Paul Meeske

Does MPHS have photographs: yes (digital scans from publications)

Address in Mount Prospect:

Birth Date: 1886

Death Date:

Marriage
Date:

Spouse: Doora Joost Meeske

Children: Ernest, Fred, and Helen

Interesting information on life, career, accomplishments:

Paul Meeske came to Mount Prospect in 1906 to be the teacher, organist and band leader for Saint John Lutheran Church. He taught in the 1901 brick school house that is still standing across the parking lot from Saint John Lutheran Church. Originally, the interior was one large space, and was taught as a regular one-room schoolhouse. Paul Meeske served as the only teacher in the school from 1906 to 1925 when his daughter Helen was hired to help him with the 90 pupils. In 1926 an addition was put onto the front of the school, the bell tower was taken down and a divider was placed in the middle of the room, splitting it into two classrooms.

Paul Meeske was originally from Niles and had first taught in a Lutheran school in Niles. He was very dedicated both as a teacher and as a musician. One story that shows this dedication goes that he had gone back to Niles to visit family on Christmas Eve, but that night there was a major blizzard, which made the roads impassable. Paul Meeske woke up early and walked from Niles, rather than letting the people in Mount Prospect go without an organist at their Christmas service.

Paul Meeske taught at Saint John Lutheran for fifty years, retiring at the age of 70 in 1956. Over the years that he taught, the students changed in many ways. He remembers that his early students typically spoke in German more comfortably than English. One time he was sitting in the school and he heard the students outside playing Baseball. The students were yelling and cheering in German and this struck Meeske as wrong. He went outside and gave an impromptu speech on how Baseball was an American game and if they were going to play the American game they should do it in English.

Over the years the students also became much bolder. He talked about how, when he started teaching, the students were very bashful for the first years, but by the time he retired “children are unabashed by school, are more questioning and many register surprise when they learn a rule is a rule.” Luckily for Paul Meeske, he kept a whip and strap in his desk.

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