Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian. This column originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.
What did you have in your homes when you first moved into Hoffman Estates? I began thinking about what has changed in my home over the years since I moved here in 1965. If you moved in at about that time or earlier, you probably had the same, now obsolete, items that I had.
It’s amazing to me to remember that I actually had a Hoover washing machine with a spin basket that I moved to Hoffman Estates from my apartment in Chicago. There was only the clothes line out in the yard to hang the clothes, no dryer yet. In the winter I had clothes lines in the laundry room. That was the last winter I did that, I got a new washer and dryer the next spring. I still love to hang out the sheets and bedding on the clothesline that I’ve never given up.
The homes back then didn’t come with a dishwasher, or stainless steel appliances. We did without a dishwasher for many years. I just relied on the kids and my husband for that chore. The old extra refrigerator in the laundry room was a Kelvinator Shelvadoor dating back to the 1950s. It was great for watermelon in the summer and large birthday cakes that never fit in my frig upstairs. It needed to be defrosted, which was a messy job. Since we got that old frig from my mother-in-law, I always asked her to defrost it when she came to visit. She never seemed to mind doing it. Looking back, maybe she did but never said anything to me…. We finally put it out at the curb and it was still running just fine. We never had a repair man out to fix it either.
Our phone hung on the kitchen wall and it had a rotary dial. It was too costly to have phones in other rooms. There was something like a pencil with a round ball on the end so you could use it to dial a number and not break your long finger nails. That phone still hangs there, but it has push buttons now. As the Village grew, our phone number changed several times. The numbers had a name first and then the 5 additional numbers to dial. Ours was Lakeview others were Lawrence or Twinbrook and eventually we used just the numbers. Many of our phone numbers changed once the telephone exchange building opened in the mid 60s on Jones Rd. For the original owners in Hoffman Estates, the phone book only shows 4 numbers for their phones. As the numbers got longer and longer, it wasn’t a problem to remember them because with our new cell phones, we just added them into our list of favorites. Does anyone memorize a phone number anymore?
Did you have an electric percolator in your kitchen? The younger crowd is wondering what it is. It made wonderful coffee and kept it hot until the pot was empty. Mine is long gone but many still like to make coffee this way. I like my K-cups now.
And then there’s the television, now known as the TV or the digital flat screen. We had one small screen black and white set in the living room. It was heavy and needed a rabbit ear antenna on top of the TV or a large antenna outside on the roof. I remember adding an old metal coat hanger to the rabbit ear antenna to try and get better reception. Finally my husband got up on the roof and installed the one that gave us better reception. We only had channel 2,5,7 and 9 and they were free.
Times have certainly changed. I hope you had fun remembering as I have.
Hoffman Estates Village Historian