Rod Sellers
Southeast Historical Society

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 Southeast Historical Society News

July, 2004                                                                         Volume XVIII No. 2

A Few Words From the President:

       Back in April I noticed an old bayonet in our museum.  It had been donated by Victor Antonello in March of 1998.  The description called it a World War I bayonet, but the triangular blade indicated an earlier weapon.  Being a Civil War buff, I took it to a Civil War Collectors’ show and showed it to various experts in the field.  Without hesitation three different persons told me that it was a British pattern 1876, ‘Martini-Henry Socket Bayonet’ designed to fit the 0.450” caliber Martini-Henry single shot rifle made famous during the Zulu Wars.  So much for my knowledge of Civil War equipment! The bayonet will be placed on display shortly after I obtain a suitable plaque for it.
     On Sunday, May 16 we had our 21st Annual Installation Dinner at the Crow Bar on 106th Street.  Approximately one hundred folks attended and enjoyed a fine meal.  Al Lerch was the Master of Ceremonies and Christine Gomez served as the Installing Officer.  Rod Sellers presented a beautiful plaque made by John Novak to our own Frank Stanley who had served on D-Day with the U.S. Navy.  The plaque was a small token of our appreciation for Frank’s community spirit and actions over past years as a veteran, steel worker, family man, active church member, civic leader, and one of the founders of our society, in short, a man for all seasons – Frank, we thank you!
     On May 30 we attended a memorial gathering at ‘The Zone’ bringing to mind the sad occasion of May 30, 1937 at which some steel workers were killed and others savaged in front of the Republic Steel plant near Avenue O.  It was quite moving to hear of the actions that occurred that day from a survivor and others.
     Unfortunately I missed Rod Sellers’ South Chicago walking tour of Commercial Avenue.  We understand a very interested group made the tour a success.  We should keep our eyes open for another possible tour in the fall.
     In mid-June Rod and I attended a meeting sponsored by the Jane Addams Hull House Museum and the Field Museum Cultural Connections Partner Institutions of which we are members.  The main theme was ‘don’t throw it away’ and various archival storage methods were also discussed.  Among the groups represented were Greeks, Filipinos, Japanese, African Americans and ourselves.  It was interesting to note that we all had similar problems with getting more participation from our communities.
     We are fortunate that we have a fine dedicated nucleus of museum volunteers.  We invite you to join us by becoming docents (volunteers) at our museum.  No experience?  No problem – we will fill you in on our collections and methods of recording donated items of interest.
     We just received an interesting framed picture from my son Raymond.  The picture shows the graduates from the South Chicago High School, Class of 1909.  This school later became Bowen Branch No. 1 at 93rd and Houston.  Surely some descendants of the people shown must be in the area.  You are invited to see the picture and note the names in our display at the museum.
     Did you see the solid brass porthole from the ‘Eastland’ donated by George Ketell in 1993?  It was salvaged during its refurbishing in a local shipyard before her ill-fated trip.  It is now on display in our museum.
     Hope you found this column interesting and that you enjoy the rest of our newsletter.
     Joseph A. Mulac
 We will be reviewing our membership list to make sure that dues are paid up.  If you are more than 2 years in arrears you will be dropped from our mailing list and will no longer receive this newsletter.  It is an expensive proposition to duplicate and send our quarterly newsletter.  If you want to continue as a member and want to continue to receive this newsletter in the future your dues must be up to date
 Yearly dues are only $5 and for $75 you can become a life member and never have to remember to send in dues again.  Dues may be sent to the Southeast Historical Society c /o the East Side Chamber of Commerce, 3658 E. 106th Street, Chicago IL 60617.  Dues may also be dropped off at the Southeast Historical Museum in the Calumet Park Field House, 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago.  The Museum is open from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm on Thursdays and on the first Sunday of the month from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm.. 
Membership Committee

July 4th Memories
 The biggest holiday of the year in Irondale was the Fourth of July.  Food stands stood at the entrance to Trumbull Park selling Italian sausage, hot dogs and other tasty treats.  There was a parade with bands and floats from many different parts of the city. 
The American Legion band, ROTC band from Bowen High School, the Navy band from Great Lakes, and others entertained the huge crowds.  An Italian band came from the West Side (Little Italy or Taylor Street).  Some of the Italian families invited the musicians into their homes to eat.  All were honored to be asked to play in Irondale in the Fourth of July Parade.  Parade floats were sponsored by many area organizations.  The South Deering Improvement Association float had the Beauty Contest Queen of South Deering riding the float.  Baseball games were played throughout the day in Trumbull Park.  In the evening there were fire works , I mean the real ones, not like today.  All they have now are fireworks that explode in the air.  We had animated fireworks, people walking, wagon wheels turning, flags waving, all in motion.  During the “Grand Finale” all the ground level fireworks exploded, shook the ground, and a giant American flag with God Bless America waved in the sky.  No true Southeast Sider left the neighborhood for fireworks shows.  They went to Trumbull Park.  These were the best fireworks in the city of Chicago.
(Editor’s note: We have a wonderful collection of newsletters from the South Deering Improvement Association in our archives.  We also have several pictures from 4th of July activities in South Deering at Trumbull Park.  Additional contributions related to the above are welcomed.)
         by Alex Savastano
Museum News
 The Southeast Historical Museum now has in its possession a picture of Marty and Joe’s baseball team dated from 1947.  We also have pictures of Marty and Joe’s basketball and baseball teams from unknown years.  Perhaps one of our members can identify the years and the players in these vintage photos.  Stop by the museum and share your expertise. 
 We recently received a bag of many old  photographs from a friend in Pullman.  They were described as “from the Southeast Side”.  We attempted to identify the photos but the bulk of them were unlabeled family photos and old post cards.   They were identified as Southeast Side items because they were sent to an address on 101st and Ewing Avenue.  Within the collection were a couple of treasures.  It was definitely like a couple of needles in the haystack.  There was a  1910 photo from Bowen High School and a very interesting post card photo.  The post card showed the intersection of Indianapolis and Ewing Avenue looking north from about 101st and Ewing.  This was prior to the extension of Indianapolis to Avenue L.  The photo also shows a number of buildings on the east side of Ewing Avenue between the viaduct and Indianapolis Avenue.   This is the area where the Skyway is currently located.  (See January and April 2004 Newsletters for additional information about Indianapolis Avenue, Hummel Square and the viaduct.)
 We have recently accessed additional post cards from the collection of Raymond Mulac and have scanned them and added them to our electronic archives.  Among the views are post cards of South Chicago Hospital, Illinois Steel, Rialto Grain Elevator, the funeral for victims of the 1909 crib fire, and more.  If any readers have post cards of the Southeast Side we would love to have them for our growing collection.  If you are not willing to donate them to the museum you can bring the post cards to the museum and we will scan them by computer and add them to our collection digitally.  We can then print images with our computer.
 Ed Sadlowski donated a large photo portrait of Hilding Anderson to the museum recently.  Anderson was one of the ten victims of the Memorial Day Massacre and the person for whom the Local 65 union hall in South Chicago was named. 
by Barney Janecki
Digital Resources
       We have recently digitized numerous images from the collections of the Southeast Historical Museum.  Among the files are images of the following:
     1938 and 1951 aerial photographs of the SE Side
      historical maps of the Cal River - dates of maps include: 1871, 1874, 1881, 1903, 1904, 1933, 1938, c1940, 1980, 1991
      Army Corps of Engineers maps - dates of maps include: 1839, 1869, 1871, 1872, 1874, 1878, 1879, 1881, 1884, 1903,       1911, 1916, 1931, c1940, 1947
      Chicago and the SE Side showing ethnic settlement patterns in 1840, 1860, 1870, 1900, 1920, 1950
      Wisconsin Steel site maps, Dates include: 1926, 1967
      U. S. Steel site maps.  Dates include: c1890, 1900, 1906, 1908, 1910, 1941, 1970
Contact the Southeast Historical Museum if you have any questions about the above project.

Historical Society News

        Although our May Installation Dinner has come and gone, special thanks again to our host emcee Al Lerch who made an encore to serve us again.  It was a pleasure to have Chris Gomez as our installing officer.  We hope to see more of her and hubby David who also supplied our beautiful table flowers from their East Side Florist.
 A special tribute to Frank Stanley, past curator and president of the Historical Society, was eloquently presented by Rod Sellers who certainly highlighted the many achievements Frank made to the Society.  Frank sent a heartfelt thank you note to us.
 As of this current newsletter, we are still in dire need of volunteer help at the museum on Thursdays from 1 to 4 PM or to accommodate your own time frame.  Come in and wander through and see just what the museum has stashed away in its nooks and crevices.
 We have added many new Life Members to our roster and are grateful for their interest and support for the Historical Society.
by  Gloria Novak
An Opportunity
 We currently have an opportunity to save some of the history of the steelmaking industry of Chicago’s Southeast Side.  Nothing was done when Wisconsin Steel closed in 1980.  Nothing was done when U. S. Steel South Works closed in 1992.  The relatively recent closings of the Acme Coke Plant, the Acme Furnace Plant, and the LTV Coke Plant on the Southeast Side give us our last opportunity to preserve some of the structures and equipment which can educate future generations about the industry which was responsible for the development of this area. 
 We are proposing that a museum / park be created to commemorate the steel industry and the workers who made this area one of the most important steel making locations in the world.  The museum would complement other sites currently under consideration for the area.  Visitors to the Ford Calumet Environmental Center and to nearby Indian Ridge Marsh and Great Marsh could include a visit to the steel museum.  There are precedents for such a museum.  The Joliet Iron Works Historic Site has a one mile trail through the location of a former factory.  Interpretive signs along the trail explain the process and the lives of the workers who labored there.  Visitors can see the foundations of the structures that once stood on the site but nothing else physically remains.  We can set up a similar site where visitors can learn about the various operations involved in the steel making process.  And if we act quickly we can preserve the actual structures and equipment used in the process and take visitors on a much more realistic very dynamic tour.  Another precedent for maintaining historical industrial sites exists in the German town of Duisburg, Germany.  This park uses former industrial structures in pretty much their original form as the basis for recreational activities by visitors.  This was highlighted in an article in the New York Times Magazine of May 16, 2004. 
 The three sites include the Acme Coke Plant quench tower, the Acme Furnace Plant blast furnace, and the last two remaining Hulett Iron Ore Unloaders in the country.  Without prompt action these will be demolished and will disappear forever.  Contact Rod Sellers if any questions or comments.
by Save Chicago's Steel Heritage Committee

Gene Krupa
 A recent visit to the Southeast Historical Museum by Benito Herrera, a former student of Rod Sellers, has prompted renewed interest in one of South Chicago’s famous former residents.  Benito is a drummer and a fan of one of the country’s most famous drummers, Gene Krupa.  Gene was born on January 15, 1909 at 88th and Commercial Avenue.  He attended Immaculate Conception elementary school and Bowen High School.  He worked at Brown’s Music Store in South Chicago and decided to play the drums because they were the cheapest item in the store’s catalog.  He left the area in 1929 and moved to New York to further his career.  He became one of the top swing / jazz drummers in the country.  He played with many famous musicians including Benny Goodman and recorded the very successful “Sing, Sing, Sing” in 1936.  Krupa popularized the role of the drummer and the potential of drums as a solo instrument.  He died on October 16, 1973 in Yonkers New York.  However his funeral was held at Immaculate Conception Church in South Chicago and he is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Calumet City.  There is a great deal of information about Krupa’s professional career but not a lot about his early life in South Chicago.  If any readers have any information or stories to share about Gene Krupa contact museum personnel. 

Web Site 

 Our web site is back on line.  Thanks to Melinda Morrissey of the Chicago Teachers Center of Northestern Illinois University for her assistance in straightening out the glitches that “bugged” our site.  The web site may be viewed at:

August 21, 2004                         10:00am-1:00pm                              Canoe Lake Calumet
Tour Lake Calumet from the vantage point of a canoe.  There will be a rental fee for canoes.  Requires some experience with canoes.  Two adults and one child per canoe max.  Call 312-744-5959 to register and for other information.  Registration required.  Canoes provided by Chicagoland Canoe Base.  Event sponsored by Chicago Department of Environment. 

September 11, 2004                     9:00am - 3:00pm                               Active Living Faire
AWLI (Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative) is sponsoring a faire to emphasize the importance of outdoor activity for healthy living in the Calumet Region  It also hopes to publicize existing gaps in cycling and hiking trails and other improvements to Wolf Lake and surrounding areas for outdoor activists.  Information about sites, activities, and times will be available by calling 773-646-6373 or by checking the Calumet Stewardship Initiative Events Listing for September - December 2004.  The Events listing will be available at the Southeast Historical Museum in August. 

November 11, 2004                     7:00 pm                                            “Calumet River”  Slide Show
Rod Sellers, co-author of Chicago's Southeast Side and author of Chicago's Southeast Side Revisited, presents a virtual tour of the Calumet river.  The history and present condition of “Chicago’s Other River”  will be covered.
The presentation will take place on Thursday, November 11, 2004 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm at the Calumet Park Field House, the site of the Southeast Historical Museum, located at 9801 S. Avenue G in Chicago.

Teachers' Center
National Endowment for the Humanities
Illinois University