Recorded on April 12, 2013. Length: 29 Minutes.
JH: Hello, today is Friday, April 12 2013, and welcome to Northbrook voices in oral history project sponsored by the Northbrook Historical Society and the Northbrook Public Library. My name is Judy Hughes, and I’m pleased to welcome Judy Warchol here, who has — who moved to Northbrook in 1963, Judy’s been a volunteer in our community and owns a business. Judy, what brought you to Northbrook.
JW: My husband had done Northbrook as his territory, and he saw a ranch in timber trails, and was done incorporated Northbrook and he — we were getting married. We had just gotten married and he decided that this would be a good place for my children and — and for me to move to
JH: And has this — has it been a good place to live?
JH: Tell me about what Northbrook was like when you first moved here. Now timber trails is — where is that located?
JW: It’s right across from Salem walk. There’s a little subdivision, and it’s right off of Milwaukee Avenue, and it — our address was Northbrook that it was unincorporated back so they had backed up to the forest preserves.
JW: And —
JH: And tell us about the way Northbrook was when you first moved?
JW: Well Northbrook was some Milwaukee Avenue was just a two lane road. Not much traffic. Euclid lake didn’t have much traffic. We used to ride our bikes down Sanders road. All the way to Daniel wright woods where Algower’s is now that was a restaurant called delavanies???
JH: Did you ever go to Delavanies?
JW: Yes. A couple of times. Yeah, and it — done in one day — it burned, but — They used to have gun — gondolas in the — on the river there, and it was a very lively place that was like a nightclub. Across the street from us some right at the corner of Euclid and lake was some ??? and Mary’s and they were there until they sold which now there is some –the apartments are there.
JH: And there’s a hotel.
JW: There’s a hotel there, right. My kids, the forest preserves was their playground. We used to — we used always go watch them. Get the maple syrup from the trees and the —
JH: Nature center
JW: The Nature Center with the wolves and they had all kinds of animals. There’s lots of ducks along the the river. Stanley, my kids went to one. We’re going to go to Henry winckelmann school, but at that time, it was just a one story– one building for kindergarten through eighth it was on Sanders, and we didn’t really feel it was good. So we sent them to St. Catherine lumberain. Later my son transferred to Stanley field. When that was first built. He was the third class that graduated from Stanley field.
JH: Now I do ?????? trails or ???? and Moon but —
JW: We — we yeah — in five years we moved from timber trails to tip new road, and my youngest daughter went to Winkelmann. First she said kindergarten through third and then when transferred to Stanley field, and of course now Winkelmann is over on landwher but it was still there on Sanders. Where Allstate is and AC Nielsen, all of that. That was all prairie count. There was cows, horses, corn. It was just a two lane road, and it was nice some we could walk all the way from our subdivision off of Milwaukee and Lake all the way to Beck Lake through — through a trail that never — you never got out on to the road on to Milwaukee Avenue. You could walk through all the way to Central and over to Beck lake, and that’s not to far from where
Oakton Community College is. ?????????. But you know, we used to — my husband used to take the kids there and they do some little fishing at Beck lake and do — do — do little things, you know, there wasn’t much there, but they would go and we’d watch ducks there too, and you know Northbrook was really out in the country. My mother felt we were moving to the end of the earth. She said, “Why are you moving so far?”
JH: And where did your mother live?
JW: She lived in Chicago, and she just thought we were — we were moving so far. But — but things were were much slower. We did a lot of bike riding.
JH: Where’d you do your shopping?
JW: We have to go to golf mill. Golf mill was the closest place even for you know, big grocery store with — we would go to golf mill, but then there was one that on central — central towards some Greenwood or something. Another store came in. But it was quite a ways. I don’t — I don’t know when sunset — sunset foods came into Northbrook.
JH: In the early 1960s,
JW: Early 1960s.
JW: See I didn’t — I didn’t go into that part. Because I was on the west part of Northbrook.
JH: Okay, and you did something in 1967. That was — you started business in your home, right want to tell us about your business?
JW: Well, I had — my youngest was born and I was bored. I had work most of my life and, I had found a place that had — home needed — home typist in Northfield, and so I started typing envelopes, and she had major problems, and she was turning more and more of the work over to me, where I hired the home type as I took all of the stuff home and then they picked up from me and they brought it back to me. In time she — her problems became severe, and she lost her biggest accomplice Allstate and she lost them, and so I said to my husband, you know what, I’m going to try to get it I had been going to all of their offices all over the Chicagoland area, Berwyn, Worchester, I mean over picking up files, taking them typing, you know, each agents things, putting their stuff in, and I went to Allstate, and there were several district sales managers sitting there, and they started questioning me ???, what other customers do have none. What equipment do we have none, and they, they said, well, what makes you think you can handle this? And I said, just give me three months. Give me three months, and I will make every one of your deadlines, and I had Allstate until they became automated. Until they didn’t have home typist typing envelopes. Till they became computerized. They were on frontage road in Skokie, and I would pick stuff up from there, or go to their offices and pick stuff up all over and deliver it back.
JH: In your business, you’re still in business today.
JH: And how has your business grow?
JW: Well, it’s grown in — in many ways. When my son came in — in the early 1990s, he be — he was much more sophisticated in — in all of the upcoming software and equipment and running the machines. I mean, I was used to running the old inserting finishing. But we had — we went from fixing labels by hand peel and stick to ??? where they put the glue down and the label to inkjetting, and of course I had no idea how to run those and my son did and so we bought — he bought inkjet machines and bought tabers and bought you know — and most of our business today is done over the internet I mean it’s some —
JH: So you serve clients all over.
JW: Yeah and list there are sent to us by disk, you know, that’s just sent to us. We sort them we belong to the postal software we have — does get that every year and — and it sorts and it puts your list through and it sorts it all the way down and the inkjet sprays of the stuff.
JH: What’s the name of your business?
JW: It’s Judy’s mailing and secretarial service.
JH: And I imagine some of the people are listening to that have seen your little trucks running around town. So where’s your business located now?
JW: It’s 3450 Commercial Avenue, and that’s in Northbrook. When I first started, I got to the point after three years in my home that I had to get a place, manpower representative contacted me and wanted me to open up a branchise not a franchise, but a branchise, but I needed office space. So I did, and for five years, I had a manpower brandchise until they forced me out. Once I built it up, they took it over, and they really forced me out. They took the gals the two girls that I had hired, that were working it and took them and I filed a suit against them and won some money. So —
JH: Good for you.
JW: And — but that was going out, I rented my first space from Leo letterer, and it was 1700 square feet, and every time Leo would have another unit next to me, he would come in and he’d — he’d say I got a good deal for you. I’ll give it the same amount, you know, square foot rent, you know, rent square foot, you know, take it, he said, I know you’re going to need it, and when I left there, in 2000, I had six units. With those, it was up to 10,000 square feet, but we were so spread out, and we saw this building on Commercial and the realitor — the guy had just put the sign out, and my son ran over and settled a deal in a week, and you know, it worked out. Because we didn’t — my lease wasn’t up until September, and this was like in May, and so we were able to give them time, and I was able to move out slowly so Leo — so Bill Letterer didn’t have all six units at one time, we were able to release units one at a time for him him so that he could rent them out.
JH: So it all worked out well, and I’ve seen some articles that have been written about you besides starting this business and building it to a — to a very large mailing service now serving clients all over the world.
JW: I’m not over the world, but I’m all over the United States. We do a lot of publications, mailings for publications and that started when — Almeida in — in Northbrook had a customer that needed some — some work done on their — they call them efforts, and every month, you know, you get a — you get a letter, six months before your — your subscription — subscription expires, and then five months, it’s a different letter four months and three months, and those are efforts, and they recommended us and we got a company from California, and they came and talked to us and we got it in from then I was — and I was able to get that because I had been doing this for an Northshore magazine, and so I understood what the efforts were and how you had to keep your letters separate in each effort got different letters and different envelopes and things, and that expanded into companies all over, you know, all over the United States.
JH: And I know you’ve been very active in the chamber. Tell me about the chamber and what was it like when you first joined? And what’s it like now?
JW: I’m not so active in the chamber anymore. Um, I was some originally, and as I got busier and busier, I didn’t have the time to devote, although I did do a three year under sharing with all of them. I did a three year term on the board, and it was very good, and that I’m not real interest. I mean I belong to it, real interest. I got into rotary and other things.
JH: You told me a story earlier about when you first joined the chamber when someone came to talk to you about the chamber you want to tell us that story.
JW: Buck arrows and another gentleman came and asked me to join the chamber and I said I thought the chambers were mainly for stores and — and he said, Oh, no, no, no. He said, you know, you got to join the chamber, and so I did and it was very good. It was you know, it was — I watched the chamber grow through Sherry and then when she left what was her name —
JH: Barbara Hayesguard?
JW: Barbara Hayesguard came in, and Barbara Hayesguard was in Northbrook rotary and — my mind — he — one of the gentleman from our Northbrook rotary asked her to ask me to come to rotary.
JH: Now that must have been very early because for many years, we —
JW: There was only three women. Okay, in rotary, I think there was Shirley Birth there was Lucinda Caspersen, and Barbasker. There were three, and so I — I joined — they asked me to join and this was 1991, and so I did, and right away I was put a Larry Konar came up to me and said you got to handle the mailings for our fundraiser, and so I got the list and got everything ready and done. That was when they were first starting to do their fundraising. This was before the eight hundreds or the six hundreds, and then I was — Mike Rosato was president, and he asked me the following year to be on the board. So I was in rotary less than a year and I was on the board. Community service, and I was on the board. Then, in five years, I was the first woman president of the Northbrook Rotary Club.
JH: That’s quite an honor.
JW: Yeah, it was. It was a very big honor, and I you know, I was a little concerned because Ron Christianson, my friend who always said, you know, we really didn’t want women in rotary, and I remember Earl McCullum, he was not happy that women were in rotary. But, it — it was a big honor to become the first woman president, and — and I got — I had all the — the past presidents come to my home, and I had a meeting with them, and I asked them to — to be my mentors, and to advise me, and they were great. They really — they really pitched in and helped me.
JH: And you’re still active in rotary.
JW: I’m still active in rotary.
JH: And you’ve been active in several other organizations. The north of the — north — the North — the Northbrook chapter of the American Cancer Society.
JW: Lucinda Caspersen got me involved in that, and before I knew it, I was in charge of the fundraisers and — and we took more money. Each year, we had it, the taste of elegance, and it was — it was a lot of work, but it was very rewarding, and I was happy to do as much as I could for the cancer of society.
JH: And you’ve been active in civic. Northbrook civic.
JW: I was — well — I — I — I belong to civic and I helped on different — you know, different –things like — I was counting money in the Northbrook days and I sit in the booth, and — but I was chosen as volunteer. I think it was Volunteer of the Year.
JH: The Northbrook civic award.
JW: The Northbrook civic award right. Northbrook civic award.
JH: For all of your volunteer work and community.
JW: Because I was in so involved in — in the different organizations.
JH: All right, and then more recently, you have been — worked in north — on the board in Northfield Township, one of the boards or commissions.
JW: I had been on the — what was it was the —
JH: The Human Services.
JW: Human Services Commission, and I was on that for four years, and organizations ask the — the township for moneys, grants their letters sent out, and I was to — I would go in — interview each of the three organizations through four organizations to see where they were spending their money, look at their books, look at all of their stuff, look at their facility, and — and I did that — and that was very rewarding.
JH: And you really saw the need in our community?
JW: Yes, I did. Because sitting on the board, there were like 15 organizations, and between all of us, we would all tell of the different organizations that really needed the moneys, and many of the same organizations are the ones that ask rotary, you know, for their help. You know, which is — is very good because they gets small amounts, but you know, what he ends up if you get — you know like Youth Services and you know, many different organizations, and then I worked on, I worked on the Youth Services. Secret Santa, as they call it, Secret Santa has ???. They don’t anymore, but they call them Secret Santa has and I would get our rotarians involved in getting a family and they really enjoyed it, you know, they’d — they’d get their — you could buy gifts for them, and — and then the food pantry when I was — became president. Every so often they’d have food pantry day, and I said we really need to have food pantry the first Tuesday of every month, and so we started that, and we still have it the first Tuesday of every month is food pantry day, and they take a special collection and so forth, and so —
JH: The — the needs of the community is — has grown.
JW: And it has. Yes, it has.
JH: In these times. Well, let’s get back to Northbrook and you — you — you’ve given a lot to the different organizations in Northbrook, I know you were — I caught a board for a while which is the International Center on Deafness in the arts. And my years did you serve on that board?
JW: Probably 12 — 12 or more years. I was on net board.
JH: So you’ve given a lot to the community through your volunteering.
JH: And you mentioned in the very beginning that Northbrook — you’ve liked — Northbrook has been a good place. Tell us why you think Northbrook has been a good place to live and to raise your children.
JW: Well, I think there’s great opportunity in Northbrook and — and I think that — that the community as a whole is a very giving community. They do share they do — they do give there’s always fundraisers for one organization or another constantly going on, and it’s — it’s — it’s just a wonderful community.
JH: You know, if volunteerism is — I don’t — I think — it’s I think — it’s still there and that there are a lot of people that do want to give back to their community. It’s sometimes just hard to reach them and —
JH: With ncda closing its doors this year and Fourth of July —
JW: Yeah. I really felt bad about that.
JH: And Fourth of July volunteers saying enough.
JH: We have so few volunteers we can’t raise the money now we got to raise extra money to do our shirts.
JH: We just can’t do this anymore. It’s what is it about volunteering that’s so special.
JW: Well, it’s — it’s — it’s special because you’re helping those that are disadvantaged in one way or another whether it’s health, whether it’s — it’s in — in something that they can’t afford. I mean, I’ve — I’ve always been a believer in — in giving, and it’s — it’s been a big part of my — my life growing up in the inner city. My mom didn’t have much money, and I remember, she used to get clothes from many people, and I wore hand me downs until I was able to get a job and — and buy my own clothes, and then I said to my sister who was younger, okay, you can have all those. But, you know, realizing that — that there are people out there that really need the help you know, such as the food pantry, you know, I mean, it’s — it’s just something that you want to do, you don’t want to see people go without, and we live in such an affluent area, you know, but there are those that are on the sidelines that don’t have this much, and so we really have to help those.
JH: And in many ways, a lot of your service has been beyond those in need it’s been to build things that make our community a better place to live.
JH: So what would you tell somebody if you know, you’ve volunteered for a long time? Is it worth it?
JW: Oh, yes. It’s — it’s worth it. It just makes you feel good inside. You know, all the fundraisers, I mean, I’ve done so many of them. I did so many for I-quota. You know, and it watching the, the deaf children perform. They wouldn’t have this opportunity if it wasn’t for I-quota, and — and the smiles on their faces that they’re able to do something. You know, my granddaughter’s in dance all the time and, but she can hear she can see she’s — you know — and she loves it, and it’s great when, when you can give the opportunity to kids who are disadvantaged.
JH: Well, Judy, we’ve got just a couple of minutes left in our interview. Is there anything that you’d like to tell the people that are listening to this about the community of Northbrook about why they should move here about why it’s such a great community.
JW: Well, it’s — it has great parks, it has great schools. It has the YMCA — you know if they have children, it’s — there’s so many things that — that the children can — you know — can do there’s the golf course, Park District golf course there’s ??? golf course over there. You know, there’s just a lot of things for families to get involved in. There’s the — the park in the — you know in downtown Northbrook. But there’s parks all over — you know, they’re kind of sporadic. Every once in a while I’ll see a park I’ll say, oh, my goodness, I didn’t know there was a park there it’s just a little park with a little swing and digger totter or something. But it’s a little park, and so we have a lot of parks and and of course the schools are — are very good, and so I would think — you know, it’s a great place for a family to move.
JH: Well, Northbrook is glad that you and your family here and that you have taken the rotary service above self to heart and made a difference in our community. Thank you so much for this interview, and your memories of life in Northbrook will add a unique and personal perspective about the history of our village. Thank you, Judy.