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Local Woman Travels, But G. Ridge Is Home

(This is the ninth of a series of stories that focus on the ÒGreatest Generation” veterans of World War II, and also recollections of how life was during the 1930s and the Great Depression.)

It was interesting talking recently to Joan Haese.

Here is someone who was in Garfield Ridge in its earliest days, left for a long time, but came back in 1983 to perhaps finish out her final years.

ÒThis area was settled by the Dutch,” said Haese who is Irish (her maiden name is Flaherty) and whose home Ñ since 1983 Ñ is on South Nordica, among other well-kept homes.

Haese disputes the notion that those who settled in the area a Òmere” 50 years ago are Òpioneers.”

The true pioneers go back much further, she says Ñ perhaps 70 to 80 years.

Such as Haese, who remembers when the area was prairie land and such exotic animals as bulls could be found.

Indeed, it was not uncommon for chickens and cows to be raised by many area residents.

Including at the Haese homestead, which was then in the Garfield Ridge community but not on Nordica.

And she remembers many of the stores in the area, most of them on Archer Avenue.

Also there was the DeKoker’s coal store on Central.

There was Bedarch’s Hardware.

There was Perkey’s Grocery on Austin.

And there were two Dutch churches in the neighborhood, along with Òtin can” schools, an Italian grocery, Yugoslav Hall, and Neeman’s Hardware.

Haese also remembers many significant events, including the start of the United States’ involvement in World War II.

She was 14 when Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was bombed by the Japanese air force.

ÒI was in my bedroom listening to classical music when it was interrupted to announce what had happened at Pearl Harbor,” recalls Hayes. ÒAfter my dad explained to me what Pearl Harbor was, he said, ‘This means war.'”

Haese’s father knew what he was talking about.

Joan Haese, although a smoker since 1946, has outlived many of her contemporaries.

She was 85 last Sept. 27, has five children, 14 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Her husband, Frank, died about a decade ago.

Her uncles, Jim and Bill Flaherty, played on the Chicago Orioles football team (not quite a semi-pro team, she says), which played its home game near the current St. Daniel the Prophet site, 53rd and Natoma.

Frank and Joan lived in places such as New York and Minnesota before returning to the Garfield Ridge community in 1983.

As a youth, Haese went to Mark Twain Elementary School and Kelly High School.

Indeed, she still has her first-grade class picture from Twain and remembers most of her fellow classmates.

She rattled off many of their names during a recent interview

ÒSome may still be alive,” says Haese.

And want to come back to Garfield Ridge. Just like Haese.

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