Samuel Hess

Does MPHS have photographs: No

Date of Interview: Unknown

Interviewer: Unknown

Text of Oral History Interview:

Q: Good morning. This is November 16, 1994. This morning we’re interviewing Mr. Samuel Hess. I want to thank you very much for consenting to the interview. We really appreciate your taking the time to do this for us. We’re going to start with a little bibliography information, and I would like to have your full legal name first.

HESS: Samuel Andrew Hess.

Q: And when and where were you born?

HESS: I was born June 1, 1921, in Detroit, Michigan.

Q: Can you give me your mother’s full name?

HESS: Florence.

Q: And her maiden name was?

HESS: Smith.

Q: Do you know where she was born?

HESS: Yes, Montrose, Pennsylvania.

Q: That’s T-R-O-S-E.

HESS: Yes, R-O-5-E.

Q: And your father’s full name?

HESS: Samuel Peter Hess.

Q: Do you know where he was born?

HESS: Yes, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Q: I’ll ask about your spouse. Her name is…

HESS: Annabelle.

Q: And where was she born?

HESS: Detroit, Michigan.

Q: If you would like to, I would like to list your children.

HESS: Okay, sure. Andrea Hess.

Q: Okay, you want to give an age?

HESS: Let’s see. Andrea’s forty-one, Annabelle?

ANNABELLE HESS: Yes, she was born in…

HESS: And Mary Hess would be what? Thirty-nine?

ANNABELLE HESS: No, no, no. You’re off. She was born in ’50, and Barbara was born in ’53—- forty-four and forty-one.

HESS: Yes, forty-four and forty-one.

Q: What was your occupation?

HESS: I was a manager for Mobil Oil Corporation.

Q: And how about your spouse?

HESS: Well, she’s a house manager, also –well, she worked for a bank and the children’s clinic early on.

Q: Would you mind telling me of the names of your grandparents?

HESS: Andrew Smith and Cralile Smith –those were the ones in Montrose.

ANNABELLE HESS: Lillian Cralile.

HESS: Well, Lillian Cralile. Then there was Peter Hess. I guess Peter Hess was my other grandfather’s name.

ANNABELLE HESS: Okay, we’ll get back to your other grandmother then. When did you move to Mount Prospect?

HESS: Well, it was twenty-six years ago.

Q: We have your address. Have you ever lived at any other address? Is what I meant to ask.

HESS: In Mount Prospect. No, no other address in Mount Prospect.

Q: How has Mount Prospect changed since you’ve lived here?

HESS: I remember when we bought the house the real estate man said, “Well, we’re at 30,000 now,” and he said, “I’m sure we can’t possibly get any bigger than this.” So, yes, in that sense it’s changed, and then of course the whole area’s become more industrialized and commercialized than previously, although the basic core of the town hasn’t changed that much.

Q: What did you know about Mount Prospect before you came?

HESS: That they had nice elm trees, that’s all. Our place that we had in Detroit had beautiful elm trees, and so when we saw Wapella, Wapella had beautiful elm trees. Of course, we were not experts on the Dutch elm disease, and so unfortunately, shortly after we arrived here they began to deteriorate and even after doing everything under the sun to try to save them it was just not. ..

Q: It was so sad.

HESS: …accomplished. Although I have to say that, and I think this is part of the historical pattern of Mount Prospect, I think that the village has done a very good job in reforestation as evidenced by the fact now a lot of these trees that are the replacements are coming to maturity. ..

Q: And really looking. ..

HESS: …and really looking. ..

Q: …very nice.

HESS: …very nice.

Q: And giving it a nice, settled look again other than the barren look. What are some of the events you remember happening in the village?

HESS: I think one of the things that was kind of interesting to us, and this is not an isolated case, but when we first came to Mount Prospect we of course had come from an area that was a little bit different in its context. It wasn’t really an integrated village like this is, and we got a notice from the mayor inviting us to attend one of the town meetings as new members. That was kind of impressive to us because we had not had that kind of welcoming situation ever before, and that was kind of …

Q: That is very interesting. What do you feel are landmarks in the community?

HESS: Well, of course, your new historical museum is obviously a landmark, although I think more in terms of where the old historical museum was next to the Lutheran –is that a Lutheran church?

Q: Yes, St. John’s.

HESS: St. John’s Lutheran Church, I think of that as kind of a…

Q: They’ll be keeping that, you know. They’re going to turn that. ..

HESS: Yes, right.

Q: …Into a site for field trips and other things, and of course there are big displays there that will probably always remain. Let me ask you a little bit about downtown Mount Prospect. What do you remember most about shopping downtown?

HESS: I think what I remember most was the fact that that happened to be an era of personalized commercial establishments. I guess it was Mieske’s(sic) Market was one of them, and they delivered and very personalized. Then of course we all know about Busse Hardware. There was a shoe store over there on Prospect Avenue, and I was saying to Annabelle the other day, I can’t remember the name of the shop, but it was so different than most shoe places are today where you go in and you have a wide range of shoes and you pick up your own –this was a fellow who took a great deal of care and…

Q: Personalizing that too. How about clothing shopping? Do you remember some of those?

HESS: I don’t think I really did much clothing shopping in Mount Prospect.

Q: Okay, what about hardware items?

HESS: I’m trying to remember if it was the Busse Hardware which was the key hardware and of course very good place to go because you could get really good service, personalized service, which now is an extremely difficult thing. That hardware’s going out of business now, the one on –no, the little one over in the middle of town. That’s Busse Hardware. It’s not the old Busse Hardware, but it has the same name, and they’re going out of business. One of the reasons they’re going out of business is, as he said, people would come in to him to buy the nuts and the bolts and the little items, but the big-ticket items, they’d go to Montgomery Ward or Sears or the big Ace Hardware, whatever.

Q: And he couldn’t really afford to stay in business for nuts and bolts.

HESS: That’s right.

Q: What about things like cars? Where would you have purchased those over the years?

HESS: We have always purchased our cars at Lattoff Chevrolet, which is not in Mount Prospect, but he has a lot of business. He actually was instrumental, the Latoff family of course started that Latoff YMCA and we liked the Chevrolet because it’s got a lot of room and so forth. As a matter of fact, I guess we’ve been doing business with him for twenty-some years.

Q: How about medicine?

HESS: That’s of course the great Keefer establishment, and Jack Keefer was the owner and Jerry runs it, bought it from him, worked for him, and I have a special preference for that kind of a pharmacy because you get personalized attention and they are under, of course, severe duress now because of the big HMOs, the company provisions that you have to buy from a certain place, but they were always and always have been a very great place to buy prescriptions.

Q: Do you remember what some of the other things that the early stores carried besides the drugs at the drug store and the shoes at the shoe store and so on?

HESS: That doesn’t make any impact on me. Maybe it’s because I got up in the morning and went to work and maybe my wife would remember more about that than I do. But if you want to talk about, I suppose, services, of course Louie’s Barber Shop was there –I think Louie has been I business. ..

ANNABELLE HESS: And Adam. Adam has always done all our upholstery.

HESS: Adam’s done all our upholstery and he’s been there a long time, but Louie, I’m sure he’s been in that shop for thirty-five years, and he not only provides haircuts but he is a reservoir of …

ANNABELLE HESS: The cleaners on Prospect Avenue we’ve always gone to.

HESS: …political statements of what’s going on.

Q: And the climate.

HESS: One of the things –this hasn’t anything to do with the recent –I mean it has more to do with recent history than anything else, and that is that to show the changing climate, I remember this Master Craft Cleaners that we go to now, but the first day that they opened business, and they were Chinese from Taiwan, and they had a very, very difficult time even understanding what you were trying to tell them to do with your clothes. Since then they have become very successful, and I think it’s probably a good signal from a historical point of view of the opportunities that are here, not only in Mount Prospect but in the world, for people who have the initiative and so forth because here are people with no educational background, you know, and. ..

Q: Didn’t know the language.

HESS: …didn’t know the language, and they came in and made a great success of a business in Mount Prospect. One of the places that we’ve never been in before, we always were threatening to go in sometime, and that’s that Sam’s Tavern. We’ve never been in it. That’s the one next to the…

ANNABELLE HESS: All our neighbors and friends have.

Q: Okay.

ANNABELLE HESS: Randhurst was brand new when we ________.

HESS: Yes, that was just opened. I suppose when you’re talking about buying things, then if we include Randhurst –I was tending to think of the core of the town –when Randhurst opened, it was really in the vanguard of modem shopping centers. I mean, now you kind of look at it as a more mature, older center, but I mean the ability to walk around in that big. ..

Q: Enclosed.

HESS: …enclosed area and so forth, this was quite. ..

Q: Very unique, it really was.

HESS: …very unique and very different.

Q: It really was quite a nice addition to the community. We’re going to work on grade school memories now. We’ll get to the high school and beyond that later on. Now we’re just working on grade school.

HESS: And this doesn’t have to be Mount Prospect because. ..

Q: No, just what grade did you attend and the years?

HESS: I attended actually an awful lot of the grade school because we were moving around a great deal in the Detroit area. There was Patengill in Detroit.

Q: Gill or Gale?

HESS: Gill. And Doty School in Detroit. And Hally –H-A-L-L- Y. But in those days we were renting and you would go to the school, of course, where you rented.

Q: Okay. Patengill, Doty and Hally.

HESS: Right.

Q: And the years attended would be from first through…

HESS: Through eighth.

Q: What were your favorite subjects or classes?

HESS: Well, I suppose anything that had to do with writing or spelling or English or history, you know, more of an emphasis on that than the mathematical. Mathematics didn’t give me any problems but I was more interested in those things.

Q: Do you remember how far away you lived from each of these schools?

HESS: Actually, I can’t remember the exact distance, but almost all of them were substantial walks. In other words, it isn’t like today, where you either have a bus or a –I mean, they were quite a long walks.

Q: How did you get to school? Walking sounds like the. ..

HESS: Walking.

Q: …the preferred method. Do you remember what time school started?

HESS: I suspect at eight-thirty, but I can’t recall precisely.

Q: Do you remember what time you had to get up in order to be at school in time?

HESS: I think we got up pretty early because my dad was going to work, and we usually got up when he got up, so I would say six-thirty, quarter to seven.

Q: Did you have any chores to do before you went to school, before you left in morning?

HESS: The normal chores of getting the rooms cleaned up and so forth — no monumental chores like milking the cows or anything like that.

Q: Did you eat breakfast before you went to school?

HESS: Absolutely, and obviously that was the time before caloric intake was restrictive so you had a real good breakfast usually.

Q: Do you remember a typical breakfast?

HESS: This, again, was before cholesterol –we were great ones for eggs. Of course, in those days, as you might not remember them, but in those days eggs were considered a staple of life.

Q: Yes, they were.

HESS: If you had a couple of good eggs in you and some toast and…

Q: Milk.

HESS: …and milk and maybe even some sausage, that was considered the fuel to keep the engine going.

Q: Did you bring your lunch to school or go home or …

HESS: A couple of places I brought my lunch, but Annabelle and I were laughing the other day because there was one place where there was a restaurant nearby –I remember the name of it, the Peter Pan Restaurant — and they catered to the younger people, so your parents had given you a certain amount of money and then you’d go in there and buy. ..

Q: And that was in grade school.

HESS: And that was in grade school. ..

Q: My goodness.

HESS: …and today when I think of it, we didn’t think anything of it, you know. There was no security problems and the fellow that ran the Peter Pan Restaurant was very solicitous to the kids. That was later on.

Q: Can you describe a typical lunch?

HESS: One thing I would describe is mashed potatoes and gravy and lots of bread and butter.

Q: Okay, a heavy lunch. Do you remember about how many students you had in your class?

HESS: Oh, I think maybe fifteen to twenty would be certainly maximum in those days.

Q: What was the typical order for the day? Did you start with a special song, prayers or the Pledge of Allegiance?

HESS: I don’t know that in grade school– I think we had certain –we didn’t have a prayer. There were certain –I can’t remember the names of the songs, but there were certain songs we sang and…

Q: Okay. Can you go on to describe a typical day?

HESS: I don’t think I can describe a typical day in eighth grade.

Q: Okay, what did you wear to school? Was there a dress code?

HESS: Yes, there was a dress code in the sense that you were always properly dressed. In those days I do remember there was a period, and I can’t remember what grade you transferred from knickers to long pants, and that was a monumental and I don’t know if you know what knickers are, but, anyway, the boys wore knickers and then when you got to a certain age then you were considered a young man and then you would put on your long pants.

Q: Was there anything your parents refused to let you wear to school?

HESS: I would put it in kind of a general context. I wouldn’t say there was anything specific, but anything that was not, let’s say, proper if that’s the word that can be used. I don’t know if I can use that word, but…

Q: Was refused. I mean that was. ..

HESS: I mean, you wouldn’t wear a wild shirt or a wild sweater or anything like that. It was not a uniform, but it was to a certain degree formal attire.

G; Describe some of the things you did during your play or recess period or any games that were popular. ..

HESS: Well, one of the things, which you don’t see at all nowadays, is marbles, in that early stage. Of course, you had the two kinds of marbles. You had the kind where you would throw the marbles against the wall to see how close you could get, and then there was the other where you had a circle, and the reason that this was played considerably during the recess was because you didn’t need a lot of physical facilities to do it, and there was a great trade that went on between different marbles. You know, you’d trade me two small blue marbles for a big red one and that sort of thing, so it was kind of like the marketplace.

Q: Do you remember any specific songs that were taught and frequently sung at school?

HESS: I don’t think I can.

Q: What art and crafts projects were done at school that were especially memorable?

HESS: The thing that I remember most of all, and it was really an impractical thing, they had a print shop program, and why they had it I don’t particularly know, except in those days I guess they figured that you should assume some sort of dexterity and you put your hand up and actually plug the type into the hole there. Of course, they had wood shop, and you made little items like knickknacks.

Q: Did you have a favorite teacher, and why did you like him or her?

HESS: I remember the high school teachers. I don’t think I remember too much about the grade school teachers.

Q: How would you answer this –I will never forget the day at grade school when…?

HESS: It’s interesting that you say grade school because I would have to include kindergarten, and I remember making butter, which is kind of a stupid thing to remember, but I remember for some reason or other that the kindergarten teacher decided that we should make butter, and we made it in the class.

Q: That is interesting, isn’t it? What did you do after school in the way of chores or work or play?

HESS: First of all, the chores very often were related to things like having a magazine route or a newspaper route, and the chores that you did around the house were probably not as monumental. They were more custodial –in other words, keep your room clean or don’t leave things around. The recreational activities were more pick-up stuff.

Q: Okay, that’s the hang-out kind of thing. What did you do in your free time?

HESS: Well, you would play an awful lot of baseball and football, but it was quite different than it is today where the parents take their kids out to a formal soccer game or a formal football…

Q: It would be a pick-up.

HESS: Yes, it would be a pick-up because there were a lot of vacant lots around, and so there was a lot of spontaneity involved in it.

Q: What school did you attend for junior high and high school?

HESS: That would be Post Intermediate, would be the one in between.

Q: And how about high school?

HESS: That would be Highland Park High School in Highland Park, Michigan.

Q: What special memories do you hold about junior high or high school?

HESS: I think that the teachers in high school were what you would call the individuals who were as dedicated high school teachers as a minister might be dedicated or a doctor, whatever. Like a Latin teacher, you know, today people say why in the world would anybody take Latin? Yet the Latin teacher was a –Dan Loon was his name, and he was a very disciplined person. The Latin proved to be a disciplinary exercise that taught you a great deal. And the French teacher, I remember Madame Lampa was –I remember when I went to Amherst and they took the introductory course to see what your status would be in the French course, I was amazed at how effective she’d been. So I think what they were is they were a very high professional caliber, and the counseling department was a woman who, very, very impressive person, white hair, and her name was Babcock, and she really felt a great responsibility to try to direct people to the appropriate college or the appropriate field of endeavor and so forth.

Q: Which was wonderfully important back…

HESS: Very important.

Q: …then as it is today.

HESS: It is today. The only problem today, I guess they’re faced with such a large volume of…

Q: ________________.

HESS: Our church brought over a bunch of Vietnamese from the old country, and one of the things that concerned us was that although the counselors were very good in a way, their counseling in the case of the Vietnamese was very much influenced by the affirmative action program. Like the one chap was encouraged to go to a college where he never should have gone, because they were trying to get affirmative action incidence in the college, and so they offered him a good scholarship, but he didn’t last very long. He never should have been sent there. So they were influenced to a certain degree by that program. The choosing of a college in the old days was quite different than it is today. Today is quite a scientific procedure. They have the counselors come from the different colleges, and you analyze the courses and everything. The only reason I went to Amherst was because when I graduated from high school there happened to be an Episcopal minister in one of the Episcopal churches nearby who had been to Amherst, and he talked very positively about the college and so forth. So we went out there and looked at it. Of course, it had been a college that was well recognized as being high academic background and so forth. The interesting thing is that culturally, it was the home area of Emily Dickinson. As a matter of fact, when our fraternity that I was a member of was historically –well, it was Calvin Coolidge’s fraternity when he was at Amherst, and it was right up on the top of a hill, and the Emily Dickinson house was right at the bottom of the hill. So when I would go to class, I would walk right by the Emily Dickinson house, and Emily Dickinson’s niece lived there, and she was also a poet and also kind of a recluse. The interesting thing about the Calvin Coolidge relationship there, every year we would have a dinner, and the fellow that pledged Calvin Coolidge to the fraternity would come back and visit. He had the same speech every year, but the criteria for the speech was, you never can tell somebody by somebody’s appearance what they’re going to do later in life, because he told about Calvin Coolidge was a young farm boy from Northampton and he was a good friend of this lawyer who later became successful in Boston, and he wanted Calvin Coolidge in the fraternity but nobody else wanted him because he was not dynamic, as he never was later, even when he was president. They had a system then they called “the black balls,” so this gentleman said, “Well, if you won’t take Calvin Coolidge, I will vote against all of these special guys that you want to bring into the fraternity.” So of course they took Calvin Coolidge and he became president of the United States, so the philosophy just indicating that you never can tell what the story is.

Q: What was the fraternity, would you mind answering?

HESS: Phi Gamma Delta.

Q: Fiji?

HESS: Right.

Q: Our son is a Fiji.

HESS: Oh, is he? That’s interesting. Very good. Oh, we are the marching, marching Fiji men. Those were the war years, so we went through college in a little over three years. Almost all of the people that were in that class were going to go on to war. It’s always quite interesting when you look at the situation in those days and you think of these people who –well, I won’t say they were spoiled, but they certainly were not any type of person that you would normally select to be a soldier. Then of course at the end of their college career they went off to all kinds of …

Q: To train for the military.

HESS: For the military, which was quite a monumental change from this quiet little New England college to the battlefield, which is always kind of interesting that the United States was able to make that transition, or the men involved were.

Q: Yes, I imagine that was a very big change for most of them, and the training period –how strenuous was the military training?

HESS: I took infantry training and that was quite strenuous. Then I was in the invasion of Letei and the invasion of Okinawa, later then at the occupation of Korea where we occupied after the war.

Q: Do you have a little more to say about then a few of your days after college and your college experience at Amherst? How did it serve you?

HESS: The educational process, and there’s always been a strong battle about this in educational circles, the education at Amherst of course was liberal arts education, and I think that in terms of even the business environment, in the decision-making mechanism, that that kind of education is very, very important in developing leadership. I think that we have maybe gotten away a little too much from that in the sense that everything is very specific nowadays. Yet if you’re looking at the new philosophy of work, where people have to be able to do all kinds of different things, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to have any specific courses in college that are going to prepare you for what you’re going to be doing. You mentioned your son-in-law or son that was a geologist and then he does certain things that are related to that, but they’re peripherally related to it. Then the other thing I think it does do, if one looks at the philosophy that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, the. ..

[Side 2]

HESS: …I think that the Chicago & North Western has helped to really develop all of these towns, you know. They’re on time, they’re very efficient, and I think that this has been a major factor in the. ..

Q: Development.

HESS: Mount Prospect, from a historical point of view, the one dark cloud on the horizon is the downtown area. It is still a very serious problem. They’re doing a lot of things. They’re -in the new condominium complex up here on Northwest Highway and so forth, but there’s a lot of vacant shops and part of this is due to the fact that the landlords keep raising the rents, and I don’t deny them the right to raise the rent because they own the property, but there’s not enough volume of business in these small shops to really justify the rentals. …After all of the discord and bitterness and political in-fighting and so forth,the library was finally completed and reflected a lot of enthusiasm on the part of the population, so all’s well that’s ends well, and that was a satisfying thing to see.

Q: Very fond memory, I’m sure, to see that go up and be replacing the old building, Central School. Is there anything you’d like to add about living in Mount Prospect?

HESS: I think the thing that’s interesting about Mount Prospect, the thing that’s good about Mount Prospect is the diversity of its population. I don’t want to in any way demean any other suburb because I know they all have their assets, but I think Mount Prospect has a lot of young people, they have a lot of senior citizens, they have people that are very well-to-do, they have people that are not too well-to-do, and, to be quite frank about it, they are even faced with some with real gang problems and minority problems and so forth and so on, so you’re really living in a microcosm of our society and to a certain degree I think that keeps everybody on their toes.

Q: Is there one thing you’d like your children to remember about the history of their home town? What would it be?

HESS: Well, they used to have a phrase, “Where neighborliness is a way of life.” That was the phrase –I think that was the phrase, wasn’t it, Annabelle, something like that?

A: It used to be down here on the _____________.

HESS: Yes, I think “Neighborliness is a way of life” or “Friendliness is a way of life.” I think that generally that I would like my children to remember Mount Prospect as a place where, notwithstanding the discord and problems and so forth, it was basically a friendly town.

Q: In what respect is Mount Prospect the same now as it was in the past?

HESS: Well, I think it’s the same. I give your historical society a great deal of credit to this. I think it’s the same in the sense that it has a lot of sensitivity to historical things, I mean, the fact that they put out a booklet on the history of Mount Prospect and the fact that they put so much effort and energies into their historical society, so with all the Kensington industrial complex and a lot of these other things, they have not lost their sense of history, and I think from that point of view it’s still the same.

Q: I want to thank you very much for consenting to be interviewed.

HESS: I don’t know that you’ve got what you want from me, but…

Q: Well, I think we’ve gotten a lot of. ..

HESS: …as a matter of fact, when Annabelle said, “Did you call?” I said, “Well, I don’t know. She may be very disappointed in talking to me,” because I don’t think that I…

Q: Not at all. And if there’s anything else that you’d like to say extemporaneously now. ..

HESS: No, no, that’s –of course, you’re a very good interviewer. I suppose what you do with all of this, you take it like –which is nice about the way the system works nowadays –you can take all this group of things and pick out the things that seem to have a common denominator. ..

Q: And, yes, work it in…

HESS: …and work it into a dialogue.

Q: Yes, well, we certainly do appreciate the fact that both of you, the two of you have really added an awful lot.

HESS: Thank you for coming.

Q: Thank you so much.

 

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