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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sousa and His Band Battalion

John Philip Sousa (1854-1932), the most famous bandleader ever known, was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training base during World War I.

Sousa composed 136 military marches, including what is arguably the most famous march in the world, “The Stars and Stripes Forever" (1896).

In 1917, at the height of his career and in support of the war effort, Sousa assumed the musical directorship of the Great Lakes Band.

Sousa’s Band Battalion, as it was called, toured the world and raised over $21 million in war bonds. “The Naval Reserve March,” also known as “The Great Lakes March,” was written in 1918 during his tenure as the director of the Great Lakes Band.

Panorama of Sousa and his Great Lakes Band Battalion, circa 1918. Courtesy of the Great Lakes Naval Museum.

The popularity of Sousa’s music and the incredible musicianship of his band carried America’s growing national pride to the world. The Topeka Daily Capital noted in 1902 that, “All the way through a Sousa program, you can see the old flag waving, hear the clothes flapping on the line in the back yard and smell the pork and beans cooking in the kitchen.” In other words, Sousa’s music represented the heart and soul of America.

Curt Teich postcard, 1929 (5461-29)

In 1987, "The Stars and Stripes Forever" was declared the National March of the United States.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Dear Lizzie Schlager...

The museum's Lizzie Schlager Postcard Collection includes over 900 postcards collected between 1899 to 1912 by Lizzie Schlager.

Elise Walters Schlager Wandel (1878 - 1928) was known to her friends as Lizzie. She was born in Switzerland, and immigrated with her parents to Elgin in 1883. Lizzie married Will Schlager in 1899, and her postcard collecting began that same year. Will passed away in 1901 from pneumonia. Will and Lizzie, 1899.

Lizzie was collecting cards during the height of the postcard craze. The postcards were sent from European and U.S. destinations, including local towns such as Elgin, St. Charles, Chicago and Waukegan, and also include holiday postal cards. They were sent by family and friends, and some were purchased and went unused.

The messages on the postcards include "wish you were here" sentiments, gossip about office news, and one refers to the "dear old watch factory" (Elgin Watch Factory) where Lizzie worked before marrying Will.

In 1910, Lizzie moved to Waukegan where she lived with relations Fred and Edith Walsh Buck. Fred Buck was mayor of Waukegan from 1909 to 1911. Lizzie worked at the Bairstow Coal Company, and in 1912 married William Wandel, owner of a stationery company.

The Bairstows sent Lizzie cards when they traveled. George Bairstow in particular liked to have a bit of fun with Lizzie and would address the postal cards to Lizzie "Schlagerhammer" or in the case of the card pictured above Lizzie "Schlagerharferengen."

The postcards also reveal that Lizzie did a good deal of traveling, especially during her widowhood between 1901 and 1912. She went camping in Livingston, Montana, took a summer cottage at Fox Lake, and visited New York State. In 1909, she took a Thomas Cook & Sons European tour. A group of Lizzie's friends in downtown Waukegan, circa 1910.

The collection offers unique insight into the life of a young widowed woman at the turn of the 20th century. The messages on the back illustrate that her circle of friends and family were lively, clever, literate and well-traveled.

Sadly, in 1928, her automobile was struck by a train at the 22nd Street crossing in North Chicago.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Tuberculosis Sanitorium

My father lost both of his parents to tuberculosis in the 1930s. For thousands of years, the disease was known as consumption, and had no cure and no treatment. The classic symptoms are a chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.

In the mid-19th century, the first institutions were built to care for sufferers. Intially, TB was treated by diet and fresh air at specialized hospitals. Even with these sanitoriums available throughout Europe, the disease continued to spread.

In the early 1900s, when Lake County doctor, W.H. Watterson contracted TB, he discovered that there were no facilities in the region to treat it. After his cure, Wattersonalong with Dr. Elva A. Wrightorganized the Lake County Tuberculosis Institute.

From 1909 - 1914, a sanitorium was located on 16 acres on Grand Avenue, east of Greenbay Road in Waukegan. "Lake Breeze Sanitorium" cared for 66 patients. Residents lived in cottages or tents and paid a monthly fee for housing and food. Stays at the facility could last years, but in many cases this treatment of fresh air and a good diet was ineffective. Lake Breeze Sanitorium cottages, also known as Camp Breeze, on Grand Avenue in Waukegan, circa 1910 - BBDM 77.13

If people could not afford the sanitorium they would remain at home, often isolated from other family members. In the case of my grandmother, Marie, she stayed in a small cottage behind her parents' home in Sturtevant, Wisconsin.

In 1939, a 90-bed sanitorium was constructed on Belvidere Street in Waukegan, adjacent to today's Belvidere Park. The building was modern in design and became nationally known for its unique architecture.The building was designed by William L. Pereira and William A. Ganster of Ganster and Hennighausen. Pereira and Ganster's work was featured in a 1944 Museum of Modern Art exhibition in New York, featuring architectural achievements.

Sanitorium under construction, 1939 - BBDM 77.13

Sanitorium lobby. Photo by Hedrich-Blessing Studio, Chicago, circa 1940 - BBDM 77.20.

By the 1940s, the emphasis on the need for fresh air was gone, and patient rooms looked much as they do today. TB Sanitorium room. Photo by Hedrich-Blessing Studio, Chicago, circa 1940 - BBDM 77.13

The first vaccine for TB was developed at the Pasteur Institute in France between 1905 and 1921. Mass vaccination against TB did not begin until after World War II. Also in the 1940s, a series of antibiotics were developed to combat the disease.

Diagnosis relies on chest X-rays, a tuberculin skin test, blood tests, as well as microscopic examination and microbiological culture of bodily fluids. Treatment is difficult and requires long courses of multiple antibiotics. Sanitorium examination room, circa 1940 - BBDM 77.20

"Get Your Free Chest X-Ray Here" is painted on the front of this mobile tuberculosis unit, circa 1955. Photo by The Gerstenslager Company, Wooster, Ohio - BBDM 2009.13.1.

Beginning in 1974, the TB Sanitorium building was used by the Lake County Health Department for offices and clinical visits.

Update: When I wrote this post in 2010, the fate of the building and whether the Health Department would continue to use it were in discussion.

Fortunately, the "Belvidere Medical Building" continues to operate as part of the Lake County Health Department and serve the community.