I have been planning on writing this autobiography for quite some time to leave information on the events that happened during my life, for later generation's inquiry. So these are events that I remember and events that I have learned. I Wished that I had asked questions and received answers for the thoughts on my mind now.This document is not exactly in chronological order.
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Growing Up in The Big House
By Alfred Spevak
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2015 Alfred Spevak
All rights reserved.
I WAS THE 5TH CHILD born of Rosa and E Charles Spevak born at home in Milmont Park, Pa at my grandparent's home John & Theresa Teuchert at the corner of Milmont & Belmont Avenues numbered 131 Milmont Ave. It was a cold day of January the 16 day year of 1923 at 8AM. I was given the name of Alfred Victor Spevak. I had learned that my brother Harry 10yrs at this time with three sisters named Hilda 15yrs, Bertha 7yrs and Alva 5yrs was wishing for a brother. He was met by a friend on his way home from school that I was born. He then ran the rest of the way. I was baptized a catholic at Our Lady Of Peace Parish of Milmont Park Pa. My aunt Katherine & uncle Frank Teuchert were my god parents.
ABOUT THE TIME OF MY birth I became was very ill with a chest congestion and my mother Rosa and Grandmother Theresa wouldn't lie me down they kept me upright, they were afraid that I wouldn't survive. This was long before antibiotics. When you were very ill in bed as I remember the doctor was called to your home. He arrived with his satchel of pills and testing equipment. The medicines that he left were terrible tasting and my mother tried everything even money for me to take it. For a fever, the Dr Left this medication called Niter, mom would put several drops in a glass of water for me to drink. This was terrible tasting but, this was how I ended up with some cash by the time that I became well.
When you where ill you went to see your doctor at his office that was part of his residence. I remember our family Dr Clark B Stull of Ridley Park, Pa He had this stone edition built as his office an examination room attached to his home. He has scheduled visiting hours no appointment's were necessary, you just waited for your turn.
After entering his examining room and you told about your not feeling well, this initial thing happened. He put a wooden tongue depressor into your mouth and on your tongue and told to say AH to check your throat. Then he would check your ears. He checked your blood pressure and heart. Our Physician had one of those standing fluoroscope's in his office to view your chest and A short time latter it was removed, do to excessive radiation. All during the time it took to view a patient's chest the x-ray was on.
Boils were common in my early life caused by a staff infection. At times they never came to head to drain. These were very painful and this required surgery to drain. I had this done. Almost unheard of today. Many people developed appendicitis an infection and this was serious requiring a hospital stay and surgery. All of these infections just about disappeared when antibiotics came about. When I was about 16years during a winter night a group decided to go sledding on this roadway named Bullens Lane. I sledded down and was walking back up for another ride down when a another sledder coming down running into me injuring my right shin. The wound was severe and my friends pulled me home on my sled. It was late evening, our doctor was called and he said (come right over to my office). My future brother-in-law Norman Draper happening to be dating my sister Alva at this time and he drove me to Dr Stull's office in Ridley Park Pa. He cleaned my wound and applied stitches in his office. Today you would proceed to a hospital. During those times a Doctor referred you to the hospital. Back then protective gloves were only used during hospital surgery.
DENTAL CARE. IT WASN'T VERY pleasant to have dental care In my early years, Dentist had the old fashioned drilling equipment and it was a slow process at that time. No pain killer was administered during drilling. If you had deep cavities the pain was unbearable. Not many people received preventive dental care and visited the dentists only when they had toothache. By this time the tooth was to far gone and required an extraction. They did use nova cane to eliminate pain during an extraction. During the 1930's people had teeth removed and were put under with a drug called Sweet Air which was Nitrous Oxide. This was later banned for dentistry because many people never regained conscious and didn't survived. There were no Anesthetists in those days to administer a gas or drug. This came latter. Doctors and Dentists used there own discretion at that time.
THERE WAS NO MEDICAL INSURANCE that I know of at this time. I remember In 1938 when I attained the age of 15yrs and my father E Charles arrived home from his work one evening from the Baldwin Locomotive Works with news about a new medical plan and for a monthly premium of $2.00 his family would be covered for all hospital expenses. This plan was written by Blue Cross of Philadelphia and it was non profit at this time. This plan didn't cover any doctor expenses this came later with a plan called Blue Shield that did cover surgeons and doctor expenses while hospital confined.
CATHERINE ELEANOR'S BIRTH
IN MARCH 25 1925 A sister named Catherine Eleanor Spevak was born and was given a nickname (Kitty). I being only 2 yrs at this time I was unable to remember anything about Catherine's birth, but my sister Alva Spevak Draper7 yrs at this time remembered. Alva told me not very long ago before her death, that baby Catherine developed swelling glands in her neck area and the doctor after his treatments without any improvement said to my parents that he should operate and open these glands to drain. Alva told me Baby Catherine let out a loud scream as this operation was performed on our dining room table. An infection set in and baby Catherine died in December 10 1925 after only 10 months of age. Alva said everyone cried including the doctor. Many years later, my mother Rosa, would shed tears at the mention of my sister Catherine. My father took an 8x10 portrait of Catherine when her casket was opened in our home for the viewing. I remember viewing this photo in later years as I became older. Baptized a Catholic she was buried in a Catholic cemetery.
IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY CEMETERY
MY PARENTS E CHARLES AND Rosa bought a lot just beyond the Main entrance of Immaculate Heart of Mary Cemetery in Linwood. Pa at the intersection of Laughead Ave & Market St in Linwood, Pa where Catherine was put to rest, and later with her parents E Charles & Rosa, brother Harry & his wife Estelle Spevak and their children son Paul and daughter Catherine Anne in following years. Being that I was almost 3yrs when Catherine died, I was told later that I stopped eating for a time. I always wondered that Catherine's death may have had an effect on my life. She would have been the link between Aileen and I. I always wondered how life would have been had she lived a normal life. I was told that I started talking when I was 4yrs and I really never was a big talker. I had always been a good listener and believe me I learned many things by listening. I remember many trips to this cemetery in Dad's Stearns Knight automobile touring car going down to Linwood Pa. The trip to Immaculate Heart of Mary Cemetery at that time, was passing through the city of Chester traveling west on 9th street, through Trainer Boro where the road changed name from 9th street to Ridge Rd at that time the road ran past those old mill homes in Trainer that people today had given them a nick name that isn't very nice. At a later time the road was reconstructed straight. The air in the Linwood area had a bad odor from manufacturing. Who was the contributor for this condition? well there were 3 manufacturing companies, Sun Oil, Congoleum, and American Viscose.
I read that during the Flu epidemic of 1918 relatives of people in living in Marcus Hook area came to stay, with them because the people living here weren't infected with the flu. Probably it may have been what was in the air. I was told by my parents that some people who were infected dropped dead in the street then turned black. I was told that a wagon came by to pick up the deceased, daily. The roads in the cemetery were only about 2 deep at this time and they weren't paved just cindered. I remember, where the Dairy King now stands was a business selling grave monuments. I remember some larger grave lots had fancy railings around their perimeters, these were later removed probably for easier grass cutting. It appeared that all Catholics buried from Our Lady of Peace Church in Milmont Park were buried here in Immaculate Heart Cemetery or Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Delaware County Pa.. The St Peter & Paul cemetery in Springfield was not in operation at this time. The steep grades of the roads of Yates Ave, Summit Ave and Market street leading down to Ridge Rd were paved with concrete probably to prevent washouts during heavy rain.
AMERICA'S PASTIME BASEBALL
WHEN MY FATHER E CHARLES Spevak emigrated to the United States and settled in Philadelphia he resided at 1241 Buttonwood St with his uncle Karl according to the ship SS Phoenica's manifest. This Uncle Karl was probably from his mother's side because E. Charles had a 2yr old brother named Karl when he left home for the United States in 1901. He lived close to the Phillies Ballpark, called Baker Bowl and he must have seen games played there. The American league formed about 1900 and the Philadelphia's team the Athletics was formed. There ball park called Shibe Park then later called Connie Mack Stadium was built later at 21St & lehigh Ave. When I became older my father E Charles took me there to see the A's play. In 1937 fire erupted at Baker Bowl ball park and the Phillies then moved and played their games at the Philadephia A,s park called Connie Mack Stadium. There was always a game being played at Connie Mack Stadium by one team being on the road and one home. When E Charles was a resident of the town of Stieredorf, Romania in eastern Europe, he presumably never had seen baseball being played. He became very interested in baseball. After arriving in Milmont Park in about 1918 he organized a baseball team and was the manager, it was named Forrest A C and their games were played at their home field at the intersection of Belmont & Baltimore Aves where homes stand today. I was told many people attended because of the street car. My uncle Frank Teuchert was one of the pitchers and I heard that he was very good. After final construction of MacDade Blvd in 1931, the ball field was moved to a new location along MacDade Blvd and the team changed its name to Milmont AC. Today 2012 the ball field is smaller in size and named I Walter Knoll Field a pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Peace Church. I remember in the mid 1930 watching Milmont AC playing games during Sunday afternoons. On week nights. Twilight Games were only 7 innings long. Sunday afternoon games did play 9 innings. My brother-in-law Bernard Maguire a left handed right fielder and a great batter, could really hit the long ball, many times a home run. At that time Milmont AC belonged to The Delco Baseball League.
THE TEUCHERT HOME
I LIVED IN A HOME of my grandparents. where Milk and bread were delivered each morning. A wagon from Supplee Wills Jones operated by my brother-in-law Bernard Maguire pulled by 2 horses delivered the milk and a wagon pulled by one horse pulled a Friehofers bread wagon that delivered their french loaf that was a golden brown, very delicious. Everyone liked the ends of this loaf. My grandfather John Teuchert had a new hot water heating system installed in his home during my infancy. This heated all rooms including the 3rd story. This happened about the time of my birth. I was told that it replaced an old hot air system. As I became older I became curious about this old hot air heating system and decided to investagate where I found the only heating register was in the dinning room. I assume that the only heated room was the dinning room and kitchen was heated by the coal stove. There were doors between the dining room and existing rooms. A coal fired stove in the kitchen or a fireplace in the parlor where I never saw it fired until during hurricane HAZEL in 1953 when they lost part of the power do to the storm and had no central heating. I was called and after arriving there and saw a fire burning in the fire place for the first and last time. I was able to restore electricity to have heat again. We had another room that we called (the sitting) room you would call family room by today's standards that contained our radio, piano, record player and later television. Television was a new venture after radio this new to all. They're were not programs televised until about 6pm when the local news was on and programs of entertainment started one of the first telecast was the Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theatre on NBC. Then there were the Friday Night Fights on TV etc. These first floor rooms were separated from other unheated rooms with doors. Being that our family resided with my grandparents John & Theresa Teuchert which was to be temporary my parents Rosa and E Charles resided there many years raised there children there until the home was sold after John Teuchert's death in 1960. When John Teuchert returned home after working at The Baldwin Locomotive Works in Eddystone he remained home until the following day. My father E Charles Spevak also worked at the Baldwin Locomotive Works. My dad had other business and activities. and was out many evenings. I vaguely remember John taking me to Chester Pa on the PRT rte 76 street cars that ran past our home. He bought me some small tools, a screwdriver and a little saw etc. There were doors between the dinning room and adjacent rooms. These 2 doors were closed during the heating season when the dinning was being heated with the old hot air system. I put the screwdriver to use and started to remove the screws from the door knobs etc, I believe the screw driver was taken from me until I became a little older. Later these doors were removed after the new hot water heating system was installed and stored in the 3rd floor attic; Where my Mom Rosa Spevak would carry up her wet laundry basket up two flights of stairs to dry in the 3rd floor attic on rainy days. Rosa never complained about carrying these heavy wet baskets of clothing to dry. Other things were also stored there also, I remember a large trunk, I believe a steamer trunk that contained old clothing and remnants of christmas decorations. Our cellar was unsuitable for hanging clothes to dry. It was dusty from coal etc and had a unpaved floor. Things stored in the cellar were canned vegetables that were put up by Rosa and Theresa. Pop Teuchert also had a storage locker for his beverage of home brew and shelves for his pickled peppers My mother Rosa was always busy cooking, doing the laundry or cleaning. I remember the day that my mom and grandmom decided to white wash the basement walls. There was no need for them to do this job. One time I remember them saving the fat from cooking, then buying a can of lye (caustics) and making soap. I thought they didn't have to make soap as they had so many other things to do. Many times when you had a problem grand mom took care of it for you as Rosa my mother was busy with house work and cooking. Grandmom Theresa Teuchert took care of your cuts and bruises. Grand mom Theresa Teuchert was loved by all. When she attended the movies and took one of her grandchildren with her to Chester Pa for a day out. If you were the lucky one to go with her, it was a stop at Silver's 5&10 located at 5th & Market St now called (Avenue of the states) to the refreshment bar where a large barrel of Hires Root Beer was displayed. A root beer and a hot dog sandwich really hit the spot for us young children. Then it was time to enter a movie theater, probably The Washington Theater which was close by and Where Washington House Restaurant once was next to it, a historical marker is now located where George Washington stopped by on his trip to Philadelphia Pa. Grand mom loved those romantic films with her favorite actor Rudolf Valentino. Her movie choices were not for me. I usually fell asleep. There were other movie theaters to called Stanley, State, Boyd and the Mac located further away and as us children became older we attended them. At a later date a movie opened in Eddystone called EDDY. The woman from Milmont Park went there as dinnerware was given out one piece each week. Grandmom Theresa Teuchert was A great person and she loved everyone. and was loved by everyone. One time my grandfather John Teuchert on Saturday took a trip to Chester by himself and was late getting home. He was asked about his lateness? He said (I went past the new Boyd Theater and they were celebrating their first anniversary and decided to attend a movie). This was back at about 1935 and he enjoyed it. This may have been his first movie since the silent movies that he attended. Movies had sound included in 1928. At this time the movie studios were looking for people with a nice voice and they were found the play makers on stage. The following weeks John and wife Theresa went to the movies together regularly.
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Table of Contents
ContentsMY AUTOBIOGRAPHY, 1,
MY BIRTH, 3,
MEDICAL CARE, 4,
DENTAL CARE, 6,
MEDICAL INSURANCE, 7,
CATHERINE ELEANOR'S BIRTH, 8,
IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY CEMETERY, 9,
AMERICA'S PASTIME BASEBALL, 11,
THE TEUCHERT HOME, 13,
THERESA TEUCHERT'S DEATH 1953 at 79yrs, 16,
AILEEN MIRIAM'S BIRTH, 17,
BREAKFAST WITH MY GRANDFATHER JOHN TEUCHERT, 18,
HARRY TEUCHERT'S RESCUE, 20,
THE CONSTRUCTION OF MACDADE BLVD, 21,
INSTALLING OIL HEAT IN THE TEUCHERT HOME ABOUT 1931, 22,
I WAS CALLED UPON, 23,
FISHING TRIP TO CAPE MAY AND CRABBING IN DELAWARE, 24,
OUR STEARNS KNIGHT AUTOMOBILE, 26,
THE NEW VENTURE RIDLEY RADIO SHOP, 27,
HARRY ATTENDED RADIO MECHANIC'S SCHOOL, 28,
THE CLOSING OF RIDLEY RADIO SHOP, 29,
HARRY'S NEW APPRENTICESHIP & MILITARY SERVICE, 30,
OUR FAMILY VACATION TO ATLANTIC CITY, 31,
THE DEPRESSION, 32,
THE BUILDING OF RIDLEY TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL, 33,
FAMILY VACATION OAK ORCHARDS DE 1934, 34,
JOYCE WAS SAVED FROM DROWNING, 35,
THE RETURN TRIP TO HOME, 36,
A GREAT FIND, 37,
THE EMBON COTTAGE, 38,
MILMONT PARK POST OFFICE, 40,
AN EMERGENCY TRIP TO THE DOCTOR, 41,
MILMONT PARK, RIDLEY TOWNSHIP, DELAWARE COUNTY, PA, 42,
MEETING MY COUSIN'S FRANK & JACK TEUCHERT'S GRANDFATHER, 44,
OUR LADY OF PEACE PARISH, 45,
MOVING OUR LADY OF PEACE RECTORY, 46,
TIME BEFORE OUR LADY of PEACE, 47,
MY CHILDHOOD FRIEND, 49,
THE TEUCHERT'S VEGETABLE GARDEN, 50,
OUR OLD HOME, 53,
NEW LIVING ROOM FURNITURE, 56,
FAMILY ROOM, 57,
THE KITCHEN, 58,
BUILDING A KITE, 60,
THE NATIVITY SET, 61,
OUR LADY OF PEACE SCHOOL 1929, 62,
THE NEW PASTOR, 64,
THE BOY SCOUTS, 65,
THE VALLEY FORGE PILGRIMAGE, 66,
CAMP DELMONT, 67,
MY BOY SCOUT UNIFORM, 68,
WOODLYN TROOP CIRCUS & PARADE, 69,
WOODLYN TROOP 1 CAMPING AT THE DELAWARE WATER GAP, 70,
RIDLEY TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL, 71,
MY DRIVERS LICENSE AND OUR NEW 1940 PLYMOUTH, 72,
HARRY RECEIVED A SCARE, 74,
THE EMBONS MOVE TO MILMONT PARK, 80,
MY FIRST EMPLOYMENT THE GENERAL ELECTRIC CO, 81,
WESTINGHOUSE ELECTRIC, 82,
MY FIRST HOSPITAL STAY, 83,
HARRY'S 1937 LASALLE AUTOMOBILE, 84,
HARRY SPEVAK & ESTELLE BUFANO'S WEDDING, 85,
THE MILITARY DRAFT, 86,
ENLISTING INTO THE ARMY AIR FORCE, 87,
MIAMI BEACH FOR BASIC TRAINING, 88,
ARRIVING AT AMARILLO ARMY AIR BASE, 90,
THE ARMY HOSPITAL, 91,
AT SEATTLE WASHINGTON, 93,
SALT LAKE CITY AIR BASE & HARVARD NEB, 95,
HARVARD AIR FORCE BASE, 96,
MY FIRST FURLOUGH, 97,
MY FLIGHT ABOARD A B17, 98,
382 BOMB GROUP, 101,
MUROC ARMY AIR BASE, 102,
OUR NEW GROUP 421 AAF BASE UNIT, 103,
A MEETING WITH COUSIN JACK TEUCHERT IN LOS ANGELES, 104,
MY MANY TRIPS TO TOWN, 105,
LONG BEACH, 107,
WRIGHT AERONAUTICAL ENGINE SCHOOL, 108,
SERVING IN THE MESS HALL, 109,
ARRIVING HOME AFTER 3 YEARS, 111,
FIRST MEETING OF LILLIAN MY WIFE, 112,
PENNSYLVANIA ELECTRICAL SCHOOL of ELECTRICITY, 114,
OUR FIRST CHILD, 115,
WE FINALLY HAD OUR OWN PLACE, 116,
OUR FIRST CHRISTMAS 1948, 117,
OUR FIRST TV, 118,
OUR DAUGHTER JESSICA'S BIRTH, 119,
MY APPRENTISHIP WITH CAMILLO CASCIATO, 120,
SUN OIL CO and SON MICHAEL'S BIRTH, 121,
DUPONT CO HIRING ELECTRICIANS, 122,
OUR 4TH CHILD WAS BORN, 124,
COLORADO FUEL & IRON later called PHOENIX STEEL CORP, 125,
OUR LAST CHILD, 127,
ONE DREADFUL PHONE CALL THE DEATH OF BETSEY WELCH, 128,
MY SON ALFRED BEING DRAFTED INTO THE MILITARY, 130,
POMPANO BEACH 1986, 132,
MY SADDIST MOMENT IN MY LIFE, 134,
AFTER LILLIAN'S PASSING, 135,
WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW, 136,
AN ADDENDUM OF EVENTS, 138,
MY FIRST TIME IN OCEAN CITY NJ, 139,
BETHLEHEM STEEL CO, 140,
OUR TRIP TO BROOKLYN NY, 141,
RINGLING BROS, BARNUM & BAILEY CIRCUS, 142,
MILMONT PARK POST OFFICE, 143,
THE OUTINGS AT RIVEVIEW BEACH NEW JERSEY, 144,
IMPROVING CONDITIONS IN MILMONT PARK PA, 145,