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Catalog Number 2015.015.001
Object Name Recording
Scope & Content Oral history interview of Donald Kerstin.

Interviewed by Darlene Greaves and Cliff Schultz, Members of the Elk Grove Historical Society, January 28, 2008. Interview took place at the school house building of the Elk Grove Historical Museum located at 399 Biesterfield Road, Elk Grove, IL. Interview length 56 m 24 sec. Collection includes audio recording, transcript, and digital image.

Digital image: 2015.015.003
Collection Elk Grove Historical Museum
Notes Don Kerstin Interviewed by Darlene Greaves and Cliff Schultz on Monday, January 28, 2008

00:00:46 Beginning of interview with introduction of Don. Moved to Elk Grove in 1959 from Chicago. Lived on Maple Court in EG for 12 years and then built current house at the edge of the forest preserve, north of the hospital. They wanted to give their children a different type of life from the City so they moved out to Elk Grove and the houses were a good buy for the money. All five children born in suburbs.

00:02:12 Exact location of current house. At Cosman and Beisner, which used to go all the way to Higgins. Beisner was closed off in 1975. When they moved in, there was nothing between the hospital and their house. It was all fields. There was only one neighbor (Jim Niehoff) who was about 3 blocks away. That area was developed as people bought the lots rather than building all of the houses in a row.

00:03:17 Neighbor Jim Niehoff. He went to get a bank loan and they thought he was related to a different Niehoff and got special treatment. His loan was to get a seat on the Midwest Stock Exchange. They had 6 children and their children played with Don's. There are 124 lots in the area and 121 homes.

00:04:26 Development of area. Took from 1970 to about 1982. Mailboxes were by the street but then Jim Niehoff managed to get door delivery for the area. All good neighbors. Had picnics, ice cream socials and pumpkin hunts.

00:07:58 The forest preserve property. Erosion from the lake. Neighbors would gather and put stones along the edge to stabilize the shoreline. Now professionals do that. There was no lake when they moved in. The lake (Busse) was about 200 yards north of Don's house. The kids always loved to go in the woods. Lots of beauty and animals. He names some of the neighbors.

00:10:55 Neighor activities. Attended various churches. Lake Pita and Lake Cosman in the common area. Klehm provided a semi load and a half of trees, bushes and shrubs. The neighbors planted and watered and cared for them.

00:12:37 Association with Martha Zender. Met on housewalk sponsored by the Women's Club. Don helped her husband Harry with chores around the house. Don's kids liked to help because they got to drive Martha's tractor. His son would borrow the tractor to use to mow grass on the empty lots to make money. Don and his wife would go over and help when her husband got sick. In 1975 she sold her farmhouse (at the SW corner of Biesterfield and Beisner) and moved in to the townhouse that she inherited.

00:15:17 Busse Lake area. Real asset to the area. Cross country skiing. Bicycling.

00:15:57 Involvement in both the Estates and the community. Community Spirit Committee. Garden Club. Men's baseball, softball. Involved with things outside of the village also. Busy with 15 grandkids, too.

00:17:37 Community Spirit Committee. Accept nominations for people who do nice things for the village. Could be organizations or individuals. More of a recognition than a big award. Committee has been in existence for 10 years at this point.

00:19:07 Hobby of gardening. Has a nice garden. The Garden Club provides the materials for the Pioneer Days scarecrow making activity.

00:19:53 Wife Irma. Wonderful cook and baker. Had a TV show on Channel 6. Also taught classes for the Park District. Their kids were also very involved. Don encouraged them to always help other people.

00:21:29 Lake formation. When digging for the lake in the woods the dirt was piled up for a ski or sledding hill. But it was piled on a peat bog and it kept sinking.

00:23:08 Schools his children attended. Local grade schools and then St. Viator and Sacred Heart in Rolling Meadows. Very active in those high schools.

00:24:20 Walking around finding Native American pieces. Arrowheads found in the woods. In the dirt excavated for his basement high school students found a bowl-shaped stone used for grinding corn and arrowheads. Arrowheads were found by the creek that goes through Busse Woods. There was a sand and gravel quarry which is now the deepest part of the lake. On Ruskin backing up to Cosman was an apple orchard.

00:26:58 Homes in the forest. An old farmhouse and barn with a handpump were still there when Don moved in. He bought black walnuts trees and planted them. Now some are in the forest preserve because squirrels would take the nuts.

00:29:28 Landmarks around 1959. High school was just getting ready to open up. Catholic church used gym at the school at Higgins and near Busse Rd. The industrial park was getting bigger. There was a factory over there that gave out a very bad odor. Wally Busse & wife Mabel (scharringhausen) had a farm and farmstand on Landmeier across the road and east of the post office. Deike Farmhouse at Biesterfield and Rohlwing with a nasty dog.

0035:03 Employment. Don was a milkman who delivered in Chicago and suburbs. People used to have milk delivered to their homes. They didn't get it at the store. As refrigeration improved then milk had a longer shelf life and people did start buying it at the store. Eventually Don worked his way into wholesale and delivered milk to stores instead. In the old days he could walk right into people's homes and put the milk right in their refrigerator. Usually stopped 3 times per week.

00:41:01 Parades. Peony Parades. Klehm's Nursery. On Elk Grove Blvd-usually ending at the high school. Previously there the Women's Club sponsored Founders Day parades.

00:42:36 The house. This was second phase of Centex building so no Hotpoint appliance issues. Did a lot of the work themselves on the house. Old neighbors came over to help, too. Lots of parties.

00:45:36 Tollroad and Route 53. They were not here at the time they moved in. Woodfield Mall was not there yet so it was still old Route 53. There was a hotdog stand at the corner of Higgins and 53. A number of years after the 53 espressway was put in the cloverleaf was put in on Biesterfield for the hospital.

00:35 House again. Located about a mile and a quarter from the expressway with heavy woods between the house and 53. Less than a minute and a half drive from house to hospital parking lot. Paid just under $20,000 for the first house. Lived there 12 years, rented it out 2 years before selling it. Helped pay for current house.

00:48:52 Savings. When starting work, Don was single. Customers would encourage him to save because he'd need it when he got married. Company took out money every week from his paycheck for a U. S. Savings Bond. He accumulated enough for a large down payment on their first house.

00:50:05 Wife. Met at church group at Addison and Harlem. After a number of years they married. 50th anniversary is this Friday.

00:51:27 First home again. They picked the lot and picked the model. It was built in about 7-8 months after they bought it.

00:52:30 Location of various places. Village Hall. Centex Sales Office. Greenhouses. Trailer court.

00:54:20 Walking through forest preserve. There are house foundations. Sometimes artifacts can be found.

00:56:23 End of interview.

Source Elk Grove Historical Museum