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Southeast Historical Society Newsletter
December, 2000                                    Volume XV No. 1

Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year !!

Southeast Historical Museum World War II Correspondence

  After reading an article about the Southeast Historical Museum in the Daily Southtown , Don Lehmann, of Mokena, Illinois wrote Rod Sellers regarding a collection of letters written during World War II.  Don’s father, Fred, had been a union representative of workers at the State Line Generating Station.  Workers were represented by District 50 of the United Mine Workers of America.  During the war the union put out a monthly newsletter, “The Powerhouse”, and sent a carton of cigarettes to every  plant employee who was in the military service.  The men wrote back to Mr. Lehmann, thanking him and the union for the cigarettes and for the newsletters and many of them wrote to him on a regular basis.  Mr. Lehmann kept this collection of correspondence and it remained in an attic after his death.  Don Lehmann felt that the letters should be shared and therefore he contacted Rod Sellers.  Don has    donated the letters to the Southeast Historical Museum. 
     The collections includes letters, handwritten as well as typed, postcards, and V mail.  Some have words which have been scratched out or cut out by military censors.  They come from all over the world, from all branches of the service.  They talk about everyday life in the military, the weather, some of the experiences they have had, and some of the things they have seen.  They talk about their families.  They ask about the plant and what is happening back in the states.  They are concerned about their status at the plant and especially their seniority and job security.  They are incredibly appreciative of the cigarettes (this is when cigarettes were still “good”).  Taken as a whole they are an incredible and fascinating look at this critical period of history.  They reflect the values and attitudes of the time. 
     Our Museology class has set up several binders to make this collection accessible to the public.  There are about 183 letters and 78 postcards or V-mails from over 50 men.  Don Lehmann sent a list of names of the men who wrote these letters.  Most were from the Southeast Side of Chicago or from Northwest Indiana.  If you know any of these men or where they may be contacted let the staff at the Museum know.  The names follow:
Henry Allen,  Chester Hagge,  Bill Pfiel,  R. T. Williams, Mario Angelo,  Robert Havey,  Ernest Radovan, Marv Wolfgram,  C. J. Anselmo,  John Hildebrandt, Fred Rayfield,  Howard Yeoman, Joe Banas,  Alfred Huff,  Vic Senglaub,  Lawrence Young, E. J. Bierch,  Cal Jubray,  Joe Sheridan,  H. M. Gyllstrom, Harold Bloom,  Robert Knight,  Jesse Shields,  Nick Petrocelli,  Jack Bork,  Frank Kocsis,  Alva Snow,  E. J. Willer, Herman Buehler, Mike Kulik,  Arnold Sonnenscheim, Gene Burke,  Frank Kurasz,  Joe Spier, Bill Butorac,  Tom Lanning,  Reed Sullivan, Warren Callahan, Ewald Leimnetzer, Don Teeling, Walter Czajkowski, George McKeon, W. R. Vick, Elmer Ecklund,  Jim Miller,  C. M. Waller, Leonard Erickson, Frank Mosko,  Jim Walsh, Bud Freyman,  A. M. Neill,  Howard Wart, Carl Getshall,  Hubert Pawlak,  M. K. Wilde

Miscellaneous Museum News

    We were open November 11 and 12 when the Model Railroad Club at the Field House had their Open House.  About a hundred visitors were in to see us each day. 
     Chicago’s Southeast Side is still available for Christmas gifts, as is the history of the Wisconsin Steel Union - Always Bring a Crowd

Museology Class Plans for 2000-2001

      The 2000-2001 Museology Class has begun its work at the Southeast Historical Museum.  The class meets on Wednesdays at the Museum from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. 
     The first project completed by this year’s class involved a recent donation to the Museum of over 200 pieces of correspondence from WWII.  The class has set up four folders of the letters, postcards, and v-mails in plastic sleeves so that they are protected yet accessible to the public.  The letters provide a fascinating look into this critical period of American history.  Students are currently working on several projects to make various components of the Museum collections more user friendly to the public.  They are indexing our Large Album Collection, a series of books with a wide assortment of news articles, photos, xeroxes, and other historical documents.  These books are filled with an incredible variety of interesting materials.  However they are difficult to use because they lack a listing of their contents.  This should be resolved in a short time.  The Museology students are creating computer generated signs for various Museum exhibits and artifacts.  The Commercial Avenue Diorama has already received new labels and it looks great!  The students are also auditing the work of previous classes to eliminate any errors.  Work being audited includes the General Mills Collection and the Annennberg Project collection.  Students are also working with one of the Museum’s most popular resources, our Photo Collection.  Students are inventorying the contents of the collection and reorganizing the collection in new albums to make them more usable by visitors to the Museum. 
     When these projects are completed, students will continue working to expand and enhance a web site which was started by last year’s class.  The site studies the four Southeast Chicago communities of South Chicago, the East Side, South Deering, and Hegewisch.  The exisiting site may be accessed at:
     Our major emphasis continues to be the study of the historical, cultural, ecological, and environmental aspects of the southeast side of Chicago.  A tour booklet, which was prepared last year was reprinted this year.  The tour includes directions, maps, pictures, and  descriptions of area sites.  The tour booklet is available at the Museum.  The tour has been extremely popular with area community groups and residents.  Tentative plans are being made for a new booklet about the environmental history of the region. 
The Museology students will be working with other students from Washington High School to lead a tour for the Field Museum Cultural Connections Project.  The tour date is set for May 19, 2001.  The tour will be open to the public.  More details will follow as soon as they are complete. 
     If any society members have any information or suggestions for the Museology Class,  please contact Rod Sellers at the Southeast Historical  Museum or at 

Cultural Connections Partner

   The Southeast Historical Society has recently become a member of Cultural Connections, a partnership of museums and cultural centers sponsored by the Field Museum’s Center for Cultural Understanding and Change.  Sixteen museums make up the partnership.  They include: Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture, Chicago Historical Society, Chicago Japanese American Historical Society, Czechoslovak Heritage Museum, DuSable Museum of African American History, The Field Museum, Filipino American Historical Society of Chicago, Hellenic Museum and Cultural Center, Korean American Resource and Cultural Center, Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum, Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, Polish Museum of America, Spertus Museum, Swedish American Museum, Ukranian National Museum, and the newest member, the Southeast Historical Society and Museum. 
 Partners sponsor events which focus on cultural differences and similarities which show our “connections” to others.  The events include presentations, participation by audiences, and sampling ethnic foods.   A schedule of events is available at the Southeast Historical Museum.  Events typically are $17 per person and have been selling out quickly.  Current members of partner museums only pay $15 per person for an event.  Sign up for three events and the fourth one is free. 
      The Southeast Historical Society “event” will be a tour of Chicago’s Southeast Side highlighting the multicultural history of the community and the many cultural institutions in our area.  The tour will be held on May 19, 2001.  We will begin at 10:00 AM with refreshments and a brief tour of the museum.  This will be followed by a bus tour of the East Side, Hegewisch, South Deering, and South Chicago.  The day will end with lunch at a local restaurant.  All festivities will be finished by 2:00PM.  Make your reservations early! Seats on the bus are limited. 

Recent Museum Acquisitions

    The Southeast Historical Museum recently received several items related to the St. Columba Reunion - 2000 which was held on October 14, 2000.  Among the items was a Program which provided some very interesting information about the church and school.  A list of pastors and sisters who have served the parish as well as former and current faculty and staff is included.  The program has responses to a questionnaire sent to many former students and parishioners. The responses are organized by graduation date of each class.  A list of St. Columba alumni / alumnae, organized by class, is also part of the donation.  A sample invitation, questionnaire, information sheet, and a xerox copy of the guest register are also included.  The donation is a thank you gesture to the Museum for the help that the reunion committee received from the staff at the Museum.  Also a drawing from our favorite artist, Joe Mulac, graces the cover of the Program.  This is a great resource if you are trying to make contact with old friends from Hegewisch. 
      The museum received two 8 x 10 photos of the first two division classes at George Washington High School.  The pictures were donated by Earl Syler who was a February 1961 graduate of the first graduation class of Washington High School.  Syler has identified several of his classmates but many still need to be identified.  Come to the museum and see how many of these historical students you know. 

Museum Expansion Update
by Joe Mulac Vice President
     Since our Installation Dinner on May 21, 2000, a few things have transpired relative to our museum expansion needs. 

 As it was stated during our dinner, we all must make an effort, either by spirit or action, to let people know of the importance of our museum to the present and future generations so that all can be aware of the sacrifices and efforts of our predecessors in establishing our neighborhoods of South Chicago, South Deering, East Side, and Hegewisch.  The hard work performed by the families and industry in making Chicago great should not be relegated to obscurity but preserved in our modest museum. 
We have contacted the following dignitaries with an invitation to our dinner and / or a visit to our museum.  Both U. S. Senators, out Congressman, the Governor, State Senator, and State Representative of our area including the Mayor and Alderman.  In addition, we have made contact with the Chicago Cultural Center and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.  The Chicago Park District was also made aware of our needs. 
     Most of the parties responded in one form or another for which we are thankful.  It seems most see only money needs, which are fine, but more space is what is needed first.  This additional space would enhance our ability to attract more volunteers so that better and more effective displays could be exhibited highlighting our area. 
     We have to advise our local representatives that out tax money should be used in some way for our efforts in preserving our heritage.  It goes without saying, the “big picture for Chicago” is important, but so are the past, present, and future citizens of South Chicago, South Deering, the East Side, and Hegewisch.  We should all try by what ever means is available to us. 

Southeast Historical Society Museum News Items

   Adeline Milano Tucker of Lancaster, California visited us on November 13 with her granddaughter and niece.  We were happy
to accommodate our 90 year old friend and open the museum especially for her. 
     Rod Sellers received an e-mail message from a former East Sider who has lived on a farm in Iowa for the past 30 years.  Dan Harris, who lived on 112th and Avenue J,  saw the web site set up by Rod’s students and said “It brought back a lot of memories....thanks for the trip home”. 
     Mike Aniol of Hegewisch donated a xerox copy of a program from a Calumet Region Football League game between the league champions from Hegewisch and the League All Stars.  The game was played on November 20, 1949 at Eckersall Stadium. 

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