Does MPHS have photographs: Yes
Date of Interview: 8/13/1991
Interviewer: Patricia Kelly
Text of Oral History:
PATRICIA KELLY: …[remarks joined in progress] patricia Kelly and this morning I have the pleasure of interviewing Dolores Haugh for the Mt. Prospect oral history project. Today is Tuesday, August 13, 1991, and it is approximately 10:35 in the morning. Thank you for joining us this morning, Dolores. I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to talk with you about early Mt. Prospect. Can you tell us your full name including your maiden name, where you were born and the year?
DOLORES HAUGH: Okay. My name is Dolores Norma George Haugh. I was born in Chicago, Illinois, and that was back in 1923.
KELLY: Who were your parents or your grandparents, Dolores?
HAUGH: My mother was Norma Lucille Leonard George, and then she later married and so her last name when she passed away was Bemberg. And my father’s name was Sanford Orvil George. What else did you want to know?
KELLY: Did they live in the area?
HAUGH: Yes. They lived in Chicago. I was born and raised in Chicago in Logan Square.
KELLY: Oh, okay. When did you move to Mt. Prospect?
HAUGH: We moved here-well, basically we bought property out here in 1948, but we didn’t build our house until after Cheryl was born, so that would be about 1952 that we came out here. We had lost a little girl and so we wanted something to keep our minds busy, so we decided to build a house. So that’s how we came out here.
KELLY: You were living in Chicago?
HAUGH: Right. I was living in the same house that my grandfather built back in the late 1800s.
KELLY: Oh, how exciting! So you’ve lived here since the early ’50s?
HAUGH: Early ’50s. I can always the remember the population. My dad had passed away so Mama was living with us, and so she said, “You know, the population is 4,004 now.” So that’s how I always remember what the population was. Otherwise I never would have remembered it.
KELLY: Okay. What was the address of your home?
HAUGH: Seven South Edward.
KELLY: Seven South Edward. You had not lived in any other address prior to that?
HAUGH: No, not out here.
KELLY: When you first came to Mt. Prospect, what was considered the downtown? What did it look like?
HAUGH: Well, it’s basically the same area. I think one of the reasons-I wanted just to say this because it’s very important. The main reason we chose Mt. Prospect was it had good building codes. We went allover and found that there were a lot of places that were built that had a beautiful home and right next door there would be a little teensie-weensie house, you know. So there were a lot of building codes out here, and we chose a street that was partially populated because we wanted to make sure that it was an established neighborhood. We wanted to make sure that we were close to schools and good shopping and so on. It was very important that we chose where we did. It was also one of the highest portions in Mt. Prospect-not flooding. That was one of the reasons. The downtown area was very simple. Keefer’s Drugstore was right on Northwest Highway. He had a soda fountain in it. The Kruse’s Tavern was where it is now, although it’s called Mrs. P and Me. But my husband was in the Army Reserve, and he would have to go to meetings on Wednesday evenings. So when the children were little, we used to go over to Kruse’s because there was a family restaurant in the back in the tavern. We’d go in the back way, and we’d sit and have our delicious hamburgers or fried chicken. They were really known for that. Busse Bierman, of course, was here, and Frank was such a wonderful helper to us because neither Bob nor I, of course, had ever built a house before. If you think Mr. Blandings had problems, believe me, we did too. But Frank was so helpful because he would-sometimes Bob would say, “Gee, I’m having trouble with this or that,” and he’d say, “Oh, I’ll come on over and I’ll give you a hand getting this installed,” and so on. And so that was always made a soft spot in my heart for Frank, and, of course, we were friends for years. We’ll miss him now. The doctor that we went to. I don’t see his name on here and I’m trying to think of what it was. Woolfarth was his name. He used to have his office where the Chiropractic Center is now on Prospect Avenue. Basically he was the only “hospital” because the closest hospital was Elgin or in the city. There was no hospital out here. In fact, we helped contribute to the Northwest Community Hospital when it was built because we felt there was a need for it. I’ll tell you a funny incident. My husband was finishing up the last bit of the painting of the eaves on the house. It was a brick house but the eaves needed to be finished, and we hadn’t had the blacktop put in on the driveway, so it was kind of uneven. Daddy got up on a stool instead of getting out the big ladder and fell into the window well, which is hysterically funny, and of course, I stood and laughed as he was sitting there with bucket of dark brown paint over his head. He did not find it as humorous as I did. It took me three boxes of Tide to get it out of his hair and his eyes, and he’d kill me if he knew that I was leaving this to posterity [laughter]. But anyway, the reason I mentioned it was that we had to take him into Dr. Woolfarth for an examination and he had hurt his back, so it wasn’t really as funny as it did look. That was one of the things. Of course, the Mt. Prospect Oil Company was there. I mentioned Keefer’s Pharmacy, and, of course, Van Driel’s was there, too. Next door to him was a little butcher shop that was run by, I think it was Ed Busse. Edwin Busse had that. And, of course, there was Meeske’s. Then on that block was the Gift Box, which was a nice store for cards and things like that. There was also a little tiny paint store and, of course, Schmit’s Bakery. Let’s see. I’m just trying to think. Now, across the street was the National. That was newly built, if I remember right, across the tracks on Prospect Avenue. The A & P didn’t open until-let’s see, Sandy was about a year or two old-so that was about ’56 when it opened at 83 and Central because we went to the grand opening with our babies, per se, in buggies. I didn’t drive. The first few years I was out here I didn’t drive. That was the great thing because we could walk downtown. There was another store. McMann’s Dry Good Store was where the Sound Post is now. They carried a pretty nice line of children’s clothing, which was needful because otherwise you’d have to go into the city because neither of the shopping centers, of course, were built at that time. The church that we went to-we moved in on a Saturday and on Sunday morning we went to St. Mark Lutheran Church, which was a little cement building, and it was a very small little tiny church. There was no big edifice as it is now. There was no educational center that they have now. There was no big gymnasium center that they have now. It was just a little cement-brick building. We got involved at the church right away and I became-after we adopted Sandy, I became Sunday school superintendent there. We used to have our Sunday school down in the furnace room because there wasn’t any room. We were very involved in St. Mark, especially with the building of the sanctuary. Then later I was asked to serve on the committee to design the educational center. Then we felt that we had had so much experience in building that when the opportunity came to start a new church, which was Grace Lutheran out at Wolf and Euclid, why, we were on the steering committee for that, and I was Sunday school superintendent there for many years. And actually, that is where I began my writing career because I started to write for the church and some of the things were published. My first publication was with Cook Publishing in Elgin. It was a little play that I had written. And, of course, it spurred me on to greater things. Also, all of us were pretty much the same age on our block, and we had very little money. We were young and we all had young babies and so we looked for things that we would like to do, and Pastor Steve [Stephens] was with the South church and he started the Marcos [YMARCOS?], which at that time was Young Married Couples, but now it’s Your Married Couples because all the young married couples have grown up. We were invited by our neighbors, Bill and Mary Keith to come and we went to that and we had a wonderful time. I’m still, believe it or not, they’ve invited me to come back into the couples group after all these years. Of course, many of them I’ve known for a long time.
KELLY: You talked a little bit, when you were talking about looking for a place to build, about the reason that you came here was because of the building codes. What were some of the things in those building codes that really drew you to Mt. Prospect?
HAUGH: Well for one thing, the neighborhoods were very well established with like buildings. Now, I don’t mean that they were exactly alike because they didn’t start building those look-alike buildings until the Bluetts went in, which was over there behind Gregory School, and that was much later. But what we liked is the fact that the houses were all well taken care of, and when we built we had to get permits for different things. For instance, we didn’t have our garage contracted. We had that separately done, and so that contractor had to get a building permit from the village and so on. So it was very important to have that because it kept the buildings on a higher level in likeness. In other words, you didn’t have just a little shack and then a nice building, and that was important.. Then the other thing that sold us were the trees because the trees were just all archways, every single street. Busse School was in walking distance. And then within a few years after we moved here, the Mt. Prospect Plaza started, and so we were only four blocks from that. And then Bob could walk to the railroad station. So those were all really important things for us to consider in locating here.
KELLY: In coming from the city, did you find that you were able to purchase most of the items that you needed for day-by-day living here in the downtown area? You’ve talked about the hardware store and the grocery stores and those kinds of things.
HAUGH: We did mostly although we’d go shopping-Mary Keith, my neighbor drove-and so we’d go into Des Plaines once a week. There was a butcher shop in Des Plaines that we liked and we went in there. It was little less expensive than Meeske’s, you know, for our pocketbooks. See, we didn’t have anything but the National out here, so we got some of our meat there. Oh, yes! You know what else we had was a dime store! We had a Ben Franklin dime store on Prospect Avenue. Later it was across the street or vice versa. I can’t remember. Mrs. Smith is still around. She was the owner. She and her husband owned it. I remember it moved, but I can’t remember if it moved from Prospect to Main or from Main to Prospect. But I do know that we had a nice Ben Franklin store. The kids just loved it.
KELLY: Where did you go to buy your big ticket things like cars or buggies or those kinds of things?
HAUGH: Well, actually we didn’t have any money for a car for a long time. Most of our cars were second hand to begin with, and I don’t think we got our first new car until way later. I mean, like in the ’70s. That sounds funny, but. that was really true. We had fallen heir to a couple of cars from our families. That’s what brought us out here. Then we bought a second-hand Chevy, and we bought a second-hand Mercury, you know. So, I mean, we really weren’t involved in that kind of thing. As far as furniture is concerned, I was abundantly blessed because since my dad had passed away, I had a lot of my mother’s things and basically I went into Chicago at that time for my big things like drapery material and rods and things like that because that wasn’t out here. Now Wille’s Lumber was there, but Wille’s Lumber was really a lumber yard. It wasn’t a gift shop like it later was. They just did the lumber kind of things. We got most of our things there except I can’t remember where-we got the carpeting from Chicago, and I think we had the linoleum from Chicago, too.
KELLY: So for transportation you basically relied upon the train then and your pedal extremities, so to speak?
HAUGH: Right, right until I learned to drive, and then after that harrowing experience of my husband teaching me. …Well, the other thing was, too, Mama drove and Mama lived with us and she had a car. So we weren’t totally isolated and, you know, have to walk everywhere, but it was good to walk. It was great!.
KELLY: So your groceries then you went to Meeske’s or the National and into Des Plaines?
KELLY: How did the stores that were in Mt. Prospect at the time, how did you learn what they had and what their hours were? How did they advertise?
HAUGH: Well, I’ll tell you, they had a little shopper that they used to throw up onto the front. I can’t remember that we ever subscribed to any papers at that time. We were all too busy trying to get our houses finished and raising our children and going to PTA meetings and things like that. I can remember one thing that I thought was so terrific, and it was a little later on. It must have been maybe in the late ’50s or early ’60s even. They had a shopper that Paddock put out. It was always distributed on election day, and the stores would post numbers on the front of their doors and in the paper that you got were like numbers. You had to go downtown and you had to go up and down all the streets to see if any of the numbers matched and then you got a prize. But it did bring the people into the downtown area. I want to talk a little about that because it’s very important to me because I’ve worked hard on the downtown area over the years in many ~apacities. We had a group of people who came in who were very, very interested in developing the downtown because here’s what happened: This nice little cluster of little small-town shops that I talked about were wonderful except what happened was when the big centers came like the Plaza and then later Randhurst, of course, the novelty of it drew all the people away from the downtown. It really did, with the exception of a few people who had like charges at the different places like the drugstore and Meeske’s and things like that. But basically it completely changed the downtown. What happened was the non-retail people came in. By that I mean, real estate offices, the lawyer offices and so on. And slowly but surely it became a non-retail area, which was very detrimental, because it’s hard to survive economically for the people that are there. So, in 1974, I believe it was, the village started a comprehensive plan. Now, I can’t remember if it was the beginning or whether it was the revision of it, but at least they were beginning to look again to the downtown. I served on that committee. And then, later on I served also when I was with the village and then afterwards when I was with the Chamber of Commerce with Ken Fritz and we went down to see Naperville and toured Naperville to copy, if you will, their program of rehab of the downtown. I have to say Ken Fritz has worked terrifically hard on this, and it was not an easy job. It took four years before we actually got the first street in, and it was Busse Avenue from Central to Wille Street. Is that Wille Street that Wille Lumber is on? I think it is. Or is it Pine? Anyway, that first block. I know I worked with Ken, and he had a beautiful display made and I helped him to get the display in the bank and different places so people would become aware of what we were trying to do. We had a lot of opposition to it. Many, many of the people on that street were adverse to it because they felt they were losing parking spaces. However, in the long run they didn’t really do that because there was additional parking on some of the side streets. That was when Wille became a one-way street, which it is now, and then there was a whole new thing. Also on beautification, I wanted to mention that was important to me, too. As the downtown became non-retail, it became kind of run-down and nobody seemed to care too much about what it looked like. When I went into the Chamber of Commerce, one of the first things that I did was initiate a beautification program. Through that, working with the elected officers and with the people from Public Works, we were able to get a man to come out from the arboretum and design our entranceways. That was really our very first step. The second step was to sell planter boxes to all the merchants, which basically, I was told, couldn’t be done. However, I called a meeting of the downtown merchants. I want to mention that too, that Jack Keefer worked very hard and so did Gary Pospisil in trying to maintain some form of a downtown nucleus. They did this with a turkey trot every fall, they did it with sidewalk sales in the summer. I think that those people should really be acknowledged for trying very hard to keep the downtown alive. As I say, the Downtown Merchants Association really started to develop through the chamber’s interest because I always felt that the small business was very important to the chamber. That was one of my philosophies. For three full years we tried desperately to bring a Downtown Merchants Association into being. It did work. And I have to tell you when I first met Jerry and first talked about it, he absolutely was against it. He did a 360- degree turnaround when he saw what was happening. What happened was I went to all of the downtown merchants and sold them a planter box for $25. It was a six-foot planter box. Now, let me tell you what happened. Public Works filled them with dirt. I got the Park District to grow the flowers. I got the senior men to plant the flowers, and we got the Boy Scouts to water the flowers. So basically, other than the $25 it did not cost any of the merchants any money. Some of those planter boxes are still out there today being planted. The boys at Prospect High School built the boxes for us. I’m trying to think of the fellow’s name-Dick. ..Oh, isn’t that awful? I can’t think of his name. I’ll think of it. He was the woodshop teacher, and so he supervised the boys and so on. But it has always been a very interesting development. I think that we could not have had the refurbishing or redeveloping without the elected officials giving the merchants the facade program. I think the facade program was the axis on which it turned because under that they could have their property upgraded-especially the fronts-all the way up to$5,000 in matching funds. That was a real plus and that, of course, what you see today, is the results of that.
KELLY: The restoration of some of those older buildings that were existing buildings and stores. The drugstore, I’m sure, the hardware store, which were original stores.
HAUGH: And, of course, we lost some old buildings, and we have over the years. We’ve lost a lot of old buildings, and sometimes you look at it from a historical angle and you wish you probably could have saved some of them, but on the other hand, they were necessities that had to be fulfilled in the name of progress. One of them was that we lost the old Schimming Oil, which was the very first business in Mt. Prospect. It was a creamery originally, and so, of course, when that went down, that was sad. Also they tore down the original municipal building, which we had converted through the Historical Society as a museum. However, that building was not original in the fact that two feet had been removed when they built the new water tower. But basically, I think the downtown development has certainly upgraded. I think that there’s still things that have to be done. I also feel that by getting the merchants involved, I have seen so many of them change over from anti-progress to really being supportive, and I think that’s terrific.
KELLY: You talked a little bit about going to Dr. Woolfarth as your physician when you came to Mt. Prospect and the lack of hospitals. Was his practice different than what you would find in a doctor today? Did he dispense medicines?
HAUGH: Yes. In fact, he would give you the medicines. I mean, a lot of times you would get the medicines directly from him, which, of course, you don’t do anymore. Mostly it goes with your prescriptions and so on. But, yes, he would dispense medications. He made house calls, and he also liked to sail a boat, which I thought was real interesting. He had a big sailboat, and he went around the world, if I’m not mistaken, in it. So he was a very interesting person. I did not know Louise Kester, but she was practicing, I believe, at the same time. However, as I say, we started to go to him because of this accident that Bob had had. Later on when we to Dr. Karnes, who was one of the first pediatricians in town. And Dr. Bagnolo was out here.
KELLY: Did they also make house calls?
HAUGH: Yes, they did on real serious things. There was no place to go. You didn’t have a hospital emergency room like you have now. And you didn’t call him for everything, either. In the good old days, you know, you’d call a doctor, and he’ll you over the phone what to do. I mean if it’s like mumps or measles. I’ll never forget when Sandy came down with the mumps. Cheryl had had them so we knew she was going to get them. I had my relatives out for Sunday afternoon dinner and she was running a temperature, and my father-in-law was hysterical that we hadn’t called the doctor. And I said, “Dad, she’s getting the mumps.” He was so insistent, and, of course, it cost a lot to have them come out in those days. It was $20 a call, and that was a lot of money for us. So my husband said to my father-in-law, “You want him to come so darn bad, you can pay for it.” He said, “Okay.” He came out and he took one look at her and said, “Mumps.” But at least it didn’t cost us anything.
KELLY: Did the people that work in the stores and as helpers for the doctor, were they local people or did some of them come from outside the area?
HAUGH: Oh, no, mostly local. It was a very small-town atmosphere, very tight. In fact, it was where town and country meet. That was our motto. Because we were country. It was farms allover. When we built our house on Edward Street and we looked north, it was all farm. Central Road was just a little tiny two lane very narrow road. I can remember when they widened it. All the dirt we got when it was paved with the four lanes and everything. On the other side of town across the railroad tracks you had hardly any homes at all. It was all farmland.
KELLY: So the building was mostly between the railroad track and what is now Central Road?
HAUGH: Right. It was called the Busse Development, the George Busse Development. He had the homes that went all the way, I believe, from Central all the way to Rand Road. Then it was like a triangle that came down Busse and then over. In the 1920s, when I did my research on it, he was the one that planted all the elm trees and, of course, subdivided and sold the property.
KELLY: Those are the streets that have the boys’ names?
HAUGH: Right. Right. It’s really funny because Mt. Prospect has one point in it that’s supposed to be the highest point in Cook County, which happens to be that little rise on Central Road just as you go up to Edwards Street. So, I always lived on top of a mountain. It’s real interesting as far as the development of it goes. As I say, I think the chamber had a lot to do with pulling things together and it still does, of course. There were all kinds of things to remember. We always had the fireworks on the Fourth of July and the parade and we had the Zenith Towers, which my kids called the Winken and Blinken lights. They were over on the corner of Rand and Central.
KELLY: What were those?
HAUGH: That was the tag ends, if you will, of one of the first broadcasting centers in the suburbs. In fact, a gentleman is writing a book on it and I just did the research on it for him and talked to Ben Tripani’s son, who was at that time involved with WWMM out of Arlington. We got pictures of the old Zenith Towers, and, of course, they were taken down.
KELLY: You mentioned the creamery as being one of the first businesses in the downtown area. Where were they located and what did they do? Did they actually deliver milk and cream to homes?
HAUGH: Oh, yes. They processed the milk there. The farmers from all around would bring their raw milk in, and if they didn’t send it in in the milk cans, which they did at first-they just sent it in in the milk cans. But a lot of it was processed there and the cream separated. Of course, that was before my time. Most of what I know about it is just through research from the Historical Society. But it was one of the very first creameries out here, and they did cheese. There was another factory that made cheese. And we had Wille’s Lumber and Coal. But that was all before we came. When we came, of course, it was still Schimming Oil at that time, I believe.
KELLY: The creamery was Schimming Oil?
HAUGH: Yes, when we came out. Then I remember, too, under the water tower was the old municipal building, and that was used mainly for storage and the shooting range for the police department was in there. There was a man in there who repaired the parking meters, which we used to have downtown. We had parking meters downtown. I think the biggest thing that hurt the downtown also was the widening of 83 because it eliminated frontstore parking. And, of course, parking has always been the major problem of our downtown. I’ve always suggested we build a second layer over the whole thing and let people drop in from the top because there’s no way you’re going to get enough people, cars and everything in those streets.
KELLY: …[remarks joined in progress] the buildings that are in downtown Mt. Prospect when you came here and you’ve mentioned that the creamery had changed hands. Were there any other major manufacturing kinds of businesses?
HAUGH: Yes. Right next to the municipal building was a battery-I think it was batteries. I don’t remember too much about it because I wasn’t too interested in it. You know what I mean? It was there. But I didn’t know the persons until 1967, and the only reason I got acquainted then with the man was because he collected old office equipment and we needed that for the 50th anniversary display and we needed old office equipment because we were going to set up the old bank. And because we had- let’s see, I’m trying to think of her name. I don’t know. It’ll come to me. Anyway, we worked with the business and professional women. Doris Webber and a whole bunch of us worked together to get the equipment over there to set up an old bank building, because they had an old teller’s cage and we used that and then built around that. And this gentleman-and I can’t remember his name-he had some old typewriters and things that he loaned, adding machines and things. Those are some of the things he collected.
ELLY: What kind of batteries did they manufacture?
HAUGH: I have no idea. I really don’t. I don’t have any idea.
KELLY: Was it a pretty good-sized plant?
HAUGH: Ch, yes. Well, it took up that whole block where the water tower is on Evergreen. You know, there was the municipal building, which was a small building, and then the rest of it was the battery factory.
KELLY: Would you say that that was probably one of the largest manufacturers in town in terms of employees?
HAUGH: Oh, I’m sure, at that point. The other ones didn’t come in, if I recall right, they didn’t come in until later on Prospect Avenue.
KELLY: What were some of those?
HAUGH: Oh, I knew you were going to say that. I can’t think of the names of them. I should remember them, too, because they belonged to the Chamber before they moved out. I can’t think of it right now.
KELLY: Did you know anyone who worked in any of these businesses?
HAUGH: Well, mostly the bank. Walters-what was her first name, a real nice gal. I’ll think of that, too. [laughter] I can’t think of her first name. Anyway, she worked at the bank, and she was always very helpful in any of the community activities that we planned. She always would be with us, and she was also in our business and professional women’s club.
KELLY: Other than the stores and businesses which were downtown, when you came here, was there a library? You mentioned the municipal building. What was in the municipal building?
HAUGH: Actually they had not had moved into the current one. The one they were in was over where the police and fire is now. I didn’t have too much to do with that. My husband usually went down and got the licenses and things, so I wasn’t as involved with that building. But the library, I was very involved with because I’ve always been a library buff myself. It was-let’s see, where was it? It was where the senior center is now. But before that there was a little tiny building across the street from the Doretti’s [Pharmacy], where Doretti’s is now, and in there was the first bank. The first Mt. Prospect State Bank opened in there in 1910. Then later the library was moved in there from a little paint store that I mentioned down on Main Street. So the library really grew and I knew Mrs. [Irma] Schlemmer, and when we started the Mt. Prospect Art League-not the council, but the league-which had to be back in, I’d say, around 1958 or something like that, she let us have our first art exhibit at the library over the fireplace-just five or six paintings-but it represented works from the five of us that were getting together to paint in Crystal Hansen’s basement. But that was the beginning of the Art League. And then, of course, we saw the growth of the library, and then Mary Jo [Hutchings] came and then you and so it’s been a real progress.
KELLY: What was Wille Hall?
HAUGH: Wille Hall was where the little Wille’s Tavern was originally. Now, a lot people think the little white house was Wille’s Hall and basically it was because Wille built it, and it was a community center also. But the original Wille’s Hall was over next to where the old tavern is where the barber shop was. The way I understand it, that was where people met. Now, when I talk to Bessie [Barnes], there was a bigger hall that I had no record of or pictures or anything called Wille’s Hall, and that was on the other side of the railroad tracks, the south side of the railroad tracks, and that’s where they had all their barn dances and their get-togethers and everything.
KELLY: It was bigger than the Wille Hall that is the tavern?
HAUGH: Right, right. KELLY: What kind of things took place again at this smaller place?
HAUGH: Well, again, that isn’t when I was here, so from what I’ve learned is that they would have their meetings. They’d have their first meeting for the association there, you know, the business association that they started downtown. That was way before-practically about the time I was born. So, I mean, you know, I’m only saying this from things I’ve learned. But we had the-I can’t remember if the movie show was there or not. Seems to me that that was a little later after we came here. Yes, I’m almost sure it was. But the little building that the bank was in and then the library was in was still here when we moved in. The bank, of course, was where the village hall is now. Let’s see, we didn’t move into that as a village hall until 1974. So it was there until 1974, and then, of course, the new building was built, the six-floor. And then the village moved in there. I’m trying to think of some other things.
KELLY: Was there any place in the downtown area where groups of people got together for entertainment?
HAUGH: No, mostly we were in churches. Most people went to the churches. Now, there was a park district. There was a country club over where the park district golf club is now, but it was a privately owned. I don’t know too much about it. We were involved in it. We were mostly involved in our church, and in South Church and with the YMARCOS. Those were the two things. The first thing we went to, and I cannot remember-I think it was held at one of the churches at Arlington. Some friends asked us to go to a square dance. That was really one of the first things we were actually invited to go to. That was Meeske’s invited us to go, and we went to that dance. But that was the first time we were invited anywhere after we moved out here.
KELLY: What did the teenagers do that wanted to be by themselves? Was there a special place where they congregated?
HAUGH: No, we didn’t have that. Most of the teenagers were home, and they went to church with their parents. It was an entirely different quality of life at that point in time because the family was much closer-knit. Television, of course, was just coming out and it was a big deal to have a TV and I think people were clustering at home more than that. We didn’t have anything. The only thing I can remember later on is having floats built in my garage for the high school when Cheryl was in high school. That was when Central was being widened.
KELLY: What were the floats for?
HAUGH: For homecoming. They always had a big homecoming parade in the fall.
KELLY: Where did that parade go?
HAUGH: Down Main Street. But see, there again, you didn’t have the wide streets and things like you did now. Some of them went down Northwest Highway later on. I can remember coming up from Central down Busse Avenue and up Northwest Highway. So they took different routes different years. But those are some that I can remember anyway. The kids always had a great time with that, you know, with the football season and everything.
KELLY: Did they have other parades and activities that would gather the people that were in the downtown area together?
HAUGH: Well, mostly the Lions. They Lions had theirs. I can remember we’d go up there and all the ladies would be frying hamburgers and the men would be working.
KELLY: Where did that take place?
HAUGH: That was at Lions Park. We always had it at Lions Park. It was a lot of work. They did a lot of good. They gave all the street signs to the village, they donated Lions Park land and that’s why it’s called Lions Park. They get mad when you spell it L-Y-O-N-S, too.
KELLY: Was there a Fourth of July parade?
HAUGH: Oh, yes. We had a Fourth of July parade.
KELLY: Memorial Day?
HAUGH: The Fourth of July parade was one of the big things because all the people on our block got together in our driveway. We were the only ones that shared a driveway with our neighbors, the Keiths. And so we were always the spot that everybody gathered in, and we had a breakfast. We’d have a great big Fourth of July breakfast. Everybody would bring stuff and homemade cake and coffee cake. The kids all would decorate their bicycles. That was a big thing. And then they were allowed to go in the street that day because otherwise they were verboten to go in the street. They still have the picnic on Edwards Street. Of course, I’m not there anymore. It’s still nice to know it’s still going on.
KELLY: Did the village decorate the downtown area at Christmas time or other times?
HAUGH: It seems to me that they did. They decorated the poles, I think. I doesn’t really stand out a great deal in my mind in the early days if they did or not. I just really don’t remember. But I do recall that they had stuff hanging on the posts.
KELLY: And when was the gazebo built?
HAUGH: Oh, that was in 1976. That was part of the bicentennial. And that was from the Junior Women’s Club. They did that. Because there were a lot of things that went on in those years. I think one of the things I wanted to mention, too, was about the newspapers because it was interesting. I was telling you about this little throw-away. There was also another little-we always called them throw-aways because you didn’t pay for them-and that was Topics which came out of Shephard Publications in Palatine. They were shoppers. They just told you what the stores had and so on. And, of course, Paddock was out here. We did take Paddock. We subscribed to Paddock, and then later I began to write for them.
KELLY: What was the name of the paper at that time?
HAUGH: It was Mt. Prospect Herald. It was just called the Herald. And then, of course, they had everything in it-I mean Arlington and allover. It wasn’t as divided up as it is now. It’s interesting to learn about Paddock. They, of course, are well over a hundred years old. I went to see Mr. Paddock, Sr., and this was in about 1955, ’56, around in there, because Bob and I as I told you was in the YMARCOS group. I had planned all these parties. I had spent so much time researching and everything, I thought, “Gee, it would be fun to write a party column.” So I went to him and I asked him for a job and he said, “Well, Grace Mott writes about parties.” I said, ItCh, I don’t mean a reporter. I mean to create a party.” He said, “Well, if you can get that past Mary Ann.” She was the woman’s page editor. “If you can get past Mary Ann, you’ve got a job.” So I went in and saw her and she looked at my copy, which happened to be a Mardi Gras party that we had given for our block. She said, “I like it, but it’s too late to run.” I said, “You tell me what you want and I’ll write it,” and we were friends from them on. I wrote it at home. I never went to the office. All I did was dump it off at Paddock in Arlington Heights. And then, of course, I did that for seven and a half years and finally the Day Publications came in. Now, this was the very first newspaper, suburban daily newspaper, in the United States and it was put out by Field Enterprise, and it started in Arlington Heights. I went for an interview to just be a writer, a feature writer, and I was offered the position of women’s editor for the Prospect Day, which, of course, had not even come out yet, which is another whole story. I can do a whole tape on that. But basically the paper grew, and as it grew, Paddock, which was a weekly, became bi-weekly, tri-weekly and then they went daily. Well, when they went daily, there was not enough advertising in the area to hold both of those papers together financially, and Field’s opted to keep his television and he sold the paper to Paddock for a million dollars, which, of course, threw me out of a job. But I went over to Des Plaines Publishing and started to work for the Mt. Prospect Times as woman’s page editor there. I worked my way up to being managing editor, which is a whole different ball of wax. Then I left there and worked for Shephard Publications for one year and then Bob died and I had to go to work for money. I always say I gave up journalism for money. Bob, when he passed away, I had to start looking for a better income. That’s when I went into the village, and I went in as an assistant to the village clerk. The first newsletter I wrote was in 1974 and the village only had one newsletter and it was sent out to remind people to buy their licenses. So after I did design the first one, which was really a nice looking job-it was a three-fold, but the last fold was doubled and folded in so it folded out when you read it and the top of it carried the anticipated bicentennial calendar, and it was all done in red, white and blue. It was a real nice piece. That was sent out to everybody in the village by mail. Then Mr. [Robert] Eppley, who was the village manager at the time said, “We ought to really expand the newsletter,” because that was the coming thing of getting people involved in municipal government.
KELLY: How long had the village been sending out that newsletter?
HAUGH: Well, they had been sending it out since they had vehicle stickers. Before all it was a letter reminding people of vehicle stickers. That’s all it was. It wasn’t really a newsletter. It was just more or less a notice, you know. So then, he got the village board to approve four newsletters. Well, the first thing we had to do was reduce the cost of distribution, so we went to door hangers. I got an outfit that would hang the little letters on the doors, and that’s how they used them. Then we went to six newsletters a year. I really got hooked on newsletters at one time when I was working for the chamber. I was doing thirty-six newsletters a year, which is kind of a lot of newsletters.
KELLY: I would say so. Did the newsletter advertise activities that were going on in the village, as well as …?
HAUGH: No, it was mostly held to municipal news and education of the public as to the staff and as to the elected officials. One of my first projects besides the newsletter was to design a calendar. I brought that in under budget, and it was very well received. We did that two years, and that was the annual report. But we made it up into the newsletter.
KELLY: We were talking about parades and activities that people who lived in the downtown area were involved in. Were there any special things that took place at the train station that you can think about, politically or …?
HAUGH: Not really. As I say, the downtown didn’t do very much at Christmas, per se. It wasn’t until I got into the chamber and suggested we have our Christmas walks. That was in 1980. I can’t say that they didn’t exist because maybe they did. The only thing that I can really remember with downtown is that election day deal. Other than that, of course, when Randhurst opened then, of course, everything was at Randhurst and the Plaza. Santa Claus came in at both places, and we really didn’t need anything.
KELLY: Did Santa Claus come to the downtown area before that?
HAUGH: If it did, it was special occasions that were paid by private people because I don’t think there was any organization whatsoever that brought Santa in until we did with the chamber. And then, of course, the first year was a Christmas walk that we had-and actually I copied that from Geneva because I was so impressed. All the merchants opened their stores and served refreshments, and then, of course, Santa came for the children.
KELLY: When was the first Christmas walk?
HAUGH: In 1980. The chamber took that over. When I was with the village, we initiated a farmer’s market, but it was taken over by the chamber in 1980 when I went in as executive director. Of course, it’s still going, which is nice. And at that time we also initiated the Elderhonor, which lauds the seniors who give so willingly of their volunteer time. We also did the conversion from the Christmas walk to the Teddy Bear walk in 1983. And, of course, then we incorporated the library and the bank and the Woman’s Club later joined in. Before that, the chamber had the Santa Claus come. They are really funny because the first one was a real stitch because it was old Doc Baumann. Did you know Doc Baumann?
HAUGH: He’s an elderly man. He had his own white mustache and he refused to wear a Santa Claus beard with a mustache, so it was very hard to find one. Actually it was pretty awful as far as I was concerned. We decided to bring him in on the train. There was a mix-up, and we were allover at the Village Hall by the Christmas tree waiting for Santa Claus and, of course, he’s coming in on the train. So half the people were at the train station and half the people-it was terrible. The worst part was we didn’t have a nice costume for him. We just had a real-it was the only one I could get-it was like cheesecloth. [laughter] It was awful and he was so mad about this costume! Anyway, we got through it all right. And then the next one we had, I had a Mrs. Santa Claus. That was Ruby Morton. And we had Don May, who is a gigantic man. He’s got to be 6’6″. You know Don don’t you?
KELLY: Yes. HAUGH: Well, he was my Santa Claus. We had to have a way of getting him there, see. So I had him go up to the roof of the village hall and appear on the roof. [laughter] It was hysterical! And then after that we had John Foster. He was our Santa Claus. But, we’ve been lucky in having good Santa Clauses. And Mrs. Santa Claus-I think Ruby did that for seven years. She was Mrs. Santa Claus.
KELLY: Was the train station essentially the same building now as it was then?
HAUGH: No. It was built when [Robert] Teichert was mayor. He got the funding to rebuild that from the state.
KELLY: What was there before?
HAUGH: And again, I’m only telling you from pictures because I never did see the old station. The original station was just a clapboard job and it was just a little tiny place. Just almost like a little shed, if you will.
KELLY: For many two or three people?
HAUGH: Not even two or three because I think they just had one station master. And the mail, they didn’t even stop for the mail. They grabbed it as they went by off of an arm, you know. So they didn’t even stop in Mt. Prospect because, remember, we didn’t have our growth spurt until the late ’50s. That’s when people came out from Chicago to be suburbanites.
KELLY: So when you first came here, the train didn’t make a regular stop here?
HAUGH: It stopped, but I’m going to tell you something. Those were the oldest trains I ever rode on. They had gas jets on them, would you believe? And they had pot belly stoves on them! If you can visualize that in 1950. And dirty! Whenever you came off that place, you had to go home and take a bath. It was soot from the old engine. We had the old engines. I mean the steam engines out here when I came out.
KELLY: About how many cars would be on the train?
HAUGH: Oh not very many. I mean maybe three or four, but never more than that. I mean now you can get six and seven. KELLY: Were they used by what we call commuters?
HAUGH: Oh, yes, definitely. But there was a lot more, you know, freight cars because they would load up sugar beets, corn. All the stuff would be put onto the freight cars to be brought into Chicago.
KELLY: So it was a combination passenger and. ..?
HAUGH: Oh, there’s like one passenger car. All the rest would be taking produce and stuff to Chicago. Of course, we used to have onion sheds allover. There used to be one next to the old Public works Building on pine Street, but it was torn down.
KELLY: These onion sheds were right downtown?
HAUGH: Yes, they were downtown. And then, of course, they were out on the fields, too, where they would sort the onions. That was one of the big things they exported out of here, too. And mushrooms surprisingly enough. Some of those mushroom farms are still in Des Plaines. I don’t think we have any more in Mt. Prospect. But the mushrooms was another big, big export from here.
KELLY: What were some of the others? I remember beets.
HAUGH: Yes. Beets and potatoes, but mostly dairy. A lot of dairy stuff, you know, milk especially. They would pick up the milk cans, and they stopped for the milk cans.
KELLY: How did they keep that cold?
HAUGH: I don’t know. I don’t think they did too well. But don’t forget, it wasn’t that long of a ride either. And if you figure it’s right out of the cow, it’s warm. So by the time it gets in, it would probably be down to room temperature by the time they got it to the dairy.
KELLY: About how often did the trains actually stop? Was it a regular schedule?
HAUGH: When we came out, we were a scheduled stop. In the ’50s they stopped here. Before that they didn’t.
KELLY: About how many times a day?
HAUGH: Not very many. I think there was like three or four trains at the most. At the most. And that would be early morning and then there’d be one in the afternoon around three and then, of course, another one in the evening. They didn’t run every hour or half hour or anything like that. As I say, we very seldom took the train. We didn’t have any money to go anywhere really.
KELLY: Do you remember how much it cost to take the train?
HAUGH: If I remember right, it was like 35 cents from what I can remember.
KELLY: And you said they were steam engines and then. ..
HAUGH: Well, at first, yes. And then later, of course, they had the other engines on. That was a real experience to ride on those. You could hardly believe that they would still have those in the ’50s. But I can remember those old jet things and the stove like in the movies. Cowboy movies.
KELLY: Down at the train station, did they have a station master that was here all the time?
HAUGH: Ch, no. Most of the time he would just be there in the morning. It’s still like that. You’d be lucky if you could catch him. If you wanted any information you usually called downtown, you know. Ch, I was going to tell you about another shop I remembered. It was that little baby shop. Louie the barber was downtown, and there was another barber shop on Main Street. I can’t remember that man’s name. I think when I took over in the Chamber of Commerce, we had twelve beauty shops and barber shops in the downtown area, which is a lot, really, and a lot of real estate offices. As you can see, we’ve had a nice changeover. We have a lot of nice retail sales. Mary Jane’s [Dress Shop], of course, was there. She’s been there a long time. I don’t think she was there when-no, because the only restaurant we had at first was Doris Kirkibe’s, and that used to be in the building where Daneo’s Restaurant is right there on the corner of Busse Avenue and Central. In 1966, it was a piano store because I was working for Day Publications and I wrote a song, and we went down to play it on the piano. So that’s how I remember there was a piano store in there. Before that it used to be a Buick distributor. William Busse used to have it. So that building’s been there a long time.
KELLY: You mentioned the dime store. Did they have reacty-towear?
HAUGH: Oh, no, no, no. They just had the usual things of a dime store-school supplies and a lot of sewing things. They had a little bit of fabric, toys. That was the big thing, of course, for the kids was the toys and the books. But not like we have now. Not like paperbacks or anything like that. Maybe coloring books and things and shoes strings and shoe polish and things you can’t find anymore.
KELLY: What would say, Dolores, were some of the favorite things that you remember positively about Mt. Prospect as you first came here and started to build your home and raise your family?
HAUGH: Oh, I think most of it was the friendliness. When you went downtown, people talked to you. You could walk down the street and say hello to everybody. I mean, you didn’t feel funny, you know? And if you were new, you’d stop and talk and ask when they moved in and where they lived and where their house was in, you know, in Chicago or where they came from. It was a very nice, warm community. Of course, I feel it still is, although I know in reality we’ve grown to include a lot of multi-families, a lot of people who only commute out here and live out here and work in Chicago and really don’t get involved in their community. But I can’t really say that’s across the board because I live in a very large unit over at Huntington Commons and I have people in there that come to the auto show and things as long as I tell them about it. So I think a lot of it is still wound up in communications. If we don’t have good communications, you’re not going to get people to do anything. I think we should have newsletters like the library has and like the village has.
KELLY: You talked about Mt. Prospect when you first came here having some retail outlets, places where, for the most part, you could purchase the kinds of things that you needed for your day-by-day living and then the change from that to a service environment and then you just alluded a little bit ago to perhaps that you were seeing that changing back.
HAUGH: Oh, yes.
KELLY: How do you feel about that? Do you think that’s good, bad?
HAUGH: It’s got to be good. There’s two reasons it’s got to be good. First of all, when the Kensington business area opened, you know, the industrial park, I was with the village at the time.These people would come to the mayor, and one of the first things they did was look at the downtown because, you see, your downtown is a reflection of your total community no matter where it is. It never has moved from where it is because of the railroad tracks, which are positives and negatives, okay, because they do divide the town. But basically by upgrading your downtown, you attract your better people into your industrial areas. So that’s important. It’s very important. Also I feel that the attitudes of the merchants have been more cooperative through the chamber now and in the past. They’re working together to bring people back downtown. Like when we were talking about it originally, I said to the downtown merchants, “You must get the attitude that you are a shopping mall. Downtown is a shopping mall. Offer them everything they can get at a mall, and they’ll come back.” So you have. ..[end of tape] [Tape 2: Side 1]
HAUGH: I think that by having the sidewalk days and the hometown days and bringing the people back-it’s a hard job to bring people back. Once you lose them, it’s very difficult to bring them back, but I think by having these different things downtown, you’re seeing a lot of people saying, “Oh that’s what’s going on,” like Teddy Bear walk and the hometown days. And then, you see, the merchants can offer one thing that a mall can’t, and that’s service. One of my favorite stories is a little girl that went into buy a present for her mother.and she didn’t have enough money and the lady gave it to her anyway and the father came in and was so delighted. I’m sure there’s still customers of that store because that’s what the small downtown area can do where your malls can’t do that. So they sell service. I think that we have a good mix downtown now. Plus the fact that because of the redevelopment program and the commission that works on it, you’re seeing more people being brought into the downtown area who will be shoppers. That’s why you have your multi-families coming in closer to the downtown area because they will run out to the drugstore, they will run out to the local grocery store, and you will have the people shopping downtown. If you don’t go on a planned action of bringing people down around that town-senior citizen development, all those kind of things should be downtown. That’s why we’re so happy of having our museum downtown, because that’s going to bring people in. And whenever you have that-you’ve got your library, you’ve got your village hall, senior center, Historical Society-when it’s downtown, it’s going to do nothing but bring up the retail sales for your local people.
KELLY: So you think that what you’re seeing now is better than the way it was?
HAUGH: Ch, absolutely. Absolutely. But it’s taken time. It’s taken a long time to develop the ambience, if you will, by having the upgrade of the landscaping of the railroad station. All this takes time. It took, as I said, four years before the actuality of the first street downtown. So you know how long it takes. It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just the way life is. You have a lot of things to overcome. When you work, for instance, with the streets, you work with the state. If you work with the railroad, you work with the Chicago & Northwestern, so you’re never working on a two-point thing [where] you go from the beginning to the end in one stroke. You go from the beginning to here to there to back and forth until you get there. So it always takes time. It takes a lot of time.
KELLY: Dolores, if there was one thing that you would want the children in Mt. Prospect to remember about the history of Mt. Prospect, what would it be?
HAUGH: I think it would be the spirit of the town, the spirit of the pioneers who came here when the Des Plaines River was a roaring torrent, when they had to really go out and cut the trees down and build the homes and cook venison to stay alive and to do all these things. I think the pioneer spirit of the town still is there. Even though we’re a modern city-we are a city. I mean, everybody says, “We’re a village.” Yes, we’re a village because we’ve chosen this form of government, but basically we are a city, and when there’s more people, you have more problems. When you have more problems, you have to have more police. When you have more police, you have to have more taxes. Everything is relevant. But I really feel that we’re going to be doing a great step towards bringing the history of the pioneers to our children through our Historical Society, because we’ll be introducing a third-grade curriculum through our new history book and through our education committee, and I think that’s going to give the children a springboard into what they will be learning at the new museum because the new museum is going to tell them a lot more of how life really was in this town. I think it’s important for people to know what their roots were. I think that to me-of course, I love this town. I’ve loved it since I’ve lived here, and I’ve always seen needs and jumped in and hopefully helped. I’ve known so many people through the jobs that I’ve had and I found such good people here. I really do. I said I think it’s indicative. Imagine in this day and age when the big me is the big thing to have people giving money to a museum. It’s almost unheard of. People can’t even believe sometimes. But I know the kind of people who live here and they are good people-very good people.
KELLY: Reflective of the spirit that built the community?
HAUGH: Exactly. You get them together and they’ll form up things that maybe aren’t exactly what the elected officials want. They’ll go forward as a group and they’ll present their problems and they don’t always win, but at least they do it. That’s the thing. I just think one of the biggest things is the apathy and the voting. But there again, a lot of people, (a), aren’t interested in it, and, (b), they don’t have cable to watch the meetings. I think if people get involved in it, then they start wanting to vote and putting people into office and so on. I think it’s good to have controversy. If everything goes well, there’s something the matter. But I think we’re lucky, too, in the schools that we have, our library, our post office. Everything we have here is of top quality giving. It’s giving to the public. Sure we pay taxes, but we get things back for our taxes that you don’t get in Chicago. You don’t get your taxes back in Chicago like you do out here.
KELLY: You mentioned the post office. It just brought to mind, when you first came here, was there a post office in Mt. Prospect?
HAUGH: Yes. It was over on Evergreen where Carolyn Krause’s office is, 200 East Evergreen.
KELLY: Right off Northwest Highway.
HAUGH: Yes, across the street from the water tower. That’s where our post office was. I’m not sure, though, if that’s where it was When we first came. I can’t remember. But that’s the only one I do recall.
KELLY: And then they moved to their current site?
HAUGH: Yes, from there. They built that in 1976, too. It was opened. That was another one of the big bicentennial things we did. That’s another thing, I think, too. I give a lot of credit to the village because they do take the time to celebrate some of these things. Like in ’76 it was the bicentennial of country, and now again in the last five years with the celebration of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. You’d be surprised how few people are doing this in the country. They would like you to believe there’s a lot, but basically a lot of communities don’t care about it, and yet Mt. Prospect’s always done that.
KELLY: Dolores, is there anything else that comes to mind while we’ve been talking that you’d like to share about early Mt. Prospect or when you first came here that you can think of?
HAUGH: Well, I think we’ve kind of covered it. I think Busse School was an important part in our lives because both the children went there. They both graduated from Central before it was torn down, and, of course, they both went to Prospect High School and got a very good high school education, which of course, I think is another plus for the community. I find that now, compared to what we had in the downtown area, your merchandizing is like a million percent more because you have so many stores at Randhurst and right in your own hometown. I think it’s wise to say that you can see this growth in retail sales revenue that the village gets because when I first started in 1980, we were getting as revenue from retail sales under three million dollars, and now it’s well over six million. So you know that these things are showing up and that’s what keeps the taxes down.
KELLY: And certainly the growth in the downtown area has contributed to all this?
HAUGH: Oh, sure. Oh, absolutely, absolutely, because as you changed over from the non-retail to the retail, you see, then you started to bring in your retail sales again, which is great.
KELLY: Okay. Well, thank you very much Dolores. I certainly enjoyed our conversation.
HAUGH: You’re welcome. I enjoyed it too.
KELLY: Well good! Thank you.