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Archive for the ‘Chicago’ Category

This isn’t Kalamazoo history, unless you consider that Kalamazoo is pretty darn close to Chicago. My paternal grandmother, Marie Klein Hanson Wakefield, was from Elmhurst and Chicago, Illinois, and for much of her work life she was the head fitter at the 28 Shop at Marshall Field & Company at the corner of State and Washington in Chicago.

That was a job that took a lot of talent, and it was a pretty cool job. She fitted celebrities, as well as other wealthy customers of the store. She designed clothing for some, and she was asked to move to Hollywood to work for the movies as a costume designer (which she turned down).

When she retired, Grandma was given a pittance (IMO) monthly retirement and a book about the story of Marshall Field & Company.

The book was on our bookshelves when I was a kid, and I devoured the history of department stores in Chicago, which is a subject I still find fascinating.

And I still have the book today.

Is it just me or do you think that this generic inscription is a little too little for the years my grandmother gave away her talents to the company?

It’s fitting that my first real job (outside of family business) was with a department store in Kalamazoo–Jacobson’s, where I (what else?) fitted gloves (see the image on the book cover). Yes, pun intended.

 

 

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On 23 February 1931, my father’s uncle, Frank Anthony Klein, had some sort of possibly epileptic seizure and crashed his automobile into a tree. He died from his injuries, and his mother grieved deeply for him. She had already lost her oldest daughter and Frank was her only son.

A little over a year after that tragic event, his mother, Margarethe Wendel Klein, died of cancer, or so my father told me, in her home in Elmhurst, Illinois. I think these photos are of her grave at the cemetery because I don’t see her sitting next to her husband, my great-grandfather, Frank Klein. He is wearing glasses and has a mustache.

Here’s a close-up of the grave with its flowers.

The family is buried at Elm Lawn Cemetery in Elmhurst. Margarethe would have had a Catholic funeral service.

One twist (isn’t there always a twist or a mystery?): Margarethe’s death certificate says she died of Diabetic Coma. And that she had had Myocarditis for 10 years and Nephritis (institial) for 6 years. Myocarditis is an inflammation of the middle layer of the heart wall, and apparently it can be caused by a virus and may resolve. Interstitial nephritis is a kidney disorder. So she had diabetes. So did her daughter, my grandmother.

Why did my father think she died of cancer? He and his siblings and mother lived with his grandparents at the time, and he remembers his grandmother “lying in the library dying, while we played outside.”

Margarethe Wendel Klein

Helen, Marie, Elizabeth, Margarethe, Peter (SIL)

Frank Sr. on the ground with his grandkids

Uncle Frank and Grandma Marie Klein c. 1920

Uncle Frank and Grandma Marie Klein c. 1920

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When I was in an antique mall, I picked up a clown doll. I do have a doll collection, but this clown didn’t fit the collection. I had no idea why I wanted it.

I’m not afraid of clowns, although some of these recent clown news stories could unnerve me if I experienced them. But when I got in the car with my “new” doll, I looked at it and said to myself, “Why did I want you?”

A week later, I was going through some old photos (as you know I do that a lot) and discovered this photo of myself at age two with my grandmother, my cousin Michael, and a doll.

Although it’s not the exact doll, it’s pretty close–even with the same markings. The one I found has a younger, sweeter face, whereas the one in the photo has a more mature face.

Did I have some memory of this doll that made me buy the one at the antique mall? Or did the experience of the earlier clown prepare me for a sense of familiarity when I saw the one for sale?

Was that my cousin’s doll–or mine? And who bought it?

Photos can be a mystery years later, even when you’re in the picture!

This post was inspired by Mary Louise Eklund’s post on Wednesday last week.

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My great-grandmother, Margarethe Wendel Klein, born in 1869 in Budesheim, Hessen, Germany. She died in 1932 in Elmhurst, Illinois.

Is there a name for this sort of hat? Would you call this a suit? I’m not sure about the year, but I guess it to be in the 1920s.

I am going to take a little blogging break to recharge the brain batteries.

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I am not a car expert by any means. I hope I never have to identify a getaway car, for instance. I can give a description of details, but I can’t identify the make or year of a vehicle. My husband can. I am amazed sometimes at how he can tell me a year of a car when it sees it way down the street. But I am not asking him the questions I have because the answers lie in the early history of the American automobile–and I doubt he knows much about those first cars.

So I ask you: is this first one a Model T car? Or is it something else? And what year might it be? Sometime in the 20s, I believe.

 

The car is driven by my great-grandfather, Frank Klein. That’s my grandmother sitting shotgun. In the back is her sister Helen and her mother, my great-grandmother. Their house in Elmhurst, Illinois, is behind the car. That looks like a sawhorse on the left. I wonder what is underneath and why it’s there.

Here’s a photo of what I think is a different car. Notice the different roof, headlamps, etc. Do they both have the same double windshield? I can’t figure out the background/setting at all. I love these “motoring” outfits. What kind of car is this?Do you have old photos with cars in them? How did you determine what kind of car?

 

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Although I’m in such a busy period that I can’t work on genealogy, I do have my daughter’s help right now to scan some old photos, so I will post some of them while I am too busy for research.

On the back of this photo it says Frank Tazelaar (near Whistle Stop).

Frank Tazelaar near Whistle Stop Kalamazoo

Frank Tazelaar
near Whistle Stop
Kalamazoo

So I looked up Frank Tazelaar on my family tree. Sure enough, he’s on there. He was born January 17, 1876 in the Netherlands, to Pieter Tazelaar and Adriana Bek. The family immigrated to the United States when he was 12, in 1888. On July 9, 1906, he married Genevieve Remine in Chicago. Genevieve was my first cousin 3x removed. Frank died in 1950.

So what is “Whistle Stop”? It’s the train station. But when I tried to figure out if it was the same Whistle Stop where my friends and I used to go to eat and drink (and a building that my father owned) or if it was the other train depot (where we owned a concession stand with my father), I discovered that there were actually seven train stations in Kalamazoo. Here is a fascinating article that says that Kalamazoo may have had more train depots than any other city. I am going to tentatively assume that this photo was taken near what I knew as the Whistle Stop.

Here is a painting my mother-in-law did of the Whistle Stop. I apologize for the flaws in my copies on the computer for the next two photos.

The Whistle Stop  Kalamazoo

The Whistle Stop
Kalamazoo

And here is one she painted of the other train depot:

Train depot Kalamazoo

Train depot
Kalamazoo

OK, dad correct me if I made any mistakes!

What does the date on the photo of Frank Tazelaar say? Is it 1904 or 1914?

Be sure to note the type of rig he was driving, the dog, and his clothing compared with the men up on the roof. What is that pole thing coming down from up there? What do you think Gaslight means? The mark (pencil or crayon?) going through the photo wasn’t noticeable until my daughter scanned it. And thanks to Amberly at The Genealogy Girl she is scanning into .tif files.

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Let’s take a short break from my mother’s family and jump over to my father’s family.  My father’s mother Marie was the Head Fitter of the 28 Shop at Marshall Field’s flagship store in Chicago for years and an artist with a needle.

From the time I was born, Grandma sewed me beautiful dresses. But I first paid attention to her sewing on Christmas the year I was four. As we opened gifts, Grandma leaned down toward me, with her pearls swinging, and handed me a huge box.  The blue eyes of a doll my size stared back at me when I pulled up the lid.  I named her Bonnie, after one of my favorite records, “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.”

Grandma handed me another large, but more beautifully wrapped, box.  I untied the grosgrain ribbon and discovered she had sewn an array of beautiful dresses trimmed in selfsame bows and flowered beads.  The beret Grandma created for Bonnie matched the pink satin-lined pale blue velvet coat.

Bow on back of Bonnie's velvet coat
Bow on back of Bonnie’s velvet coat
Pearl button closures on Bonnie's velvet coat
Pearl button closures on Bonnie’s velvet coat

When I was eight, Grandma sewed me a glorious trousseau of clothes for the imitation Barbie (Miss Suzette) my parents had given me.  My doll didn’t have the requisite zebra-striped swimsuit or the Enchanted Evening gown and fur stole, but she had a copper satin cocktail sheath covered with a copper rose point lace outer skirt.  Both were trimmed in copper seed beads.  The wedding dress of white satin was heavily beaded with real seed pearls. A lace trimmed slip fit underneath and the veil was matching lace and beaded with the pearls.  I looked for stitches to see Grandma’s tricks, but they were invisible as all good magic.

When I was away at college, my mother gave the Barbie clothes away. While Bonnie has always sat on a chair in my bedroom, for a long time I kept Bonnie’s clothes in a small suitcase in my closet, away from dust and sunlight, and reveled in the knowledge that I had preserved these treasures.  After moving to my last house, I decided to put them away more securely.

Then I forgot where I put them! For years I thought they were lost. Finally, last year, I found the clothing. The only piece missing is the velvet beret.  All I have left of the Barbie clothes are the memories as I don’t have a photo of them.

All these years later, my parents have given me my grandmother’s German porcelain doll and the clothing Grandma made for her.

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These doll clothes represent all the beautiful clothing my grandmother designed and sewed over the years. Clothing, Art really, which is long gone.

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