the lake shore, and the ground didn’t suit them. It was too sandy there, because they were looking for farmland. So then they came this way, and they settled up here on Waukegan Road. And this address that I gave you here, that’s where they built the log house on Waukegan Road there. 9422 Waukegan Road. The reason this area was chosen by my parents was that my mother inherited the two-acre piece of property from the Haupt estate. And they bought the house, which was on the property because my father worked at Poehlmann Brothers Greenhouse, which was in this area. My mother lived in this house at 6025 Lincoln Avenue, Morton Grove, from the time she was eleven years old until she died at 99.
Q: That is interesting.
DY: Now, about myself, I was born September 26, 1902, in this house at 6025 Lincoln Avenue, Morton Grove, and have lived here all my life. Do you want me to describe the house?
Q: If you could, just briefly.
DY: This is a two-story house, and in my early childhood, it had none of the modern conveniences. We had a large kitchen, dining room, parlor, pantry, two bedrooms downstairs, a closed stairway and three bedrooms upstairs. There was a front and back open porch. As a very young child, I can remember we had kerosene lights, and my mother taught me how to clean the glass chimneys with a piece of newspaper to get the black off the glass and make them shiny.
We had outdoor toilets, a well with a pump that would often freeze in the winter and had to be primed to get water out. There was a large cistern built in the basement with a faucet on it. The gutters led into this, so that all the rainwater could be retained. The cistern was directly under this dining room here. My mother had it built so that it touched the floor so that no child could ever fall into it. Years ago, you’d hear that every once in a while about a child falling into a cistern. So she had it built as high as they could build it in the basement.
It was used for the laundry and for shampooing our hair, because the well water was very hard. On Monday mornings, my father would draw this rainwater and put it in the copper boiler to be heated on the so-called laundry stove in the basement, so that my mother could have hot, soft water for the washing machine.
The first washing machine I can remember had a wheel, which we had to turn for fifteen minutes. The wash was in a drum in the machine. My mother would then rub most of the clothes on a washboard, put them in the copper wash boiler and boil them, so they would be sure to be white. They were then rinsed, and many times in the winter, she would hang some of the clothes on the outside line to freeze stiff as a board.
A little later, we had the well water piped into the kitchen sink with a small pump on the sink – a big improvement. For refrigeration, my father had a deep hole dug in the earthen floor of the basement that was under here, with a cover on it. The milk and butter all securely covered would be put there because it was cool in the hole.
As soon as gas was brought into Morton Grove, my folks had it brought into the house, and then we had gas jets for light. A few were open flames. You would turn them open – it was just a flame for light. But most had a lamp, which had to have a mantle. The mantle was a very sheet gauze-like material and fell apart to the touch. The mantle, too, would get black, and sometimes a little salt shaken on it would brighten it again. They did not last very long.
The house was heated by a kitchen range in which either wood or coal could be burned. In the dining room, there was, I believe it was called a self-heater that stood right here. It burned only hard coal and had little panels of isinglass around it, so that you could see the red glow of the fire. It was around this stove that we had our baths in the wintertime. My mother would bring a washtub upstairs and in there we would have our Saturday baths. I believe the heating and plumbing was installed about 1917 and the electric was put in about 1924. Telephone was put in about 1920.
Our early childhood was spent mostly playing in our own backyard which had a fence all around the property. We had to help with all the household chores but never had to do them alone. My mother always worked with us, whether it was sweeping, dusting, scrubbing, washing dishes, cooking, ironing, washing. My mother did huge amounts of canning in the summer. Fruits, vegetables, jellies, jams, relishes and there, too, we gave her a hand. But there were always time to play and have fun. We had a wonderful family life and happy recollections. Our entertainment was most simple compared to nowadays. There would be one trip – would you like to hear about this?
Q: Oh, sure. I’m enjoying it.
DY: There would be one trip to Lincoln Park in the summer. Preparations started on Saturday, because there had to be a huge basket full of food. On Sunday morning, to an early Mass we went. And then my father would hitch up the horse and buggy with the fringe on top. We would be so excited by that time and would have such a great time at the park, but it was a long trip. Fourth of July was always a big holiday, and in the evening before dark, again in the horse and buggy, and my father would drive us to Dempster Street so that we could see the wonderful fireworks from Evanston. Then there was always a fireman picnic with a parade once in the summertime, with ice cream in dishes and an old German band and dancing. We had a small movie house. The building is still standing here in Morton Grove. Did you know that?
Q: What building is that?
DY: It’s on Ferris Avenue. I think there’s a brake company in it now. I don’t know what the number is on Ferris.
Q: What year was this movie theater?
DY: I recall very distinctly during the First World War, it was going. And it was going quite a long time.
Q: How much was it to see a movie?
DY: I don’t know. I imagine children were about ten cents or something like that. Well, anyway, they would run serials on Wednesdays and Sundays. My mother was busy with the little ones, and so my father would take us. I can remember the name of one serial, which I saw – The Trey of Hearts. I don’t know what it was about, but it was so interesting. There would be a piano player who would watch the pictures and play accordingly. Sometimes it was a woman, and sometimes it was a man.
Christmas was the best of all. Compared to today, it was nothing, but how we loved it! The parlor door would be locked the day before Christmas Eve. My mother had this all changed. This was just an ordinary door here, see? And the stairway went upstairs where the basement goes down now. so this was just a small door here, just like that, see?
Q: I see.
DY: So the parlor door would be locked the day before Christmas and my mother and father would trim the tree with candles, beautiful ornaments, chains of popcorn and cranberries, special cookies and apples tied to the branches. Christmas Eve was a day of torment until old Santa would come and rap at the window. What excitement! My folks would open the locked door, and there was Santa coming through the window. Of course, he would ask if all were good and so forth, and then to the toys! As a rule, they were most practical. A toy, a warm hood and scarf or a muff to keep hands warm, and then a few games for all. Perhaps there would be one toy to be shared by all as, for instance, a little red table and chairs and dishes.
Those were happy days for parents and children. In the summer, our cousins would spend vacations here. They would teach us to make kites. These cousins were from Chicago. We would sew for our dolls, play house in the backyard, get into the closets and play dress-up. My father had built a very rustic playhouse for us, made little benches, a table, a cupboard. We spent many hours in that shady, cool house.
In the winter we would go ice skating either on the river or on the so-called gravel pit pond. This was after we were older. And also there was much woods around here, and my mother would allow us to go to the woods and pick flowers or take walks there. There was no fear of anything.
Q: Did you ever go fishing down at the river here?
DY: No, I never did.
Q: Did your father?
DY: I don’t know, maybe my brother did, but I know I never went fishing.
Q: Sounds like a great childhood. Did you help your mother bake and sew?
DY: I never was much for baking, although when I had to if she was sick, I would bake bread and coffee cake. But I was never much in that line.
Q: So that was the type of entertainment that you had when you were a child. It was just within the family. Did you go to other farms or visit other children when you were younger?
DY: Well, we visited. See, my mother would never allow us to be running around. We just didn’t do things, and, of course, the houses were farther apart, too. We were allowed to play with cousins who lived on Theobald Road and then on the corner there of Theobald and Lincoln there was a girl we played with and another family over here on Lincoln Avenue. We would go back and forth there, and they would come here, too. But not too often. We were mostly amongst ourselves.
Q: Was this a street at the time – Lincoln Avenue here? Did it get quite a bit of traffic, when you were living here as a child?
DY: Not much traffic. Wagon traffic, you know. And, of course, it was just a dirt road.
Q: Okay, medical attention when you were a child?
DY: Well, our family doctor was a Dr. Drostenfels and later it was Dr. Sintzel. But Dr. Drostenfels lived in Morton Grove. All the children were born at home in this house and delivered by Dr. Drostenfels. He drove a horse and buggy and would come at any time my mother would call. This is for our ordinary ailments now. for our ordinary ailments, she had her own remedies, for instance, mustard plasters for chest colds, made from mustard and flour into a paste, put between a cloth, and placed on our chest until the skin got red.
Q: Oh, gee.
DY: She was always very careful not to burn. For a sore throat, she would put a cold cloth around the neck, covered up with a warm cloth, and give us Tonsilene, a most bitter potion. It just about curled your tongue. For anything that looked like an infection, she would scrape soap from a bar of American Family and add sugar to it, make a past of it, and put it on the sore. It never failed to help. Then there was a tea for colds. Now, I think these are called elderberry flowers. You find them all over in the woods. It’s a white flower. She would pick elderberry flowers in the summer, dry them, keep them in a tin can, and use them for tea. So those were mostly her remedies.
Q: Those were her own homemade ones. (laughs)
DY: Yes. But if she thought there was any kind of danger at all, of course, she’d get the doctor right away. But this was just for ordinary things, you know. She’d put us right to bed, take our temperature. “Don’t you dare get up,” you know.
Q: Do you remember what the doctors used to charge when they’d come to the home by any chance?
DY: No, I really don’t.
Q: It would be interesting to see how their fees have changed over the years.
DY: I know that it wasn’t five dollars. I know that.
Q: Were both doctors from Morton Grove?
DY: No, Dr. Sintzel was from Skokie, Niles Center at that time.
Q: And how did the word get out when you needed a doctor?
DY: I was thinking of that myself and I just don’t know. Did she send someone to his home?
Q: These are the days before the telephone.
DY: Yes, way before the telephone. He lived in the house east of Jake’s Meat Market. That’s where Dr. Drostenfels lived.
Q: Did you ever use Dr. Klehm from Skokie?
DY: Yes, we had her when we had the flu. My sister and I came down with the flu during the World War during that terrible flu epidemic. We had her, and I think my mother had her a few times, but she wasn’t our regular doctor, though.
Q: What did you do for entertainment and recreation?
DY: We had a young people’s club in church and would meet in homes. We’d paly games and sing and play the piano and have simple refreshments. No liquor. We would have picnics. We would go to the movies, and then there was the yearly Morton Grove Days, when everyone gathered and you met people who had moved away and came back to see friends. In our home it seemed we always had open house. We had many relatives in this area, and they would stop in. we would bring our friends in, and my mother always had homemade bread, pies, cakes coffee cakes. It seemed there always was plenty to go around. There was a piano in almost every house, and there would be singing and sometimes dancing. And, of course, we played cards and we amused ourselves like that.
Q: How long did Morton Grove Days last?
DY: Three days, I think.
Q: Was there a parade for Morton Grove Days at that time?
DY: Oh, yes.
Q: Down Lincoln here?
DY: Yes, it was (chuckles), down Lincoln and . . .
Q: Were you every in one?
DY: No, I never was in one, but everybody would take off on Morton Grove Day for the parade. Nobody would be in the house or in the stores. Everything was closed. Everybody would be out watching. Then, I guess they gave prizes for the best floats.
Q: Were there local dances in Morton Grove or Niles Center that you used to go to?
DY: Well, there were local dances, but I wasn’t much for dancing. Once in a while, we’d have one in church.
Q: Other than Morton Grove Days here in town, were any other holidays celebrated in a community spirit where everyone would get together in town? You mentioned Fourth of July your father would treat you children. What about Memorial Day?
DY: We always had a parade on Memorial Day, and then it would end up at the park with speeches, and we would always to that on Memorial Day.
Q: Which park?
DY: Right down on Lincoln Avenue.
Q: Where the library is today?
DY: Yes. They’d visit the cemeteries in the morning, and then they’d have the parade, oh, early afternoon. They’d have speeches in the park there.
Q: Wasn’t your father on the volunteer fire department?
Q: Was he ever in any of the parades?
Q: How about sports? Were any of the family involved in the baseball team?
DY: Well, of course, my brother was. My father was a great baseball player. (laughs)
Q: Was he?
DY: Oh, and they used to have some games! See, there was always friction between Morton Grove and Skokie. And, you know, a fight could break out like nothing between those two towns. My father played on the Morton Grove team, and I’m sure Howard played. I heard him talk about that the other day. He played, too. The baseball field was right across from the depot in that big vacant space there.
Q: Did they have uniforms?
DY: I don’t know whether my father did or not. I don’t think Howard did. All my father’s life he was a great baseball fan.
Q: Tell me about your schooling.
DY: Well, the first two years I spent at Grove School in Morton Grove. There was no School Street at that time, so we had a path through the woods. We would cross the street here and go directly through the woods here. The school consisted of two rooms. My teacher’s name was Miss Tredane. I’m not sure how it was spelled, but her name was Miss Tredane, and I loved her dearly.
We learned to read in no time. We did not get a book until we had learned all the sounds of the vowels and consonants from a big chart. And after the two years, we got a book, and oh, my goodness, we were so proud of that book! And it seemed like we could read, we could always read.
Then after the two years I spent in Morton Grove School, I went to St. Peter’s, to the Catholic school in Niles Center. By that time, my sister was old enough to go with me, because my mother didn’t want to have me walk alone. We walked the two miles, and on Sunday, we’d walk to Mass in the morning and back for instructions in the afternoon.
My mother would give us each a nickel, and we were allowed to go the candy store for penny candy. How good that candy looked! It was hard to choose. The bag was brought home, and my mother would divide it on the kitchen table. I can see her today. Each of us would get the same amount, even if she had to cut pieces in half. I believe it taught us not to be selfish. That’s one thing that I can say – that our family wasn’t selfish.
Q: It’s interesting that you can remember that. That’s cute.
DY: Oh, I can just see her standing in front of that kitchen table and dividing it. And anything that was dangerous – like, we loved to buy those black balls, you know, those hard black balls. They would be chopped up – she’d never give them to us. We were going to choke, and she didn’t want anybody choking. (laughs)
Q: You mother sounds like she was quite a force behind you children.
DY: She was a perfect mother. She was an absolute perfect mother. Nobody could ever beat her. Her life was just her children and her husband and that was her home.
Q: Do you remember any of the games you played while you went to Grove School?
DY: No, I don’t. I just can’t remember. The one thing that stands out in my mind, I think I was in second grade at the time. And this teacher wanted us to make something for our mothers for Christmas. She bought the material. It was kind of a flowered material, and she said we were going to make a handkerchief bag for our mothers. I can see it yet – it had a brass ring on the top, and she cut it for us. Now we were in second grade. And we sewed that thing. It was done perfect, really, it was just beautiful. We couldn’t wait until Christmas came to bring that home to our mothers, you know, because that was something wonderful. And my mother had that bag hanging on her dresser until I think it fell apart. (laughs) It was such a wonderful thing that her daughter sewed her a handkerchief bag, you know.
Q: You went to Grove School for only two years and then you went over to Niles Center?
DY: Then I went to Skokie. We had strict nuns over there. Boy, I really got into something then.
Q: Do you remember any of the physical aspects of Grove School at the time? Were there woods surrounding it? You said you walked there.
DY: There was quite a bit of woods.
Q: And you walked every day to school?
DY: We walked.
Q: Rain or snow?
DY: Oh, we always walked, and . . .
TAPE ONE, SIDE A, ENDS
TAPE ONE, SIDE B
DY: . . .(conversation joined in progress) . . . walked way out of our way, so we children used to just go, he had his own private road. And they had vicious dogs. Oh, they were so vicious. They were chained, but we would go through there, and they would bark and jump. And one day, it was wintertime and it was just such a fortunate thing my mother always had us dress so warm. We had long underwear on and we had those leggings. They buttoned all the way down. They were heavy black leggings. And one of the dogs got loose and got me down on the snow. And I screamed and screamed and finally this farmer and his son came out and pulled the dog away. His teeth went through the legging and the stocking and the underwear. It was scratched, and it was open. So I got to school and the principal took me right over to the doctor and burned it out. But it was always that argument about us going through there, and yet, I don’t know where we would have walked. We would have had to go clean around.
Q: How else would you have gotten there?
DY: Well, I suppose we could have gone around the front of the school in some way, but School Street had not gone through yet at that time. We went to St. Peter’s Church in Niles Center and were involved in the choir and plays and card parties and so forth. I received my First Communion and was confirmed there. Then later St. Martha’s parish was started, and we were very much involved there in all the activities.
Q: You attended church when Father Schmidt first started it? The little makeshift church?
DY: We helped, yes, with everything. (laughs)
Q: Was your mother or your family involved in preparing the altar with linens?
DY: We took care of the altar when we got into the other church, but I think my aunt took care of the linens while we were in the little place there. But as soon as we moved over to the other place, well, Elizabeth Fink and I took care of the altars. At that time we put flowers on. But my aunt did the laundry, the linens for the altar, and the ironing.
Q: Do you remember many of the flowers coming from Poehlmann’s?
DY: Well, the flowers mostly came from our garden. I don’t think that we got many flowers from the greenhouse that I can remember because we were always taking flowers from our garden. I know that. I don’t quite remember if they did come from there.
Q: Could you describe how the streets were when you were a child growing up?
DY: In spring, Lincoln Avenue was in horrible condition – a muddy dirt road full of deep holes. They were this way until they could fill them with gravel after the frost was out. I can remember that in the very deep holes, they used to stick like a plank to show that there was no bottom there. It was pretty bad.
Q: Were there accidents because of these holes?
DY: Oh, I don’t think so. People drove and they were just careful, you know. We had cinder sidewalks through the village. There was no cement, and later cement walks were put in and we had special assessments on them. The shoulder of Lincoln Avenue was added, and we had special assessments there, too. The street itself, I think was an eighteen-foot road first. And then the side was added, and that’s what we had to pay for. I think we paid a thousand dollars that time.
Q: Did you have a horse and buggy? Is that how your father got around?
DY: That’s how my mother got around and my father. But my mother would get out there and hitch up that horse just as fast as my father could. In fact, she was on a runaway three different times. On her wedding day she was on a runaway.
Q: She sounds like she was quite a character.
DY: Oh, I wish you could have met!
Q: Well, did she make it to the church on time anyway?
DY: They made it to the church on time, but for their honeymoon they went to Waukegan. That was the big thing. My father had relatives there. And my father had this friend in the greenhouse who very kindly offered to drive them to the Northwestern station in Evanston to go to Waukegan. This man wasn’t great with horses, so they’re driving along (laughs), and the first thing, the horse runs away. My mother told this story so many times. And what did the men do? They both jumped off to stop the horse, and the poor bride is on the runaway. And pretty soon, (laughs) she gets herself together and she jumps off.
Q: Was she in her dress and everything?
DY: Well, I suppose she was in her traveling dress by that time because it was the day after. But she told about that. She was on three runaways. She loved to ride a horse. She loved to drive a horse. That was great, you know. Shed get out there and put the harness on and everything. She could do anything.
Q: She sounds like she was an early liberated woman in a sense.
DY: She was. She could do anything, but she couldn’t make a show of herself. I mean, she couldn’t get up and talk before people. She was kind of retiring in one way, and yet there wasn’t anything that would faze her. She was made of iron.
Q: Do you remember when you got your first family car? Do you remember what it was?
DY: It was a Studebaker. Howard was telling me about that. It was a Studebaker bought from Dilg. Did he say it was in 1918? But first we had the benefit of the car. My father would take us out on a Sunday drive – go up to one of the lakes or something like that. The seats were on the curtains, so we’d all have to get out first and get wet to get the curtains, then get back in. (laughter) That was really something, and my mother was the one who always repaired the inner tubes. My father never did that. He waited until she got finished, and then he put the tube back in.
Q: That’s great. (laughs)
DY: That happened quite often.
Q: Didn’t you mention something about the open-air bus that used to run?
DY: Yes, I’m coming to that. At first the railroad was our only transportation, but with growth in the village a bus route was started, and after a while they had competition. A Mr. Pete Heinz started an open-air bus. It was all open. The wind blew like mad. (laughs) And I believe it had curtains to be put on when it rained. It was fun riding it, but it did not last too long. (laughs)
Q: What was his route? Through Niles Center, then all through Morton Grove?
DY: (pauses) . . . I think he went as far as the el station. Yes, I think that it connected with the el station, because that’s where the other bus went.
Q: Did people just get on and say where they wanted to go and he took them? Is that how it worked?
Q: Do you remember what the fare was?
DY: It ran on Lincoln Avenue. I don’t know what the fare was. I couldn’t tell you that. But you’d climb up (laughs). It was so high and so hard to get up there. (laughs) It was really funny, and everybody would stare and look, you know. (laughter) We called it the jitney. Oh, we used to have more fun! And we’d let this other bus go through. See there was keen competition for a while; we wanted to give this Heinz a good chance. The other buses would be almost at the same time, so we’d let the other bus go through and wait for the jitney to come.
Q: What year was this?
DY: I wish I knew. I wish I’d have kept a diary. (pauses) I don’t know. I really couldn’t tell you.
Q: In the 1920s?
DY: The village would have some kind of records on the bus. I don’t know, they’d have Pete Heinz, but they’d have the other bus, I’m sure. Public transportation, you know.
Q: Do you remember what early newspapers your family read?
DY: Yes, nothing else but the Daily News years ago. They had it delivered to the house here from the time they were married.
Q: Did your family ever receive the Abendpost?
Q: The German paper, the InterOcean?
DY: No. My people weren’t that German. My mother only scolded in German.
Q: (laughs) Did you understand?
DY: Oh, sure we did. We learned. We had to take German when we went to St. Peter’s. we knew what she was talking about, believe me, when she scolded in German! (laughs)
Q: How did most news travel? By word of mouth in town?
DY: I guess so. It just seemed like it just got around. That was it.
Q: You said your father was on the volunteer fire department.
DY: Our volunteer fire department was the finest. My father was in it from the start, and he was always very proud of it to his dying day. In fact, firemen were his pallbearers at his funeral. Mr. Finke insisted, and Mr. Finke at the time wasn’t a well man at all. They said that it was too much for him, but he insisted. He and my father used to argue all the time. (laughs)
The first engine was drawn by horses and water had to be taken from wells and ditches. Now those horses as a rule came from Poehlmann’s. They must have had a stable right close to the village there. Poehlmann’s whistle was used in short blasts to sound the fire alarm. It blew at starting time and quitting time, but it blew in one long blast. But when it blew in those short blasts, that was a fire. The firemen were great for parades, and they finally got enough money together to buy snappy caps and suits, brass buttons on their jackets. They always wore those suits when they had parades.
Q: When the whistle went off, did the volunteer firemen come from their homes?
Q: Were there a lot of fires?
DY: No, there weren’t too many fires. But I remember if we’d have a severe lightning storm that struck a number of trees. In fact, one barn burned twice. That was the Theobald barn. The lightning struck two different years, I think, but there weren’t too many fires.
Q: How did they get the uniforms? Did each man pay for his own?
DY: I think that each man paid his own uniform, but how did they get the equipment? They had in later years card parties. In earlier, they must have had some way of getting funds, and I just can’t remember what they did. But in later years, everybody was willing always to donate to the fire department, because it was for their own good.
Q: How many years was your father on it?
DY: I don’t know how old he was when he quit, but he was always interested.
Q: He was one of the first members, wasn’t he?
DY: Yes. I can’t remember when he quit.
Q: What do you remember about the police in town?
DY: Well, there was one policeman in town. He walked his beat. Just one policeman. Before him, I believe there was a constable, and I think he had a horse and buggy.
Q: Charles Peschke?
Q: Were there ever any problems in town?
DY: Well, the only problems were maybe a brawl in a tavern or something like that. But, I don’t remember that there was anything really happening. Maybe if somebody got drunk and got into a fight or something.
Q: Now your father had a farm?
DY: No, he didn’t have a farm. He had a vegetable garden.
Q: Truck gardening more or less?
DY: No. he worked in the greenhouse and he did this after hours.
Q: I see.
DY: He just had a large vegetable garden. And we were very seldom asked to help in the garden, except once in a while to catch potato bugs. But somehow or other, I always got out of that. I don’t know, I must have been the pet, because I just couldn’t stand that. So he would take the other kids back there and then they had to smash these potato bugs so they wouldn’t get back on again.
Q: Did they fly or were they like worms?
DY: No, they were brown potato bugs. They were real big, but anyhow, I just couldn’t stand them and that was all there was to it. And they would pick them off and he’d give them a hammer, and they’d smash the potato bug. And I don’t know if I ever did it. I always got out of it somehow. (laughs)
Q: Would you like to elaborate a little bit on your father’s occupation at Poehlmann’s? what he did there and what his position was?
DY: My father was a rose grower. He had charge of all the roses. He also grew the Easter lilies. And it was his full responsibility. Oh, he would worry so if he noticed anything was starting to go wrong. Then they would go around to different greenhouses to see if other people were having trouble like that. But anyhow, they grew some of the most beautiful, beautiful roses. They were just beautiful they often won prizes at the shows that they had.
Q: When did he first get that job? Did he have it from the time your mother and father were married?
DY: Before they were married. As a real young man, because the very first job he had, I think, was in a greenhouse owned by my uncle. That belonged to Harrers, and I think that was my father’s first job in a greenhouse. From there he went to Poehlmann’s and stayed there. He was a very, very loyal Poehlmann man. There was nobody like his boss.
Q: Did Poehlmann’s ever have company picnics?
DY: Yes, they did. There’s a picture in that yearbook, too, of the picnic, and we’re on there. I can remember the picnic. We’d get all dressed up.
Q: Where would they have it?
DY: I think it was St. Paul’s Park. Somewhere over there as I remember it. I remember the one picnic, and whether they had other picnics after that, I can’t remember that.
Q: Do you remember what his salary was for doing that?
DY: I remember my mother saying that he got thirty dollars a month. That doesn’t sound possible, does it?
DY: No, they didn’t pay well. Truthfully, they didn’t pay well. Because by the time they went bankrupt, I was earning almost as much as my father was, doing office work. They didn’t pay well.
Q: Did most people in town work for Poehlmann’s?
DY: Yes. It was the only industry. I remember my father had an offer to go to I think it was Cleveland, Ohio, at one of the big greenhouses. He was so loyal to Poehlmann’s that he just couldn’t leave Mr. Poehlmann. But our life could have been completely changed, I suppose.
Q: Do you remember any other stories he used to tell about working for Poehlmann’s?
DY: Well, they had these young – I don’t know just what these boys did – they were out of school. They were maybe, I don’t know, sixteen, seventeen years old. At Poehlmann’s they worked a long, hot day. I remember the men would get a break sometime in the morning, and they would be allowed to send one of the young men working there to get them beer. They boy would have something like a broomstick. It was a stick about that long, and have the men’s tin pail. Each man had his own pail hanging on it. And he would get them filled at the saloons and then take it back to the men. See, a greenhouse is very, very hot.
Q: At Dilg’s Tavern there?
DY: No, it seems to me that there was a tavern right up . . . because my mother would send me to the butcher shop, and I used to see this boy. The tavern must have been, you know where that eating place is now. First it was Luxembourg Gardens, and then . . .
Q: Vila Toscana?
DY: Yes. It was somewhere in there, I think, because I used to see him over that way.
Q: So he would fill it with beer and bring it back?
DY: And bring it back.
Q: What time did your father start at Poehlmann’s in the morning?
DY: When my mother married him, he started at six o’clock in the morning. Later on, they started at seven.
Q: An eight-hour day?
DY: She said he worked from six to six at night when she married him. They changed to seven to five later on. Do you want to hear something funny?
DY: This was about baseball, and he had men working with him who were fans just like he was. The Cubs, you know. And so they were not allowed to have a radio – maybe they didn’t have a radio at Poehlmann’s. but we had these small radios here. Well, anyway, my father had me listen to the ballgames, and a white rag I’d put out on the porch – we had a nail out there – meant that they were winning. And a red rag that they were losing. (laughs) I was changing rags all day long when the game was on. They would send a man out and he’d look. Then he’d go back and he’d tell the rest. (laughs) This went on for at least a couple of years. That was really something.
Q: Then in 1914, World War I came. Did that affect your family in any way? Were any members involved?
DY: The only think I can remember about World War I is that there was a severe sugar shortage it seemed. And here we had so much fruit that was going to waste if we wouldn’t get sugar. And I remember my mother and father went up to a Mr. Geweke, who seemed to have something to do with the sugar rationing or whatever. They didn’t call it rationing really. But they begged for more sugar, and he gave them a certain amount of sugar so that my mother could use some of the fruit anyhow that it didn’t spoil.
Q: Where did you get most of your milk?
DY: Oh, that was another funny story. When I was real young, I think we had a cow, but it’s so far back that I can’t quite remember that. We couldn’t have had it very long. But there was a woman over her, let’s see, she lived about two doors from the Grove School. And we children had to go over there and get the milk every day.
The reason my mother wanted us to get the milk there was because her house was absolutely immaculate. She had sidewalks walking out to the barn and she had them scrubbed white. Everything was scrubbed, and their shoes were always standing outside of the door. They didn’t wear their shoes in the house at all. That’s why my mother wanted to get the milk from there. So we always had to go over there every day to get a pail of milk, quart of milk, two quarts. I don’t know. Maybe she only got a quart. I don’t remember. But anyhow that was one of our duties that we had to do.
Q: You mentioned one time that the butcher wagon would come around?
DY: Many years ago, meat was delivered to the homes. A horse and wagon would come in the yard, and the housewife would come out and select her meat. The butcher would have a branch from a tree to chase the flies. There were so many deliveries made. The grocery store in Skokie – Schoeneberger Brothers – they would deliver groceries. So they would come on Thursdays and take the order and deliver the groceries on Friday. It would come in a wooden box. Down in the corner of the wooden box was always a nice bag of candy for the kiddies. We always waited for that to come. (laughs)
Then peddlers would always come to the door. They would have heavy suitcases full of all kinds of notions and soaps and things like that. They’d open it and have their wares and dish cloths. Then they’d get really provoked at my mother. “I’, sorry, I can’t buy anything today. I don’t need anything>” it was thee man who came around – it was the broom man. He always sold brooms. He’d come around regularly.
Then the ice cream. The ice cream man came around on Sundays and rang a bell. When we’d hear that bell, we’d run for the dish. It was a round, beautiful, pink flowers in it – a dish about that big. Go out there with a quarter and fill the dish full.
Q: How did he keep the ice cream cold?
DY: He must have had dry ice in those days.
Q: Was this a horse and wagon he used?
DY: Horse and wagon. He’d drive, and then he’d hop in the back. (pauses) I was wondering if you’d be interested about this store where I worked in town here.
DY: I was about eighteen at the time. I went to Columbia Business College in Chicago, and in order to earn a little money, I worked at this place on weekends. The store was run by Mr. Lies. It was called a tea store. I don’t know just what the name was, it was mostly called the tea store.
Now all butter and lard came in tubs, big wooden tubs. And coffee came loose, sugar came loose, so that we had to bag this. When it came to weighing butter and lard, we would take it out of the tub with a flat wooden paddle, and put it in a light wooden carton, put it on the scale and try to get the exact pound. There was nothing I dreaded more than taking lard or butter out.
Coffee came in bags with the whole bean. Some people would buy the pound in bean form and others would want it ground. There was a machine there, and it had a great big wheel. You’d have to grind it, and then re-bag it again.
Q: Do you remember what they sold the lard or the butter for in pounds?
DY: No, I just can’t remember that. Then they’d come to the counter with a long list. Now there was no self-help. You were there to wait on people. So all right, they’d say. “I want this item,” and you’d run to the other end of the store. Then you’d get back, and they’d say, “I want so and so.” Then you’d run back to that same shelf again, and all day long you were running back and forth. We had high shelves, too, with things piled up high.
Q: Where was this store?
DY: The store was located right across from Bringer Inn where this other store is now. So then, after you gathered all this on the counter, now there were no cash registers. The first thing you had to do is start getting a pencil and writing all this stuff down on wrapping paper, the figures and add those figures up. And it’s a lucky thing that I was going to business college and I was taking rapid calculation.
TAPE ONE, SIDE B ENDS
TAPE TWO, SIDE A
Q: Did you ever travel other than the trips your father took the children on?
DY: No. I really never traveled much because I was sick so much. I never had a chance to travel.
Q: Did you ever go to Wisconsin?
DY: Yes, I went to Wisconsin. I went to California. That was in later years.
Q: Do you remember any stories about Prohibition in town in the ‘30s”?
DY: I don’t know much about Prohibition, except that I know that we had all these places over on Dempster street that . . .
Q: The roadhouses.
DY: Yes, the roadhouses over there. The big bands played over there. I know sometimes we used to go over there and stand there and listen to the music. But other than that, I really don’t now much about it.
Q: Do you remember the airport in town?
Q: Did you ever go for a ride?
DY: No. Hermina Boettcher and I went to school together, and then her husband, Dick, was one of the main ones over there, and he always wanted me to go up for a ride, and I was a scaredy cat. I’d look at those clumsy things, and I’d say, “Oh, no, Dick. I’m afraid. Not today.”
Q: Did a lot of people meet over there when the planes would fly off?
DY: Those who were interested. See, it was all so new, it seemed like it was the younger people who would go over there. I know when I was working at Harper’s, there was a man in our department – I was in the purchasing department – and we got talking one day. I never gave anybody any intimation of my age, because I just let them guess, you know. So we were talking one day, and I found out that he used to come out here to the flying field, too, so I knew he was about my age. (laughs) He always came out from Chicago. He was interested in things like that.
Q: So the airport was pretty well known in the area?
DY: I think so. I think it was very well known.
Q: Do you ever remember seeing any planes in the air around this area?
DY: Well they did stunts at that time.
Q: How about the Depression years, ’29 on? Did that affect your home life in any way? I know it affected Poehlmann’s
DY: Yes, the Depression years hit us pretty hard here, because Poehlmann Brothers went bankrupt and the bank closed. My father couldn’t find employment anywhere. One of my sisters and her husband, were having such a hard time, so we took them in during that winder. After they moved away, we took my aunt in and her daughter, because they were about to lose their home. So they stayed with us for a couple of years and she rented out the house. Our garden helped us out during the summer months, but we had very, very hard struggling at the time. My sister, the artist, was still home. She would get jobs here and there but not very much. We had a hard time, a real hard time.
Q: Did your father find a job then after that?
DY: No, they would take a truck. I don’t even know where they went. During the worst part of the Depression, I wasn’t here. I went to Florida with my sister. She had two sick children at the time and she pleaded with me to go with her, so I went with her. While we were out there, the moratorium took place, you know. We were really without money for a full week. We managed all right because we got credit, then her husband could start sending money again.
Q: A lot of families in town must have been out of a job then – once Poehlmann collapsed?
DY: Oh, Morton Grove was very hard hit because of one industry. Then when things started to get just a trifle better, the Bell and Gossett came out here and that was one blessing. The Harper was the next company that came out.
Q: How could Poehlmann’s have collapsed so quickly like that?
DY: Well, in the first place, no one bought flowers during the Depression. I mean, unless you just had to. They had all kinds of bad luck. They had trouble with those boilers and they dug that reservoir which turned out to be no good. That cost them money.
Q: They couldn’t use the water, wasn’t that it?
DY: Yes, it had a chemical in it, which was harmful to the plants. And, of course, I suppose I shouldn’t even say this, but the young boys in from college, they didn’t have the experience either that they should have had in growing. They had knowledge from school, but not actual experience. That wasn’t really the whole thing. It was the general times. Everything hit them at one time.
Q: That must have been quite a shock for your family, though, when your father was laid off?
DY: It was just like something was taken out of him. See, we could see the greenhouses from here as we looked out of the windows. And when he saw how the glass was breaking and everything, it just made him sick. His heart and soul was in that greenhouse and he could have worked for a long time yet in there.
Q: Do you want to mention now that story about how they would take the gravel to build up the side of the tracks? The gravel pit was made initially by the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul.
DY: Yes. The so-called old swimming hole in the gravel pit was formed when the Milwaukee Railroad took gravel out for their roadbeds. My Grandfather Haupt sold them eight feet of the south end of his property along 20 acres. That’s at the end of our property here. He owned 20 areas. To run a track so they could switch their cars out there to pick up the gravel. That’s what made what they called the gravel pit.
That’s where they used to go swimming and that’s where they used to go skating in the wintertime. They never closed it up or anything. It was just an open place. Then the pond that came into existence later, that was right in back of our property here. That was the reservoir. That they didn’t close up either. It was a swimming hole until a boy drowned in it. Then they didn’t allow anybody over there any more.
Q: Also you had mentioned something about the smoke that used to come out of the Poehlmann stacks?
DY: When you walked on it, it was like walking on sugar. It was real fine.
DY: Black. Real fine, and it would come right through the window sills. Everything would be just full of this gritty – it was gritty. I had a bed out on the back porch at that time – I was sick – and it used to get in between the sheets. I’d bend my feet down on the floor, and it would just be – you’d walk, GRIT-GRIT-GRIT, when you’d have a south or southwest wind.
Q: There’s no way they could have controlled that?
DY: They tried everything. They had men out here; they had engineers out here. The boilers were in already. That was another sad thing for them, because they didn’t find it out until everything was completed. The stuff was just flying all over. And they had all kinds of engineers to see if anything could be done, because the people were just furious about it. When you’d have a strong south or southwest wind, you couldn’t keep the house clean no how. The stuff would get right into your house.
Q: Was there a smell from it?
DY: No, it was just grit. Just a funny grit.
Q: When World War II came, was anyone in the family involved in it?
DY: No. Our boys were all in that Korean War mostly. (pauses) No, I don’t know, I don’t have any memories about that at all.
Q: Are there any other physical features about Morton Grove that you remember – buildings or was there a special place in town that kids gathered at to meet or hide or play?
DY: We just didn’t seem to have a place where we met. We always met in our homes, and I don’t know of other kids, where they met. As far as stores were connected, there was the Dilg place.
Q: Would you like to tell me a little bit about the political rallies they would have after a campaign above Dilg’s?
DY: Howard was telling me about that. He said that the winner could always have that hall. I didn’t even know that, but the winning party always would throw a party, you know. And before that they would have their meetings. They had some real hot elections here for a small town. They would get so excited about everything. Put out all kinds of literature and crazy stuff.
Q: Was anyone in the family involved in politics?
DY: No, just my father was township supervisor for twelve years, he took care of the poor. But that started about in 1937.
Q: Your mother sounds like quite a character – real ambitious?
DY: Ambitious? She did all – she did all the painting, all the paper hanging – not this job, but she did everything. She sewed for the five girls and sometimes she sewed for my brother. In fact, she made him an overcoat one time when he was a little boy. But she did all our sewing even when we were working yet.
Q: Besides everything else?
DY: Yes. Today when I think of it, we’d come home from work and try to help her, and she’d say, “Everything is done. Don’t worry about it.” But, I don’t know, she was such a mite. She was like 990 pounds – at the most, 90 pounds. And so fine-boned. And how she ever did all that work I don’t know. Of course, when the babies were born – they were born here – she did have help for a while. And, of course, we were growing up and we always gave her a hand, too. That helped some.
Q: What did the children of Morton Grove do when Halloween came around?
DY: Well, we never went out when I was a kid, but they used to do kind of mean tricks. The older boys would go out. It wasn’t that they would go for tricks or treats, but they would just do mean things. Like outhouses, they’d throw them over.
Q: Did you have an outhouse?
DY: Yes, we had an outhouse. When you think of those things, you can’t believe it really. I mean even this house. My mother always took care of it. I guess it would be all gone to pieces on the inside, because after all, there were six of us and then the grandchildren. My sisters got married, and then the grandchildren started coming. There was always order. There was none of this roughneck stuff.
The grandchildren were always here. They’d wait in line – “Grandma, when can I come? When can I come?” “I can’t have any more than two.” Well, then you’ve got to take turns. All summer long, we’d have grandchildren here. I’ve got a great-great one now that doesn’t want to leave the place. They say, “You can’t. You can’t have this house taken down. That’s all there is to it. You just can’t”
Q: Well, what is the status on this house? Is the house going to come down?
DY: Well, it’s an estate.
Q: Which means what?
DY: Well, eventually we’re going to have to sell because, after all, we’re all getting up in age, and we might as well.
Q: Is it considered the Haupt estate or Yehl?
DY: It’s Elizabeth Yehl’s estate now. But I could live here until May 24th. The will was that I could live here until the 24th of May, this year – which is this week. But so far it hasn’t sold, so nobody’s saying anything to me.
Q: You mean it was designated in the will that it should be sold?
DY: What can you do with it?
Q: I know, but then where do you go?
DY: Right, that’s the thing. I don’t know what I’m going to do. That’s why for the last two years it’s bothering me so much.
Q: Would the house have to come down if it were sold – the land?
DY: There’s two acres of land here. If the house was on one lot, it wouldn’t, it probably could be taken care of. But, you see, it’s on about at least three lots. You take the whole thing, maybe four even. It’s too bad.
DY: We’re all going to be sick. I know that, because everybody feels bad about it.
Q: All the memories and everything in the house.
DY: And not only our family, it’s all the others. Oh, my goodness – Grandma’s house! You can’t take Grandma’s house away!
Q: Well, is there a possibility that someone in the family would move in here?
DY: Well, the property is going to have to be divided. The house is in the way, and it’s . . . (pauses) . . . if it would go for residential . . . (pauses). . . I don’t know. See, it started out for condominiums and they wanted the zoning changed. And they’ve been fooling around with that now for so long, because there’s such a great difference in price between condominiums and strictly residential. So I don’t think we’d want to get condominiums.
Q: So are you more or less playing it day by day now after the 24th?
DY: Well, nobody will put me out as far as the family is concerned.
Q: Yes, but I mean as far as an actual sale?
DY: We’ll just have to go along now for a couple months and see what happens. Then after that, I don’t know what we’re going to do. But I’ve had that now for two years.
Q: I like the looks of the house from the outside – the way it’s built with the porch and everything. I look at that every time I pass.
DY: See, we would have had the outside done long, long time ago. When my sister and I were working, we could easily have had it done. But everybody said, “You’re going to sell. You’re going to sell. You can’t keep that big house.” And my mother wouldn’t give it up. So many times we’d say, “Well, Mom, let’s sell and buy a smaller house.” And she would get so worked up. Or if a real estate man would call here, she’d say. “Who called?” And if I’d tell her, she’d get all worked up. Or somebody would come to the door. “Who was that?” “It was a real estate man.”
Q: I can’t say I blame her though.
DY: Well, I feel that way now, too. I really do. I would never find anything like this, because we have cross ventilation all over. In the summertime, I think our house still is the coolest house there can be. And in the wintertime, I haven’t been in one house this winter that was as warm as my house, because we have the radiators and hot water heat. I’m satisfied with the inside the way it is.
It’s the outside that looks so bad, but what was the use of spending thousands of dollars? It was going to be torn down. Now, if I want to buy a chair, if I want to buy this or that, they all say, “What do you want to spend your money for? You don’t know what’s going to happen.” So I just have to go along.
Q: Is there ever a possibility of having the home moved to a different piece of land or would that be too difficult the way it’s built?
DY: Well, it’s too big in the first place for the price of lots the way they are now. The whole width of the house here – it’s too much for one small lot. My grandfather had this all figured out. He had 20 acres. He had eight children, so he sold off four acres, and he allowed two acres for each child. And then he had this house built, and he wanted it built in the center of two acres. Which he did – it’s right in the center. See, all the others sold theirs. All the other Haupts sold theirs. And this one was put in the center.
And now I’m stuck with it. I never thought I would be the one that’d be stuck with it. I’m happy to have it, and I go around the yard. I know every inch of that yard, and I go around there and I think, “Oh, will I have it yet?” Well, I know I won’t have it next year. But I didn’t even think I’d see my tulips this year, but . . . uh . . . I suppose I’ll have it yet this summer.
Q: Have you thought about staying in town if the house is sold?
DY: I don’t know what to do. I would like to buy a small house, and everybody says I’m crazy at my age. And I just like to putter outside. Everybody says, “Buy a condominium.” Well, eighty thousand dollars for a condominium – it’s ridiculous! My mother always said, “You in an apartment! You’d never stay in an apartment!” Because she knew I always preferred puttering outside to working around the house. And if I had to sit around all day . . . (pauses) . . . I’ve had two years of this not knowing what to do. And it’s kind of bad. I never thought I’d be the one left behind like this.
Q: So it’s in your hands to sell it?
DY: Well, my brother and I.
Q: (looking at pictures and paintings on the wall of the dining room) Oh, is this a pretty card.
DY: You know, that’s Father Schmidt’s card.
Q: It is?
DY: For Mother’s Day. Greeting for Mother’s Day. Isn’t that something? He addressed it, “On this day for love and remembering.” Isn’t that something?
Q: Isn’t that nice?
DY: This is a letter that Fran wrote me of her remembrances:
(reading) School days: Walking two miles to school and two miles back. How in the wintertime, we’d bundle up. How mom would wrap newspapers around our feet, then into galoshes. And at Kante’s Corner, the old barn where we’d huddle to readjust our scarves, which would partially cover our faces which were frozen from our noses and mouths. The leggings we wore and how we would walk the ditches where the deep, deep snow was. The open fields along the route, where the wind would turn our umbrellas inside out. Our lunch would consist of homemade bread and homemade jelly sandwiches. Where the jelly was soaked into the bread, and our lunches were wrapped in newspapers. I remember I kind of liked Monday lunches, because possibly we’d have roast beef sandwiches and maybe some cake. Fourth of July was the day for watermelon and sparklers and how we looked forward to that! How sometimes the family would pile in the old buggy and we’d go for a ride down the old dirt roads (laughs) to find and pick tiger lilies, and I always had to go potty in the ditches. (laughter) During May we’d surround the Blessed Virgin with gorgeous big bouquets of violets from Grandma’s woods. Remember one day how Pluto – he was our big Great Dane – was determined to go to school with us, and we had to lock him in the sister’s barn. I’ll never forget it. (laughs)
Q: The sister’s barn?
DY: The sister’s barn over in Skokie, because the dog laid in front of the schoolroom where I went in. he laid in front of that door – this huge thing! He was that big! And everybody was frightened to death, and the sister said, “You’ve got to do something.” And I’m about twelve years old, and I’ve got to do something! (laughs) So I went across the street, and this man had a Ford agency over there, Mr. Heinz. And I told him my problem, and I said, “I don’t know what to do.” And so he came over and said, “If you can handle the dog, if he won’t hurt me,” he said, “I’ll get in my Ford and take you home.” Which he did. (laughs)
Q: She remembers all that.
DY: (continues reading):
The mysterious tool room in the barn – this is about our barn – the mysterious tool room in the barn that had a cistern in it covered with old boards. That was a well. The time Prince – he was our horse – got out of the manager, and little fat Howard was on or fell on the platform in front of the barn and Prince just gently stepped over him. And mom and us kids standing by, and Ma praying (laughing) . . . very much . . . At Easter time, hunting for eggs across the street in the woods, and Meg finding a beautiful oblong corset box full of eggs and goodies in the hole where the huge stump was blown out. Oh, what a gathering of goodies we just one family could drum up.
But she remembers things like that, then she gets homesick and writes them.
Q: She just writes them down and sends them to you?
DY: Yes, she just jots them down like that. Well, most of hers I remember. But my sister, Ruth, was coming up with all kings of things last night that I didn’t remember.
Q: What were the games you played?
TAPE TWO, SIDE B
DY: . . . (conversation joined in progress) . . . and the other was Red Light. And one was Annie-Annie Over. I don’t even know how to spell that.
Q: Do you remember how Run, Sheep, Run was played?
DY: Yes, one would have to stay like against a tree and blindfold himself, and the others would all run off and hide. Then he’d have to go looking for them.
Q: Like hide-and-seek?
DY: Something like that. In school we played Pegs, and I used to play that, liked to play that at home. My mother just didn’t like it, because she was always afraid I was going to get hurt. You take a broomstick, and you cut a piece about that long, then you cut a short one like that. Then you dig a hole in the ground, hollow it out. Then you take this stick and you try to get that little stick out as far as you can get it. You throw it out, and there’s somebody on the other side who tries to catch it. That’s where you get hurt. The fingers get hurt. Then, if they don’t catch it, you take your broomstick, and you take it like this – five, ten, fifteen, twenty. See who’s got the most score. Then you bring it back, you set it in the hole, and then you take your big stick and you hit it as hard as you can. And as many times as you can strike it, that would count for maybe fifteen.
Q: You mean when it’s in the air?
DY: No, you put it in this hole that you’ve dug out here. And it kind of sticks up, and you take your big stick and you hit it. Then you try to hit it as often as you can and then out. Then maybe you’ve hit it three times, and that would count for fifteen. And then you’d go, “Fifteen, thirty, forty-five.” That’s what we used to play in school. We also used to play ball. It was on soft ball that the girls made. The girls used to make these balls. They would be about that big, and I suppose they put all kinds of stuff inside.
DY: Yes, just material. We used to play ball over there.
Q: How about jacks?
DY: Oh, we used to play jacks, but that was kind of tame. Hopscotch. It was amongst ourselves mostly and cousins would come over.
Q: Did any of the children ever get in any kind of trouble?
Q: They were just mischievous?
DY: As far as my brother is concerned, I don’t know. When he went to St. George, I know one time (laughing) they went upstairs and got at my mother’s wine and threw wine out of the window upstairs. We found that out many years later, though. (laughs) But, no, otherwise – what he did, I don’t know. He never got into any serious trouble or anything like that, but he would be with the boys.
And he’d bring the whole gang here on a Sunday afternoon. I don’t know how my mother stood it, because this house was hopping on Sundays. He’d bring this whole gang, and they’d sit in the kitchen and they’d play cards and the whole gang would stay for supper. And for years after, whenever they would meet my mother any place, they would say, “Oh, Mrs. Yehl. I’ll never forget that Sunday night supper. Oh, those good cakes and pies you had.” You know, and that was great . . .
Q: Fed an army every Sunday! (laughs)
DY: We’d set the table twice and think nothing of it. It was stretched out as far as it went. You wonder how she stood all that. But she loved company. She never wanted to be alone.
Q: Sounds like she always had somebody around her.
DY: She did. Our relatives continued to live around us on my mother’s side. And cousins are like sisters to us. You know, like Florence Huscher and Eleanor Anderson – they’re all – Irene Stellar – they’re more like sisters than cousins.
Q: Could you suggest anyone else that might give an interview that would know quite a bit in the area?
DY: The Harrer sisters could tell you – they’re cousins of mine. In fact, if I would have known sooner, I would have tried to talk to Eleanor Harrer about my father’s side. She would know more about my father’s side, because her mother was my father’s sister.
TAPE TWO, SIDE B ENDS