138 rue de bonheur

Everything Happens for a Reason


In this town of about 11,000 people back in 1950 it was called a bedroom Community as people would take the train into Chicago to work and then return home to Downers grove to sleep, But that was about to change. More and more people were moving out of Chicago to the country to escape crowding in the city, new-found wealth in jobs. Companies were also moving out of the City bringing their workers with them. Today we call it Urban Sprawl. Downers found it self growing faster than it could handle. New roads needed building, Soon gravel roads were being paved, increased from two lanes to four. New traffic lights, new utilities being taxed and expanded new housing developments were popping up everywhere. But before that all happened, there was the Downers grove I knew. After the War my Parents looked into buying some land in Downers Grove My Sister had gotten married and they bought a House South of Fairview on 61st. St. One of the Principal Land Owners back then was a Family known as the Freidenhagens who lived on the corner of Fairview Ave. and Second St. in a Huge Farm House. They had a Barn and a few Horses which I use to feed Apples and brush when ever my Dad would visit Walter Freidenhagenand my Mom would sit with his wife on the porch and talk.

The Community of Fairview was mostly a stop on the CB&Q line, only a few Business where there. Leo’s Restaurant and Donut Shop, a Freezer Locker store where you could rent freezer space, Barber Shop and a Drug store. a Auto Parts place. A Sinclair Gas Station on the corner of Maple and Fairview, and down a ways on Maple was Cliff Billinglys Shell Gas station and auto repairs. Sometime in the Mid-50’s the Freezer place closed up and a Man by the name of Walter Krammer remodeled the building and open up an IGA Grocery Store and from then on the Community of Fairview became busy, growing place.

Us Guys, Bob Grenendal, Don Klipera  Bill Stock, and myself all lived within 6 Blocks of each other and we walked to school together every day and even work at a part-time job as Stock Boys at the local IGA food market on  Fairview Ave. On Saturdays we were Baggers at the Market, and would break for lunch and go next store to Leo’s Donut Shop for a Hamburger and coke and play the Jukebox while we ate. On our days off, we’d go Hunting after school. Bob and Don would walk to my house and the three of us would walk down Fairview ave to 63Rd. St. and then down a ways to the East to a Farmers Field who we knew and would give him a Half Dog (Pint) of Whiskey that Bob and Don picked up at Leo’s Donut Shop, who also had a shelf full of small bottles of Whiskey that he sold. Leo knew us and the reason for us purchasing the Whiskey.  One of the first Convenience stores for that time. Bill didn’t come along as his parents didn’t allow him to have a gun. Can you see that today, Three boys carrying Shotguns down the street and it  didn’t raise an eyebrow.

Several hours later with our pockets full of Pheasants and darkness setting in the Three of us would head back into town. There  every Wednesday at 55Th. St. would be Officer Frank, One of Three police officers in Downers Grove, waiting for us. “Throw the guns in the trunk boys, I’ll take you home”. Life was good in Downers Grove back then, and we were a bunch of good kids. Then something happened, “Girls”, Hanging around with the guys was about to change.

When School Started again the Fall of our Junior Year we had all become a little  less interested in hanging around with each other. I really don’t know why, maybe we were getting older and the things we would do together were not as important anymore. We still went to Football games and walk down to school on Friday nights to the basketball Games and return to Leo’s Donut Shop for a Coke. Mostly the conversation was about Girls we liked, and the excitement of maybe seeing them at one of the Games.  Bob and I had our favorites pick out and Bill had his even though he was a year behind us two. Don was also a year behind but his enthusiasm  for Girls wasn’t as strong as the rest of us. Don was not as you say an attractive looking Kid, He wore thick glasses and smoked like a freight train and his clothes always looked like he slept in them. and his grades were terrible  We offered to help, but his direction in life was different than ours. He lived with his Brother and Mother both who were very strict  Don just wanted to get High School over with and go to work with his brother in a Factory in Melrose Park. He lived in terrible conditions in his House and would rather we meet  at one of our houses  then meet him at his house. Bob’s Dad worked at Western Electric in Cicero an had a stay at home Mom. Bills Parents were always receptive to the rest of us, and we enjoyed listening to them talk in there Canadian Accent. Bills Dad worked for Swift Meats in  Downtown Chicago. His Mom was also a stay at home Mom. Then Douglas called me and said that they were moving to California. His Dad was transferred out there by the Tool and Die Company he worked for and were moving their factory from Chicago to Anaheim  Cal. and they were paying his way to move his Family out there. He promised to send me his new address when they got settled and he did. We continued to write each other for many years to come.



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