Alice Boyland

Does MPHS have photographs: No

Date of Interview: November 28, 1993

Interviewer:  Unknown

Q: It is November 28, 1993, and the interview here is in Mt. Prospect at 415 E. Prospect. First of all, I just wanted to thank you for agreeing to be interviewed and signing the consent form. We just have to acknowledge that on tape, so I have to say that. I have a list of questions here, and I’m going to go off the top of my head and ask, as well. You said you were born in 1904, was it?
Q: In LaCrosse?
BOYLAND: That’s right.
Q: Why don’t you tell me again who your parents were.
BOYLAND: My parents were Louise Mitchell Platz and Max Frederick Platz. He was born in LaCrosse.
Q: When did you move to Mt. Prospect? Did you tell me 1936?
BOYLAND: 1936, yes. We moved over to Wa-Pella Street. It was a solid row of houses at that time. We felt very free to have our children play almost undersupervised because we didn’t have to worry about abusive people. Very often we would gather on Bill Welch’s front steps and visit and kind of keep an eye on the children. One of the women on the street had a pre-school, because there was no kindergarten, and later on Glad Ackley had a kindergarten in her home. I think maybe the Lutheran school had a kindergarten, but the early Central School did not. Back of the old houses on the west there was a Meyers farm, and during  the war we rented a little, small portion for little Victory Gardens.
Q: Was this World War II?
Q: I remember that one day, looking out my kitchen window, there were two big cows in the backyard. Fortunately, there were no children around. I quick called our one and only policeman, George Wittenburg, to corral them and get them back where they belonged. Downtown Mt. Prospect was basically Meeske’s, there was a National Tea Store, the bank and the Busse Hardware Store. There was a little dry goods store, a small one, and the post office. We had to go pick up our mail. And there was a drug store, so actually, we had all the basics that we needed. Of course, everybody –all the men –worked downtown, and there was very good train transportation. At that time the ladies did not work. We just were housewives. Well, you ask the questions.
Q: Have you always lived in the same place? Did you stay in that area long?
BOYLAND: No, we lived at 600 W. Lincoln for eighteen years, and then I moved over to a smaller house on Emerson Street — 207 N. Emerson Street. And then I sold that and made the mistake of going to a retirement home, the Tamarack in Palatine, didn’t like it and then moved back here to Mt. Prospect in this apartment.
Q: What made you decide to move back to Mt. Prospect?
BOYLAND: Because I’d lived here practically all my life, and I had friends here and a church. Really, when we first came out here, I think there was a Lutheran church, and I think soon after the South Church started. But, of course, they started in somebody’s home. And then the Episcopal church was started. I can’t tell you the year. It also started in somebody’s home. And then, of course, St. Raymond’s. By that time the town was blooming. See, when we moved out, only 1,200 people.
Q: What made you decide to move to Mt. Prospect in the first place?
BOYLAND: I guess my husband knew Mr. Piesander, who was in the real estate business, so we moved out and liked it very much. We rented the house for a year, and then decided to buy. At that time we had scrambled to get the down payment. Well, it paid for the house, because at that time you bought your house outright. You didn’t have a thirty-year mortgage, so our houses were paid for.
Q: What has changed about the town over the years? What strikes you?
BOYLAND: I think the growth, and many different types of people. Most of them, I think, are good middle-class people, but we begin to feel that there –I don’t know whether there are gangs coming, but we didn’t feel uneasy about –less safe than we did.
Q: You mentioned the train transportation. What do you remember about the building of the –were you here when the train station was being built?
BOYLAND: There was a station here, yes.
Q: Oh, there was a station already.
BOYLAND: Yes, there was a station here.
Q: What are some of the other landmarks or some of the other things you can remember that have sprouted up as you’ve been here?
BOYLAND: That have sprouted up? Well, I’m thinking of Kouzie’s. Of course, that’s now Mrs. Piamie (sic). That was here at the time that I moved out here. Of course, now we have so many stores, with Randhurst. Well, it’s an entirely different situation. Little stores can’t survive. Meeske’s couldn’t survive. I think the Continental Bakery is there now.
Q: What do you remember most about –did you do a lot of shopping downtown then?
BOYLAND: Not a great deal. It seemed we had everything out here. We would go –well, at that time, see, you could call Field’s and they would deliver for you. It was very nice. Very easy. And we’d go down occasionally. We had a bridge group, there were eight of us, and we would put in a certain amount of money every time, and then in due time we’d have enough money so we could go downtown for lunch. At that time we wore the hats and the white gloves and really dressed up.
Q: And make a day out of it.
BOYLAND: Made a day out of it, yes.
Q: Did you shop in Mt. Prospect, around the train station where all the stores are?
BOYLAND: Some in Des Plaines. There were a couple of nice stores there –Brown’s Department Store in Des Plaines. We shopped there. But as far as articles of clothing, there really wasn’t much at that time, no.
Q: Where did you go for that –for clothing?
BOYLAND: Well, as I said, Marshall Field’s. We’d go down periodically, in Chicago. But there were things we could get at Brown’s in Des Plaines, especially nice children’s things. But even then we could pick up the phone and see the catalog and call up.
Q: What did you do about groceries?
BOYLAND: Almost entirely Meeske’s, as far as I was concerned.
Q: What about other things, like hardware items?
BOYLAND: Busse’s Hardware, that filled our needs.
Q: I guess you were here when Mt. Prospect was becoming more suburban. You weren’t here for any farming, right?
BOYLAND: At that point [the population] was 1,200 when we moved out. Of course, there were farms all around us.
Q: Did you do any farming?
BOYLAND: No, I said we had a little Victory Garden.
Q: What about a car? Did you buy your car around here?
BOYLAND: I think everybody had their own car.
Q: Did you buy a car around here?
BOYLAND: I think we bought our car –it was a Lincoln. I think we bought that in, probably, Park Ridge. There was a Buick agency here. I think that was established here almost at the same time we moved out. I think there was a Busse Buick. I think that was still there.
Q: What about medicine? Were you able to get it in town?
BOYLAND: There was a drugstore in town.
Q: What kind of a place was that? Was that something where kids could gather?
BOYLAND: I don’t think they gathered there, particularly. It was basically a drugstore for us. I don’t recall the name of the store now. The children, they didn’t gather around like that. It seemed they were so independent, they played freely. At that time we didn’t really have to have –now there are so many recreational facilities for them. They didn’t seem to need that.
Q: What exactly did they do for their fun around here –for entertainment?
BOYLAND: I suppose so, yes, that little game. See, children were not organized, and they just developed their own little games.
Q: Just outside on the street.
BOYLAND: Mostly outside, yes. They were sort of creative, I think, in some of the things they came up with.
Q: What were some of the other stores that were in town? Any other recollections?
BOYLAND: Well, there was a Busse grocery store. I think that was about it. I’m thinking back when we moved out here in 1936. Now, of course, as time went on –well, naturally, you can see what’s happened.
Q: Yes. What grade school did your children attend? Did they go to school in Mt. Prospect?
BOYLAND: Oh, yes. They went to Central.
Q: Where was Central located when you were first living here?
BOYLAND: I think it’s where the bank is.
Q: Downtown?
BOYLAND: Yes, it was downtown.
Q: They all went to Central. Was that a grade school from one to eight?
BOYLAND: Yes, that’s right.
Q: Where did they go to high school?
BOYLAND: They went to Arlington Heights.
Q: Where was that located? Was that up north of…?
BOYLAND: In Arlington Heights, yes.
Q: Like north of Northwest Highway?
BOYLAND: Yes. That Arlington Heights school is gone now. I think there’s something else there now.
Q: If that’s the one I’m thinking of, I think there is a private Christian school there, I believe.
BOYLAND: Yes, I think so.
Q: The Central School, was that relatively near? Were you children able to walk to school?
BOYLAND: Oh, yes. I don’t say it was that near, but they just walked to the Central School, or took their bicycles. See, there again we didn’t have to fear of traffic. They’d come home for lunch.
Q: And for high school? That was a little bit farther.
BOYLAND: That was a bus, yes. They took a bus.
Q: I’m trying to figure out what life was like for them in the early years around here. What was their morning routine like? Did they have things to do in the morning before they went to school, maybe that children today would not have to do, like chores?
BOYLAND: Not really, because the bus came kind of early.
Q: And they went home for lunch?
BOYLAND: Not in high school.
Q: Are we talking in terms of their high school years, or are we talking the 1950s and the early 1960s, maybe?
BOYLAND: Yes. It was a very normal high school, I think much as they have today, except maybe fewer activities. But they had sports and they had a newspaper. As a matter of fact, my daughter Gloria was editor of the newspaper.
Q: At the high school?
Q: Any other recollections from their school years here?
BOYLAND: Well, the usual thing –proms and various activities –drama. ________ participated in all those things. A very nice group of people, because children from Arlington Heights also came and channeled in there, and so it was a nice group of children, or young people. I guess they weren’t exactly children at that age.
Q: The Central School, I guess, was mainly people from Mt. Prospect?
Q: What did they do at Central? What type of activities did they do there?
BOYLAND: They had the drama, too. They had nice programs periodically. They had band and they had music. It was a nice school. They had everything. They were nice children. The people that were out here in Mt. Prospect were so similar–young people, probably of medium incomes, and it made it nice.
Q: Were there a lot of after-school activities to do?
BOYLAND: I think there were some.
Q: What is your fondest memory of the early time when you were first here in Mt. Prospect?
BOYLAND: I enjoyed my home very much. I enjoyed the environment very much, and wonderful friends –some of those friends, when we lived on Wa-pella Street, who are still very close. Many of them moved away, but we still have that nice association. A very nice life.
Q: When you reminisce with your children, what do you like to pass on to them about Mt. Prospect?
BOYLAND: I guess the same thing. Of course, my one daughter is in California. It doesn’t mean that much to her. But I guess we talk about how pleasant it was. It was a small town. But we don’t dwell on that. After all, they have their own lives.
Q: What about the government? What was that like when you first came here?
BOYLAND: We had a mayor. I think Piesander was the mayor.
Q: Did you have a lot of interest in the politics of the town?
BOYLAND: Not particularly.
Q: Did your husband?
BOYLAND: Not particularly.
Q: What about your friends? Was there any interest in the politics?
BOYLAND: Oh, I think we all had a certain interest, because, after all, it was our home, but I don’t say we had a whole lot.
Q: Were there any particular political issues that the government was dealing with at any particular time that you can recall?
BOYLAND: I don’t recall. I think we were not into politics that much. See, we were such home bodies, in a way, our families, that we were not into that as much. Probably now we’re more into it.
Q: What are you concerned about now, as far as that area?
BOYLAND: I’m concerned about this new health program and how it’s going to affect the older people. I guess nobody knows exactly how it’s going to work out.
Q: Yes, that’s true. Is there anything locally that you’re concerned about right now?
Q: What do you see as far as similarities between the Mt. Prospect that you came to in 1936 and the Mt. Prospect that you know today?
BOYLAND: I guess it’s the same thing. I still feel very safe here, and everybody seems very pleasant. I haven’t dealt with anybody that causes trouble.
Q: Do you have any concerns for the future, or just generally, what do you think the future holds for Mt. Prospect?
BOYLAND: I can’t really say, because I’m so old now that I just have no idea what the future is, and I guess I’m not interested.
Q: Is there anything that you’d like to add about your being here years ago –your memories from years ago?
BOYLAND: I think I have covered it pretty well.
Q: Great. I’m trying to think if I have any other questions –I guess your general outlook about years ago was just that you felt very safe.
BOYLAND: Very safe, and very pleasant living.
Q: And just able to gather outside on the porch.
BOYLAND: Yes, it was very pleasant living; good neighbors, good friends.
Q: Thank you for the interview, and thank you for consenting. We appreciate that.
BOYLAND: I’m sure there’s a lot you’re going to edit.

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