Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian. This column originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.
Before there was a Hoffman Plaza at Roselle Rd between Golf and Higgins, there was a large weed filled prairie that served as the first outdoor party location for the early residents of Parcel B. Following the 1955 development of the first homes in Parcel A just east of Roselle & Golf Rd, the development called Parcel B, was being built east of Roselle & Higgins Roads. The new residents decided to get together every Saturday night for fun and dancing in the weed filled prairie.
I had a wonderful conversation with Shirley, one of the first residents of Parcel B, who told me of the neighborhood fun they planned for the open prairie were Jewel now stands. Now in her late 80s, she told of the happy times they all shared with their neighbors. The men would begin gathering branches, twigs and any firewood they could find to get the fire hot enough for the sausages, hot dogs and burgers the women would bring out to the fire. Salads of all kinds were part of the Saturday night get together. Shirley especially remembered all the delicious cakes, each baker trying to outdo the other.
Shirley kept telling me how much fun it was. She told me this several times to emphasize how she loved those early days. The kids and adults would get softball games going. Later in the evening, with several of the men able to play musical instruments, dancing would begin. Since there was no park district yet, this was their way of planning fun activities with what that had. The empty prairie served the purpose. She said that as the village grew, the Saturday night parties ended but the memories for her remain.
Shirley and her husband Howard started the first business in Hoffman Plaza. It was a fabric and drapery shop. Although I didn’t ask her, I would assume that the business did well with so many new homes needing drapes to cover the windows.
Shirley’s husband knew Jack Hoffman, who encouraged them to come out to the town that he was developing and start a new life for themselves. They took his advice and came to Hoffman Estates those many years ago. Shirley, now a widow, still lives in the same house that she and Howard purchased in 1956. She still calls her part of town “Parcel B” as other early residents still do. Her plans are to live out her life in the town she loves. Thanks for the memories Shirley.
Hoffman Estates Village Historian