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Friday, December 14, 2007

My Dad

Robert was born in 1916

Robert grew up during the Great Depression. The crash came in 1929 when he was 13 years old. During the depression, the family pooled their resources. Grandpa worked in a machine shop one day a week, Grandma kept house and cooked and cleaned and raised the kids. Buddy or Robert went to school. In grade school he ice skated along the streets from 5th Avenue to Sacred Heart School and in the summer he roller skated to school. There were no buses in those days.

As Robert (Buddy)got older he worked the greenhouse in the day time for a $1.00 a day and set pins at the bowling alley in the evening. On weekends he wasn't idle. He caddied across the street from home at the golf course. Aunt Lola worked in the corset factory and made $ 15.00 a week during the depression.
Robert's duties included changing the mulch for the roses. He and the other guys used to go out in the country of the surrounding area and get fresh dirt to bring back to replace the rose beds. Prior to going out for new dirt they emptied the rose beds. This was done once a year. One time dad was given the job of "mulching" the rose beds. This job meant taking a big bag of steer manure around to all the roses and reaching in with your bare hand and pulling out a handful of manure and putting it by each rose. Robert refused to do this job so he was given the permanent job of going out and digging up fresh dirt and replacing the beds.

Besides working at the nursery Robert set bowling pins and picked up golf balls and caddied during the depression. His sister Aunt Lola worked at the corset factory for $ 15.00 a week. At the end of the week they both turned all the money over to Grandma who used it for necessities of life. Grandma gave Robert and Lola each a dollar on Friday night to go out on the town. That was when gasoline was 2 gallons for a quarter and they thought that was EXPENSIVE!! and bread was 10 cents a loaf and milk 12 cents a quart.
For food in the depression, the family ate lots of carrots and home grown vegetables. Grandpa and Buddy used to go hunting for squirrel, pigeon, and rabbits and in the winter time they trapped and caught swamp rats (muskrat). Grandpa shot them with his rifle. he was a dead eye and known for a bulls eye with each shot. He was so good he could hear them flies walking on the electric lines. Got em on the first shot. As for the rabbits he never missed. He shot them in the head. Buddy remembers his first game rabbit. He shot the rabbit with a 410 shot gun 10 feet away and wouldn't you know it he blew it to smithereens. Too close.

In 1933 Buddy bought his first car, a 1923 Model T. He saw it sitting idle and paid a whole $ 3.00 for it. Had to go on the weekend with grandpa to pick it up. They pumped up the tires and got it started for home. In those days cars had three pedals, one for forward, one for reverse, and one to stop. Sometimes when stopped you had to push all three pedals down.

Robert gets married in 1942
After Robert and Grace were first married they lived on 5th Avenue with Grandma and Grandpa. After this they moved to a house on Dearborn and Trask Avenue across from Gordon's Junk Yard. Rent for this place was $25.00 per month. They used a ton of coal a week just to heat the downstairs. Every time the trains went by the house shook and shook. The people who lived upstairs from them were Mr. & Mrs. Bob Stehly. These two couples became life long friends. Interestingly, the Stehly's were married same day same year as Grace and Robert.
In 1946 Robert and Grace moved to 251 Hillside Avenue, Aurora, Kane, Illinois where they purchased a house on the GI bill for $ 6200. After they purchased the house they had to wait for the hot water heater and the furnace and the paint because of WWII. The payments were $ 42.00 per month and taxes were $16.00 per year.

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