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Catalog Number 2015.022.001
Object Name Recording
Scope & Content Oral history interview of John "Allen" Mergens.

Interviewed by Cliff Schultz and Darlene Greaves, members of the Elk Grove Historical Society, April 11, 2008. Interview took place at the school house building of the Elk Grove Historical Museum located at 399 Biesterfield Road, Elk Grove Village, IL. Interview length 68 m 50 sec. Collection includes audio recording, transcript, and digital image.

Digital image: 2015.022.003
Collection Elk Grove Historical Museum
Notes Al Mergens

00:00:01Introduction. Location and description of first house (Tower Lane). Location of second house (Essex Road) and his marriage.

00:06:22Al was a cabinet maker in Chicago. Long drive because there were no super highways yet. Al became a foreman for woodshop in Bensenville. He was the chief of fire department and described the beginning of the Elk Grove Fire Department.

00:11:18The Elk Grove Fire Department had 40 volunteers when they started. After seven years the fire department started to pay the fire fighters (1966). Al was the first fire chief in Elk Grove and Al served in the Coast Guard.

00:15:02Three fires were put out at the Schuette property. Described Schuette property and the expansion of Elk Grove Village. There were problems involving the construction of the expressway.

00:20:06Discussed history of Elk Grove Fire Department. Fire Department started as volunteer departmentand separated from Mt. Prospect in 1960. Al was on the original Historical Society Board. He was present when the Park District received the farmhouse.

00:25:12Fire Department continued to grow and moved to a new station located at 666 Landmeier Road. The original station was used as a barn again and was the location for the first Fireman's Dance. The first legitimate Fireman's Ball was at Carpenter's Hall in Des Plaines.

00:30:02Al builds boats for the Coast Guard. Discussion of the worst fires he had responded to as a fire fighter.

00:35:45Discussed plane crashes that happened in the area in the 1970's.

00:40:03Talked about the fire department's early communication methods. Discussed acquiring the fire departments first rig.

00:45:31Succession of fire chiefs at the Elk Grove Fire Department was discussed. There was a fatal fire that the department got sued over.

00:50:21Fire chiefs continued to be discussed. Al's motivation for being a fire fighter were discussed. A decision that Al made was questioned and he was "chewed out" for making it.

00:55:23The Schuette house move was talked about. Al talked about his experiences in the motion picture business.

01:00:02Al's father was described. His father was a grain broker. The early Village Hall was described. It was in a little cottage located at 780 Tonne Road. It was later moved to Landmeier.

01:04:48The new village hall was discussed.

01:08:49End of interview.

Source Elk Grove Historical Museum