Reviewing a Lifetime
(A Psychotherapist's Nightmare)
by John D. Sedory

Copyright©2014 by Daniel B. Sedory, Editor. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 27
Things Won't Be The Same Again

 

Sick, and the Day got worse!

    On January 30th, 1959, I'd come down with boils on my legs. This resulted in high fevers and swollen legs, so swollen that I couldn't put shoes on. Eleanor called her father to tell him he'd have to open the store that day because of what happened to me. I was just about delirious from the fever, and I scarcely knew what was going on.

    Eleanor had gone to her part time job, and the kids were in school. The phone rang, and it was Eleanor. She told me something I couldn't get through my head.

    She said she'd received a call at her place of employment in which she was told to hurry to her father's store, as he'd gotten very ill. Her mother also got the same call at home, and she got a ride there from the church pastor to the store, meeting Eleanor there.

My Father-In-Law!

    The pastor had phoned the store before picking my mother-in-law up in order to be better prepared for any eventuality. He then learned that Clarence wasn't "very ill," but he'd been found dead at his desk. And all the way to the store he was preparing my mother-in-law for more than an "illness."

    This is what Eleanor passed on to me when she phoned me at home. For she had been at the store first and saw her father with his head over his arm and on the desk. He'd vomited all over the paperwork he was tackling, and his head and face were a purplish-gray color. Eleanor said when she saw him, "That's not my Dad!" What she meant was that she knew he was gone and that his spirit was no longer inside that body, and what she saw was merely the shell in which he'd lived those 58 years.

    I pulled myself together to try to comprehend what had taken place, fever and all giving me less than full ability to think properly. I put on some slippers, being unable to put shoes on, and I got in the car and drove to the store. By the time I'd arrived, my father-in-law's body had already been removed to a hospital.

    He was in the process of setting up a new store with supplies, and he had merchandise stacked all over the counters and on tables in front of the store. I'd guess he was under pressure because of this, and my not opening the store that day didn't help any.

    Later we learned one of our regular customers had come in the store while my father-in-law was up in the back room where the washroom was located. This guy's name was Timmick, I believe, a Chicago cop who visited often. He asked if he could get a bottle of Seven-Up for Clarence, and Clarence told him he was chewing Pepsin gum which always helped when he felt that way. So Timmick left.

    Then a customer came in and tried to arouse Clarence and could get no response. So he went out to Menard Avenue and got the crossing cop to come into the store to check things out. It was then they found him dead at his desk, though they did call the equivalent of today's 911 number.

    Many times my father-in-law and I had eaten lunch together as he sat at that very desk at which he'd died. Often he'd swing his left arm and complain of "this bursitis." It probably wasn't bursitis at all but clogged arteries all over his body, for the cause of death was listed as a cerebral hemorrhage, "a massive" one at that. He didn't have a second chance at changing diet or having surgery as many of us have had.

    I made up a sign advising customers why we weren't open, explaining what had taken place. The funeral plans hadn't yet been made, so I had to come back a day or so later to add that to the note.

    When I first arrived at the store and got all the details which were available, and I looked at the pile of merchandise my father-in-law had collected for that new account, and I saw the vomit over the desk, it all hit me at once. I almost choked on the lump in my throat as I tried to fight off tears.

    The barber across the street from our store where Clarence and I got all our haircuts (he had gone there a lot more than I had in prior years), when he learned what happened said, "If a guy dies at that young age taking care of himself as Clarence did, I'm no longer going to watch anything I do!" He was referring to the fact my father-in-law was pretty fussy about most everything he did. And besides that, he was a husky looking man of over six feet in height, weighing around 200 pounds or more. But he did have a reddish complexion which always made me wonder if he had high blood pressure.

    In conclusion, my father-in-law didn't believe in doctors or in insurance. He'd had experiences where he figured paying for insurance all those years without using it was more costly than just saving money and having it when it was needed. He was also a Lone Ranger buff who seldom missed the programs. Another big thing with him was his love for Cheerios, and his wish each year to leave the Christmas tree up for a month after the holiday was over. It's ironic that the tree was up when he died!

    The Mulder Funeral Home in Cicero handled most of the family's funerals, so Clarence, too, was there. It was cold and wintry and snowy at the time. In the adjoining room to where Clarence was laid out was a boy of about five. He had nice blonde hair and was a handsome boy. We learned he'd choked on a marble. That was more tragic than the loss of my father-in-law! To this day I feel squeamish about seeing kids put things into their mouths, things which could also cause a tragedy.

    I was glad about the stormy, snowy weather at that time, as it helped to take our minds off Clarence's passing a little and the trip to the cemetery[1] and all the tears which usually follow such an event.

Robert quit his Job at Hotpoint

    After I opened the store, I learned Eleanor's brother Robert had convinced his mother that he should be at the store, too. So he quit his job at Hotpoint and joined me there. One of my first and unpleasant tasks was to try making some sense of the paperwork which had by now dried out from the vomit which had splattered on it. And from there I had to try determining if we could handle the business without losing everything Clarence had worked to build.

    Robert learned the business well, always having had a knack with mechanical and electrical things. But he began getting ideas about building a big garage in the back of the building, maybe even making it a two story garage and joining it to the back of the building itself.

    Then he wanted to consider putting a basement under the building, a three story building which merely had a foundation. To me that idea was more absurd than the garage idea—though I didn't think either was feasible or practical. I just wanted to build the business and keep it going.

David Edgren Born

    Betty (Robert's wife) delivered their first child, David, in February of 1959, having been pregnant some time before Clarence died. Of course he never got to see David (born ten or eleven days after Clarence's death).

Grandma Kaske

    On August 21, 1959, Eleanor's grandmother (my mother-in-law's mother) died at age 82. I'd become quite fond of her before her passing, having spoken to her about the Lord and as to whether or not she knew Him as her Lord and Savior. She'd assured me she had.

    One of the things I most remember Grandma Kaske for was an expression she used. When asked how the meal was at a given time, if she really liked it, she'd respond, "Not too bad!" She had stomach trouble for some time, and evidently cancer may have been at work in her body long before it was finally detected. And by then it was too late. [After being] in bed for a while, bed sores showed up all over. They would not heal and were very painful. Her last few weeks of life were spent in a coma.

    She was the first person I'd ever seen actually taking his/her last breath. One could stand at her bedroom door and watch and hear her gasping for every breath; it was painful to see her [like that]. The day she took that last breath, Erana and I were both staring at her from the bedroom door. We heard what is commonly called the "death rattle." It was pathetic!

Why I left Austin Automotive

    In 1959 and into 1960 things were going fairly well, except for hearing from my mother-in-law that "Robert thinks things should be done this or that way," ways I didn't agree with at all. And as we entered 1960 in the spring, I'd almost had all I could take of the double dose of Robert and my mother-in-law. So I looked around for another job.

    Remember now, I did all the book work, the ordering, selling outside the store, and trying to make things work out. Many nights were spent at home doing what Clarence had once done—bookwork all night long. And I didn't feel it was going to work out the way Robert wanted to do things.

Started working at Grebel Auto

    In time I'd learned that Grebel Auto Specialty was looking for a counter man with some experience, and he was paying a lot more than I earned at Austin Automotive Electric—without having to do any extra book work or anything else. So I applied and got the job. Grebel's was located at Chicago Avenue and Central [at 5517 W. Chicago Ave.], just a mile south of our store and a couple blocks to the east.

    Betty came to the store to help Bob after I left, and they worked the business from that time forward. I came into the store one time to collect some chemicals that weren't moving for them, and these were to take the place of a vacation I had coming. When I moved to go behind the counter to get them, Betty advised me I had nothing to do with that store and to stay in front of the counter. Of course a lot of thoughts went through my mind of years I'd spent with my father-in-law helping him build that business, even back from 1947 before Betty ever heard of Bob Edgren or the store. And it hit me like a ton of bricks that here was someone telling me to stay out of the place I'd helped build.

    From that time forward, Betty and I had little to do with each other, though in later years we were invited to their home for a dinner and visitation. I'd not seen the kids for some time, (they had four by then) and we did have a good time as I recall.

    Also, in January of 1960, Eleanor began babysitting a two year old for one of our neighbors. It was one of the many, many jobs she held all those years to help with expenses.

    And in around March of 1960, Eleanor found she was pregnant with our third child, one for whom we'd longed for some time. We'd wondered if perhaps my cells had turned weak again and if we'd ever have another child. So it was a happy time when this pregnancy was certified by her doctor.

    At Grebel Auto I soon found my way around, and I enjoyed working there. But from the time I'd left Robert and Betty at Austin Automotive Electric, I felt sorry for them in their struggle to survive the business. I'd wished many times I could have helped them from places I'd worked, but my employers weren't that understanding toward that idea. By "helping," I meant to be able to give them better prices when they needed some part or other.

Also in the CAP

    It's strange how, as one progresses through events in his life, other previously forgotten memories come to the fore. I'm thinking now of the Civil Air Patrol at O'Hare Field, Chicago, of which I was a member in 1959 and 1960.

    The largest senior squadron in the U.S. (as far as I know) was based there, members probably totaling 100 plus I'd guess. Aircraft privately owned by some of those members totaled something like 50 to 52. In my squadron one fellow owned a hot plane which had a powerful inline engine. It was a Beechcraft Bonanza[2]. In our searches for downed aircraft I got to fly this plane a couple of times, but I at first was not prepared to handle such speed and power.

    Having been a small aircraft private pilot, the Bonanza was like a jet in comparison. When we flew our assigned coordinates (patterns for each crew to cover certain areas in a search for downed aircraft) and I'd be given the controls, it was something else.

    I'd begin the bank and turn at each end of the pattern as though I were in an air race, putting the wings into an almost vertical position and revving the engine as I did it. Everything takes time, and I eventually got the idea that such steep turns and banks weren't necessary. The other three in the plane would hold on for dear life as I made such turns.

    A fellow named Bill Luchitz, an auto mechanics instructor at a high school, had a WWII trainer plane, a BT-13 if I'm not mistaken. He rented a tiedown space at O'Hare and was also a member of my squadron. He often came into our auto parts store, as he was quite mechanically inclined and worked on cars as well as on his own aircraft. One time he invited me out to go flying with him and gave me the controls. That plane was the sweetest, softest craft I'd ever flown. It needed hardly any control movement on the stick and wasn't the least bit harsh. It was one of the most "forgiving" planes I'd known, too. By that I mean it was not apt to easily stall or to go into spins.

    Flying the plane was easy, but listening in on the tower frequency over the radio in the plane almost blew me out of my seat. I didn't know how Bill could figure out what the control tower guys were telling him. There must have been a dozen or more conversations going at the same time. But Bill was familiar with such pandemonium, and he picked out his call number and received his instructions, acknowledging them for when and where to land.

    Another function of the C.A.P. was its preparation to handle calamities such as nuclear fallout. Certain geographical areas would be planted with radioactive materials, and we'd go through those areas with our equipment to measure the intensity and location of those sources. We wore patches which registered these values or intensities to which we'd been exposed personally. That measure was done in what is called "roentgens," an internationally accepted measuring system of those x-rays and gamma rays.

    The purpose of the patch was to determine the individual's accumulated total number of roentgens, as there is a calculated total at which he could be in danger of overexposure which could lead to cancer-producing cells. This is the inordinate reproduction or growth of body tissue or cells. The idea of wearing the patches served as a guide for what amount of material to bury for our searches and to make certain each man's suit sufficiently resisted those roentgens to which we had been exposed.

Our Move to the 'Burbs

And the Birth of our Third Son

    In October of 1960 Eleanor was just about ready to have our third child. But wouldn't you know we'd been looking all over to try buying an affordable home? And now we'd found one! It was located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, a community nearly 30 miles northwest of Chicago (maybe more). We had searched for a long time before that, but now that the delivery time was near, this deal surfaced as if out of the clear blue. I'd have to be ready to move on October 30th to the 31st, and she was hardly in [a] condition for packing and moving.

    [With the move approaching], I rushed her to the Berwyn [i.e., the MacNeal (Memorial)] Hospital for what turned out to be a near emergency delivery—it happened so soon after she arrived at the hospital. But this was actually a late arrival, for we previously wondered if the baby would wait until Dad's birthday (my father) on October 24th. This was the one and only son I'd seen before he'd been "cleaned up" after birth, and the blood and redness all over him made me squeamish.

    After seeing her and Jack T. and visiting for a time, I went back home to continue packing, as I'd arranged with a few people to help me with the move, and I didn't want to keep them waiting with last minute packing.

    We made the move in one truckload on October 30th, and Eleanor brought the baby to her new home and to his first home on November 1st. Actually, the house was a year old. Maybe it was kind of a reward for Eleanor to be away while all that packing and moving took place, something to compensate for her suffering in delivering our third son.

    The home was situated at 290 [now 625 under the new numbering system (since June, 1978)] Bode Road (pronounced bo-dee), one [large] block south of [the intersection of] Higgins and Roselle Roads, then about 3½ blocks to the west. It was to the south of a [huge] farmer's acreage [just the other side of the road], but that would become a new housing area within a few years after we moved in.

 
 
 
Left to Right: Timothy and Daniel, and their cousins: David and twins Peter and Paul.
 

The B&W photo (at LEFT), looking north from 625 (was 290 then) Bode Road, taken in August, 1963, proves the first homes constructed on what used to be the farmer's fields between Bode Road and Higgins (72) Road (some appear to still have black tar paper on the outside walls here) were in the middle of that property. These houses were on either Baxter Lane or Alcoa Lane (or both); probably with access from Washington Blvd. Later on, homes were constructed directly on the north side of Bode Road as can be seen in this color photo:


September, 1966. The Editor's brothers, Timothy and Jack off to school.
 
 

 

    In 1961 things went along pretty well. We adjusted to our new home and the surroundings. Additionally, I'd found a mechanic who came into Grebel Auto was also a resident in Hoffman Estates. We arranged to trade off driving to and from work, being able to work out the hours pretty well. And his place of employment was at a repair garage only a block from where I worked at Grebel's. So that turned out well. His name was Ken Loos.

    Immediately upon arriving in Hoffman Estates we found St. Peter's Lutheran Church and school [in neighboring Schaumburg, IL[3]]. It was over a hundred years old. [There is] a cemetery [within the] borders of the church grounds, and one could walk about and see dates of birth back to the late 1700's [for those having died in the middle to late nineteenth century[4]]. The original old church building (which eventually became a museum) was on the church grounds off to the side of the "newer" building (which in itself was quite old [having been constructed in 1863]). [Editor's Note: And now that building would be considered a museum as well, though occasionally used for weddings or other functions. The congregation has been worshipping in their new sanctuary closer to Schaumburg Road since at least 1997.]

    Daniel and Timothy attended that school all of their remaining grammar school grades; and Jack, the youngest, eventually went there for six years. It was here I was added to the Church/school as a school board member where I served in that capacity for a number of years, having held other church offices as well.

Author's Parents Moved Too

    The exact dates (even the year) my folks moved to Riverside, Illinois, I'm not sure. But they'd saved enough money in all those years of struggling to buy a low cost home there in a nice but not exclusive part of that town. It was older and needed a lot of work, and they invested in it to bring it to the point of being quite nice. It was at 8117 W. 30th Street, Riverside. We kids were all happy for them to be in a modern home with all the modern facilities... probably 1961.

The Twins

    In April, 1962, Betty and Bob became the parents of twins, Peter and Paul. Suddenly they had three kids too! But they were married almost eleven years after Eleanor and I were.

    Toward the late summer or early fall of 1962, I was well established at Grebel Auto Specialty. Many of the same salesmen who called on us at my father-in-law's store also called on Arnold Grebel. One in particular was an exhaust systems salesman who I liked a lot and who had dealt with my father-in-law; for years.

Meeting with Hank Maggio

    I wish I could give his name but it's gone! Anyway—let's call him Sam—Sam was of Italian descent and knew anyone in the area who had anything to do with the automotive business. He'd been in touch with a man who had owned many auto dealerships[5] and had quit the business. This man was now thinking of opening a huge wholesale/retail auto parts store and wanted a man to act as his manager. He wanted someone with enough experience to be able to set up an entirely new store from A to Z. And Sam told him about me. Naturally, the guy was also Italian!

    I was given a nom de plume (a pen or phony name) and a phone number to call the man. In speaking with him we arranged for a meeting date and place so we could converse face to face. His real name turned out to be Hank Maggio.

    We hit it off well and I was given the job if I wanted it, the terms being such that I figured I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. There was no way I could have turned the offer down, and a deal was struck.

    Hank was a multi-millionaire who owned much of the property on North Cicero Avenue. The place we were to set up and open was located at 1637 North Cicero Avenue, just north of North Avenue and the famous Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) car barns located on that corner. Those car barns once housed many street cars, but now it was all buses. Ironically, there was a smaller wholesale/retail auto parts store right next door to the south of this place we were to open. The thought being that if one place didn't have a part, the other would, and that'd make it a good spot to be in. This had been one of the showrooms for a dealership Hank owned previously, the building, I mean.

At Rex Auto Parts

    It was either September or October of 1962, when I started at Rex Auto Parts. And Hank's brother Al was to be Hank's assistant to keep an eye on things, in spite of the fact I was considered the manager—Al not knowing anything about the auto parts business in spite of the fact he'd been in new and used car auto sales for years. In a way it was a delicate, yet strange, setup. He handled all the finances of bill-paying through an office girl we'd hired. She had worked for Arnold Grebel for many years and was there when I worked there.

    Hank let me know he'd only have about $30,000.00 total to begin the business, so I began setting up plans for shelving and primary parts which I felt had to be in the store to make a start. When the ordering began and the materials started coming in, we had to spread them around on the many and high shelves we'd constructed in order to make it appear we had a lot of merchandise.

    Having had experience with markups of merchandise and discounts applicable to retail and dealer trade, I formulated policies and procedures under which we would operate the store, and it worked well. We later had as many as six to seven full and part time employees.

    It'd be a good idea to introduce Ollie Vrchota at this time. He had worked for the Maggio's in their auto dealerships as a service manager for years, and they'd promised him they'd take him along into whatever enterprises they might follow later on. He was an older man, but he had shop equipment know-how and auto parts in general. I considered him a valuable employee. Ollie was a big help in setting up the many bins and shelves when we first began the operation. Later on he became our machine shop operator.

    In less than six months Hank said we'd gotten into the black (operating costs versus expenses), and he was happy about that. But Hank wasn't feeling well for some time, having picked up some sort of virus in one of his trips to Mexico in past years. And his health began failing rapidly.

    Hank had a gigantic upright sign made for the front of the store (at that time it had cost over $5,000.00), but Al wasn't for the idea. Hank would tell me, "John, it takes money to make money, so don't worry about what Al thinks about the sign!" He'd also tell me stories how he got started as a kid, making a little money and reinvesting it to build further, claiming that was how he'd built the empire he had.

    The main thing I liked about Hank was his "down to earth" attitude about everything. He was not pretentious, petty or cheap about anything. He couldn't seem to do enough for me for getting his business started. He wanted to pay me more money at the end of that first six months, but Al discouraged him from that. Al was a real conservative! Al also wanted the earnings to go in his pocket rather than mine. And that's understandable, since he'd worked with and for Hank for so many years and was his brother to boot.

    One time Hank brought some of his older suits of clothing for me to take home if I wanted them. He mentioned that the average suit even in those days cost over several hundred dollars each. But getting them home, Eleanor and I noticed most were old fashioned for that day, so we gave them away.

    Being in the upper-bucks class, a number of movie personalities learned that Hank was good for paying their expenses when in Chicago, and they took advantage of him. Hank once told me, "John, knowing all those people personally still means I pay ten cents for a cup of coffee the same as anyone else when I go into a restaurant, and the fact I know those people doesn't do a thing for me!" Then he'd say, "Most of those guys are nothing but 'mooches.'" Is that an honest-to-goodness ordinary man, or what?

    Another of Hank's enterprises was his stable of race horses. He had something like near to a hundred at one time. One horse in particular had won eight straight races (Hank did indicate there was some "fixing" going on between owners) and appeared to be a future great name horse. But in training for his ninth win, he developed pneumonia and died. There's something about horses being heated in training, and the cooling off period which follows—a dangerous time for them.

    An apartment in one of Lake Michigan's North Shore buildings, which I was told ran about $1,000.00 a month in those days, was his and his wife's home. I'd met her a few times previously. She was a beautiful and elegant woman. Al had been there a few times and told me they had a thick, plush white carpeting into which one would sink when walking on it, and he'd have to take his shoes off when in the house.

Jack Hospitalized

    In April, 1963, Jack (only 2½ years old) had to have a hernia operation, and this became heart-rending for Eleanor and for me. To have a youngster that young at a hospital and to have to leave him there was nothing less than traumatic for us! He did recover from that operation quickly, and we again were restored as a family back at home.

Hank Dies

    It was May (I think) of 1963 when Hank became so ill he had to be taken to a hospital. I visited him along with Al a couple of times, but Hank didn't look well at all. It seemed they couldn't zero in on the virus which attacked his system, or if they had, they couldn't knock it out. I remember that on the first visit Hank told me, "John, I'm going to fight and win this battle!" Then the next and last time I saw him alive, he put it this way: "John, do you think I'll win out over this thing?" It was apparent he felt he was losing ground, and my heart went out to him!

    Hank finally passed away in either May or June of 1963, and I attended the funeral in one of Chicago's near north cathedrals (churches), an enormous and magnificent structure. It was the first time I'd been in a Roman Catholic church, and the ceremony which took place nearly floored me! And this was a "high mass."

    The priests (and whatever other titles were among that group) were waving what looked like chalices from which smoke was rising. Others did the same thing with what seemed to be a powdery substance of some sort. This was taking place around the casket and, I suppose, had some significance with blessing the departed one. All it did for me was to make me feel I'd just visited the jungles of Africa and some sort of ritual was taking place there, the chanting going along with the waving of the chalices adding to that idea. Hank, by the way, was only 53 at the time of his death.

    Then the service at the graveside followed. There the chanting or reciting over and over of prayers to Mary the mother of God in Hank's behalf while holding onto beads (rosaries) gave me the creeps. But I wanted to show respect for Hank and his family and never let anyone know how I felt, then or later.

Eleanor Worked for many Years Too

    On July 28, 1963, Eleanor got a part time job at Pure Oil Company in Palatine[; which was purchased by the Union Oil Company of California in 1965]. She worked in the Office Services Division where huge machines which resembled typewriters served as instruments to write customer statements and billings. She was there (advance notice) for over nine years after that.

Working for Al Maggio

    Al and I got along pretty well in the business, except when he began questioning my dealings with salesmen and what I'd order and quantities I'd order. He also felt he should be getting the premiums salesmen traditionally gave to the buyers. Some began giving double doses to keep Al happy.

    As far as I know Hank left Al the auto parts business, but not the property, though it's possible he only had a share of the business. The reason I say that is because Hank's wife would phone now and then to speak to Al about how things were going. Al wasn't a teat on a bull compared with Hank. He didn't go along with Hank's theory of "spending money to make money." He did want to make it without the spending, however.

    Our agreement had originally been that I'd receive a bonus based on a certain percentage of profit for a given year in addition to my salary. That worked fairly well the first few years. But since Al held all the true figures as to what the business actually did over the year, I noticed he progressively gave me figures which were lopsided from the way it should have been. And inventories were adjusted (as most business men do, I'm told) to whatever figure would benefit him the most. Bonuses became smaller and smaller, leading to none at all the last couple years I was there.

    Then the parts store next door began opening on Sundays, and Al felt we had to do the same. I hated Sunday work because it was the family day of worship at our church, but Al insisted I should alternate Sundays with him. This I did grudgingly.

    My home was 36 miles from the store. I'd travel down the Northwest Expressway (a toll way) to what I believe then became the Kennedy Freeway, traveling southeast toward the center of Chicago. I'd exit at Cicero Avenue and travel maybe three miles or more south from that juncture. Many times had I come to work on snowy days only to find the City of Chicago just about free of traffic because of that weather.

    Sometimes all I could see was the high banks of snow above, nothing off to the side of the highway. And when I'd arrive at the store I'd have all I could do to get into the parking lot in the back of the store.

    Then the phone would ring, and it'd be Al telling me he was snowed in and would be late. He lived in Elmwood Park about 3½ miles west of the store.

    As time passed, because of Al's interference with store opening days and hours, my buying habits, the bonuses I wasn't getting, etc., I determined I'd look for another job. What at one time looked like a great opportunity now was just something I'd endure while looking elsewhere for a job.

    Another thing I neglected to mention is that Al had begun fixing and building things at his home and charging the expenses to the business. That would do nothing toward giving me a bonus, and I knew the handwriting was on the wall. He also ran his auto at the store's complete expense, insurance, maintenance and all. Though this will be getting ahead of myself, I'll tell you I did stay on there until 1969, having begun working there in 1962.

    In the years at Rex Auto Parts, I saw many young men come and go, some of whom were excellent employees. But Al couldn't see giving these young men raises to keep them working for us. He figured he could always get another at a lower wage, but that was false economy—you get what you pay for! Trained and skilled people can sell more, and more accurately sell merchandise which would not be returned to the store as "wrong parts."

    I got to know many mechanics real well and felt as though I'd been a part of their lives in those years. Some were men I'd known from my father-in-law's business and others from Grebel Auto Specialty as well. My brother-in-law, Bob Edgren, sometimes came into our store to pick up some merchandise he should have had in his own stock. It became evident to me in time that he and Betty were not buying stock for their customers' convenience anymore and that this couldn't last as it was going. I really felt very hurt for them, and I tried to give them the best prices I could. But Al was always snooping into what went on and wanted the best for himself, caring little about them or anyone else.

Kennedy Assassinated!

    One mechanic came in one day, one who often told jokes. He said, "Did you hear about President Kennedy being shot?" I asked what the punch line was, as I couldn't figure what this might lead into. Then several others came in with the same story, so we all knew it actually had taken place. That, of course, was way back in 1963, November 22nd.

[Your Editor remembers being in a 6th grade class in the old school building on Schaumburg Road when hearing the news that day from a teacher known for his humor. So I spoke up in class, saying something like, 'That's not very funny Mr. Fechter!' Some of the other kids may have thought the same thing too. Fortunately, no one said anything back to me about it afterwards. It was a very sad time for the whole nation, and I believe we were allowed to go home early that day if a parent could come get us.]

 

    We had one alley mechanic (one who has no established business location or license) who'd come in now and then who'd served time in jail (more than once). He had been trying to go "straight" as he put it, but he told us there were a number of cops on the Chicago Police Department who wouldn't let him. They demanded things from him which he'd have to steal, making him feel they had something on him which required his cooperation.

    He came in one day selling things, assuring us these were not "hot" items and that he was just trying to sell things to make ends meet. I spotted a watch he had which I thought I'd see if I could buy from him, hoping I could also help him out. The year was probably the mid-sixties, 1967 at the latest.

    The watch was a self-winding model named Wyler (Incaflex—whatever that means). I slightly recall the price asked as being something like $12.00. I really didn't know if it was worth anywhere near that amount or if I'd been taken, but I bought it anyway.

    Just this year (March, 1991) I put that watch to rest. It began stopping overnight, though if wound it runs well. I had it cleaned over the years about three times and had crystals replaced a few times. The last jeweler who worked on it told me it was a "good watch" but that it wasn't made any longer, and getting parts would be next to impossible. The face had become worn when the last guy cleaned it (his negligence, really), but that was only in one small area. So, you see, I'd gotten a bargain after all!

 
 
 

Chapter 26

TOC

Chapter 28 (Pt. 1)

Footnotes

1[Return to Text]  Clarence (son of of Andrew and Anna [Berggren] Edgren) was born on November 7, 1900. The Chicago Tribune's obituary page that week printed:

    EDGREN — Clarence Edgren, beloved husband of Erana, nee Kaske; dear father of Eleanor Sedory and Robert; grandfather of Daniel and Timothy Sedory; brother of Roy N., Lillian, Wesley D., and Stanley A. Resting at funeral home, 6027 Roosevelt Road, Cicero, after 10 a.m. Sunday, where services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3. Interment Forest Home [Cemetery in Forest Park, IL]. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts to the West Side Reformed Church, 1323 S. Austin Blvd., Cicero, Ill., for Christian work, will be appreciated.

2[Return to Text]  The Bonanza was a model manufactured by the Beech Aircraft Company. Historical comments from the company itself: www.beechcraft.com/about_us/history/. (And here's a US Army version of a Twin Bonanza.)

3[Return to Text]  The name of this community comes from the area where most of its settlers had been born: Schaumburg-Lippe, Germany. Prior to 1850, the area had been known as Sarah's Grove, but ever since a town hall meeting that year, after Friedrich Nerge declared, "Schaumburg schall et heiten!" [translation: "Schaumburg will it be (called)"] it has been called Schaumburg (also see: Schaumburg's History).

4[Return to Text]  The congregation was formally organized in 1847, and the first burial in the cemetery we can be certain of was that of a 3 year old girl (Caroline Boeger; b. 11-30-1844, d. DEC 1847); the first burial of someone born in the 1700s was that of (Ernst) Christian Lichthardt in 1852 (b. 02-12-1785 in Germany, d. 04-05-1852). And Marie Engel Vette, who lived 87 years, is the earliest-born person we know of buried there (b. 02-02-1771, d. 02-13-1858).  Data gathered from Cemetery Records of St. Peter Lutheran Church Cemetery, Schaumburg, IL (Updated, October, 2012) and verified by Larry Nerge.

5[Return to Text]  In the Oak Park Oak Leaves newspaper for May 11, 1961, on page 85, we found this ad which may indicate Hank was getting out of the business of selling autos: