Does MPHS have photographs: Yes
Address in Mount Prospect: 1 S. Owen
Birth Date: 1889
Spouse: Anna Meyer
Children: Three children
Interesting information on life, career, accomplishments
John Pohlman was born in Mount Prospect in 1889. He had fifteen siblings and his family therefore made up a large percentage of Mount Prospect’s population, which was still fewer than 100. At the age of 6, John Pohlmann became one of the first 5 students to attend the Central School, Mount Prospect’s first school. At 20 he became the Station Master for the Chicago Northwestern Railroad in Mount Prospect. He worked in the Mount Prospect train station for the next 45 years. He was one of the organizers of the Mount Prospect Improvement Association and then was later one of the first Board of Trustees. He was also a charter member of Saint Paul Lutheran Church and the Mount Prospect Volunteer Fire Department. Below is a selection of an oral history of John Pohlmann.
John W. Pohlman; Interviewed by Delores Hough; November 24, 1969
Complete transcript available at the Mount Prospect Public Library.
JP: …we had one comical conductor on the Northwestern years and years back, and right in back of Kruse’s there was a farmer there who worked that land, and he had crashed at a big straw stack out there, and he was a comedian, you might call him, and called it “Monstrawstack,” and that name carried on for years. I remember it when I started, way back, people would say, “Oh, you’re working down at Monstrawstack.” “Where do you get that?” I knew it was called that, but out-of-town people would call it “Monstrawstack.” “That’s where you work.” At the time of my beginning at the railroad there was not much of Mount Prospect.
DH: What year did you start on the railroad?
JP: I stared in ninth month, the tenth, 1910. Is there anybody old enough to remember?
DH: How many trains did you have a day, going each way?
JP: Well, now, I think we had three in the forenoon and one around three-thirty, and then again about six-thirty. That was last. If you got hung up on the other end, you’d do like this. Of course, in those days you would never get home.
JP: Yes, well, he’s the man who put me to work. He was superintendent for this division at the time when I started. When I walked in there looking for a job, he said, “Well, what can you do? Can you push a pencil?” I said, “Well, I think I can.” “What education did you have?” Well, I had four months of business college outside of fourth grade. Well, we had no grade — we had fourth reader. What did they call them? Fourth readers.
DH: That probably was beyond fourth grade, though.
JP: Oh, yes. That was beyond that, of course. In those days it was reading, arithmetic, geography and history. That’s all we…
DH: How much of that did you study in German _________ high school?
JP: In German?
JP: One September to the other September, and from September to Easter when I was confirmed — a year and a half.
DH: And everything was German?
JP: Everything was German — no, they had an English reader then.
DH: Do you remember the time…the big snowstorm?
JP: That was in the year of 1917 and 1918. Do I remember it? Yes. I’ll tell you a little story about that, how people lived together in Mount Prospect, the few we had. The freight handlers — now, Charlie Mackleburg, who lives on Nolan Street near me there, he was one of the boys who was working freight, as was his father and so forth, and a couple of other fellows, and no train came. No train coming. Old Fred Mackleburg said to me, “John, the least you could do is furnish us with a deck of cards and a case of beer.” I’ll never forget it. So what did the guys do, like Herman Haas who lives on Mount Prospect yet — he was one, well, he was a linotype man _________ printing _________, so he got the idea, and he said, “Well, let’s all chip in a quarter.” There was Charlie Mackleburg and Louie Mackleburg, who has passed away, and I don’t know who the other one was, but three of them. They went across to Kruse’s and told them the story of what they wanted in there, and old Clarence opened up and gave them a deck of cards and a case of beer, and then he threw in a bottle of whiskey on top of it. About two o’clock in the afternoon, no train around yet. The beer was gone and whiskey was gone, so old Fred Mackleburg said, “Well, boys, I don’t think we have to wait for the train now anymore, and he was feeling his — and he said, “I’m going home.” And there was no train. I had mail hanging on the post. And there was no telephone.