I was too small to really know the house at 400 Uvedale Road, Riverside. My grandparents, James and Frances Shuss, owned the bungalow, and my pregnant mother, Lillian Baar, was living there while my dad, Bill, was overseas during World War II.
It was from that house my mother went to the hospital to have me, with some concern, as my dad’s brother, never a bright light, forgot to get the necessary ration coupons for gas. Gas was rationed due to the war.
It was my first home in Riverside, but it was but a short stay before we moved to Berwyn?”my mother, grandparents, uncle … and me.
Apparently, while my grandparents owned the property at 400 Uvedale Road, they did quite a bit of entertaining. As a child, the stories of 20 people, at least, dropping in on a Sunday were rife. My grandfather, Jim (Vaclav) was a very social guy who was more than happy to use his skills as a tailor and a barber to help out his friends, especially during the Depression. And so, besides the great, home cooking of my grandmother, Frances, Jim was always working on either someone’s suit or someone’s head.
Jim and Frances are long gone now, but I have had the pleasure of meeting the new owners of 400 Uvedale Road, Paul and Gloria Peluso. One weekend, on one of my garage sale quests, I noticed that there was a sale at 400 Uvedale Road. I thought I would stop by just to see what the old family homestead was like. I introduced myself to Mrs. Peluso who was very charming and friendly. Good, I thought … the home had a fine owner and was in good hands.
Fast forward a year, and who should turn up at one of my political fundraisers but the Pelusos, and this time they were bearing gifts. It seems that one of the former owners, maybe even the Shuss clan, had left behind a photo album of photographer portraits obviously taken somewhere around the turn of the last century, judging by the fashions worn by the subjects. The Pelusos thought that may be the photos might belong to my family.
Mrs. Peluso noted that the photo album was pretty old and falling apart, so she had cut the photos out of the book and now offered them to me in a stack that was almost three inches in height. One of the photos might have been of my grandfather, but I was not sure. I was sure, however, that I could not recognize the others in the stack. However, these could have been portraits of all the Shuss visitors who so often frequented the house. If that were the case, I would not know them.
I figured that if the photos did not belong to me, maybe they belonged to some of the intervening owners of the property, whoever they might be. I also thought that I could get the title of the property checked with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds and Cook County Assessor to see who had owned the house so that I could possibly track them down to find out if the photos were theirs.
We got some great service at the Recorder of Deeds office, though there were many blind alleys in the search. Finally, a list was produced, which would seem simple enough. I am happy that the Recorder’s office can read these lists and know what they mean, because I certainly cannot figure it out. For one thing, everything is in long hand. Some of the names I can decipher, others I cannot. The dates, too, seem to run into each other in strange ways, too.
So, tracking these folks is going to take a bit more effort than I thought. Here are some names of previous owners to whom the photos might belong, and maybe some of you readers might recognize the names, have a contact I can follow up on: Peter and Anna Gloss, who sold the house to the Shusses in 1932. In 1944, the property went to James and Bessie Tyl. From the Tyls it went to Clarence Zimmerman, if I am reading his name correctly, and then to John and Bernadette Lukey. The finally just before the Pelusos, it shows the owners were Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Giammanco.
Now I will try to track down any of these folks or their heirs to see if these photographs are theirs and are important to them. Obviously, if anyone has any ties to or knows the whereabouts of any of the former owners cited, I would appreciate the information.
The photos themselves are beautifully posed portraits of young couple from a time long gone. They would be my grandparents’ contemporaries. I think it is always hard for us to think of our grandparents as ever having been young once, too. Even if I can’t find the owners of the portraits, taken long before private cameras were available en masse, I will keep them as they are fun to look at, and speculate as to who the young men and women were in their starched clothing.
Who were they? Where did they come from, and where did they wind up? It brings out the old newspaper reporting curiosity in me.
I doubt that any survive yet today, but they did have a yesterday.