Recorded on December 16, 2011. Length: 29 Minutes.
NV: Welcome to Northbrook Voices, a joint project of the Northbrook Public Library and the Northbrook Historical Society. My name is Norm Victorson and I am pleased to welcome Tom Moore who has lived in Northbrook for more than 50 years and has some unique memories of Northbrook that he will share with us. Tom, we are so glad to have you. What can you tell me about living in Northbrook?
TM: First of all, my name is Thomas Moore and I was born and raised in Northbrook, Illinois. I went to Greenbriar School (K-6th), I attended Northbrook Junior High and Glenbrook North High School. I graduated in 1979 and continued my education at Oakton Community College and other schools. The way I ended up in Northbrook was that I was adopted by the Moore family as an infant. What had happened was they had lived in Northbrook for 7-8 years and had previously adopted two children. The oldest child Christine had died in her sleep. The Cradle Society realized they had suffered a loss and felt there was a need for another child in the family so I was presented and adopted. Northbrook was a wonderful place to grow up. As a young kid I participated in just about every possible sport – baseball, soccer, softball, hockey, tennis, just about anything and everything my parents would let me join, I did. Northbrook was the perfect platform for that. At the time there were a lot of developed sports fields. Early on soccer was in its infancy in the U.S. but a gentleman named Klaus Ruge who was an immigrant formed a soccer team. He went to all the grade schools and recruited the fastest runners. I was pretty quick on my feet and in 3rd grade got a phone call saying my gym teacher had given him my name and would I be interested in playing soccer. It turned out most of the fastest runners ended up on his team called the Northwest Kickers – kids from Westmoor, Crestwood, Greenbriar and Meadowbrook played on this one team. Mr. Ruge was a great coach so the Kickers were pretty dominant among soccer teams in the age groups. I played eight years with this group through high school.
I remember the Little League games we played at Doc O’Neil Field at Meadowhill Park. Our coach was Bud Dalton. Also Mr. Rizzo was a coach. The team was all kids I had grown up with. Jimmy Dalton, Bob Blanchard, Todd Cochalis, Bob Klein, Mark Rollins, just to name a few. I think in 6th grade we ended up winning the Little League World Series with a 17-1 record. That is another fond memory I have.
I had a babysitter who was pretty well known. Her name was Anne Henning. She was six years older than me and lived around the block from me. What is kind of neat is that in 1972 I had the opportunity along with the rest of Northbrook to watch her go to Sapporo, Japan, where she won gold and silver Olympic medals in speedskating. It was thrilling to see one of our own do so well.
NV: Were the sports you participated in associated with the school?
TM: The soccer club I was on was part of the Young Sportsmen Soccer League – a private league of a number of teams from other towns and clubs. We didn’t play other Northbrook teams. In the 7 or 8 years I played, we were undefeated, only gave up two goals. It was a neat experience especially having a coach like Mr. Ruge. Coming from Germany he had a different idea of what soccer was. Overall soccer was not a well known sport back then. It took a person like him to build and maintain a team like that. The baseball program was a Little League team. I played on the Greenbriar and Northbrook Junior High basketball teams. I took tennis lessons through the Park District. My sister got involved in swimming and diving and ended up competing through the Park District. She participated for 7 or 8 years and was also a lifeguard at Meadowhill Pool.
NV: What sports did you do in high school?
TM: In high school, it pretty much dwindled down to soccer and baseball. I continued with baseball until I was about 26, playing with regional semi-professional teams. Later on I played Park District League 16-inch softball and also 12-inch softball with a team in Morton Grove. Overall it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can certainly take advantage of what Northbrook has to offer if you are willing to do it. For instance, the ice skating rinks that we have whether free skating at the Sports Complex or the tower rink. That’s where I learned to ice skate, I believe with a pair of Anne Henning’s speed skates. It was neat to have Anne’s skates with the long blade but I really did want the hockey skates.
NV: Tower Rink was bigger at that time wasn’t it?
TM: Yeah. Tower Rink was probably twice to three times the size it is now before they put the addition on the library. First of all before this library was built, the Northbrook Library was at the corner of Church and Shermer in a small orange brick building which is now the Katz Eye Center. When they built the existing library it was just two levels. I think the total cost to build it was about $1 million back in 1970. That was big news back then, hearing we were getting a million dollar library. Since then they have put on an addition and each time they have taken away part of Tower Rink. But inevitably, we still have a rink there and a soccer field there. Back in the day they had the warming house which no long exists but it is still a great place to grab the skates and go skating.
NV: Wasn’t there another place in Northbrook where Anne Henning practiced?
TM: As far as I know, she practiced over at Meadowhill at the velodrome which would be flooded in the winter for speedskating. The fact that we have a facility like the velodrome, from what I was told only one other town in the country had one – Kenosha, Wisconsin. Back then speedskating and barrel jumping were the two things they did with the long blade skates. Now most kids growing up want to play hockey. Perhaps the fact that it is a team sport makes it attractive. Northbrook has provided a wonderful platform for kids growing up to develop their sports skills.
NV: What are some of the jobs that you have had?
TM: Well, I cut lawns when I was in grade school. In about 7th grade I started going to Green Acres Country Club and caddied there for 4 or 5 summers. All through high school I worked at Tonelli’s Restaurant, corner of Shermer and Waukegan. I started there as a runner of food to the table. By my senior year in high school I was working in the back in the kitchen making pizzas. Guido Oliverii, the owner of Oliverii’s Restaurant on Shermer Road, was my boss by then, the head chef at Tonelli’s. I quit in 1980 and he quit in 1982 and bought Steel’s Grill on Waukegan from the Damacus Family. He opened it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Then he opened a restaurant in Deerbrook Mall and then opened Oliverii’s and was instrumental in the redevelopment of the Landmark which used to be called the Cypress Inn and prior to that was Otto Funk’s Tavern. Guido is a guy who learned how to cook in the army in Italy, comes to the U.S. and gets a job at Tonelli’s. Most of us have loved Tonelli’s food and he has ended up expanding and opened up three more restaurants.
NV: You have mentioned some changes that have occurred – the library and the restaurants. Are there any other changes you recall?
TM: Oh, sure, downtown Northbrook really has evolved in subtle ways. If you look at the layout of the downtown, nothing has really changed except for the triangle which used to be at Shermer and Walters is gone. When I first graduated from high school, I worked in town at what was called the John M. Smith Clearance Center which then became a Blockbuster by the old Walgreens. There was the Golden Crown Restaurant which is gone – now a Subway. Before Golden Crown it was a snack shop where you could get milkshakes and burgers and had juke boxes on the tables where you could put your dime in to play a song. It became the Golden Crown in the early 70s. Just across where we have O’Reilly Cleaners, next to that was Ray’s Sporting Goods where I bought my first pair of hockey skates. Since then Sunset Foods has moved from the south side of the shopping center to the north side. I think they have redeveloped three times. At one time we had three groceries in that area – A&P, Jewel Foods and Sunset. It looks like Sunset Foods is the victor – the big corporate stores just couldn’t measure up to the service that Sunset Foods has provided to Northbrook for so many years. I do remember over where the post office is next to where Shelley’s Hallmark is now, there used to be a store called Hip’s Hobby Shop where my grandmother would buy me a matchbox car when she came to visit. When Hip’s closed down around 1972-73, it certainly was something that I missed. Any kid would have loved walking in there as they had a variety of toys, special to me were the matchbox cars.
NV: What are some of the teachers that you remember?
TM: Gosh, Norm, that’s a good question. Going back to kindergarten my teacher who was always smiling was Mrs. Golden. Then I had Miss Wagner and Mrs. Schultz and Mrs. Chambers. Fifth grade was Mr. Forkash, 6th grade was Miss Musser who got married and turned into Mrs. Troct. That was all at Greenbriar. Going over to Northbrook Junior High, I remember Mr. Bruce Alborn, he had his hair a little long and was kind of a cool guy. Mr. Carper was the principal. In my 7th grade year it was Mr. Forkash’s first year of teaching. I would like to apologize to him for our behavior. We took advantage of his good nature. I understand he ended up having a 25-30 year teaching career at Northbrook Junior High so perhaps we weren’t that bad.
I ran into Mrs. Chambers and Mrs. Schultz last summer. I remembered them as older than my mom but to see them 40 plus years later and to have them recognize me was amazing. I saw them at a Historical Society event on the Village Green. Mrs. Chambers not only knew me but asked me to say “hi” to my sister Linda. I saw Mrs. Schultz about an hour later. She was helping out with the event. It was just incredible seeing these people so many years later and seeing that they were still helpin to make this a better community.
NV: Is there anything you would like to add, Tom?
TM: Nothing other than to say that growing up in Northbrook was a wonderful platform to take advantage of the sports activities that were provided by the Village. One other thing – there was an individual who was a big part of the development of the athletic programs in Northbrook. His name is Ed Rudolph. I don’t believe he is still alive but may have children who still live in the area. This individual from what I understand was one of the people responsible for the development of our park district properties. He was involved with the development of the velodrome, the speed skating program and I know he was certainly instrumental in the lives of many kids in their development into better athletes and citizens. As a kid growing up watching the 1972 Sapporo Olympics, GBN won the football and baseball championships that year. Scott Sanderson from that baseball team became a professional baseball pitcher and played for the Cubs as well as the Montreal Expos and other major league teams. As a young kid watching those two teams win the state championships was a thrill. One other person was Doug Rader who grew up on Butternut Lane near our home on Greenbriar. He became a professional baseball player. I believe he went to Northbrook High School on Waukegan Road at Crestwood. He also had a long coaching career. Northbrook has produced a number of successful athletes as well as successes in other areas.
NV: 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.