The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad was known locally as The St. Paul, although in the thirties many of their locomotives bore the logo, "The Milwaukee Road." A freight siding began there and ran west to Winchester Road. This was a branch line off the mainline at Rondout, but it had regular passenger service and freights heading toward Madison. In those days most commuters to Chicago used the North Shore line because it ran into the Loop rather than Union Station west of the Chicago River.
Sometimes in the summer that siding housed carnival trains. The show with its various rides and tents would set up just south of the tracks in a grassy area. Usually there would be a modest parade with the show animals and the municipal band. The war finished off most of those rail-borne shows. Later they came by trucks to other locations in town.
The train station was just east of Milwaukee with the parking lot right along the tracks. Hand-drawn freight trucks were on the platform to move light freight. The station was standard layout with two waiting rooms joined by a short corridor behind the agent's space which had two bay windows for vision up and down the tracks. Heat was by coal stoves. A couple of times daily a "flyer" would storm past the station and a device would snatch a mail bag from a pole and drop it into the mail car which rode just behind the tender. Mail coming into town was thrown from the mail car in a heavy canvas sack. Most of the trains, though, made the stop, and made small boys happy to get a nod from the engineer or stand in the billows of steam from the locomotive.
There was a phone booth in the station used by high school boys who wanted to call their girls without being overheard. Once a friend of mine became enraged by two boys who wouldn't vacate the booth so he tipped it over, door side down. We often asked how long those two talkers had to wait for rescue.
The brick building that ran to the corner of Lake held various businesses; an insurance office, an ice-cream parlor and a Western Auto store on the corner. Above the alley on Lake there was a similar building that held a music studio, the offices of Jake Boyes, a township official, and just after the war a laundromat.
On the south corner at Lake there was a gas station owned by Merle Weiskopf, who in the early thirties had a garage in the alley behind the stores across from where School street intersected with Milwaukee that later became a mortuary. The gas station at Lake was sold to Chet Flagg and Hank Sodt who ran it for years. Right above them on Lake was a garage that at one time housed the Ed Sawusch Chrysler-Plymouth garage. That space was taken over by Bernard Chevrolet after the war and Sawusch and Wes Froland had an auto parts store in the part of the garage fronting on Lake.
Opposite School Street was Ray Smith's shoe store with repairs by Tony Abbadessa who added a shoe line when Smith's moved to a location south of the alley. Next was Frank Huber's Royal Blue grocery. Today we might call it a convenience store, although he cut meat, had fresh produce, and sold pastry and bread from Charlie Jochheim's bakery which was in that basement. Charlie lived on Lake, just around the corner from us on Brainerd and we could have set our clocks by his regular trips to and from his house and the bakery. Two of his sons, Bob and Jim, were prominent high school athletes.
On Sunday mornings I'd pick up 25 cents left on the kitchen table and go to Decker and Neville drugs for the Chicago Sunday Tribune, which cost a dime. Then, it was off to Hubers for a dozen sweet rolls which were 2 cents each. That left me 1 cent which was good for a couple of jawbreakers. At one point my cousin, Clarence (Sonny) Wilson worked at Huber's Royal Blue. He graduated from LTHS in 1936 and for many years held their pole vault record. Sonny and Art Newbore later had their own grocery in Long Lake.
Lester's tavern was between Huber's and the alley. Originally run by John Lester, it was later taken over by Joe Hoye, who had a beer distributorship and who used part of an alley building for storage.
Next to Lester's an alley ran west to a large open area in the center of the block bounded by Lake, Cook, Milwaukee and Brainerd. In the early thirties Merle Weiskopf had a garage back there (see map) that had an open grease pit. That building later became the Julius Treptow funeral home. A house occupied by the Jerry Buski family stood back there and I never understood why it was built in such an odd location. Part of the open space was used by Bernard Chevrolet to store old cars. It was a haunt for small boys who coveted gear shift knobs and such.
In the early thirties there was a car dealership at the west end of the building just south of the alley. Waldron's barn stored hearses and ambulances. Harry Dugan was a driver and occasionally chased away kids who peered into the various vehicles, wondering about their contents.