Southeast Chicago Historical Society News
July, 2008 Newsletter Editor Rod Sellers Volume XXII No. 3
A Few Words From the President:Our 25th Annual Installation Dinner was held on May 18, 2008. We continue to have a good turnout due to strong support of our membership. We extend our deepest appreciation to our Master of Ceremonies Al Lerch, Lucy D’Mari, Rev, Jeremy Heilman and our installing officer John Clarke, Commander of Illiana American Legion Post 220. Clarence and Patricia Wigsmoen were given “Outstanding Historians” award for their work in rehabilitating our photo exhibits at the museum. They have devoted a great deal of time and energy to several projects at the museum. We invite our members to stop by and view the improvements and bring your friends. Officers officially installed at the dinner were:
President Barney JaneckiIn lieu of musical entertainment we had a presentation by Rod Sellers about the “Industrial History of Southeast Chicago.” This was in keeping with this year’s theme for our dinner. It was also an opportunity for us to showcase our newest equipment acquisition, a lap top computer and projector. Let us know if you have any comments about this change in format for our dinner.
Vice President Jim Ostarello
Treasurer Carolyn Mulac
Secretary Gloria Novak
We would like to give thanks to all the donors who contributed to help make our raffle a success. Special thanks to the Royal Charitable Foundation from Royal Savings Bank for a generous donation. Extra special thanks to the estate of Ora Coon for a very generous donation to the museum which held a very special place in Ora’s life.
Phyllis Janik, a member of our society, wants to put out an alert to anyone who may have some recollections of her father Phillip Janik, a 45 year employee of Wisconsin Steel and a well known local athlete from South Chicago. He played football for the Brandon Speed Boys and other south side teams in the 1920s and 30s. He was dubbed “Red Grange” after scoring three touchdowns the day after Grange scored his three touchdowns in a famous 1933 Illinois versus Michigan game. Phil was asked by a Chicago Bear scout to try out for the team but instead he went to work to support the family. Starting in 1950 and continuing until his retirement from the Wisconsin Steel Mill in 1972, he began a ritual of writing a letter to his family every day before he went to work. Phyllis is in the process of incorporating these letters into a book. Phil’s career in the steel mills was the subject of an article in the Spring 1981 issue of Chicago History magazine published by the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum). A copy of this article is available at our museum.
Adam Janik of South Chicago, no relation to Phyllis, was interviewed recently about his World War II experiences. He was a veteran of the 8th Army Air Force (“Mighty Eighth”) and was stationed in England during the war. He is one of the unsung heroes. He was a tail gunner on a B-17 bomber. He was 19 years old, on his tenth mission, having been in England only three months, when his plane was shot down. He bailed out and while in the air realized he had been wounded in the hand when he saw blood on his glove. He was captured and became a prisoner of war, the youngest one in his prison camp. He was held prisoner for eighteen months before being rescued by Allied troops. He suffered from malnutrition and was hospitalized for months before regaining his health. He is a noble gentleman and felt honored that he was able to serve his country. We should be forever grateful for his service and other like him. A copy of the interview and several other interviews with World War II veterans are available at our museum.
We encourage members to get in touch with us if you have any comments or suggestions regarding our museum. Your input is always appreciated.. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org And check out our web site at: http://www.neiu.edu/~reseller/
Barney Janecki President
Don’t Throw It Out!Remember we 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. 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!
Air ConditioningThanks to the assistance of several individuals we now enjoy the comforts and other benefits of air conditioning in our museum. Most importantly, the controlled temperatures will make it easier to preserve our unique artifacts and especially our historical photographs and exhibits which have been deteriorating due to high heat and humidity.
Thanks to Alderman John Pope for getting us pointed in the right direction. Thanks to Chicago Park District General Superintendent Timothy Mitchell and special thanks to Pat Levar who expedited the process.
Come in and visit us on Thursdays to see and feel the difference in our environment. You can no longer use the excuse that “It’s too hot to visit the museum.”
Museum NewsTo better preserve some of our invaluable oral histories and other video materials we have begun to convert our video collection from VHS tapes to DVDs. This is a very long process and will take quite some time to complete but it is important that this be done. VHS tapes will deteriorate over time and it is also important to convert analog materials to digital format. We are using a VHS / DVD recorder purchased with a donation from Alex Savastano’s nephew, Daniel DeLaurentis. Alex would approve!
We continue to receive many interesting historical items from members, visitors and area residents. We recently received some very interesting large pictures of the naval training facility located at Chicago Vocational School during World War II. We received, via e-mail, a copy of the June 22, 1949 Gallistel Gazette, a school newspaper. The paper includes a list of graduates with the high school they plan on attending (most were going to Bowen or CVS), their “nick names” and their planned careers. I wonder how many actually followed the careers they listed? There was also an article about the East Side’s “new school” at 108th and Avenue H, then known as the Gallistel Branch. This class will be celebrating the 60th Anniversary of their graduation next year! Will there be a reunion?
Member Tony Arduino received information from the Chicago History Museum (formerly Chicago Historical Society) regarding issues of the Daily Calumet now available on microfilm. Until very recently the Daily Calumet microfilms stopped at 1937. Additional dates beyond 1937 are now available. This is the information sent to Tony:
“The Daily Calumet is microfilmed through 1978. We microfilmed what we had on hardcopy and that did not include every issue. The following list can give you an idea of available dates, though there may be additional missing or damaged issues:
<1903:7:2-11:25> <1904:7:1> <1906:1:2-6:30> <1907:6:17-1909:6:30> <1910:1:3-1912:6:30> <1913:1:2-1914:12:31> <1915:12:4,8> <1917:1:3-6:30> <1919:1:2-1920:6:30> <1921:7:3-1924:12:31> <1925:7:2-1937:12:31> <1938:7:1-1941:12:31> <1943:1:2-6:30> <1944:1:3-12:30> <1945:7:2-1954:6:30> <1955:1:3-1957:8:17> <1957:8:19-1963:12:31> <1965:1:2-10:19> <1965:10:20-1975:12:31> <1976:4:1-9:30> <1977:1:1-1978>
Thanks to Tony for sharing this very useful information. Remember that we have, at our museum, some of the issues that the above list is missing. Our collection includes bound volumes from January 1, 1960 to December 31, 1979 with the exception of April - June 1967 and October to December 1974. We also have bound volumes from July 1984 and from June 1 to October 9, 1987. Another good source for more recent Daily Calumets is the Calumet City Library. A request for information developed additional information related to the Daily Calumet. For many years the only Daily Calumet motto that most of us remembered was “America’s Oldest Community Daily Newspaper.” Further research revealed that several other mottos were used at various times. In the late 50s and early 60s the motto was “Serving the World’s Greatest Inland Seaport.” In the early to mid 50s the motto was “America’s Only Daily Neighborhood Newspaper.” A 1937 paper had the motto “ A Daily Newspaper of General Circulation.” A 1936 paper used “Devoted to the Interest of Southeastern Chicago.” At one time the Calumet listed the many communities it served as their motto.
We have received several DVDs from the “History from the Mills” oral history project. One DVD is a ten minute introduction to the project which briefly gives an overview of the area’s industrial history and has a couple of short excerpts from the interviews. There are several additional DVDs which include all seventeen interviews conducted during this project. Copies of the introductory program and all of the interviews are available at the museum. Read about the project here:
Click on the You Tube link in the above article to see the introductory video.
In the near future we will be participating in a number of new projects. October is Artist’s Month in Chicago. There will be related activities on the Southeast Side during the month and on October 25 our museum will be open from 11 AM to 4 PM and will feature an exhibit of works by area artists, including pieces by Joe Mulac, and area photographers. More details to follow. Put this date on your calendar. We will be participating in the activities celebrating the Centennial of the 1909 Burnham Plan by having an exhibit which will demonstrate how the Burnham Plan affected the Southeast Side and will look at other planning initiatives for the area including the Van Vlissengen Plan for Lake Calumet, the Lake Calumet Airport Plan, and current planning in the area. We have also applied to conduct a tour of the Southeast Side for the National Main Streets Conference being held in Chicago in March, 2009 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. We are discussing use of photographs of our region by the National Building Museum in Washington D. C. for an upcoming exhibit “Green Community” opening in October 2008 and running until October 2009.
The Industrial Heritage Archives of Chicago’s Calumet Region (IHACCR) digital project (http://www.pullman-museum.org/ihaccr/sechs.html) is proving to be an incredible success. The web site officially debuted November 9, 2007 but was accessible prior to that date. As of April 2008 there were 973,074 “hits” on the Southeast Chicago Historical Society portion of the site. WOW!
More News and EventsWe have conducted a number of tours in the past few months. We conducted Industrial History Tours for two senior citizen groups in March and April. One group was from Hinsdale and the other from Forest Park. On May 17 we collaborated with the Southeast Environmental Task Force in conducting a “Toxics to Treasures” tour in conjunction the Great Chicago Places and Spaces program sponsored by the City of Chicago. A full bus of over 50 people was treated to a tour contrasting nature and industry on the Southeast Side.
In additional to regular visitors to the museum we were recently visited by students from Our Lady of Guadalupe elementary school. The well behaved students saw our museum, listened to a presentation and learned about their community.
We were represented at the Wolf Lake Wetlands Festival on May 25 and later that day at the Memorial Day Massacre Commemoration and dedication of the new park and rededication of the statue which was moved from the entrance to Republic Steel and restored. Photos of both events are accessible via our web site. Click on “Southeast Side Photo Albums” on the introductory page of our web site. (http://www.neiu.edu/~reseller/sephotoalbumsintro.html)
There are also a couple of collections (Wolf Lake Album 1 and Wolf Lake Album 2) of Wolf Lake pictures compiled over several years. (http://www.neiu.edu/~reseller/sephotoalbumsWolfLake.html )
Our museum opened for the Tenth Ward Green Summit on May 31 and we had a large number of visitors who took advantage of the unusual Saturday opening of our museum.
We are working with Department of Environment of the city of Chicago and the companies who are going to create the exhibits at the Ford Calumet Environmental Center (FCEC) which will be located at Hegewisch Marsh. Groundbreaking for the building should take place before the end of the year. It is anticipated that the FCEC will open in 2009. Representatives of Teller Madsen, who will develop the exhibits in the FCEC, have already visited the museum and were impressed, even amazed, at the quantity and quality of materials in our collections that will be useful to them. I am also working with a group who is developing an introductory video for the Center. They are going to shoot some aerial footage to be used in the documentary and, although the aerial shoot has been rained out twice, it is still planned for a day with more cooperative weather.
I will be doing a Calumet River tour for the Calumet Area Industrial Council on July 16. The tour is sold out and should be lots of fun. See pictures from the tour at:
Small World StoryWe recently received a copy of Sheldon Siegel’s latest book, Judgement Day. Sheldon, a former Southeast Sider and San Francisco attorney and mystery writer is also a life member of our historical society. I was recently in Germany on vacation and visitied my in-laws. They are in the process of selling their home in Germany and moving to the states and my wife and I were told to look around to see if there was anything we wanted them to bring for us. On the last day we were staying in Germany I looked over some paperbacks on a book shelf and saw three books written by Sheldon Siegel. My mother-in-law is an avid reader and one of her favorite authors is Sheldon. So I asked her for the books and will donated them to the museum when I am finished reading them. I do not normally have time for recreational reading but I enjoyed the first book I read and I am almost finished with the second one. I had to put it down to finish this newsletter. I e-mailed Sheldon and told him the story and, of course, he got a big kick out of it.
SECHS LogoWell now we have air conditioning, a new slate of officers, and a new brochure describing our organization and museum. What’s next? We need a logo for our organization. Early discussions have focused on the button that was designed for the Illinois Association of Museums Family Heritage Days a few years ago. If anyone has a design they would like to submit for consideration it can be set to email@example.com or to firstname.lastname@example.org or better yet, send it to both e-mail addresses.
Another Southeast Side MovieDavid Potnar pointed out that there was another movie filmed on the Southeast Side. “My Life” starring Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman was filmed at Washington High School and in the adjoining neighborhood. It is the story of man who learns that he is dying and he decides to make a videotape of his life for his unborn child. Washington High School was actually portrayed as an elementary school in the movie and nearby homes were also used for scenes in the film. See: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107630/
Fitzgibbons Drive MuralIf you would like to see the 100tStreet / Fitzgibbons Drive new mural in progress, please come and watch the volunteers at the mural site. Work time is 10 to 12:30 Monday through Thursday. Anticipated completion is early next week. Noel Morales, the mural artist, has, along with members of the Mulac family, agreed to be at the museum for the Artists Saturday, October 25th, with a preliminary drawing of the mural and a completed version of the project. See pictures of the work in progress at:
SE Chicago Historical Society Calendar
Thursdays 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.
Saturday / Sunday September 6 & 7, 2008 Hobo Fest Historic Pullman District
Friendly community hosts free welcoming dinner on Saturday evening prior to Hobo Concert at famous historical Greenstone Church . Luther the Jet performs on the church's renowned Stearns & Turner pipe organ, as other Hobo minstrels, along with local Chicago talents, gear up to do stories and song for the eager audience. Throughout Saturday & Sunday, Hobos display exhibits, their special crafts, folklore, food, and music. The event is crowned by a big barndance/squaredance, and finally, a musical extravaganza jam that includes a mix of Hobo, folk, bluegrass, R&B, and country. For further information, contact email@example.com or call, 773-370-3305.
Saturday October 25, 2008 10:00am-4:00pm Washington High School 50th Anniversary Celebration
The celebration will be an open house / all years reunion for any and all graduates of the school. The school will be open for tours, there will be displays and presentations about the history of the school, and former faculty members will be on hand to meet and greet guests.
Saturday October 25, 2008 11:00am-4:00pm Chicago Artists Month SE Chicago Historical Museum
The museum will be open. Local artists and photographers will be present and will have examples of their work on display. A special exhibit will feature works by former president of the Southeast Chicago Historical Society, Joe Mulac.
For other information about Southeast Side events see the following web sites:
Calumet Stewardship Initiative at:
Southeast Side Events at: