Helen Paroubek

Narrator: Helen Paroubek
Date of Interview: August 4, 1988
Place of Interview: Living Room of Morton Grove Historical Museum, Haupt-Yehl House
Interviewer: Yvonne Ryden
Recorded For: Morton Grove Historical Society
Transcribed For: Morton Grove Public Library
Tape Running Time: 38 minutes



Helen Paroubek comes from two of the oldest families in the area, the Paroubeks of Niles Center (Skokie) and the Haupts of Morton Grove. In this interview Helen talks about her happy childhood. Although her father died when she was an infant, aunts, uncles and cousins living nearby filled her life with love. But, most of all, her mother supported her emotionally and financially.

Sophie Haupt Paroubek was truly a modern independent woman. Though widowed she managed by sewing for others, canning her garden produce and most interesting of all, running Morton Grove’s first telephone exchange. Helen continued the pattern as a career woman, working until she was seventy-five years old.


HP: Helen Paroubek
Q: Question asked by interviewer, Yvonne Ryden


Q: Helen Paroubek is in town visiting from California. Helen, would you tell us a little bit about yourself.

HP: Okay, I was born in Evanston. Right after my birth my parents moved to Skokie, or at that time Niles Center. My father died when I was eight months old. As I have been told, he had taken over the harness-making shop that his father ran in Niles Center. And then he lived only a few months. After that my mother had the property in Morton Grove, and I guess my father left enough insurance money to build a two-family house. We moved there at 6105 Lincoln Avenue. There were eight children in the Haupt family, and after my grandpa died, each one had a two-acre tract right along Lincoln Avenue there. As I say, my mother built a house on her part. The Yehl family, after Elizabeth was married, she and her husband, Matt Yehl, bought the family home and that is now the Historical Society house.

Q: This house that’s been moved.

HP: Now, they want to know about why they came over — I don’t exactly know. Our great grandparents and my grandfather came over in 1842. They came from the Rhineland, a little town Monreal near Koblenz. They came by sailing ship, I think. They got to New York and somehow they came along the Erie Canal and overland, I guess. They farmed up on Waukegan Road, and my grandfather, Nicholas, and his brother, Joseph, went to California — it must have been after the Gold Rush, though, because they wouldn’t have been old enough to go. It must have been sometime in the 1860s or so. When he came back, he intended to go back to California, but in the meantime his parents were getting on in years, and they induced him to stay — and he married a woman from Wilmette. Her name was Gertrude Wilhelm,[1] I think.

Q: I don’t know.

HP: And they proceeded to have eight children. Grandmother died at a very early age of something like the grippe, and left eight children. So then, I guess grandpa was unable to handle the farm by himself, and he sold the farm and he came down here in the early 1890’s and built this house.

Q: Yes, which stood on Lincoln Avenue.

HP: Which was on Lincoln Avenue. The children lived here until one by one they went off and got married and so on. And the Yehls bought the house.

Q; What would have been the family home.

HP: Yes.

Q: Where in the family line was your mother? Was she one of the . . .?

HP: My mother was the second one. The oldest one was Eleanora, and she married a fellow by the name of Andrew Grotz — and then my mother and then Elizabeth who married Mathias Yehl.

Q: Now, when your mother married and moved to Evanston, do you have any idea about where she met your father? I know that you wouldn’t have . . .

HP: Well, they all went to the parish at St. Peter’s Catholic Church over in Skokie. And that apparently is where she met him. Because we had no Catholic church here at the time.

Q: Right.

HP: Of course, you don’t remember too much of this stuff; in fact, I probably don’t know too much about it because my father died when I was eight months old.

Q: That’s right. It wouldn’t have been something you would have heard them reminiscing about.

HP: Yes. So, at one time my mother had the telephone exchange for the town here. Of course, it was way back in the early days when there weren’t too many phones. And her youngest sister, which was Clara who later married Fred Huscher, was living with us. And they had this switchboard, and they would hook it up at night, and one of them — either my mother or Aunt Clara — had to sleep on the sofa, or a day bed I guess it was, near the switchboard. They would put the night buzzer on, and every time there was a call, [laughs] they had to jump up and answer.

Q: To give 24-hour service. [laughter]

HP: Well, of course, there probably wasn’t too much going on at that time. But then later they got busier, and after Aunt Clara married, why my mother had to have other help. So . . .

Q: Do you know how many years your mother did that?

HP: I really don’t know exactly. I imagine it was from five to eight, I would think, maybe more. I think some place there’s a record from the telephone company. Now whether that’s accurate or not, I don’t know.

Q: I don’t know either.

HP: But we were on the second floor of the house on Lincoln Avenue, and the stairway went up and opened into a front room which made it very nice for the office people. People always came up the stairs to pay their bills.

Q: But the first floor was rented out?

HP: That was rented out to another family. At one time my Uncle Peter Haupt lived there with his family, but as the family grew they had to get a larger house.

Q: Now that house still stands at the corner of Morton and Lincoln?

HP: Oh, yes. We were just — they put that street through for the houses at the back end there.

Q: Do you remember any of the other people who lived in the house besides your Uncle peter?

HP: What?

Q: Who were the tenants in the downstairs?

HP: Well, at one time a family by the name of Anderson lived there, and they had children going to school. That’s about the only family I remember living there.

Q: But it gave your mother an income, didn’t it?

HP: Well, it was a very small income.

Q: But would it pay for the mortgage?

HP: Well, she didn’t have a mortgage. She had enough insurance money to pay for the house, but it may have paid the taxes or something like that. But, you know how things were back then — you didn’t have much income. Somehow they got along. [laughs] But I remember at that time there was a Dr. Drostenfels, a German doctor in Morton Grove, and I remember he would come up and pay his bill. And he had a little daughter by the name of Eleanor, and she always wanted to come up and right off of the office was this living room with the sofa. I had all my dolls there, and Eleanor always wanted to come up and see all my puppen, all my little dolls. [laughter] It was, it was a nice life. It was entirely different from today, of course.

Q: And it was despite the fact that your father had passed away when you were so young, but you had . . .

HP: Yes, but we always had the family, see. I always had a lot of uncles and aunts and cousins around. And this house was situated only about a block from where our house was, so when I was real small there was nothing between. And, you know, we were together all the time — we went to school together. Frances, one of the Yehl girls, and I went to Morton Grove School for two years, and Catherine Mulvey was our first school teacher. And she visited me several times in California after she retired.

Q: Oh, how nice.

HP: She always remained friendly with my mother, and we enjoyed her so much.

Q: Other people have mentioned her with kindness, too. Is she the one that would’ve gotten off the train and had a cup of coffee with Mrs. Poehlmann?

HP: Well, the Poehlmanns were the big family in town, and they kind of befriended the teachers. But she, Catherine lived near Foster and maybe Clark on the north side there and she had to take the streetcar to Grayland Station, and there she got the train to come out here. And the story — she told me this story — that one morning she missed the train and a couple of fellows came along on a handcar, and that was the only way she had of getting here, so she rode on the handcar. [laughs] But you know the Poehlmanns were the big family in town — their greenhouse was the only industry in town. And I always remember the daughter, Virginia,[2] driving around in a big open touring car with a great big St. Bernard dog, Patrick. [laughs]

Q: Would she have been older or younger than you?

HP: Virginia was older, I think. Then there was another Poehlmann family living over toward Dempster Street. There were two plants, A and B. And, I was looking through some old stuff the other day, and I found a Valentine from Edna Poehlmann — well, she was from the other Poehlmanns. [laughs]

Q: I think she was from Adolph’s family.

HP: Yes.

Q: And you still have it?

HP: I have it. I can’t remember now where — don’t ask me to find it in a hurry, but I did run across it a while ago. And I was wondering because she must have been older, too, so I was wondering why the older kids bothered with the little kids. You know how it is when you go to school — the little kids remember the big kids, but the big kids don’t remember the little kids.

Q: Right.

HP: And I was wondering why I got a Valentine from Edna Poehlmann, but I did. [laughs]

Q: Now you said you went to school with your cousin, Frances.

HP: Frances. Now she was one of the Yehl people. She was the third daughter. Doris was the oldest, Magdelen — Mrs. Brod — was the second, and Frances was the third, and she was my age.

Q: You went to school for two years in Morton Grove.

HP: And then we were old enough to walk to Skokie[3] to the parochial school. And I can’t remember that we ever missed on account of the weather. In the winter they’d dress us so that you could hardly breathe. All they did was put all this stuff on us and point us. [laughs] I can’t remember that we ever missed. You know, sometimes the snow was that high, but we trotted along. And in those days, of course, if anybody came along and gave you a ride, you were tickled to death to take it. [laughs]

Q: Right.

HP: I remember one little fellow in a wagon, a horse and wagon, would pick us up and — you know how kids are — they sit in the back of the wagon and laugh their heads off, and we always called his hat a little chocolate drop. [laughs]

Q: So you think you had a good childhood?

HP: Oh very, yes. It was great.

Q: What did you do for fun?

HP: Well, we played — there was a game that we played. You put a little hole in the ground with a short stick and a long stick — I don’t know what we called that. We played that.

Q: Mublety-peg was that. Was it? I don’t know.

HP: Mublety-peg, was that it? You would throw the thing up and try to flip it. But, it probably was mublety-peg or something like that. And we’d play hide and seek, and then later one of my mother’s youngest sisters came back to live with us with her two little girls. And then I was older than they were, so I’d play teacher and we’d have school.

Q: Would that have been Mathilda?

HP: Mathilda, yes.

Q: And her two little girls were Eleanor and . . .

HP: And Margaret.

Q: . . . and Margaret.

HP: And Margaret had rheumatic fever and died on her fourteenth birthday.

Q: Yes, I’ve heard that. That’s so bad. And then Mathilda must after that, or maybe before that, had built herself a house.

HP: A house which was right next door to our house on Lincoln Avenue. She was . . .

Q: On her two-acre — no?

HP: Well, I think she had sold, I think somehow her two acres got sold or something, but she bought a piece of Peter Haupt’s property for her house. And, I can remember going down to the post office to pick up the mail.

Q: Where was the post office?

HP: It was in the Dilg Building down near the railroad tracks, and Lily Dilg was the postmistress, and . . .

Q: Now that’s the building that’s been town down.

HP: Torn down. That’s . . .

Q: It’s now condos called the Landmark.

HP: That’s a shame that that building was torn down. It was that rounded building, you know.

Q: Yes. I remember it.

HP: But we traveled down every day to pick up the mail. And Mr. Loutsch had the butcher shop, and then you’d get in there and you’d get your meat, and then he’d say, “Helena, do you want a piece of. . .” — well, it was bologna sausage — now I don’t know what he called it — maybe wurst. [laughs]

Q; And he called you Helena?

HP: Helena, yes, he always called me Helena.

Q: I thought your name is Helen . . .

HP: Helen, yes.

Q: . . . but was it Helen as a child or did they call you Helena?

HP: Yes. Well, I think that’s the German version of it, it’s Helena.

Q: Now where was that butcher shop?

HP: It was down at the corner, do you know where the Catholic church is? On that street?

Q: Yes.

HP: It was just beyond . . .

Q: That’s Georgiana, I believe.

HP: Yes, the building is still there. It was a brick building down there. It wasn’t right on the corner, but it was across from the tavern across the street. And, Art Loutsch, I think Art Loutsch was in my class. I think I was in Miss Mulvey’s first class, and I think Art Loutsch was one of the people that was in that class, too.

Q: Oh, you think you were one of Miss Mulvey’s, you were in Miss Mulvey’s first class?

HP: I think, I think it was her first class.

Q: She taught for more years.

HP: She taught for, oh, she taught for a number of years.

Q: Your mother has been mentioned as an independent woman who managed very well . . .

HP: On nothing. [laughs]

Q: On nothing. I mean, I didn’t want to say it but . . .

HP: Well, she had the property and the house and other than that she just had to — first she sewed for a while. I guess that was pretty nerve-racking, you know, sewing for other people. And, then she had the telephone exchange for a while. Somehow they managed.

Q: You don’t remember anything else that she did?

HP: No. Those two things were the outstanding things.

Q: Was there acreage behind the house that could be farmed?

HP: Well, she always had a big garden down at the . . .

Q: But that was just for your own use.

HP: For our own use on two acres. It was a narrow strip — 131 feet frontage. And then it went all the way back — at that time Poehlmann’s had railroad tracks back there. And the property went all the way back there. And the best ground for garden was down at the far end, so she always had her garden down there, nice black dirt. She had it down at the other end.

Q: All the family lots would have been the same . . .

HP: Yes. They were all the same — long narrow strips.

Q: So you graduated from St. Peter’s and then what did you do?

HP: And then, St. Peter’s started a two-year commercial course, and I went over there one year.

Q: Well, you’re the first one to mention that.

HP: And Magdelen Brod, who was a Yehl, she went there, too. And then apparently they didn’t have enough pupils to keep going, so the next year we had to go down to St. Benedict’s on Irving Park, and they had a similar course, so we finished there.

Q: So you had two years of commercial work, and then you went . . .

HP: Then I went to work. [laughs]

Q: Then off you went [laughs] Where did you work first?

HP: Well, my first job only lasted a couple of months, but then I went to Lenny Holmes, who was a Ford agent at Wabash and Lake, and I would ride the train . . .

Q: Wabash and Lake.

HP: And Lake. The elevated went around there.

Q: Right, right.

HP: And we got on the train here, and we rode downtown, and if it wasn’t raining or anything, I would walk over from Union Station to Wabash and Lake.

Q: All the way across the Loop. Well, right.

HP: And the railroad transportation was wonderful, you know. You got downtown in about thirty-five minutes, could read your paper, and was a good way of going.

Q: How long did you work there?

HP: Well, I worked there five years. And then I worked for Traveler’s Insurance for two years. And then my mother and I decided to go to California for the winter, but we stayed a year-and-a-half.

Q: You went for the winter and stayed a year-and-a-half?

HP: A year and a half, yes, because we liked it.

Q: You must have been having a terrible time. [laughs]

HP: We liked it and we just stayed. Then, of course, by this time the Depression was upon us. And when we came back, I found a job luckily and . . . I was at the job, well, almost thirty years then before I went back to California again.

Q: What job did you have for thirty years?

HP: I was a secretary at an insurance office — insurance agency.

Q: At that point, was your mother still living with you?

HP: Oh yes, we lived together until she died.

Q: And did she go back again to California?

HP: No, we didn’t get back while she was alive. But after she died, why I lived in the house for two years, and then I sold it. Then I was in an Evanston apartment for, oh, a year-and-a-half or so. Then I went to California.

Q: And now, when you went to California, did you work again?

HP: Uh-huh. I worked in a small insurance agency in Burbank for several years, and then the owner died, and the man that was handling it merged with a company in Los Angeles. And then I went to work down there. I lived in Glendale and worked downtown.

Q: You haven’t been hesitant to tell me how old you are, so why don’t you say it on tape?

HP: Okay, I’m 81 years old. I was born in 1906.

Q: You don’t look it. No wonder you don’t hesitate to tell. [laughs] Can you think of any other things about growing up as a child in Morton Grove?

HP: Well now, let me — I put a few things here.

Q: Good.

HP: Well, the only thing I remember is Christmas — you see we lived right down the street from this house, and I was always with the Yehl children. So, on Christmas at that time there was just a door between the dining room and the living room. And a few days before Christmas, Santa Claus would come, put up the tree, and put the presents down, and then he would lock the door. And when we were little kids, we would be on our stomachs — smelling under the door all that wonderful pine smell coming through. And then on Christmas Eve, either Santa Claus would come and bring the key, or he’d throw the key in and then we could come in and have Christmas. And then while that was going on, my mother was getting ready for my Christmas at home. And when she was ready, she would put up a shade in a certain bedroom and that was a sign that I could come home. [laughs]

Q: Did you know that was the sign?

HP: Yes. Sure, I watched for it. She’d say, “Watch for the lighted window and then you can come home,” while she was putting up the Christmas tree [laughs].

Q: So you had two Christmases really.

HP: Yes.

Q; How wonderful!

HP: Well, I was always with this family because being alone…

Q: Dorothy Yehl told that when each baby was born, she as the oldest would take the next youngest ones and go to your mother’s.

HP: Probably.

Q: Right. And when they got the happy word, they would come back, there was another baby.

HP: There was another baby. [laughs]

Q: She mentioned it, you know. Everybody said your mother was . . .

HP: Well, she was kind of the family — the older sister had married and lived in Chicago while some of this was going on. And so she was the one that really stayed.

Q: That people turned to in trouble and she must have had a wonderful personality, because everyone remembers her with such fondness.

HP: Of course, you know times were different and they grew up — I think the reason that family was so close was because they were left orphans and they just had to sink or swim. And they had to force themselves.

Q: But your mother had an even harder row to hoe than the others being widowed so young.

HP: Yes, she did. And then, of course — it was very unfortunate that my father died because they really had a wonderful marriage, and she never showed the slightest interest in anyone else. Just wasn’t interested.

Q: Well, when you were a child your mother, of course, was working all this time at something to provide for you and for herself. Did you have to work very hard?

HP: Not terribly hard. But I was always glad to help, and when I was just a little kid, I had a little ice cream chair and I’d stand on that at the stove if I wanted to cook anything. But I helped with the dishes and the — probably not too much baking, but I would do the errands. We had a cistern in the basement that I think we only used for washing, hair washing and things like that.

Q: Was that like a well that’s inside?

HP: It was underneath the back stairs.

Q: Was it to catch rain water?

HP: Yes.

Q: I see. It was not a dug well. It was more like a basin to retain . . .

HP: No, originally we had a pump there, but then later on when the village got water, why we had the water. But originally, we had a pump in the back yard.

Q: Did you have any other buildings outside of the house like a barn or . . .?

HP: No, no not when I was a child. As I say, my uncle — at various times my uncle, well, the one brother always lived with my mother. He had scarlet fever as a child.

Q: Was that Leo?

HP: Leo. And he had a bad heart, so he always lived with us until he died.

Q: And he died without marrying, right?

HP: Yes. And then the other brother . . .

Q: Peter?

HP: . . . had married, and his first wife died. And then he came back and lived with us for a number of years until he remarried.

Q: And then he was a neighbor?

HP: Then he was at one time. He was living in, I think, a little house down the street about another block or so.

Q: When you say down the street, would it have been west?

HP: It was . . . yes, west — west of School Street about a block. And he lived there with his family and they had four children.

Q: That was by his remarriage.

HP: Second wife, yes. He didn’t have any children with the first wife.

Q: Would these children have been about your age?

HP: No, they were younger. I babysat for his oldest child. And I also babysat for the oldest Huscher baby. Because at that time I was about twelve or so.

Q: When you were a child, what were some of the pets you had?

HP: I always had a cat, I always had cats and at one time we had a family from Toronto living in our flat. It was probably only for a year or so. But this man came to learn the floral business, and they had a girl a little older than I was, Evelyn Turp. And we became fast friends, and the two of us would dress my cats in my doll clothes. [laughs]

Q: How would you spell her last name?

HP: T-U-R-P.

Q: Thank you. So you dressed your dolls . . .

HP: We dressed the cats in doll clothes.

Q: . . . you dressed the cats in doll clothes. [laughs] Did they mind?

HP: No, I can’t remember that they ever fussed or anything. And then my mother had chickens. I would always have a big straw hat and we’d go and collect the eggs in the hat. [laughs]

Q: Good. Can you think of anything else about the house or about any other activity you had?

HP: Well about food, before the stores were in Morton Grove we got most of our groceries from Schoeneberger’s in Niles Center. And then there was a vegetable man, an Italian vegetable man — he used to come and sell vegetables once or twice a week.

Q: Didn’t you have . . .?

HP: We had vegetables, but fruits and things, you know.

Q: I see.

HP: Things that we didn’t grow.

Q: You had a garden, and your mother must have canned as all mothers did.

HP: She used to can, she canned a lot of stuff. She canned, oh, and she had an orchard — she had apple trees and, of course, when she got a big crop of apples, she’d give as many as she could and then when people didn’t come and pick them up, she’d can them. [laughs]

Q: Did she make applesauce?

HP: Well, yes, she made applesauce. And she’d can apples. I suppose she used them for pie once in a while. And she always made tomato jelly and tomatoes, and lots of beans and wonderful dill pickles that came out of a crock. Real dill pickles — not the sour pickles — real dill pickles. [laughs]

Q: Do you think of your mother as having been a good cook?

HP: Oh yes, she was excellent. Not fancy, but good — just plain cooking.

Q: When you were sick, did she have remedies that she used?

HP: Well, yes. For tonsillitis, I was always kind of — I think my tonsils were bad. I remember one time the doctor said they thought I had diphtheria. And the doctor said, “Well, when she gets finished, when she gets over this now, we’ll have to take the tonsils out.” Somehow they never got around to it. But I always got this medication out of a bottle with a giraffe’s neck on. [laughs]

Q: Oh really? The bottle had a giraffe? The picture of a giraffe?

HP: And it was kind of bitter stuff, but you swallowed it because it was good for your throat.

Q: So they didn’t call a doctor?

HP: Not unless you were really sick. Several times she’d have to call the doctor.

Q: What doctor did she call?

HP: Dr. Sintzel in Skokie. And he was her doctor until she died. No, in those days people didn’t call the doctor unless they were half dead, you know.

Q: At what age did your mother die?

HP: She lived to be 81.

Q: Oh, well, you will outlive her by a lot. [laughs]

HP: Well, I had two aunts lived to be 99. [laughs] Mrs. Yehl, she died two weeks before she was 99. And our Aunt Rose,[4] who was the undertaker in the city, she hit 99. She was 99 in August, and she died in December, I think.

Q: The whole pattern of longevity is in the family, isn’t it?

HP: Yes. So that’s why I worked until I was about 75, because I thought how do you know how much money you’re going to need before you’re finished.

Q: And as it goes now, I’m sure you’re happy you did, too. Do you remember anything about Poehlmann Brothers that you could share with us?

HP: Well, they had these large greenhouses all over, and when I worked I would walk down west on Lincoln Avenue and . . .

Q: To the train, you mean.

HP: To the train and there was — we always took a shortcut and walked through. I don’t just remember what they had out there — beds of some kind, I think, but I can’t remember now exactly what it was.

Q: To take a shortcut across the tracks to the train.

HP: That old train station should have been saved, too, you know. That was very interesting. Yes.

Q: That’s too bad. They thought they were so smart when they put up a new one. Yes. Do you remember any of the teachers you had at St. Peter’s?

HP: The first one I think was Sister Eulalia, and after that I don’t remember any — the eighth grade teacher was Sister Immaculata, and she was the principal of the school. She liked to keep kids [hand pounds] in which was good for them. A little discipline never hurt anybody. She was a real disciplinarian. [laughs] So was Catherine Mulvey, but everybody loved her anyway.

Q: As you were an adult, what did you do to have fun?

HP: Well, we’d do whatever.



HP: [conversation joined in progress — talking about theater] . . . was it a theater up on Lawrence.

Q: How did you get there?

HP: Either we had a car. Finally I bought a car and we would drive. The parking was terrible in that neighborhood, you know, with all the theater goers. No parking facilities. But, otherwise we could take the bus and the streetcar down there. And then, of course, often from work we would stay downtown and go to a show in the Loop and come home on a later train. I think there was a train that left about 9:20, and once in a while if you went to a legitimate show, we’d come home on the midnight. But it was great transportation. Of course, at odd hours, it was a little inconvenient to get over to Union Station, but it was great transportation for workers.

Q: Now this outline talks about the year 1928 for Poehlmann’s, and I don’t know what would be right. What do you think?

HP: Well, I would think they survived 1929 — the market crash happened in October of 1929. I would think that they’d live through ’29 or ’30 at least. But it was in there sometime. But my mother and I were on the train going to California the first time when the stock market crashed.

Q: So actually you had quit a job to go . . .

HP: Oh, yes. I worked for a job that I didn’t particularly care about, and I always wanted to go to California, so. . .

Q: You went.

HP: We did. [laughs]

Q: Great. I think that’s wonderful. And there was nothing to come back to.

HP: Well, we still had the house here.

Q: Yes, but I meant — had you rented out both parts of the house?

HP: Yes. My Uncle Peter Haupt lived downstairs and then we had another tenant while we were gone.

Q: Do you remember it being sooty and smoky?

HP: I remember the soot.

Q: From Poehlmann’s?

HP: The ladies all complained about the soot on their wash, [laughs] and you could see it in the house, too, on the windows sills and all. It was a terrible nuisance.

Q: So Morton Grove really was a dirty town to live in?

HP: Well, it wasn’t originally. I think they got new boilers or something. And that blew the stuff out. The first years, I can’t remember that anybody complained too much. But I think they had a new heating system or something, and that ground up the stuff and blew the stuff out. And I think that’s what made it so sooty and dirty. Yes, I remember very well how upset everybody was about it.

Q: On our outline here, it talks about Hobo Island and the hoboes in town. Do you remember any . . .?

HP: Yes, I don’t particularly remember where Hobo Island was, but I remember that these fellows would come occasionally and ask for a meal. And, of course, anybody would give them a meal. On our back porch, we had about three or four steps going up the stairway going up into the attic, so my mother would sit them out there and they could sit on one step and they could eat off the other one, and she always fed them if they asked for food. And very often they would ask if they could do a little work, or a little job for her.

Q: And would there be something?

HP: Well, there would be something in the garden or something that they could do.

Q: How about the restaurants, the famous restaurants in town?

HP: Well, I think I was a little young for that. I didn’t know too much about what was going on.

Q: It sounds from what you’ve told me so far that really your life was more oriented towards the Loop and where you worked . . .

HP: Well, that’s it. We went downtown every day. And, we always went downtown for shopping and very often — first I worked on Sundays — and very often my mother would come down and meet me on a Sunday afternoon. And then later when we didn’t work on Saturdays anymore, we’d often go down. I would drive and we would park at Grant Park and we would walk over to the Loop and then we could come home anytime we wanted to.

Q: Can you think of anything else that you would care to mention? Where were you during World War II?

HP: Right here. I was working in the city. First we intended to go back to California. Well, when we came back, there was no market for a house or anything like that, so we stayed. And then when the War came along, of course, you felt like you had to stay put, and then after that my mother got sick, so…

Q: One postponement after another until finally . . .

HP: But she loved California. She always wanted to go back, but somehow it didn’t work for her.

Q: When you say California, you were in Southern California?

HP: Yes, her oldest sister was out there.

Q: Eleanora?

HP: Eleanora. They moved out in — they moved . . .

Q: Our outline, to take a look at that, mentions some of the places in Morton Grove. Would you talk about some you remember?

HP: Well, I mainly remember the Dilg Building, and — I’m sure you heard about the airplane field that would just be over on Dempster Street.

Q: Yes. On the north side of Dempster. And how about St. Paul’s Park?

HP: And St. Paul’s Park. As children we went there quite a bit. In fact, there was an old pavilion there and I think they held dances at times and the end-of-the-year school play was always held in the . . .

Q: That was in the Morton Grove School.

HP: In the St. Paul Park we called it.

Q: Yes. That’s now St. Paul’s Woods. I think the same. . .

HP: Yes. Probably.

Q: Was it really wooded when you were there? Like forest?

HP: Yes, it was very pleasant. What is it, the Des Plaines River that runs through there?

Q: No. That’s the North Branch of the Chicago River.

HP: Well, there was a little stream running through. Sure we were always down there.

Q: I want to thank you very much for all that you’ve said and all that you’ve recalled, and I appreciate your making an effort and taking time out of your busy schedule. I hope you have enjoyed your stay . . .

HP: I have very much.

Q: . . . and I hope you will continue to enjoy it. Thank you so much.

HP: Okay. Thank you.


[1] Helen’s grandmother, Magdalena Wilhelm Haupt, died April 23, 1989, aged 35. Helen’s great-grandmother was Gertrude Herrick Haupt (1809 – 1857).

[2] Virginia was the daughter of August Poehlmann. The other family was Adolph Poehlmann’s.

[3] Skokie was named Niles Center until October 1, 1940.

[4] Rose Haupt Weimeskirch. (The funeral parlor is still in operation at 7066 North Clark, Chicago.)

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