Does MPHS have photographs: No
Interviewer: Dorothy Halverson
Date of Interview: August 8, 1991
Oral History Text:
DOROTHY HALVERSON: [remarks joined in progress] …Owen in Mt. Prospect. Evelyn lives out in Wonder Lake. She was working at Keefer’s today, and it was more convenient to have her come here for the interview. Today is August 8th, 5:30 p.m., 1991, and I want to thank Evelyn for agreeing to be interviewed and for signing the release forms. Now we’ll start off. Can you tell me your full name?
EVELYN SCHUBECK: Evelyn Lange Schubeck.
HALVERSON: And when were you born and where?
SCHUBECK: I was born December 11, 1920, in Park Ridge, Illinois.
HALVERSON: And your parents names?
SCHUBECK: My father’s name was Walter Lange. My mother’s name was Laura.
HALVERSON: And when did you move to Mt. Prospect?
SCHUBECK: We moved to Mt. Prospect in 1930.
HALVERSON: And tell me a little bit about your house that you moved to.
SCHUBECK: The father and grandfather built the house. It wasn’t quite finished by the time school started, so we would come with my dad and grandfather and stay at the house there and let them work until school started, and then we’d go to school and go home with them in the evening. So by the end of September, they had the house finished, and we moved in. It was a bigger house than we were used to. We had more room to run around, more room to play. It was strange because some of the rooms weren’t completely finished-they didn’t have wallpaper, they didn’t have paint on it. But the basics were there, and you had a place that you can sleep. So, that was when I was in fourth grade, and I continued on to go to school there at St. John’s until the eighth grade. I graduated from there in 1934 of June, and then I went on to Arlington Heights to high school.
HALVERSON: How did you get there?
SCHUBECK: The Garlisch boys drove the car and they dropped their brothers and sisters off at St. John’s and then they’d stop next door and pick us up and then we rode on from there. It was the weirdest contraption, that old car. Why, I remember one time the car broke down and froze our ears. It seemed like an awful, awful long time to get from the house to the high school.
HALVERSON: Which is just a couple miles.
SCHUBECK: Yes. Actually it was only five miles, but it seemed forever.
HALVERSON: Now your house was a little-there’s some land around it. Did your father farm?
SCHUBECK: Oh, yes. There was five acres of land there.
HALVERSON: What did he raise?
SCHUBECK: He raised beets and carrots and parsnips and parsley and tomatoes and onion sets.
HALVERSON: Was this his full-time business?
SCHUBECK: No. My grandfather was working on the farm continually, but Dad worked at Stewart-Warner to supplement the monies to keep five kids and a mother and a father. Our grandparents lived with us, too, so there was a house full of people.
HALVERSON: Now, Mt. Prospect was the town that you went to. What did you mostly do when you went to Mt. Prospect? Did you shop for your groceries there or what did you shop?
SCHUBECK: Yes. We shopped at the National Tea Store, which was on Main Street and the hardware store, which was on Busse, which is Busse Biermann’s. And we got our shoes at the little shoe store on Busse Avenue.
HALVERSON: You said for farm equipment, anything that your father used to use?
SCHUBECK: Oh, yes. Whenever any of the equipment on the farm broke down, they’d bring it into town to Mr. Mein, who had a blacksmith shop on Northwest Highway and Busse, and he’d fix it. We had an old 1929 Ford truck that we used to drive. I remember that thing because it had three pedals on the floor and you never knew which pedal to push.
HALVERSON: Did you drive it? Did you learn to drive it?
SCHUBECK: Oh, yes. Out in the field we drove. I was about ten. That was about the time I learned to drive a car. Of course, you didn’t get a license until you were sixteen.
HALVERSON: Did you have a horse, like to do the plowing?
SCHUBECK: We had two horses. Old Doll, and Bill was the other one. One was-no, Mike was his name-Mike was sway-back. We didn’t have to use a saddle to ride him. They used them to plow and cultivate.
HALVERSON: Did you have cows and chickens?
SCHUBECK: No, not at first. The chickens came later, but only having five acres, you couldn’t have a cow. But we used to go to Mr. Linnemann to get milk, who lived down the road. [tape interrupted] We went to Grandpa Kruse’s, and when Dad would have a beer, then the kids would get penny candy. But we didn’t get to town too often because there just wasn’t enough time for the farm work.
HALVERSON: There were a couple factories. Did you ever get to see these factories that were in town? We heard about the pickle factory.
SCHUBECK: No. I never went in there, but it was owned by Mr. Budlong, and there used to be little storage sheds where we stored our onion sets. The other thing was the Crowfoot, which was a staple factory. Never went in there, either, because it was too small. [tape interrupted]
HALVERSON: When you graduated from high school, then what did you do?
SCHUBECK: I went to work at Stewart-Warner in Chicago, and I worked there until after the war. Then after the war all the boys came back, so I was out of a job. My grandfather happened to be at Mrs. Burda’s Tavern and Lunchroom one day, and she asked him which one of his granddaughters would like to work in the store because she couldn’t get along with the girl that worked for her husband. And so my grandfather came home and the sister next oldest to me, she said, “When Joe comes back from service,” she said, “I’m not going to work.” And the other sister, the younger sister said, “I’d never get along with that biddie.” So who did that leave, but little old me? [laughter] So I tried. I went to work. I talked to her. She was showing me around there at the store and we had a fountain in there and showed me how to make the stuff at the fountain, and I didn’t think I was going to last two weeks. It was really something. But I did. I stuck it out.
HALVERSON: It was not a drugstore then?
SCHUBECK: Yes, it was. She had a man, whose name was on the door, to fill prescriptions since her husband passed away and she wasn’t a pharmacist. But I worked for her until she sold the store to Steve Brandt. He bought it in ’46, ’47. And then he sold to Keefer, and every time the business was sold, I went right with it just like a fixture.
HALVERSON: And eventually it just became a drugstore then?
SCHUBECK: Yes. But Wally’s was kind of a-there was a fountain in the store when Brandt had it and when they closed the little store and built the big one out in front. They had a fountain there, and I used to get up at 6:30 in the morning and come down and make coffee, go to the bakery and get the sweet rolls and have sweet rolls and coffee before they. ..
HALVERSON: There was a bakery in town?
SCHUBECK: Oh, yes. Horlich’s Bakery.
HALVERSON: And you bought the things from there?
SCHUBECK: We bought the things from there, yes. And then I’d stay there until about two o’clock, three o’clock in the afternoon.
HALVERSON: And how did you get home again?
SCHUBECK: By car. I drove my own car, yes, because, I mean, no bus service. There was nothing.
HALVERSON: What was your salary?
SCHUBECK: For Burda when I started, I was making $25 and when I started working for Steve Brandt, then it went up to about $50, which was good money those days, you know.
HALVERSON: And those were eight-hour days?
SCHUBECK: Eight hour days, yes. And, of course, there for a while Brandt opened up another store in Lake Zurich, and then I’d spend my time between Mt. Prospect and Lake Zurich. But that didn’t last too long. Then he sold the store to Keefer, and we still had the fountain in the store then. They were eight-hour days there, five days a week.
HALVERSON: You were closed on Sunday?
SCHUBECK: No, they were open from like nine to one. The store was always open, 365 days a year, just like it is now. And what else can I say about that? [laughs] [tape interrupted]
HALVERSON: When did you move? Now Keefer is on this side of the tracks now. What year did you move?
SCHUBECK: It’s got to be at least twenty years ago because Jerry has been there now sixteen or seventeen. Of course, when we moved over on this other side, it just became more or less a drugstore. We had no fountain. And the original store that was there was Brumburg’s Dime Store. And the other stores around us were Sunberg’s Men Store, Strass’ Ladies Shop, and there was a laundromat there and a grocery store where Sam’s is now. What else?
|HALVERSON: Schule’s came later?
HALVERSON: That was McMann’s also.
SCHUBECK: Yes, before that. They sold more less clothing and. .
HALVERSON: Dry goods.
SCHUBECK: …and dry goods and stuff like that, yes.
HALVERSON: The first pharmacist, did he make his own pills like with a mortar and a pestle?
SCHUBECK: He did a lot of compounding, yes, but not altogether. I mean, there’s always been. ..
HALVERSON: The cough medicines that he would pour.
SCHUBECK: Yes. Or the doctor would prescribe a mixture, you know, for different things together. The favorite one was Benalin and H~codan. [laughter] And that, of course, did cure a cough because a couple times, you know, in the wintertime somebody’s germ jumped on you, you know, and I mean you had a cough. You had to take something to clear it up, and that stuff really cut.
HALVERSON: I suppose a lot of people came in and told you their problem and would like medication without a prescription also, wouldn’t they?
SCHUBECK: That’s true. That’s true. And they still do. I mean, they. ..
HALVERSON: Especially arthritis or looking for something to put on.
SCHUBECK: And rubs and different aspirin. Well, now they got so many different kinds-Advil and all that other stuff like Motrin and all those things. But, basically it was all prescriptions and also we have these things for cancer patients, the bags and. .. HALVERSON: Oh, you sell those?
SCHUBECK: Oh, yes. We have a lot of people. It’s amazing how many people. ..
HALVERSON: Do you fill syringes, too?
SCHUBECK: No. Oh, no. It’s amazing the amount of people that have cancer and, I mean, it’s not just in town. ..
HALVERSON: Oh, you mean supplies, medical supplies.
SCHUBECK: Yes, for cancer patients.
HALVERSON: Colostomy bags and things like that?
SCHUBECK: Yes. And they come from all around, from Palatine and Arlington and Prospect Heights and Itasca.
HALVERSON: How many pharmacists are in there now?
SCHUBECK: Just one full-time. Jerry is full-time, but he has two other ones that help him out to give him a rest once in a while.
HALVERSON: And how many employees?
SCHUBECK: There’s one, two, three, four, five, six of us, I think. It’s way down, because, I mean, …
HALVERSON: Did you have more years ago, more employees there?
SCHUBECK: Oh, yes. When Keefer had the store, we had so many more employees there. There had to be at least twenty of us. But you see, I mean, the shifts now, Jerry works from nine to nine, and we work from nine to five and then somebody else comes in at five and works until nine, so actually you don’t need a lot of the extra help. [tape interrupted]
HALVERSON: When you first started, the town was a lot a different. The stores were different than now. Can you describe a little bit how the changes are?
SCHUBECK: Well, all the grocery stores have moved out of town. The ladies shop is still here yet, but the men’s store is gone. There are no laundromats in town. There used to be one right on Prospect Avenue down the street from the drugstore now. There were about three restaurants. Sometimes you’d bring your lunch to work, sometimes you’d eat out.
HALVERSON: Where did you eat?
SCHUBECK: At the Prospect House or go over to Kruse’s, because they had a nice dining room there and the home-cooked food is what I appreciated most. I want to stop, please. [tape interrupted] When I first started working in the drugstore most of the people just came in and asked what they could take for their illnesses. Most of the things were cough syrups or aspirin. They didn’t have too many antibiotics. I suppose they did have some, but I don’t remember which ones. As the years went on and things got more complicated, people just went to the doctor oftener than they did then. The prescriptions became more complicated and more antibiotics and more aspirin and more cough syrups, so many different kinds, and antihistamines and things like that, which you didn’t have a lot of when I first started working in the store. Now people still come in and ask for advice, but you can’t suggest too much because you might get into trouble. If they got sicker, you know, I mean, then you’d be in real trouble. Most of the doctors prescribe mixed cough mixtures, antibiotics, ear medicine, all kinds of eye preparations. It’s amazing.
HALVERSON: For cataracts.
SCHUBECK: For cataracts and for other eye infections also. Where before, they’d say, “Well, just go home and use boric acid and water and keep bathing it” until it went away, but now you got all this high-tech stuff.
HALVERSON: Do you remember what aspirins cost first?
SCHUBECK: When I first started, a bottle of a hundred aspirin was about 49 cents. And today it’s about $10.89 for Bayer. Of course, you got a lot of spin-offs now, you know, like the. ..
SCHUBECK: Yes. Things like. ..
SCHUBECK: Like Tylenol used to be the big thing. Now you got ibuprofen and a lot of generic things, you know, that can be made cheaper. Basically they’re the same thing, but less money.
HALVERSON: You all used to have penny candy there. Did you always have penny candy?
SCHUBECK: Yes. Always had penny candy. Not as much as we do now, but Mr. Bill’s were the big sellers and red hot dollars and little fish and Tootsie Rolls. When I started, you used to get two Tootsie Rolls for a penny and now they’re a nickel apiece.
HALVERSON: That hasn’t gone up much then.
SCHUBECK: No. [laughs] Let’s see, what else? Mary Jane’s. We still have those. And, I don’t know what the heck-the red whips.
SCHUBECK: Yes, licorice. And candy bars were a nickel and now they’re forty-five cents, so it’s really changed. [tape interrupted]
HALVERSON: How were records kept years ago and how have they changed now? Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
SCHUBECK: When I first started, they used to write all the prescription numbers and what it was and who the doctor was and the patient’s name in a book. And maybe you filled fifteen, twenty prescriptions a day, which made it easier. Then, after a while, as the business grew, then you had a profile card where you wrote down the date the prescription was filled, the number, who it was for, what the medicine was and how much it cost, so that at the end of the year the customer would have a record of what he spent. And now, it’s all on computer, and we don’t have to do any extra writing any more-only to file all these prescriptions because as the thing comes off the computer, you get a little prescription label like, which you paste on another piece of paper and all that has to be filed. So consequently you’ve got reams and reams of paper. It’s amazing how much you use just to keep daily records, you know. And then, of course, at the end of the year, the computer can give you all the information on how many prescriptions you had filled that year and the cost. It even adds it up for you now, so you don’t have to do anything. When it comes for taxes and things like that, you just got a record of what each member of the family and how much you spent on them. The records are more complete.
HALVERSON: Did you always take cash or could you charge years ago?
SCHUBECK: No. You could charge. But it wasn’t like it is now because the prescriptions then were not as expensive as they are now. Good God, now some of the prescriptions are $90 and $100, and a lot of credit cards are being used now, which was unheard of years ago. That’s another thing. That’s another whole ball of wax. [tape interrupted]
HALVERSON: You’re living out in Wonder Lake now, but you still commute and come back here. There must be a special reason why you still come back to Mt. Prospect and work at Keefer’s.
SCHUBECK: Well, it’s because I’ve got forty-two years in, almost forty-three. At the end of August I start my forty-third year, and I like the people. I was born here, so I expect I’m going to die here. [laughter] But, no, I really do-I like the people. They’re all very friendly. They’re easy to get along with. All the kids I work with are all easy to get along with. And three days a week, that just gives you something different to do that you’re just not sitting and vegetating because I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong. After they reach the age of sixtyfive, they just sit down and that’s it. They have no hobbies, they have nothing to do. So they’re going to expire. I’m not planning on that. I’m going to die with my boots on. [laughter]