Does MPHS have Photographs: No
Date of interview: 11/15/1994
Text of oral History interview:
NANCY HANKS: I want to thank the two of you for agreeing to be interviewed today and for signing the release form.
ROGER JOHNSTON: Our pleasure.
NANCY: I am going to ask you a little bit about the biography of your family. What’s your full name?
ROGER: My name is Roger A. Johnston.
NANCY: And your maiden name Beatrice was?
NANCY: When and where were you born? I’ll ask you first.
ROGER: I was born in Chicago on July 11, 1915. At the time, we were living –my mom and dad –about a block and a half from Cubs ballpark. It was on Racine which is the street that leads into Clark Street. Of course, that’s on the north side of Chicago.
NANCY: Beatrice, how about you?
BEATRICE: I was born April 11, 1917.
NANCY: The place of birth was?
NANCY: Who were your parents?
ROGER: My father’s name was Albert M. Johnston. My mother’s name was Anna Charlotte Johnston. Of course, her maiden name was Croonborg. Both my mother and father were born here in Chicago, and their parents came from Sweden back in the 1880s.
NANCY: Beatrice, how about your parents?
BEATRICE: Mabel and Carl Erickson.
NANCY: What was your mother’s maiden name?
NANCY: When did you move to Mt. Prospect?
ROGER: That was in 1951. To be exact, on February 26.
NANCY: Your address now is 900 South Lancaster?
NANCY: Have you ever lived at any other address in the village?
ROGER: Yes. When we first moved here, the address was 106 South Hi-Lushi. We lived there for 18 years and moved here in 1968, so it has to be 26 years that we are here.
NANCY: How has Mt. Prospect changed since you’ve lived here?
BEATRICE: The population has increased by 12 times as many.
ROGER: At least 10 times.
NANCY: How about other changes?
ROGER: It always has been a friendly community.
BEATRICE: Always and has remained that. That really hasn’t changed, wouldn’t you say? How else has it changed? Well, Golf Road was a two-lane road. Central Road was a two-lane road. It was just a small community.
ROGER: When we first moved out here, the railroad crossing at Central Road used to be a whistle crossing. Trains would go through there –freight trains at night –blowing the whistle.
NANCY: That was it. If you didn’t hear them, there was no gate and no signal.
ROGER: I think there were flashing lights. That was all at the time.
BEATRICE: There were steam engines that used to blow the whistle.
ROGER: When we lived on Hi-Lushi, it was the village limit to the west. Beyond that were farmer’s fields. Our kids used to go out and be with the farmer when he was reaping his crops.
BEATRICE: And play in the peat bogs out there.
NANCY: Before you came here, what did you know about Mt. Prospect?
BEATRICE: I don’t think we knew anything about Mt. Prospect. We just kept going farther and farther on the day that we were looking. We probably started out in Evanston. No, not in Evanston. Park Ridge. We kept moving farther out.
ROGER: Even before that, I think we looked in Edison Park first.
BEATRICE: Right. Edison Park. We just kept going farther out.
ROGER: From Park Ridge we went to Des Plaines. We still didn’t find anything to our liking.
BEATRICE: In the way of housing. We wanted to live in the country. This was the country.
NANCY: What are some of the events that you remember happening in the village?
BEATRICE: I can’t recall any big, disastrous thing that happened.
NANCY: How about some of the interesting things or things that were fun? Right before the holidays –July Fourth or parades?
BEATRICE: There always were parades. Our children were in Campfire and Boy Scouts. We have two girls and a boy, and they were in that. I was involved in Campfire. Roger was involved in Boy Scouts. We marched in those parades.
ROGER: Yes. I was –what do they call it? –cubmaster. That’s what they call it.
NANCY: What do you feel are landmarks in the community?
BEATRICE: I think Van Dreil’s Drug Store for one. Keefer’s also, although he doesn’t own it.
NANCY: Is Van Dreil spelled D-R-E-I-L?
ROGER: That is correct.
BEATRICE: That sounds good.
NANCY: And Keefer’s is a drug store?
NANCY: What was Van Dreil’s?
BEATRICE: That was a drug store.
ROGER: A full drug store. After Herb Van Dreil died, it was taken over by what is his name?
BEATRICE: I don’t know.
ROGER: Anyhow, he figured one drug store was enough in town, and he went in for all these fancy pieces of equipment –walkers.
BEATRICE: Lots of the buildings have changed on Main Street there. Some of them have been torn down and rebuilt.
ROGER: You used to do your grocery shopping at Meeske’s in town.
BEATRICE: That store is still there, but it is Continental Bakery now.
NANCY: Is that Meeske?
ROGER: Yes. The thing that is interesting about that is I guess it always was this time of year wasn’t it that he got that great big barrel of olives in?
ROGER: They were imported from Spain. I don’t know how he got them all the way here. He put them in the store, and the women could bring their own glass jars. He had one scoop, and I think that one scoop held like a pint.
BEATRICE: I don’t remember, but I know you brought your own.
ROGER: You’d go in their with that, throw in however many scoops you wanted and tell the girl at the checkout counter
BEATRICE: Sort of a bulk, and it was wonderful.
ROGER: Yes. It was a bulk, and you had it for quite a few years. Getting back to when we first moved out here in 1951, that same group of stores was where Keefer’s Drug Store is now. Keefer’s originally used to be on the north side of Northwest Highway between Main Street and Emerson. Later it moved to its present location. There also was a bakery. The name of it was Lenhardt. That was a bakery, and the main bakery itself was in Des Plaines. What they would do is make deliveries early every morning and during the day as needed coming up to Mt. Prospect.
BEATRICE: That was the National Tea. There was a little gal who worked there named Jessie Mileski. She lived in a little house just south of St. Mark Church, and St. Mark bought her property when she died. Her husband died, and she moved out of there. St. Mark bought her property, and that’s part of St. Mark’s property.
ROGER: Her property was 204 South Willie. I know, because I was on the committee at the time our church acquired it.
NANCY: OK. We’ll go on to the stores and merchants. What do you remember most about shopping downtown?
BEATRICE: There was Jewel on Northwest Highway.
ROGER: Close to Central.
BEATRICE: It was around what? –Willie, Pine.
ROGER: I guess Pine Street.
NANCY: Of course, you’ve mentioned Meeske’s. Did you go to the Lenhardt Bakery?
NANCY: For groceries, you shopped at Meeske’s?
BEATRICE: Mostly at Meeske’s.
NANCY: How about clothes and shoes?
BEATRICE: There was Strauss’s ladies apparel, and it is still there.
ROGER: What do they call it now?
BEATRICE: Now it is called Mary Jane’s or Plain Jane’s. I don’t remember exactly. It is still there. Strausses owned it, and their daughter Mary Jane is there now.
NANCY: Oh, she is the owner?
NANCY: How about hardware items?
ROGER: Old Busse’s Hardware.
BEATRICE: And Bierman.
NANCY: And Bierman is spelled how?
NANCY: How about farm equipment?
ROGER: That was Frank. Let’ see.
NANCY: Did you need any farm equipment?
NANCY: How about other supplies? How about for cars?
ROGER: Let’s see. Where did we go? We didn’t buy any here locally. For all the car repairs that we ever needed at that time, we used to go to Busse Buick which is where Northwest Electrical Supply is now. I’ll just add this here. Then they moved to where they are located on Rand Road now. Busse took it over, and then who was it? It wasn’t Joe Retro. That’s the one there now. Joe Mitchell took it over, and he is still there.
NANCY: How about for medicine? Where did you shop?
ROGER: Keefer or Van Dreil. I think we went to Keefer, because he was on this side of the tracks.
NANCY: What other things did the stores carry? What did your family usually buy there besides the groceries, the car repair and shoes?
BEATRICE: Elaine Buffy had the Gift Box on Main Street between Northwest Highway and Busse. It was a card and gift shop.
NANCY: Where was that located?
BEATRICE: It was on Main Street between Northwest Highway and Busse. Owen Baxter had a shoe store on Northwest Highway just north of Central.
ROGER: I guess there is a chop suey place there now.
BEATRICE: There is Sophie’s Polish Deli and an Oriental takeout place.
NANCY: Is that Northwest Highway and Central?
BEATRICE: Yes. At Central. Right. It was great. We used to do a lot of shopping locally.
ROGER: Except for family shopping and Christmas shopping. Then we went either to Evanston or Elgin. It was about 20 miles either way.
NANCY: Do you still go out that way much?
BEATRICE: Not necessarily to Elgin. Sometimes to Old Orchard. Wieboldts was in Evanston. We used to drive out there a lot and shop.
ROGER: There are so many big shopping centers now like Randhurst.
NANCY: Let’s start with you Beatrice on the school that you attended.
BEATRICE: Let’s see. I think I started in Trumbull School in Edgewater.
NANCY: How many years?
BEATRICE: I think I was only there for about three years.
NANCY: And then do you remember your next school?
BEATRICE: Yes. My father built a home in West Rogers Park, and I attended. What was the name of that school on Fairfield?
BEATRICE: Clinton School. Yes.
NANCY: In Rogers Park?
BEATRICE: In Rogers Park. Until a new school was built about three blocks from where I lived, and that was Daniel Boone School. I graduated from there.
NANCY: How about you, Roger?
ROGER: I also started out at Trumbull School, and then went to Sullivan Junior High. Then I went to Senn High, from which I graduated.
BEATRICE: I did too.
NANCY: What were your favorite subjects or classes?
BEATRICE: Let me see now. I loved manual training. In eighth grade, the girls were allowed to take a semester of manual training, and we had such an adorable teacher. I loved that class. I made a wonderful wicker basket in that class. I loved a lot of other classes, too.
NANCY: But that one stands out in your mind. I think that is great. How about you, Roger?
ROGER: Let’s see. I think that I probably found history as interesting a subject as any I ever had. Others I think I just took, because I had to take something to graduate. I hadn’t formulated any strong desires.
NANCY: How far did you live from your schools? Were you always real close?
BEATRICE: I was close just to the last grade school I went to. I was only a couple of blocks away. For Senn High School, we had to take transportation. That was farther away –a streetcar.
ROGER: There were no buses standing by to take us.
NANCY: A streetcar to Senn High School.
ROGER: You were a farther distance away than I was.
BEATRICE: A little bit.
NANCY: So you got to school via streetcar or walking?
ROGER: Yes. When the weather was decent, we never minded walking at all.
BEATRICE: I didn’t walk very much. It was pretty far.
ROGER: You had almost twice as far as I did, and I lived over a mile.
NANCY: Do you ever get transported by car ever where your dad got the car out?
BEATRICE: No! No! No!
ROGER: People were lucky if they could ride the streetcar in those days. The ones who could afford an automobile for the family were the ones way up in society.
NANCY: What time did school start?
ROGER: 8 a.m. at Senn.
BEATRICE: I don’t remember. I’m thinking that grade school was about 9 a.m.
ROGER: Yes. 9 a.m.
NANCY: What time did you have to get up in the morning to be at school on time?
ROGER: I got up at 6:30 to 6:45 a.m. I guess that’s no different from today.
NANCY: I see that our neighbor’s kids go to the weight room at the high school at 6 a.m.
BEATRICE: We didn’t have anything like that. We didn’t get up for anything like that. We got up in time to eat breakfast, get dressed and go.
NANCY: Before you left for school, did have any chores in the morning?
ROGER: No. That’s one thing that I never had.
NANCY: Before you went to school, did you eat breakfast?
ROGER: Either that or collapsed before the noon hour.
NANCY: Could you describe a typical breakfast meal that you would eat before you went off to school?
ROGER: In the wintertime, it would be a warm cereal I guess. My mother would give us a fried or boiled egg on other mornings. Of course, in summer it would be a dry cereal and either a cup of coffee or glass of milk. And orange juice or some kind of juice.
NANCY: How about you?
BEATRICE: Probably pretty much the same. Toast, a sweet roll or cereal. Milk.
NANCY: Did you bring lunch to school?
BEATRICE: Yes. There was no lunch program.
NANCY: Did you ever go home for lunch?
BEATRICE: Yes. I was close enough. Were you?
ROGER: In grade school, I could do it.
BEATRICE: In high school, we either brought our lunch or bought our lunch.
ROGER: I used to eat in the cafeteria. It was 25 or 30 cents, and I had all I could eat.
BEATRICE: Yes. Right. Sometimes we would go out to one of the little School stores, where they had food. I would get a sandwich or something there, but most of the time we brought our lunch.
NANCY: OK. What was in your lunch or a typical lunch?
BEATRICE: I can remember summer sausage. When I buy summer sausage today or eat a piece of summer sausage, I can remember the sandwiches I took to school. Summer sausage and probably a lot of other things.
NANCY: Just bread and butter or mayonnaise?
BEATRICE: No. It was just a sandwich.
NANCY: Did you ever have sandwich spread? Sandwich spread was something my mother relied heavily on. They still sell it.
BEATRICE: No. It was butter and no margarine. I don’t remember what else. I am sure there were a lot of other things.
NANCY: Summer sausage sandwiches. Was the school lunch at the building in the high school cafeteria anything like barbecues?
ROGER: No. I don’t recall that. I remember one of my favorites used to be German noodles, which was noodles and peas mixed together.
BEATRICE: I don’t remember anything about those. I imagine that I brought lunch more often than going to the cafeteria.
NANCY: Approximately how many students did you have in your classes at school?
ROGER: We used to run about 35 or 40.
NANCY: Would you say that’s the grade school?
BEATRICE: Yes. In grade school.
ROGER: I can remember even in grade school that went a little bit higher. There used to be six rows of eight desks in a row, so that would be 48.
BEATRICE: 48. Absolutely.
ROGER: Teachers would shudder if they thought they had to handle 48 kids today.
NANCY: What was a typical order for the day? Did you start the day with a special song, prayers or Pledge of Allegiance?
ROGER: Pledge of Allegiance.
NANCY: What was a typical day?
BEATRICE: In grade school?
NANCY: I would say grade school.
BEATRICE: I suppose it was the Pledge of Allegiance.
ROGER: And maybe an hour or so of each subject whether it was history, arithmetic or writing classes. We would spend another hour or so reading. We had to read aloud when the teacher would call on us.
BEATRICE: I don’t remember.
NANCY: Did you have spelling bees?
ROGER: Yes. We had that. Usually, we had spelling from 11:30 a.m. to noon. That was the half hour just before we went home for lunch.
NANCY: Do you remember art?
ROGER: Art was another one.
NANCY: Did you have a gym program?
BEATRICE: Sure. The girls wore black gym bloomers.
NANCY: That was something you changed to, because you wouldn’t have worn those to school, would you have?
BEATRICE: No. We changed to those.
NANCY: The next question is what did you wear to school?
BEATRICE: Skirts, sweaters and blouses. Never slacks. Nobody wore slacks in those days.
NANCY: Was there a dress code? Well, that was that you didn’t wear slacks.
BEATRICE: That’s right. We just didn’t wear slacks. I don’t know that it was a dress code. People just didn’t wear slacks. Women didn’t wear slacks.
NANCY: Men did.
ROGER: They were just starting to wear them then. Mostly in grade school, we were still wearing knickers and sweaters. A favorite of the boys, too, in wintertime were these high-top shoes, if we could get them.
BEATRICE: I remember another subject in grade school that I dearly loved, and that was cooking. We would make little things, and we would have little metal containers with an earthenware dish inside. It had a little cover on it and a handle, and you would cook or bake something in school. Sometimes you were able to put it into the little containers and take it home. I used to love that. I really did. Another thing that I remember is we used to have to wash our desks and bring a jar of some kind of soapwater from home. We would have to wash our desks with it.
NANCY: That’s interesting. How did you carry soapwater?
BEATRICE: In a jar, and it got kind of smelly and moldy in there after awhile. I had a friend who still lives here in Mt. Prospect, and we have known each other since about sixth grade in grammar school. We were gigglers. We would be down there on our hands and knees washing our desks. We probably got down on our hands and knees, because we were giggling so much. We didn’t want the teacher to see us. We would be washing off our desks, and we had inkwells. Some of the boys were very nasty. They would take a girl’s hair and dip it into the inkwells.
ROGER: That’s what I was thinking of here. I was going to bring up the inkwell. How we used to have those straight pens all the time.
BEATRICE: We would dip it into the inkwell.
NANCY: Every now and then did you have it happen that you dipped into the well, brought it up to write and a little drop flew back on the paper?
BEATRICE: I still remember that.
NANCY: Was there anything that your parents refused to let you wear to school?
ROGER: I don’t recall any problems in that day.
BEATRICE: I remember having problems with our own children wanting to wear certain things.
NANCY: But not in your day?
BEATRICE: I don’t remember that.
NANCY: Describe some things you did during your play or recess period or games that were fun and popular to play.
BEATRICE: Baseball for one thing was fun. I can remember one time a gal who was up to bat threw her bat and knocked out the teeth of the teacher. That was Dora Limberafi.
NANCY: Should we put that down to special memories in junior high and high school?
NANCY: Is there anything that was popular at recess?
BEATRICE: I can’t remember what else we did at recess. Probably jump rope. We used to jump rope.
ROGER: The boys I guess used to run around the place and play tag.
BEATRICE: Maybe marbles. There were so many things that they don’t do these days.
NANCY: They still run around.
BEATRICE: Yes. They run around. I bet they don’t shoot marbles.
BEATRICE: They lag for pennies now.
NANCY: Do you remember the specific songs that were taught and frequently sung at school?
BEATRICE: Star Spangled Banner. My Country Tis of Thee.
ROGER: Do you remember this one? “Over The Ocean Flies a Fairy Tale.”
BEATRICE: I don’t remember that.
ROGER: That was a very pretty song.
NANCY: But you don’t remember the exact name of it?
ROGER: I couldn’t even begin to say.
BEATRICE: I don’t either. In music, we probably sang a lot of songs, but I don’t remember.
NANCY: What arts and crafts were done at school that were especially memorable and fun?
ROGER: I don’t know how we would fit it in, but they always used to have a lot of plays. First one class would have to have a play for Thanksgiving. Another one would be for Christmas and Easter. Sometimes, two or three classes would go together. They would need more actors and extras.
NANCY: OK. Now do you have a favorite teacher? You mentioned your manual training teacher?
BEATRICE: I don’t remember his name, but he was a younger person. Boy, I was getting old and sophisticated by that time. He was a dream.
NANCY: Roger, how about you?
ROGER: Let’s see. What was the question? I was reading.
NANCY: A favorite teacher, and why did you like him or her?
ROGER: I can’t think of anyone. I can think of a couple I thought were characters by just the way they conducted themselves and all.
BEATRICE: Some of them were nice, and some of them you couldn’t feel comfortable with. There were others whose classes that you wished you weren’t in.
ROGER: There is one incident I think about very once in awhile. In all my days of grade school and high school, I had one tardiness. I was late one morning. Just as I got to the doorknob to turn it and to go into the homeroom, the bell started to ring. So I got in and closed the door with my hand. The teacher looked at me –this was Myra Smith –and said, “You’re tardy.” I said, “I’m tardy? I’m in the door. She said, “You’re not in your seat.” She was so calm and easygoing about it.
NANCY: That’s quite a record.
ROGER: I don’t know if I could do it today. I liked that too much. I might be tardy all the time.
BEATRICE: I liked my gym teacher, my cooking teachers and some of the other teachers.
NANCY: How would you answer this? –I would never forget the day at Trumbull School when or I would never forget the day at Senn High School when
BEATRICE: I was chewing gum in a science class. Mr. Hoff told me to go out into the hall during the whole class. 1 was very shy, and that was very embarrassing to me.
ROGER: Was that in high school?
BEATRICE: High school.
NANCY: That was a time when no gum was allowed.
BEATRICE: Right. Absolutely. I don’t remember any other particularly embarrassing moments.
NANCY: Roger, how about you?
ROGER: It brings to my mind right now when I was taking Spanish in high school. The teacher was Bertha Vincent and had buttery red hair. She used to wear it in a beehive, just like someone back at the turn of the last century. We had a Jewish boy in class. He was one of these characters who was always in and out of something. He was good kid, but if anything was going to happen to or with anybody it was going to happen with him. He used to come into class and chew gum quite a bit. Miss Vincent said to us when we came into class, “We’ll talk in English now, and I’ll tell you what I expect of you. After than, I expect you to be speaking in Spanish.” This guy, Jack Spector, would come in there and before long would be smacking his jaws with gum. Miss Vincent would say, “Senor Spector, que tiene usted en su boca,” which means “what have you got in your mouth.” He always would say, “Gum.” “No habla en Englais,” which means don’t talk in English just Espanol. She would say, “Es chicle,” which means “it is gum.” Then she would say, “Escupo,” meaning “spit it out.” This would go on a couple of times every week.
BEATRICE: That’s how you remember it.
NANCY: What did you do after school in the way of chores, work or play?
ROGER: I used to work in what was like a Jewel store, but they called it Loblaw. That was a Canadian outfit, and eventually Jewel bought them out.
NANCY: How was it pronounced?
ROGER: Loblaw. Later bought out by Jewel. We used to work there on Saturdays. We would start at 7 a.m., and sometimes we would work up to 11 p.m. or 11:~U p.m. We got three dollars a day for it and thought we were in heaven. Of course, this was in high school. I used to have a paper route from the time I was in seventh or eighth grade until maybe midway through high school. It was an afternoon route.
NANCY: Did children hang out in their free time or where did they hang out?
ROGER: Let’s see. What did we do?
BEATRICE: In grade school, we used to just get together and play all kinds of games.
NANCY After school?
BEATRICE: After school, the girls would jump rope. We would have jacks –throw the ball and pick up the jacks. In the decent weather in the summertime, we even would be out at night. We would play Run Sheep Run and wonderful games where you would run and hide. It was great. In the wintertime, we would go ice skating. In the summertime, we were roller skating and bike riding.
ROGER: What we boys used to do was gather some old lumber and build a hut.
BEATRICE: This was during grade school.
ROGER: Yes. This was grade school.
BEATRICE: As we would progress, then we would do other things. I don’t even remember. There weren’t any malls. We didn’t go to any malls.
ROGER: Another thing the boys used to do, too, in the summertime and when the weather was suitable was go to these city parks and play football. Touch football was what we really did. We used to do a lot of baseball. We would go like to Winnemac Park.
BEATRICE: That’s right, and I was on a basketball team. I was on a Park District basketball team. We did get into some sports.
NANCY: So those were your special memories of junior high and high school? Would you say they were the after-school activities, friends and part-time jobs?
NANCY: Did you baby-sit?
BEATRICE: Yes. I did.
ROGER: I’ve got to tell you one thing, too. On Saturday afternoons, my mother or dad would give me 15 cents to go to the show. It was 10 cents to get into the show and a nickel for a bag of popcorn. Think of the kids doing that today for 15 cents. You couldn’t buy even a bar of candy for that now.
NANCY: We will follow up with your fondest memory of early downtown Mt. Prospect.
ROGER: Downtown Mt. Prospect? I don’t know if this would really be related to that, but I was talking about baseball for boys before. That was another thing when we first moved out here. A lot of merchants in town and a lot of businesses would sponsor these Little League teams. It was all volunteer, and there were several of us dads who would be managers of the teams for the kids and umpires. I even was that for awhile. We used to furnish our own umpires. They were not paid by some other type of professional baseball organization or anything of the sort. This was all on a volunteer basis. Some played in the evenings, and we also could play on Saturday afternoon. However, the things were scheduled.
BEATRICE: Speaking of downtown Mt. Prospect, we lived closed enough to the train station where Roger would take the train and go down to work. It was such a wonderful, rural thing, because we had been raised in the city. It was just great. He would be able to walk to the train, or I would drive him to the train. Coming home, it was the same way picking him up at the train.
ROGER: If I were running a little late in the morning, we used to be able to look out that north window in our home on Hi-Lushi. I could see when the puff of smoke would start to rise when the train was leaving Arlington, so I would say, “Bea, come on and let’s go. We’ve got to get down.” She would drive me. It was about six blocks or something like that. I’d be able to get down to the crossing at Main Street and catch the train in time.
NANCY: That kind of got the steam up.
BEATRICE: A puff of smoke from the steam engine in Arlington would signal.
ROGER: I’ve got to tell you about this. One time I drove the car down there, and Bea was just in her robe for some reason or another. I was so used to taking the key out of the car that I took it out and jumped on the train. There she was with hardly any clothes on. It was one of our neighbors a couple of doors the other side of us who drove you home, and you got your set of keys and drove back.
BEATRICE: I don’t quite remember all that, but I do remember after we moved there that it was so wonderful to look out our kitchen window into our own backyard. Our little children were playing out in our own backyard. That was the biggest thrill.
NANCY: Had you lived in an apartment in the city?
BEATRICE: We had. I lived in a home that my folks had built there. When Roger and I were married, it was right after the war. We lived in an apartment in the same area. We lived there for about five years, didn’t we? It was four or five years in the apartment. Then we came out here, and it was our first home.
NANCY: Just to look out in your own backyard and have a place for your children to play.
BEATRICE: Sure. We lived in an apartment where they had a cement yard, and that’s where our kids played. There was an alley behind it. This home was wonderful. Pheasants would come.
ROGER: Pheasants would come for about a year or two, and then they were gone after that. I can remember even after getting on the train and pulling out of Mt. Prospect on the south side of the tracks there was a cornfield. It wasn’t unusual at all to see two of three pheasants rise out of that while we were going. Out here on Golf Road where Loeman’s Plaza is now there was a line of trees. I can remember one morning when Fred Sheath picked us up, and I was working for Union Oil just north of Woodfield Shopping Center. Looking out there on the snow, we counted eight or nine pheasants walking around out there. They showed up so distinctly in that white snow background.
NANCY: If there one thing that you would want your children to remember about the history of their hometown, what would it be?
ROGER: The relationship that our children had with others in the community. It seemed like there were just little things. It was never difficult to acquire friends or find something to do. They were active all the way, and particularly my daughters have close association with their school friends.
BEATRICE: Their friends from school. They attend their reunions. They just love to see each other, even though they all live far away. None of them lives close.
NANCY: Where do your children live? Did you say one was in Wisconsin?
BEATRICE: Right. Our son the eldest lives in Wisconsin a couple of hundred miles up. Our middle child –a girl –lives in Colorado. The youngest daughter lives in Bloomington, Illinois. They all are married and have children. We have seven grandchildren. They always have loved Mt. Prospect and always were involved in anything that was going on. There was only one school when we first moved here. No. A central school was here in town, but one grade school on the outskirts here. That was the outskirts, and the was Lincoln School. It was brand new when we moved here. David started in first grade there.
NANCY: OK. In that respect as far as schools, but do you think that Mt. Prospect is still a neighborly and friendly community?
BEATRICE: I think so. You just don’t get a chance to know all your neighbors as well.
ROGER: There are a few people that isolate themselves and don’t make any effort.
BEATRICE: We are involved in so many things and have been over the years that we have accumulated many, many friends. We really can’t imagine moving away from our church, activities and friends.
NANCY: What do you think the future holds for this community?
BEATRICE: I think it is going to keep on growing and growing, if there is any property left to build on. I think it always is going to be a family community.
ROGER: I think it will be strictly a bedroom community. There are a few bits of light industry here, but still its limits are defined now.
BEATRICE: When they developed Lions Park, it was fun. Then they had the swimming pool, and our kids used to go over to the swimming pool. After the parades, the parades all would come back to Lions Park. They would have little ceremonies in Lions Park. One thing they had was Folger’s Mountain, and that was probably when Folger’s coffee became popular. They named the high-rise in the ground Folger’s Mountain. It was a little sledding hill. They didn’t ski. Toboggans. That’s what it was. Then at July Fourth, they would shoot fireworks off from that hill. They were not just aerial fireworks. There were ground fireworks that were up the hill and on the sides of the hill. We would sit down below, and they were just absolutely beautiful fireworks. We’ve never seen anything like it since.
NANCY: Do they still do that?
BEATRICE: No. I don’t thing the mountain is there anymore.
ROGER: No. They took Folger’s Mountain down, because people were sledding down there. I guess a couple of children got involved in an accident, and the park district was sued for it. They figured they wouldn’t expose themselves anymore.
NANCY: Was Lions Park like lions in a zoo?
NANCY: It was Lions.
ROGER: It’s right by where Lions Park School is right now.
NANCY: Lions Park. Is that from the Lions organization?
BEATRICE: I would think so, because they would have chicken dinners once a year around July Fourth. They all would be out there cooking chicken on big grills.
ROGER: Yes. The Lions Club. Before they had July Fourth as you say sponsored by the Lions. Now they are over at [Mellow’s] Park on July Fourth. They used to be over at Lions Park.
NANCY: I am going to take additional biographical information then. We will start with Roger A. Johnston.
ROGER: With a “t.”
NANCY: What does the “A” stand for?
NANCY: Beatrice, what does “C” stand for?
NANCY: Your full legal name is?
BEATRICE: Beatrice Carolyn Erickson.
NANCY: Roger, you were born in Chicago.
NANCY: Roger, your mother’s full name?
ROGER: Anna Charlotte. Her maiden name. Is that what you want?
NANCY: And your mother’s full name?
BEATRICE: Mabel Agda Shogren.
NANCY: Do you know where your mother was born?
NANCY: And how about your mother?
NANCY: And fathers?
ROGER: Both Chicago. Wait a minute. Your father wasn’t.
BEATRICE: My father was not born in Chicago.
ROGER: My parents were both born in Chicago.
NANCY: Your father’s full name?
ROGER: Albert Mathew. Sometimes it is spelled with a double “t,” but he never used it.
NANCY: And your father’s full name?
BEATRICE: Carl Gustav.
ROGER: Gustav is the ordinary way of spelling it. I don’t know if I ever saw your dad’s full name written out.
BEATRICE: I’m not sure. That’s probably right.
NANCY: Roger, where was your father born?
ROGER: Chicago. My mother also.
NANCY: Bea, now about you?
BEATRICE: My father was born in Sweden.
NANCY: Let’s talk about your children. Yes. I’m going to ask about your children. Do you want to give me the name and age?
BEATRICE: Not the date of birth but the age. David is 50. Susan if you want the whole name is 48. Mary is 43.
ROGER: There is a five-year difference.
NANCY: What was your occupation?
ROGER: I worked with Union Oil Company in lube oil and grease as a supply manager.
NANCY: Bea, what about you?
BEATRICE: I worked for quite a number of years. I was secretary to a fellow who was a secretary of the Illinois Cooperator’s Association. Then I became a preschool teacher. I taught for 20 years.
NANCY: Where did you teach?
BEATRICE: St. Mark’s preschool.
ROGER: Yes. That’s the church here.
NANCY: You joined St. Mark’s on Palm Sunday.
ROGER: 1952. It was one year after we moved out here.
NANCY: Where was it located then?
ROGER: Where it is today. Really, it was on Evergreen then between Pine Street and Willie. Then when they built the church, they took the address of 200 S. Willie Street.
BEATRICE: The entrance is on Willie Street.
NANCY: The new church was built when?
ROGER: I’m trying to think of when that was. I even was on the committee for that, but 1 don’t remember exactly. Rasmussen was still pastor then. I’ve got some old booklets around here that would tell me.
NANCY: You’ve been active members. Have you been in things like choir?
BEATRICE: My goodness sake! In all kinds of committees.
ROGER: Bea was a member of the church council.
BEATRICE: So were you.
ROGER: I was too.
BEATRICE: I was the first woman elected to the church council, as a matter of fact. You were on the church council.
ROGER: I was treasurer and president the last year.
NANCY: How large is that church would you say?
ROGER: I don’t know what it is. Probably closer to 1,200. I think at on time it was over 1,600. Ut course, so many churches came around here, and a good part of our membership came from Arlington Heights and Palatine. Many of those people just went back to their own area.
NANCY: What is it?
NANCY: Is it associated with any of the various synods?
ROGER: ELCA –Evangelical Lutheran Church. It’s four letters.
BEATRICE: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. It has combined with other Lutheran synods a couple of times.
ROGER: The United Lutheran was separate at one time. They just never have combined with the Missouri synod.