February 1973

Restoring old house doesn't bug this historical society volunteer
by Roberta

    Editor's note: The Park Ridge Historical Society has purchased the Gillick House on the corner of Euclid and Summit for the location of a historical museum. Maine South's Local Historical Society, with Roberta '73, president was asked to take part in restoring the site.
    In the most stunning combination of grubbies that we could find, we arrived at the Gillick House not quite awake yet, but definitely curious. The house is on the corner of Euclid and Summit, and it will eventually be the Park Ridge Historical Society.
    What we didn't expect was to find a deserted looking house to be restored. We thought the problem had been avoided since we arrived a half hour late, but when we found the front door, it was boarded and nailed shut. Besides the fact that they were expecting us, there had to be another reason, so we picked our way through mud and broken glass to the back door.
    Once inside, we dodged armfuls of hangers and old clothes from the house cleaning operation as we made our way through the house.
    When we stopped at the butler's pantry, just off the kitchen, one lady explained about nebulous creatures called ice men and huge bins for storing flour and sugar. Her eyes sparkled with nostalgia as she recalled her daily battle to keep the ice meltings from overflowing a drip pan. It was really fun, all the sharing that took place that day!
    In the attic we marked a small white woodworked room with a slanting roof for Local History Society. It even has dormer windows and a window seat. Now I know how Columbus felt. Someday this may be the room we'll use for exhibiting rare tidbits from Maine South, when and if we find some.
    Finally, we looked for work, since we had almost forgotten our reason for coming. With the motto "Start from the top and work down" I found a broom and reclimbed to the attic where I met a fantastic lady who is restoring a house of her own in Fox River Grove.
    She knew all the inside information about termites and attics. I thought wonders of her knowledge as she scraped her fingernail against the bare wood to see if it was soft, but I couldn't bring myself, even in my grubbies, to risk the thought of soft wood and maybe invisible termite monsters under my nail. There went my merit badge!
    Then another lady encouraged me to join the fine work going on in the basement, even though she admitted to being slightly squeamish about bugs.
    Of course, I escaped and retreated to the attic once more. Before we finally did get rewarded by a vacuum cleaner, a photographer from the Herald interrupted us. He was a little embarrassed by our dustpan and tried to have us put the funeral home printing on the calendar cover to the back. Nevertheless, after five minutes of rehearsing I think he took a great candid shot.
    After vacuuming, my job was done. After picking my way carefully through the heavy dust cloud, I left. Meeting new people and swapping bug stories, that was my Saturday morning, and I'm going back next week for more.
    Oh did I tell you that I managed to help restore the Gillick House a little bit, too?