Bessie (Friedrichs) Barnes

Does MPHS have photographs: Yes

Address in MP: 101 S. Maples Street

Birth Date: October 8, 1911

Death Date: February, 1999

Date: 1937 to Fred Linnenkohl
1961 to Charles A. Barnes


Interesting information on life, career, accomplishments:
Bessie was the only child of Dietrich and Lena Friedrichs, the first owners of 101 S. Maple Street, the home that now houses the Mount Prospect Historical Society. She lived most of her life in this building and was very involved with the restoration and preservation of the building.

Date of Interview: August 7, 1991

Interviewer: Dolores Haugh

Text of Oral History Interview:
DOLORES HAUGH: [remarks joined in progress] …August 7, 1991 and the person speaking is Dolores Haugh, and I’m talking today to Bessie Friedricks Barnes. This is at her lovely home at 616 North Lewis in Mt. Prospect. Bessie I thank you so much for being with me today. [tape interrupted] Bessie, before we start, I want to correct the address. It’s 16 North Lewis, and the time is 1:30 in the afternoon. And so with that, we’ll start our interview. I wanted to ask you a few of the questions that we have here. First of all, your full name is …?
BESSIE BARNES: Bessie Friedricks Barnes.
HAUGH: Right, and where were you born, Bessie?
BARNES: At 101 South Maple in Mt. Prospect.
HAUGH: And your parents were?
BARNES: Dietrick and Lena Friedricks. And Sophie and Edward Cremreide …
HAUGH: Were your grandparents?
BARNES: And my grandparents-I’m sorry, the Cremreide family was my grandparents.
HAUGH: Yes. That’s all right.
BARNES: The first family was my parents. And then my grandparents was Detrick Friedricks, Sr., and as I already stated the Cremreides.
HAUGH: Okay, good. We just really want to relax. When the people record this, you know, they’re going to go over this and they’ll take a lot of this out, so don’t worry about it. Okay. You mentioned you were born at 101 South Maple, so that’s the other address that you lived at. So basically you’ve only lived in two homes in Mt. Prospect, right?
BARNES: That’s right.
HAUGH: That’s good. Okay.
BARNES: In my life, as far as that’s concerned.
HAUGH: Right. Tell me a little bit about your home at 101 South Maple.
BARNES: My mother and dad built that in 1906. It was then the thirteenth house in town. The population was a little over a hundred.
HAUGH: Your father was a …?
BARNES: A painter and a decorator.
HAUGH: I can remember you telling a delightful story about going to get the paint for the house. Would you like to tell that? I think it’s a great story.
BARNES: Well, there was a hardware store in Mt. Prospect, which was at that time called the Biermann Hardware Store. Frank Biermann, who just recently died, owned it. He carried many products because there were so few stores in town, but one of them was paint. My dad would buy some paint there, although they were of the good brands that were manufactured in Chicago, I believe. But this day, one of his men took me along up on a high-seated wagon pulled by two horses. He did that every day, but this day he left the reins in my reach. I guess I was about three years old. I pulled the reins while he was gone, and the horses headed for home very, very speedily. Everybody down the street was chasing because they thought I was so small I would falloff, and I was having the best time of my life [laughter].
HAUGH: I love it. That’s great! And tell about how your dad took you into Milwaukee Avenue for the Pratt and Lambert paint. BARNES: Yes. He would also take me on his wagon and horse, and I would ride with him down into Chicago. He would buy paint-as you said, Pratt and Lambert. Then he would also go to Ramine and Cunard. Sometimes Mom would go along and he would drop us off at the Wieboldt’s store that was available then and we would do our, well, shopping for clothes there because there was no store here for clothes and. ..
HAUGH: That was when you were around three years old or a little older?
BARNES: Or even a little older, too.
HAUGH: I might mention also that because of this nice story, we were able to get Pratt and Lambert to donate all the 24 gallons of paint for the restoration of your house by the Historical Society.
BARNES: I thought that was very great.
HAUGH: Oh, I did too. Well, we’ve had some wonderful people working on the house. What was downtown when you were a little girl?
BARNES: There was a grocery story and. ..
HAUGH: Who had that. That wasn’t Meeske then, was it?
BARNES: No, Mr. Busse owned it. Mr. William Busse, Jr., had it at that time. Mr. Fred Meeske worked for him, and then eventually he bought Mr. Busse out.
HAUGH: Was that in the same place as the Meeske’s was before Continental Bakery moved in?
BARNES: No, that was the house of William Busse, Jr. And then next door. ..
HAUGH: That was before it was moved.
BARNES: Then a dry goods store took part of that building, and then the other was grocery and meats.
HAUGH: What did they have in the dry goods store?
BARNES: Ch, they just had everything. General merchandise, I guess you would call it. A little of shoes, clothes-mostly materialand sewing supplies. And, oh, school supplies. I don’t remember other than that. Sometimes rubbers, boots-just a little of everything
HAUGH: A lot of working things, I suppose, because so many farms were around, right?
BARNES: Right.
HAUGH: Now, the grocery stores, because the farmers were there, did they carry produce like they do now or did they just have certain things that were not available, you know, by growing them yourself?
BARNES: I don’t remember too much about produce that they had other than that which was not grown around here like fruits, bananas, oranges and that type. But they did have all kinds of meats. But the store was very different because there were clerks, and you told them the item you wanted and they would run and get it and then gather all the items you were purchasing and then write it down, each item written with the costs. So it took a while to do some shopping. Now we go much faster, of course, going through a checking and waiting on ourselves.
HAUGH: Did they have those old-fashioned ways of running tabs for people for the farmers so that they could pay it off, like when the crops came in or anything?
BARNES: I’m not sure. I would believe that because I know people would say “charge it.” When I went shopping, when I started to do the shopping for my mother, she always made out the grocery list. But I was four or five years old with my little red wagon and did all the shopping. Mom never went shopping except when we went out of town for clothes or special items.
HAUGH: So then she’d give you the shopping list. But then wouldshe give you the money, too?
HAUGH: So, I mean, you just kind of went cash-and-carry. Butthere were charges, I’m sure.
BARNES: Oh, yes. Because I can remember hearing people say “charge it,” but Mother and Dad believed in paying as they went.
HAUGH: Sure. Wasn’t there a farm equipment store in Mt. Prospect, too, over near Busse Biermann? Wasn’t that a farm store there or was that Buick place?
BARNES: There was a Buick garage. That, too, was run by Mr. Ernest Busse and Mr. Albert Busse. They were brothers. I just do not remember any implement except the coal company, which was Wille’s, and I don’t remember if they had implements or not. But then there was also a post office in the Busse store for a time. We had a box-I can still remember. It was Box 34. Then on the corner was the Mahling Real Estate. I think it was insurance before that.
HAUGH: Was it Mahling?
HAUGH: I don’t. ..
BARNES: Gertrude’s.
HAUGH: Yes, Gertrude’s father. But when did he get the general Store that he had on the corner there?
BARNES: I don’t remember it as a general store at all.
HAUGH: Because I thought she always said the post office was in that store.
BARNES: It could have been earlier.
HAUGH: Earlier on maybe. That might be it, too, yes. Because I know then, of course, Gert Francic went into the real estate business, too, you know, later. Now tell me a little bit about the development of the automobile. Now, you talked about going on the horse and buggies, and I know you’ve got a good story about one of your cars, so you tell us about your automobile, how you had to fix your garage.
BARNES: Oh, yes.
HAUGH: What was the first car you had, though?
BARNES: I think it was a Ford. I don’t quite remember what year it was, but I was very small. You had to roll up the top or down. I remember that and our mothers wore hats with the veil on top and around in order to they wouldn’t blow off. But, of course, our barn was for horses and a cow, so a car did not fit in there. So, as my dad said, he had to build an apron on it in order to have a car fit in there when he had no longer the horses and cow and chickens and so on. Narrators: And that’s all going to be brought back again in our restoration. That’s one reason I love that old carriage house because it has so many good stories about it. You know what I was referring to-when you built the garage when you got the Buick.
BARNES: Oh, yes. That, too. The first car fit in the barn with that little apron in the first section of the carriage house. But the other one had to build an apron, as my dad called it. In other words, it was just so the car bumper or the front part of the car would fit in it, otherwise you couldn’t close the door. And that’s the garage they just now took down.
HAUGH: Oh, I know what I was going to say. When he did that, the first garage in the carriage house, is that why there’s like a little bump in it in the back part of it, so that the front of the car would fit all the way in? I love this.
HAUGH: It’s going to be part of our talk when we take people through.
BARNES: Yes, that’s right.
HAUGH: Were there any other stores downtown that you can remember when you were little? Now, we talked about the food and we talked about the farm implements and Busse Hardware. Oh, the lumber and coal, that was down there.
BARNES: The garage and the barber shop.
HAUGH: Who ran the barber shop? Do you remember?
BARNES: Yes. Mr. Baldwin was his name.
HAUGH: Baldwin or Baldini?
HAUGH: Baldwin. Okay.
BARNES: And then he later moved to the garage of his home on Central Road. The house still stands.
HAUGH: That’s Baldini though, isn’t it? Because I met his daughter. I think it was Baldini because the only thing I remember was that he planted all the pines on that street, and that’s why it was called Pine Street.
HAUGH: When I interviewed him-not him but his daughter. I think it was Baldini. But you were close.
BARNES: I sure was.
HAUGH: Right. What else can we think of that was down there?
BARNES: I did say a barber. That’s the barber shop. I don’t remember any other stores, but I do remember when the first drugstore there came in.
HAUGH: Oh, okay. Now where was that?
BARNES: The building still stands. Later it was Wille’s Insurance Company. No, I think first it was a liquor store, and then they moved next door to that smaller building. HAUGH: Oh, okay. This is all on Busse Avenue. Now you’re
between Northwest Highway and 83. That block in there.
BARNES: That’s right.
HAUGH: Okay. All right. So there was a lot of space on that street then because they didn’t build what houses now the Olde Town Inn. That used to be a bowling alley. I think that was built like in ’27. Wasn’t it around in there?
BARNES: That was built later. Of course, Mr. Mein’s house was there.
HAUGH: Now where was that?
BARNES: He was across the street. He faces, well, really Northwest Highway. I think he had it to Busse, but they did build some buildings,and now there’s a restaurant in that area, right in there.
HAUGH: Okay. Right on that corner there.
BARNES: He had a blacksmith shop there and he was the first blacksmith there and then his son followed, Herman. He was our neighbor at 101 South Maple. There was a creamery.
HAUGH: Oh, okay. That was on down Northwest Highway, right?
HAUGH: Because that’s the one they tore down. Now, that was there real early on.
BARNES: Yes, very early.
HAUGH: And then, let’s see, was there anything on the other side of the tracks at all?
BARNES: I don’t remember anything except that Wille’s had a dance pavilion up the hill on Prospect Avenue, as we always called it. And that’s where all the town affairs were held.
HAUGH: But that was still on this side of the tracks.
HAUGH: That was on the other side of the tracks?
BARNES: South side.
HAUGH: Oh, okay.
BARNES: On Prospect Avenue.
HAUGH: And where did you cross the tracks then? At 83?
BARNES: No on Maple-I mean Emerson.
HAUGH: Emerson. There was no 83 then at that point to cross over?
BARNES: I don’t remember that, either. But the trains were so infrequent, we could cross the track anywhere [laughter].
HAUGH: I love it. That’s cute. How did these folks advertise? Did they have a newspaper or fliers or did you just kind of lookfor the posters in the windows? BARNES: I remember that Paddock Publications was-I don’t know how old it was then already, but everyone took that paper and there were ads in there. But as far as other advertisements, if there were any special ones, they were handmade by the people who owned it.
HAUGH: Fliers. Yes, because Paddock was out here a long time. In fact, somebody told me one time that the elder Mr. Paddock used to come in his horse and buggy to pick up different things from people.
BARNES: Yes, he did.
HAUGH: And he was crippled, I think, somebody told me, right?
BARNES: Right.
HAUGH: He had a high shoe or something was added.
BARNES: Right. And he was so used to using his horse and buggy that when he did get a car, he would still read his newspaper and do things with his hands instead of watching. When everybody saw Mr. Paddock come, why they all got out of his way.
HAUGH: I love it! That’s great!
BARNES: He was so interested in his work and he forgot that he had to control the car because the horse always controlled him otherwise.
HAUGH: Oh, that’s cute, that’s cute. Were there any factories in town at all?
BARNES: There was at a later date, Crowfoot’s.
HAUGH: Crowfoot’s, yes. Did they make batteries? Was that what that was? I don’t remember what they made.
BARNES: I don’t know either. But I thought it was nuts and bolts, but I’m not sure.
HAUGH: Oh, it could be. It could be. Now, they were over on Evergreen, right?
BARNES: Where the creamery was at one time. Of course, …
HAUGH: Oh, near Evergreen, but on Northwest Highway then.
BARNES: My aunt was secretary there.
HAUGH: Oh, what was her name?
BARNES: Gertrude Friedricks Milikin.
HAUGH: Oh, okay. And that was your aunt. Good. How long did she work there? Do you know?
BARNES: Well, she worked when they had their shop in Arlington Heights, and then she worked here for quite a few years. I suppose about five. I don’t know.
HAUGH: Well, that’s good enough. That was nice, sure. Do you know how many people they had there as far as employment?
BARNES: No, I don’t.
HAUGH: I always thought it was kind of a large place, but sometimes office staff wasn’t very big, you know, so it’s hard to know. I think that we’ve got something on that anyway. Do you remember anything about when the electricity came in? Do you remember anything about that?
BARNES: Well, yes. I was well in school by the time electricity came. But I do remember the gas lights we had, the lamps, of course. But we also had. ..
HAUGH: Kerosene?
BARNES: No, the gas. There’s still one in the hall upstairs.
HAUGH: The jets? Where the jets come out you mean?
HAUGH: Yes, yes, gas jets. BARNES: We had the jets in the halls.
HAUGH: Now before that then you had kerosene, is that right? Kerosene lamps and things like that.
BARNES: Right.
HAUGH: I think they had kerosene lamps on the streets, too,
didn’t they before the gas?
BARNES: Yes. They didn’t have sidewalks when I was small. We just had dirt roads, of course.
HAUGH: Where did you go to school, Besse?
BARNES: In that one-room school that was located on Central and now 83. That building has now been moved to St. John Episcopal Church, and it is being used there. But it was just one room and one teacher.
HAUGH: Who was your teacher?
BARNES: Well, it changed every year, but I remember my first teacher, Miss Reichert. She still stands out in my mind. She really loved the children when I was in first grade. I have a picture of that. I guess maybe that’s why I remember, too. But Mrs. Butler was the teacher when we graduated from eighth grade. There were seven of us.
HAUGH: What were some of the subjects you took when you were in school?
BARNES: All the. ..
HAUGH: Reading, writing and arithmetic.
BARNES: Geography, history, spelling, English. Nothing, no extra curriculum, like they have now.
HAUGH: Like art or music or anything like that.
HAUGH: What were some of the things you did for fun? I know there were lots of things going on.
BARNES: Because our town was so small, it was in 1917 when they were waiting for a baby to be born in town so then the population would be 301. So, …
HAUGH: You don’t remember who that was, do you? The baby that they were waiting for?
BARNES: No, I don’t. I imagine. ..
HAUGH: We’re trying to find that out.
BARNES: That was in 1917. I was only six then, so I don’t know. But anyway, then it became Mt. Prospect. They had to have over 300 population. But, …
HAUGH: Oh, I was talking about some of the fun things you did.
BARNES: Oh. We would all gather together after-we all had chores to do. We didn’t get away with like. ..
HAUGH: Tell us what you had to do. That’s neat, too-all the things you did.
BARNES: My job was we had to beat the rugs. We had beaters. Hang them on the line or put them on the ground if they were big ones. Had to wash and scrub the screens because they were not attached. I didn’t do a lot of climbing. We had a privy like everybody else. I had to take care of that, which I hated. [laughter] But then after we, of course, had to do our lessons first, then we could get out and all of us kids at that time gathered where now is a playground on School Street and Maple Street and we would play all sorts of games-Run, Sheep, Run and…
HAUGH: Roll Me Over.
BARNES: …Hide and Seek, and Annie Annie Over and, oh, just fun games like that. We made up our games because we didn’t have games. But at our house it was different. We had to do our chores and then we would have a choice of which game. For instance, if we were shelling peas or stringing beans, whoever didthe most could chose the game they were going to play, and then we would have refreshments. We had fun.
HAUGH: And you always had a lot of people around. You were an only child, but all these other people were cousins and neighbor kids and everything, right?
BARNES: You bet.
HAUGH: So that’s how you had a whole bunch of them around all the time. That’s good. Oh, tell them about the croquet, too. I like that.
BARNES: Oh, yes. I had a croquet set. Years before that part was all garden because Mother and Dad raised most of our food. Mother canned all of it. There was no freezer at that time. But then later, they cut down and we made a croquet yard. Everybody seemed to like that. We would not be through with our dinner at night because Daddy never got home regularly because he would have to finish just what he started in his job of painting and decorating. But there was always a big game going on there. If the game wasn’t finished before dark, they would turn lights on from the car, headlights, and my dad had fixed up a trouble light, so there was always much noise around that yard. But it was fun.
HAUGH: Other things now. Do you remember the library? Do you remember when the library started in town? Someone said that the Women’s Club started in that little school where you went to school. That was supposed to be the beginning. They used to wheel out the little carts with the books on it. Do you remember anything about that?
BARNES: No, I don’t. The first librarian I remember is Mrs. Schlemmer. But I do not remember details of it. HAUGH: This was even before that because when Mrs. Schlemmer came in was when they first started, I think, the official library, you know. They had it over at what used to be the bank building there on the corner, you know.
BARNES: The little red bank.
HAUGH: Yes. She was in there for a while, I guess. She was down by the paint store. When did the bakery come in? That’s what I was wondering. Do you remember when the bakery started up? Wasn’t it Schmidt’s Bakery?
HAUGH: Was it always Schmidt’s or was somebody in there before?
BARNES: As I remember, it was always Schmidt’s. Then when it became time for them to retire, the building was renovated and Then
HAUGH: Then there was another bakery, but that was. ..
BARNES: That was across the tracks.
HAUGH: Yes. All that stuff across the tracks didn’t start until around the ’40s, I think, wasn’t it, when they first started going across the tracks?
BARNES: It must have been because I always remember. ..
HAUGH: Where was the National?
BARNES: It was across in that area where they have the arch.
HAUGH: Yes. Yes. That’s right. And there was an A & P before it was over on …
BARNES: That was over on this side of town. Let’s see. That little fruit store is in that area now. The produce. ..
HAUGH: Wasn’t there one down near the bakery on 83 there, too? There was a little paint store in there, too, when we first moved out here in the ’40s, ’50s. It was right near Schmidt’s Bakery-a little tiny store in there. No?
BARNES: Well, it could be. I’m sorry. I just don’t remember.
HAUGH: It was a paint store. But anyway, well, that doesn’t make that much difference. I just kind of wondered, you know. Some of the things that you did at the Wille’s Hall. You mentioned Wille’s Hall. You had dances there and so on.
HAUGH: What was the best one you remember?
BARNES: I don’t remember the affair, but I do remember the music because I always loved that German-type music. We children would finally give up and lay down on the benches and nap while our parents would still be dancing. But it was always a town affair. If there was something to celebrate, the whole town was invited at that time. Now, I’ve often wonder, though, if Mrs. Wille is still living.
HAUGH: Yes. As far as I know she is.
BARNES: She must be very well up in her 90’s.
HAUGH: Oh, sure. Well, Mr. Wille was, I think, around 99 when he was killed by an automobile. Remember? I’m talking about Adolph.
BARNES: Well, yes, that’s. ..
HAUGH: Or are you talking about a different Wille?
BARNES: Oh, yes.
HAUGH: Which one are you talking about?
BARNES: This was Mrs. Elvina Wille. I don’t know what her husband’s name was, but her daughter was Mrs. Ethel Busse, Mrs. Richard Busse. When Mr. Richard Busse died, their house was on the corner where the parking lot is for the bank now. They bought that whole area. And they went up to Minoqua to live and I’ve lost track of them. But I never heard. But they were so accommodating and so lovely. It was. ..
HAUGH: Have you got any recollections of the police department?
BARNES: Yes. There was just one policeman. Mr. Mulso and Mr. Wittenburg ran the police and village. Mr. Mulso was the public works, I believe.
HAUGH: Police magistrate.
BARNES: Everything.
HAUGH: And they did everything, right?
BARNES: They sure did.
HAUGH: How about the fire department?
BARNES: That was all volunteer. I know Mr. Frank Biermann was very much involved with that and Mr. Herman Mein, along with the other people. My husband, Chuck, moved to Mt. Prospect in ’45 in a house right next to the post office at that time. They had an arrangement where they got a fire call, it would ring in his home. [tape interrupted]
HAUGH: Okay.
BARNES: I know Mr. Biermann and Mr. Herman Mein were the leaders. What their titles were, I do not know. But I can remember how some of those fellows, amongst others who were volunteers, would back their cars in their driveway at night and so if there was a fire call, they were able to just pullout in a hurry.
HAUGH: Do you remember any big fires in Mt. Prospect? Were there any that you can remember when you were little?
BARNES: The one I can most remember was the parsonage of St. Paul’s Church. They rebuilt it or fixed it up because it’s still standing. It’s a two apartment house now. I remember that my dad went over and helped. Even though we didn’t belong to the congregation, they accepted us very well. Everybody else did belong to the congregation. We were very good friends of the pastor. I can still remember my dad went over and used some of his expertise and helped there.
HAUGH: Is that Pastor Mueller?
HAUGH: What was his first name? Do you know?
BARNES: John, I think. We always called him J-E-A. He always used just his initials. He had his birthday the same day I did.
HAUGH: Oh, how about that?
BARNES: Not the same year.
HAUGH: Nice October birthdays, right?
BARNES: Right.
HAUGH: Did they have anything like Fourth of July parades where you would have any kind of a town parade or anything like. .. [end of side 1] [Side 2]
BARNES: [remarks joined in progress] …over. And we were just. ..
HAUGH: Now this is World War I?
BARNES: Yes. I remember how we were marching down the street and the church bell was ringing and it was exciting, but I don’t think we really realized what it was. We were too small.
HAUGH: Did they have a VFW or a Legion at that time or not? Or did that start after? That started after the war, didn’t it?
BARNES: I believe it started after that. My mother belonged to the Ladies Auxiliary.
HAUGH: Of what?
HAUGH: Of the VFW. Oh, that’s neat. The train depot-have a lot of stories about that, that we were just kind of a nothing place for a long time. Do you remember anything that was sent out by train or did you have any experience with the trains at all?
BARNES: Well, we didn’t get to ride the train very often because there were very few-in the morning taking the workers and in the evening bringing them back out. The mail went out in bags, and they would catch it as the train went by.
HAUGH: They wouldn’t even stop, huh?
BARNES: No. Years later, Mr. Lonnquist moved out here. I don’t know his title of the Northwestern Railroad. And then we got more trains fitted to his coming and going, and so that’s why we got more trains late afternoon and later in the morning.
HAUGH: You didn’t have enough from your little garden that you’d send anything in, did you?
BARNES: No, but the farmers used to bring in big loads of beets in their truck and empty them into freight cars. There was a switch here where all the freight cars would come and go with produce or coal even because, you see, we were heating our homes with coal.
HAUGH: I often wondered, remember that little railroad spur that ran in with-did that go in for Wille’s Lumber? Remember that, you know? They could switch the things off.
BARNES: I think that went in for coal. They probably used it for lumber, too, but mainly coal at that time.
HAUGH: I mean, when we moved out here, I can remember that spur. They still used it sometimes, you know. It was so non-descript. Anyway.
BARNES: We had other events. You asked about a parade. I don’t remember that. But when we would have school programs or big events, why Busse’s Garage was used and also Wille’s. Wille’s was much smaller. It depended upon the affair as to which was used. Those were our auditoriums.
HAUGH: The other things is your school’s plays. You had a lot of that, too, didn’t you?
BARNES: Yes, we did, and they were held in either one of those places.
HAUGH: Oh, not at the church?
BARNES: No. There was no auditorium at the church at that time.
HAUGH: I see. Now, you’re talking about St. Paul?
BARNES: Yes. That was the only church until 1935 when South Church came.
HAUGH: Well, let’s see, if you really had to chose, what would you say was really your fondest memory of Mt. Prospect?
BARNES: I thinking knowing everyone and the togetherness.
HAUGH: Don’t you feel it’s still here? Don’t you feel that it still exists in some ways here?
BARNES: No, because I don’t even know where all the streets are that I read in the paper, let alone the people.
HAUGH: Join the club. When things expand and there’s progress and you have more and more and more people, why, you don’t have that closeness. But you do because you’ve got a lot of close friends that you’ve had for years. Tell me about some of them, like the Grothiers and Burnette.
BARNES: Yes. Right. Burnette, of course, married my cousin and so we were very close. But she lived in Mt. Prospect, and she was a very close friend of a neighbor girl of Chuck’s and so that’s how I got to know Burnette. And then, of course, she met Don and they were married.
HAUGH: What was his last name, Don’s last name?
BARNES: Scamehorn.
HAUGH: Okay. It’s not Scama, it’s Scam.
BARNES: Well, they call it Scamehorn, now because there is an E. S-C-A-M-E-H-O-R-N. And Elvira, who is married to Pastor Grothier, we grew up together. She. ..
HAUGH: Now what was her maiden name?
BARNES: Her maiden name was Mein.
HAUGH: Oh, that’s right.
BARNES: Her folks built their home in about 1912. So we grew up together, and then, of course, when she married Kurt as a young pastor, they were sent to a church in Alabama. Then they were not at home, however, I was always with their mother and dad. Now they’ve come back to the home and they’ve restored it some. It was just lovely. It was on Christmas walk last year, and we are still very close friends. Then Elvira has a sister Vanetta, and I get to see her about once a year when she comes up here from Florida. She lives there. So that was fun. When we were little children, our parents were very close. We didn’t have movies to go to or places like that, so they loved to play cards and so on Saturday nights, we’d be at each other’s house, and we children would play.
HAUGH: Some of the things you played with, too, I think are interesting. Did you tell me you liked dolls or you didn’t like dolls?
BARNES: Oh, yes.
HAUGH: I thought you did.
BARNES: Oh, yes. We all had dolls and buggies. We really played. Our mothers would pack some sandwiches, and we’d have a picnic under the mulberry tree.
HAUGH: Come in all blue, all colored from the berries.
BARNES: You’re right.
HAUGH: How do you think the downtown has changed over the years?
BARNES: Well, it has changed some. What I figure downtown is the corner of Northwest Highway, Emerson Street and Main Street, Busse Avenue. That seems to be …
HAUGH: And it’s still there.
BARNES: …downtown.
HAUGH: It’s still downtown.
BARNES: Of course, there’s a lot of addition on Prospect Avenue.
HAUGH: Do you remember when McMann’s carne in? Remember McMann’s store on Prospect? I don’t know when they carne in. Do you remember them? They were down on Pine Street where. ..?
BARNES: What kind of a store was that?
HAUGH: It had children’s clothing, more or less of a dry goods store, but mostly clothing. And then what was that one, the men’s store on Main Street, too? Alison’s was there. Was there an Alison’s?
BARNES: I remember the name.
HAUGH: They just sold men’s clothes. They were right next to Meeske’s in a little shop there. That was when we first carne out in the ’40s. If there’s one thing that you could really want the children really to remember about the history of their hometown, what would it be? Probably your house, right?
BARNES: I’m afraid it would be. [laughter]
HAUGH: Not that we’re prejudiced or anything. But I’d like you to tell just a little bit more about how you feel about the restoration of your home as a museum. I think that’s important for people to know how you personally feel about that.
BARNES: Well, I think it is very great. In the first place, it’s quite a surprise, but a wonderful surprise to know that it is being restored. And secondly, I think that my mother and dad would really be proud because they lived for that home and they had it in such perfect condition at all times and it was still in good condition. However, tastes change. But when we sold it, it was still in good condition. But it has deteriorated and it’s really quite a job to restore it-more than I think we ever thought. But I’m looking forward to that day, and I will be so proud and my family is proud of it, too. They’re all looking forward to dedication day like I am.
HAUGH: Sure. Right on. I think it ought to be said, too, that some of the things that you’ve given us will make the house so authentic-all the lovely gifts that you’ve given to the museum and to the society that will make it a real part of your family home. Some of those things are your personal little cup, you know, and your chairs and tables you had when you were a little girl and all those wonderful nostalgic things that we, you know, I think, feel so important to us as a society and as a restoration program because they’re not just for the kids nowadays, but they’re going to be there for lots of other children coming down the line. BARNES: I think it will be very exciting and certainly will have mixed emotions when I get to see all those things back in the house where they were originally.
HAUGH: Sure. I hear you just finished a project with Adele Werkowski on the interior design. Tell me about that a little. I think that’s a big project.
BARNES: Well, she gave me a 1905 Sears catalogue and asked me to go through it. It only had 1,101 pages in it, and to chose items in that catalogue that I recognized that we had in our home. It was surprising how many there were. Many of them were even identical, but a lot of them you could get the idea from the picture. Then she did such a wonderful job. She took pictures of those items. We spent a couple hours going through it after I had gone through it. I had it marked, and she took pictures of those and made a page of each one and little stories I had told about each item. That must have taken a lot of her time. It’s a gorgeous piece of work.
HAUGH: And, you know, this kind of research is so important to the museum itself, making it a high quality museum where people, when they enter, will have the feeling and know that those are really the things that were in that house. It’s going to be a great day.
BARNES: My only regret is that I didn’t know this was going to happen and I would not have given or sold so many things. I would have kept them back.
HAUGH: You can’t keep everything.
BARNES: I didn’t know this was going to happen. We moved in 1966 to this address.
HAUGH: There was a lot of changes in ’66. I remember that’s when I started with my newspaper and Prospect Day came to the downtown area. Remember that?
BARNES: I remember their office.
HAUGH: That’s where I was. A lot of good things are happening, and, Bessie, when we do have that dedication, it’s going to be a real gratifying thing for you, I’m sure, to know how much you’ve helped us and how much we appreciate it, too. So anything else you’d like to say for posterity? Still gardening, right? You’ve still got your own little garden.
BARNES: Well, just flowers.
HAUGH: That’s all right. That’s all right.
BARNES: Gave up the gardening. I used to can and freeze a lot, but I don’t any more.
HAUGH: Well, our lives change, as you said when we started. So I guess we’ve made our circle completely. I always have so much fun talking to you because you have such a good recollection of so many things that I think are unknown to other people and so as a Historical Society person, we’re real happy that you’re around.
BARNES: Well thank you. It certainly has proven to me-I’ve heard it, but I never experienced it that when God closes one door, he opens another. And I’ve been very busy and very happy and it was really educational because I didn’t realize many of the things and working with and listening to all those professionals, it is indeed education.
HAUGH: It sure is. I think, too, the opportunity to work with other people that are interested in what we’re trying to do, new friends that you’ve made. And, Bessie, you have to tell them how you go out and talk to people now. The Lions Club and Fairview School kids. I think that’s wonderful. It’s jut wonderful.
BARNES: Thank you very much. I don’t know what kind of a job I do, but I try to tell them. It’s amazing the children do not realize how we lived years ago. Even their parents don’t.
HAUGH: That’s right. That’s right. They don’t know that there wasn’t any indoor plumbing and there was no TV or radios or anything. They wondered what in the world you did. So this is a real education for them.
BARNES: But I’d never give up our youth. I enjoyed that. It was so much fun. I think we had lots of close friendships through that. Now we can all go our own way and still be entertained.
HAUGH: That’s right. That’s right.
BARNES: Or even stay home and watch TV.
HAUGH: By yourself. Yes, sure. I wanted to also mention that you’re serving on the Historical Society Restoration Building Committee, Garden Restoration and Interior Design and as a board of director.
HAUGH: And she was also our Elderhonor person last year. So these are wonderful things that are happening. Bessie, thanks so much.
BARNES: No, thanks to you.
HAUGH: Oh, no, no, don’t. ..
BARNES: If you didn’t push me, I don’t think I would. ..
HAUGH: Well, good. Us widows have to stick together. And, again, I thank you. ..
BARNES: Oh, you’re welcome.
HAUGH: …and we’ll put this on, and we’ll have a lot of people listening and reading about all the wonderful things that
you’ve shared with us today.
BARNES: Thank you very much. This was a pleasure.

Switch to mobile version
%d bloggers like this: