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07 January 2019

Henry Kampe, 1916-1983 and Mildred Schuler 1919-2008

How do I know that . . . Henry Kampe, 1916-1983, and Mildred Schuler, 1919-2008, are my parents..

Henry was from Frankfort, Will County, Illinois. Mildred was from Lockport, Will County, Illinois. Mom said that they met on a double date, each arriving with someone else. In this photo dated 1936, Henry was picking up Mildred at 815 
Madison Street, Lockport, Illinois. How do I know? The date
is on the back; I recognize the house in the background.

They were married in November 1938 in her home.

My birth name is Selma Ethel Kampe. I have my birth certificate and hospital footprint. Selma is a very unusual name. I have never met anyone with this given name. At a very early age, my mother explained to me that I was named for my two grandmothers. My name Selma honors Selma Alfrieda Wilhamine Elsner (1887-1928) my paternal grandmother. My name Ethel honors Nettie Ethel Couch Schuler (1884-1965) my maternal grandmother. Next question, how did my grandmothers receive their name? More research! Several years ago, I met a Jordanian doctor. His given name was Salem. He explained to me that Selma is the feminine form of Salem. He also said that it is the Hebrew form for “peace” and used the example of Jerusalem which means city of peace.

Today, I would have been called a preemie. I fit all the categories and mom said I was covered in soft “peach fuzz.” 

I did grow up, this photo was in the spring of 1940.This photo was taken in the backyard of the house on Madison Street in Lockport.

I was too young to remember much of my first four years. By 1940, Dad was working for the State of Illinois as a Court Reporter. We traveled regularly from Lockport to Springfield. When in Lockport, the trailer was parked in my maternal grandparents yard. When in Springfield, the trailer was parked in a trailer park near the fairgrounds.  Mom said that I always jumped out of the car running to look for playmates. Dad’s work finished, mom would pack and we were on the move within 20 minutes. The packing included me, my toys and Brownie, our dog. This back and forth move was completed many times during these four years.

Time for me to start school, mom did stay in Lockport at her parents. What a privilege to attend kindergarten at the same school as my mom. This was a great connection for us! Time to set down roots, so dad converted a building directly across from Joliet Township High School at 56 Herkimer Street, Joliet, into six apartments. When I was ready to start first grade, we moved into one of the apartments. When I was ready to start high school, we moved to 1207 Oneida Street, Joliet.

My first memory was negative. I was supposed to be asleep in the trailer; mom went into the house; I got out of my bed; I crawled onto the counter top and took all of mom’s decorative plants out of the top storage. Mom came in to find me sitting in the dark with dirt all over the floor. I don’t remember what happened next. Years later, mom said she never remembered the event.

Other memories:
  • Mom had a cold storage window box during the war
  • The traveling iceman
  • The traveling scissor/knife sharpening man
  • Many fun hours of roller skating around the high school
  • Homemade ice cream with my cousins at their home on Jefferson Street in Lockport
  • Time with dad’s family in Frankfort
  • Jingles, my dog
  • Loved sports, not coordinated, both mom and dad would spend time with me practicing
  • Church next door, my mom's sister was pastor, so I got to play in the church
  • Touring the states, every August in the late 1940s early 1950s before interstate highways, we traveled 500 miles per day. I have been through every state except one in the far northeast.
  • Played cards as family, Canasta, dad always first, mom always second, me always last
  • Watching the bears eat donuts in the city dump in northern Wisconsin

Henry and Mildred Kampe at the Chez Paree in Chicago, Illinois in the early 1950s.

How do I know Henry John Kampe and Mildred Louise Schuler were my parents? Documentation, photos and mostly family memories!!! If you knew my parents, please write and tell me your stories. Write down your own stories now instead of waiting until the memories fade.