Resident a witness to Norridge history
Ruth Igoe looks through some local literature on the history of Norridge. Igoe has lived in Norridge most of her life, even before it was incorporated. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:15PM
NORRIDGE — A three-room schoolhouse, farmland and sidewalks to nowhere are what one long-time resident of Norridge remembers about her village.
“We moved to Norridge in 1926,” Ruth Igoe said. “The annex was a three-room school house where (Veteran’s) florists now stands.”
North of Berteau Avenue was farms, and north of Montrose Avenue were sidewalks. The Great Depression hit before the homes could be built, Igoe said.
Residents were poor during that era, which began with the stock market crash of Oct. 29, 1929, and ended when the United States entered World War II.
“They were all Swedish and German tradesmen, and they couldn’t find any work,” Igoe said of her neighbors. “I remember our pastor saying only one person in the Acasia Park Lutheran congregation had a job.”
Igoe’s father, William Kandler, held various jobs in Norridge, including butcher, grocery store owner and dairy farmer.
“In the summer, people used to drive out here for ice cream,” Igoe said. “There were dairies lined up all down the road.”
Igoe joked the area didn’t need stop signs because the streets were so bad.
“We lived above the store, and the water pressure was so bad that we didn’t have water during the day,” she recalled.
And although a volunteer fire department served the area, many times residents had to depend on Chicago sending in equipment.
“One day, a house burned down, and then the one next to it did too,” Igoe said. “The only reason the next one over didn’t burn down was because the owner was on the roof with a hose,” she said.
Streets, water pressure and safety were among the issues her father wanted to see addressed through village incorporation, which occurred on Dec. 4, 1948.
Twenty years later, Igoe said her friend Toni Wolanin, along with other like-minded residents, formed a small group to create a public library.
Chicago once allowed Norridge and Harwood Heights to use the city’s library system. When the city began charging, the push was on for a local library. The Suburban Library System came out to help with a referendum establishing the library district.
“The referendum passed the first time around in 1973,” Igoe said. “We bought a bookmobile and opened a small library in Parkway Towers.”
Naming of the library fell to the children. Because the library served two villages, it needed a neutral name. Of all the entries submitted during the naming contest, Eisenhower seemed a good fit, Igoe said.
In between high school graduation and heading off to Northwestern University at Evanston, Igoe took off a year to work at Brach’s Candies in Chicago, where she met her husband.
The factory used to close for Labor Day.
“When it reopened that year, there was a big corn starch explosion,” Igoe said. “Jim was an apprentice pipe fitter at the time.”
When Jim Igoe served in the U. S. Army in 1952, he was stationed in Alaska.
“I went there to meet him to get married,” Igoe said. “It must have been 65 degrees below zero.”
The couple went back many years later to celebrate their anniversary.
Much had changed, including the addition of paved roads, but the church where they were married still was there.
“When you’re young, you take things for granted,” Igoe mused. “When you’re older and have time to reflect, you remember all the interesting people you’ve met along the way.”