Rod Sellers
Southeast Historical Society

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 Southeast Historical Society News
<>October, 2003                                                                        Volume XVII No. 3 

<>A Few Words From the President:

Over these past summer months our society participated in many interesting activities:
    The Southeast United Methodist Youth Center, ‘The Zone,’ and the Calumet Region Memorial Theatre presented the world premiere of “Unfriendly Fire,” which was adapted by Emile Garcia-Richards and Ed Sadlowski from an original script by our own past president, author and playwright, Kevin P. Murphy.  The Calumet Region Memorial Theatre was founded about five years ago by a team consisting of Rev. Zaki L. Zaki, Pastor of the East Side United Methodist Church, Frank Stanley and Kevin P. Murphy, all members of our society.  I saw the play on Sunday August 10, and was very impressed by the professional presentation by our local area folks.  The drama is in two acts and commemorates the “1937 Memorial Day Massacre” at the then Republic Steel plant in our East Side neighborhood.
     On the last day of August, at a table spot donated by Tom Shepherd of Pullman, Alex Savastano and I answered questions about our society during a flea market at ‘The Zone.’
     Thursday, September 4, Rod Sellers and I attended a meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks at which a resolution on the Drake Fountain (our Columbus Monument in South Chicago) was passed to designate it as a city landmark.  This resolution recommended the landmark designation to the Chicago City Council, which will vote on it at a future meeting.
     This marks the second historical landmark in our community, the first being the State Line Marker.   Our society was instrumental in that designation as well.
     On the first Sunday of September, as part of the ‘Cultural Connections’ program of the Field Museum, Rod led a walking tour of the East Side ending up in our museum.  Rod also manned a table with information about our museum at the Cultural Connections Kickoff at the Field Museum on September 10. 
     On October 7, a TV film crew visited our museum and recorded views of our park for the Park District’s ‘Come Out and Play’ series to be shown in November on cable access Channel 23.  Check with your local cable provider for the right channel in your area.
     The Board of Commissioners of the Chicago Park District held their regular board meeting on October 8 in our park field house after a tour of the facilities, which included viewing the Tom Lea murals on the second floor, our museum and other park activity areas.  Rod and I welcomed the Board to our museum and gave them a brief history of our society and museum.  We also told of the part our museum plays in the Museology Program in which high school students learn local history by their participation in various projects.  As you no doubt know, Rod started this program when he was a teacher at Washington High School.  He has now retired from teaching but not from history!
     I would be remiss if I didn’t say a few words about Frank Stanley, who has resigned as curator as you will read in another item in this newsletter.  Frank, you truly are one of the finest, most considerate, Christian gentlemen I have ever had the pleasure of working with.  Thank you! When you get better, come on over and see what you helped start in the 1980’s.
     We hope this newsletter finds all of you in good health and ready to enjoy the coming holiday season.

     Joseph A. Mulac
Southeast Historical Society News 
 It is with great regret that the SE Historical Society accepts the resignation of Frank Stanley from his position as curator of the Southeast Historical Museum.  Frank has stepped down due to health concerns.  Frank has been active with the museum since its opening in 1985. He has been greeting visitors, accepting donations, creating exhibits, working with the Museology program, and more ever since that time.  Curator Ora Coon and museum volunteers Alex Savastano, Barney Janecki, Joe Mulac, and Rod Sellers will continue to operate the museum.  Additional volunteers are always welcomed.

 Are your dues current? 

Many members have renewed their memberships and several have upgraded to life membership.  Thanks to all of you.  Others have not kept their dues current and will be dropped from our mailing list and will no longer receive the newsletter.  If you have any questions about your membership status, stop in and inquire at the museum.  Yearly dues are $5 and life membership is $75.  We need your support to continue our work. 

Museum Donations

 We continue to receive donations of many interesting and historically significant items. 
 A recent visitor to the museum brought in a photograph which was discovered behind a fireplace during a remodeling project.  The photo is from April 1926 and is an image of eight young women.  It is labeled as the Beti Club.  Does anyone have any information about this group or organization?  If so, please notify museum personnel. 
 Torrence Prisby recently donated three photographs including a 1934 play from Saint Bronislava’s parish, Red Cross nurses during WWII, and a social club from 1941-42. 
 Terry Swanson donated several Bowen Yearbooks which filled in several gaps in our collection.  We are still missing Bowen, Washington , and other school yearbooks from various years for our collection and welcome donations. 
 Joe Mulac donated a book from the Sacred Heart parish 90th anniversary.  We welcome additional donations of church histories and anniversary books for our collection. 
 Another recent donation is a copy of a dissertation by Peter Alter, Public Historian at the Chicago Historical Society.  The title of the dissertation is “The Serbian Great Migration: Serbs in the Chicago Region, 1880s to 1930s”.  Peter has worked on the Global Communities project, part of which focused on the southeast side Mexican community and the recently opened exhibit at the Chicago Historical Society “Harold Washington: The Man and The Movement.”
 We invite you to share your memories and memorabilia related to the history of the southeast side with us.  We are currently seeking information about the date of the extension of Indianapolis Boulevard from Ewing Avenue to Avenue L and about the original construction of the Chicago Skyway. 

Communications From  newsletter readers:

 “I received a copy of the newsletter in the mail today.....One of these days I should attend one of the gatherings, and bring along an old memory from the South Chicago of yore.  I still have (and wear) my Robert Hall suit, purchased when they were on South Chicago Avenue.  It comes into fashion every few years; the last time I wore it, I was the only one whose pants were cuffed!  Either I’ll be buried in it or donate it to your museum. 
 I grew up on the northern fringe of the area, actually near the 79th St. IC station (Cheltenham).  My dad grew up at 103rd and Avenue H; should try to get his younger brother to visit the museum, as I remember seeing a sales pad from the grocery that was at the 104th end of Avenue H.  He had a job there years and years ago. 
 When they started that Southeast Historical Project, they had an office over on Commercial between 91st and 92nd.  I went down there with a box of postcards and they copied a good many of them.  Saw them in that book on South Chicago.  No credit but that’s the story of my life.  Haven’t added many since the others were copied.  May sit down and copy the ones I have and donate a set or two to the museum. 
 I worked at Wisconsin Steel (gone); shopped at Goldblatt’s (gone - though I still have my credit card around here someplace); bought candy at Gayety (now in Lansing); went to the dentist (Dr. Rowan) on 91st St; had my eyes cared for by Dr. Park back when he had his offices in a building (house) where the parking lot now stands.  (Still have an eyeglass holder with his name on it)....
 Anyway, here is a check for a life membership.  Sorry for rambling on; seems to come with age.  Perhaps I shall change my last name to Nash, and become known as “the Nash Rambler”. “ (Editor’s note: If you understood the last comment, your age is showing!)
 “Received your newsletter with great joy.  Nice to know about South Chicago.  I’m 83 years old and my husband (is) 87.  I lived on 82nd and Burley and my husband (on) Muskegon, Marquette, etc.  I attended St. Michael’s, Joe (husband) Immaculate Conception.  I did volunteer work at St. Michael’s and South Chicago Hospital etc.  My husband went to Bowen and CVS and worked as an electrician at U. S. Steel.  Would like to know about the changes at Immaculate Conception, St. Mary Magdalene, and St. Michael.  Sent you a check for lifetime membership....Keep up the good work!  God bless.” 
 “Your website tour of Chicago’s East Side was awesome “ (received via e-mail)
 We received a nice thank you note from Savastano’s Pizzeria and Restaurant Chicago Style located in Bixby Oklahoma.  Alex Savastano, former president of the Southeast Historical Society and museum volunteer, recently spent some time in Oklahoma helping to make pizzas at his son Frank’s business which opened on January 17, 2003.  Alex invites all travelers to Oklahoma to visit the restaurant and to “come south for a taste of the north”.  He says that the pizza is great and the Oklahoma Savastanos look forward to seeing visitors from the old neighborhood. 


 How many of you remember dancing the “Jitterbug” at a dance hall close by in Whiting, Indiana?  Many of us tied the marital knot with a dance partner in the late 40's and 50's. 
 During the era of live band music dating back to the 30's, many singles, as well as couples, rendezvoused at Madura’s Danceland located at what is known as Five Points in Whiting (Hammond) Indiana just across the Illinois-Indiana state line.  It attracted many Chicagoans because it was situated a few blocks from Lake Michigan.  Most of the Illinois crowd came from the East Side, South Chicago, South Deering and Hegewisch. 
 The ballroom was spacious and alcohol free with a minimal admission fee.  The floor was famous for its spring-cushioned floor which made dancing the light fantastic a pleasure.  Live music was provided by such attractions as Don Pedro, Hal Kemp, Bernie Cummins, Frankie Masters, Frankie Carle, Glen Gray, Ted Weems, Paul Whiteman, Art Kassel, and more. 
 Danceland was actually built in 1926 but was not purchased by Michael Madura until 1929 when it was moved to make way for the Lever Brothers soap plant.  Mike Madura died in 1956 but his son carried on the business until 1967 when it was destroyed by fire and never replaced. 
 While the younger Madura realized that his father had certain preferences, he had to adjust to the beat of the times in order to survive.  “My father loved Wayne King and Guy Lombardo.  He kept that (music) until the early 50's when rock became popular.  The kids would come to the rock and roll dances and tell him that their parents had gone to Danceland.  That made him happy. 
    by Gloria Novak 
(Editor’s note: How many readers remember “hanging out” at Art’s Drive-in located at “Five Points”?  If you have any memories you want to share, send them to the museum.)

Bits and Pieces

 A tip of the hat to author, director, and actors who put together “Unfriendly Fire.”  The play was adapted from an original script written by Kevin Murphy (member and former president of the Southeast Historical Society), was directed by Emil Richards, and had a huge cast led by Ed Sadlowski.  The premier performance of the local community theater group was received by enthusiastic full houses on three successive days (August 8,9,10) at the Zone.  The story, using factual material as its source, depicts the historical Memorial Day Massacre of May 30, 1937 at the Republic Steel Plant on the East Side.  560 people attended the offering and were complimentary with their applause and comments.  Many folks who missed seeing this epic play are asking that it be done again. 
 With the recent sale of Advance Bank (formerly South Chicago Bank), our museum benefitted by a donations of a number of old records, newspapers, photos, and memorabilia from the bank’s old and distinguished history in our area.  We are thankful that Leonard Swajkowski thought of us and arranged the transfer.  A fine oil painting of Morgan Fitch now graces one of the walls of our museum. 
 We also learned that the valuable collection of pictures of local notables recognized by the Academy of Humanitarians board, will be relocated from the old bank (South Chicago Bank) to the new Royal Savings Bank building now under construction.  The pictures will be on display for the public to enjoy.  That is the kind of cooperation we need from local businesses. 
 The venerable Rod Sellers retired from a long, outstanding career as a teacher last fall.  Fortunately he will stay on as our vice president and a tireless worker for the museum.  Our congratulations for the many teaching awards he received during his stellar career. 
 Our Gifted Students Program (Museology) will continue.  The new teacher will be Douglas Stalnos from Washington High School.  Rod will mentor Douglas on the ins and outs of the program.  We look forward to continued success in the program which is sponsored by the Gifted Department of the Chicago Public Schools. 
 Genrose Diorio, beloved East Sider, says that she used to go to the G’s - Goldblatts, Gassmans, Gayety, and Greens.  Being a good dancer, she and Jerry Borozan fondly remember dancing at the Trianon, Aragon, Danceland, O’Henry Park, Marquette Gardens and many more.  These places were beautiful and reasonably priced - now do you remember why we call them the “good old days”?
    by Frank Stanley
Museum Visitors
 Among recent visitors was Ana Lopez who was a student in the first Museology class in the summer of 1990.  Ana fondly remembered early efforts to organize museum collections and commented on how much the museum had changed.
Also visiting was Marian Marsden Harter who worked with the Southeast Chicago Historical Project as a college student at Columbia College in the early 1980's.  She was very happy that the Project is part of the museum collection and has been preserved. 
SE Calendar

East Side Pride 10th Anniversary Celebration
Date  October 26,2003
Location  St. Francis de Sales High School,  101st and Ewing Avenue
Time  4:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Tickets are $10 for dancing and entertainment.  Raffle tickets available for $20

Lake Shore Model Railroad Open House
Date  November 1,2,8,9, 2003
Location Calumet Park Field House 9801 S. Avenue G
Time  11:00am - 4:00pm
No charge to visit a wonderful model railroad layout.  SE Historical Museum will also be open. 

History of the Southeast Side of Chicago Slide Show
Date  November 5 , 2003 
Location  Orland Park Public Library 14760 Park Lane, Orland Park, IL
Time  7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Rod Sellers will give a slide presentation about the Southeast Side followed by audience comments and questions

Teachers' Center
National Endowment for the Humanities
Illinois University