Recorded on July 11, 2014. Length: 28 Minutes.
SC: Today is July the 11th 2014. Good afternoon and welcome to Northbrook voices, an oral history project sponsored by the Northbrook Historical Society and the Northbrook Public Library. My name is Susan Carrington, and I’m pleased to welcome Ed Thompson, who has lived in Northbrook for 44 years. Now Ed is not only as a longtime member of Northbrook, resident, but also has been very very active in the Northbrook curling club. So Ed, we are so glad to have you here, and firstly, I’d like to like you to tell me how you ended up living, and moving to Northbrook in 1970.
ET: Well, we originally lived in Chicago, and then after a few years of marriage, we moved to Wilmette, and then I took a job from there in Nashville, Tennessee, and then I left Nashville, about two or three years later, mainly because my wife being the ninth of nine children, and all the rest of them up here was very lonely, and it wasn’t happy. So we moved back, and we made that decision in late summer, didn’t have a lot of time to look around, and we thought we’d look in Northbrook this time because we had heard about it from friends, and luckily she was up here on a trip all by herself. While I was still working in the month of August, and she found our present home.
SC: Well, that’s excellent, and so you live on Walters. Just a little — couple houses east of Waukegan.
SC: Now when you moved here in 1970 if you were to go east on Waukegan now you’ll see that there’s houses lined all along. We’re all those houses still there —
SC: At the time?
ET: No. Right across from us there was a factory
SC: There — I know there was, so what — do remember what type of factory it was? It’s hard to say
ET: Just like a lot of other things, I forgot.
SC: A lot of people have, you know, I’ll tell people because I also live in Walters two houses from you, and a lot of people say you know, I think there used to be a factory across the street from me and a lot of people are like, I have no idea. They had no idea. So you had like an incident one time with the factory or the trucks from the factory.
ET: Yes, unfortunately, and unbeknownst to us because we evidently weren’t home at the time. A truck that was parked there making a delivery, somehow didn’t put his emergency brake on, and the truck broke loose and came rolling down our driveway and crashed into our house.
SC: Oh my god, I think one thing we have to note is that Walters is probably — this is the only Hill in Northbrook.
SC: Because when you go east on walters there’s actually a hill. So the truck came down the hill and crashed into your house.
ET: Right. Luckily, there was nobody in the driveway at a time our children were young and they could have been playing in the driveway. But luckily, there was no one there, so the only damage was to the house and a tree.
SC: Okay. Yeah, well, that probably would have been really scary when you came home and saw your house damaged.
ET: Oh, yeah.
SC: Really ???
ET: Yeah, “What happened?”. You know, “who did this?”.
SC: Now I think the houses beside you from the east and the west probably weren’t even — they were built probably after right?
ET: The house on the east was there.
ET: The houses on the west were built since we came.
ET: Not all of them. But the ones right next to us were —
SC: Yes. Because I know that my house I think was built a little bit after 1970.
SC: Or maybe I can’t remember, and then of course, we know that those that are on the south side of Walters. That first block east of Waukegan, that — those were all built there’s five, four houses there. That was where the factory was.
ET: Oh, yeah, and then across the street from us. That kind of I’d call it a condominium.
SC: Oh, yeah?
ET: That wasn’t there.
SC: Oh, really?
SC: Was that just open fields at the time?
ET: The south east corner
SC: Right, south — maybe a southwest corner right? What is —
ET: The southwest corner.
SC: What is right — what was there, just open fields?
ET: Good question. I don’t recall what was there.
SC: Uh huh.
ET: But that wasn’t there either.
SC: Now you have three children.
SC: And your– your children went to — probably you had some children go to Meadowbrook.
ET: Oh yeah. Two of the children went to Meadowbrook
SC: And then Northbrook junior high.
ET: All three of them went, no, two of them went to Northbrook junior high.
SC: And then where did you — where did they go to high school?
ET: They all went to Glenbrook north.
ET: Even the oldest.
ET: Because by the time we got here, he was ready for high school.
SC: So how — what did you think about the schools here?
ET: Excellent. And I think our children enjoy as well as learning something.
SC: Yeah. So your children had a very good experience at the schools here in GBN [Glenbrook North High School].
SC: Yeah that’s really good.
ET: Yeah. One experience was my one son coming home one day while I was working outside, and he looked like he had been through a hurricane or something. They did some kind of indoctrination to them, and he was painted, all painted up, and his clothes were full of paints and his shoes were ???. They just did a good job on him.
SC: But he was pretty happy about it? He liked it?
ET: Oh yeah.
SC: Well, that’s good.
ET: I don’t think he had any choice.
SC: So you mentioned that one thing that you really like about this town is that it has some great amenities?
SC: So what are some of those amenities? Besides the schools?
ET: Oh, shopping. Nearby, physical places, meaning you can do different sports and you know, the parks have ball diamonds. Then they built that, over —
SC: Over at Techny?
ET: and Techny fields, they built that thing where they go up on the walls, whatever that’s called.
SC: Oh, yeah, that’s right, the climbing wall.
ET: They’re climbing walls and all that, and none of that was there. It was just wide open land. The one thing that was there because I used to come out when I was young boy, I used to come out here to play golf. Not by my doing but by an elderly man who took a liking to me and invited me to play golf with him, and he liked to come to Northbrook to play golf.
SC: So where would you play it? Play it sportsman?
ET: Yeah. Yeah.
ET: There was a — sportsmans was there. But I always remember the Catholic monastery that was there when I came out to play golf and —
SC: Oh, yeah.
ET: Always sort of been a beacon or whatever.
SC: I know it is, and at that time, there were probably the commons??? had the farms and
ET: Oh, yeah, I can’t think and living right behind us was this elderly couple, and they had a great history in Northbrook. I know you might remember them. My memory, you know, has faded at my age and I used to enjoy talking to him so much from our backyard fence because he had so many memories of Northbrook way back when.
SC: So — so did your kids kind of participate in the park district things? Were they on sports or?
ET: Yeah, they’d use the pool a lot, and, of course, they went to athletics at Glenbrook North. Football, soccer, baseball. They were active in a lot of different things.
SC: Now, you’ve actually seen Northbrook, probably by the 70s, I’d probably say doubled in size. How do you — how does that make you feel seeing it double in size?
ET: Well, it makes me feel good, because I think it shows it’s a place where people want to live.
SC: They really do
ET: What I like about it, though, it hasn’t quadrupled or anything. It’s it’s still kind of nice, small town atmosphere to it as far as I’m concerned.
SC: Especially I think when you go around to downtown, the village green area. It’s got that small town feel to it.
ET: Definitely, definitely.
SC: You’ve probably seen the downtown change a bit.
ET: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
SC: Yeah. Up there by sunset.
SC: Yeah. Quite a bit. So — so one other thing that I think that you’re known for is you’re very, very active in the Northbrook curling club so we can talk a little bit about that. Currently, right now, the Northbrook curling club is kind of if you go down Dundee as you approach Skokie Boulevard, it’s kind of in the north, excuse me, southwest area. It’s kind of back behind some of those buildings there. Has it always been there?
SC: So it’s always been there
ET: Well it started in Chicago, if I remember correctly. Yeah.
SC: And so then somebody wanted just kind of set up something up here.
ET: Yeah. A lot of the members lived up here and eventually started a club.
SC: So how did you become interested in curling?
ET: Through a customer who was a Canadian, and kept talking to me about curling and he — he says “By the way, you’ve got a curling club in your town” I was not aware of it. I drove by it every day. Going to work down the Edens Expressway. Didn’t even know it existed because at that time, there was no sign out in front.
SC: Or even now the sign is a little confusing. I mean, for those people who don’t know what curling is —
SC: This is perfect curling club and you’re like is that for hair?
ET: Yeah, what does that mean.
SC: So he just had to try it out one time?
ET: He got me to try it out. His name was Lionel Hardt??? and he was a great guy, and he took me out a lot of out of town bonspiels we went curling up in Canada, and all over the Midwest, and at that time, there wasn’t much curling done in the southern part of this country. But now there’s curling clubs in Texas, Florida, several other southern states. So the Olympics have helped it expand.
SC: Yeah, I think so too, because at least people now know what it is.
ET: Right. Right. Right.
SC: So how long have you been kind of active in the curling club? I mean, when did you kind of start within like the 80s, or the 70s?
ET: Was either in the late 70s, or the early 80s.
SC: Then so you try it, you seem to really liked it, because you stayed with it.
ET: I really did like a night curl right up to the sort of the end of last season, I went to an out of town bond speelde in the month of March, and that might have been my last curling, I had a spill a couple of years ago and cracked my head and made the mistake of cracking it for the second time that my daughter’s wedding while I was dancing with her got a little too exuberant, and the second, I still get a little repercussion from that. So I figured this might be a good time to — I’ll stay as a member of the club but not as an curling member — as a member.
SC: So, does the curling club kind of have does it actually have it, you can’t turn it tournaments or…
ET: They have what they call bonspiels where clubs come from out of town and stay for two or three or four days, and it’s really competitive curling and it’s fun because you get to make a lot of new friends. Then there’s a lot of competitive curling within the club. Men teams against each other women teams against each other, and mixed teams against each other. Then we also have junior curling. So we currently can be done at just about all ages.
SC: Oh yeah definitely.
ET: We have some members over the years that have grown right into their 90s.
SC: Oh, wow.
SC: Wow. That’s pretty good. So it’s a pretty good sport. So initially, the curling club was from Chicago, and then it moved up here to Northbrook. So it’s a pretty long history in Northbrook.
ET: Oh, yeah. I wish I could go back and give you the exact year. I should know it, but like a lot of other things.
SC: Well, that’s why we want to do the interview. So well, whatever you can remember, we’d like to remember, you know, we’d like to get right down, and so we have it in a record.
ET: It’s been there quite a while and the Olympics have really helped it. As far as membership.
SC: So have you actually had any national competitions there? or?
ET: Yeah, we had two or three national competitions, really, maybe more? I’m just thinking of the mens. There is a national competition every year and it’s held at various clubs throughout the United States —
SC: And Northbrook actually has —
ET: And we have had it there twice.
SC: Oh, wow.
ET: And I was on the committee for one of those two times, and it was fun. Getting it organized, and and it has, you know, like 60 some odd teams come in from all over Canada included.
SC: Oh, wow. I didn’t know that, and then so I mean, that’s like the national championship. So now that they’ve been in the Olympics, do they ever televise anything over, you know, have anything on TV over there?
ET: Yeah. Whenever there’s a national curling event, it’s usually now is televised.
SC: Oh my god. That’s —
ET: Whether it’s women’s curling or men’s curling, sometimes even junior curling.
SC: That’s really exciting.
ET: So we look forward to those because we all can’t attend them, but we can watch them on television.
SC: Oh, yeah, definitely. Yeah, that’s true. So what did you do when you were white — when you — the time that you were working in your act of working? I’m assuming you’re retired now.
ET: I began working in a business, I had no idea what it was all about, was strictly through luck and having an ex roommate of mine know his father worked at an ad agency in Chicago. I got an interview with him and he put me on to what is called a publishers representative firm, and they sold advertising space for agricultural magazines, who didn’t have a big staffs of their own solicit advertising, so they would hire him this firm to go out and solicit advertising for them calling on John Deere, International Harvester companies like that trying to get them to answer advertise in their magazines, and I worked for that firm for around 10 years, and then I started my own publishers rep firm, and that lasted about 30 some years.
SC: Oh, wow.
ET: And at its peak, we were one — I had four employees plus myself at one time.
SC: Oh my gosh.
ET: And we were — in we had some really good properties to represent.
SC: So you were with your office down in Chicago?
ET: Yeah. The main office was in Chicago, but I had an office here also.
SC: Okay. So when you so I — you mentioned before that you would take the Eden’s down.
ET: And the train.
SC: And the train sometimes
ET: Most of the time the train.
SC: Okay. Yeah. So from your house, you probably could even walk to the train if you wanted to.
ET: In and good weather, usually I did.
SC: You did walk there. Because that’s interesting. I — you know how — I was just kind of curious, so this was probably in the 70s in the 80s mainly that you were driving downtown, some of the 90s how was the traffic when you were driving down?
ET: Nothing like it is today, because I still go down and drive down occasionally. Unless you’re going the odd hours today, you’re going to get traffic most all the way. Usually you didn’t get the traffic till maybe a mile or two from downtown. But nowadays, you get it some lot of times from three four or five miles out it’s slowing down.
SC: So the Edens pretty much at that time was pretty much open then
ET: Most of the time and it wasn’t as many I think they widened it to since I started to drive during the time I was driving.
SC: Yeah. Yeah cause I know once you get on to the Kennedy gets pretty backed up ??? just kind of interesting because it seems like the traffic on the Eden’s has really increased recently.
SC: And do you ever take the train down much now? Not too much.
ET: I prefer to take the train. I just don’t get down as often. I will get down maybe two three times a year, and of those if it’s three, I’ll take two of them or all three of them on the train. I enjoy the train ride.
ET: Brings back a lot of good memories.
SC: That’s good.
ET: It’s cheaper, more comfortable.
ET: You’re gonna get back alive.
SC: You’re not have to worry about parking when you get down there.
SC: Yeah, there’s a lot better, that’s for sure. You mentioned a bit there’s a lot of good shopping is that in terms of like, what kind of — what kind of shopping do you or your family kind of do?
ET: You know, most every kind of shopping is here. Really big department stores over on —
SC: Northbrook Court
ET: Northbrook Court and then the villages got some nice places to shop, but then you can go down to Glenview or into Wilmette, Winnetka. So you know, Northbrook is just a central hub, as far as I’m concerned.
SC: It really is. Did you travel much during your job?
ET: Very much.
SC: So did you probably fly out of O’Hare a lot?
ET: Quite a bit.
SC: So it was actually really convenient to get to O’hare when you want.
ET: Yeah, I would either drive and park, but I had an interesting happened to me — one interesting thing happened once. I came back from a long tough trip, pretty beat up suit bag suitcase or my briefcase and I went to my — was level of the parking garage and my car wasn’t there.
SC: Oh no.
ET: And so I first blamed myself. I mean, he went to the wrong floor. So I went up one level and I went down one level. No car. Never saw that car again.
SC: Are you serious? It was stolen?
ET: It was one of my favorite all time cars
SC: Oh, no.
ET: And also on OLS 88 OLS
SC: Oh, no.
SC: So that was — that’s when you read O’Hare, right?
SC: Okay, and so you parked in the garage, and it got stolen.
ET: Yeah. Coming back from a one week one week trip on beat up. Looking forward to getting home, had to fill out all the papers and everything.
SC: Oh I can imagine that must have been horrible.
ET: Another car stolen right in front of my apart — our apartment building in Chicago.
SC: In Chicago
ET: Yeah. When I say in Chicago, they just sort of “oh” you know is if it’s it every an hour occurrence.
ET: And I got that car back.
SC: Oh, that’s good.
ET: A bunch of kids took it and he took it on a joyride and parked it in the afternoon and the cops found it.
SC: And they just dumped it so then you couldn’t get in.
SC: So your other — your other car probably was taken apart for parts.
ET: No doubt
SC: Shipped off someplace.
SC: Well, that’s a shame. So did — were there any other things that you were active in here in Northbrook, I know you’re active in the curling club. Were you active in any other committees?
ET: Yeah, I’ve — I’ve done Meals on Wheels here for many years.
SC: Oh my God, that’s excellent.
ET: And I like that because I like to meet the people the shot??? and so to speak. Some of them are really funny, some of them are just interesting to talk to, and it’s a good organization really a good organization.
SC: So do you actually deliver in Northbrook area or —
ET: Some of our deliveries are in Northbrook. Mostly Northbrook and Glenview. I’ve seen them go into Wilmette or Winnetka for those deliveries, mostly north — Northbrook and Glenview.
SC: That’s really interesting. So — you’ve since you’ve been here, 44 years, I guess that you went to a lot of Northbrook days down in the village green and —
ET: Every year.
SC: Every year?
ET: Yeah. Because my wife used to go with me, but she’s not up to it anymore.
SC: Yeah, and your kids I bet they went quite a bit.
ET: Yeah, they went and they were in some of the parades — different organizations they belong to — then. But it’s a great parade.
SC: It is a great parade. So you still try to get to the parade now or —
ET: Every year.
SC: Oh, my God, that’s excellent.
ET: And I have a favorite standing spot.
SC: Don’t tell anybody.
ET: Oh, no. Well, they’ve discovered it — it was real crowded this year.
SC: Was it really?
ET: But I met some nice people.
SC: Well that’s good, and do you still watch the fireworks and go over —
ET: Yeah although the trees have grown so much in front of our house, I can’t watch him anymore from our front steps where — I have to move down the driveway to — until I can get an open spot viewing spot between the trees you know. So I can’t I can’t sit down and watch him anymore unless I bring a chair out.
SC: So you used to be able to watch him from your porch?
ET: On the porch.
SC: Oh, wow. Interesting.
ET: In a couple years and go over and watch them from — on a blanket. You know, with my wife.
SC: Yeah, over there because it’s not too far just to walk over to the —
SC: To the Techny field there. That’s for sure. So I do know that your granddaughter lived with you for a while too, and she went to Meadowbrook and — and she actually went through all the school systems here as well.
ET: And well, yeah. I know my grandson went elsewhere. Yeah. But my granddaughter. Yes.
SC: So you have two grandchildren?
SC: Okay. Well, that’s wonderful.
ET: I wish we had more but
SC: Well, because I think one of your granddaughters about the same age as my son, and I remember they used to see them, you know, getting — walking to school, you know, to Meadowbrook and — and the junior high and such or sometimes ??? car drive her to
ET: What was his name again?
SC: His name is Steven Carrington.
ET: It’s — That’s a familiar name. I’m sure if she listened — listens to this. If not, I’ll tell her.
ET: But — sounds like they’re about the same age, and she’s in law school at DePaul. So they’re both pursuing the same career.
SC: Yeah. My son is in law school as well. That’s for sure. Are there any stories you kind of wanted to talk about or where you — I guess — I one thing I did want to ask you is that you were probably we were raised in the Chicagoland area I’m assuming or —
SC: Where were you raised —
ET: On the northwest side of Chicago. Around an area, Diversity and Central. I went to form??? in high school.
ET: One of the — might be of interest, I think it’s a good selling point. A lot of times people will say, “Oh, you live near a busy street, or gig and road”.
ET: And yes, we’re just the second house in we’re not right on — but — but it it’s actually a blessing in the sense that you can get on the street and go east, west, north, and south practically connecting with east, west, north, in the flesh and beyond your way to different areas.
SC: Oh yeah definitely.
ET: Just like that, so — and believe it or we used to get about one accident a year. To my knowledge there’s never been a serious accident, but we haven’t had an accident on that corner now for about two years that I can remember.
SC: Well, I know that when I first moved there because — I’m you know — so while ??? in 97 they had them like every year, and then they put — when they put in the left turn lanes —
SC: Then it seemed to stop them because I think what was happening is people were pulling out to turn left, but it happened to me actually one time. You didn’t realize that the lane in front of you goes straight, and so I know that as soon as they put in the to left turn lanes, then the accidents have stopped. The other thing — one thing though, there was an accident not too long ago that was about a month ago that was kind of bad, and that is people who are going west — east. It’s a big sign that says no turn on, right, but they still turn on right, and you can’t really see how fast the cars are coming south on Waukegan, and I know there was a big accident because of that.
SC: So there still is — you know, the people would watch the signs and don’t turn — you know — right on red, they would.
ET: That’s probably the most disobeyed sign in traffic nowadays, no matter where you’re at.
SC: But, you know that’s a really good point that you mentioned because there used to be a lot of accidents at Walters and Waukegan.
SC: And I mean, I remember when first moving here, and it’d be like every month, you know, you’d hear the sirens and they’d be out there for two, three hours.
SC: And they’re pretty serious.
SC: And it was nice to see that change, and it’s nice that they have the crossing guards for the kids go to school. I don’t know if you drove your kids or you had them walk to school.
ET: They took the bus.
SC: They took the bus.
SC: My kids kind of preferred to walk so it was nice having the crossing guard there.
ET: They walked to GBN?
SC: Not GBN.
ET: Oh, okay.
SC: GBN — they took the bus to GBN till they got the cars.
ET: Yeah. Well, ours walked to the elementary school.
SC: Oh yes. Yes. That’s what I was saying.
SC: Walked to elementary because in the location where you’re at, it’s really nice, because you can walk to elementary and junior high.
ET: And junior high, right.
SC: So it’s really —
ET: Really nice for people who have children, but you know, usually if you have children, oh, I don’t want to live — we don’t want to live near a busy street. It’s actually more positive than negative in my opinion.
SC: Yeah. Have you had any problems with the noise from Waukegan? Have you noticed over the times that it’s increased or? It’s just that it might?
ET: I don’t know if it’s me or what but I never have lost a minute sleep over anything on Waukegan road.
SC: That’s really good. So is there anything else you’d like to talk about? We kind of talked about the curling club. I guess what would you kind of see as the future for the curling club? Do you see it expanding getting bigger?
ET: It’s been good the last couple years. Last several years, I should say, and again, mainly I think you’d have the Olympic happening.
SC: So you’re getting new members.
ET: Well such a normal society nowadays. A lot of guys and girls coming — guys and women come into that club, love the sport, and they get transferred a year or two later, and you’ve got to go where your career takes you or you’re not going to have much of a career, so we’ll lose a lot of members you know. We can count on X amount of turnover every year so we’re constantly looking for new members as a result of that. But in the past ever since the Olympics started being televised, we’ve — a lot of them come to us rather than us coming to them.
SC: That’s really interesting. But you had mentioned earlier that you were — you transferred back here and that’s when you decided to go to Northbrook because your family is from this — your wife is from this area. Is she from the North Shore — she from the Chicago area?
ET: She’s from the Chicago area.
ET: I met her on a blind date.
SC: Did you? That worked out well.
ET: Yeah. It sure did. We– I think it was our 54th or 56th. I can’t remember, anniversary recently.
SC: Oh my god, congratulations. That’s wonderful. Okay, well, this has really been a pleasure.
ET: My pleasure, too.
SC: I want to thank you very 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 and thank you very much Ed.
ET: You’re welcome.