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Catalog Number 2015.017.001
Object Name Recording
Scope & Content Oral history interview of Jean Mueller (nee Scharringhausen) and Irene Kruckman (nee Scharringhausen).

Interviewed by Darlene Greaves and Cliff Schultz, Members of the Elk Grove Historical Society, December 17, 2007. Interview length 92 m 41 sec. Collection includes audio recording, transcript, and digital image.

Digital image: 2015.017.003
Collection Elk Grove Historical Museum
Notes Irene Kruckman and Jean Mueller Interview 12-17-2007 Part 1 of 2

00:00:00 Intro. Interview by Darlene Greaves and Cliff Schultz. The parents of Irene and Jean were Ralph and Edna Scharringhausen. Ralph's parents were Arthur and Nellie Scharringhausen.

00:00:47 The beginning. Grandfather Art Scharringhausen passed away in 1967. Recollections of Art. He always had a white shirt and tie. He was a very religious man. They did not know their grandfather when he farmed because it was taken over by their father when he got married in 1927. The farm was located at Higgins and Arlington Heights Road, where the elk are-across from Hoskins Chevrolet. Ralph was born 1902 and lived his whole life on the farm. There was a church on their farm property. Ralph was a member of St. John's United Church of Christ in Arlington Heights. Jean was born in Arlington Heights instead of on the farm because her mother was visiting her mother at the time. She had just seen Dr. Best.

00:05:26 Remembrances of Art Scharringhausen continued. Art stopped by the farm a lot when Irene and Jean were growing up. He worked for the township and for the state and he would stop by on his route to check up on people working for the township or state. Art was the owner of the farm so Dad (Ralph) actually worked for him. Regression: Jean born at her grandmother's home and baptized there as was often the custom of not taking a baby out until he or she was baptized. Art's responsibility was the roads (maintenance) for the township and state. When Ralph wasn't too busy, he'd help out by mowing along Higgins Road. Higgins Road was paved then. Ralph helped in the building of the road.

00:08:50 Crops. Lot of corn, soybeans, hay (alfalfa), oats, barley, sometimes wheat, maybe sorghum. There were dairy farms, too, including theirs. Had 30 cows and 1 bull. Also chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pigs, cats.horses. Then they went to tractors and didn't use horses.

00:09:59 Meals. Their mother canned a lot. They had their own meat. They had an uncle who was a butcher who would come out to the farm. For needs of things that they didn't have on the farm they would go into Arlington Heights. There was a National and A&P there. Later the Jewel came to town. There were other stores there and there was also Everding's Corners. Krause Meat Market. Redeker's General Store.

00:12:01 Back to Art Scharringhausen. He was healthy. Had his own car for moving around at work. It was a Buick. He build a house on Pine (305 N. Pine in Arlington Hgts) across the street where they had lived. Their son Clarence then built a house across the street from them. Hard times came and Clarence moved to a farm that Art owned near where the Rose Garden Restaurant is. At that time Art moved into Clarence's house in Arlington Hgts. Upstairs was made into an apartment. Art and Nellie lived downstairs and Ferd and Myrtle (Art's sister) lived upstairs. Clarence lived on Higgins Road. Rudy's Tavern was on the corner. The township building was just south of it. Art was in his 60s in the 1930s, Commissioner of Roads and was used to giving directions.

00:15:02 Grandmother. Nellie(maiden name Schnell) died in 1941. She was quiet. Taught Sunday School. Irene and Jean were around 10 years of age. She played the piano and was also very religious. Nellie was against one of the girls going with an aunt to California for a month in 1939, but she still went. It was 3 days by train to get there.

00:17:16 Their parents Ralph and Edna. Jean worked for him and Irene stayed in the house. Had to hoe long rows and didn't care for that chore. There was a hired man who also helped. Chickens would peck you when trying to get the eggs. Mom helped with outdoor chores, too. She'd sell chickens and eggs. On Saturdays they'd go into town and deliver chickens and/or eggs. They sold from the farm itself. People would be coming from Chicago down Higgins Road and then turn onto Arlington Hgts Road to go to the racetrack. Sometimes they would stop and ask about buying some chickens and their mother would dress the chickens and have them ready for them on their way back home. The girls would sit on the front steps counting cars as they would go by to the track. With the chicken Jean was bought a piano. Ralph sold hay to buy Irene a used car-maybe a 1947 Ford.

00:23:10 Arlington Heights High School. Irene graduated 1947. Jean in 1949. Memorable teachers: just an English teacher whose father was a doctor in town. They weren't involved much in high school because they had to take a bus. Parents were too busy to run them around. High school was not a social activity for them.

00:24:15 Box Elder School. Enjoyed these years more. Grades 1-8. Irene was in first grade about 1935. One grade was missing while they attended. Teachers: Alex Tudemann, Julius Breitenfeld and Powell. Some classmates: Lorraine Gustafson, Marge Scharringhausen, Barbara Schnell. At an all-school reunion put together by Marge Scharringhausen Busse were their father who also attended the school, Lois Scharringhausen, George Scharringhausen. Other classmates: Dobbs, Sokolowski, Heimsoth, Pingel, Johnson. The school day was 9:00 to 3:30. However, Breitenfeld set his own schedule. He had a small farm here and sometimes the day would start at 8:30 to 3:00. But, if he wanted to go up to his home in Wisconsin then the days would be longer and they would get Fridays off. The same thing was done in the winter. If they wanted to skate during lunch and have a longer time he would skip recess so that lunch could be an hour and a half.

00:31:17 Social activities outside of school. Involved in 4-H and in church. There was a youth group at church. They put on plays both at church and school. After Christmas program was over at school their father, who was on the school board, would bring the tree home for use in their house. There were 25 students in the school although one year they had 27. Learning was different then.

00:36:06 Lunchtime at school. They lived a mile from school and always brought their lunch from home. Sometimes they could catch a ride to school from a farmer on a milk route. A milk route is then explained. Their livelihood at that time was selling milk, eggs, whatever produce they could.

00:40:34 Box Elder School again. Demolished in 1951. Students went to District 59-Higgins School when Box Elder closed. Their grandparents on both sides went to Box Elder. It really was run down when Irene and Jean went there. There was no running water. There was a boiler and the teachers had to bring in the wood. No telephone. There was electricity at that time.

00:42:47 Hard times. Born at tail end of Depression. However, it seemed normal to them. Didn't feel disadvantaged in any way.

00:43:18 End of Part 1

00:00:00 Beginning of Part 2 (continuation of Hard times)
Had what they needed. Wasn't allowed to get a bicycle until 11 years of age because Grandma considered them dangerous. They always had food on the table because they were on the farm.

00:01:48 World War II. In grade school and beginning of high school. Family on mother's side went to war but not on father's side since they were all farmers. They wrote to their two uncles and they were sent handkerchiefs from France. George Winkelman (mother's brother) and Ed Hahnfeld (mother's brother-in-law: married to her sister Alice) were the uncles. They almost hated seeing them come home on furlough because of all the tears shed when they had to go back because they would be home for such a short time. Both survived the war but George was shot by someone cleaning a gun in England the day before Normandy so he was sent back to the States due to his injury. George was in the Army; Ed in the Navy. There was rationing requiring the use of stamps and tokens. Made their own soap from lard.

00:05:06 Summertime chores. Out of school, more time for chores. Probably tended more to chickens and more housework. There were only the two girls in the family plus a hired man to help their parents with the farm. Cousin Allen Blum helped out on weekends. After graduating from high school, he became the hired man. Then Centex came in and he got a job at Jewel and they sold the farm. The farm butted up to the Forest Preserve. If they didn't sell, the Forest Preserve would condemn the property. Then they also sold the property across the road to Centex. Their father Ralph was about 50 years old then. He felt he was too old to go up to Wisconsin to start all over so he found a job as a school custodian

00:07:16 Higgins Road west from Arlington Heights Rd. There was a greenhouse, Meinke's Honey Shop (south side) had beehives and made candy. Irene worked there as did Lois. This was around 1945-6-7. Meinkes lived there. Gerbers did-they had the greenhouses-it was all roses. There were farm homes further down and more forest preserve.

00:09:09 Expressway coming in and Centex. Not a lot of animosity. Some farmers did hold out longer than others. If on the east side of Arlington Heights Road they didn't have to sell, but on the west side of it it was a matter of selling to the Forest Preserve or having property condemned and taken over.

00:10:39 Going east from Rudy's Tavern. There was an old farmhouse. Ray Pingel's.

00:11:53 Back to summertime. Social activities of that time. Just 4 H. A big treat was going to a fair. Their father was a dairy farmer so he had to milk cows at 6:00AM and at 5:00 in the afternoon. Once a year he'd get his brother and the hired man to milk and the family would go up to Milwaukee to the fair. Or they'd go to Rockford for some parts. They never had a vacation. They'd bake for 4 H. There'd be prizes for different categories. They did jam and cookies, etc. Projects included sewing, cooking, canning. Some raised livestock from little on. Irene had a little runt of a pig that her father gave her. She was allowed to bring it in the house and put it behind the stove to keep it warm. It survived and lived until Uncle Clarence came and butchered it. She didn't know she was eating her pig until afterward. She was in grade school then. Lots of baking. They had an apple orchard. Lots of eggs so lots of angel food cakes with egg whites and sunshine cakes with the yolks. All baking was from scratch.

00:16:44 Holidays. They were special. They had a big kitchen so they often hosted holidays plus they had to be home for milking. If the party were in Arlington Hgts instead then usually their dad's brother Clarence would go home with him to help milk and then they'd go back to Arlington. They'd also get together for birthdays. The aunts and uncles would bring a cake. People didn't call first, they just came over. It was just expected.

00:18:00 What were Sundays like as a kid. Church and Sunday School. You never worked on a Sunday. Even if there was hay to be brought in their father did not work. Working on a Sunday was a no-no. Sundays were usually quiet. Often relatives would come over in the afternoon and stay for supper. Their mother always had something to eat. They usually ate chicken wings and the back for lunch and would save the white meat for slicing for company. It was usually fried but occasionally stuffed. They would have canned salmon to make salmon salad and there was always fruit down in the cellar.

00:19:58 Life on the farm. At the time they lived there they had indoor plumbing and lighting. The plumbing was put in in 1927 when their parents got married. Both stayed around this area as adults. Jean in Arlington Heights and Irene in Libertyville.

00:22:23 After high school graduation-now what? After graduation you get a job and have a family all by about age 25 or so. Rarely did anyone go on to college. Basics were learned in grade school. Lots of responsibilities on the farm so some didn't even go on to high school or finish it as it was seen as unnecessary in some cases. Irene worked at Meinke's for just a year and then went to work for the New York Central RR in Chicago on LaSalle Street for about five years. That's when the parents bought her the used car but she took the train downtown and came home sooty. With the windows open all the soot came in. The trains used coal. It took about an hour going to work because it stopped everywhere. Coming home took about 35 minutes because first stop was Mt. Prospect. 00:27:48



Source Elk Grove Historical Museum