Index _|_ Oppenheimer _|_ Grimm

CHICAGO -- The Oppers

On June 21, 1912, Albert Louis Oppenheimer and Mary Dorothy Grimm were married.

In those days a girl could not work after marriage, so that Mary had to leave Armour and Co., where both of them worked. Her office fellows presented her with a complete service for eight in sterling silver flat ware. This seems to me a tremendous present, because although the price of silver was much less than now, so were wages. Her Taggart cousins gave her a beautiful damask banquet cloth, with a large heavily embroidered 0 in the corner of the cloth, and in one corner of each of the 12 large napkins. Mary Golloway Konopka now has this cloth and the napkins. She received much cut glass --- only one bowl of which remains. A friend brought her a picture from England which still hangs in my front hall.

Mary and Al went to live with-Al's widowed mother at 5225 Indiana Avenue, but such living quarters proved unsuccessful. Mary and her mother- in-law did not get on together. I am sure Adelheid was very opinionated, but Mary too had a mind of her own. Furthermore, a crushing blow fell within a few months of their moving in when Mary discovered that she was pregnant. She considered herself a member of a new modern liberated and progressive generation who had no intention of having baby after baby as their parents and grandparents had. In fact, many of my mother's gener- ation had only one child --- or even no children. But Nary was pregnant within a month of her wedding and she was fit to be tied. She was furious and humiliated by it all, and told me --- many times---- that she cried for the full nine months that she carried me. Not only was I unwanted and embarrassing, but my mother had an uncomfortable pregnancy during which she had a great deal of morning sickness. What was worse, she showed that she was pregnant. The Belle ideal of the day was the girl who didn't show her pregnancy, like the friend who was at a dance one week, looking not at all pregnant, and delivered of a child the-nest, Not my unfortunate mother. Her pregnancy showed, she was sick, she was humiliated by having conceived so inconveniently early in her marriage, and finally I was a most difficult delivery. like almost everyone else in those days she was to have the baby at home, with their old friend and former boarder, Dr. Hultgen, making the delivery. But things went wrong, and after two days of labor at home Dr. Hultgen decided that lie was getting nowhere, and was in- telligent enough, and daring enoug to get his patient to the very best obstetrician in the entire city of Chicago --- Dr. Joseph B. DeLee, Foor,fastidious, proud Nary was lugged by ambulance across the city to Chicago's Michael Reese Hospital, where Dr. DeLee managed to produce a living child early in the morning of March 27, 1913. Only half conscious, she heard the nurses and the Dr. talking about the poor little thing, wondering whether it would survive, pointing out that the numerous wounds and abrasions were not the results of Dr. De Lee's instruments, but of the preceding mauling. After which there was oblivion for a few hours.

The next day when she was presented with her her baby she was hor- rified. She had never before seen a dark baby. She had thought all babies came with blonde fuzz, but hers had a head of long dark hair, and it was jaundiced, its jaw had been broken so that its face was a mass of cuts and bruises. All in all, she had something else to weep about, and she only hoped no one would see it for a while.

Shortly after my birth my mother and father moved out of the Indiana Avenue house and set up housekeeping in their own apartment. They bought some Mission Oak furniture -- a library table, a rocking chair and a straight chair, all of which survived until 1967. They bought, at my father's insistence, a player piano, which became the delight of my child- hood. My father was very fond of music, neither of them could play an instrument, the Victrola was still in its infancy, and so they bought a player-piano. This piano remains clear in my memory since I would hang on by my finger-tips along the key board and work the pedals from an upright position while I was still far too small to sit on a seat and do so.

At about this time my parents and almost all of their friends bettered themselves by moving eastward to the area around the University of Chicago. This was an area of tree-lined streets with large private houses and even larger apartment buildings. Both houses and apartments had back yards separated by alleys, from which all deliveries were made.

It was an attractive area set between two large parks -- Washington Park on the west, and Jackson Park on the east, connected by the mile long Midway, so called because it had been the entertainment section of the 1893 World's Fair, leading to the main fair grounds. The Midway is a city block wide, with three deep cup-like depressions, each two blocks long, running down the center. There were used for ice-skating in the winter, when they were flooded by the University and warming houses set up. In the summer people played games and picnicfid in their shaded depths. A fine bridle path ran along the boulevard which ran down each side of the grassy depressions. Lorado Taft's great statue of the Passage of Time stan s at the west end of the 1-1idway, and University of Chicago buildings lined the north side.

Washington Park on the west end had playing fields, bridle paths, a conservatory and a large armory. Jackson Park on the east had fine beaches bridle paths, lagoons, a golf course and tennis courts, in addition to the buildings left from the World's Fair. The Fine Arts building was to become the Museum of Science and Industry, the Japanese Tea Houses, the German building, Columbus' ships, and of course Miss Columbia herself.

The University dominated this area in a way that no other University that I have lived near came close to doing. Somehow you were always aware of the University and University life.

The area was one of excellent transportation. A street-car line ran north and south along Cottage Grove Avenue on the west, and on Stony Island Avenue a mile to the east. The elevated started at Jackson Park on 63rd Street and ran west along 63rd until it turned north at about State and continued north to the Loop. The Illinois Central Railroad was just east of Stony Island Avenue.

This public transportation was what made life in the city possible. Very few people owned cars, which were certainly not to be relied upon for transportation but were toys and hobbies for those who could afford them. Ownership of a horse had become an impossibility for the wage earners and salaried people who lived in the city. Not only was there no room for stabling and pasturing these horses, but a horse requires daily care, daily food and watering, exercise and cleaning up after, none of which a man who had a full time job could give. As a result, only the very wealthy, or those who lived in the country could now own a horse as a source of transportation.

Horses were still the chief source of transportation for all of the various tradesmen and businesses who served the city. Policemen rode horses, fire-engines were still pulled by horses. All deliveries were made by horse drawn vehicle. Milk and ice were delivered daily by horses whom every child in the neighborhood came to know. When they came down our street we rushed out to pat their noses, and in some cases to sit proudly up on the driver's seat, or to give the horses a bit of sugar or an apple. The Ice man was more fascinating than the milk man because when he stopped at your back gate he had to cut off a piece of ice the size your mother wanted, and then carry it in his tongs on his leather-padded shoulder into the kitchen and fit it into the ice box. All of those chips of ice he cut off belonged by right to the children clustered around the wagon. His horse and the milk man's horse knew the route better than the men did. In addition trash was picked up by horse drawn wagon, vegetable men came down the alley in their carts, men gathering scrap metal sang out their call-- "rags and Old Iron --- raaaags aaaand ooooold iiiiiron," and sometimes even the umbrella mender and scissors grinder came with a horse and cart though more commonly he was on foot with his little push-cart and his dis- tinctive bell. Other delightful visitors were the Italian organ grinders with their monkeys who would dance and tip their little hats for our pennies which they took in their cold little fingers, and the hurdy-gurdy man who would play an extra song for a few cents.

All in all, it was a jewel of an area, very clear in my mind. I often think of the destruction of Londinium when I look at the desolation of the Hyde Park-Woodlawn neighborhood today.

I was a normal sized baby, but didn't grow much in my first year. My mother kept a pair of baby shoes in which I learned to walk, which would not have fit my sons at birth. This was a period in which pediatrics were just developing, and my upwardly mobile parents went to a proper pediatrician rather than to their old family doctor. Since babies had died like flies under the old regime of eating from the table as soon as they took any solid food, a new scientific approach was called for. My mother told me in later years that until my first birthday I had never had anything to eat except milk, a fact I found incredible. However, I found Louise Andrews Kent writing a similar tale about her daughter who is just about my age. The Kents lived in Boston, and went to the very finest ped- iatrician who fed the baby only on raw milk and white bread. Baby nearly died until a new doctor finally got some nourishment into her. All of which reminds me of the migrant Mexican mother years later in Des Plaines who brought a poor wizened little thing of about eight months into our clinic weighing only about seven pounds. Dr. Horst took one look and declared the baby to be starving. "Oh, no," protested the mother through an in- terpreter, she had followed her doctor's orders exactly, "See, she still had them," and she held out the Dr's feeding orders for a new born. The poor child had never had any other food. Luckily, the little Mexican, Cicily Kent and I all survived.

Sometime during these first few years of my life my mother had a miscarriage. On August 11, 1916 my sister Lois Alberta was born. My usually matter-of-fact mother often told that the day Lois was born was very hot, and the baby was put down in a crib under the window with only a light blanket over her. During the night the temperature dropped dras- tically, and sometime during the early hours of the morning the door to the adjoining room opened and the woman from that room came into my mother's room, stood at the foot of her bed, pulled her big toe hard, wakening her, pointed to the baby, and went out again. My mother, startled, got up and looked at the baby who was blue with cold, covered her properly. In the morning she asked the nurse the name of the woman next door, to be told that the woman had died early in the morning. Made a profound im- pression on my mother.

I think that we moved every single year from the time I was born until the time I was 6 or 7. More than once we lived on Kimbark Avenue, and one time we lived on Harper where I could look out our apartment window and see a castle with turrets and a gate with a portcullis right across the street. I could never find it in later years. We lived south of 64th on Kimbark at one time, and from that apartment window I could see a horse -- a real live horse----galloping across the sky. I was taken back years later to see that horse, only to find it a weather vane on a barn hidden behind the house across the street. We once lived in a white frame house on Woodlawn Avenue, which had a real upstairs, and a big front porch from which I watched the Armistice Day parade. And finally, we lived at 6354 Kimbark Avenue, where we had a big apartment where what should have been the dining room was turned into a bedroom for Lois and myself. It had a real fireplace, with drawers and cupboards built in on the opposite side of the room. It was wainscotted, with panelling below the chair rail. But the best thing about it was that my mother found some English nursery wall paper, and the entire upper half of the room was papered in enormous# hand- some and colorful scenes of the nursery rhymes. I can see King Cole and Simple Simon to this day.

These older apartment buildings were piped for gas, as well as being wired for electricity. There were many times when the electricity -went off and the gas lamps in the halls or the ceiling fixtures would be turned on by their rather ornate key and the hissing gas lighted with a match. This was true of the house we were to occupy many years later at 1237 Prairie Avenue. When that house was built in 1914 it was still con- sidered wise to pipe the gas to the rooms on the lower floor@ 'When we moved in and were going to remodel -- or to at least replace the ceiling fixture in the dining room we found the gas pipe protruding some three inches from the ceiling making it impossible to install the new electrical fixture flush with the ceiling. The simplest thing to do would be to cut .off that protruding pipe, but the interesting question arose --- was there still gas in those pipes. Common sense replied that nobody would have been to just cover over those pipes, leaving them filled with gas under pressure. But common sense was wrong --- they were filled with gas un- der pressure, and an attempt to just cut them off would have produced an in- ferno of burning gas pouring out of the pipe. We had to have the gas com- pany come and cut the gas off in the basement, after which we cut off or walled up those pipes.

As city children we were never out alone until after we went to school, so that it was part of life to be taken daily for a walk either by my mother or father, or if we were lucky by a young Aunt or Uncle. These walks for which we were dressed entirely in white were very hard on my mother who was trying to rear little ladies without benefit of servants or washing machine, doing all her own work and washing, lugging two children up and down three flights of stairs in order to take that daily walk. I have heard many times about one occasion when my mother had dressed me in white from head to toe and-was getting the baby ready to So. I begged to be allowed to go down the back way, to come around to meet her at the front door. Alas, on the way I encountered a dripping faucet, and played in the fascinating puddle# arriving at the baby buggy a muddy mess, My mother pro- ceeded to haul us both back upstairs and to spank me soundly, whereupon I stood up and said between sobs, "I don't suppose any mother ever spanked a little girl so hard, aren't you sorry?" Which shook my mother up considerably.

We frequently walked down to the Midway where you could roll down the sides of the long depressions, or we might wander through the quad- rangles of the University of Chicago. Sometimes I was taken to a building called the Winter Gardens where I attended some sort of story hour, and where in my mind it is ever dark, There we sang a mildly scary song about "Punkin Head," and another one about a little negro boy leaving for home after his chores, whose mistress keeps calling questions after. him as he walks away, and he answers "yeees, Maaaam,", after each question growing ever fainter and fainter. There was still another about a miller who had a fine mill, who worked with one hand in the hopper and the other in the till, which was very titillating since "hopper" was what we called the toilet at home.

We frequently walked to Jackson Park and down to the lake from where we played on the beach, or on the grass around the Japanese Tea Houses, or around Miss Columbia all in gilt paint* The Japanese Tea Houses were the gift of Japan set up during the 1893 World's Fair and were much ad- mired. I can even remember going with my father and uncles to the German Pavilion where I played while they had a beer on the terrace. The German Pavilion was burned by vandals in 1917. The Japanese Pavilions survived until the second World War when they too were burned by vandals.

Since my mother was an omnivorous reader she spent a great deal of time reading to me. I most certainly knew all my nursery rhymes before I was two, and I am told that when I was just two my mother had a luncheon party, and while she was out of the room I climbed up on a chair and recited James Whitcomb Riley's "Little Orphan Annie', --- all five or six long verses of it in its entirety. I can, in fact, recite a good deal of it today. As a lonely apartment house child I had a secret playmate named Kiki Roddis, who was very real and very dear to me until the fateful day she suddenly disappeared from the Pesche's bathroom. I can still see that bath room with Kiki sitting in the corner, and suddenly, there was nothing there but a clothes hamper. The first time I saw a little boy's penis I was fascinated. I strongly doubt that what I felt was penis envy. I-think that I would have agreed with Sam Levinson's little girl, who on being asked the difference between a boy and a girl, replied that the girl was more neatly tucked in, It was not pretty, but I could quite see that it was certainly a handy rig to have on a picnic, or in a park far from a handy lady's room.

I can remember many of the toys I had before we moved away from Chicago* when I was about three I received a box of very large blocks for Christmas, and some one built a huge man out of them which stood before the Christmas tree. I had a rocking horse built just like a real horse, standing about three feet high. It had real horse's hide with hair on it, and a real horsehair tail and mane. The inside of his nostrils were painted bright red, and he wore a small saddle and had real reins. Since he was on large rockers a small child could have a wonderful ride on him. It was one of my most prized possessions, and I remember it well. Also, at about three I got my big tricycle, which was the delight of ray life, and took me on many trips as soon as I could be out alone. All of my favorite dolls were named Evelyn because I thought that my cousin Evelyn Taggart was the most beautiful person in the world. Before we ever moved to Des Plaines I was the proud possessor of a beautiful baby doll with a bisque head, eyes which opened and closed, and real hair. The trouble with such a doll was that if dropped that lovely bisque head smashed to bits exposing to its owner's fascinated gaze those really horrible eyes which swung from a little fulcrum within the head. Another prized toy was a Chatauqua Board, which had a green chalk board mounted on a sturdy maple easle, which had a roller full of designs, pictures, letters of the alphabet and numbers which you we-re to try to copy mounted above it. The roller lost its paper, and the easle was broken in the move to Des Plaines, but my grandmother Grimm used the chalkboard as a lap board for many years, and it is at present in the possession of my cousin Harry Tucker.

As a part of my mother's dream of rising in the world we spent at least two summers at Bass Lake, Indiana. One of those years my mother rented a cottage just across the road from the lake, and she and my sister and 1, together with whatever member of her family could get away for a few days lived in the cottage for a couple of summer months. Fly unfortunate father was left to fend for himself in the city. Bass Lake was a shallow, muddy lake, and the cottage was primitive, heated by an oil stove, with a privy out in back. We went there when Lois was two and I was five, and I learned to row a boat and could tow my mother in the water as she tried to, learn to swim. We spent the next summer at Bass Lake on the Andersen farm, a farm I can only compare to the horrible dairy farm in Beautiful Joe. The animals were never fed anything but what they could graze in the fields in the summer, and the straw which should have been bedding in the winter, and were nothing but bags of bones. The stalls were cleaned once a year --- just before the dairy inspector came --- the horses were not or groomed, and had large festering sores under their harnesses, and the pig pens were beyond description. The chickens ran loose in the yard creating difficulties for barefoot children. But Mrs Anderson was a superlative cook and they had a phonograph with all of the then-popular war pieces to be played on it, and a number of jolly guests, so I en- joyed it when I could keep my mind off those poor animals, and learned to sing all of the songs --- K-K-K-Katy, There's a Long Long Trail Awinding, Keep the Home Fires Burning, Johnny Get Your Gun, Cver There. I also learned to ride a neighbor's pony which had to be pulled and pushed up the road away from homes upon which one child scrambled to its back, hung on dear life, and had a thrilling ride as the pony was turned around and turned loose to pelt madly back to his own barn yard.

At Andersen's we picked pickles, which is a hot prickly job, drove the cows to and from the pastures hunted up the eggs which the hens laid everywhere, and tried to lick the burrs from the poor horse's matted manes and tails. My mother found delicious looking mushrooms in the oak woods near the house and was determined to try these, but no-one else was willing to try. She fed some to the cows who ate them willingly, but the rest of the company believed that a cow was somehow immune to toadstool poisoning. She boiled them with a silver coin which was supposed to turn black if the mushrooms were poisonous. This also did not convince anyone else. At last she cooked a dish of them and sat down to eat them all by herself, but after a few forkfulls was forced to give up under our combined gazes and obvious ghoulish anticipation of her immediate decease.

It was when I was six and in the first grade at Walter Scott School that we moved to 6354 Kimbark Avenue. My mother was to have come to pick me up to take me to our new apartment and she was late. I started out to walk by myself, in a few blocks found myself thoroughly lost and stood under the elevated at the corner of 63rd and Kimbark crying bitterly. I was, of course, only a few doors from home, had I but recognized. A kind man-took me into the corner store and bought me a box of kewpie candies, the delicious taste of which restored my self-confidence and my wits. He was all for trying to help me get home, but I assured him that if he would help me across 63rd street I could find my way to my grandmother's. He did, and I walked over to 62nd and University and up three flights of stairs and into my Grandmother Grimm's apartment.

I loved the neighborhood around 64th and Kimbark. Just across 64th Street was the big Fourth Presbyterian Church where I went to Sunday School, and occasionally saw the inside of the big, mysterious sanctuary, and outside of which we played tag and hide and seek and puss-in-the- corner, The block between 63rd and 64th, Woodlawn and Kimbark was considered a safe place for children and I was allowed to ride my bike to my heart's content. Carl Schurz school was about two blocks away between 64th and 65th on Woodlawn, and also on Woodlawn, between 63rd and 64th was the Masonic Temple with its fascinating fountain. In those days of horsedrawn vehicles, it was not uncommon for some benefactor to endow a fountain which satisfied the needs of humans, horses, and even dogs and cats. This was a tall fountain, and in order to get a drink from the fountain for humans a six year old had to climb three stone steps. Water ran from the human's fountain down into a big shell shaped basin which faced the street and was constantly full of water for horses. From there it ran down to two smaller basins on each side of the fountain at sidewalk level which were for dogs or cats. Oh, it was a nice fountain. There were lawns and trees in our back yards -- climbable trees, from which to watch for the peddlers and delivery men who came up the alley. Across Kimbark Avenue lived a stately old lady who went out every day for a drive in her electric car, a most impressive sight as she sat upright in her hat and gloves and glided silently along.

Sometime after I started school my father changed his name from Oppenheimer to Opper. My mother who had nagged him ever since their marriage to make this change was now unhappy about the timing. She felt that he should have done it before I was on the school records as Oppen- heimer, but I never heard any comment about the change. Years later I realized that she lived in a strange state of fear that somehow it would be discovered that her name had been changed and that she would be in legal trouble because of this. How she got that idea I do not know. My Grand- mother Oppenheimer was never reconciled to the change, she stayed Oppen- heimer to the end of her days.

My Grandmother Grimm lived at 113 E. 62nd Street, within easy walking distance of us in an apartment which was supported by Charlie, Dick and Anne, all of whom lived there. I can see and smell their apart- ment vividly. As you came in the front door after going up three flights of stairs, you found yourself in the hall, with a large bedroom on your left, the living room in front of you. The living room was furnished with the most modish mission oak furniture with leather seat cushions, a Victrola which was wound manually, and had a very large collection of pop- ular records since three single young people lived there. There was a painting, or perhaps a statue of the "Lion of Lucerne" in front of which I would sit on the oak sofa having put a record on the Victrola. There I would sit, looking at the Lion pierced by a spear his paw on a shield, a look of suffering on his face, while listening to saxophone [?] and cry happily. Down the hall was a bedroom my uncles shared, and then my Grandmother's. At the end of the hall were the kitchen and dining room. The smell of the apartment came from the pantry just off the kitchen where my grandmother ground coffee beans three times a day, filling the kitchen with a delicious odor. The dining room had a large round table in the center of which was a fascinating lamp which had a heavy brass base shaped like a squarish tree think with four roots which protruded, giving it a firm base. The shade was of brass, cut out to show a scene of a lake shore with a small house, a large tree, the upper branches of which formed the top of the shade, and a small boat tied to the shore. The background of this charming scene was stained glass, and it was repeated four times around the

I often spent the night at my Grandmother Grimm's and enjoyed it very much. I can remember my grandmother and my parents and uncles sitting around the dining room table discussing letters they had received from Germany asking for help after the war. I think that they sent help because they received in return bundles of useless Marks. My grandmother was somewhat aloof about all of this, and never kept any of those letters. I didn't understand until much later that these same people who were ap- pealing to her for help now were the very ones who had refused her help when her husband died.

To reach my Grandmother Opper's house at 5225 Indiana Avenue we had to take the elevated train and walk a block or two. Her house was a grey stone two-flat building with a pillared front porch up five or six steps from the sidewalk. You entered her front door into a vestibule paved with small octagonal black and white tiles, and were faced with two doors. The left hand one went to the flat upstairs, the right hand one opened into her front hall. On your right as you entered was the living room, partially shut off from the hall by pillars and strings of red seeds with small black tips. The living room had heavy velvet drapes and lace glass curtains. There were four velvet covered overstuffed pieces, one chair of which I still have, two marble topped tables, a fireplace with a fine vase of pampas grass in the corner, and plenty-of objects d' art on every surface, all fine dust catchers for my unfortunate asthmatic grandfather. There was a sun porch just off the living room, which contained a large oval picture of Bubba and Sister Sabbath, as well as a book case full of fascinating books, my favorite of which was a compilation of Stanley's report on his expedition to darkest Africa to rescue Dr. Living- stone. Long before I was 8 I lay on my stomach# reading fascinating de- tails of life in the African bush -- bearers eaten by crocodiles, boats overturned by hippopotami, and a fascinating tribe where the wives of the chief were force-fed to make them grossly fat.

Down the hall from the living room was a large dining room in which stood my Grandfather's Morris chair. To the left of the dining room were two bedrooms with heavy cherry furniture and feather beds, and beyond the dining room, redolent with the smell of coffee and spices. Out her back door was a porch and the garden, the joy of her life. Entirely surrounded by a wooden fence, it contained a small patch of lawn and beds of flowers of all kinds. She was very fond Of music and when I stayed there I listened to her collection of opera records and looked at her scrap- books of the stars, but remained quite unconvinced by her conviction that if I just tried I too could be Galli Curci.

A strong impression left with a small child was that there was endless time in those days --- time to go for walks in the park, time to go on picnics, time to visit my grandmothers. On one occasion my young uncles decided to take the ladies and children on a long ride in their new Moon care We all set out bravely one morning for a picnic at the Indiana Dunes. We got to the dunes and had that picnic, but on starting back the car broke down. They managed to get us to the station in Gary to take the train back to Chicago, and when we arrived at the south side station the uncles triumphantly got on the train and reported that they had not only gotten the car started but had beaten us to the south side. We were to disembark from the train and ride home in triumph in the car. Alas, a few blocks later the car broke down again, and we ended the trip by riding home in the milk-man's wagon in the wee hours of the morning. So far as I can remember everyone enjoyed themselves.

My parents' friends were still unmarried or just getting married during those years, and they came often to our house for their parties. They seemed to have time for little girls, time to talk to them and to play with them. George Pesche, in particular, a very handsome young man was willing to lie on our long leather couth and let a seven year old comb his hair, which the seven year old was happy to do. Today some kill joy would apply a little amateur psychoanalisis to one or both of us and spoil our happy time. I especially remember an elaborate costume part, when my parents went as Raggedy Anne and Raggedy Andy, and my Grandmother's old friends Fritz and Sophie Wille came to keep her company as she baby sat with my sister and myself. Both of them dressed in a very old fashioned way, and Fritz wore a little brush of beard on his chin, and I thought they too were dressed for a costume party.

My Aunt Anne was married at about this time, and although they were married in the Catholic rectory, their reception was held in our apartment, and I have a very clear memory of leaning out our front windows and seeing a young man who looked up and saw me and asked if I could tell him where the Tucker wedding was, and my delight in being able to tell him that it was right there in our apartment.

During this time Charlie Grimm was struggling to make up his lost schooling and to get college credits at Valparaiso University which rather specialized in helping the many young people who at that time had not finished high school to get college degrees. He did graduate from Val- paraiso, and was accepted at Harvard Medical School where he spent two years and made many lifelong friends before he realized that he was fighting a losing battle. He was already well into his 30s, and every time he was ready to take a required medical course he had to take time out to take its prerequisite which he had not gotten at Valporaiso. He quit the uneven struggle. lie took several - jobs out of the Chicago area, and finally became owner of a drug store somewhere on the South Side, financing provided by his brother Dick. Dick had taken a job at the American Distilling Company where he was secretary to the two elderly owners. When these men decided to retire, not having sons of their own who were interested, they offered young Grimm the opportunity of buying into the firm. I have no idea whether he bought them out, or merely bought enough shares to be an acting partner, but he was soon head of a flourishing company, although with the coming of Prohibition they could no longer manufacture and sell liquor. It then became the American Commercial Alcohol Company. My father, who had sold for Armour Glue Works when first married had switched to Underwood Bookkeeping Machine Corp. sometime during the first years of his marriage, and was now approached by Dick to become sales manager of the new company. After much debate and consideration with Mary, he decided to do so, although it meant a drastic cut in salary for a while.

My mother therefore went back to work temporarily at the telephone company. My mother worked the evening shift, and when I came home from school I went to a neighbor's where Lois was already staying. We spent an hour or so there, and then Daddy came home to give us our suppers and baths and to put us to bed. of course my mother had left dinner prepared and ready to be heated, but Daddy made quite a ceremony of pretending to be a waiter and serving the dinner in true restaurant style. Sometimes we made a picnic of it. When dinner was over we had our baths, and we really enjoyed what we called "turkey rubs." We used water much hotter than mother allowed, played a lot longer, and then Dad made a big thing of rubbing us down and fanning us with towels. Turkey rubs remained a great treat until after we moved to Des Plaines, when suddenly Dad announced that there would be no more. We were disconsolate, we couldn't figure out what we had done wrong. It never occurred to us that we had just grown up, and my father suddenly found himself giving turkey rubs not to two little children, but to two young ladies.

After our baths he would sit in a big rocking chair with one of us on each knee and sing to us, rocking the-while so that the chair travelled all over the room. "The Bear Went Over the Mountain, the Yale"B-bola"song, and "KKYKaty" were particular favorites, but the real success and end to every evening was 1My old Kentucky Home," through which we wept happy tears every night.

I cannot tell you much about school because it seems to have made very little impression on me. I can dimly remember enjoying one early class during which I had plenty of time to play with colored pegs which could be stuck into a board, and colored beads to be strung, both of which I think were rewards for having completed assigned work. The sad part of this was that I was suddenly taken out of that room and put in one where I had no colored pegs or beads--- in other words, I skipped half a grade. I loved singing classes, and can sing a number of the songs to this day. I hated drawing class to begin with, and disliked it more after the teacher made me stand on a chair in front of the class with my back to the class so that they could draw me with my two braids, my white middy blouse, my blue pleated skirt, my long white stockings and my brown shoes --- a perfect model for the rest of the class, but dull for me. One of my earliest and most crushing humiliations came during 4th grade when I was chosen to go down to the principal's office to ring the buzzer which called everyone in from the playground. I, who am still an hour early at the air port when catching a plane, twice buzzed that buzzer a minute or so early in my anxiety not to be late, and was sent ignominiously back to my class. I still cringe when I think of it. That is absolutely all I remember about 4 years of school,

In 1922 my sister Lois was 5 years old and was registered at Carl Schurz school where I also went. I was to pick her up after the first day's Kindergarten, which I duly did, but no one had warned her that 4th grade did not get out until some 15 minutes after Kindergarten, and by the time I reached her she was screaming hysterically. My mother never attempted to send her to Kindergarten after that days

By the time I was nine I was already a movie buff. I was taken to the movies, which were supposed to be educational, and I can remember Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan ---"The Kid" made quite an impression on me. But most of all I remember the Saturday morning serials to which I was allowed to go alone. oh, the glories of Art Accord in "Winners of The West" and Colonel 'rim McCoy in his adventures. Every movie house and every drug store sold penny candy, which really cost only a penny --- jaw breakers, Nary Janes, fried eggs in little tin pans which could be eaten with a little tin spoon, and liquorish whips.

I realize that this all seems very pleasant and bathed in a rosy glow, but that is how it appears in my mind when I think of it. I was an asthmatic child, although it was not diagnosed as asthma until years later, an I coughed and struggled for breath many many nights. I sat with my head under a tent of sheets breathing the nasty fumes which rose from a little spirit lamp beside my bed. In those days nobody connected the cough with an allergy. The frightening thing was that I was supposed to have caught something which might always get worse. when I was sick I was very very sick, and when I was well I forgot about its In an attempt to ameliorate these croupy coughs I had my tonsils removed sometime before I was six# an remember not hing about other than waking in a bed at Dr. Hultgens office with a strange little moy who was also sick and bloody.I was a persistent finger-sucker. I sucked the two middle fingers on my left hand until after I went to college. This was embarrassing and humiliating and although I was thoroughly ashamed of it I could not seem to do anything about it in spite of my mother's constant nagging. It was a source of real relief to me when the world got too much. I can remember sneaking into whatever room coats were piled in during a party, lying down and sucking my fingers to get away from the noise and confusion and going back completely refreshed. I suffered from the habit, my mother was embarrassed by my habit and I had never quite been relieved of my guilt until this past year when Dr. T. B. Brazelton, writing in Red Book Magazine about helping high-strung and hyperactive children said that often they had to be helped to learn to relax, and it might even be necessary to teach them to such a thumb in order to calm down. I have never read such blessed words.

I know that although my mother loved her little girls she thought of us as dark and unattractive. Not only unattractive, the word ugly comes to my mind. I do not think that she said so in front of her little girls, but we both certainly got the idea early in life. My mother dressed us smartly and severely, but we were perfectly aware that she would have preferred sheer dresses and fluffy ruffles. To this day I do not enjoy trying on new clothes, or fussing with my clothes. Very early I accepted the fact that I was going to be unattractive and quit trying to be otherwise at least until I reached college.

Ruth Grimm and Richard, Jr. 1923

During our last years in Chicago I had several friends whom I remember. Irma Van Buskirk who was in my room at school. Little John who lived in a house with a big yard down almost at the 63rd Street end who lived in a house with a big yard down almost at the 63rd Street end of the block. Big John, who was an albino Negro who worked in the shoe repair shop at the corner of 63rd and Kimbark. I spent a lot of time talking to Big John and felt very badly when one day I came to see him only to find the entire plate-glass front of the shop in shards on the sidewalk, and the walk stained with blood which I was told was John's. He had been in a fight and been thrown through the window and killed.

My best friend, Katherine Wallen lived about three doors down the street in the parsonage next to her father's church. This church was in the middle of the block on Kimbark and was some sort of Evangelical sect much scorned by my parents and their friends because people got carried away by the zeal of their religious experience and screamed and shouted and had to be brought out on to the church steps to recover. In those days before air conditioning that church with its open windows certainly enlivened the whole neighborhood. Mr. Wallen was a kind and sincere gentleman and Mrs. Wallen a pleasant friendly lady. Katherine and I were bosom buddies who climbed the trees in our back yards, followed the ice men, rode the delivery horses, and got into trouble together. I stayed with the Wallens a day or two while my family made the move to Des Plaines, and I was much impressed by the fact that they knelt by their chairs to say prayers at breakfast time.

In April 1922 we moved from Chicago to Des Plaines, Illinois. My Grandmother Oppenheimer was settled in an apartment with Mrs. Meier, Dick and Anne Grimm were married and moved to homes of their own, Charlie was struggling with his drug store and could not keep up my Grandmother Grimm's apartment so she joined us in our move to 1215 Prairie Avenue, Des Plaines.