Random items that may be helpful to some people searching for their roots

July 2024
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Bill & Ruth Clement
Filed under: 1950s, Chicago
Posted by: Mike @ 9:02 am

This is Bill (William) & Ruth Clement in Des Plaines, Illinois with their daughter Barbara. I didn’t realize at first but later determined that Ruth is pregnant with her son Rich here.

My dad used to work with Bill at American Standard in Chicago around 1955. This was taken in 1959. My parents had moved back to Detroit but they were back in town visiting. Fortunately my mother remembered the couple’s names otherwise I would have had to post this as an “unknown.”

I was able to track down Rich Clement and share this and other pictures of his family with him. He in turned shared them with his dad and sister.  (His mom passed away in 2011). Rich’s dad, Bill, remembered my parents well he said and “raved” about my mom’s dumplings. Very cool that something like that would still resonate 50+ years later. But I gotta admit, I like my mom’s dumplings too.

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Wabash & Congress
Filed under: 1950s, Chicago
Posted by: Mike @ 9:28 pm

This is a Chicago street scene that my father took in 1955 (or 1956). He didn’t take a lot of street shots like this but probably the track work on the elevated train tracks caught his attention. Notice the guy climbing a ladder and men above him on the track. I thought it would be very difficult to find the location but when I zoomed in on the far side of the ladder, I could make out a shop called Seymour’s Record Mart next to Heartbeat Music Publishers. Turns out this shop which was located at 439 S. Wabash and its owner Seymour Schwartz were at the root of some significant history in the Chicago jazz scene. I’m not sure what the skyscraper is in the distance.

Here’s a modern view from a similar vantage point using Google streetview. As you can see, the (Roosevelt University Auditorium) building has been rebuilt but the architect kept the double arches on the far side to maintain some of the history.

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5014 W Pensacola Ave
Filed under: 1950s, Chicago
Posted by: Mike @ 11:04 am

Here is a picture of the brownstone rental that my parents lived in for a couple of years in 1953-54. It was located at 5014 W. Pensacola Ave in Chicago, Illinois. Out front is “Luanne” the 1953 Plymouth Deluxe that my parents purchased new after marrying in 1952. They paid $46 extra for the red roof which, my mother tells me, was great for finding the car in parking lots.

Here’s a shot of that same house in modern times (found at According to Trulia this multi-family home was built in 1913, has two bathrooms and is 2478 square feet. I sure hope they upgraded a few things since my parents lived there! This is probably a two-family home today but back in the 1950s, it contained 5 rentals — can you believe it?!

During their time in Chicago my dad worked at American Standard (plumbing & heating company) and Polk Brothers (selling appliances at night). My mother worked at General Finance Company at first and then quit and found a better job at Victor Adding Machine.  Here are some remembrances from her:
The brownstone house we were renting on Pensacola Street had been converted into five apartments…one in the basement and two on the first and second floors.  We had the front on
the second floor.  The owner was a young bachelor, driving a new
Cadillac, and owning five buildings. Nevertheless, he kept a 7 watt bulb on the stairwell; it was hard to see so I replaced it with a 25 watt
and it wasn’t long before he put back the 7 watt. 

General Finance was all the way downtown so I had taken the el, however, Irving Park Blvd was closer to where we lived.  I was really happy for that job [at Victor Adding Machine Co.].  A huge room with many persons, each department was a row of desks.  I was lucky to be the secretary to the all male department.  When they were out of town I would help the typing pool with their work.  One of my jobs was delivering the pay checks to everyone in the building (including where the machines were being made).  I remember  Mr. Pomiaks department was really noisy.  It was pleasant because everyone was so happy to  see the paychecks arriving.  One thing they did, that I am sure would not be allowed today, was to allow the wives of alcoholics pick up the checks from the Personnel Department.

There was a two story Sears and Roebuck off of our main drag and Irving Park Blvd; the groceries being on the lower level so I was able to walk to the store with one of those little two-wheeled shopping carts.  We were also near Montrose harbor which had a long dock leading toward the water which might have been off of Lake Michigan.  Oddly, enough we happened to go there within a few days of a serious situation.  The tides had risen to over eight feet, swept the fishermen off the dock, who drowned. 

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