The Descendants of John Hustoles (1852-1916)

15. John James HUSTOLES was born on 5 Jan 1908 in Chicago, Cook County, IL. (47) He died on 2 Sep 1992 in Ada Twp., Kent County, MI. (48) He was a Machinist. He was buried in Chapel Hill Mem. Gardens, Cascade, MI.

The house was a small, light gray cottage of four rooms with shuttered windows and a nice flower garden in the back. This was Grandma's house, that I remembered so well on the south side of Chicago, where Dad took us to live after Mother died. I was four years old then, my brother Joseph was six and my younger sister Agnes was only three. For about three years we lived with Grandma and Grandpa Hustoles and their daughter Mary where I became very fluent in the Bohemian language, as Grandma couldn't speak any English.

I was born, John James Hustoles (3.John2, 1.John1), on January 5, 1908 in Chicago, Illinois. My father was John Hustoles and my mother, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 25 and of whom I have little recollection, was Julia Kowalski.

My father remarried in 1914, to a young Irish-Catholic girl just twelve years my senior. So we children moved again, to 4411 Fillmore Street, renting in a mostly shanty, Irish neighborhood. My new step-mother, Katherine Bannon, came from a big family and new relatives were in abundance for me. Katherine's mother, Julia, rented a house about a block south of us. (By 1919 Julia's husband had died leaving eight children still at home. There was John, Sarah, Julia, Alvira, Joseph, Florence, Margaret, and Martin, ranging in age from 21 to 6 at the time of their father's death.) Then another sister, Beda, rented a block west of us. Our family grew as well. Dad and Katherine had six more children, although not all lived. Of those of us that remained, there was myself John, Agnes, Katherine, Dolores, and James that grew up together in Chicago not far from Cicero.

At home we children were kept busy washing dishes, cleaning house, making beds, and bringing up wood for the stoves. Dad was quite inventive and I learned a lot of mechanical skills from him. In our house as the saying goes, "necessity was the mother of invention". I remember the gas lighter that he fashioned for the kitchen stove. We could put wood in the stove, then light the gas for five minutes and we immediately had a good fire burning. Dad also made a big wagon from four wheelbarrow wheels which we used to haul railroad ties from the rail yard. Dad and I would saw the ties up for fire wood with a large crosscut saw, then chop and pile the wood under the back porch. On other days, when it was bath time we would get the wooden bathtub from under the house, put it in the back yard, then fill it with water to make the wood swell up so it wouldn't leak. Next, we carried it upstairs to the second floor and set it in the kitchen by the stove, where we heated large pots of water for our baths. A warm water bath near the hot kitchen stove was a weekly event we looked forward to with anticipation.

The year 1920 brought prohibition, along with bathtub gin, illegal liquor, and gangsters to distribute it. I was twelve then and remember well my grandmother's neighbors. Living close to Grandma Julia Bannon were the O'Donnell brothers, local gangsters that used to bootleg moonshine in and around Chicago.

"When the Prohibition law went into effect early in 1920, only a few of the best-organized gangs in Chicago saw its potential. If others saw it, they lacked the capital to take advantage of it.

"In most neighborhoods in those earliest days of Prohibition, the street gangs simply picked up what money they could by opening speakeasies or finding work delivering beer and alcohol to speakeasies opened by others.

"Deliveries of beer were made openly, with little or no attempt at concealment. The police and federal officers were paid off handsomely.

"There were outlying gangs, such as the Touhy brothers in the northwest suburbs, but all the city breweries were gradually taken over by four main distributors: Johnny Torrio and Al Capone in the Loop and in Stickney; Spike and Walter O'Donnell on the South Side; Terry Druggan and Frankie Lake on the West Side; and Dion O'Banion on the North Side." 1

I recall one occasion when Dad needed a new car; it was Grandma that suggested we talk to the O'Donnell boys. They sent Dad and I out to a big garage in Cicero where they reworked their cars. For a very reasonable price, we bought a big 7-passenger Studebaker touring car that had been used to run "moon" from here to the speakeasies in Chicago. They would load the back of these long cars with five gallon cans of liquor. There was one driver and two men with shotguns that rode atop the gallon drums for the protection needed on the trip . We had very good luck with this car, as the boys did have excellent mechanics making the necessary car repairs. (No doubt this garage could have been the very one that George Murray described in his 1975 biography of Al Capone.)

"Evans' garage had become a gathering place for the toughs of Halsted Street. … Evans became a college-educated fence for stolen merchandise. When some of the boys wanted to use his garage as a beauty parlor for stolen cars, he set a price on the action. One would clout a fairly new car early in the evening and bring it in for treatment. Others would swarm over it, filing numbers off motor and body, giving the whole thing a quick-dry paint job, and getting the car out of the garage before daylight for sale in a used-car lot.

"From stolen cars to stolen beer and whiskey was an easy step. The toughs were hijacking truckloads of illegal liquor in the streets of Chicago and on the highways leading into the city. They brought the trucks directly to Evans' garage to be unloaded. Then the trucks were driven to the other end of the city to be abandoned.

"Fred Evans was caught with a garage full of illegal alcohol in May, 1924. At first he pleaded not guilty. Then he changed the plea to guilty in what was obviously a deal. He paid a fine of $250." 2

Through our relationship with the O'Donnell brothers, my step-mother was introduced to some of Al Capone's henchmen and after we moved to Cicero she got to know them even better. As it was common for the Irish-American to become involved in politics, Mother also fostered her civic duty to work in local politics. During an election, while she was working in the polling place, the Capone gang sent in some of their men whom she knew, gathered up all the poll workers and held them until the election was over, so that the gang might influence it's outcome.

"Johnny Torrio, seeing the handwriting on the wall, had taken over the town of Cicero, a West Side suburb of Chicago, as a base of operations.

"This may sound like taking over a village. Actually, Cicero is the sixth-largest city in the state of Illinois. Torrio assigned truckloads of gunmen to guard the polling places of Cicero on election day, April 1, 1924. Al Capone was in charge of the operation. In the course of it his brother, Frankie Capone, was shot and killed by police. "When election day was over, the Torrio slate had made a clean sweep. Either the good people of the town had been too uninformed to vote, too lazy to vote, too scared to vote with a loaded revolver in the hands of guards at every polling place, or their votes had simply not been counted at the end of the day. The election judges and election clerks who counted the votes were the ones directly under Torrio's guns." 3

I did not finish high school but went to work early. I had various types of jobs until I worked in a machine shop. I liked the work and machinist was to become my lifelong vocation. Later, I attended night school for additional vocational training in refrigeration and electronics. As I grew older, I did not get along well with my step-mother, so Dad suggested that I board elsewhere. I moved in with the Nemecek family of three boys where I was paying room and board when the depression hit. I was out of work and incurred a sizable debt after three years there, as the job I did have for a short time paid only 25 cents an hour.

It was 1930, the depth of the depression, when I met Irene Mae Weiss. We courted for six years and I was still working only two days a week when we finally decided to marry. We exchanged vows at the Millard Avenue Baptist Church on May 16, 1936.

Irene was born in Chicago on October 11, 1909, the daughter of Robert E. Weiss and Emma Mae Topinka. Her only brother, Robert, was born eight years later. With her brother and seven young uncles to entertain her, it was no doubt that Irene became a good athlete. During the 1920's school playgrounds were a source of training grounds for all types of sports. Volleyball, softball, track, and ice skating were popular organized sports in which she had a keen interest and a drawer full of medals to show her prowess. Irene played shortstop on one of these softball teams that placed third for a Chicago city championship title, which was quite an honor. Graduating from Harrison High School with secretarial skills, Irene was an excellent student. After receiving her diploma she had to accept a factory job much to her father's disdain. But because she liked arithmetic, she decided to study comptometery at night school and afterwards found office work in this field.

With her father being institutionalized from tuberculosis, Irene supported her mother and younger brother during the depression. This need to work and her unfaltering ambition secured her a steady job for several years with Sinclair Oil, at a time when jobs were difficult to find. Her father died six months before we married, and after our wedding we joined residence with her mother. Even though married women weren't allowed to work in a good many offices, she retained her position with some persuasion and stayed with Sinclair Oil an additional four years.

Irene quit work in 1940 and our only daughter, Jane, was born in 1941. When she was four years old we bought a home and moved to the suburb of Westchester, where we lived for thirty-four years. Irene returned to the work force after our daughter entered high school. She worked until we both retired in 1975. In 1979 we moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to be nearer our daughter's family.

Through the years, Irene collected over 100 international dolls, giving community talks on her collection. She was a charter member of the Chicago Doll Collectors club since it's organization in 1939. Another hobby she pursued was cultivating wild flowers, but it was a fruitless venture because they didn't transplant well. So while Irene encouraged her wild flowers, I pampered the lawn. Together we enjoyed numerous summer outings to formal gardens and nature centers, then spent many a cold, rainy, winter Sunday in any one of Chicago's museums-our favorite being the Museum of Science and Industry.

Irene had a wanderlust to travel, so our vacations were spent seeing the continent, from the east coast to the west coast and from Canada to Mexico, visiting all but two of the forty-eight states-Montana and New Mexico excluded. We traveled from Vancouver, British Columbia to Nova Scotia, and as far south as Guadalajara, Mexico. From Chicago to Guadalajara in 1939 in our Model-A Ford, now that was a trip that I could tell quite a story about.

(Irene died suddenly from septicemia in East Grand Rapids, Michigan on Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, 1988. John died four years later of prostate cancer at their home in Ada, Michigan on September 2, 1992. He was 84 years of age.)

He was married to Irene Mae WEISS (daughter of Robert Earl WEISS and Emma Mae TOPINKA) on 16 May 1936 in Chicago, Cook County, IL.(49) Irene Mae WEISS was born on 11 Oct 1909 in Chicago, Cook County, IL. She died on 17 Mar 1988 in East Grand Rapids, Kent County, MI. She was a Comptometer Operator. She was buried in Chapel Hill Mem. Gardens, Cascade, MI. John James HUSTOLES and Irene Mae WEISS had the following children:

child+26 i. Jane Lee HUSTOLES

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