Schooling ended young 100 years ago in Arlington Hts.

Posted5/1/2015 8:46 AM

Here would have been a possible scenario for your day if you were married 100 years ago in 1915, as Ella Kastning was. You woke at 5 a.m., washed and dressed yourself, washed and fed your baby.

"Then you put your baby in the baby carriage and pushed him to the barn where you milked the cows." You put the milk in cans and cooled it in the running stream in the "milk house."


"We were lucky to have a stream to get it cold," Kastning told my neighbor Sue Trnka and me during our very first oral history for the Arlington Heights Historical Society.

The milk had to be in town by 8 a.m. for the train to the city.

When Kastning was young, she remembered, a milkman carried around a big pail of milk with a funnel in a horse-drawn wagon. Townspeople would put a ticket in their windows indicating how much milk they wanted. As the milkman went from house to house, the horse would follow him.

Kastning had four years of public school at the little red brick schoolhouse at Palatine and Schoenbeck roads. Then she lived with an aunt in Arlington Heights for four years until she made her confirmation at St. Peter's Lutheran School. That was the end of her schooling. "Girls only needed to know how to darn."

Boys expected to have one more year at their books.

After 14, Ella Kastning helped in the garden, with the housework and the cooking. "You met boys at barn dances," she told Sue and me. "Your brother brought you and he was supposed to bring you home, but that didn't always work."

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Soon her future husband was taking her home. Her parents were content "so long as it was a Lutheran boy."

Ella became Mrs. Kastning at 20 at St. Peter's "old" church. Ella's in-laws divided their farm on Frontage Road (Rohlwing Road) in Palatine and gave half of it to Ella and her new husband, who lived there 21 years until they moved into Arlington Heights.

Looking back with Sue and me at her life in the village, Mrs. Kastning marveled at the stability of living in a small, structured town. She was a member of the St. Peter's Ladies Aide for 44 years. All that time she also belonged to the quilters' group, which made money for the church by finishing off quilts begun by local seamstresses.

"For $80 you could have your quilt squares made into a quilt, all hand-sewn. Toward the end, I was the oldest quilter in the group, and had been quilting the longest."

For 46 years she helped out at the annual St. Peter's Church picnic.

All this reminded her, she told Sue and me, of the lovely amenities of small-town living. Putting the mud roads out of her mind, she beamed when she described the delicacies at Mors Bakery on Dunton Avenue.

"Thirteen beautiful sweet rolls for 10 cents."

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