The Souhrada Family Website
The Memoirs of Frank (Francis) Cyprian Souhrada Jr. (1910 – 1992)
Edited by Peter Souhrada (his son)
FRANK C. SOUHRADA Jr. (in his own words recorded February 15, 1992)
Born: November 10, 1910 at 1814 South May Street, Chicago, Illinois
Father: Frank C. Souhrada
Mother: Anna Catherine Vopicka
Four brothers and three sisters…Alfred, Charles, George, Daniel, Elsie, Helen, and Bernadette
Wife: Dorothy Lucille Hammang
Two Children: Frank C. Souhrada III and Peter M. Souhrada
Frank C. Souhrada, Jr.
Halley's Comet appeared on April 19th in the year 1910. I made my appearance on November 10th of that same year. The comet made another appearance on February 9th, 1986. I missed seeing both. I was born in a 6-room flat on the first floor of a two-story brick building located at 1814 S. May St. on the near-west side of Chicago.
Our living quarters were large, consisting of living room, dining room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms and bath, with a large back porch. The second floor was occupied by Dr. Steiner and Mrs. Steiner. On the back part of the lot stood a small frame building occupied by Mr. Suk, his wife and daughter, Anna. Mr. Suk was a hod carrier and also mixed mortar for the plastering and mason tradesmen. I remember this tall, thin man coming home after his day's work covered with lime dust from head to foot, looking as though he fell into a barrel of flour. One day he came to our door and announced that he had bought the property and that henceforth we were to pay the rent to him. It seemed odd that this "lowly laborer" could afford to buy a building occupied by two professional men. In 1964, when my sister Helen and I visited there, Anna Suk was still living there occupying our old living quarters, which were then completely modernized.
One year after my birth, my father bought a 52-acre piece of land in Cedar Lake, Indiana, which was used as the family summer home during its "growing up" years. Our family then consisted of father, mother and their children, Alfred, Charles, Helen, Bernadette, Frank Jr. and Daniel. Two other members of the family, Elsie and George, had died in infancy. Mother and children spent the summers at Cedar Lake, Dad coming out on week-ends. When his business permitted, his week-ends began on Thursday or Friday and ended on Monday or Tuesday. Dad enjoyed gardening and always planted a huge vegetable garden. The garden area surrounded a high knoll, on which the house, barn and outbuildings stood, and was planted with just about every vegetable found in Burpee's seed catalog. Our cold-cellar was always filled with canned fruits and vegetables garnered from the garden and fruit trees. There were varieties of apple trees, plum, peach, cherry and Choke cherry. Currents, grapes, raspberries and strawberries were also grown.
The canning of all this produce fell to my mother. In addition to her canning and caring for her flower gardens, mother also baked huge tables full of goodies for the guests who arrived on the week-ends. At times, in those days, she was given a hand by her sister, (Aunt Mary) when she was out on a visit. When I think of it now, I marvel at all she accomplished with a wood-burning stove, (located in the finished part of the basement) and a kerosene stove, (located in what was called the summer kitchen). There was no running water except that which was furnished by the hand pump located in the summer kitchen. Light was furnished by kerosene lamps. Groceries and ice were delivered to our door. That was the good part of living in those days. You would call the grocer one day and he would deliver your order the next. I remember our first grocer was John Lauermann, who was later succeeded by John and Gene Schreiber. Hans (Hunsy) Ploetz was our ice man.
At the time dad bought the acreage, it was owned and farmed by Peter Neiner and his family. Neiner farmed a good part of the acreage which produced good crops. The farmhouse consisted of five rooms (up) finished half-basement with large kitchen and adjoining bedroom. Also a cold-cellar. I remember the hundreds of canned goods arrayed along the shelves and the varieties of hard sausages hanging from the ceiling.
The house, barn and outbuildings stood on the knoll. Dad hired a farm-hand newly arrived from Europe to look after two horses, a cow, chickens, ducks and geese. Later on, the hired man's wife joined him and together they took care of the stock. Some time later, the wife made things so unpleasant, Dad asked them to leave, giving them the live-stock and farm implements to help them get started on their own place. I only remember this man's first name to be Cyril. He was a good worker, and after they left he would often come back to help Dad with work that needed to be done.
When a dam was erected on the east side of the lake it caused the flooding out of a large part of the farm. Crops could no longer be grown, although hay continued to be harvested for some time. Because of the changing environment, the land gradually changed from a productive truck farm to a marshland, fit only to grow cat-tails and willows. Today, environmentalists are fighting to save these wetlands. Dad scattered seeds of the hibiscus plant throughout the marsh which flourished and produced gigantic blooms about eight to ten inches in diameter. They reproduced at a startling rate, and when in bloom were a beautiful sight to see.
I remember, as a young boy, how much joy (and work too) this summer home afforded the whole family. To brother Dan and me it was a beautiful place where we could roam the thick woods in the surrounding countryside. Our own place contained about 2 acres of wooded area on the knoll, with an additional five acres further off from the house which we called "the corner" because of its location in the North East corner of the acreage. These woods were covered by white and burr oak, hickory, wild cherry, and other varieties of understory trees. Also hazel, which produced tasty nuts. Dan and I also roamed through the marshland in search of flora and fauna. Mother received many bouquets of marsh daisies in those early days of our youth.
I remember a plank road which traversed the marshlands. This road, which ran from the south end area of Cedar Lake, south to a small town named Creston, furnished us kids with a lot of fun. On a sunny day this plank road was covered with frogs, lizards and snake (the snakes occasionally dining on the frogs and lizards). At time we would cheat the snake out of a meal by extracting a half-swallowed hapless frog from its mouth. All this afforded us great excitement and also food for the table at those times we were able to catch a bullfrog or two. I remember one time brother Dan, who must have been 3 or 4 then, found a snake near the house, brought it, wriggling in his hand, to our mother who was sweeping the back-porch steps. She took a swipe at it with her broom, knocking it out of Dan's hand. She wasn't too fond of snakes.
Dan and I also played "horse and buggy". I played the part of the "horse" and he sat in the "buggy" (a wheelbarrow). The horse wore a regular horse collar and reins left over from the days when we had real horses. Believe me, it was no easy game for the horse, lugging that collar around its neck. We also had fun riding our big and faithful shepherd dog "Shpitz" which was very patient and put up with our antics. He guarded the family against all intruders from his watchful position, the back porch, each night. In his later years, apparently frightened by a fire-cracker on the 4th of July, he disappeared, and about 5 weeks later he showed up on our back porch in Forest Park, a distance of about 60 miles from Cedar Lake. He died in his fifteenth year not long after that.
One of the things I remember about our real horses was that one was named Jim, (a chestnut) and the other, a mare, named Nellie. Nellie was all white. On occasion, Dad would hitch Jim to the buggy (a two-seater) and he and mother would drive off to someplace or other. Once in a while I would ride with them perched on the back end of the buggy. Dad also owned a fancy cabriolet. After all the livestock was gone, the barn served as a tool-shed, where Dad kept all his hand tools and gardening tools. He built quite a few roughly made occasional tables for the house and other miscellaneous items needed around the house such as wheelbarrows. The barn held 4 stalls and mangers, and I remember the horses but can't recall anything of "Bossie".
The barn also contained a hay-loft where we would store hay cut from the field. I was a small boy (feeling real grown-up) when I took part in the haying. I sustained a large cut on my arm caused by a pitch fork wielded by a worker on the ground, throwing the hay up to me, where I was perched on top of the hay. I wore that bad gash as a badge of honor. The hay-loft was also a great place to spend rainy days looking out at the surrounding countryside and also pestering the resident barn owl and the swallows. I think I must have been about 8 or 9 years old when the barn was torn down. I took part in that big project, enjoying myself immensely tearing that old barn down. I guess it was where I first learned to use a crow-bar and rip-hammer.
I also remember, when I became a little older, driving a horse hitched to a cultivator, cultivating corn for our neighbor, Mr. Curran. I sat in the driver's seat and he walked behind, guiding the cultivator through the rows of corn. He also let me drive a team of draft horses hitched to a heavy wagon on such days he went to town for supplies. Mr. Curran had a son named Richard and a daughter named Catherine, and I remember the poker games played
at their house in the evenings. The players usually were Richard, Catherine, my sisters, Helen and Bernadette and I. They were penny-ante games and afforded everyone entertaining diversion.
Our summer home got some use during the winter months also. Dad and I would go out on the week-ends on the Monon Railroad. We would engage in such activities as ice-skating on the ponds, trapping muskrats for their hides which were stretched, salted and left to dry, later to be sold. Pelts brought 50 cents to $2.00. We also felled trees, using axe and two-man saw. The wood was sawed and chopped into stove lengths and burned in our pot-bellied stove to keep us warm during the cold winter nights. Before we got into bed the blankets were removed from the bed and spread out on chairs back of the stove and gave off steam as the frost came out of them. We also burned peat in the stove which was dug out of the marsh area with special shovels. These shovels shaped the peat into brick-like blocks. They were dried during the warmer months and used when needed. They made good fuel, as they burned slowly, heated effectively and left little ash. We slept together in order to keep warm, and I remember drifting off to sleep as Dad told different stories, feeling safe and secure. At times, during the night, the whistle of a train on the Monon would awaken me.
I remember, as children at Cedar Lake, we were awakened at about 4:00 in the morning by our Aunt Mary, who was visiting us that summer, to witness the burning of the ice-house owned by the Monon railroad. The building was a huge frame structure about a block square with a moving-track apparatus which carried ice blocks cut from the lake up to the top of the building to be distributed along racks to different sections of the building for storage, the ice being covered by insulating hay. The fire was caused by lightning and was a spectacular site to see. It destroyed a favorite haunt for us kids to keep cool in the summer and also furnishing us with ice to swish around in our mouths. The outside track burned off at the top, collapsed and rolled into the water. Later on, it provided a great place to fish but "hazardous to one's health" because of the tangled mass of steel and wood. One had to be very careful where one stepped.
Speaking of fish, my older brother Charlie and I would go out onto the lake in a row-boat and gas lantern at night and catch a mess of perch, crappies and blue-gills, which he would fry up for a very late-night meal. Dan and I would also spend hours of fun hunting craw-fish hiding under the shale along the lake shore. All of us kids enjoyed daily swimming in the lake as well as did our parents. Cedar Lake in those days was a clear spring-fed lake, an unpolluted body of water.
Our neighbors, the Rosenbauers, kept a cow which provided the family with fresh milk. I remember bending down, at milking time, with open mouth to catch a stream of milk skillfully directed in my direction by Mr. Rosenbauer. I also remember dipping a cup into the warm foaming pail of milk for a drink. No homogenizing in those days! The Rosenbauer family consisted of Sherman, his wife Mary, and their children, Clara, Ernie, Edward, Albert (Sonny) and George (Nibbs). Sherman, Ed and Sonny worked as traffic men for the Monon railroad. Sherman was the foreman of a crew of six men. To take care of their section of track, they hand-pumped their track vehicle along the tracks. Later on, the crew graduated to a gasoline driven vehicle. We could view them putt-putting along the tracks to the place that needed repairs. The ping of steel against steel could be heard as they went about their work. The railroad ran along the South-East part of Dad's land, crossing a trestle about a mile in length. It was great sport walking along the trestle testing our daring in outguessing an on-coming train, beating it to terra firma.
Our other neighbors were the Henn's, Coffin's and Oborne's. The Coffin's owned the land adjoining the lake; they ran a resort called "Shady Beach". We kids had free access to the lake for swimming which was a daily activity. We also had great baseball games all of the neighborhood kids (boys and girls) played on the Coffin grounds. Dan was a good player and hit many a home run. There were no organized sports in those days and games were played for the shear fun of it. The Henn's had a daughter named Doris, and I still remember her beautiful clear voice, singing some song while shepherding their milk cows’ home from pasture. Happy care-free days were spent at Cedar Lake! While the family enjoyed good times at the lake, things were going on in the outside world. In 1913 Henry Ford started his assembly line, turning out a thousand cars a day, all black. 1914 saw the start of World War 1. 1916 we chased Poncho Villa all around Mexico but never captured him. John Pershing, who later commanded our troops in Europe, was sent out to do the job but Villa proved too wily. In 1917 we entered the war against Germany and the Central Powers. The world was in turmoil!
In the city we heated our living quarters with a hard-coal burning stove which was located in the dining room. The dining room was separated from the parlor by sliding doors. I remember at Christmas time these doors were closed to us kids while preparations for tree trimming and the arrival of Santa Claus was in progress. Not until the arrival of Claus were we permitted entrance. I think it was Bernadette who first wised-up to who Santa Claus was. She recognized Dad's shoes. Mother cooked and baked on a wood-burning stove in the kitchen. When she washed clothes she used two tubs, one for washing and one for rinsing. She would cut up Naphtha soap (no detergents then) scrub the clothes on a washboard which were then put through a hand wringer. The clothes were hung up to dry on lines strung up on the back porch. Most of the time however, the laundry was sent out to be done by a commercial laundry. I still member the name of the man who delivered our laundry, Louis Zavorka, a good natured fellow who sometimes was invited to sit and have a cup of coffee. Another man who came to our back door was one I knew only as "blind Tommy". He sold us brooms and whisk-brooms which were made at the school for the blind. Another man, who seemed perpetually down on his luck, came to our back door at regular intervals. Mother would feed him soup, rye bread and coffee or whatever she might have had left over from previous meals.
We lived about a half-block from 18th Street which was a main East and West streetcar line. I still remember as I lay in bed, the clanging of the bells and the surging sound made by the electrical current as the street cars started up. My brother Charlie escaped serious injury when he missed the step on the rear platform of a moving car. He hung on to the hand bar and was dragged along for some distance before the car was stopped. He was wearing a sailor straw hat at the time, and one side of it was completely worn down as it came in contact with the pavement. His face and arm were lacerated and imbedded with chunks of asphalt. He was bandaged up for some time after that escapade.
One of the striking scenes along 18th Street occurred when the horse-drawn fire department vehicles responded to a fire alarm. The pumping engine, fueled by a coal fire, belching thick black smoke from its stack, drawn by a team of galloping black (or white) steeds, manes flying, their hooves clattering on the pavement, followed by the hook and ladder company with its equally beautiful horses, made an impression on me which I vividly recall to this day. How the drivers were able to maneuver their horses around street cars, delivery wagons and pedestrians seemed to me a miracle. My brother Alfred who died in 1918 at the age of 24, was taken to his grave in a horse-drawn hearse, which was followed by an entourage of similarly drawn vehicles. He is buried in Bohemian National Cemetery. This cemetery was a long way from our neighborhood and his funeral took most of the day to be completed. Automobiles began to appear in greater numbers about that time, many of them electrically powered. These electric cars seemed to be driven almost exclusively by elderly women. I remember such autos as Durant, Rickenbacher, Stanley Steamer, Star, Whippet, Pierce-Arrow, Packard, Jeffries, Hudson, Moon, Studebaker, Duesenberg, Stutz, Cunningham, Jordan and many others traveling along 18th Street.
Two doors away from our residence was a grocery store owned and operated by John Morovec. In his store one could find sugar, flour, coffee beans and assorted dry vegetables contained in wooden bins. These staples were dispensed with a scoop and weighed on a hanging scale. A customer could have his coffee ground at the store or grind the beans at home. We always chose the latter. Pickles were contained in huge glass jars and were skewered out with huge wooden tweezers.
Across the street was a milk store owned by the Roucek family. (Businesses and homes were mixed together in those days). The Roucek's delivered milk by horse and wagon, and I remember that tired old horse hitched to wagon waiting patiently for the deliveries to begin. I occasionally fed it an apple. The Roucek's had a son named Jerry who was about my age, and years later, I was able to help him with a real estate deal in DuPage County. At that time, we reminisced about the days in the old neighborhood. We even had a glass blower in the old neighborhood! We kids would stand and watch him with fascination as he blew and shaped his beautiful objects.
We belonged to St. Procopius parish. The church was located at 18th and Alport Streets, a few blocks from our house. Alfred and Charlie served as altar boys there, also attended the catholic school. The rest of us kids attended Joseph Jungman public school located at 18th St. and Loeffler Court. I remember our classes being dismissed early on November 11, 1918, the day World War I was ended.
World War I began in 1914 in Europe. We entered the war in 1917. For our country it was short but very costly in lives. 1918 was terribly hard on my parents, especially mother. It was the year she lost her oldest son, Alfred, who succumbed to the Scarlet Fever epidemic. Her next oldest son was drafted into the army, and beside that she was nursing my sister Helen, who also came down with scarlet fever. I remember that I was sent to live with my aunt Mary Cathamer, who lived a few doors away, on 18th Street, It was a horrendous year the year in which about a half-million people died of influenza and other contagious diseases. I also remember it was the year of a great blizzard. 1918 was also the year daylight saving time began. 1919 saw the passage, of the 18th amendment to the constitution which made the sale of liquor illegal. This spawned the bootleg era making Al Capone the head of the under world that controlled the sale and distribution of the illegal booze. The prohibition law was repealed sometime after Franklin Roosevelt was elected president in 1932. In 1929, 14 members of a gang were shot to death in what became known as the St. Valentine's Day massacre which was ordered by al Capone.
Another relative who lived on 18th street was my aunt Albina (Albie) Vopicka, the widow of my Uncle Frank. She lived there with her daughter Alice. Uncle Frank died in 1912 when he fell from a scaffold. Also located on 18th Street was a building which housed the "C.S.P.S." society which I believe was a combination Czech benevolent and recreational organization. I remember the balls mother and Dad attended in the great hall. We kids had fun darting in and out of the dancers and also running up to the balconies and down again.
On the grounds of St. Procopius Church there also stood a chapel which, in recent years has been remodeled into a building housing nuns belonging to Sister Theresa's sisters of the very poor. The neighborhood now is predominantly Hispanic.
As a boy the only sports I engaged in while living in that neighborhood was baseball played mainly in the school yard. I also remember playing marbles or "nibs" with the neighborhood kids, building and flying kites and roller-skating on my "union hardware" skates which were the best built in those days. The asphalt paved streets provided good surfaces for this activity. Peddlers of all kinds of wares, and "rags and iron" collectors plied the streets with horse and wagon. Some of those old nags looked as though they would drop dead as the one did in Dostoevski's "Crime and Punishment". The rags and iron solicitors always sounded to me as though they were shouting "Rex and Lions". When we moved to Forest Park, ice skating became my favorite sport. In 1921 I built a crystal radio set which worked fairly well but didn't make much of a hit with mother because of the copper wires I strung across her kitchen.
In the summer of 1922 our family moved to 1120 S. Circle Avenue, Forest Park, a western suburb of Chicago. The house was a large 2 story containing 6 rooms. The house is gone now, being replaced by an apartment building. Dad also bought his first new car in that year; a 1922 Ford touring car. From then on the family stopped using the Monon to get to Cedar Lake. Dad's first day's driving experience wasn't too pleasant. As the story goes, he drove this brand new car from the dealer's garage and as he was stopped at a stop sign when another car rammed into the back end. After the damage was repaired he never drove again in his lifetime. Charlie, who was married in that same year, became the family chauffer from that time on. I also learned to drive that same year, driving back and forth from Chicago to Cedar Lake with Charlie as my teacher. Later on, I took over the driving chores for the family. No license required in those days! I think Dad paid $345.00 dollars for the first car. He later on again bought a 1927 Ford and a 1929 Chevrolet, a sporty car with wire wheels with 2 spare wheels fitted into the front fender wells. I helped him pick that one out.
Dad became very interested in village affairs and I remember accompanying him to the council meetings. What I remember most vividly is trudging through the snow with him on cold wintry nights. He also took us to the Field Museum, Art Institute and Planetarium downtown, also to the Garfield Park Conservatory. Most of these visits were made on Sundays during the winter months. 1925 was the year the Scopes “monkey trial” made big news all over America. Our family followed it with great interest because Clarence Darrow, a friend of my father's represented the defendant.
On August 6th, 1928, we lost our dear mother in her 53rd year. She died at noon of that day. Strangely, our mantle clock stopped at that precise hour. My sister, Bernadette, took her place in the home, helping Dad keep the family together. While Bernadette cooked many of the meals, Dad also cooked He was a good cook, and I remember the excellent dinners he would prepare each Friday. Boiled lobster, (2 or 3) several varieties of baked fish were the usual menu.
After our move to Forest Park I continued to attend Jungman School during my 7th and 8th grades. I commuted to school this way: I would board the train at the Hannah Avenue station on the Garfield Park "El" and ride to Marshfield Avenue exchange station in Chicago. There I would board a Douglas Park "El" and ride a few stations to 18th Street. I would then board a street car at 18th and Paulina and ride to Loefller Court where the school was located. Dad always gave me money for lunch and car fare, and on most days, I would walk from Paulina to save car fare.
During my last two years in school I was appointed the "bell boy" by Miss Fleming the Principal. The job consisted of pushing a variety of buttons located on a board in her office, (and what a beautiful office it was). The button-pushing activated bells throughout the building and, when this chore was finished, I went outside and clanged a noisy cow-bell. After that job was finished, I joined a group of monitors helping maintain order in the marching ranks of the kids. I can still remember the sound of their tramping feet. On graduation day, the 8th grade class put on a play called the "Great American Boy". I played the part of the class cut-up, who was always getting into trouble with the teacher. Part of my education at school consisted of attending printing classes and manual training. Miss Moore taught printing and Mr. Lawrence taught woodworking. Other teachers I remember were Miss Cummins, 4th grade, Miss Fisbee, 5th, Miss Erp, 6th, Miss O'Rell, 7th and Miss Sullivan, 8th. Miss O'Donnell was our gym teacher. I was 14 when I graduated. Soon after, I went to work at the Chicago Public Library on Michigan Blvd. in Chicago stacking books on shelves. The only nice thing about that job was the view from the windows overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan. I also attended "continuation school" 1 day a week, on Plymouth Court in downtown Chicago. I worked at the library a short time when my brother Charlie, who worked at the Chicago Title and Trust Company was transferred to its Wheaton office in 1925, asked me whether I would like to go to work for him. I didn't think much of my library job so it didn't take much coaxing for me to say yes. When I think of it now, it was just about the wisest thing I did. I possessed no high school education, and yet I was able to get a very good education working with people who furnished me with inspiration for better things, all in a collegial atmosphere. My job interview went this way: I was asked by the manager in charge to read a lengthy metes and bounds land description. To his amazement, I read it off rapidly and without mistakes, and when I had finished he said I could go to work. Just try landing a job as easy today.
I worked under Charlie, who managed the Recorders Office Department or "R.O." as it called, copying documents and maps from the county records which were to be sent to our main office. After a couple of years working for Charlie, I was transferred to the main office in the Tract Book Department, where new records were being constructed from the records of the old abstract office of T.M. and D.C. Hull, which had been purchased by the company. Chicago Title at that time owned a few other small companies in the Chicago area. Now it is the largest title company in the U.S. In about 1930 I was transferred to the Special Assessment Dept. This department dealt with records relating to assessments levied against owners of properties for improvements such as grading, paving and curbing streets, sidewalks and alleys. The financing for these improvements came from the issuance of bonds by the various cities and villages in DuPage County. When the financial crash came in 1929, people stopped paying their assessments which in turn caused defaults on the bonds. During the course of the depression these defaulted bonds were bought up by speculators for pennies on the dollar. When the real estate market picked up again, huge profits were realized on their investments. Working in the special assessment department was pleasant because for about 3 months of the year we were able to get out of the office. My partner, Arvid Johnson and I, traveled about DuPage County visiting the various cities and villages for the purpose of reconciling our records with theirs.
1929 was the year the stock market collapsed which brought on the great depression. Charlie and I were fortunate, in fact our whole family was fortunate in that we all held our jobs during those terrible years which caused so much misery for so many. Our office employees were asked to take one day off a week, a situation which lasted about 3 years, when we were all again returned to full-time. Dad, of course, continued his law practice and Helen kept working full time. The people who suffered the most were the production workers and the farmers. Herbert Hoover who ran on a slogan of "a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage" did very little during his term of office to alleviate the situation. He was a good man however and a great believer in the capitalistic system. Our days off at the office were referred to as "Hoover days". In 1932 Franklin Roosevelt was elected President and inaugurated a series of agencies such as W.P.A. and N.R.A. to help lessen the crisis. Some people thought this socialistic way of dealing with the problem was dead wrong while others thought he averted a revolution. Herbert Hoover was elected in 1928 and one of the things he did while in office was to sign a bill making "The Star Spangled Banner" our national anthem. Brother Charlie, who was married in 1922, lived very well during the depression years. He and his wife, Helen, lived in a beautiful apartment in Forest Park, and were able to buy new Fords in 1928, 1934 and 1937. Our whole family lived well during the depression, relatively speaking, continuing to do most of the things we had always done. Not so for so many others.
After about 3 years in the Special Assessment Department, I was transferred to the "Chancery Department" which was a department that kept records originating in the various branches of the courts having an effect on real estate titles. In 1944 I was named manager of the department where I remained until I retired in February of 1974. Some of those years were spent in the main office in Chicago. Sometimes I was sent out to visit our offices in Kane, Will and Lake Counties in Illinois, also Lake County, Indiana, exchanging ideas of interest relating to office procedure. I also participated in numerous seminars held in and out of the office before the real estate profession. This job was good for me and one I was eager to go to everyday. In it I gained a good general knowledge of the law and how our court systems worked. Over the years I gained the respect and friendship of judges, lawyers and people in the real estate profession. My father was a great help in those early years, teaching me the fundamentals of real estate law and how law was practiced in the courts. One of the things that I liked most about my job was that it placed me in a position where I was able to be of help to people.
In 1933 our family moved into an apartment building owned by Mr. Franks at 1223 Elgin Ave. in Forest Park, Illinois.
On November 15th, 1934 I was married to Dorothy Hammang at St. Bernadine's Church in Forest Park. I remember our first apartment was located at 506 Beloit Avenue in Forest Park. It was a beautiful apartment consisting of large living room, dinette, large bedroom and bath. Our first son, David Michael, was born in 1935 while we lived there. He decided to come in his 7th month, while we were enjoying the Labor Day holiday with his Aunt and Uncle at Cedar Lake, Bernadette and Frank Stastny. At midnight we began a mad dash to Chicago, but only made it to Chicago Heights, where he was born in St. James Hospital. He lived for 11 days and died of what was called hypostatic pneumonia. Our doctor, Dr. Paradise, drove out from Chicago every day, a distance of about 40 miles to attend our son. After David died the Dr. and I drove to Chicago in his car, with David's body. He was buried in St. Adalbert's Cemetery, in Lisle, Illinois, where he is now with his Grandpa and Grandma Souhrada and his Uncle Charlie. After it was all over, we asked the Dr. for his bill, which was rendered much later. It came to $35.00. Dr. Paradise also delivered Frank and Peter. They were both born in Bethany Hospital in Chicago.
Frank C. Souhrada Jr.
w/ Frank Souhrada III (1944)
We rented our first apartment at $32.50 per month (1st two months free occupancy) and in 1937 when the rent rose to $37.50 per month we decided to move. (Remember this was the depression). We found a place at 924 Elgin Avenue, in Forest Park, a house occupied on the second floor by the landlady, Mrs. Fenton and her son Ed. We rented the first floor for $27.50 per month. We bought our first car while living there, a 1937 60-horsepower Ford. I think it cost us about $650.00. We took our first long trip to the Smokey Mountains in that car. That poor Ford had a lot of trouble chugging up those mountain roads. Our second son, Frank, was born in 1943 while we lived at Mrs. Fenton's. In 1946 when our third son, Peter was on the way, we needed more room so we exchanged our living quarters at Mrs. Fenton's with Mr. and Mrs. Ernst who lived in a large six-room house next door, at 920 Elgin Avenue. When Peter was born in 1946 each of the boys had their own large bedroom. (Our nephew, Dr. Paul Martin, of Marshall, Minnesota, took pictures of both houses while visiting the area in 1991. He also took a picture of the Hammang family residence at 1007 Marengo Avenue, located about a block away from where we lived). Our church was St. Bernadine's, and Frank attended St. Bernadine's kindergarten.
In 1949 we moved into our own home at 638 S. Linden Avenue, Bellwood, Illinois. Frank and Peter attended St. Simeon's school and served as altar boys at Church. The boys obtained their high school education at Proviso West, in Hillside. After he graduated, Frank enlisted in the Army. Peter entered Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois after he graduated. He received his degree in 1968, and obtained a job with I.B.M. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Soon after, he enlisted in the Army, and after serving some time in the service he was granted an honorable disability discharge from an improperly healed broken bone in his right arm. Frank also worked for I.B.M. but quit to take a job in Greenland working at a radar site as a civilian employee. When he returned to the States he bought a mobile home and moved to Greeley, Colorado. Having obtained a pilot's license some time before, he taught flying at Emery Aviation School in Greeley. He also attended the University of Northern Colorado for some time. After being discharged from the Army Peter joined his brother in Greeley taking a job at State Farm Insurance Company, and when Eastman Kodak opened its plant at Windsor he went to work there. Both of our sons met their future wives in Greeley. Frank married Linda Ruth Yates on August 15th, 1970 at Rockland Community Church in Golden CO., Peter marrying Karen Elizabeth Williams on June 3, 1972 at St. Peter's Church, Greeley.
Frank Souhrada in Wisconsin woods
In 1958 we built a cabin on a 20 acre tract in Mauston, Wisconsin. I had received the land from my father which we used as a summer home during the years the boys were growing up. The cabin was located in Germantown Township on County Trunk "G". Across the road from Castle Rock Lake, the third largest lake in Wisconsin. The lake was formed when the Wisconsin River was dammed up about a mile below our place. The lake afforded our family (mostly the boys) many happy recreational hours. To build our cabin, we enlisted the aid of Joseph Kaminsky, a local farmer, woodsman, saw-mill operator, machinist and carpenter. He was the personification of the consummate individualist. He is still going strong at the age of 90, despite many physical ailments. The foundation and fireplace was built by Freddie Rowland, who was reputed to be the best mason in Mauston. To save money, Frank and I went to work on framing the outside walls (with proper instructions from Joe) and contributing our labor in any way we were able, such as mixing concrete, applying the rough siding, roof boards and roofing. Frank was about 14 at the time and contributed more than his share of hard work helping his Dad build his dream cabin. A year or so later when we installed the water and sewer system, Peter contributed his share of hard work helping dig the pit for the septic tank and sewer lines. In 1973, when the cabin was remodeled into our permanent home, our sons helped once more with that project, both physically and financially. We lived happily in that little "house in the woods" until August of 1982 when we moved to Greeley.
Long before building the cabin, I think it was in February of 1952, I rode the Milwaukee Road R.R. to Mauston, where I met Joe Kaminsky for the first time. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss with him the cutting of timber on the 20 acre tract. I remember we cruised the woods with snow-shoes laced to our boots in order for him to make an assessment of the standing marketable timber. In the early spring of that same year I planted close to 500 Norway and White Pine seedlings. I did this job alone, starting at dawn, working throughout the day without food or water (pretty dumb), for I wanted to finish the job that same day. In the late afternoon, I laid down on the ground, completely exhausted. I slept for about an hour and awoke in the twilight. I had planted about 450 seedlings but it was too late to plant anymore so I took the remaining seedlings to Mauston where I left them with the Sheriff's office. After cleaning up at the court house I ate a hearty meal, guzzled a lot of water and began the drive back home to Bellwood. I arrived home about 4 A.M. I remember the next day, which was a Sunday, we shopped and bought a T.V. set. In the spring of 1954 I planted about 650 more trees, but this time I had a partner to help me. It was my son, Peter, who was about 8 years of age then. Those woods served as a mental tonic to me. I was never happier than in the years I spent time and worked in those woods.
Frank Souhrada Jr. & wife, Dorothy Lucille Hammang in Colorado
In August of 1982 we sold our home in Mauston and bought a house at 2802 25th Street, in Greeley, Colorado, and in 1984 we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary during the time we lived there. It was hosted by our sons and their wives and brought together friends and family whom we dearly love.
In July of 1988 we sold our home and moved into an apartment at 2327 16th street, Greeley, where we presently reside.
This is the story thus far except to say I am grateful for the long life Dorothy and I have shared together, and for two wonderful sons and their wonderful wives plus 3 wonderful grandsons, all of whom have contributed a great deal to our happiness.
Frank C. Souhrada, Jr. February 11, 1992.
(Editor’s note: Frank Souhrada died that following August at the home of their dear friends Delores and Leroy Zulawski. Delores is the daughter of Joseph Kaminsky and Leroy was the carpenter that converted their Mauston “cabin” into a beautiful full time dwelling. He died several days after attending a family reunion held in the Castle Rock Lake area attended by his loving sons, daughter in laws, and grandsons. He is buried in the nearby cemetery of St. Michael’s, next to his wife Dorothy, and long time family friends Gene and John Zilinski.)
To view additional photos of Frank C. Souhrada Jr., click here >> Frank Souhrada Jr. Photo Album