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Catalog Number 2015.028.001
Object Name Recording
Scope & Content Oral history interview of Gertrude "Gert" Behrens (nee Van Dyke).
Interviewed by Darlene Greaves and Cliff Schultz, members of the Elk Grove Historical Society on July 23, 2008. Interview conducted at the school house building of the Elk Grove Historical Museum located at 399 Biesterfield Road, Elk Grove, IL. Interview length 56 m 14 sec.Collection includes audio recording, transcript, and digital image.

Digital image: 2015.028.003
Collection Elk Grove Historical Museum
Notes ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW SUMMARY GERTRUDE "GERT" BEHRENS 2008

00:00:00Gert was married February 26, 1950 at St. Peters Lutheran Church in Schaumburg and they lived together on Hattendorf Avenue in Roselle. She was born and raised on a farm on Rohlwing Road. Her parents were immigrants from Holland. She went to school at St. Peters which was a one room school house. She reminisces about her schoolmates who included her husband and many area farmers.

00:06:32She reminisces about school days and her classmates. Gert had the choice of which high school she wanted to go to and she chose Palatine.

00:10:10Gert doesn't know why her parents moved to Elk Grove or how old they were when they immigrated. They came separately, her father came alone and her mother came with her entire family. Her parents moved to Elk Grove from a farm they had in Yorkville. She talks about her brothers, Bill, Peter, Andrew and Lewis and the farm where she grew up.

00:15:00They sold goods from their farm on their own property or at South Water Market, she describes what it was like to go to the Market. She only went to Chicago once a year to visit her grandfather. She describes prejudice towards farmers, even among her own relatives.

00:20:03Her brother started a printing company in Chicago which he has now passed down to his son, Darwill Printing Company. Her other brothers worked in garbage collecting and carpentry and the youngest owns a dry good store. Her parents moved to Michigan in 1955 or 1956 before farms were being sold off for businesses. They sold their farm to Centex. Gert talks about the change in both Elk Grove and Itasca where she was living in the mid-1950s.

00:25:00She enjoyed living in Itasca and knew many people there, even the grocer who was put out of business when the Jewel Osco came to town. WGN bought the property next door and built the tower. Gert describes the security measures they took during WWII. Her brothers were in the service, but rationing didn't affect her much because she was on a farm.

00:30:00Sunday meals were spent with her husband's family in Elk Grove after church. He had two brothers and two sisters. She describes going out of town for recreational activities or shopping. She rarely went to Chicago, but did work there until she had her first child at which time she became a homemaker. Explains the changes in town including development of industrial park and forest preserve.


00:35:28Gert talks about her in-laws, the Scharringhausens, and their role in paving the streets in Elk Grove. After they sold their farm they moved to Harvard. She explains that she doesn't know much about her genealogy.

00:40:00Gert describes the house in which she grew up. Her brothers moved out at about 15 years of age and moved to Chicago, Gert was only about 3 when they left. She talks about the vegetables that they grew and how much space they devoted to it. Her mother cooked and canned them and froze some as well. She also baked.

00:45:00She talks about buying dairy even though her family owned a cow. Their farm didn't provide meat or dairy for their family. They never butchered any animals. She describes Sundays from her childhood, they would go to a Dutch service in the morning and a second, English service, in the afternoon and then they would rest or go visiting people.

00:49:40She never met any of her father's relatives from the Netherlands, they never visited. Sometimes she sees her cousins though. They didn't have a phone on the farm, they had to use the neighbors. They had a radio. Gert talks about her brother's service. She discusses the birth of her children who were born in a hospital, contrary to how she was born. She talks about her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

00:56:14END OF RECORDING


Source Elk Grove Historical Museum