Work

Sometimes our work and our loves coincide . . .

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You met my grandfather, Edward Mathias Haws, in Invite to Dinner. He was born 12 February 1887 in Kossuth, Manitowoc, Wisconsin—in the house you met in The Old Homestead. His father, Frank, was a farmer, and I’m sure Ed did his share of farm work growing up. But I always knew of him as a carpenter.

He wasn’t a woodworker-type carpenter—tables, chairs, and whatnot. He was what I would call a house framer–building structures. I’m sure carpenters have a more appropriate term, but that’s the simplest term that comes to my mind. He did, however, make a couple of end tables that have stayed in the family. My cousin, Barb, has one she inherited from her dad, and my brother has another, inherited from our dad:

grandpa haws table barb
Barb’s table (photo used with permission)
Grandpa Haws table_cropped
My parents’ table (which apparently had a stain on top, hence the runner! (photo in my possession)
Grandpa Haws table Warren
Top of table on the right, refinished by my brother: “I sanded the top to remove the stain and finished to reveal the three woods that make the top, walnut, maple, and oak.” Photo credit, Warren Haws. Also the refinishing work!

Each table is fairly simple. They don’t match. I’m not sure if they were even made at the same time, or if Victoria said, “Hey, I need a table for next to this chair,” and he pieced together something with the wood he had handy at the time. Next time it was a different wood selection. Nevertheless, both are older than me, so probably have 3/4 of a century of use already.

So how did Edward Haws morph from farmer to carpenter? I don’t have a clear cut answer, but I have found information allowing me to create a timeline of his work life. In the 1900 census¹ he was still in school—probably not for much longer, as he had only an eighth grade education.² I’m sure his father had him working hard on the farm, too.  What has me puzzled, though, is when and how he made the switch from farming (what he grew up with) to carpentry?

The 1905 Wisconsin State Census³ has him off the family farm at age 18—working for Charles Kasten for 7 months as a “hired man”—”day laborer” in nearby Two Rivers. Kasten was a farmer, so the “day laborer” seems a little odd to me. There are other entries in that column for “farm laborer,” so there’s clearly a distinction. The enumerator would have been told the occupation, so someone (Ed? his employer?) saw Ed as something other than a farm worker. Is this when the shift started? Granted, on a farm you are going to end up doing a lot of building repair, and construction, so it’s not a huge stretch of the imagination. There were also two carpenters on the farm adjacent. Did they help him hone his skills? Who knows?

Family lore (AKA probably my dad or Uncle Henry) has Ed moving to Glencoe, Cook, Illinois, when he was 21—about 1908. Unfortunately, Ed is AWOL (so far!) in the 1910 census. Neither he nor his older brother, John, are on the family farm. I even checked out the Kasten family Ed was working for five years earlier—nada. Nor do I find him in Glencoe, near the Schweiger family, which he will marry into in four years.

Realizing the last name has lots of misspelling potential, I paged through 4 of the 8 enumeration districts in New Trier township, with no success. My eyes needed a break before tackling the rest of them! Barb did the same thing in Wisconsin. We found lots of other Haws relatives, but no sign of him. Several options exist:

  • The enumerators missed him entirely (he was young, single, and possibly moving around)
  • His name(s) got horribly mangled, so we can’t find him in the indexes
  • Whoever he was lodging with was careless with providing information—either missed or wrong
  • He was living and working some place we aren’t looking at
  • More than one of of the above!

He and Victoria marry in 1914, and they needed to date prior to that, but it’s possible he wasn’t living in Glencoe in 1910. Without knowing a specific location, that’s a LOT of microfilmed/digitized images to page through between Manitowoc and Chicago . . .

At some point in the 1910s, he built 2 houses on next to each other in Glencoe—one for his in-laws, and one for himself. His 3 older children were born in that house on Woodlawn, and that’s where he was living for the 1917 WWI draft.4 So in June, he was a gardener, day laborer. I do know he liked to do gardening. Maybe he had that as a sideline, so if he wasn’t working on a house construction job at the time, I can see him listing gardener as his occupation, and not carpenter.

Some time in the next 9 months, he moved the family back to Wisconsin, settling in Manitowoc (town), to work in the shipbuilding yards. Their last 2 children—George and my dad—were born there, and the 1920 census5 lists shipbuilding as his occupation. By 1925, the family is back in the Chicago area, renting in Highwood6 while Ed built the family’s new home in Deerfield.

The 19307 and 1940² censuses list his occupation as carpenter. What they don’t tell you, is that he was a member of the carpenter’s union, and wouldn’t work on a non-union construction job. As difficult as times were during the Depression, adding that limitation to where he would or wouldn’t work would have made them more so. Nor do those documents tell you that he helped with the construction of the rectory where my parents got married (Going to the Chapel), or other “side projects.”

For instance, when my parents bought their 1st house in 1952, it had no garage. Grandpa came out and helped my dad build a 2-car garage. And the two of them constructed custom storage in the upstairs hallway, using unfinished dressers for the base, and building a cupboard top above it, all the way to the ceiling. Whether he constructed anything similar in his other children’s houses, I don’t know, but it would seem likely.

He died in 1966, at the age of 79. but I don’t know when he retired from work. How and where my grandfather learned his carpentry trade, I don’t know, but it was a huge part of his life, and seemed to spill down to later generations, including (but not limited to):

  • my dad, who rebuilt the front half of the garage next door to us (which partly burned down)
  • 2 of my brothers, who developed considerable skill in woodworking
  • at least 2 of my children, who also “kick around” in wood a good bit. You know how kids are—we don’t always hear everything!

Is there a “woodworking gene”? I don’t know, but part of me wouldn’t be the least bit surprised!

#52Ancestors


¹1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Kossuth Town, e.d. 69; Page 7A; dwelling number 122; family number 131; line 34; Frank HAWS household; accessed 6 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 13; NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1797; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

²1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Lake, Deerfield, e.d. 49-107; Page 14B; household number 301; line 48; Edward HAWS household; accessed 10 September 2018. Edward HAWS, age 53; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 828; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

³1905 Wisconsin state census, population schedule, Manitowoc, Two Rivers town, p. 928, family no. 188, line 98, entry for Edward HAAS [HAWS], age 18 in Charles KASTEN household; accessed 7 Septermber 2018, index and images; FamilySearch, FHL microfilm 1020454.

4“United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918”, digital image, The National Archives (https://www.familysearch.org), Edward Matt HAWS, serial no. 933, order no. 60, Draft Board 3, Cook County, Illinois, citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls. Imaged from Family History Library Roll No. 1504112. accessed 6 September 2018. Registered 5 June 1917.

51920 U.S. census, population schedule, Wisconsin, Manitowoc, Manitowoc Ward 6, e.d. 106; Page 9A; dwelling number 1860; family number 169; line 36; Edward M. HOWE [HAWS] household; accessed 7 September 2018. Edward M. HOWE [HAWS], age 32; NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1994; digital image, Ancestry.com. (https://www.ancestry.com).

6“U. S. City Directories, 1822-1995”, database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com), citing Polk’s Waukegan Directory, 1925. Entry for Edw. HAWS, p. 685, accessed 7 September 2018.

71930 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Deerfield, e.d. 49-17; Page 2A; dwelling number 23; family number 23; line 21; Edward HAUSS household; accessed 10 September 2018; NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 528; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com).

Music

Music links us to a time, place, and people, and can trigger memories, just as smell does. I still remember walking around town with girlfriends the summer before 8th grade, figuring out the words to “American Pie” –before album liners and the internet solved that problem.

I wouldn’t really say my family is musically inclined. We are not clones of the Von Trapps, and there’s no “Pa Ingalls” with a fiddle lurking up-tree from me to go on about. I remember watching with dismay when the used upright got carted out of our living room and sold before I was old enough for lessons. My older siblings got them, but the combination of the cost and the annoyance of having to nag them to practice got old for my parents. The money could be put to better use, and having fewer topics to nag your children about is always a good thing!

My sister enjoyed the piano, however, eventually obtaining one for her own household, which she did play. One brother went the guitar route during high school (didn’t everyone in the 1960s?) and is still fairly good–though I don’t know that he plays much anymore. I dabbled in clarinet at school, but realized I was no Benny Goodman, and dropped it after a while.

My parents enjoyed listening to music, so we had records in the house. Mom even taught me some songs (beyond nursery rhymes) when I was young. It was what we did in the car in the pre-Walkman/iPod/iPad days. Unfortunately, I learned the lame “if one of the bottles should happen to fall” version of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” I guess she figured it would help me with counting, and was more appropriate for a 4- or 5-year old! It wasn’t until junior high when I learned the more typical “take one down and pass it around” lyrics!

The other memorable song in my life was “Johnny Rebeck.” The spelling is approximate, but that’s how it sounded. If you Google it, there are lots of variations in name spelling and lyrics. Below is what I remember singing:

There was a little Dutch man, his name was Johnny Rebeck.
He was a dealer in sausages and sauerkraut and speck.
He made the finest sausages that ever have been seen,
And one day he invented a brand new sausage machine

chorus:

Oh, Mr. Johnny Rebeck, how could you be so mean?
I told you you’d be sorry for inventing that machine.
Now all the neighbors’ cats and dogs will never more be seen.
They’ll all be ground to sausages in Johnny Rebeck’s machine.

One day a little fat boy came walking in the store.
He bought a pound of sausages and dropped them on the floor.
He then began to whistle. He whistled up a tune,
And soon the little sausages were dancing around the room.

Chorus (above)

One day the thing got busted, the old thing wouldn’t go.
So Johnny, he climbed inside, to see what made it so.
His wife, she had a nightmare, and walking in her sleep,
She gave the crank a twist (sometimes “deuce”) of a yank, and Johnny Rebeck was meat!

Chorus (above)

Rather a macabre little ditty! Explains a lot about me, right? Mom knew the song as a girl (1920s) but doesn’t remember if she learned the song from her parents, grandparents, or friends. She grew up in a town with a high concentration of residents with German ancestry (including her own). I’m not sure if “Dutchman” is intended as is, or possibly “Deutchman” (“German man”) instead (like with Pennsylvania Dutch)? Or was it intended as a slam against the Dutch? I’m not sure many Dutch settled in Chicagoland, so they would miss their target. Sauerkraut and speck/spek are a part of both cultures, so neither is eliminated.

The only origins I find for the song dub it as a scout song. I learned it about the same time as “99 Bottle of Beer,” from Mom, NOT scouts.

What, you are wondering, does this have to do with genealogy? Well, nothing–and yet everything. It’s an illustration of how information–in this case a nonsense song–can get lost over time. A half century of disuse causes memories to get fuzzy. The same thing occurs in other areas of our family history–unless they are recorded somewhere. That’s why I write this blog. Sometimes I’m sorting out a genealogy puzzle (complete with footnotes!), and sometimes I’m documenting the bits and pieces of family lore I’ve picked up along the way. I try to make sense of them, put them in context, and just remember them, before I forget!

I didn’t teach my children this song, though possibly they heard it once or twice. The mindset when they were young wouldn’t have approved. Raffi and Fred Penner were more acceptable, so I caved. Of course, now that they are seeing it here, I may never be given access to my grandchildren, again (no, I haven’t taught it to them, either!). But at least it’s recorded and remembered.

Of course, a song is nothing without its tune! This one was very fun and catchy. I found this link: Johnny Rebeck melody so you can hear it for yourself. Other videos exist, but they were just *wrong*. I didn’t care about the words, just the tune. I’m certainly not sending you to the one sounding country-ish. Eww! Others were just plain scary . . . This one was the closest–coincidentally it’s coming from scouts!

Maybe for a Christmas prompt I’ll break out “Hardrock, Coco, and Joe” for you . . .

#52Ancestors

Independence

Fireworks! What can go wrong??

Growing up, Independence Day was a big day in Hinsdale. There was the parade. There were fireworks! I never got taken to those. Most importantly, there was the CARNIVAL! It came to town for 3-4 days, setting up in Robbins Park. This was the mid-1960s, when practically the only theme park was Disneyland. Sure, Santa’s Village and a few other amusement parks were around–basically stationary carnivals. They weren’t that close, or cheap, and parents didn’t really take kids to amusement parks back then–at least mine didn’t.

But once a year the amusement park came to us. Dad usually “closed up” the business for two weeks in July to take our vacation then. When I was little, it seemed he waited until after July 4th to start the camping trip, so we’d be home for the holiday. If I was lucky, he’d find some odd jobs for me to do to earn money for the rides–weeding between the bushes, cleaning up the clippings after trimming them, catching up his invoice filing. At 25 cents per ride, the dollar or so I made didn’t go very far. I learned to choose wisely!

One activity that was NEVER part of our celebration was setting off fireworks. Never. Ever. Did not happen. Not even sparklers, and they aren’t even fireworks! It was Dad’s rule, and there was no exception to be made. When I asked why not, he said when he was growing up, he knew kids who had lost an eye from fireworks accidents. Kids can be careless, plus he didn’t trust they were assembled correctly/safely in the first place. He wasn’t going to risk having that happen to us.

He never told us who these kids were (not that we would have known them!), but I don’t think he was making it up. If his only reason was that he didn’t think they were safe, he would have left it at that. He wouldn’t see the need to manufacture a story on top.

Fair enough. He had his reasons. I countered with, “You can set them off, and we’ll stay way back.”  It seemed a reasonable compromise. That wasn’t going to happen, either. Then he’d tell the story about the time Grandpa Haws (his dad) bought a roman candle to set off. I guess he didn’t let his kids get fireworks, either! Somehow they had convinced him it would be fine if he was in charge of it.

My dad & his siblings were thrilled! Until it got lit. Apparently the roman candle was packed incorrectly, and instead of going up, it went sideways, around the house, completely out of control, until it burned itself out. That sealed it for my dad. No fireworks.

Occasionally I’d revisit the sparklers option. “Come on, Dad, sparklers don’t go up in the air. Nothing can happen.”

“You wave them around, someone isn’t watching, and something bad happens. No.”

I gave up. I was not going to win that battle in this lifetime. I also recently learned from my mom that when they lived on Adams Street (before my time!), they walked my older siblings over to watch the Fourth of July fireworks at Robbins Park. Apparently one or more of those (supposedly professional?) fireworks misfired, landing on a neighboring house roof. Mom & Dad hustled everybody home, and that was that. I’m sure that after that, fireworks at Disney parks were the only ones Mom & Dad ever saw in person!

So, fast forward several years. It’s 1970 or 71. Dad increased the summer vacation to four weeks, and now we usually left before the 4th. My three oldest siblings were out of the house, and it’s just my brother Bill & me, and Pepper (our dog). And of course, Mom & Dad. We were headed to Colorado, towing our Fan travel trailer behind the car. We stopped for gas (the good old days, when a car pulling a trailer got 10 MPG!) and restrooms. At the corner of the station was a fireworks booth. We might have actually been in a state where they were even legal! Bill, over 18 at this point, walked over and purchased some. I don’t know how much he bought, or what the cost was. Dad saw him walking back from the booth, carrying something, and said, “That’s not coming in the car.”

“I don’t know if he’ll give me my money back.”

“You should have thought of that, before. It’s still not coming in the car. And we’re leaving soon. Take care of it.” No raised voice, no drama, just very matter-of-fact.

Bill had no choice but to go back to the guy, who I’m sure watched/heard the exchange. He wouldn’t refund Bill’s money, so Bill threw the fireworks out, and the vacation continued. Apparently we settled for fabric fireworks:

1970 Disneyland Bob Chris Bill
Bill & me in 1970, at Disneyland, on Teeter Totter Rock on Tom Sawyer Island. Pants that should never be forgotten! I’ve got my mom’s old Brownie camera around my neck. Bill has his camera in the camera case. The “yellow” thing in his hand must be a map of the island.

In case you’re wondering, no, my dad did not get more permissive with his grandchildren. They never had fireworks–or sparklers–around him, either! And yes, Bill gave me permission to tell this story–though the photo was a last minute inspiration. While I can’t tell you what Bill’s fireworks policy was with his own son, my kids were as deprived of fireworks as I was.

#52Ancestors

Father’s Day

Dad life lessons? Priceless.

For the record, I’m no more comfortable with Father’s Day than I am with Mother’s Day. But I’ve said my piece, so no need to rehash it.

You learned about Dad’s wedding last week (Going to the Chapel). Fast forward to five kids later. When I was growing up, he was usually busy with something. “Free time” was in short supply, though I recall a game of Careers with him one Saturday morning. Of course, he dozed off (he was lying on the couch with the board on the floor), but he worked hard, and he was tired! I can’t begrudge him that.

He ran his rug cleaning business out of our home (Taxes), so even if he was working late, I could run down to say goodnight. I still get nostalgic at the scent of cleaning solvents . . . and I learned how to roll up area rugs like a pro before I started school. Yeah, he could manage them by himself, but an extra pair of hands never hurt. And maybe I got to stay up a bit later . . .

Weekends frequently involved taking care of yard work and home maintenance–after business matters! I quickly learned the best way to snag time with him was to tag along. So Saturday mornings there’d be a trip to the bank, and frequently a stop at Holland Hardware to pick up whatever was needed for that day’s project. Buying spray paint? It was my job to shake the can all the way home. I learned about tools–what they were called and how they were used. Sometimes I even scored a trip up to the roof of the house! When my parents bought the bungalow next door for a rental house, I learned about hanging wallpaper, transplanting bushes, and weeding.

fathers day
Robert Haws and daughter, Christine (about age 8?) on the roof of the house. Mom wasn’t thrilled (but DID take the photo!). Photo restored by Mark Halvorsen. 

Of course, Dad didn’t always work! He showed me how to make huts back in the pasture (open land behind our backyard) with the branches trimmed from the trees, and leaves piled on. We even made an A-frame hut with scrap lumber and the old storm windows from our front porch when Dad made new ones. What girl doesn’t need her own A-frame?

Then there were kite-flying lessons. No small balls of kite string in our house. Dad would let me use an almost empty spool of waxed carpet thread. He’d slide an 18-inch length of 1″x1″ pine through the center of the spool for handles. Man, those kites flew up! No matter how far we let them out, we never ran out of string, and the string rarely broke. One spring we had the brilliant idea to buy a box kite. Mistake! I don’t think we ever got that sucker up in the air, much as we tried. Whatever the trick is, we never discovered it.

Aside from life lessons learned from kite-flying (or failing!) and wallpaper-hanging, Dad made sure I could take care of myself. The spring I was in Driver’s Ed, he made me change the snow tires to regular tires on the 1967 Galaxie 500 AND the 1973 Pinto. This was before the days of front wheel drive and all-weather tires. I got to jack up each car, undo the lug nuts, remove each wheel (easy!), mount the new ones (harder!) and tighten them all up again. I had no excuse to be a “damsel in distress” if I got a flat. He also had me under the hood, learning how to check the oil, fill washer fluid, and know what the basic car parts were (long before engines were computerized–when the workings were simpler!). I am no mechanic, but can at least talk to one and not sound like a total idiot–or be completely clueless.

Dad was certainly no feminist, but long before women’s rights was a “thing,” he didn’t restrict my sister or me to typical gender roles. We weren’t trying to get on the boys’ football or basketball teams, but Math and Science were necessary classes for the two of us. Home-Economics-type things we could learn from Mom. Finances and investing? Mandatory! You already heard about my doing my own tax returns. I was a 22-year-old on my first job shaking my head over older co-workers who didn’t want to tie up $2000 each year in an IRA account.

Hair-brained, off-the-wall interests? Those were encouraged and supported, if it was feasible. I remember getting hooked on astronomy as a kid and wanting to build a device to measure altitude and azimuth of stars. The book I was reading showed one. Dad helped me cut out and paint a plywood base, figure out how to measure and mark the 360 degrees around that base, and build the post sticking up (paint stirring stick) with a movable protractor, straw, and sinker on a string for finding the altitude. Did it ever get used? Unfortunately, no, because after completion we realized:

  • we had no level place to set it during use, and more importantly
  • there were too many trees and buildings to be able to do much with it!

Oops! Regardless, we had fun, and I learned a lesson about building things–and maybe to think through the plan a little better, next time.

Did I learn everything in life from Dad? No. But caught or taught, I learned a lot of important things from him. Definitely time well spent. Thanks, Dad!

2003 11 06 roof
6 November 2003, Robert Haws on the roof of the porch, cleaning out the gutters, hooked up to his oxygen concentrator. Different house, 82 years old, but still can’t keep him on the ground!

#52Ancestors

Going to the Chapel

or not . . . ?

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20 December 1944, wedding photo of Ardyth Eileen Meintzer and Robert William Haws.

My parents, Robert William Haws and Ardyth Eileen Meintzer, got married 20 December 1944 in Deerfield, Illinois, by Fr. Murphy at Holy Cross Rectory. Wait, you say, rectory? Not church? Yep. Dad was Catholic, but Mom was Presbyterian. Dad received the dispensation necessary to marry a non-Catholic. Mom agreed to having children raised in the Catholic faith. Regardless, Church law at the time prohibited them from tying the knot with a ceremony inside the church. A priest could marry them, but it couldn’t be a “church wedding.”

So, how did they get to the . . . non-altar? Mom’s old boyfriend, Gene Lystlund, had broken up with her. Dad was a year ahead of Mom in school, and had graduated by the time she went to Highland Park (see comments) High School. Obviously they didn’t meet at church! But everyone hung out at Cox’s Sweet Shop, so they would have met there. She learned via the grapevine that he liked to dance–and was pretty good! A Job’s Daughters turnabout dance was coming up her Senior year, and Mom didn’t want to be stuck with a dud of a date who wouldn’t dance. So she asked my dad, who said yes, and I guess the rest is history.

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Cox Sweet Shop. High school hangout in 1930s-1940s, in Deerfield, IL.

They both attended comptometer (Taxes) school (not necessarily together) and worked in different offices in Chicago. But the romance progressed, and they eventually exchanged lover’s knot “promise rings.” Then Pearl Harbor changed the lives of many. My dad enlisted the following August (figuring he’d have more options by volunteering instead of waiting to be drafted) and was shipped out in Spring, 1943, to Espiritu Santa (now called Vanuatu). They did not get married before he left. Mom wanted to, but Dad didn’t want the possibility of her being left a widow, possibly with a child. Technically they were still NOT engaged.

For eighteen months they wrote letters and sent photos back and forth. Dad’s letters all got screened by the officer above him (Charlie Altier), to be sure no classified information or locations were being disclosed. Apparently Charlie would add notes onto Dad’s letters, letting Mom know that Dad was truthful about what he was telling her (i.e. not dating local girls behind her back, etc.). Did Charlie let other girlfriends know if their beau was a dog? I don’t know. My dad had no idea Charlie was commenting, but my mom remembers clearly.

We don’t have those letters. When they got married, my dad had my mom burn them all, saying he didn’t want promises made in the course of wooing her to be held over his head! Not that he didn’t make good on all of them eventually–I’m sure he did. He just didn’t want to be held to an arbitrary timetable.

At some point (fall, 1944?) he was informed he’d be going home over Christmas, with his next duty in Holtville, California. He wasn’t being sent back overseas, and would be able to bring a wife with him. So he proposed by mail, and Mom accepted. Waiting to propose in person simply wasn’t an option. He had only one month leave, so they needed to get married quickly, celebrate Christmas, and use the rest of the time for a honeymoon trip to California.

bob ardyth wedding_0001
20 December 1944. Bob Retzinger, Eugenia Tronjo, Robert Haws, Ardyth Meintzer

He wasn’t sure when he’d get home, either. He, Cliff, and Spike spent several days in San Francisco, waiting for a train to transport them to Chicago. Sailors on leave had low travel priority! He arrived in Chicago on 16 December. Illinois required a blood test (still does!), and had a 3-day waiting period, so the 20th was the first day they could get married. Dad’s brothers were both overseas, as were most of his close friends. Bob Retzinger happened to be home on leave also, so Dad asked him to be best man. Mom had it a little easier, and asked her cousin, Jean (Eugenia) to be maid of honor. Both sets of parents were there. Not a big or fancy wedding. It was war time, so you made do as well as you could. Mom DID splurge for a new dress–it’s still hanging in my closet. She says it was blue. It looks green to me. Let’s say “aqua” and call it even . . .

They spent Christmas with their families, then set off on their honeymoon by bus to California. But that’s a different  story . . .

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This is the caption for the top image. It is from an unidentified newspaper clipping, but probably the local Deerfield paper. This is the church they DIDN’T get married in! A new church was built in the 1950s, then stripped to support beams and redesigned in 1998. This original church was torn down in 1988. The rectory they were married in was built in 1938. You can see a photo of the rectory at Holy Cross’s website. (click and scroll down a bit)

 

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Cemetery

So many to choose from!

The remains of my family are scattered throughout the Midwest. Big cemeteries (Ridgewood in Des Plaines, IL, or Ascension in Libertyville, IL), little cemeteries (Columbus, in St. Clair County, MI), and everything in between. One of my favorites, though is Sacred Heart Cemetery, in Northbrook, IL. It’s not the smallest one, but still very quiet and quaint. It’s on Lee Road, just north of Dundee. The I-94 Edens Spur turned Lee Road into a dead-end road (irony!), keeping it quiet. A single drive takes you inside, with a keyhole loop at the end, so you can turn around.

While Catholic Cemeteries manages all the Cook County, IL, cemeteries currently, originally each church kept up its own. This cemetery was attached Sacred Heart Church in Winnetka. Sacred Heart was a spin-off from St. Joseph’s Church in Wilmette. St. Joseph’s parish had grown, requiring another church to take care of the parishioners further north. St. Joseph’s Cemetery was also filling up, so it made sense for the new parish to start its own cemetery. At that time, Northbrook (which was really Shermerville) was out in the boondocks, so presumably land was cheap and available. It made sense to put the cemetery out there.

My great-grandparents, Ignatz Schweiger and Dorothea Harry (Invite to Dinner, Valentine, The Maiden Aunt) purchased Lot 2, Block 6, Section 2 in the cemetery. They were among the original families to start up the new parish, so I don’t know if they simply got in on the ground floor, or purchased it after they had a need. My earliest memory of it was when my grandpa, Edward, was buried. I was only seven, and don’t recall much, but I think it was a drizzly–or at least overcast–day. Fitting for a funeral.

Sacred Heart cemetery_0003
In Loving Memory of Iganatz Schweiger, born May 13, 1859; died Aug. 15, 1921. Dorothea Schweiger, born Mar. 26, 1858; died Oct. 29, 1932.
Sacred Heart cemetery_0002
In Loving Memory of Anthony G. Schweiger, born Jan. 17, 1891; died Sept. 28, 1914. Paul J. Haws, born Nov. 24, 1914; died March 3. 1915.

Towards the center of the plot, Ignatz & Dorothea installed a tall monument. The family name is arched at the bottom of the front side, with Igantz and Dorothea inscribed above. On an adjacent side are listed Anthony G. Schweiger (my grandmother’s brother) and Paul J. Haws (my father’s oldest brother). Prior to starting on the family tree, I hadn’t heard of either person.

Fortunately, my dad was with me on that trip to Sacred Heart, and could fill me in. Anthony died age 23, after being kicked in the head by a horse. He graduated from Sacred Heart’s grade school, and when we find him in the 1910 census¹, he’s a driver for a grocery. Sometimes we find him as “Anton” in records. Other than these small snippets of his life, we don’t know much, so it’s nice he has such a solid remembrance.

Paul J. Haws is the oldest brother of my dad. He was born 24 November 1914, and died 3 1/2 months later, on 3 March 1915. Victoria laid him in the crib the night before, and when she went to get him up the next morning, he was cold. There was no hint of illness prior. Some time before she died in 1955, as SIDS was first being recognized, she mentioned to my mom that what happened with Paul seemed to be the same thing.

The other sides of the monument are not carved–flush to the ground headstones were placed for the others. Buried there are my dad (and Mom–at some point), his brother, Henry (along with his wife, Mary), and sister Marie. Their other brother, George, is in Wheeling Cemetery (despite the notation below. He decided he didn’t want to use those graves. Marie’s daughter, Pattie, is there, instead. My grandparents, Victoria and Edward are there, as well as Victoria’s unmarried brother, Iggy (Ignatz).

Sacred Heart cemetery_0004
Plot card from some time after 1988, when Uncle George still was thinking about using 2 of the plots. He later changed his mind and is in Wheeling Cemetery. Uncle Henry and Aunt Mary’s cremains share the plot next to my dad. My cousin Pattie is in one of the others–I think next to her mom.

Besides baby Paul, Aunt Marie’s first daughter, Marilyn Victoria, is buried here. According to the plot card above, she and Paul were both buried in the southeast corner, so I guess they are in the same plot with Henry and his wife, Mary. With cremation urns, it’s not a big deal, I guess, and it’s nice they have company. I may see if the card can be updated, though, to include her name, as there is no marker. I’ve told my children, and some nieces and nephews, but they may not remember, and I don’t want her forgotten.

The family’s Sacred Heart plot is almost full of people, and certainly full of memories. The plot card reminds us that not everyone has a marker, so asking for the plot card information can be important. It sometimes has information not available from the cemetery websites.

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¹1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Illinois, Cook, Glencoe, e.d. 57; sheet 9A; dwelling number 168; family number 169; line 25; Ignaty[z] SCHWEIGER household; accessed 29 April 2018. Anton SCHWEIGER, age 19; NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 239; digital image, Ancestry.com) (https://www.ancestry.com).

Taxes

“…but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” ― Benjamin Franklin,

Being married to a tax accountant, my life revolves around taxes, and has done so since before children. Mike started back to night school for an MBA (emphasis on tax) a month before our first child was born. Since 1987, I “single parented” 2, then 3, eventually 4 children through tax season (January 1 to April 15th) and mini-tax season (August to October 15th). You didn’t even know about that one, did you? Trust me, it’s real! All those returns you extended? They have to be filed, eventually! I’m reasonably sure our children said “tax season” before they said “mom” and distinctly remember hearing an older child reassuring a younger sibling that, “It’s Busy Season, but Dad will be home by bedtime.” He is a morning person and prefers to go in early, so was home by 8PM, with rare (and unhappy) exceptions.

However, long before I ever knew my husband, taxes were in my life. As a small business owner, my dad had plenty of taxes to pay, so it was a topic that regularly came up at dinner.

Dad had taken typing and bookkeeping classes in high school, and graduated at 17. The Depression was still going on, and no one hired you if you were under 18. College was not an option, but he enrolled in comptometer school. After completing the course, he went to work for the Grand Trunk Railway offices in Chicago. Pearl Harbor rocked everyone’s world, he enlisted in the Navy, and served until the end of WWII.

At that point, every other military man was also looking for a job. He had married and had a baby on the way. He found a job with a rug cleaner, learned the trade quickly, and even thought of buying a ServiceMaster franchise. His boss discouraged him from doing that, so Dad started his own company with his brother, George. Unfortunately, business was slow, and there wasn’t enough income for 2 families. Dad bought out Uncle George’s half and carried on, usually with just one other employee, but not a partner.

Dad did all his own bookkeeping and tax work, including the estimated payments, withholding, FICA, etc. He didn’t have spare money to pay for an accountant, and figured getting the information together for someone else was a huge chunk of the work. Why do all that and then pay someone else for the easier task? He also reasoned that he had more of a vested interest in his money than someone else. So each year, after work and on weekends, he tackled the tax return with its Schedule C and all the depreciation calculations.

Recognizing that Social Security benefits would NOT fully fund retirement, he educated himself about his retirement account options long before personal IRAs, Roth IRAs, or 401k plans. I grew up hearing about HR-10 Keogh plans and reading Kiplinger Magazine back when it was on non-glossy paper. I managed to avoid their Tax Letters, but I saw them lying on end tables around the house, too.

At 16, when I finally got a job that generated a W-2, my dad handed me the tax instruction book, the form, my W-2 and the 1099s for Capital Shares and Putnam Growth mutual funds (my college nest egg). He told me to read the instructions, fill out the form, and ask him if I had questions. And to double-check my math. I did that for the next 6 years! I’m sure he checked over the form before we mailed it in (and granted, they were much simpler than they are now!), but he wanted me to understand what was going on by making me do it myself.

When I was in high school, he commented once on how some rug cleaners he knew–oh, how to say this delicately?–under reported their income. Cash payments they received sometimes didn’t actually make it into their business checking account–or onto their tax returns. They had different names for it: “martini money” or “vacation fund” are a couple I remember. Dad never did that, and frankly he preferred checks, so he didn’t have cash laying around the house. Aside from security–and the fact that not reporting was wrong–he had several reasons:

  • it might save taxes now, but it would cost him in Social Security benefits later
  • he had to look himself in the face every morning while shaving
  • he didn’t want to worry about being caught

Did he like paying taxes? No. He wasn’t an idiot. But he knew the government needed funds to do what it needed to do, and he needed to pay his fair share. Did he feel generous and throw a couple hundred extra dollars in with his payment? Get real! While he wouldn’t cheat them, he worked hard for a living, and had no intention of being cheated himself.

He retired in 1984, simplifying his tax return considerably. So what did he do? He volunteered for the Tax-Aide program, going to retirement homes, or the library, helping seniors with their tax returns. I was married and no longer in his house, but he always had some amazing stories each year of the disarray some of the paperwork people brought in. It frustrated him greatly, but he *usually* was able to straighten them out, giving him a lot of satisfaction. I don’t recall how long he volunteered, but it was probably a decade or more. He really seemed to enjoy it.

You are probably thinking, “She’s married to a tax accountant . . . She hasn’t had to look at a return at least since 1987.” Excuse my laughter . . .  No such luck. Every year, a stack appears on the dining room, with the instruction to check them over. Ours. Our four children (until they left the house). Now my mom’s. No escape.

So, yeah, I guess old Ben was right . . .

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