Southeast Chicago Historical Society News
January, 2009 Newsletter Editor Rod Sellers Volume XXIII No. 1
A Few Words From the President:Happy New Year to all members and friends of the Southeast Chicago Historical Society. Our condolences go to the Ed Bonk family on his recent passing.. Ed was a lifetime member who also was a contributor and a regular visitor to our museum. He was a veteran of WW II and a fine gentleman. Condolences also to the family of long time member Lorraine Draper. Ed and Lorraine belonged to the "Greatest Generation," the group who lived through the Great Depression and World War II.
Our society continues to grow in membership. Welcome to new life member Helen Buoscio who was on the original faculty of George Washington High School when it opened. Helen was a math teacher, counselor and assistant principal during her illustrious career at the school. We now have 112 lifetime members and 130 regular members. We must however remind people to pay their dues. Some have been lax and we would hate to drop you from our society so please send in your dues. We need you and you are important to us. Better yet, please come to the annual meeting to be held March 28 2009 at 11 am at the Calumet Park Field House and pay in person. It would be nice to see you. You can congregate while having coffee and very good sweets and visit our museum.
We continue to receive historical items donated to our museum for which we are most grateful. Barbara Fundich donated a photo of the St. Michael's 1941 grammar school graduation class. She attended St. Peter and Paul High School and also gave us 32 copies of "The Lamp", the school newspaper, dated From October 1960 thru June 1964. As a kicker, she passed on to us a number of "song sheets" from the 30's and 40's which had belonged to her mother. Believe it or not, I remember a number of those songs. Perhaps you can come in and we can do some harmonizing just like we used to do in the old days.
Eugene Hill, a teacher at Bowen High school, donated 15 Bowen yearbooks. Since we have an extensive collection of Bowen yearbooks they were all duplicates but none the less we are still grateful for them. Gloria Novak donated three St. Francis de Sales yearbooks from 1970-72. Richard Salik, a recent visitor from Springfield, Illinois and graduate of Mt. Carmel High School donated 4 yearbooks from 1954 thru 1957. Our yearbook collection from Bowen is quite extensive but that is not the case with other area high schools. If there are any graduates from Mount Carmel, Washington, St Francis De Sales, and other area schools we would be glad to keep your books in safe keeping while making them available to interested researchers. Museum visitor Wayne Konar donated a cutting from the last steel bar produced on September 13, 1986 at the 44" mill at Republic Steel, later LTV. Richard Yasdick donated an original bill of sale showing that he purchased a used 1937, 4-door Custom Pontiac from McKay Motors in February of 1941. The price was $1295. The most interesting part was that at that time there was no sales tax on the purchase and this proves the government functioned more efficiently in those days. As a reminder, before you throw out any "junk" please remember our museum. Your “junk” may be historically valuable and will help us preserve the history and memories of our community. We can make arrangements to pick up items if you are unable to bring them in.
Hope to see you at the meeting. We look forward to your input, ideas and suggestions. We encourage members to get in touch with us if you have any comments or suggestions regarding our museum and organization. Your input is always appreciated.. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com And check out our web site at: www.neiu.edu/~reseller
Barney Janecki President
SECHS Annual MeetingThe Southeast Chicago Historical Society will conduct its Annual Membership Meeting on Saturday, March 28, 2009 in the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 Avenue G at 11 AM. All members in good standing (dues up to date) are urged to attend and vote on the new slate of officers at this meeting. The officers presented by the nominating committee will be announced. Nominations may be made from the floor. Refreshments will be served and a short program will be presented. All members are urged to be sure that their dues are up to date.
Membership MattersPlease make sure you dues are up to date. If you received a notice with this newsletter your dues are in arrears. We will be deleting from membership any who remain behind in their dues. Yearly membership is $10. A lifetime membership is only $100. This is a great deal and you will never have to worry about paying dues again. You can renew your membership at our Annual Meeting, by coming in to the museum during regular hours or using the form on our web site:
Our museum is located in the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago. We are open on Thursdays from 1-4.
Southeast Side Historical CalendarThe South Chicago Chamber of Commerce has created a 2009 calendar with numerous historical photographs, many of them from our collections. The calendar is available at the chamber office at 8826 S. Commercial or at the museum. Calendars cost $5 and are a great bargain.
NewsThe Historical Society is in need of a clothes tree (rack) to accommodate garments of visitors and volunteers to the museum. Also, when you are cleaning your hidden school days memorabilia, we are in need of year books from St. France de Sales, Washington and CVS high schools. We also welcome any level school class photos. Include names and dates if possible Our Annual Installation Dinner is slated for May 17, 2009 at the Crow Bar. Mark your calendars. The mailing address for the Southeast Chicago Historical Society will be changed from 106th Street due to the expected relocation of the East Side Chamber of Commerce. We hope to advise you of the new address soon. Mail may be sent temporarily to:
Southeast Chicago Historical Society
c/o Calumet Park Field House
9801 S. Avenue G
Chicago, IL 60617
Secretary Gloria Novak
More Museum NewsOur exhibit on local art is still available for viewing in the museum. Don’t miss the opportunity to see numerous watercolors of local scenes by Joe Mulac. We also received a framed watercolor of the Number 5 streetcar which is on display. Artist Clyde Sellers donated the streetcar painting.
SECHP Digital ProjectOne of the most important aspects of our archives is the Southeast Chicago Historical Project which includes a very large slide collection. We had previously been using these slides for various presentations but since we have entered the digital age and are now working with laptop computers and Powerpoint presentations we have begun to convert the slides to digital images. There are over 2000 slides in this collection and we are almost finished with the project. There are many images in this collection which have not been seen for years, including over 700 images from U. S. Steel South Works, some dating to the 19th century. Once this project is finished we will be able to access these images more easily and provide researchers with digital copies much more efficiently. Our next step will be to digitize the images in the SECHP negative collection, an even larger project.
In addition to the above work we are trying to create thematic collections of images from the SECHP and from our other collections. So far we have started a school class photo collection and a movie theater collection. This, of course, takes a lot of time and effort but will give access to particular areas of interest for our patrons.
Depression MemoriesIn this current time of economic uncertainty we should remember that there are still individuals among us who lived through the Great Depression. What lessons can we learn from their experiences? If you have any interesting stories or practical advice for the current generation based on your Depression era life, share them with us and we will publish them in our next newsletter.
Changing SE Side SkylineIn this post industrial era we continue to lose the structures that were part of the area’s steel industry. Demolition work at the Acme Coke Plant continues and little by little the brick buildings, the coke batteries, and other equipment on the site at 122th and Torrence are disappearing. The Republic Steel / LTV Coke Plant site has been sold (or will be very soon) and the site is to be leveled. The Hulett unloaders, the last two in the world, are destined for demolition as well. For pictures of the above see:
Burnham Plan Centennial2009 is the 100th anniversary of the Plan of Chicago written by Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett and sponsored by the Commercial Club of Chicago. The plan was a guide to regional planning and is responsible for many civic improvements in Chicago including Navy Pier, Northerly Island, the Michigan Avenue bridge, Wacker Drive and many more. Chicago organizations will schedule events and exhibits throughout the year to commemorate this plan which has guided city planning for 100 years. We will participate in this year long celebration by creating an exhibit which will focus on the aspects of the Burnham Plan which affected the SE Side and on subsequent area projects which were influenced by the plan. The primary focus on the plan has always been the downtown area so this will be a novel approach to studying the impact of this document. Our exhibit is scheduled to open in June at our museum and the theme of our annual dinner will be the Burnham Plan and the SE Side. For general information about the Burnham Plan Centennial see:
Local PhotographersRecent requests for information started me thinking about a great source of local historical photos. One request was for information about Michael Romero, a local photographer, whose office was on 91st Street. Another researcher sought information about Columbia Photography Studio located at 9215 Commercial Avenue. I was unable to find any information about these photographers or their studios. There were a number of other professional photography studios in the area who are no longer around. Our museum has some very interesting negatives and photos from the files of Calumet Studios owned by Art Stalla but few materials from other area photographers.
Who were the photographers who captured the highlights of our community and its residents? What ever happened to their archives? Where are all those negatives and prints? Remember these photographers worked in the era before digital photography. If any readers have any information or materials that can shed light on this topic please let us know.
Polish Museum DonationsWe recently received some interesting items from Len Kurdek, Museum Assistant at the Polish Museum of America (PMA). The museum is located at 984 N. Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. Among the items were two 78 rpm records, sheet music, and CD recordings of the “Steel Mills Polka” written in 1941. Stop by our museum if you would like to hear these recordings. Len also donated information about a local doctor, Wladyslaw Pas, who wrote books and catalogs about personal care and health . The materials were published in the late 1920s. Dr. Pas had a local office at 8519 Commercial Avenue.
Len has done extensive research on the Chicago connection to the movie “Call Northside 777", produced in 1948 and starring Jimmy Stewart. The movie was one of the earliest to be filmed on location in Chicago. He has written a series of articles “The Real-Life Story Behind Call Northside 777" for the PMA newsletter. It details the story of Joe Majczek, a Chicagoan, who was wrongly convicted of the murder of a Chicago policeman in 1932. A newspaper reporter looks into the case eleven years later and proves Majczek innocent. There is a Southeast Side connection to the story because a group of influential SE Siders advocate for the unjustly convicted youth. We have copies of the first six parts of the series and two more installments are to be published in future issues of the PMA newsletter.
Southeast Side MoviesSECHS member Bob Lalich has created a list of area location shots used in the movie“Appointment With Danger.” (see SECHS newsletters from Jan 2007 and April 2007) Among the sites are St. Michael’s Church, Immaculate Conception Church, several South Chicago street scenes and scenes along the Calumet River. Stop by the museum to view the list and the movie. Bob also asked if anyone remembers the South Deering Fourth of July fireworks show ever being held in the prairie west of Trumbull Park and east of the Nickel Plate railroad yard.
School StoresAs a follow up to an article in our previous newsletter, the name of the school store frequented by Washington HS students on 112th and Green Bay was “Virgie’s.” When I was a student at Mount Carmel the school store or school hangout was “Archie’s” located on 64th Street east of Stony Island Avenue. That is where all the Carmel kids hung out before and after school. Carmel kids did not cut classes. God help them if they did. Father Jordan, the disciplinarian, was not very forgiving in spite of being a priest. And although I do not know much about “Ernie’s” it was the school store that students from St. Francis De Sales frequented. There was also a school store across the street from CVS but I do not know its name. If any readers have any memories or good stories about school stores send them to us and we will include them in our next newsletter.
Don’t Throw It Out!Remember we still want your “historical stuff.” Help us preserve the rich history of Chicago’s Southeast Side by donating your artifacts, photos and memorabilia to the Southeast Chicago Historical Society.
Among the items particularly useful to us are the following:
telephone directories (the older the better)Please contact us or bring your donations in to our museum located in the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago. We are open on Thursdays from 1-4. If in doubt don’t throw it out, throw it our way!
plant or company magazines
church anniversary books
school yearbooks (see previous articles)
newsletters from local organizations
historical photos of local businesses
SE Chicago Historical Society CalendarThursdays 1:00-4:00pm Southeast Chicago Historical Museum
Regular hours of the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum. Collections and exhibits focus on the history of Chicago’s Southeast Side including the communities of South Chicago, South Deering, the East Side, and Hegewisch. Museum is located in the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago.
The Southeast Chicago Historical Museum is no longer open on the first Sunday of the month.
March 28, 2009 Saturday 11:00 am Calumet Park Field House
The Southeast Historical Society will conduct its annual Membership Meeting on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at the Calumet Park Field House at 9801 Avenue G at 11 AM. All members are urged to attend and vote on the new slate of officers at this meeting. Nominations may be made from the floor. The officers presented by the nominating committee will be announced. Refreshments will be served.
May 17, 2009 Sunday 12:30 pm Crow Bar Restaurant
Southeast Chicago Historical Society Annual Installation Dinner
26th Annual Dinner of the Southeast Historical Society will be held at the Crow Bar Restaurant. Social hour begins at 12:30 pm. and dinner will be served at 1:30 pm. Please reserve this date on your calendars.
Exhibit coming in June 2009 Burnham Plan Centennial at the Southeast Chicago Historical Museum
“The Burnham Plan: Impetus for Change on the Southeast Side”
The exhibit will portray the aspects of the 1909 Burnham Plan that relate to Chicago’s Southeast Side and subsequent planning initiatives for the area. See www.burnhamplan100.org for more information.