Does MPHS have Photographs: No
Date of Interview: February 17, 1994
Oral History Text:
Q: …and I am interviewing Edna Mensching. Today is February 17, 1994, and I am interviewing her in her home at 225 S. Emerson at eleven o’clock in the morning. Thank you very much, Edna, for agreeing to be interviewed and also for signing the consent form. Edna lived and was born on the area that is Route 83, or Elmhurst Road, west of the current St. Raymond’s, north of Weller Creek and east of the country club. There are 115 acres, and it was a dairy farm where she lived with her parents and her two brothers. Her one brother died of diptheria when he was six years old, and the other died when he was a freshman, 15 years old, of leukemia. They raised grain, corn, they had cows, pigs and chickens. In 1925 they sold the property to Lonnquist who then subdivided it, and they moved to 225 Emerson and she has resided here ever since. They bought two lots. There is one lot that is still empty, and they had a small garden on the extra lot.
Her father retired from farming at this time. She went to school at St. Paul’s all her eight years. She started in 1920, and she graduated in 1928. She always walked to school, too. She walked from the house, when she lived on the farm, and also when she moved to Emerson. There was a one-room school at the time, and this was at St. Paul’s connected with St. Paul’s church. She had one teacher –his name was Martin Haas –for the first two years that she was there. Then Miss Tagge came, and also a Mr. Jockish came, and they built on to three rooms so there were three teachers in this school. This school was located at Busse and Elm. The day always started, she said, with a religion class. They had Bible history, they had to memorize catechism and they had to learn hymns. The religious class was every day. They also had English lessons, arithmetic, geography, history. Penmanship was really stressed by Mr. Haas. They never had an art class. She liked most of her subjects, and most of her teachers, she said, were excellent. [They] had their own history books, spelling books and Bible history, also. She walked on a road with her father, or he often would take her with the milk wagon when he brought the milk to the creamery. Even though she lived on a farm she did not have to help with the chores. There was a hired man to do that, also her brothers. School started at nine o’clock. The teacher rang the bell. Breakfast at home, she always had cooked cereal. It was either oatmeal or farina, and homemade bread and a piece of coffee cake. No juice. She brought her lunch, always, to school, and most of all the children ate at school. They brought a sandwich, which was usually homemade white bread, a piece of cake or cookies, and sometimes an apple. When she first started there was a bucket with water that all the children drank from. Later when the school was added on, the three rooms –the third building was added — there was running water there. There was also an outhouse outside for most of her years, she said. Permission was asked by raising her hand. There were fifteen students in her class. Most of the students were the same from grade to grade. There were two to a desk at first, then later when they added on they had single desks. There was an inkwell on each, and also a place to put the books underneath. There was no library in the school; there also was no basement. There was a piano. All three teachers played the piano, and they sang mostly religious songs and some patriotic. She learned German. The teachers talked in English, and they learned German from a book called a fible. Recess was morning and afternoon. They played ball or jump rope. They played in the classroom on the blackboard sometimes, too, when they couldn’t play outside. They went outside always, with weather permitting. There was no gym and there was no basement. She always wore a dress to school, and all of her clothing was homemade. She wore long stockings and the high button shoes first. The teachers were always dressed in suits, and the female teacher always wore a dress, also. The boys wore kneesox and knickers. There was no harsh punishment that she ever remembers –the only punishment she remembers was staying in at recess time. The big high point was the picnic that was held after school was let out, around June, and there was popcorn and they were able to purchase pop and ice cream, and there was a meal in the church basement. They also had a flag drill where they would practice with the flags in each hand, and they would perform this in front of their parents. The Christmas program also was a highlight of the year, and it was on Christmas eve. The children all memorized something and they sang songs, and afterwards bags of candy, nuts, fruit, orange and apples were passed out to them. Her entertainment was friends coming over to the house and just visiting with them. The friends played in the basement. There was really no place to hang out in town, she said. She lived just a couple of doors, really, away from Kruse’s Tavern but, of course, that was a place where she would not go. But she would walk up, once in a while, to Edwin Busse’s, which was next to the village hall, or William Busse’s –this was a grocery and dry goods store –to help her mother with some shopping. After graduation she went to Arlington Heights High School for two years, and she quit because her mother needed surgery and she needed help. She would get the bus at the corner of Main and Busse. Confirmation was another time of her grade school years that was a highlight for the children. They were confirmed on Palm Sunday. They also went to the Des Plaines photographer for their picture, which was a formal picture taken. The girls all wore pretty white dresses. The boys wore suits. There were no gowns at the time. They would take their confirmation lessons from Pastor Mueller from a building that was the village hall at the time, and they would go for an hour in the morning. They would walk over there and walk back again. They would have a party at her house –at the house afterwards. They invited their sponsors. She remembers getting a birthstone ring, a hymn book with her name engraved, and a Bible.