Raymond Harrer

Interview Date: November 14, 1978
Interview Location: Narrator’s home, 6128 Crain, Morton Grove
Interviewer: Denise Rossmann Christopoulos
Duration: 2 hours


Raymond Harrer’s father was George Harrer, a prominent citizen and the first mayor of Morton Grove in 1895. Raymond was born in Morton Grove and has lived here all his life. His father had a wholesale florist business off of Theobald Road for thirty-one years. Raymond recalls his father first growing vegetables and then around 1908 he grew flowers. After graduating from grammar school, he worked in the family business also.

Raymond Harrer’s mother was from the Yehl family on Lincoln Avenue. He tells about his Yehl grandparents selling eighteen acres of their property to the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad. The railroad used the gravel they extracted from here as the foundation for the tracks, thus a gravel pit resulted. This was a source of swimming recreation for many young boys in town.

Raymond’s interview is a colorful account of boyhood remembrances in the town he grew up in. This includes hanging out at the local pickle factories, schooling and teachers, playing basketball at St. Paul Woods Pavilion, and being a fourteen-year-old member of the Morton Grove Colts baseball team.

Of particular interest is Raymond’s explanation of Hobo Island at the river. He tells of the times when hobos would work for his father in the greenhouses in order to get just enough money to buy canned meat and a bottle of alcohol.