"Grew Up in Park Forest" group formed on Facebook
We are on Facebook! Become a fan of "Park Forest Historical Society" and of "1950s Park Forest House Museum!" We have joined Facebook (like us!) and have a Facebook page for the museum (like our museum page!). (Active links are further down the page.) There is a Facebook group, "Grew up in Park Forest". It formerly had some wonderful memory streams going, but that changed with Facebook's new format. It is still a place to reconnect with people who grew up here. We still accept memoirs sent to us via email. We hope to get a "Park Forest Memories " group started sometime to capture those entries, but are looking at other social networking sites. If you are interested in helping with that, contact us. We have joined Facebook (like us!) and have a Facebook page for the museum (like our museum page!).
Remember to make a copy of your memory and submit it to us, too. And, you will notice, you can write a much longer memoir to be put on our website to share with people.
If you see a topic there and want to expand on it, please share it with us! Remember, many people are not on Facebook and don't read memories, there. We may know something about your question.
Have you tried to contact our email and not received an answer?
I think the absence of emails to us is a result of the Facebook page, BUT if you have tried and we have not answered your email, please try again and put something in the subject line to draw attention to the fact. I have gotten some legitimate messages but a fraction of what I formerly received. I receive a lot of spam messages. I worry that I am missing some that don't come through as legitimate.
Thanks to all of you who have been submitting memories!
I will be adding the memoirs and sending you emails to let you know that yours is online. Hopefully this will go smoothly. When you get your email, please be sure to notify friends and relatives to come look at our site.
Let us hear from YOU!!
If you are reading and enjoying these memories, (and I can tell that you are by the web statistics) send yours along. You do not need to add your contact information for the website. Please let us know what information you want to include. Your memory can be a few sentences or an essay. Our Memories stay up for years to come.
Exploring the Park Forest Area Farm History
Be sure to read our story on this year-long project with South Suburban Genealogical and Historical Society. Our program on September 20 will be on this. Read more in News and Programs. Be sure to contact SSGHS or PFHS if you have any information on farms in the Park Forest area.
St. Irenaeus School
Do you have photos of St. Irenaeus School or your class photos from your time there? Please contact us through our link. The Class of 1959 recenetly had a reunion in Chicago and we discovered St. Irenaeus School history files at the church had inadvertently been thrown out. Please help us and St. I's reconstruct the files.
St. Anne's Catholic Church Sauk Trail and Westwood Drive
Did you or your family attend St. Anne's Catholic Church before St. Irenaeus was built? We have people looking for history and photographs of the church. Do you know what happened to the original building? The museum has a lovely painting of the church hanging in the bedroom, donated by Terry Ruehl who moved to PF in October 1948 and attended the church. Terry has since moved and passed on. If any of you can help reconstruct the history of St. Anne's please contact us.
Rich High Class of 1959 Tour
On June 13, 2009 thirty-nine or more people came through the museum on a special tour arranged by Jack and Becky Black. The reunion first went on a tour of Rich East High School, then came to the museum on a bus provided by the high school. Everyone enjoyed sharing memories of their years growing up in Park Forest.
We have since had tours for the Classes of 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, and 1967.
Having a reunion? Be sure to book your tour of the museum as part of your activities!
1950s Museum in the News
The 1950s Museum is in GroupTour eMagazine, Spring 2013 issue, page 26. You can download the issue here.
The 1950s Museum was in the Chicago Tribune Metro section on Sunday February 3, 2008. We had a color photo and text on the front page and more photos and text on page 5. If you go to chicagotribune.com, put "1950s Museum" in the search box, and you can go to the article, but now you have to pay to read it there. If you Search the internet for "1950s Museum" the article should come up in another site where you can read it for free.
Growing up in Park Forest 1953-1968
by Rosalie Turkel Cripps, sent March 23, 2008, updated August 27, 2010
My parents, Leo and Mary Turkel, older sister, Sandi, and I moved to Park Forest from Iowa in June, 1953 when my father was transferred for his job to Chicago. We first lived in the "rental units" on Fir Street very close to Lakewood Elementary School where my sister and I attended 4th and 2nd grade, respectively. In April of 1954 we moved into our newly finished house on Blackhawk Drive (close to Orchard Drive). That house was truly the home of my childhood.
I attended Blackhawk Elementary School from 3rd to 6th grade; then Westwood Junior High for 7th, and the newly completed Blackhawk Junior High for 8th. I graduated from Rich East High School in 1964 and my parents moved to the north side of Chicago in 1968 during my last semester of college.
I have so very many memories of my childhood in Park Forest that it is difficult to distill them into a few brief paragraphs. When we still lived on Fir St., my sister and I would sometimes pull our red wagon the short distance to the shopping center to buy milk or other simple grocery items for our mother at the grocery store. We knew everyone in our relatively small "court" (as the groupings of townhomes were called), including our pediatrician, Dr. Braun, and Miss Dowling, who was my sister's teacher and then later, when she had become Mrs. Farabuagh (if I have the spelling right), my 3rd grade teacher at Blackhawk Elementary. There I also became fast friends with Janet "Jill" Lloyd.
Every day I walked to Blackhawk Elementary with my still best friend, Sally Goldman, who lived not far away on Monee Rd. Sally and I still recall that one day during 3rd grade, we taught Billy Dietch how to skip on the way home from school. Unfortunately, we discovered in high school that he did not remember that momentous event! In the summers my sister and I and the neighborhood kids spent many happy hours playing cards and other games on our living room floor, hula hooping in the backyard, playing jump rope or hopscotch on our front walk or out and about in the neighborhood, where we were free to roam without parental concerns about our safety. Summer evenings often found neighbors out for a stroll and it was completely acceptable for neighbors and friends of our family to drop by unannounced for a visit.
Summer afternoons, many mornings and some evenings were spent at the Aquacenter. My mother was an avid swimmer who made sure her daughters became good swimmers, too, and even cloudy and sometimes somewhat chilly summer days did not deter us from our daily trek to the swimming pool. Mom may have been a bit famous for her ability to stand on her hands under water for such a long time that people in the pool would be staring at those two legs straight up in the air. Mom always gave us a dime each to have an ice cream cone, ice cream sandwich or some other goody form the snack bar at the pool. At the age of 14 teens were allowed to enter the "Big Pool" without the badge that the younger kids had to have sewn on their bathing suits to signify that they had passed the swim test. Unfortunately, I looked quite a bit younger than my age all through my teens and thus was not believed when I said I was 14 and didn't need a badge. Determined that I would not be submitted to the swim test anymore, I carried my birth certificate with me to the Aquacenter that whole summer!
Since my mother did not drive, my feet, bicycle, the bus or friends' mothers were my sources of transportation around town while growing up. I made many trips to the shopping center on my bike, whether to purchase food for my pets at Kresge's, goodies at the Karmel Korn (thanks to another person's memoir for reminding me of the name of the candy store) or meet a friend at the Park Forest library just beyond the shopping center. During my high school years, I recall going to the movies at the Holiday Theatre with friends (Sheri Steinberg, Marie Ludmer, Sue DeLisle, Patti Wald, and Judy Shockey who, by the way, now lives just a couple of miles from me in Austin, Texas) and then to Park Forest Grill afterwards for a chocolate sundae.
I have lived in the warm climate of Austin, Texas for all but a few years of my adult life, but, of course, I have many snow memories from my childhood. Two particular snowfalls stand out in my memory. The first was in mid-April, 1955 (I'm pretty sure I have that date right) when it snowed so hard that school was called off in the afternoon--the only time school was canceled due to snow during all my years growing up. (Here in Austin the whole city shuts down for a day or two when we get a bit of snow or ice on average every few years.) In January of 1967 I was home for semester break from college when a record snowfall hit. I was taking the bus to the shopping center and the snow got so deep that the driver had to park the bus a block or so from the shopping center because it became impossible to drive further. So I tramped through the snow to purchase the items I needed as the stores were all starting to close up and then walked right down the middle of Orchard Drive to make my way home. Though my husband and I gladly left the Chicago winters behind right after we married in 1968, our native-born Texan son has made his home in Denver.
Sadly, my sister died in 1999 of leukemia. My parents are both still alive (Dad is 90 and Mom is 87) and have lived in Austin since 1984. We really enjoyed learning about the Park Forest House Museum and reminiscing about the years we lived in P.F. My father greatly enjoys surfing the Internet and sending and receiving e-mail and I am hoping that he will write some of his own memories for this website.
Rosalie updated this message in August 2010:
I was just persuing the meories section of the website after being contacted by Bill Keese, who found my name as someone else who had lived in Park Forest.
I realize that I should update the information about my parents, Mary and Leo Turkel. On January 12th  my father died at age 92 (as mentally sharp as ever), and on January 14th (just 36 hours later) my mother died at age 89. Although they died of entirely different cuases and my mother was in end stage dementia at the time of her death, somehow they remained connected to the very end. I think my mother finally let go when she sensed my father's absence. A true love story of 67 years.
Jane Nicoll note: I told Rosalie that I was still in touch with Leona DeLue who lived near her on Blackhawk and asked if hers was a Parent's Magazine house. The following email ensued. Rosalie: I remember that our house was featured in Parent's Magazine (October 1953). It was a great house for a family. Leona and Ross DeLue and their daughter, Mary, lived two doors down from us. The DeLues were also friends with the Goldman's (my friend Sally's parents). The DeLues had a collie named Lassie that I loved and sometimes they would invite us to swim in their backyard pool. Ah, memories! [Rosalie was able to communicate with Leona DeLue before Leona's death in December 2011.]
JN I was also able to reconnect the family with another set of neighbors who still live in one of the Parent's houses on Blackhawk. Also, in June, Leona DeLue, who was the first resident of 76 Blackhawk, also a Parent's Magazine house, and I drove around the three streets that have those homes, recording the addresses.
Rosalie: I think our address on Fir St. was 203. Our court was smaller than most of them and our unit was on one corner, but I don't recall the court number. In 1984, my husband and then, 6 year old son and I visited our childhood homes. My husband grew up near Orland Park. I hadn't been back to P.F. since 1968 and now haven't been back since 1984. At any rate, we readily found the Fir Str. court and the unit my family lived in. I also was able to visit our house at 72 Blackhawk Drive as our next-door neighbors, the Cribbs, still lived at 74 Blackhawk Drive and she arranged with the current owners of my old home for us to go in and see it. Naturally, there were many changes that had been made since my family had lived there, but I really got a kick out of walking through the house and remembering exactly what it used to look like.
Mr. Turkel, we are still hoping you will send us a memory! JN