Art Lindskoog

Art LindskoogREMINISCENCE

By – Arthur W. Lindskoog 1982

I was born in Chicago, Illinois on the 16th day of August, 1899, in the vicinity of Clybourn Avenue and Sedgwick Street. We later moved to an apartment on the first floor of 11 Sedgwick Court in a tenement building that was built wall to wall with other buildings.  It was rather dreary, but at that time there were no zoning laws so buildings were built on very narrow lots.  As kids, we had to play in the street or sit on the curbs.  I started school at the Franklin School for the first and second grades until we moved to La Salle, Illinois.  I had a few friends that lived on the same street and one named Howie lived across the street. We used to walk down to a corner where a gang of men hung out and they would ask us to dance and jig for them.  They would throw out pennies on the sidewalk which we would pick up and go over to the store to buy some candy or a big pickle to suck on.

I think Howie’s dad got mixed up with hoodlums in some kind of racket.  One day Howie and I got in some kind of an argument and as he was walking home, I picked up a rock and threw it at him.  It hit him on the top of the head, and he went home crying to tell his dad.  I went home and hid.  In a little while, Howie’s dad came over to my house looking for me. When I heard him coming, I hid under the bed.  He broke into the room and although he looked all over, he couldn’t find me.  If he had, I would have been in a lot of trouble.

At this time, Pa was in the bakery hardtack business with a partner named Sven Ekstrom.  Their store was in a basement on Division Street.  They sold wholesale to stores on the north side of Chicago and had a wagon and team of horses to deliver the round circles of hardtack. When Sven would come back to put the horses in the barn, Erik and I would meet him and get a ride on the horses. That was a big deal for us.  Rats would come into the basement and our dog named Sport would kill them.

Later, the city passed an ordinance that did away with any bakeries in the basement.  Sven Ekstrom made Pa an offer for his part of the business, so Pa sold out to him and Ekstrom started a business further up on the north side with a party named Linne.  Pa called up the union for a job and they told him about an opening for a job foremen at Orsingers bakery on 1st and Marquette Street in LaSalle, Illinois.  We decided to make the move to LaSalle.  On the day before we moved, I was with a group of my friends who dared me to pull the handle on the corner fire alarm box.  I accepted their challenge and caused the fire engines to come out to my false alarm. What a foolish thing to do.

When Pa had his bakery most deliveries were made by horse and wagon and the fire engines were pulled by horses.  Automobiles were mostly for the wealthy.

We left for LaSalle on the train the following day and I found out later that the police had come around looking for me.  I could have been in a lot of trouble, but I guess we do a lot of foolish things when we are kids. When we arrived in LaSalle, Orsingers had a small flat above his store that we moved into until we could rent a house.  The bakery was behind the store in a separate building.  A few months later, we were able to rent a house on the corner of Marquette and 9th Street.  It was owned by a man named Wall in who lived in a place between LaSalle and Peru that the kids called Wall in1 Castle.  A short time after we moved to LaSalle, a cyclone hit and we were able to get a good look at the damage it caused. It blew down a lot of big trees and damaged some roofs.  We all stood in the corners of the room and watched a tree bend over double without breaking.  It was something new for us to go through.

The Illinois River laid about three-fourths of a mile south of LaSalle. Sometimes after work, the night crew from the bakery would go fishing in the over­flow.  One morning, Erik and 1 decided to walk over and meet the group.  The road to the river was paved with stones, and since we were barefooted, the stones hurt our feet.  In spite of this, we kept on going and met them.  They had caught some big Carp (2 to 3 ft. long), and we put them on stringers, threw them over our shoulders and took them home.  In those days, before the Sanitary District was built in Chicago, the Illinois River was polluted with Chicago sewage. We didn’t know that this would spoil the flavor of any fish caught in the river. When Ma started to fry the fish, the smell throughout the house was so bad, the fish had to be thrown in the garbage can.  There went our fish dinner!   On another morning, the crew went out fishing on the old I and M Canal.  They fished from the boat and one of the men caught a fresh water eel.  He got all excited because he thought it was a snake, but Pa, who had caught eels in the old country, took it home and baked it. He always bought smoked eel at the fish market every Christmas.  After the Sanitary District built their project, the river got cleaned up and the fishing was better.

Erik and I found out from some of our friends that there was a walnut grove on the other side of the Illinois River, and also wild grapes and plums.  We built a wagon with some baby carriage wheels, took some gunny sacks and walked over to get a load of nuts. We built a rack and put it on top of the roof to dry the hulled walnuts.  We hulled the walnuts and put them on the rack.  While hulling the nuts our hands would get all brown from walnut stain and it wouldn’t wash off; it would have to wear off.  We did have walnuts all winter long. We would also gather wild grapes and plums for jelly.

When we moved to LaSalle, we kids started to go to the Lincoln School which was about a three-quarter mile walk.  I graduated from there.  Marquette and Ninth Streets were located at the top of a hill.  In the winter, after a good snowfall, a bunch of us kids would get together and go bobsled riding on one of the fellows bobsled.  We could get eight of us on the sled at one time.  In those days, most of the travel was by horse and wagon and the automobile was still a luxury item.  One day, one of the boys was going down the hill by himself on the sled.  When he got near the bottom, he found himself heading towards a team of horses that were starting to cross the roadway.  He was going so fast that he couldn’t stop the sled.  He ended up going right between the horses legs as they crossed the road.  He was lucky he didn’t get hurt.

The landlord decided to move back to the house on Marquette Street, so we rented a house on 10th and Berlin Street. This is where several of the younger children were born.  My younger brother, Stanley, caught Diptheria when he was four years old and passed away.  He looked similar to Jim when he was small and it hit us all pretty hard.  Because it was a communicable disease, we had a sad private funeral with horses, a hearse and buggy. We blame it on a young doctor who was taking the place of our regular doctor who was on vacation. When the older doctor returned, he said he could have probably saved the boy.

When we first moved to Marquette Street, we built a rabbit coop and tried to raise rabbits. When the babies were born, the buck or male rabbit would get into the cage and kill the babies.  I guess that’s the way nature works.  On Saturday nights, after Pa was through working, he would stop by one of the saloons for a couple of beers.  Every Saturday the saloons would have a raffle.  Pa would buy a couple of tickets and sometimes win ducks, geese or turkeys.  Once he won a big white turkey.  We clipped its wings so it wouldn’t be able to fly and let it loose in our fenced-in back yard.  Somehow it got over the fence and started to run around the neighborhood with all of us chasing it through the yards, etc.   It was quite a chase, but we finally caught it. Pa wouldn’t hurt a fly, so it was up to us boys to kill the birds that he brought home.  Then we would pick the feathers off and clean them so Ma would roast them for our dinner. Most of our boy friends were of Polish decent because their dads worked in the coal mines and cement mills around LaSalle and Spring Valley.  One year, there was an explosion in one of the mines in Cherry, Illinois, and hundreds of miners were killed.  It was one of the worst disasters at that time.  As they brought out the bodies they laid them out in the fields, and bodies were scattered all over. It was terrible to see all the relatives trying to identify the dead.  Most of them were overcome by gas fumes.  There were few factories around LaSalle at this time. A lot of the men worked in the coal mines and came home each day covered with coal dust.

Some of my friends went to the Catholic schools and some of them to Lincoln school; but there were never any arguments about religion. We all went hiking, fishing, played baseball and football and had a good time together.  I had a friend named John Anderson, and one day John and I took our cane poles to go fishing at the I. M. lake. We baited our hooks, laid our poles down on the ground and sat down. When we looked around, we saw a fish had been hooked and was pulling the pole into the lake.  Johnnie, who was a good swimmer, took off his clothes and started swimming after the pole.  It had a cork bobber, so the bobber world pop up now and then with Johnnie chasing it.  Finally, he caught up with it and brought in a fair sized Carp.

When we lived on 10th Street there was a hefty babe who was trying to become an opera star.  When she was practicing, you could hear her a block away.  She had a brother named Jomans who got in a fight at Rottners saloon, which was a short distance from the house.  He lost the fight and went home with his face covered with blood.  Pa liked to have a glass of beer with supper and I would bring it home from Rottners1 saloon in a pint tin pail. There was also a rattlesnake in a cage in their back yard which I would go over and look at.

We used to go to school with the two Huber boys.  Their parents owned a store about a block from our house, and they would bring us candy now and then.  One day, Erik and John Huber got into an argument after school and they decided to fight it out.  They had supporters on both sides who formed a ring around them to watch the fight.  It ended with John getting a black eye and Erik a bloody nose.  I think it did some damage to his nose because he had a little trouble breathing after that fight, Later, they shook hands and that was it.

On some Sundays, we kids would take a hike along the Rock Island train tracks to Split Rock and Starved Rock, near Utica, Illinois.  This was about seven miles from LaSalle.  We would just go over there to bum around.  We would also walk over to a creek called the Sandee, which was about a mile from LaSalle.  We would go fishing and swimming in the creek.  In those days, we did not use swimming suits out there.

Once a year, the circus would come to town.  I didn’t have any money to get in so I asked for a job to earn a ticket. They gave me a job carrying pails of water to a big tub for the elephants.  Other times, we kids would sneak under the tent and mix in with the crowd.  LaSalle also had a county fair every year. The farmers would display their cattle, crops and bakery goods to try to win the different prizes. The fair had a contest every day in which you tried to guess the number of people that would attend the fair that day.  The one who was closest would win various prizes.  I was lucky one day and guessed 3,175, which was the closest guess.  I won an Irish Mail pushmobile and seven sacks of cement.

LaSalle had a baseball team with a pitcher named Bernie Coss, who always had a chew of tobacco in his mouth.  He was a lefty with a good spitball; good enough that he got a tryout with the Cubs.  We kids would dig away the dirt under the fence at baseball park big enough so we could crawl under. Then we would sneak in and mix with the crowd to watch the ball game.  Sometimes a cop by the name of Jimmy Flynn would try to catch us, but he had a peg leg and we could always outrun him.  One day, I was coming home from Sunday School all dressed up with a starched collar that we used back then.  I stopped to watch the baseball players practice.  I was standing on the sidelines when one of them hit a foul ball.  It hit me on the back of the neck, and if I didn’t have that stiff, starched collar on, I could have been injured.

The house on 10th Street had a big horse barn in the back where we would get together and play games.  It also had a wooden fence in the back with the boards spaced a few inches apart.  Some of us would play cowboys and Indians behind the fence.  Erik  had received a new BB gun and he was a cowboy standing behind the fence shooting at the Indians.  One of our friends named Swede Hanson was peeking behind the boards when one of the BB’s glanced off a board and hit him in the eye.  He thought the BB had fallen out, but a few days later his eye became infected because the BB was still lodged in the corner of his eye.  He had to go to the doctor to have it taken out and he was laid up for awhile.  He wqs lucky he didn’t lose his eye.  It taught all of us a lesson about the use of BB guns, which was later more or less, outlawed.

LaSalle, with a population of ten or eleven thousand people, was known as a pretty lively town.  There were about sixty saloons scattered around to take care of the numerous coal miners who liked to stop and have a cold drink after their work day.  Some of the saloons had slot machines and paid off the sheriff to operate them.  One of my buddies worked in the tool room at Westclox Watch factory. He made a die and cast a number of imitation nickles to use in the slot machines. He would stop in the saloon, play the nickle machines, and when the owner wasn’t looking, slip in a few of the fake nickles.  Now and then, he would hit a jackpot. If he got caught putting fake nickles in the slot machines, all the owner could do was throw him out.  He couldn’t put him in jail because it was illegal to have the machines in the first place.

When I started school in LaSalle, I was put in the 2nd grade.  After about one month, I was moved to the 3rd grade and four months later, I made the 4th grade. I made all three grades in one year and graduated grade school when I was 13i years old.  I didn’t care to go to high school, so I went down to Western Clock Company (Westclox) and looked for a job.  Because there were no child labor laws at that time, any kid could get a job.  Billy Hawthorne, who was the superintendent, looked at my hands that were still stained from the walnuts and asked me about them.  He hired me and put me in the four inch assembly department, winding clock movements at eight cents an hour.   I wound clock movements eight hours a day, six days a week.  The movements came in boxes with thirty-six to a box.  After the movements were wound, they would be put on racks to run for twenty-four hours.  If they were off just five minutes either way, they would be sent back to the timers to be adjusted and then tested again.  The timer crews worked in small, individual, sound proof rooms using a pilot movement.  They would adjust each movement to the pilot.  They had to have good ears for this kind of work, and it was monotonous.

Later, I was promoted to straw boss in what was called the vibrating department. I had to check on the work of the timers, and also the about twelve young ladies who worked in the department.  I would not let them get away with any shoddy work, so some of them had no use for me. The straw boss job paid twenty-five cents and hour. After about a year, I decided I wanted to be an “escaper”.  This was a piece work job that paid thirty cents an hour, plus an extra piece work rate.  So, I gave up my job as straw boss.  I really wanted to get a job in the tool room, but there were no openings and wouldn’t be for a long time.

I used to bum around with Bobby Sroka, who was a Polish boy. We used to go hiking together, and once in a while we would go on the David and Verne Swain paddle wheelers for a moonlight excursion on the Illinois River.  The paddle wheelers would make summer excursions up and down the river, between LaSalle and Peoria. On the boats, they had dancing and slot machines, etc.  You could play these slot machines legally because the boats were on federal water beyond the local sheriff’s jurisdiction.  It wasn’t like the saloons where they had to pay someone off.

When we lived in Chicago, I went to a dime store on Division Street to buy Ma a birthday present.  I bought her a small picture in a brass frame and gave it to her.  Years later, when Ma lived with Alice in Waupaca, she had a beautiful picture of herself, in her younger days, put in that brass frame.  After Ma passed away, Alice gave me that picture frame and picture because it was the same frame I had given Ma for her birthday when I was a little child.

I don’t believe Pa ever had a bank account.  Whatever he made would all go to take care of the family.  We always had enough to eat (nothing fancy); all plain food, but good.  Although we never had much, we always got along fine.  It seemed like we had more family life togetherness, and enjoyed different things as groups.

In LaSalle, the LaSalle-Peru High School built a new social center with a gymnasium and swimming pool.  We kids organized a small social club in the neighbor­hood and started a basketball team called the “Little Stix”.  We would get together and play basketball games and have dances.  I was elected president of the club.  I still have a picture of our basketball team. We were pretty good and one year won the league championship.

LaSalle was a small town but we were always busy with something; football, basketball, baseball, etc.  Movies were only a nickle and carnivals and different sporting events would come to town each year, so we were kept occupied.

The first World War between Germany and England started in 191^ and eventually involved other large powers. There was a lot of propaganda and our country finally got involved in what started as a power struggle for trade between England and Germany, It got to the point that President Woodrow Wilson, pressured by England, had us declare war on Germany.  A lot of my friends enlisted in the army and navy and were sent to the training camps that the army erected in the southern states to train new soldiers. A lot of the young men didn’t get very far, however, because of a big dust storm that came through the West and a flu epidemic that started in the camps.  It spread throughout the country and hundreds of thousands of people died before it was over.  It was a sad time throughout the world as a lot of families lost relatives and friends.  Some of my personal friends lost their lives at this time.

When the First World War started, I was working at Westclox and Erik was working at Orsingers.  In 1917, Washington called men between the ages of seventeen and forty-five for their last draft.  My dad and Erik and I all had to register. Mr name and Erik’s name were picked from the lottery and we both went to Chicago for our physicals.  We were classified 1-A and called to report to a camp in Indiana. At that time, however, Germany decided to agree to an armistice, so we never got to be soldiers for the U.S.A.

Erik quit his job at Orsingers and went to Chicago to work for the American Express Company.  He got a job driving a team of horses in the Loop.  In those days, most of the deliveries were made by horse and wagon, as there wasn’t too many gasoline trucks around.  He worked on this job for several months and then took a job for twenty-five cents an hour as a conductor on the elevated trains.  One sub zero day he had to ride outside, between the cars, because the train was overcrowded. He didn’t have any overshoes on and froze his feet.  He left his job as a conductor and started working for Commonwealth Edison Company.  He was hired as an electrician to wire old homes for electric light instead of gas light.  That’s how we got started in the electrical business.

Erik wanted me to come to Chicago, so I left my job at Westclox and moved.  I decided I wanted to learn the machinist trade.  At that time, my Uncle Nils was Grand Secretary for Brage Lodge #2, Fraternal Order of Vikings.  His office was located in the Loop at 111 Washington Street.  I went to his office, and he sent me to the Edward Katzinger factory on Peoria Street near Washington Street. They made all kinds of different bakery utensils there and I got a job in the machine shop.  Erik and I rented a room in a rooming house at 625 W. Belmont Avenue, near Halsttd Street. I could take the Halsted street car straight down to my job.  I started to work for twenty-five cents an hour, ten hours a day, six days a week.  I liked the job and worked there for several years, but the factory was dark and dreary with poor ventilation.  They didn’t have many health laws at that time.  Because of the poor ventilation, it was very hot and sticky in the summer, and I decided I would prefer outside work. I took a job as a carpenter’s laborer with the Stolzner Construction Company.  At that time, they were building a row of bungalows on Wrightwood Avenue.  I had to carry long 2×8 floor joists on my shoulder and set them on end at each building. By the end of the first day my shoulders were all raw so the next day I tried to protect them with a pad.  This made it a little better, but I still only worked this job for a few weeks, as my shoulders stayed sore because of the friction. Those 18 to 20 feet long planks were hard to handle!

I began going to Senn High School in the evening to learn how to repair cars. They had night classes where you could learn different trades.

Because I wanted to work outdoors, I took a job with a roofing company that had a contract with Consumers Coal and Ice Company.  This company had flat roofed buildings in different sections of the city.  Our job was to sweep the roofs and spread a special asphaultum liquid over them with a squeegy.  My boss would go down on West Madison Street and pick up three or four of these bums who needed a little money to buy booze.  Some of them were under the weather the next day, so he would have to bring out another bunch.  1 was the foreman, and had to see that these burns kept working.  Most of them were alright, they just wanted a few dollars to buy a bottle of cheap wine. We called them winos. We also worked on the tower of the Peter Hand Brewing Company.  This tower was the home of hundreds of pigeons who hatched their young up there.  There were dozens of squabs in the nests in this tower.  My men would take a ladder, gather up these young birds, and take them home for dinner.  They were delicious.

One of my jobs was at the stone quarry at McCook Illinois. We had to work on a sloping roof that had about a 75 foot drop if someone fell off. Now, as I look back, I think I was crazy to work on that roof; but we didn’t think about those things when we were young.  Later, we got a job for the Tranco Envelope Company on Elston and Belmont Avenues.  My men were getting paid forty cents an hour, and my pay, as foreman, was sixty cents an hour.  They decided to go on strike for fifty cents an hour and I went with them for seventy-five cents an hour. We were refused, so we all quit and that ended that job.

I then tried out various other jobs, including one at Western Electric Company, running a hand screw machine.  I was working for piece rates, making parts for dial phones. That didn’t last too long and I asked for an outside job. The only one that was open was a job unloading freight cars full of lumber and piling them in different piles to dry out. The lumber was used in making switchboards and telephone booths.  This job lasted until the cold weather came.  I left and took a job at Wahls Pen and Pencil Shop, starting at a day rate of pay.  They said they would pay me piece rates after a day or two on the job.  I was turning out tops for fountain pens nearly twice as fast as the other workers.  I asked them for piece work rate, but they kept stalling me, so I quit that job.

Oscar Larson was working in a machine shop on Walnut and Paulina Street, running a big turret lathe.  He told me that they needed someone to run a metal shaper for the Lammert and Mann Company, so I took that job.  I worked on planning covers for the bottom of engines that they used for battery operated pie trucks. They used the trucks to deliver pies to retail stores and restaurants around town. Of course, the storage batteries had to be charged throughout the night for power. Mr. Mann bought a large cylinder grinding machine (Heald Cylindrical Grinder) and he wanted me to learn how to handle it.  This was all precision work and it took a little time to set up the machine for grinding worn automobile cylinder blocks.  I would grind out the cylinders to fit oversized pistons which had to be fitted within a tolerance of three thousandthsof an inch.  This grinder had a concentric arm with a small grinding wheel attached to it, and a suction fan to exhaust the grinding dust. The three thousandths of an inch tolerance was to allow for the expansion of the piston rings and provide enough space for oil between the piston and cylinders to keep from scoring the wall.  The son of Mr. Mann had just graduated from college, so his dad had given him a job going around to check all the workers and learn what was going on.  He was sort of a smart aleck who liked to show his authority, and I didn’t like him.  One day, when I had made an appointment for the evening, he came over and said I would have to work overtime.  It was real hot and sticky and I told him I didn’t want to work overtime because I had an appointment. We had some words, and he insisted I had to work.  So, I quit my job and went home.

Uncle Nils and a group of Swedes from Brage and other Viking lodges got together and raised some money to build a golf course out near Itasca, Illinois.  It was called the Nordic Country Club, and Uncle Nils got Erik and me to buy a charter membership.  Each member received a lot near the club.  At that time, it was all farm lands out there.  Then the depression hit and they couldn’t get any money from the banks, so it went bankrupt and we all lost our investment.

Then, Erik and I bought a lot at Harlem Avenue and Peck Court in Norwood Park. We decided to build a house and sell it.  We got a set of plans from Sears Roebuck and they furnished the pre-cut lumber. We got our building loan from Brage Lodge #2.  I worked on the carpenter end of it.  About the time we finished building the house, the bottom dropped out of the stock market so we couldn’t sell it.  Later, Erik and Sadie moved in and lived there for several years.  Finally, Brage Lodge had to take it over because of delinquent taxes.
After we built this house, the plumber on the job asked me if I would do the carpentry work on a residence he was building in Park Ridge.  I took the job and the business agent for the Carpenter’s Union asked me to join.  At that time, I couldn’t make up my mind, but they didn’t bother me any more.  I finished my job without joining the union.  Then, Oscar Larson and Pete Waido purchased two lots on Byrne Mawr Avenue near Nagle and decided to have houses built.  I did the carpentry work ahd roofing on those homes.  The Kennedy Expressway had not been built at this time, but later, the city bought up these houses to build the expressway.  Both Oscar and Pete moved to Waupaca and bought houses after Erik moved up there.  Erik and I bought two lots in Park Ridge and Erik began building a home for his family. He built it by himself with the help of some of his nephews.  It was a brick veneer house and Erik did his own brick laying.  He would go down to where they were tearing down old brick buildings and fill his truck with common brick that he would lay. He did most of the work in his spare time and on weekends.  It was a lot of work, but when he finished, he had a nice home.  He lived there for quite a few years and some of his kids graduated from the Park Ridge schools. We would get together and have good times now and then.
Myself, Erik, Joe Porrey and Pete Waido bought a wooded lot on the Fox River, just south of Burton Ridge.  It was located about five miles northwest of Waucondo, Illinois. We, and our friends and relatives spent many happy weekends and vacations out there.  It was only about forty miles from Chicago, so it was a nice drive. There was a lot of good hunting and fishing in those days.  The gun club leased a farm across the river to hunt on because it had a lot of pheasants and rabbits. All around this area were a lot of farms and woods where the animals could feed.
Erik was always a hard worker and had a lot of good ideas.  He wasn’t afraid to take a gamble, but sometimes he needed to get more advice.  He would go ahead with his ideas and not all of them would work out.  Erik and I were pretty close for many years in our younger days. One Sunday, he saw an ad for the 160 acre farm for sale near Waupaca, Wisconsin. It had a small private lake and some shoreline on Stratton Lake.  He and Bob Richards got together and bought the farm and Erik sold his house in Park Ridge and moved to Waupaca.  He settled on Royal ton Street,  Real Estate was cheap in the rural areas so he got a good bargain.  He got an idea about raising turkeys out there because one of his neighbors in Park Ridge was raising some.  Erik had about 100 turkey poults shipped in from another turkey farm.  He built a roost in one of the farm buildings and fenced in a section for them to run around in. Young turkeys are very fragile and he lost some as they were growing up.  Also, turkeys are like cannibals and if there was a sick or weak one, the others would peck at it until it was killed.  Other turkeys died from cold and disease, so the turkey venture really didn’t work out too well.
Bob Richards decided to raise pickles and planted a few acres of pickle vines. He built a half-dozen sheds to house the migrant workers that came up from Texas every year to pick the crops.  They worked at piece work rates and their whole families would be involved.  It was back breaking work and at the end of the day, they would bring in the pickles to be sorted.  Bob had set up a machine to sort the pickles and cukes by size and the men would be paid according to the number of pickles in each size.  The highest price was paid for the small gerkins.  In the warm weather,  cucumbers have to be picked every day, because they will grow two to three inches overnight.  The bigger the cukes, the less money they were worth to the migrants. The pickle factory near Waupaca would send their trucks out to the farm every day.
Uptown Electric Construction Company was started in 1927 after Erik had quit his job with Commonwealth Edison.  It consisted of Erik, myself, Joe Porrey and a friend from LaSalle named Battle Camenisch.  Between the four of us, we would do electrical work, floor sanding, painting and sheet metal work.  Erik was the electrician, I did the floor sanding, Joe was the painter, and Battle would do getter installations.  In those years, there was a lot on new buildings going up north of Peterson Avenue and west of Western Avenue.  We rented a small store at 1508 Foster, just west of Clark Street.  As business picked up, ne needed more space, so we rented a larger store at 5151 N. Clark. We had two stories here which gave us room for a fixture display area. We built a nice display room up­stairs and sold fixtures to our customers when we wired their buildings.  Later, Joe, and Battle sold their shares of Uptown Electric and went into business for themselves. Erik and I took over the electrical shop.  We hired Herb Miller as an apprentice and Eve as a secretary.  That is how they happened to meet, fall in love, and get married.  After Eve left, Erik put an ad in the paper.  We hired Evelyn who later fell in love with me, and we got married.  That is why Jim and Marlene are here today. We had four or five electricians working for us and things were going along pretty good.
There was a radio man named Al Mathers who stopped by and asked us to install some radios which he would sell for us on commission.  At this time, radios had just been perfected and there was a big market for them. We installed radios in several rooms throughout the store.  Al was a high pressure salesman who usually made a sale.  We also hired a fellow named Nelson to service radios.  At this time, some of the popular brands of radios included Spartan, Majestic, Emerson and Stromberg Carl son, which was one of the best. We did well selling radios and radio tubes. Television had still not been perfected at this time.  Al Mathers bought a couple of the experimental TV’s.  The only station was WBBM that occassionally would broadcast one hour programs.  These sets had a sixty minute scanning disk and a two inch by three and one-half inch picture screen.  It was something new to see another person on the TV and we had quite a few people who would stop by to look. Of course, there really wasn’t that much to see; only a black and white picture of a few people talking.  It was a few more years before there was any real programs with synchronized talking.
Business was good until the depression hit us in the early 1930’s.  The stock market fell apart, millions of people were thrown out of work.  In cities throughout the country, soup lines were set up so people could get something to eat. We had to lay off all of our electricians and got stuck with a lot of radios we could not sell.  It was hard to collect any money from our customers and the banks that did stay open didn’t lend any money out.  It got to be quite a mess. We were unable to pay off our electricians in cash, so we let them pick up radio cabinets for their pay.
Duke Kandora, a friend of ours from LaSalle, had a job as a building engineer in a small apartment hotel.  It was a steady job that wasn’t bothered by the depression, so we borrowed some money from him to set up Pa in the bakery business. We rented a small shop on Belmont Avenue, just west of Central. The shop had an electric oven and other bakery equipment, but we found out the oven was very expensive to operate. We finally got permission from our landlord at the Clark Street electric shop to use the second floor for baking and divide the first floor for use as ?an electric shop and a bakery. We installed a coke fired oven on the second floor to use for baking. We hired different young women for clerks in the bakery.  They included, Oscar Larson’s wife, Gina; Duke’s younger sister, and Evelyn’s sister, Elsie Soderstrom. They all worked at the Clark Street store.  Later, we opened several branch stores.  Roy’s wife, Adeline, ran the one on Bertau and Damen, and Evelyn’s sister, Lillie (Lohi) ran the one on Wilson near Ravenswood.
When our lease expired on Clark Street, we found a store near Amundson High School at kS^J N. Damen Avenue.  We moved all the bakery equipment over there and Lohi and Elsie changed off as the store sales ladies.  I worked with Pa in the bakery and Erik took small electricial jobs hangins neon store signs for the Acme Wiley Sign Company.  Pa would have to get to the shop between 11:00 PM and midnight to light up the coke ovens for baking.  I would take the street car from Dakin Street and get there about 2:00 in the morning. Then I would start to work on greasing biscuit pans, and making up doughnuts, long Johns, bismarks, etc.  Of course, I would eat a few goodies as I worked with them.  I would wait on customers from 6:00 to 8:00 in the morning and then Lohi would start. When building construction started to pick up again, we rented a store at 6662 Northwest Highway in Edison Park. We split up the store to use as both an electrical shop and a bakery. The electrical work started to pick up and I began working in this area.  Carl took up my job with Pa at the bakery. We had a large garage in the rear where we kept most of our electrical material so we had enough room to maintain separate stores.
We were getting into World War II because the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor in the Hawaiian Islands.  I heard about it on December 7th as I was driving to work, listening to the radio.  This event was the main reason that a lot of people had to change their living and housing conditions.  The government took over the allotment of all so-called strategic materials and limited its use to making war material.  A lot of factories changed over to make these materials. We were fortunate to get a certain amount of pipe and wire because some of our building contractors were given priorities to build certain buildings.  One of our customers was allowed to build forty new residences in Park Ridge, called war housing.  Each building was constructed for a set amount and we were able to get the materials necessary to wire these homes. Gasoline was also being rationed, with different coupons for cars and trucks. We always were able to get plenty of gas, so were able to stay in business. There was a certain amount of cheating and favoritism that went on, as there always is in politics, But, we lived through it all.
As Pa was getting older and had worked hard all his life, we sold the bakery on Damen Avenue.  Ma and Pa moved to the apartment over the shop and Pa would fool around sorting material, etc., to keep busy.  Then, Erik got the idea to move to Waupaca.  Later, Ma and Pa, Alice and Joe, the Larsons and Waidos all moved up there. I kept running the business down here and I moved the shop to a garage behind Mr. Rix’s house.  Erik started an electrical shop from his house on Royal ton Street. Later he moved the shop to King, Wisconsin and then we built a Butler building out at the farm, across from Stratton Lake.
In the meantime, Erik and I had bought this lot on Elston Avenue.  We built a building, and I moved the shop over there.  Things went along pretty good until we ran into a period where the company took on more business than we were able to handle efficiently, with our available capital.  I ended up buying out the business in Chicago and the building on Elston Avenue.  What happened later is another story. Such is life that we never know what the future holds for us.
These are some of the events of my life, as I remember them.
Arthur W. Lindskoog June, 1982