Lorraine Georgeff

Lorraine Dettman Georgeff grew up in Northbrook. She was born prior to WWII and lived on a farm near the southern boundary of the village. Her great-grandparents had originally lived on that farm. Lorraine married a Navy pilot in 1944 and lived elsewhere for years but returned to Northbrook in 1964. Lorraine was educated in…

Recorded on November 11, 2011. Length: 29 Minutes.


JH: Welcome to Northbrook Voices a joint project of the Northbrook Public Library and Northbrook Historical Society.  Today is November 11, 2011 and we are talking with Lorraine Dettman Georgeff.  Lorraine is a lifelong resident of Northbrook.  Lorraine, we are glad to have you here today to share your memories of growing up in Northbrook.  Can you tell me a little bit about your family?

 LG: My father lived on Pfingsten Road before he married and he married my mother Kelly Meyer and they lived in the house on Shermer Road, the farmhouse.

 JH: Where was that farmhouse?

 LG: Just outside of Northbrook limits.

 JH: Do you remember the address?

 LG  It was 1680 Shermer.

 JH: So if it was just outside the Northbrook limits when you lived there, that means it was just after Illinois Road.  Is that right?

 LG: Right.

JH: And, is that house significant in your family?

 LG: Yes, very much so.

 JH: Do you want to tell us a little bit about the house?

 LG: The five of us were raised there.  Four of them were born there — I was born in Wheeling in the hospital.  There was one.

 JH: There was a hospital in Wheeling – interesting.

 LG: We were raised there and had a good life.

 JH: Had that farm been in your family for awhile?

 LG: It had been, it was my great-grandfather’s.

 JH: Had he built that house then?

 LG: Partially.  Then my grandmother and grandfather added on to it and built it into a two family house when my mom and dad got married and they lived there until – I’m not sure what date.  But then my grandmother and grandfather moved down to Northbrook, in the Village.  We could see the house. 

 JH: That house where they moved is approximately where?

LG: Where the White Hen Pantry is today.

 JH: I think it is surprising to people to think that Illinois Road was the farthest south border of our village for many, many years.  So you mentioned your great-grandparents.  Do you know their names?

 LG: Carl Ludwig Meier and Rosine Meier.  Henry Meier and Catherine Rugen Meier.

 JH: A lot of people think that the Rugen family is only a Glenview family.

 LG: No, they are Northbrook, too.

JH: There are a lot of Rugens in Northbrook.  Can you tell me a little bit about that house?  Did you have a favorite room in that house?

 LG: Umm – I think we used all of them.  There were five bedrooms and when my Mom and Dad bought the house, they took one bedroom and hall and added it to the living room so we had a big living room.  And it was just a nice, happy place to be.  We had many good times in there.

JH: Was it still a farm when you were living there?

 LG: It was a farm.

 JH: What did you grow?

 LG: My dad had cows and pigs, chickens.  He raised corn and wheat and, of course, hay.  We always had a big garden.

 JH: You used everything he raised on your own farm or did you sell any of it?

 LG: No, he sold the milk.  He had about 18-20 cows and he and Mr. Daley at the next farm and Mr. Holste up the road a ways sold the milk to the sisters and the brothers at Techny and they took turns taking the milk over there.

 JH: Very nice.  What kind of chores did you do?  Did you work on the farm?

LG: No,  I remember pulling weeds in the garden and uh, but I don’t remember working outside –  we were in the house and my brother was outside.

 JH:What did you do for fun when growing up on the farm?

 LG: Well, um, I played with dolls.  In the evening, we played checkers and read and we had the community house at St. Peter’s.

 JH: Now St. Peter’s is the church that used to be on Shermer?

 LG: Right.

 JH: What did you do at the community house?

 LG: There was bowling, basketball and we had dinners.

 JH: It was a true community center, not just for people from that church?

 LG: Yes, people from other churches came.  They had basketball tournaments.  My sister was on one of the teams.  She was a real fighter.  My brother set pins at the bowling alley.  My father used to bowl there.  Later on my brother and Jim bowled.

 JH: Do you have any special memories that you hold dear about growing up on the farm?  Or growing up in your household?

 LG: In our household, Christmas Eve.

 JH: Tell me about Christmas Eve.

 LG: After we were all married —- my sister Irene moved to New York when she got married.  She was married the week after Pearl Harbor – didn’t know if they were going to be able to get married but the Army told Art that he could stay.  We were all – not all of us were home all the time but Christmas Eve was a big time at our house.  My father loved it. 

 JH: Were there any special family traditions on Christmas Eve?

 LG: Just opening gifts, watching the kids and then there was a lunch or supper after.

 JH: What kind of foods were served?

LG: Mostly ham and cheeses.  I think once in a while my mom made potato salad, pickles and olives and cold finger food.  Also cookies.  That’s about it but it always seemed like a big feast.

 JH: Absolutely.  Do you remember hearing any stories growing up about  why your ancestors came to this area or why they settled here?

 LG: No, I don’t remember but I remember my mom talking about my grandfather going to Virginia where he had a woods.  I don’t remember that but he would go once a year and also he had property up on Lee Road.

 JH: The property on Lee Road was probably wooded?

 LG: Wooded.  I think she said he had 10 acres.

 JH: In that time they used the wood for cooking and heating the house – that was before they had central heat in the house?

 LG: yes.

 JH: A wood lot was an important part of farming on the prairie where there weren’t any trees.  Tell me about your brothers and sisters.

 LG: Well, my oldest sister who is eight years older than me and do you want to know who she married?

 JH: Sure

 LG: She married Reinie Eberlein.  Gary was his son.  My sister Eileen married Art Smith in ’41.  They had three children.  Ev married Al Walker and she had one daughter and two stepchildren and Carol passed away in 2000, I think.  My brother Herb married June Frost and they had four kids.

 JH: You married Boris Georgeff.  Tell me about your husband.

 LG: He was from Detroit and he was stationed at Glenview.  I met him at Renniger’s Drug Store and we knew each other for two years and got married in ’44.

 JH: Renniger’s is a drugstore in Glenview, right?

 LG: Right.

 JH: Boris was serving in the Navy.

 LG: He was a Navy pilot or learning to be a Navy pilot.

 JH: And what year was that?

 LG: I met him in ’42.

 JH: He became a pilot?

 LG: Um-mmm

 JH: Where was after he left Glenview?

 LG: After he left Glenview he went to Sanford, Florida, and got his wings there.  And then on his way, he had orders for California, he stopped in Northbrook to see me.   He drove on to California but when he got there, they had changed his orders and he was sent up to Seattle, {____________} Island, where he trained and from there he flew up to Attu.  He was there for six months.  Then he came back and stopped in Northbrook.  He went on to Detroit.

 JH: You said you married in ’44.

 LG: Yes, in ’44.

 JH: Where did he serve out the rest of the war?

 LG: We got married and then we went back to Seattle and then he was at Attu for another six months.  I came home when he left.  We were married August 5th .  He went to Attu and he was gone for six months.  He got home on Saturday night and on Sunday he took me to the hospital and on Tuesday our baby was born.

 JH: OK – so you have one son?

 LG: Right.

 JH: It seems appropriate since today is Veteran’s Day to talk about your husband’s war service.  What were the war years like here in Northbrook?

 LG: We had coupons for sugar, shoes, I never had so many shoes as I did then.  I can’t remember.  Coupons for meat.  It seems like we always had enough.  Gas was rationed.  My dad had a tank because of the farm so we had enough gas all of the time.  When I came back from Washington, it was my first flight and I was bumped in Minneapolis and had to spend the night in a hotel and the next day I came on.  There were six of us that were bumped for six sailors getting on to come to Chicago.  They had priority.

 JH: Absolutely.  Northbrook lost 14 young men during WW II.  Did you know any of the young men who died?

 LG: I think I went to high school with a couple of them.

JH: Where did you go to high school?

 LG: Northbrook High.

 JH: Where was Northbrook High School.

 LG: Where Crestwood is now.

 JH: Where did you go to grammar school.

 LG: Maple School.

 JH: And that is not the Maple School we know today.  Can you describe your Maple School?

 LG: It was a two-room school with a large basement and there were four classes in each room.  I remember the first teacher I had M___________________.  Then I had Myrtle Rugen.  When I graduated from grammar school there were four girls in our class and a Mr. Riesman was our teacher.  And uh – we used to give plays.

 JH: Then you went to Northbrook High School which was in town Northbrook.  Did that draw students from a larger area?

 LG: Yes, also from Glenview and Wheeling.

 JH: How big was your graduating class?

 LG: I think probably 40 or 46.  I can’t really remember but it was a pretty good sized class.  We were the first graduating class for four years.  Before that it was three years.

 JH: Do you mind if I ask what year you graduated?

 LG: 1942.

JH:  So you were the first class that went there for all four years?

 LG: Yes.

 JH: What was Northbrook like when you were growing up and in your early adult years?

 LG: Well, there were 1,300 people.  My mom and dad didn’t worry about us kids.  Things were a lot different then than now.  We knew practically everybody.  When I was about five or six I used to walk to my grandma and grandpa’s and my uncle and aunt lived with them.  They had a son that was three years younger than me and we would walk up to Landwehr’s store and get ice cream cones or penny candy which was a big deal.

 JH: So you were five and your cousin was two?

 LG: Well, probably I was six and he was three.

 JH: So Landwehr’s was next to the railroad tracks and they had a soda fountain?

 LG: They had a soda fountain and candy.  We used to get our books there.  They had another part that was dry goods and when I was in high school I took sewing and I bought material there.  They had yarn and sold shirts and ties and shoes. 

 JH: So, it was a real true small town department store?

 LG: yes.

 JH: Were there any grocery stores in town?

 LG: Yes, Melzer’s across the street from Landwehr’s.  Then I remember an A&P and Tom Adams Drug Store was in part of that building.

 JH: Is that the building where Oliverii’s is now?

 LG: Yes and across the street was a bank but that folded.  Then my uncle moved in there and I can’t remember what they called it but you could cash checks, buy stamps, pay the water bills and my sister Irene worked for him.

 JH: Did you work?

 LG: I worked at the telephone company in Glenview as an operator.  Then I transferred to Northbrook and worked there.  In about four or six months, I quit and went to work for Culligan’s.

 JH: Where was Culligan when you were working there?

LG: It was in the Quonset hut on Walters and Shermer.  There were offices in what used to be Jock McLaughlin’s building – the blacksmith.

 JH: I know at one time they had some offices in the Queen Anne building that is right there next to Edward’s Florist – that building was the bank you were talking about?

 LG: That’s right.

 JH: How long did you work at Culligan?

 LG: Probably six months until I got married.  (giggles)

 JH: After you were married you didn’t work?

 LG: No.  We moved out to DeKalb after he was separated from the Navy and he finished his college so he graduated from Northern and ah, then he went back in the Navy and we went to Pensacola.

 JH: When did you come back to Northbrook?

 LG: I think 1964 and we bought the house that we are in now.  I told my husband I was not moving again.

JH: You wanted to stay in Northbrook?

 LG: Right.

 JH: Is there anything about the Northbrook that you remember growing up that you would like people to know about?

 LG: It was a nice town and you didn’t have to worry about crime.  Of course, that was the farthest thing from my mind.  We had, when I was in high school, we had football games and they were over on Chapel Court.  There was a large lot there.

JH: That was before the houses were there on Chapel Court and there was a large lot?

LG  Right.  My dad used to cut the grass there for the football games with a big mower.  That’s about it.  It was a small town – village.

 JH: How has the town changed to today?  How has it grown?  How has it changed in your mind?

 LG: There are a lot of new stores and a lot of the old buildings are gone.  Bernhard’s Hardware.  The tavern is still there.

JH: The tavern is now the Landmark?

 LG: That’s right.

 JH: Bernhard’s Hardware was where Meadow Road is now.

 LG: Right.  His sister taught piano and I used to go there once a week and have my piano lesson on the second floor.

 JH: The second floor of Bernhard’s Hardware?

LG: Right.

JH: I had heard she was a very good piano player and that she gave the children in town piano lessons.

 LG: Um huh.

 JH: Did you continue playing the piano?

 LG: Um – I had a piano and I remember when my mom and dad bought a piano when I was about five.  It was a player piano which was a big thing then and my sister Irene and I took lessons but the rest of them weren’t interested.  I can still play, not too great but still play.

 JH: I know when you mentioned your great-grandparents Ludwig, Carl Meyer and Rosine, you donated their portraits to the Historical Society so that anyone who visits the Historical Society can see those portraits now.  Do you member when the house that you grew up in was torn down?

 LG: It’s probably, maybe ten years ago.

 JH: Is there a house built on any of the lot now?

 LG:  No.

 JH: It’s just empty?

 LG: My dad’s three car garage is still there.  Outside of that, the house is gone.

 JH: Is there anything else that you would like to tell us about your life, your husband, growing up here in Northbrook or being part of the community?

 LG: Um – I don’t know.  Some things stick in my mind.  My grandmother and grandfather had the farm that is now Covenant Village.

 JH: They did?

 LG: That’s probably where I am headed for.  Every Sunday when we were kids we would go to my grandmother’s house.   I don’t know how she did it but she could feed a whole bunch of people in no time flat and I remember going there and picking strawberries when I was a kid.  She had a good strawberry patch.

 JH: That sounds like fun.

 LG: It was.

 JH: So did a lot of cousins come too?

 LG: Yes, there were a lot of cousins.  They had 12 kids so there were lots of cousins.

 JH: You grew up with a whole group of cousins near your same age.  That’s very nice.

Lorraine, thank you so much for participating in Northbrook Voices.  Your memories of life in Northbrook will add a unique and personal perspective about the history of our Village.  We really appreciate it.

 LG: Thank you for having me.

 JH: Thanks.