Carroll F. Sweet
Oral History Interview
Recorded April 19, 1991
CARROLL F. SWEET
Oral History Interview
Interviewer: Jane Nicoll
Assistant Reference Librarian, Park Forest Public Library
JANE NICOLL: This is an interview with Carroll Sweet, Jr. for the Oral History Collection done by Jane Nicoll on April 18, 199 1. Carroll Sweet was an employee of American Community Builders from 1946 to 1956. Before you were involved in Park Forest, you were involved in World War Two. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
CARROLL SWEET: I received a commission in the Naval Reserve in April of 1939, and immediately joined the reserve unit in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I was living at that time, as an ensign in USNR. I served with that unit until August of 1940, drilling one night a week and participating in activities other than just the one night a week plus taking a two‑week summer training cruise on the Great Lakes in the summer of 1940. In August of 1940, 1 was ordered to active duty on the USS Ranger, an aircraft carrier home‑ported in Norfolk, Virginia, and there I was assigned duty in the Construction and
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Repair Department and became [sequentially] a Junior Officer of the Deck, an Officer of the Deck In Port, Junior Officer of the Deck Underway, and later an Officer of the Deck Underway. As far as I know I was the first reserve ensign to make that final step in a major aircraft carrier. I served on the Ranger until June of 1942, when I was transferred to an anti‑submarine warfare school in Miami. When I [completed training], I [received orders] as commanding officer of a little one‑hundred‑and‑ten foot wooden subchaser being built in Nyack, New York. There was a delay of a couple of months until she was ready for commission. [During this time the ship was improved in various ways and became the prototype of later ships of this class.] She was commissioned on October 20th of 1942, and we took her from New York to Miami for shakedown. We were scheduled to go to the South Pacific. When the shakedown was completed, we went [south] through the [Panama] Canal [and island‑hopped across the Pacific Ocean] to [Brisbane.] Australia, [where we arrived in March, 19431. There we were assigned to the Royal Australian Navy as an escort vessel, and for [the next three] months escorted ships mainly across the Coral Sea from [TownsvilleJ Australia to [Port MoresbyJ New Guinea and [Jo Milne Bay at] the eastern tip of New Guinea. At that time this was the forward area of [the war]. In June or early July of 1943, due to an incident that [destroyed other ships] about that time, we were transferred back to the American Navy and assigned to the amphibious forces. Then we were at Milne Bay, which is a large bay at the eastern tip of New Guinea. We were escorting landing forces [from Port Moresby] around Milne Bay to Buna, then the most forward staging area for any ships except open landing craft. In September of 1943, 1 was ordered [to turn command
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of the ship over to my Executive Officer and return] to the United States to go into the DE program. DEs were [a major war vessel], three hundred and six feet in length and were built to do the escort duty that destroyers were doing. They were primarily an anti‑submarine vessel but [during the war] were used for all sorts of things. I went through the DE command course in the fall of 1943 and was assigned as Executive Officer of the USS Kyne (DE‑744), which was being built in San Pedro, California. I joined the ship in March of 1944 having been responsible for training the crew in Norfolk prior to that time. The ship went into commission on the fourth of April 1944, and in May went through shakedown through San Diego. In June we left to join the fleet in Pearl Harbor. In July the captain was reassigned, and I was given command of the Kyne. I remained in command of the 744 until the night [August 11, 19451 that we heard that the Japanese were about to surrender, at which event, unfortunately, I collapsed and was sent back home. The Navy later gave me a medical discharge, not because they wouldn't qualify me for shore duty, but they didn't want to qualify me for sea duty in case there might be a repetition, which there never has been. So, I was discharged to inactive duty in January of 1946.
JN: Had you attended college?
CS: Yes. I graduated from the University of Michigan in 1935. Afterwards, I took a few postgraduate courses when I came to Chicago. I took a course in personnel management at the Chicago YMCA College in the Loop, and over at
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Grand Rapids, I took a course in tax accounting at the University of Michigan extension in Grand Rapids a year or two later.
JN: Where did you spend your youth?
CS: I was born and brought up in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
JN: I think that we can see a lot of evidence of your father's effect on you. What was your mother's effect on you?
CS: Well. my mother was a brilliant woman. Her father was a very prominent Chicago publisher. He was the first law book publisher in the United States. The firm is still in existence here in Chicago under the name of Callahan and Company.
JN: Please continue.
CS: My mother wanted obviously the best for me, and she taught me to type on an old Corona, a three‑bank [?] machine, when I was about four years old or so. I don't know really what to say. In some respects, it was a strange situation. Her background with her father was such that she was very much of a book lover, and, of course, there was no TV in those days, so she introduced me to good books at an early age. Also, I grew up in a beautiful large home on a large tract of land about seven‑and‑a‑half acres, right next to a private golf course to which we belonged. There were no boys of my age
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(there were a couple of girls that were nearly my age), so there was nobody to play with in the way of boy's play activities when I was growing up. So, at a very early age I became a golfer. My mother was taking lessons, and she took me over to the golf course and asked the pro to give me lessons. In those days, all professionals were native‑born Scotsmen. In his Scotch brogue, he said he could not teach "the bairn" how to play golf, but he could make a golf club for him and give him a ball, and he would learn to play probably faster than she would. So, that's what happened. When I was about three‑and‑a‑half years old, I had a golf club. By the next year I had a set of about five clubs, and I would go through the gate to the golf course and practice alone by the hour. We were situated in such a way that I could play any number of holes. I could play four holes, I could play six holes, I could play eight holes, whatever I had time for. I played alone most of the time and grew up playing golf alone most of the time, so I became a golfer at an early age. So this is now my seventy‑fifth year of playing golf. [I was on the University of Michigan golf team 1933‑35, and we were national college champions 1934, 1935.1
CS: Oh myl Okay. So, you do still play it.
JN: Yes, I still play, but not as much as I used to. And then, of course, my mother took me on travels to Europe a couple of times early. In 1924, we spent the whole summer in Europe. In 1926, we went on a Mediterranean cruise. Then she sent me away to a fine prep school in 1926 and so forth.
CS: What prep school did you go to?
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JN: Taft in Watertown, Connecticut, which was a Yale prep school at that time. My father was a Yale man, and it was expected that I would go to Yale, but plans were changed, and I ended up at Michigan, which I've never regretted.
CS: And Taft was in what town in Connecticut?
JN: Watertown, Connecticut. It's still one of the principal prep schools in the country.
CS: Let's move on, shall we, to your father. What would you say your father's effect on you was?
JN: My father, I won't say I adored him or anything like that. He and I were more pals than we were ‑‑ I didn't revere him or anything, but he and I were very close. Although he never did anything much with me, nevertheless we felt we could talk very intimately, so to speak. Dad had graduated from Yale in 1899 and had been one of the top people in his class. He had won the top senior award for writing and speaking at Yale in 1899. Then he worked for a couple of years on a railroad in Mexico [in an area just south of the border]. He came back to Grand Rapids because his grandmother, whom he was very close to, was in ill health [and asking for him]. He went to work in the family lumberyard and rapidly became manager. About the time I was born, the lumberyard had a very serious fire, and after that [Dad] was asked to [become a vice president of] the Old National Bank, which at that time was the oldest,
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most highly regarded bank in western Michigan. However. he had some ill health resulting from shock over the fire. He got over that and was with the bank for a number of years until the Depression. [By this time Dad had become executive vice president and a director.) Just before the Depression there was a move to merge the back with a bank that my father and certain other directors didn't feel would be good for the older bank, that is all to the benefit of the younger bank. They lost a five‑to‑four vote, and all four of them resigned. Dad was out of work for a little while and then [in 19331 became head of the [Western Michigan office of the] Home Owners Loan Corporation, which most people don't remember anymore. The Home Owners Loan Corporation [HOLC] was one of the best government operations ever. It was one of the very few that saved everybody's lives and still turned a profit to the government. At that time, due to the Depression, a lot of people were losing their homes because they had lost their jobs and they couldn't keep up mortgage payments. It wasn't doing banks any good to have a lot of homes on their hands, so the Home Owners Loan stepped in and refinanced the mortgages, which saved the banks, and saved the homes for the people themselves. It provided work for real estate appraisers and lawyers along the way. and yet when the [loaning period was over], HOLC became a collection agency instead of a lending agency in the latter '30s. Their record was very good in that respect, too, and when they finally were dissolved and [they] turned a profit over to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation [Dad's district had a top record in the country]. Then Dad became secretary of the Michigan Real Estate Association.
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JN: That was in 1938, according to this.
CS: Something like that.
JN: Okay. So. they had dissolved, then, in 1938 and turned that money over.
CS: [No, but by then it was just a collection agency when] Dad left them. They dissolved in 1940, as I recall, but I'm not sure.
JN: Oh, okay. So, he wasn't there quite until the end.
CS: Right, but he was there through the entire active period. After that they were just a collection agency.
JN: And they turned it over to the Reconstruction Finance Agency?
CS: I think it was Reconstruction Finance Corporation. And incidentally, it was my understanding that in the lending period, Dad's district, which included all of western Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, had the best record of any district of the United States in lending, and when it came to the collection period, they also had the best record in the United States. We were always quite proud of that. [In 1941 he was 64 and] thought that he might retire. He wasn't quite sure. I had been ordered to active duty in the Navy at that time. He and Mother, who had not been getting along too well for a long time, took a trip down the East Coast to Miami, and they were sort of looking for a place [to spend the winter and perhaps] to retire. They
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couldn't find what they wanted and came back up to Norfolk, Virginia. When I came in for Christmas on the USS Ranger in December 1941, 1 had dinner with them there one night. Then the ship had to go out for three day's operation. When it came back in, I found that they had had another disagreement. I had sort of held them together for ten years, sort of mediated their disagreements and so forth, and I hadn't been there. So. my mother had taken the car and disappeared, and my father was still there and stayed a few days. Mother [was from] Chicago, but she had moved, of course, everything to Grand Rapids where she had her beautiful home. Dad felt that if he'd go back to Grand Rapids, which was his home [and where he was very well known], that she might think that he was trying to come between her and her friends, so although he was in his sixties then, he decided to come to Chicago and start a new life. My mother ended up coming back to Grand Rapids. Dad for a while didn't have any job here but [after a time became] affiliated with the regional office of the National Housing [Agency]. At the beginning of the war, he was assistant regional director, and Phil Klutznick, who had been an attorney up in Omaha, had gotten into the National Housing [Agency] also. He became regional director, and Dad was assistant regional director, and that's where they first became acquainted. Each of them seemed to develop a healthy respect and admiration for the other. Phil wasn't here [in Chicago] too long, he was sent to Washington where he ultimately became commissioner of the Federal Public Housing [Authority]. Dad stayed on here [in Chicago], and when the war began, there was no office to monitor the use of critical materials. Somehow or another, it got into Dad's office, and he became the czar of allocation of critical materials until a
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special office was set up to handle [priorities]. Dad was then asked ‑‑ and I suspect Mr. Klutznick had something to do with that ‑‑ he was asked to come to Washington with the national office of the National Housing Agency. They made him a troubleshooter. Now Dad was sixty‑five. That was about 1942 probably. and Dad was born twenty‑three years before the turn of the century. That means he was sixty‑five at that time, and he had a bad leg. I think it's hereditary; I've got one, too. [Mr. Sweet amends that his father's bad leg was from a horseback accident when he was young.] Anyhow, travel was then, instead of by plane, it was by train, and he was hopping sleepers every night, going from one problem to another, "putting out fires". Mr. [Nathan] Manilow, who at that time was either the leading builder in Chicago or one of the top two or three builders in the Chicago area, became acquainted with Dad when he was in Chicago and also developed a healthy admiration for him and urged him to quit the government and join his organization. Dad felt he was on a mission, so to speak, so he turned him down for the time being. After a couple of years of this, he couldn't take it any longer, and he called up Mr. Manilow and he said. "I'm ready to take you up on your offer." Mr. Manilow said, 'Well, I have another job I'd like you to take, not with me at this time. We're looking for] a director of the Chicago Metropolitan Home Builders Association, and I would like you to take that." So. Dad said, 'Whatever you say." Dad took over the Chicago Metropolitan Home Builders Association, and that year the national convention was held in Cleveland. But the Chicago builders decided that they wanted to bid for that national convention despite the fact that it had always been a losing operation. Everywhere they had been it had cost the local chapter money. They thought
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as a matter of prestige they'd like to host it here in Chicago. So, they went to Cleveland and bid for it and got it. Then Dad, who had had a history of coming up with bright ideas, realized that this was an opportunity ‑‑ even though it was during wartime ‑‑ to bring the building industry, which consisted of a lot of small builders all over the country, in contact with the suppliers to the industry, which consisted of a lot of small suppliers and a few big ones from all over the country, instead of each one of them having salesmen out and so forth, a big job of getting acquainted. So. he suggested that they make an exposition or fair or something in connection with the convention, and invite all the suppliers that wished to have booths there to display their wares at a convention that would be the biggest gathering of home builders. This went over like a bang, and it was the first time that the convention had become profitable in its history. It was here for a number of years as a result. It grew to the number one [industry] convention in the country based mainly on that one philosophy, an idea of being a fair. So, that was a good idea that he had plus the fact I didn't mention, and I have mentioned it in my story on him which I will send you a copy of, he also had a great idea in Michigan, which was a state with a lot of wonderful tourist facilities but an attitude by most tourist people that they better kill the goose while they had him and not worry about the golden egg because they might never see him again. Dad took them to task in a speech that he made right after the war sometime and told them that they had entirely the wrong attitude, that if they treated tourists like they should be treated that they would have them year after year after year. The next Monday morning ‑‑ this is on a Friday night ‑‑ the next Monday morning key people from that
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industry came into his office and asked him what he meant by that, and he outlined the idea of the Western Michigan Tourist and Resort Association. And he ‑‑ have I gone into it there? I think maybe I have.
JN: Yes, I just wanted to clarify. I think that's after the First War. That was in 1917.
CS: That's exactly what I was talking about. It was after the First War. He helped set that up and established a course at Michigan Agricultural College. now known as Michigan State University, for a short course where the resort people, who are mainly farm‑oriented people from northern and western Michigan, send their teenage kids to learn how to be good hosts and hostesses and run such businesses. Maybe I mentioned it there that I was attending a regatta at Saugatuck [Michigan in 19351, and I checked into a hotel there. The owner happened to be on the desk. He saw the name, and he said, "Are you related to Carroll Sweet of Grand Rapids?" I said, "[He is] my father." He said, "The resort people of western Michigan owe your father more than they can ever repay. I hope you'll stay here a long time, but your money's no good here." That's the way they regarded him. So anyhow, all those people knew and loved him ‑‑ they're all gone now, of course. So, after he'd been with the Chicago Metropolitan Home Builders for a year or so and had accomplished what Mr. Manilow wanted him to accomplish there, he joined Mr. Manilow's organization. Now, he had a very unique position with Mr. Manilow's organization. He wasn't an attorney or an accountant or anything like that, although he had years of banking [experience] and so
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forth. Mr. Manilow called him "Pappy", and he said, "He is the father that I would have liked to have had if I had had my choice of fathers." Mr. Manilow passed everything by him. His office was right outside Mr. Manilow's. Mr. Manilow had him in for everything that was of any significance, and in planning for things like Jeffrey Manor, Homewood, Libertyville, Carroll Homes, Governors Park, Des Plaines Villas and others. Manilow was a very shrewd finance manager. He knew how to get things financed. But Dad had been a banker. So, if Mr. Manilow passed an idea past Dad and Dad okayed it, it was because Dad was looking at it from the point of view of the bankers that Mr. Manilow would have to sell on the project. They made an outstanding team, because Mr. Manilow could come up with very unique original financing ideas that might or might not fly to a conservative banker, and Dad would filter them out and helped them become very successful. Now, of course, I was corresponding with Dad while I was overseas, just like I was corresponding with my wife and my mother. He could see from my letters that my attitude, probably no different from most other servicemen overseas ‑‑ that I was looking forward to the time after the war was over when we could get on with our lives and the families that we had just started before we went away, [or looked forward to starting], and he could see that costs and so forth were going to work against the realization of the dreams of many of these service people.
JN: [Can you tell me what his relationship with Manilow and his company was?]
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CS: Friends. You know, it was not a big organization. Dad was living alone here. If he had any social life, it was with those people who had come to be his new friends. Most of them were Jewish people who were Manilow's friends. He had some very good friends here, very loyal friends, but as I said, almost all of them were Jewish people in the circles that he was known in, so to speak.
JN: Okay. We had mentioned the housing projects with Manilow and Associates. I'll just repeat them so we get them in there ‑‑ Jeffrey Manor in Chicago, Carroll Homes in Hammond, Governors Park in Homewood, and Des Plaines Villas along with others.
CS: Libertyville is the only other one I can think of. You haven't got that. I
can't remember what the name of the project was. We just called it
JN: Okay. And I asked off the tape: Was Carroll Homes in Hammond named for your dad?
CS: Carroll Homes? It possibly was. I don't remember the project, to tell you the truth. It possibly was. I don't know.
CS: Builders are always searching around for some good name. Every project
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a builder builds is [normally] a separate corporation. and they have to come up with a lot of good names.
JN: You mentioned your dad was living alone in Chicago at the time. Where did he live?
CS: He had an apartment on North LaSalle near the comer of Division. That's the only one ‑‑ he may have had other apartments before that, but that's the only one I visited him in.
JN: Okay. And then you were beginning to talk about how he was getting the idea for Park Forest from your concerns about the family.
CS: Well, so, he had come up with an idea. He was searching for a plan enabling a builder to stay in business and make a profit and yet render a service to GIs who would be coming home at the end of the war. Dad was service oriented. He was a member of the Rotary Club in Grand Rapids, had been their president in 1921 and '22. 1 might mention that in my talk today. But, anyhow, he came up with an idea, a completely revolutionary idea, and he had sounded Manilow out on it but they had kept it pretty much to themselves. When I came home at the end of the war, he came out. I had a home in Lakewood ‑‑ it's now Lakewood. California, then it was the Lakewood suburban area of Long Beach. He came out to visit me. I was home in September. He came out and visited me in October or November. It was the first time he was able to get away. They didn't have much travel by plane in
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those days, and that took a little bit of planning to get away to take a train out there. It took two or three days to get there and then you'd want to stay for a week or two. It took quite a little time away from your office. If you were an important person in an office, it was harder to arrange. He sounded me out on this or he discussed this with me, and I was quite taken with the idea. Although I had looked to find ‑‑ my mother was living out there in California at that time ‑‑ and I had tried to find a job near there where I could sort of look after her because I felt that I had some responsibility there. But Dad's idea was so revolutionary that It challenged you to be a part of it. His idea basically was that if a builder could build on a large enough scale he could realize benefits of mass‑production techniques and mass‑buying, which at that time no builder was realizing. Most builders were just building in small quantities ‑‑ four, five, six, eight, twenty at the most ‑‑ and there was no real opportunity to get into mass‑building techniques. It now seems kind of silly because so much building since has been large scale. Plus the fact that by building on what amounted to be a city‑scale, he was bringing to an area a whole new unit of buying power in which he could share through rents of commercial space. Thus he could cut his margin of profits on his own product because he would be getting this extra income over a longer period of time. It was all very unique at that time. Now, of course, it's been copied so often that it seems old hat, but it was new at that time. And so, that was the philosophy by which Park Forest was ultimately built. In February, 1946, Manilow asked me to come to Chicago and join Manilow Construction. I did stayed with my dad. During that time I worked in the office and out at Jeffrey Manor with Jack Rashkin. These problems that we ran into in actual
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planning and construction had to be met and solved as they were encountered. Dad and Manilow talked about how to head it up, and Manilow felt that he had too much to do with his other projects, that this was such a big project, it needed management of a top level and fulltime. He didn't feel that he had the time to do it properly because he had too many irons in the fire. Dad was getting close to seventy years of age by that time, and he felt that he could not at that age give it the attention needed. Dad felt that the best, the finest management mind that he had run across in the building industry was Phil Klutznick. Manilow did not know Phil Klutznick, and so Dad undertook to bring the two of them together. [Mr. Manilow persuaded Phil to resign his Public Housing Authority commissionership and head up this project.] In March of 1946, they asked me to come and join them there. My family was still in California, and I started working on Jeffrey Manor. I didn't know anything about the building business. I started working on Jeffrey Manor under Jack Rashkin who was manager out there.
JN: Now, was that of construction or of sales?
CS: Mainly management. [At that time most of Jeffrey Manor was rental.]
JN: What would the management cover?
CS: Well, problems, problem‑solving. Let's put it that way.
JN: Okay. Were people already moving in or this was getting supplies?
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CS: Oh, yes.
JN: Or both at the same time like here?
CS: Yes, but that project was not finished yet. Although Jack didn't have construction ‑‑ Joe Goldman had the construction ‑‑ nevertheless, there were still problems. But I was only out there for a couple of weeks. I was living with my dad, and, of course, I was getting a little homesick. I had a family out in California, and I wanted to be with them after four years, five years away from them. But during that time. [Manilow was] searching for a piece of property that would be suitable for a community of the scale of Park Forest. Manilow put a man by the name of J. Alton Lauren ‑‑ that's probably not an unfamiliar name here, I guess. You hadn't heard it before? That's a key person. He was a real estate broker. And then J. Alton Lauren was searching all through the Chicago area for a piece of property and decided it should be around three thousand acres. We also decided that it ought to be close to a commuting railroad, so that one of the first systems that they used to search was to contact the railroads. This still had to be done very quietly, because to assemble land, the minute you assembled a fairly large piece of land, if anybody thought you were doing it for a construction purpose, the adjacent pieces of land soared in value almost to the point you couldn't afford to buy them. So, Lauren made a very discreet search throughout the Chicago area. What looked to be the best piece of property he found out toward Aurora. Then, unfortunately the properties that we could put together surrounded an eighteen‑hole golf course which was owned by a single
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individual, the man that ran the golf course, and that was his livelihood and we could not buy that golf course. Although a golf course would be fine to build around, there was no way of our assuring that after we had spent millions of dollars, that he wouldn't sell the golf course right in the middle of it for something that was not compatible with the whole project, so we abandoned that idea. Out here in Park Forest, which was basically our second choice at that time, there was a piece of land controlled by the First National Bank of Chicago. They controlled the Indian Wood Country Club, and they controlled a farm that was mostly just south of Sauk Trail, across Sauk Trail from the Indian Wood Country Club.
JN: Was that the Batcheldor?
CS: Yes, some name like that. They controlled those properties. So they decided to go with this land. The first purchase was of those two pieces of property. Then we had to piece that out. Mr. Reichart, a farmer here, owned his farm. I don't think that was but three or four hundred acres, and then there was a farm between the Michigan Central and the Lincoln Highway. There's a piece up there. Of course, some land to the west, and there was a piece along the eastern side of Western Avenue between 26th Street and Sauk Trail, which had been subdivided years ago, something that land developers had done all over the Chicago area ‑‑ subdivided and divided it into twenty‑five foot lots and sold those twenty‑five foot lots. Nothing was ever built on them. It was grazing land for farms, but people had bought those twenty‑five foot lots and had died with them and willed them to their
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children so that the title of those lots was very difficult to trace in some respects. So, that was the biggest problem we had ‑‑ running down title to those scattered lots.
JN: Okay. Let me just mention here that in our Plan of Town accession number 88‑6, we have the list of the properties that were bought for the development. so the names and purchases can be checked in there.
CS: The purchase was large enough so that we felt we could accomplish what we wanted to do with it, although, as I said, the latter purchases were at a much greater price than farms would normally have gone for for farmland.
JN: I think somewhere you said they were almost six times.
CS: Well, I think farmland was going at about two hundred dollars an acre then, and I think the last one was probably about fifteen hundred or something an acre. But Mr. Manilow strained the resources of his building company to acquire that land. I know that he mentioned at that time that he could have turned around and sold it for a million dollars profit just because of the effort of consolidating that parcel. But selling it for a million dollars profit, while it's not to be sneezed at, nevertheless it was not the purpose for which they purchased the land, so they passed up that idea. So, getting back to the administration end. The whole operation, a hundred percent of the ownership, so to speak, was Mr. Manilow's. He put all the money into it. So. Dad introduced Mr. Manilow to Phil Klutznick sometime in the spring of
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1946. They went to Washington, and Manilow talked to Phil Klutznick. I wasn't there. Anything I hear, it's all hearsay about that. But it's my understanding that they reached an agreement and that Mr. Manilow agreed that if Mr. Klutznick would head the operation up, that he would give him a half interest. So, Mr. Klutznick resigned as commissioner of FPHA [Federal Public Housing Authority]. It's my understanding also that Phil had long thought that the builders of this country could be doing a better job and shouldn't be looking to the federal government to bail them out on things as often as they were. While it was not only a good deal for Phil, it also gave him an opportunity to demonstrate some of the things that he'd been preaching. So, he resigned his commissionership at the end of June and came here to [form and] head up a new corporation called American Community Builders, Inc. Meanwhile, it was apparent that I wasn't getting anywhere here, and I was getting homesick. So, at the end of March ‑‑ I was only here for about a month ...
TAPE 1: SIDE B
CS: But before I left, while I was still out here, we came out on a Sunday morning to look at this property. It was the first time anybody had seen this property with the idea of creating a cormnunity here. In that group was Mr. Manilow, Mr. Joe Goldman, who was then his [staff architect and] construction boss, a man by the name of Bell, who I never met before and never saw afterwards who was a park district engineer and Mr. Manilow used him as a moonlighter for engineering advice.
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JN: Could you repeat the name?
CS: Bell is all I can remember. I never saw him before and never saw him again afterwards. J. Alton Lauren, my dad and myself. There were six of us. We came out in two cars. I came out with Joe Goldman. We met here at the [Indian Wood] Sauk Trail Country Club and we looked over the property and we liked what we saw, so we decided at that time that we should start, that we could give Lauren the okay to go ahead and start assembling it. [Mr. Sweet added that this authorization was given at a later date.] That should have been up in here perhaps, but because I had to mention that he had assembled the property, but I didn't mention that we had come out and looked at that property. Now, all of the people who were in that group ‑except Bell I don't know about ‑‑ but Bell was probably fifteen, twenty years older than I. I think he was in his forties. I have to assume that all the people in that group except myself are gone. That I know of, I am the only one left who [first] saw this property [with the idea of building a community here] and made the decision, "Here's where we build". [At the end of March] I went back to California and was with my family. I was still on terminal leave from the Navy. My terminal leave didn't completely get all finalized until May 2. Dad was keeping me posted as to what things were happening here and that Phil had agreed to participate. In July, he [Klutznick] came to Chicago, and he hired a secretary whose name I cannot for the life of me remember. She was only with him, I think, for a year or two at the most. I don't think she ever moved out here with him at all [when the ACB offices moved out to Park Forest]. Anyhow, I can't remember her
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name. He also brought with him Charlie Waldmann. Charlie Waldmann was a genius of an engineer if there ever was one. Charlie Waldmann had graduated from the Royal Academy at Budapest as a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer and a civil engineer, so he had a broad, broad variety of trained skills. General Electric Corporation had brought him over here [after World War I] to work at their plant in Schenectady. I'm not sure what happened there, but in the mid‑twenties he was in business for himself in New York City. The only trouble with Charlie was that his mind didn't have any controller. He would work around the clock, and even if he took time off, his mind was working on his job. In '26, he collapsed due to overwork, I guess, that's the easy explanation. But he came back from that and he went to work for the [federal] government. I guess his wife who was, in a way, quite a significant part of the early days here, too, decided or helped him decide that if he went to work for the government that automatically would control his hours to some extent and it might prolong his life. So, he went to work for the government, and he became the chief engineer of all those government towns, which were the only city‑scale developments that had occurred prior to Park Forest ‑‑ the Greenbriar Village, Greensville, Wisconsin, and Cincinnati and someplace else. They all start with "green."
JN: They were all Green Belt communities.
CS: Professor Tugwell's community. I think they were all ‑‑ [Charlie] had been the chief engineer on all those projects. So. Phil Klutznick, of course, had known all these people and knew who he needed as key people, and he
Carroll F. Sweet 24
approached these people to join him even before he had left Washington. Two others were younger people and invited by Phil to join the organization were Hart Perry and "Iz" Rafkind.
JN: That's Israel Rafkind.
CS: Israel Rafkind. We always knew him as "Iz", but Israel Rafkind. Of course, I suppose Phil felt he was saddled with this character from California who was related to his friend, Carroll Sweet. So. they told me they were ready for me to come on and join the organization. We sold our house and left California at the end of July. However, we took a circuitous trip here, because we didn't know when we'd ever get time off again, and so we went up through the national parks to the Seattle area I had had sort of a feeling I'd like to settle in the Seattle area after the war then down through Yellowstone, Glacier [National Park]. We got here just before the Labor Day weekend which we spent in Grand Rapids. Michigan, where my wife's family were living. I reported for duty [at ACB] the day after Labor Day in 1946. At that time [the staff] was just Phil, his secretary, and Charlie Waldmann. I was the number four employee. About the middle of September Hart Perry joined us ‑‑ remember, this is all recollection of a good many years ago ‑‑ and "Iz" Rafkind, as I recall, joined before the end of September or around the first of October. something like that. We were the key people at that time. There was no particular job assigned to either Hart Perry or myself at the beginning. We were assigned as Phil's assistant, and anytime he had something that should be done that he felt would take a little time, [one of us
Carroll F. Sweet 25
was] given the job of running it down. It wasn't, I can't remember exactly when it was, but it was sometime that fall that we wanted ‑‑ I think it was that fall, it might have been the next spring. Anyhow, he decided that we ought to be talking to the Illinois Central Railroad, because if we were going to bring as many people out here as we were going to, many of them were going to be commuters, and the only logical place for them to commute from was the Lincoln Highway [211th Street] station [of the Illinois Central]. So, he and I went over and saw the president. Of course, Phil's name was already a door opener. We got in to see the president without any trouble and we told him what we were going to do. We told him that it was going to strain the then‑small parking lot over there and we thought that Illinois Central, for all the business we were going to send their way, ought to do something about expanding that station and the parking area. We were received with a very haughty, uncooperative reaction. He said, 'You know, according to the Illinois State Commerce Commission, it's our job to transport people who present themselves to us. It's not our job to encourage people to do so." We left that meeting and Phil was shaking his head. He just could not understand that attitude from a businessman. He had done everything in his power ‑‑ Phil was a very persuasive person ‑‑ he had done everything in his power to change that man's attitude. [inaudible] This man was not going to spend the corporation's money for that purpose. Now, maybe he just felt that we were dreamers and would never amount to anything anyhow. Maybe that's what he felt, but he didn't say that. He said this wasn't a priority. [Encouraging more passenger travel was not required by the Illinois Commerce Commission.]
Carroll F. Sweet 26
JN: He may have just wanted to see those commuters moved in before he ...
CS: Maybe. Anyhow, also in that fall he [Mr. Klutzriick] assigned me to work with Charlie Waldmann which was a very great privilege, because Charlie was an understanding, easy person to work with. He explained everything to me. I had a little bit of a bent for engineering. Despite the fact that I hadn't actually taken any engineering, I had done a lot of things that were on the borderline. I had been involved in model yacht racing which at that time was a very sophisticated sport, which included designing and building your own boats. It was a little bit involved with design and engineering. So, anyhow, I understood the things that Charlie was trying to work out. and Charlie, being a civil engineer, mechanical engineer and electrical engineer, one of the first people he had to talk to was Northern Illinois Public Service Company about what they were going to do. It was very interesting. They, of course, had to talk to him, because this was a project they were going to serve. They soon realized that to talk to Charlie, they were going to be in over their heads quickly. So. we would have meetings with them, and they would bring in their top people from every department so that meetings over there would be Charlie and me ‑‑ Charlie to do all the talking and me to sort of witness what was said and to write notes on it when I got back to the office ‑‑ but their people usually numbered about fifteen to seventeen people of their top. Anyhow, Charlie was a great negotiator. I'm getting a little ahead of myself ‑but anyhow, Charlie negotiated an agreement that all the first unit [the rental program electrical service] was going to be totally underground, which was completely anathema to them at that time. But I'll tell you why that
Carroll F. Sweet 27
happened. [With the design we developed, there was no place for overhead service.] Also, we were determined among ourselves that this was going to be an all gas community. Well, coal was very prevalent at that time, but we thought that coal was sort of obsolete and a dirty fuel and oil was not much better. So, this was going to be an all gas community, but gas was under restrictions. They didn't have enough gas to serve everybody who wanted gas, and so they wouldn't allow gas for any nonresidential [uses] ‑‑ that was, of course, a political decision ‑‑ and they could only approve so many new gas applications every year because of their pipeline capacity. They were increasing it as best they could. Their pipeline and storage and pumping capacity, they were increasing as rapidly as they could. Also I was given a job that fall by Phil to research the zoning out here. Now. there was a little part of our area that was inside the city of Chicago Heights. Mainly, it was that part from between 26th Street and the railroad, which was later occupied by the area we called Area "A" surrounding Ash Street, and that was in the city of Chicago Heights. That we could probably get zoned more or less the way we wanted to. But in Cook County, where most of our site was, it was all rural zoning, county zoning, and the zoning ordinances both for Cook and Will Counties did not take into consideration the idea that the houses were going to be on public sewer and water systems, so they had minimum zone sizes of one acre. They needed that much to be able to handle septic tanks and wells and all that sort of thing. There was [no provision for lot sizes of} seventy feet or so, the usual single‑family home site. I remember studying that very [closely], and I reported back to Phil, "We just have to either get the zoning ordinance amended or we're going to have to find something that we can
Carroll F. Sweet 28
adapt to our needs, and the only thing I can see is multifamily." In other words, they had a multifamily [provision] that perhaps we could use. Phil and I talked that one night before ‑‑ I think it was a Friday night. All of these things happened on Friday nights, and he'd go home and think about them and come back. And he came back Monday morning, and I remember he just seemed to be riding on a cloud. He said, "I've got it all figured out." He said, "I was thinking about it over the weekend, and in that first increment, we could go multifamily. We qualify for the 608 mortgage program." You see, he knew all about those federal projects ‑‑ none of the rest of us knew much about them. I guess maybe Nate did, but nobody else did. And he said, 'We qualify for the 608. It might make the whole thing go better," because most of these GIs that we're about to serve don't have any nest egg to place down payments on houses anyhow. So, if they could rent for a while while they accumulated their nest egg, we could capture them and make room for them in our rentals. So, that changed the whole plan and thinking. Now, meanwhile, an architectural firm. Loebl and Schlossman, had been brought into the venture. Now, we didn't have any money to pay these people. We were running on a shoestring.
JN: Okay. Let's go back to Loebl and Schlossman, because I have a little section here. Who got Loebl and Schlossman interested? Were they somebody that Klutznick knew? [For more information on this see Mr. Klutnick's autobiography Angles of Vision.] So, you were saying ...
CS: Loebl and Schlossman, I'm sure, were brought in by Phil Klutzriick.
Carroll F. Sweet 29
Again, they had to have a unique characteristic. They had to be willing to defer their fees, and they decided with Mr. Klutznick and Mr. Manilow that Mr. Klutzriick and Mr. Manilow would each give them five percent of their fifty percent ownership. That meant that Loebl and Schlossman would have ten percent ownership. That was the way ACB originally became divided. I don't know anything about the agreement other than that ‑‑ and I don't know at what point they began charging fees or anything else. I don't know what the details of the agreement were, but I'm sure that because Park Forest was successful that they became successful as a result of their interest.
JN: Now, was Bennett already a partner?
CS: No. I knew that you would ask that question. This picture shows Bennett in it here. Bennett had been head of the department of design at Yale University, and Elbert Peets was the city planner. Peets was a man brought in by Klutznick, I'm pretty sure, because he knew‑he was a Washington man, although he actually‑I shouldn't say that. He [may have been] brought in by Loebl and Schlossman. However, I'm sure it was with Phil's knowledge [and approval]. I don't know whether he was originally recommended by Loebl and Schlossman or recommended by Phil and hired by Loebl and Schlossman. I don't know what that reason was, [now].
JN: Okay. You're saying Bennett?
CS: No, I'm saying Peets. Now, he worked for Loebl and Schlossman, I'm
Carroll F. Sweet 30
pretty sure. I walked the land out here with him when he was going over his fieldwork. He drew up a number of plans, and his first plans proposed single‑family homes. However, he was mainly concerned about the basic structure [of the community]. In other words, where's the city center going to be? Where are the residential areas going to be? Where are the commercial areas going to be? Where are the industrial areas? And so forth. Those were the elements that he was dealing with originally. I don't remember how far beyond that he ultimately went. He was still working with that when we made the decision to go into rental units first. I don't know who made the decision with respect to the arrangement of buildings that were unique in the rental areas. Whether that was Peets' or whether it was Loebl and Schlossman's office or who it was, I don't know. Loebl and Schlossman are the ones that came up with it and presented it to us. I don't know what part Peets had. Peets disappeared fairly early, and I suspect the whole town plan was his. The details were Loebl and Schlossman's [in which Dick Bennett may have been largely responsible]. Now, we had an engineering firm, and I don't remember the name of the firm. They were located over on Ontario Street, I think, not far from Loebl and Schlossman's office‑a big, local engineering firm. Joe Schudt was [their engineer] in charge of the work on this project. Joe Schudt later quit the firm and set up his own business [in Park Forest] and did all of our engineering out here in later years. But that firm had done it all in the earlier years, and Joe Schudt had been their supervisor in charge of the work [supervising project engineer]. I just can't remember the name of the firm.
Carroll F. Sweet 31
JN: I think I have it somewhere. I can't remember it.
CS: You'll probably remember it, but it was a large firm. It was located either on Ontario or Illinois, one of those, between Michigan Boulevard and the lake, one of those streets just north of the Loop.
JN: So he [Joe Schudt] quit the firm.
CS: Details of the streets in the area is one thing and another, and it had to be worked out by engineering because they involved drainage and sewer systems. And so, they were all done by this engineering firm under Schudt's direction. There may have been other people involved in that company, and I don't know if Schudt was the first engineer who got it, but he was the one who ended up with it. I went over there with Charlie Waldniann ‑‑ because Charlie Waldmann was coordinating all that for us. I didn't go everywhere with Charlie, but I went to a lot of places with him. Charlie then turned his attention to the [multifamily] units. By this time, we'd decided on the rental projects. Loebl and Schlossman had come up with a rental plan that involved these courts which was, as far as I know, quite unique at that time, and it lent itself very much ‑‑ although I don't think we considered it quite that way at the first ‑‑ it lent itself very much to the social integration of the project. Instead of three thousand people coming out here and going into houses side by side, we felt that a court was finished when the twenty‑five or thirty families in that court, all took occupancy. Then there's another court and another court, and, of course, everybody shared a lot of the problems of
Carroll F. Sweet 32
construction like the mud and all that sort of thing. Nevertheless, they identified with the fact that, "Oh, I'm in court one." "I live in court two," or whatever it happened to be. This was also singled out by William Whyte in his book, and he felt that the court system was very much of a contributor toward the social integration of the community.
JN: And that book is The Organization Man.
CS: That was his first book. I think he wrote two books. That was his first book, but that period was a year or two later. So, we now have the engineers involved. We're still in the planning stage. Now, financing was a problem. Of course, financing was a thing that was uniquely in Phil Klutznick's purview. He was the one who could get to the top of these various agencies for favors and so forth. He'd already received a provisional commitment from FHA, and it was the biggest thing FHA had ever done, the total commitment. The area, planningwise, divided naturally into nine areas ‑‑ A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and J. There was no "I". And so there were lots of insurance companies and banks who were considering the project. At that time, I was still living on the South Side in a marginal neighborhood, a place mostly white at that time but which has now turned into a black community on 71st Street. I was living in the upper floor above a garage.
JN: With your family at this point?
CS: With my family, yes, and a dog ‑‑ a dog that was almost human ‑‑ had
Carroll F. Sweet 33
raised our kids. We wouldn't think of letting go of that dog for anything. So anyhow. when we changed to a rental community, it wasn't too long before they decided that no pets were going to be allowed. So, where we had thought we would be one of the first families who moved in, we realized that we would not be permitted into the rental area. After two winters in this garage, which was kind of drafty because cars were underneath, and it was dirty, and my wife was not really comfortable there ‑‑ although it was a fairly large apartment ‑‑ we got out early in the spring of the second year in '47 and started looking for a place for the summer. We finally found a place on a lake called Lake Dalecarlia [near Cedar Lake in Indiana]. Cedar Lake's a fairly large lake just over the border in Indiana and about ten miles or so south of Lincoln Highway. We thought we'd find a place there. I went to a real estate office, and there was nobody there. We were told they'd be back around noon. That was a Saturday morning. and we just kept on driving and found a little private lake called Lake Dalecarlia, and drove around there and found a house with a "for sale" sign on it. We hadn't figured on buying, but it looked like it was just ideal for us right alongside the lake, so we made inquiries there and found out we could buy it for ten thousand dollars and came back [to Chicago]. We had only figured on renting for the summer [this was a year around house], but we talked to Dad about it. I had the privilege of a GI mortgage, and we finally decided to buy it. So, we moved out there in the early spring of '48. It was about time for one of us on the staff to start officing out here anyhow. So, starting shortly after that time, I started officing out here [in Park Forest].
Carroll F. Sweet 34
JN: Because you were the only one who lived anywhere closer than the city? Nothing was built for anybody living here.
CS: No. Anyhow, I'm still getting ahead of my story. [Richard Bennett] was brought in in the fall [of 19461 as a designer. Design was his specialty, not architecture. Although he may have been a graduate architect, but design was his specialty. He's in this picture taken in the Loebl and Schlossman office where during the winter of 1946‑47, we used to meet fairly regularly to go over their latest ideas with the architects. [BL copy neg set 6 #20a]
JN: Let's stop there. Can we stop there with Bennett?
CS: Bennett is in that picture, and he joined them first as a consultant and then as a partner. He was offered a partnership later on.
JN: Let's back up for a minute to cover Carroll Sweet, Sr. What was your father's involvement with ACB, past having the idea?
CS: Dad was a director, nothing more nor less.
JN: Okay. So he still advised Nathan Manilow.
CS: They voted when they organized ACB ‑‑ I don't think ACB was organized until Klutznick came out here in July ‑‑ and Dad was made a director. So was Charlie Waldmann. Hart Perry, I believe, was secretary. I was not on the
Carroll F. Sweet 35
board at any time, and Mariilow was treasurer. Phil was president, and Loebl, I think, was vice president. I think that was the board.
JN: Okay. So, Charles Waldmann was also officially a member of American Community Builders.
CS: He was a member of the board of directors. Chief engineer and member of the board of directors.
JN: And at this time he was nearly seventy‑eight years old, about?
CS: My dad?
CS: No. Let's see. This was 1946. Dad was born in '77, so that's sixty‑nine.
JN: Sixty‑nine. okay. How much financial involvement did he have?
CS: Ever. Never got a nickel out of it. Manilow paid him a very, very small
Carroll F. Sweet 36
salary. Dad didn't want any more. He didn't want any more than Just enough to live on.
JN: Did he defer to Manilow when Manilow took credit for the project in articles? Did he ever feel that Manilow took credit for it?
CS: Dad [never sought] credit.
JN: He didn't care?
CS: I don't remember any such, but anyhow ...
JN: Well, when I have read things like in Architectural Forum in August '48, they called Manilow the "man behind the plan," and it almost sounded like they might have agreed that Manilow would have had more of a name and he would have deferred, because later in the article, then they, of course, mentioned that your dad had the idea.
CS: That's about what it was. Dad advised Manilow in almost everything he did until he was taken ill a little later on.
JN: Okay. Did your father live in Park Forest?
Carroll F. Sweet 37
JN: Where did he live?
CS: He still lived in an apartment on the North Side of Chicago until he went to the hospital. Then he came home from the hospital to his apartment. Then he came out here and lived with me for a while. When he came out of the hospital and required some nursing attention, he lived with me for a while and had a nurse in by the day. Then the nurse fell, and she could no longer take care of him. We tried several other nurses. All of them upset him. He had had another stroke. He couldn't talk, and his doctors strongly recommended that he get in a place where he could get around‑the‑clock nursing care, which we couldn't give him. So he went Into a nursing home in Dyer ‑‑ not Dyer but halfway between here and downtown. I can't remember the name of the town. He was there about a year and died.
JN: Okay. So, these pictures that we have in our file ...
CS: That's our home on Oakwood, 350 Oakwood. We built that house. [BL copy negatives set 8] Along with some other staff members, I was given my choice ‑‑ when we first opened up the homes for sale area, a part was set aside for custom houses. I was given as a Christmas bonus my choice of lots. I chose this lot, and the house was a combination of designs. I'd been working on the design for a house even when I was still in the Navy, part of my dreams. Then that summer long while we were still in Indiana, we would play with the rooms in one way or another, and I had a friend in Grand Rapids, who though he was not an architect, was a builder and a gifted
Carroll F. Sweet 38
designer. It's the person I went to join when I left here [in 1956 to move to] Grand Rapids. He put the style touches on it, not that he wanted because he went for modem styles. My wife and I are colonialists. So, this is probably the only colonial house in Park Forest, and it stands out like a sore thumb, but we love it.
JN: Was your dad actively involved during the construction?
CS: No, not really. He always stayed in Chicago and was always involved in Manilow's activities. He was not involved in any way.
JN: So, out here, then, he would have never been active. Was he active in any church or clubs out here?
CS: No. He was not active in any way out here other than having come out here occasionally to director's meetings or something because he was still a director until he was taken sick. He was first hospitalized in about '52.
JN: Was that a stroke?
CS: I think it was. They called it an accident or something, but it wasn't due to any fall or anything. He'd apparently had several minor strokes, but he recovered and went back to his office, but he wasn't there very long. Then he came out here, and he was here for about a year, and then he was back in this nursing home.
Carroll F. Sweet 39
JN: Was it in Dolton?
JN: And when did he pass on?
CS: September 25, 1 think it was, 1955.
JN: And I want to note that we have in the file the memorial booklet that you wrote for your father's funeral or memorial service.
CS: That's the one you were looking at.
JN: Yes. And it's a very good source of biography on him, and it's in the "American Community Builders'" file that we have here at the library. What did he think about the success of the project?
CS: He was very proud of it. When he was living with us out here. I would [drive] him around and show him what we were doing and what we had done, and he was very proud of the work that we had done. He was very satisfied, very proud. And he lived to see the basic part of his dream fulfilled.
JN: Mr. Sweet, is this on your tape? [Interviewer's note: Mr. Sweet and I began to talk off‑tape about the site selection and I turned on the tape to
Carroll F. Sweet 40
catch the first section of comments. We were talking about what was necessary to the site for the planned town.]
CS: And with commuting services. That was about the only obviously buildable land.
JN: So,three thousand acres, yes, and buildable land.
CS: This had, of course, the problem of the peat bog here, but we thought we could work around it.
JN: Okay, and we were just talking. Were there other choices lined up if Park Forest had not worked out as a site?
CS: No, I don't think so. There were other properties, but they were never very seriously considered. In fact, I went out and looked at that Aurora property. I don't remember much about it, because we kicked that off. You know, in those days, the South Side was not very popular. It was considered sort of the back door of Chicago, so to speak. It would have been better psychologically ‑‑ we thought it would be more saleable ‑‑ to have something out to the west. Of course, the north was most desirable. but you couldn't find three thousand acres that you could afford to buy up there. So, north was only oven a casual look, I think. It was up to Lauren, and Lauren brought in, I think, three or four different properties. The only two I can remember was the one out on the west side, which I went out and looked at, and I don't
Carroll F. Sweet 41
remember we ever looked at others ‑‑ I don't remember. I think maybe Joe Goldman and I looked at it. I don't think we ever looked at that in as large a group as we came out here to look at this. But there were six of us who came out here, and I remember the incident well.
JN: Who tried to buy the land before the construction began? You mentioned that in your speech from 1960 and you referred to it here. Manilow said that he could have sold it.
CS: Lauren bought it. [Title was taken by the trusts.]
JN: Well, you made it sound like Manilow tried to, that Manilow said that he could have sold it for a million [dollar profit] before you started.
CS: He never told me who they could have sold it to.
JN: Okay. But you think it was actually a person who had caught on?
CS: Oh, yes, no question but what somebody knew that Manilow controlled it, and Manilow was offered. I'm sure Manilow didn't make it up that he was offered a million dollar [profit]. That was after he had virtually the whole thing consolidated.
JN: Now, how did you buy land as quickly and cheaply as possible without word getting out?
Carroll F. Sweet 42
CS: Lauren bought it, and I do not know how he worked it all out. I'm sure it may have been through [trusts] or whatever. I have no idea. So, don't quote me on anything of that, because I don't know anything about it.
JN: Okay. Did any of you, when you'd come out here. did you know anything about Victor Carlson's attempts to build the area in 1926?
CS: I think that's probably the subdivision that I was talking about over in what turned out to be Areas B, C and D. [I had heard the name but forgotten about it.]
JN: That was Indian Wood?
CS: Yes, I think so. Well, Indian Wood Country Club was on this side of Western Avenue.
JN: Yes, because Indian Wood was centered on the Batcheldor farm at Sauk Trail and Western. This one was different over here apparently, then.
CS: That was across Western Avenue from it. That's all.
JN: Yes, and that land was bought by ACB from the Chicago's First National Bank who had gotten it from ...
CS: Indian Wood Country Club was. Yes, that's right.
Carroll F. Sweet 43
JN: That was Carlson's. And then he tried again in 1933 to build Beacon City between Sauk Trail and Monee Road with a camp‑like resort with small cabins and a dining hall and rec building. Then, there was another effort. Did any of you know ‑‑ well, this may be that development in 1944, the plans for a black golf course and a housing development.
CS: I don't know anything about that.
JN: Okay. I wonder if that was the subdivision over here.
CS: I don't believe so. I think ...
JN: That land was bought before '44?
CS: I think so. I think that was an earlier subdivision on the east side of Western Avenue, but I really am not qualified to spell it out in detail, because the reason I think it was earlier is because it had passed through the hands of people who had died and left it to their children and gone into trust funds and all sorts of things and gone through the banks, and it takes time to do all that, so that there was difficulty in finding specific lots ‑‑ who owned them and who had the right to quit claim them and so forth. I just think that that was one of the older attempts at development. but I don't know. Other than that, the impression I get was that it was older [probably 1920s], and I have nothing to go by on that. I think I knew it at the time. I had plans of it and all that sort of thing, but they've been mislaid.
Carroll F. Sweet 44
JN: [Would you tell me how the town came to be named "Park Forest?"]
CS: Phil Klutznick called "Iz" Rafkind and Hart Perry and myself into his office in downtown Chicago one afternoon and told us that FHA had told him that he had to have a name for Park Forest or had to have a name for his submission by the first thing the next morning. We had been toying with the name for a long time and had not come up with anything. In fact, Bozell and Jacobs, our publicity people, had been researching it. They had had interviewers out at supermarkets and places like that and asked people if they had a home in an ideal community, what would they like the community named. It was strange to see that the names were like the names for graveyards ‑Sunset Acres and all that sort of thing ‑‑ Pleasant Hills, all those things. None of them quite struck a bell with us. We never quite were able to accept any of those that they came up with. So, finally, as I say, Phil gave Hart and 'U" Rafkind and myself the job of coming up with a name in one afternoon. We decided to go to the Chicago Public Library, and each of us researched independently. We looked through books, we looked for anything that we could find that would help us come up with something. Well, we had to get back to the office before five o'clock. So, none of us were happy with anything we came up with. We were walking back to the office ‑‑ the office was in the Harris 117rust building on the corner of Monroe and Clark. Anyhow, we were walking just a half block from the office and talking among ourselves. We were shaking our heads, and I said, 'You know, just because there is a Forest Park now doesn't mean that we shouldn't have a Park Forest. You know, switch the names around." Both Hart and 'U" said, "Park Forest.
Carroll F. Sweet 45
That's not too bad. Park Forest." When I made the suggestion, I hadn't recognized the appropriateness of it. I had just made the remark offhand that we could reverse the name just as well as not. So, we went into the elevator and went up to the office which was on the second floor and reported back to Phil at about five o'clock. And, 'Well, we really didn't come up with anything. However, walking back, we were talking it over and a name had come up that maybe we could use, and that was Park Forest." Phil said, "Park Forest? Park Forest, not bad," rolling It around, you know. "Ask Nate if he can come in here." So, Nate came back ... [recorded by hand when tape ran out] So, it was accepted. At the November 27, 1948, tent meeting. the name was proposed and accepted by tenants. No one [at that point] ever raised an objection to it. So. as far as I'm concerned, it came from me, but I never insisted on [the credit for naming the city]. It was a joint suggestion of Hart Perry, Israel Rafkind and Carroll Sweet, Jr. to Phil Klutznick and Nathan Manilow who accepted it.
TAPE 2: SIDE A
This is an interview with Carroll Sweet, Jr. for the Oral History Collection done by Jane Nicoll on April 19, 1991.
JN: Okay, Mr. Sweet, can you tell me ...
CS: Carroll, call me Carroll. Everybody else does.
Carroll F. Sweet 46
JN: Thank you. Can you tell me why the firm of Loebl and Schlossman was chosen?
CARROLL SWEET, JR: I can't give an absolutely positive answer to that because I did not have a hand in the selection, but it is my impression that the selection was made by Phil Klutzriick, probably with the approval of Nate Manilow, because of some personal relationship between Mr. Klutznick and probably Jerry Loebl, and also because they had faith and confidence in the success of the project and were willing to accept a share in the ownership of American Community Builders as their fee for the work.
JN: Okay. One of the men who worked on the project was Elbert Peets. How was he brought in?
CS: Elbert Peets, again, very similar to my answer on the Loebl and Schlossman question. He was from the Washington area and was unquestionably brought in because Mr. Klutznick was familiar with his reputation and capabilities. He worked nominally under LoebI and Schlossman, or at least he was coordinated by Loebl and Schlossman. I had the great privilege of meeting him here on the site and walking over the project with him and listening to him while he thought out loud with respect to the land characteristics that were governing his thinking. However, at that time since our thinking was homes for sale, his original plans contemplated that kind of development. However, I think basically Peets' designs had to do with the selection of a central shopping site, area site, and
Carroll F. Sweet 47
its relationship to the proposed housing more in general, and in specific terms its character, bearing in mind utility considerations that are inherent in a good plan, how utilities flow and so forth. He came up with a number of plans before he came up with one that was accepted by our planning committee, which was that picture I showed you that consisted of virtually every employee at ACB at that time except the secretarial employees.
JN: Okay. I heard about this before when he walked the land. Tell me more about that day when you walked that land, or the days. What did he do?
CS: Well, he had been out here before, and he had done all of his work before, but we just got out and hiked along an area on the east side of Western Avenue, then came over here, which was at that time a golf course, and walked around through this. My recollection is not as keen on that as it is on some of the history of Park Forest, but I remember him telling me that this would be the housing area, which was not much like the present plan because of our later decisions that went to the rental housing program that was adopted. But he was gravitating In his own mind towards the center where the shopping center now exists as being the town center for the plan. There were other sites for the town center. I can't remember them all, because we didn't accept them until this plan was proposed and this plan seemed to make sense to us when we accepted this plan and we gave him the green light to go ahead. Now, Mr. Peets was not around here very long. I think within a year, he was probably gone. His job had been completed.
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From then on, it was turned over to Joe Schudt and to the engineering firm that was working on it.
JN: Tell me, in the original parcel of land, what part of the parcel is the shopping center on?
CS: It was ‑‑ there was a main street coming down. I thought it was Indian Wood, but it was a main street, my recollection, which just came down between Areas "G" and Areas "D" and "E," and down between Area "H" and Areas "D" and "E." It passed Area "G" to Area "H," and then it split off. Now, it may have been Forest, now that I think of it. Indian Wood starts where that divides.
JN: It has a "Y" turn, and it goes east and west.
CS: So, anyhow, they were looking for an entry, and they had this boulevarded entry which was Victory Boulevard, a split boulevard. I don't know how long you've been here, but before Sears ever came in, there were two wide streets with a wide median strip. The median strip must have been fifty feet or more wide between the two boulevards, and that was supposedly Peets' plan, the main entrance to the shopping center and at the other end was the entrance to the shopping center. But, then, when Sears came in, they sort of abandoned that. It hadn't been used. People who knew their way around always came down the other way anyhow.
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JN: Okay, what I'm trying for is where in the golf course or where in the farming land was that set?
CS: Reichart's land basically, most of it was north of the power line and extended to the west and south of the E.J. & E. Railroad [Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railway Co.]. I don't remember how far south it extended. I think he had the rights to farm underneath the power lines, but he had three hundred acres or so, and it went well to the west, I think, almost an the way to Matteson and Richton Park. The golf course extended almost to the power lines. There may have been a hundred yards or a hundred or two hundred yards. The golf course had a lot of trees on it, and as I recall it, the boundary on the north side of the golf course were trees, and there were a lot of trees between the holes.
JN: Okay. Was the slough part of the golf course plan?
CS: The slough was part of the ownership here that we acquired with the golf course and with the farm on the south side of Sauk Trail, so I think it was probably part of the golf course ownership.
JN: And the slough, we should point out, became Central Park.
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JN: But the shopping center Itself would have been in the middle of the golf course about?
CS: More on the west edge.
JN: On the west edge of the golf course.
CS: In other words. the golf course ran from about Forest Avenue over to Western. It was long and narrow. It ran from Sauk Trail to the north boundary, which was close to the power line, but it may have not been quite as far.
JN: Okay, thank you. Now, what did you know about Elbert Peets' history before he came here?
CS: I knew nothing about Elbert Peets, but I was told that he had a reputation as one of the finest city planners available.
JN: Do you know any other projects he'd been on?
CS: No, I do not. He seemed entirely competent, but I did, I was under the understanding that he had established an outstanding reputation. He worked out of the Washington, D.C. area.
JN: And where did he live when he was working here?
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CS: I don't know.
JN: Now, we talked yesterday on Tape One about Charles Waldmann. Let's just cover him again briefly. Who involved Charles Waldmann, the chief engineer?
CS: Charles Waldmarm came very shortly after Phil came here to form ACB. Phil came here the first of July, 1946, and Charlie Waldmann was here within two to three weeks afterwards. Outside of Phil Klutznick's secretary, Waldmarm was the next employee after Phil Klutznick. My opinion was that Phil IGutznick had such a high regard for Waldmann that he almost decided that without Waldmarm there wasn't going to be any Park Forest.
JN: And Charles Waldmann was here for the site selection?
CS: No. None of the ACB team was here during site selection. That was only the six men that I told you about yesterday.
JN: Yesterday we covered his previous projects. Let's just briefly ...
JN: Yes, Waldmann.
CS: Waldmann was a graduate of the Royal Academy in Budapest. He was a
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civil engineer. an electrical engineer and a mechanical engineer. He had been brought over here in the early twenties by General Electric. He went to work in their Schenectady, N.Y.. headquarters. He was taken ill from overwork, and in the mid‑twenties he was living in the New York area. When he recovered, he set up his own consulting firm based in New York, and again he overworked, because overwork was indigenous to Charlie Waldmann. When he recovered this time, his wife decided that the only way she could control Charlie was to let him work for an agency that discouraged working around the clock, and that would be the government. So, Charlie went to work for the government and did the engineering for all of the early government city‑scale housing developments ‑‑ all of the government's housing developments, really, Charlie did engineering for during the thirties.
JN: And those were the Green Belt?
CS: That included the Green Belt, and I don't know how much else.
JN: Okay. Now, let's start on Charles Sweet, Jr., shall we? We've established when you came to work for ACB was in 1946.
CS: I got here to this area just before the Labor Day weekend. I spent that weekend in Grand Rapids with relatives. I came back here, reported to work the Tuesday after Labor Day in '46, and I was the fourth employee of the company.
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JN: Okay. And you stayed with them into 1956 and worked for them.
CS: January of '56 1 left here.
JN: Okay. Can you kind of outline again for me, briefly, the positions that you held?
CS: Well. they didn't have many positions when I came to work here. So, in order to have me available for any sort of odd assignment, I was made assistant to Mr. Klutznick. Hart Perry, when he arrived less than two weeks later, was also made assistant to Mr. Klutznick, and then we were given assignments, special assignments. Presumably, they were such as were adapted to our background, which mine was fairly little in construction but was strong in management leadership through the Navy. and so forth. So, I had assignments such as researching the zoning that would be applicable to our development, and it was not too long after I got here, sometime in that fall, that I was assigned to Charlie Waldmann to help him. I went with Phil fUutznick on his contacts with the Illinois Central Railroad. I went with Charlie Waldmann on all his contacts with the Northern Illinois Public Service Company, and all such negotiations. I went with Hart Perry on our discussions with the school people. Professor William Reavis, University of Chicago, we were told was the outstanding authority on school districts and school administrations in the state of Illinois, and we should contact him about seeing what action we should take to ensure that there was schooling
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available for the youngsters that we would be bringing out to Park Forest. That gets into a whole other story.
JN: Okay. Part of your dealings with Waldmann and the gas company was when you were dealing with the natural gas allocations for the project?
CS: Well. that, of course, came later. Now, Northern Illinois Public Service was both gas and electric. and Charlie, because of his outstanding talent as a negotiator and because of his outstanding professional qualifications, could talk equally easily about gas and about electricity. But the public service company was more compartmentalized. They had electric people, they had gas people, they had engineering people and so forth. So, in order to talk with Charlie, they usually had twelve to fifteen people in the meeting just to talk with him, because he could move from one question to another so quickly, and we were negotiating how the city should be served. And we'd made up our minds on certain things. We wanted a clean city. That meant natural gas. The public service company didn't have the natural gas, because it was still in Texas. Now, they were serving Chicago with gas, but they didn't have any excess supply. They needed both pumping capacity, pipeline capacity and storage capacity, and at that time, they were working on a place called Herscher Dome. It's a huge underground cave arrangement in the southern part of Illinois, and they were working on increasing their pumping capacity so that they could have higher pressure in the line, and I think in some places they were reinforcing the lines. But these things made additional quantities of gas available only as the construction work was
Carroll F. Sweet 55
accomplished, and not until they really had Herscher Dome operative, which was in the mid‑fifties, were they able to take care of everybody. Since this did have political implications, it was reserved to residents only. Residents are voters. Shopping center owners are not necessarily voters. So, we had no gas for any of our shopping centers or schools, but we decided it was going to be gas. So. when we got to the point where they couldn't service us anymore through the regular facilities, they started telling us that we could have maybe a hundred allocations this year and so forth. By that time, we already had Lakewood School built and put it on propane, and the shopping center units were built. They were on propane, because they couldn't qualify for natural gas. But propane could be easily converted to natural gas. In other words, all they had to do was change an orifice in the heating equipment. And so, Northern Illinois Public Service Company was very much sympathetic with what we were trying to do, because we were trying to preserve business for them in a way. If we had gone to oil, there wouldn't have been any conversion later to gas. It would have been too expensive. So, when the time came, we knew we had to have a greater propane facility than just the tanks outside these buildings. I was directed to study that and authorized to hire the services of a consulting engineer by the name of Richard Stafford, who was a gas engineer and an excellent one. He designed a central evaporating plant with two [thirty] ‑thousand‑gallon [see below] storage tanks and an evaporator up at the railroad siding just across from the water company. We would buy our propane ‑‑ I was in charge of the operation ‑‑ and we would buy our propane by the ten thousand gallon tank car and put it into those tanks. Now, propane was designed so that in
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normal weather conditions, the evaporation resulting from the sunlight on the tanks takes care of changing the liquid propane to a vapor and distributing it, out of a distribution tank. But we only wanted it on one distribution line, and so that was run down Forest Avenue from the water company site. There were leads taken off that to service the Lakewood School and to service the shopping area so that we were able to do away with the unsightly tanks, which by this time had become inadequate. So, we had our own gas utility company. When the Northern Illinois Public Service Company, could not give us as many authorizations for natural gas as we wanted, I had the authority to select which ones they gave us. So, I selected the ones that were easiest for us to serve off of our line and made them put in their lines for the ones that were more difficult to serve, which they didn't object to, because, again, as I said, they knew we were saving their market for them, and it wasn't until . . .. Well, I sold that operation just before I left in January of 1956 to a gentleman in Kankakee, and he well knew that he wouldn't have it very long. I think that he was more interested in getting the equipment, because he knew that as soon as Northern Illinois Gas was able to serve all the shopping centers [and schools] that there would be no business for propane as such.
JN: Okay. As far as you know, do those tanks still operate with propane?
CS: The tanks up there?
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CS: When I left in '56, they were still there, but I think long, long ago they were probably ‑‑ well, I sold the whole operation to this ...
JN: Yes, I know they don't operate under the village, but you don't have any idea ...
CS: I'm sure he took them to some place where they would operate.
JN: Okay. There are some tanks up there. Those may be water tanks then.
CS: These were long. maybe that diameter, something like that.
JN: Oh, just much larger versions of propane tanks ...
CS: And long. They looked like long hot dogs.
JN: . . . you see at cabins. Okay. Now, just one point. I see in your speech in 1960, you said that the tanks were thirty thousand. Were they twenty?
CS: My memory was better then than it is now.
JN: I'll go with thirty?
CS: Okay. Whatever they were. I was kind of hesitating when I gave you figures, because I wasn't quite sure. But the tank cars, I think, were ten
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thousand. So, I ordered those all on the basis of contract bids, but almost always they came from Bartlesville, Oklahoma ‑‑ well. they came from Phillips Petroleum. They were usually the low bidders. They're headquartered in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. I'm not sure of where the gas always originated from. They would dispatch it to us here from wherever they happened to have it. It was a very good operation, and Dick Stafford did a great job for us. If anything went wrong, he had a phone in his car. He was always someplace in Illinois or Indiana, and he would drive, no stopping, not for food, not for coffee, not for anything. If I sent out an emergency call for him through his home in Evanston, he would be here within two hours from wherever he was. Great guy. He died of cancer shortly afterward.
JN: So, shortly after '56?
CS: Yes, I think probably '58 or so. Oh, just a great guy. I can't say too much. Great.
JN: It's not a name I ever heard before, so I'm glad we got that in.
CS: Very few people had ‑‑ I had all the dealings with him, and it was just a name to most anybody else in ACB. but to me he was a loveable character and a capable character.
JN: When did you become maintenance superintendent?
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CS: When Mariflow took over from Klutznick and fUutznick went to B'nai B'rith, Manilow brought Herb Plant in, who had been his maintenance superintendent at all of his projects for years and years and years. And, then, I'm not sure whether he was more motivated by the fact that he thought Herb Plant could do a better job than I was doing ‑‑ I'm sure he would never say so ‑‑ or whether he thought that I would be better as his right‑hand man, which is, I'm sure, what he would say. But Herb ‑‑ there was a big barn that had been used for construction at the lower end of Area "D" between that and Sauk Trail on the east side. I don't think it's still there anymore because it was an eyesore, but that was our maintenance headquarters. We had a big maintenance staff because we had over forty painters painting three thousand and ten units plus all the painting of the shopping center and so forth. We didn't do the original painting. That was under contract, but we did all the maintenance painting, and to have to repaint all these buildings once every three, four, or five years ‑I don't remember our schedule ‑‑ you have to have a big maintenance painter staff. Besides that, there was plumbing, electrical work and everything else we did. So, we had a maintenance staff of probably sixty people. And I had to invent the staff, start it from nothing.
JN: And what dates ‑‑ did you serve in that position before ?
CS: Oh, yes. I was In charge of maintenance before we ever moved out of Chicago.
JN: Okay. So, by '46 or '47?
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CS: There was a gentleman whose name you probably have heard here. It was John Lange. John Lange came to us as a management there was also another name that I can't remember who came before him Blackstone or some such thing ‑‑ Silverman, Silverman, Silvernian! Silverman was our first manager. He wasn't here very long. He was always in the downtown area. then he left for one reason or another. I don't know offhand why. John Lange appeared ‑‑ a delightful person and competent ‑‑ and I was at that time put in charge of maintenance. It was more maintenance planning, because there was nothing to be in charge of at that time. Hart Perry was his assistant for marketing, so to speak. It's probably a good name now: we didn't call it that then. He had charge of setting up the leasing and getting the forms ready and all that sort of thing under John Lange. And, then, they moved out here. I was here. The first ACB office here was my car. No question. I had a 1940 Buick convertible, and that was ACB's maintenance office. It usually did most of its functioning after five o'clock at night.
JN: Would you be in the city until then?
CS: No, no, I was out here, but I had no place to work from. The demands on maintenance occurred when people got home at night and construction had shut down. It was very interesting for the first people [in], the first courts here, the Post Office Department wouldn't deliver the mail, because we didn't have adequate walks. We didn't have adequate walks because it was all muddy. We couldn't put the concrete down in what we had, so we had what we called duckboards ‑‑ miles and miles of duckboards. The Post Office
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Department wouldn't deliver on those, so they would deliver in bags to everybody here. Almost the moment ‑‑ there was a huge, big table about four times the size of this table that they used for blueprints and one thing and another while they were working out there in the construction office in that lower part of the wing that was in that picture that we talked about yesterday. When they quit, they would clear that table off. Almost the same minute, I would bring those bags in and dump them on the table. Then, I would have to start dividing. and it took me about an hour to divide everybody's [mail] there. Then I'd segregate those, put them in my car, and I'd start delivering the mail. Also, it was part of the plumbing contract to secure the state sanitary board's approval to use our plumbing system for the distribution of water. Well, I don't know if you know the word coliform. Coliform is not really an infection of the water or anything. If the coliform count is above a certain figure, then the water is not regarded as approvable for drinking. It can be used for anything else. It could be used for bathing and cooking or anything like that, but not for out‑and‑out drinking. Well, the schedule called for the plumbing to be through before the first people moved in, but at the last minute, the state felt that the coliform count was too high. So. we had an alternative to stopping all these people from moving in, which is like standing in front of a tidal wave and wishing it back, you know. The only alternative we came up with was to distribute bottled water, say, "Now, you know, for all your drinking purposes you have to use bottled water." So, that was another job that fell to the maintenance staff out here ‑‑ the maintenance staff consisting of one person and a car. So, I had to also distribute that water. They put empty bottles on their back porch. I'd drive around, and
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wherever I'd see an empty bottle...........I kept full bottles in the car, and big
bottles like that are kind of heavy.
JN: All in your car ‑‑ not even a truck.
CS: No, I hauled it in my beautiful old Buick convertible with snow tires on it. Anyhow, so we, it didn't take long ‑‑ I would say within a month or six weeks we got that clearance and picked up all those bottles. But in the meantime, we were serving families of about four courts, and since they ran, what, thirty families to the court or something like that, we were servicing all their potable water needs, a hundred‑and‑twenty families or so before we got the clearance to use the water system. I also had to distribute garbage cans, because our contract with the garbage collector ‑‑ we didn't have a city, so we had to contract with a contract refuse collector. Our contract with him specified a standard can. Well, we couldn't expect each one of our homeowners to come in with a standard can, so to be sure that we had the can that met the requirements of the contract, we gave ‑‑ I don't remember If there was any charge or not. I don't think there was, but if somebody told me there was, I can't remember. Anyhow, I had to distribute the garbage cans to all the new people. Then, of course, you had all gas appliances. This was an all‑gas community. According to union regulations, all the gas piping has to be done by a union called the Fitters Union. Well, if they came home at night and found the refrigerator was not working, the first supposition was that the pilot light had gone out, and homeowners didn't know how to reset the pilot light or anything. Normally one of the fitters was supposed to come
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in, but the fitters wouldn't be there until seven o'clock in the morning or something, because this hadn't been discovered until ‑‑ they were off duty at four‑thirty, let's say, and this hadn't been discovered until five or five‑thirty, and we've got things in the refrigerator beginning to go bad. because it may have been out all day long. So, I researched the thing, and, of course, this is a very strong union town. I don't know how it is now, but it certainly was then. I found that there was only one union that was permitted to play with these various toys other than the unions that were primarily responsible, and that was the janitor's union. So, when Phil gave me authority to hire one person, I advertised for janitors, because a janitor ‑‑ the fitters always complained, but janitors were recognized to have to make emergency repairs in buildings all over town, so they have written into their contract for certain rights. So, I interviewed some number of janitors and hired a man by the name of Mitchell Agee, who came with his own truck. That supplemented my maintenance vehicle. He proved to be a jewel also. And then the Northern Illinois Power Company took us to a school someplace ‑‑ I don't remember where ‑‑ and taught us how to do minor servicing of gas appliances, how to adjust and light pilot lights and do everything necessary to run down and fix outages. For a while, the two of us handled all those emergencies in all those houses. Of course, I always had to stay around until six or seven o'clock because otherwise an emergency would go unreported. By six or seven o'clock usually they were home and had found any problems they'd have.
JN: Now, by this time you were returning home to Indiana?
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CS: I was, yes, commuting from Indiana. I was usually here at seven or seven‑thirty in the morning and usually didn't get away from here until between six and seven in the evening.
JN: And how long a drive was that?
CS: Twenty‑six miles.
JN: How long did it take? Do you remember?
CS: Twenty‑six minutes. No, it took a little longer than that. I'd go Sauk Trail through Dyer, hit Lincoln Highway at Dyer and what was then 45 going south until I got right opposite where I lived in Dalecarlia. Then, I'd cut back through the farms to the small roads. I made it fairly quickly.
JN: What was it like when you had to drive out here from the city?
CS: Well. as I said, once I started out here, I didn't go to the city very often. I just went if they wanted me down there for anything.
JN: But when you still lived in the city, what was that commute like?
CS: Oh, probably an hour or so. There were no freeways and no interstates.
JN: What route did you take then?
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CS: Oh, I think we took a number of routes. I don't know whether you came out on Calumet Expressway and then cut across, because even though it was a little bit longer, it might be a little quicker or came farther south. The community where my dad died in the nursing home, and I couldn't think of the name, was Dolton. So. we came out through that general area and ftnally we went way over to Harvey and came out through Hazel Crest and Homewood to Western Avenue, out that way. So. as I say, we certainly learned the ways that would work out best, and I can't remember the exact route that I took.
JN: When did you become director of planning and public utilities? Was that the next position?
CS: No. there was no position. Here's what happened. As assistant to Nate Manilow ‑‑ you see, Phil Klutznick had introduced (and I think it was before he left for B'nai B'rith) a very excellent management technique. Every Friday we had a staff meeting in the boardroom at the ACB ‑‑ that was after the ACB building was built. And all the top people ‑‑ construction, comptroller, everybody, we had a legal department by then ‑‑ everybody would be up in that room. There were about fifteen people around the table, and Phil would come in from his office, Loebl and Schlossman sometimes had people out here, and so forth. Phil would bring everybody up to date on what was going on and then would ask for comments from the various people on what were the problems. He talked to every department on what were the problems. We fully discussed those problems, and then Phil would say, "Next week or
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two weeks from now I want an action report on this. I want to know what you've done to solve that problem." We would talk over an approach to solutions, and then he would assign duties as to who was to solve that problem. As a result, we really didn't have problems that lasted very long, because we knew the week afterwards we were supposed to report on what we'd done to solve the problem that came up. It was an excellent method, and it really impressed me with what a great manager Phil Klutznick was ‑or is, for that matter. Then, he went away, and Manilow took his place, but only came out here about once a week, and I think that once a week did include those staff meetings pretty much. Well, in all the other departments, they had certain things that they didn't want to be bothered with. Who do you suppose ended up with the responsibility for all those things? The assistant to the president. So, when Phil Klutznick came back, he found me handling a wide variety of jobs as assistant to the president. He called me in. He said, "Carroll, I think you're handling enough jobs that you ought to be made a department head. Would you tell me what I should call the department?" By that time I was representing the city before the [Park Forest Plan Commission], sometimes before the trustees, although Hart Perry did that more, and "Iz" Rafkind. I think more simply for me because the planning committee [Plan Commission] was the hard committee to get by. If they got by the planning committee, the trustees usually didn't give them too much of a hard time. In the relationships with the school board, Hart Perry had been close to that right from the beginning, so he usually handled most of that. But the construction department didn't want to ‑‑ I had the water company at that time ‑‑ the construction department didn't want to fool with
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any of the, putting in street lights, putting in ‑‑ they weren't really part of the houses, and even because we were also servicing the sewer mains, the water company crew, Bob Enzweiler's crew. Bob Enzweiler, I don't think I mentioned that name, and I'm sure you're familiar with it. Bob Enzweiler was not a graduate engineer. He was a field engineer, so to speak, and he had charge of the crew. He had charge of the water company under me. He had charge of all the distribution systems, repairs. If a water line would break. Bob Enzweiler and his crew would be on it like that. Bob lived over in Crete, and he was terrific, too, but he died a few years later unfortunately. Anyhow. My thinking just got off for a minute. Oh, I was saying, we had our crew that handled maintenance for all these sewers and water lines and so forth. It just seemed like construction. Why should we bother to let the contracts when you are the one that has to be satisfied and service them? So, they decided to turn even the contracting of all the storm sewers, sanitary sewers and water lines over to me, as well as street lighting. Construction just wanted to build houses. They didn't want to be bothered with these details. So, Phil Klutzriick found me handling all these things plus negotiations for the bus lines, things like that, which were also public utilities, and he said, "Would you please come up with a title for your department?" I gave it some thought and came back to him the next day or so, and I said, 'Well, I think you just ought to call a spade a spade. I'd say it was the Department of Planning and Utilities." He said, "Sounds good to me, so you're the head of the Department of Planning and Utilities." It didn't change my workload any. It just put a name to it.
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JN: Okay. While you were involved in these early days, you were involved with putting together 'Where Thistles Grew Before," which we have in the archive and ...
CS: That's mine. I'll guarantee you that. That quote, that title is my title, and it comes from a quotation of Abraham Lincoln: 'When I die, I want it said of me that I planted a rose and made it grow where thistles grew before," or something like that. A quote of Abraham Lincoln.
JN: Great. And, then, in the Park Forest Album which we have copied also and has many small photographs of the early site and construction here. The photographs were taken by Carroll Sweet, Jr., and possibly labeled by him as well. You had a strong interest in recording the history of the settlement, shall we say, of Park Forest and how it came to be.
TAPE 2: SIDE B
NICOLL: Could you describe what the site was like before construction?
SWEET: As I mentioned before, I was one of a group of six which came out on a Sunday morning in March of 1946 to look at this property for the first time with the idea that It would be the site of the dream community that we were proposing. I had very little background in construction ‑‑ a little common sense and some management ability, but not much in construction, although I had two summers as an assistant real estate appraiser in Grand
Carroll F. Sweet 69
Rapids, so I knew something about real estate. To me the site looked very good. The one drawback that we could see physically was the high voltage line that traveled from Chicago Heights more or less along the 26th Street right‑of‑way and extended beyond the end of 26th Street clear across our property and on to Joliet, I believe. Anyhow, we eyed that as quite a drawback, and we even approached the power company for an estimate of the cost needed to reroute the lines away from our proposed development. They came up with a price of something like, it's my recollection, around $250,000, which doesn't seem an awful lot of money now, but probably had the same general [value] in terms of money that maybe two or three million dollars would have now. As a firm starting out on a huge big building job with virtually no money in our pockets except the land itself ‑no cash in our pockets ‑‑ it became an almost insurmountable object. As we visited the site more and more, we noticed the power lines less and less, and we felt that this perhaps was a characteristic, and that other people who came here, if they liked the housing and one thing and another. the power lines would be less of a problem as time went on. Except for the fact that the power company had decided at a later date not so much from the operating people's initiation as from the legal initiation that the right‑of‑way should be fenced, which we also did not like because too many high wire fences didn't look good for the project either. But that's what their legal department said that they had to have and so they had it. I notice that they're all long gone, but at the time they felt they were necessary. We took a property line survey very, very early. I am not sure whether it was the first thing that Loebl and Schlossman did. I think it was the first thing Loebl and Schlossman did, or
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it may have been the first thing that our engineering firm did. There was a property line survey so we would know exactly what we owned and what we had to yet assemble, and I'm talking about the odd little properties, not the basic properties, because that had all really been pretty settled before the first of July 1946. But there was still some tag end pieces that had to be picked up, and in any such development, you have to know exactly where your property rights begin and end. So. it wasn't until we got into that sort of thing and really realized the extent of that central peat bog that we knew that we'd have to work around, and there were some isolated pockets of peat elsewhere. For instance, there's one down on Orchard just a block south of Sauk Trail. It's a little park there. There were a few little isolated spots like that. But basically, the site had met all the characteristics, and we decided to go ahead with it and work around the problems. Now, as with regard to the streets. After a decision was made to go with the rental‑type project, and Loebl and Schlossman came up with this very unique design, which was really a strong contributing factor to the success of the rental area, of which all the rental units were in clusters of mostly four or five buildings ‑‑ two‑, four‑, six‑ and eight‑unit buildings ‑‑ around a central parking area, and all the rears of the buildings faced that parking area so that they just serviced the buildings through the rear door. The front of the buildings faced park‑like malls which was more scenic, and each unit had a fenced tot lot in the back. This community was designed for families, and in a day when most landlords didn't want families with children, we hung out the "children welcome" sign right from the beginning. So, we attracted a lot of young people and the young people who were basically very well educated. At an
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early date, the League of Women Voters or somebody like that conducted a survey here, and I'm sure the library has the results of that survey. I have passed some of them along that I had at one time, which showed that the average education for male was beyond a college education. The average education of females here was almost a college degree, I think. and that the average size of the family was something like four‑plus. So. there were a lot of kids in the family and practically all of them were school age or under. So, I'm getting a little ahead of myself again, which is characteristic of me. When we were still having to go through FHA, we had designed our project for 608 financing. There were nine separate areas, of which each of the major insurance companies that were involved here had taken three areas. Of course, they were different sized areas, so that would mean they each had a third of three thousand. They each had three areas as I recall, as mortgagors. Anyhow, there was the question of naming the streets, and since all the jobs that nobody else wanted came to me right from an early date and I would undertake them, I got the job of naming all the streets. As long as we had adopted the name Park Forest, I came up with the idea that a forest normally involves trees. Our areas were all numbered A, B, C and D, and we would identify them among them among ourselves as Unit A, Unit B, Unit C ‑‑ how would I translate that into a street name? I thought. well, there are enough trees that would start with different letters that I could coordinate the principal street in each area with the Area A, B or C. So, the principal street in Area A became Ash Street, B became Birch Street, C became Cedar, D became Dogwood, and so on. Then, we still had a few cul‑de‑sacs, mainly cul‑de‑sacs, short streets. Some of them were dead‑ends, some of them
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were not. but most of them were. And what would I do to make a characteristic pattern for naming those streets? Since my father always sort of looked upon this as a GI town, that they should be named for military people, perhaps military heroes. What could I do? I couldn't name them for Navy people, because then the Army and the Marines and Coast Guard might be mad and vice versa, to the Air Force and so forth. What could I do that would name them where there could be no inter‑service rivalry or criticism? I thought, "Why not name them after winners of the Congressional Medal of Honor from the state of Illinois?" I had no idea how many there were, but I wrote to some place in Washington, and I got a listing of all the Congressional Medal of Honor winners in the country and where they were from. I think I had a list of their addresses or the next of kin or whatever, and I found that there was some twenty or twenty‑five or so awarded in the state of Illinois, and I contacted them. I picked out names. We didn't have quite that many names to go around, but that was a detail, and I picked out names that I thought would be ‑‑ I had the citations. They also gave the citations of what acts of heroism had led to their award of this distinguished honor, and I wrote to the families or the nearest relatives wherever I could find them. I told them that we wished to honor their family hero with naming the street in our new community, and in every case that I recall, received their grateful approval. So, that's how the streets in the first part of Park Forest were named ‑‑ the streets in the first part of the "Homes for Sale" area, which are basically north and south of Sauk Trail in the eastern part of the area down to Monee Road. By that time Mr. Manilow was president and I was his assistant, and I told him that I'd like to participate in and be able to carry out some
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kind of orderly plan that I had begun in naming the streets. He said, "Oh, you've got more important things to do." So, he said, "Let the planners do that." So, the naming of those streets, except for the key streets like Orchard and so forth, which I had already named, except for those key streets, all the minor streets like Oakwood and Oswego and so forth were all done by the land planners which were working for Joe Schudt. I didn't get back in the picture again until Mr. Klutznick was back in the saddle, so to speak, and Westwood was under planning, and so I got into the naming of the Westwood streets and the streets around north of the area between the railroad and the high power lines and also the area of Lincolnwood.
JN: You did name them?
CS: I did name them. That was one of the last things I did before I left was get the plat approved for Lincolnwood, and on that plat, you had to have the streets named before you get the plat approval. I didn't have anything to do with that housing area between the railroads on the east side. That was done after I left ‑‑ on the east side of Western between the railroads.
JN: Right. Beacon Hill. We do have an article written by you for the Park Forest Reporter done on April 28, 1949, called "Sweet Streets Meet."
CS: Well, we ran into some problems on these curvilinear streets. Besides the streets I also had to number all the houses, number all the lots. The only way to do something like that was to set up a criteria. Say all the houses on the west side of the street were even numbered and east had the odd
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numbers or something like that. But the streets started like this and came like that. The east side became the west side and so forth, and that became very confusing. I soon was looking around for help. I thought wen, I'll go to the Main Post Office Department in Chicago. This was in the days of early planning before we ever moved out here. I talked to the highest person that I could talk to in the regional post office about the subject. He said, 'Very simple, very simple. Forget these curved streets. Make them all straight." That was no help to me at all, because the curvilinear street was, of course, the thing at that time, and it follows contours of the land. It makes It better for drainage and appearances are much better. So, there wasn't any question of our following curvilinear streets, but I was getting no help from the Post Office Department. So, this is the sort of help we got. I would say that one of the characteristic things that happened here in Park Forest was that we continually encountered people who we were asking for help who didn't know how to give it. They only knew how to solve problems by the same means that they solved them yesterday. But our problems were problems that didn't have any solutions yesterday. I would come here, I remember there was one period of time I would come over here and it seemed like everyday we would encounter something and they'd say, 'You just can't do it that way." It would seem sometimes that the impossibilities were going to just stop our project. But we learned to develop a mental ingenuity and determination that every problem had its solution, and it was our problem to find that solution. even if we had to go to Springfield to pass new legislation if we had to find a solution. And we did and overcame all those things. I would say that I learned a lot of lessons from Park Forest, but the lesson I
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learned the best was a mental flexibility that enabled me to take the point of view that no problem is unsolvable. There is a solution to everything. Now. that solution may not be acceptable in terms of time, money or some other factor, but there is a solution, and it following a twenty‑five year career as a consultant, it has stood me in good stead, because most of the people in this world do not know how to solve problems in any other way than how they solved them yesterday. And when you have learned that's not the way to solve problems, you have learned something that will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life and that's what I learned. __________________.
JN: Can you tell me something about the development of the schools in Park Forest?
CS: As I think I have mentioned among ourselves, we talked about what can we do about the schools, because we knew that we were bringing in a large market, with rapid occupancy of the dwelling units and that the market would have a great many young children. I think probably the earliest people had a lot of preschoolers, but they also had a lot of kindergarten to fifth grade kids. We found out that our school district on the east side of Western Avenue fell into the Chicago Heights school district. On the west side was District 163, and the only facility they had was a one‑room school in Richton Park with about thirty kids in it at the most. We talked to the district at Matteson, but it didn't make too much sense because the part that fell within the Matteson School District was up north of the railroads and was not within our plans for early development. It was recommended to us that the
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man who knew most about the school organization of anybody in the state of Illinois was a professor at the University of Chicago at the Midway Campus by the name of William Reavis. So, Hart Perry and I went out to talk to Professor Reavis, and like everybody else, he knew only how to solve our problems as he had solved them the day before. He asked us, 'Who are you?" We said, "Well, we're the builders. We expect to be building this at a rapid rate, and we'll be bringing in school‑age children at the rate of maybe ten to fifteen a week." "Well, the school boards have been set up by the state law of Illinois to handle their responsibilities, and if the builders would just stay out of it, the school boards are to be responsible for those things. You just stay out of it, and the school boards will carry out their responsibilities under state law." That's about all that we were able to get out of Professor Reavis. So, Hart Perry and I had contacted the superintendent of schools in Chicago Heights. Although it presented a problem for them, they were a large enough school district ‑‑ and this is peripheral enough to their area ‑‑ that they were able by and large to absorb the children who were coming into their school district. That's the people on the east side of Western Avenue, south of 26th Street, because A was not built until sometime later. But, it was very amusing to go to the school board meeting at Richton Park. They were meeting in their little one‑room schoolhouse one night, and we told them what we were going to do, that when we started in their area, the area east of Western Avenue, extending all the way to Richton Park, we expected to be bringing youngsters into their school district at the rate of anywhere from ten to twenty‑five a week and we were here to discuss this with them and see if we could sit down and see what we could do to help them fulfill
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their responsibilities under the state law to give these children a proper education. There was absolutely no reaction. They were stunned! No reaction at all ‑‑ no questions, no anything, no reaction at all. After a whole evening of this, we said, 'Thank you very much," and they bid us goodbye. Next thing we heard, which wasn't too long thereafter, they had abandoned all that part of School District 163 that wasn't in Richton Park and had voted to annex the rest of it to Matteson. That's how they got out of their problem, which gave us ‑‑ I mean, we were then able to elect a new school board to what was left of District 163. So, when we had enough people moved in, we had emergency elections and elected a new school board as well. Of course, we elected the city officials ‑‑ president and trustees of the village, all of which had been voted on to come to pass by the tent meeting. Meanwhile,
JN: You had to wait until February 1st for the incorporation.
CS: Yes. Meanwhile, we had to have some kind of a school system, because we had kids coming in that needed schooling. So, we approached the school district of Chicago Heights, and we worked out an agreement with them that if we paid them tuition and paid them transportation, they would take care of all our kids west of Western Avenue. So, the first year or so, all the kids went to Chicago Heights on that basis. Then, when there was a school board elected, we negotiated with a school board who were our tenants, and we made available to them an eight‑unit building in Area F alongside what was then called Victory Boulevard. We didn't finish it off. It was all plumbed and everything. The interior partitions were left out, and we were able to have a
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full classroom upstairs and a full classroom downstairs in each one of the eight units, so there were sixteen classrooms. The board started hiring teachers. The daughter of our next‑door neighbor out at Dalecarlia, who was an amazingly sharp lady, a graduate with teacher credentials from Northern Illinois Teachers College. that was the name then, I think, was one of the first teachers. She had excellent schooling. They hired a school superintendent by the name of Robert Anderson. That's a name I didn't think ‑‑ when I first said Robert I wasn't sure I could remember the last name. But he was one of the charter members of our Rotary Club, too. He was a very able individual, and he said ‑‑ never had a builder done this before, never. The builder underwrote the budget for the school board, all the salaries. Naturally, we studied the salaries a bit. There wasn't a complete blank check. We kept close watch on them. But we did go along with them to the extent that we wanted the finest schooling possible. If we didn't advertise the finest schooling possible, it wouldn't have been in accordance with the philosophy that Phil Klutznick wanted here in Park Forest and that we all were aiming at. So, if teaching was the criteria, we had excellent teachers, we had a good superintendent, and we had adequate physical capacity. Now, those people on the east side continued to go to Chicago Heights for several years, because they were in the Chicago Heights district. Chicago Heights could have accommodated. Chicago Heights had a good school system. They had to go by bus, but that's the way it was. When we were able to take care of their emergency situations, they looked to long‑range planning. Long‑range planning involved schools. This is very interesting. Loebl and Schlossman ‑‑ I don't know who they hired as a
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consultant ‑‑ but we became closely involved with them, and they designed the school in Lakewood [School] which became the prototype for modem schools all over the United States in efficiency and planning. We didn't want anything less than the best. We didn't want anything overbuilt. They came up ‑‑ whoever it was, their consultant or their staff, I don't know ‑‑ they came up with the idea of the all‑purpose room, which was used as a sort of gymnasium, as an auditorium, a lot of things. Bob Anderson had much of a hand in that, and the architects had ‑‑ and I don't know whether they had a consultant or not ‑‑ but I believe that Lakewood School was a unique school building in all school design and that it was widely copied all over the country, because costs were important to every school district and this was very efficient in cost. Each of the rooms had direct access to the outside, each to a central hall. The kindergarten rooms were on the opposite ends of the building ‑‑ the kindergarten and the administration offices were on the opposite side from the all‑purpose room so that all the classrooms were on this one corridor. The noise that always comes out of kindergartners' room was separated by that front entrance hallway and the all‑purpose room. In my way of thinking, it was a very unique design and copied all over. I have seen copies of that school as I've traveled with my jobs all over the United States. I've worked in thirty‑six states, and I have seen modern school designs. There was a firm here by the name of Perkins & Will which made very much of a specialty out of school planning. They would never say that they copied the plan of our Lakewood School which was by Loebl and Schlossman, but they can have their say, and I can have my own beliefs. I think that everybody copied it. As we got to negotiating with respect to Sauk
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Trail School and the other schools that came afterwards which we participated in the funding of, the school board desired to use Perkins & Will more and more. They felt that basically Loebl and Schlossman were not people who had a large background in school design whereas Perkins & Win were considered to be the outstanding school architects in the country. So, I don't know if Sauk Trail was a Perkins & Wills school, but I think everything after that was. What we did with respect to the school district ‑‑ there was no state law permitting a school district to borrow from a private party. They could borrow from the government. That was done during the war to provide school expansions in communities that were expanding because of the war effort, but the law did not permit school districts to borrow from a private individual or a corporation. We had to have special legislation passed to enable us to help the school board build Lakewood School. Each school was made, as I say, a separate corporation. as a building corporation, and the school district actually entered into a leasing arrangement and leased those buildings from this non‑profit corporation so that the building fund was refinanced. We ultimately forgave the debt on Lakewood School. We ultimately forgave it, also, on Sauk Trail, and I'll tell you why. We were moving pretty fast in accordance with the way bond issues had to be financed. A building is built, and the following March it goes on the tax rolls, and the following March they start collecting for it for bonding purposes, so there's a two‑year lag between the time a building is built and the time a school or a village or an entity can tax it. Well, there isn't a two‑year lag before services are needed that take that money. So, perhaps you can say that we were only doing the right thing in contributing the money that would
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have been made available to these entities if they had been able to collect the money the day that the building was built. But every builder had always planned it otherwise, and we voluntarily waived that through the public‑mindedness of Phil Klutznick mainly. If Mr. Manilow had any contrary opinions ‑I don't think he did ‑‑ but if he had any contrary opinions, Mr. Klutznick's philosophy always governed things like public attitudes.
JN: So the entire debt on Lakewood and Sauk Trail was forgiven, or it was forgiven after part of it was paid?
CS: That is a detail that I'm not an authority on.
JN: But some of it was?
CS: I know that a good share of it was [forgiven]. because we realized that if we kept holding their nose to the grindstone to pay the debts that they had agreed to pay. they would never catch up. Follow what I'm saying?
CS: They'd still be paying against Lakewood when they needed Blackhawk. See? So, in order to give them a chance to catch up, we forgave that debt. Now, how much, if any, they had paid on it, I am not the authority on. Rafkind was the comptroller, he would have known, but he's gone now. Klutzriiek, perhaps, is the only one that would know.
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JN: Okay, we'll move on, then, to a little bit more covering...
CS: There was a related problem, and that had to do with the financing of the village. When the village board was first set up, one of the first things they did was to elect a safety director. Now, we did have some kind of a safety director, I think, even before we got the village to enforce it. Prior to that time, we had ‑‑ I can best describe it as rent‑a‑cops. We had a security service and basically those people are not the highest paid people, and, consequently, not the best qualified people for their job. We had some nice people, nice fellows, but they were not adequate. So, as soon as we were able to hire a public safety director, he had charge of the police force. He hired the police force up to the limit of whatever ‑‑ the city had to clear their budget with us, too, because we were underwriting their budget. But they were rendering a service to us, too, and he also was in charge of the fire department. Up until the time he was hired, we had a volunteer fire department. By this time the maintenance department had been authorized to hire some additional people, and I liked the way Mitch Agee had worked out, so I hired additional janitors ‑‑ advertised for them. I was authorized to give them residence in each one of the units so that we had a janitor in Area F. a janitor covering Areas C and D, and so forth. We had about four or five of them around the project, and I instructed them to work out with each other if they wanted to leave the project so that the other person would be covering for them, so that we had janitorial services for emergencies around the clock and around the week. They could call and somebody was bound to be in and available. One of those people proved to be a man who had had a
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background of experience with the Chicago Fire Department. We gave him
the assignment. which he enjoyed very much ‑‑ you know, these firemen love
their work ‑‑ and he organized a volunteer fire department from among all
the janitors and me ‑‑ anybody we could find. We trained. We got out there
with our fire hoses and trained using the fire hoses and one thing or another.
I don't remember that we ever had a fire in the construction, but we had
quite a number of fires, grass fires, in the forest preserve and so forth, so we
were called out on a number of occasions for grass fires. With a little wind a
grass fire is a bad thing. You put out the fire here, and before you know it, it
starts ten feet away from you where you put it out. Water doesn't do any
good, because you don't have water out where the fire is going. Out in the
forest preserves, it's going far away from a creek or someplace, then you hit
________ with a broom or __________ to beat out the flames. A fire can just
jump ‑‑ you don't know how it jumps ‑‑ but it just jumps ahead of you faster
than you can go. I spent pretty stressful hours fighting fires around here in
the fields. So anyhow, we had that before we were able to finance the fire
department and set up a fire station here, which came later with the building
of the village hall. Until that time, I think we gave the service director an
office up in the old Reichart farmhouse or something after we had moved out
of it. And so, these things all grew sort of like topsy. They served their
purposes, because basically all of us who were engaged in this sort of thing,
none of us were afraid of work and we were reasonably intelligent. We did
the things that were necessary to make things work. We did set up a budget
for the city so that they were able to hire key people. and, of course, Phil
Klutznick was called "the idiot" by all of the other builders in the area. What
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is the idea of a builder setting up a village with village officials to pass on his work, and they're all you're tenants? Tenants are always at odds with the management, and here you're setting up a bunch of your tenants who can control what you do. They can pass your plats or reject them and so forth. Phil Klutznick said, "I feel that the people who are on our village boards and our village school systems are intelligent, well‑meaning, honest people. I think I am an intelligent, well‑meaning, honest person. If we get together and talk over our problems, and if I'm right, I can persuade them that I'm right. If they're right, I would be happy to have them persuade me of that." And that was his philosophy, and it did a great deal to make Park Forest a better place to live. I said in my speech four years ago that despite the fact that we were under pressures ‑‑ in fact yesterday I sat next to Blaine Osterling, and he had been the city planner, and I had been the corporation representative before these planning meetings, and Walter Blucher who was the head of the American Association of Planning Officials with offices in Glenway in Chicago, supposedly the top planner in the country. He was very sarcastic. Blaine told me yesterday, "I couldn't believe it. I owed my job to Walter Blucher, because he was the one who recommended me for the job, but I couldn't believe what they were asking of the corporation. It seemed to be so unreasonable the things they would ask for." But their philosophy we understood. It was our advantage as any builder is usually working on some borrowed money. He has to build as fast as he can. because an extra day of interest is an extra loss of profit. You know what I mean? The only way he can get it is out of his market. On the other hand, the city didn't want to let us go fast enough, but we got hint of their opportunity to get bonding, and
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they couldn't get the bonding right away. So, we wanted to help them, if it was something reasonable. If there was an additional drain line that they felt should be run to take an area, we negotiated it. I had to negotiate all those things, and sometimes the meetings lasted until twelve, one, two o'clock in the morning. If I thought it was reasonable, I'd agree to it right away. If I thought there was some question about it, I said, "All right, I'll take that back to my people and we'll see where we come out at." It was a negotiation of that nature, but we did get through it all. We've got a good plan here in Park Forest. I can't see anything really that isn't working except the shopping center. All the utility systems, as far as I know, work pretty well. And so, with that philosophy. I think we were all very proud of the product that was developed.
JN: Deservedly so.
CS: I guess. If we had had somebody besides Phil Klutznick at the head, I'm sure that we would have ‑‑ this could be off the record. . . . that I'd run into situations where Manilow was unreasonable to my way of thinking, but Phil was always out to do the best job he knew how to do with the idea that if he did a good job, the money would come.
JN: What were your impressions, then, of Schlossman and Bennett?
CS: After the early planning, we didn't see too much of Red Schlossman or Dick Bennett. Oh, every once in a while, they'd come out, but Loebl we saw a
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great deal of. Loebl was a very smooth, but not slick ‑‑ if you know what I mean ‑‑ a very nice person, very capable, and I got along just outstandingly. I have a story to tell about that. It gets into the water system. I don't know whether you want to get into it at this time or not.
JN: Let's just finish this briefly.
CS: It tends to answer your question in some respect.
JN: Oh, go ahead then. We'll just change tapes if we have to.
CS: And I'm going to step ahead of myself on the water system. But at a point. we had drilled a well ‑‑ you remember the Clock Tower. I don't know whether it's still there or not. Underneath that clock tower in the shopping center we had a well. It was our Number Three well. One and Two were up on the railroad. I was authorized to drill Number Four later on, and I think it was drilled. I can't remember. But Number Three was down in the shopping center. At Number Three, the water that we got out of our table, which was about four hundred feet deep, was quite cold. It was around fifty‑some degrees, and that well down there was only for the purpose of providing air conditioning water for the first couple of buildings in the shopping center. As we expanded the shopping center, there wasn't adequate water supply. On hot days ‑‑ I think it was one of these brought it to a head. I remember one Sunday it was very hot, and the air conditioning broke down. We had that one well, and if the pump broke down, it might be several hours before
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we could either repair the pump or get a replacement, and this happened to be on a Sunday afternoon. The candy merchant lost all his stock. You know, if it gets too hot, the air conditioning is off, all his chocolate candies become water. You know what I mean? Chocolate water. We were trying to figure out how to back up that system and also how to provide more water for the additional buildings. The Loebl and Schlossman office came up with the idea of putting cooling towers on the roof and recirculating the water through those cooling towers. Well, the water. when it goes through the air conditioning system, takes all those BTUs out of the air and makes the air cool instead of warm. It warms up the water to like ‑‑ I'll pick a number out of the air ‑‑ ninety degrees or even higher. Now, the cooling towers only take that back part way, let's say to seventy‑five.
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we could either repair the pump or get a replacement, and this happened to be on a Sunday afternoon. The candy merchant lost all his stock. You know, if it gets too hot, the air conditioning is off, all his chocolate candies become water. You know what I mean? Chocolate water. We were trying to figure out how to back up that system and also how to provide more water for the additional buildings. The Loebl and Schlossman office came up with the idea of putting cooling towers on the roof and recirculating the water through those cooling towers. Well, the water, when it goes through the air conditioning system, takes all those BTUs out of the air and makes the air cool instead of warm. It warms up the water to like ‑‑ I'll pick a number out of the air ‑‑ ninety degrees or even higher. Now, the cooling towers only take that back part way, let's say to seventy‑five.
TAPE 3: SIDE A
JN: This is an interview with Carroll Sweet, Jr., for the Oral History Collection done by Jane Nicoll on April 19, 199 1. You were talking about the shopping center cooling towers.
CS: Here were these cooling towers on top of the buildings. I don't know if you know what a cooling tower looks like. There's a big structure, and they look like a bunch of pans set up on each other. You can see them on a lot of structures. They look like a bunch of pans, and what they do is kind of aerate the hot water and it drips down and it gets cooled in the process and you use it over again through the system. But it's nowhere near as efficient, because
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now you have seventy‑five degree water when you originally used fifty‑nine degree water or fifty‑five degrees. Everybody hated to put [the cooling towers] up there. The architects said they had no better idea. So, we were going to put up the cooling towers. By then, Bob Enzweiler, and one of the suppliers ‑‑ one of the water company suppliers ‑‑ I don't know [what particular product]. The water company had several suppliers. They got to talking about it down in the water company office, and I came down one day. Bob said, "Carroll, I think we've got an idea." 'What's that?" "About the cooling water problem." 'What's the idea?" 'Well, you see we've got two problems: We have the problem of keeping the water cool enough for the air conditioning in the shopping center. and we have a problem of not being able to provide a supply of water if the well pump breaks down. We have a third problem: We're thinking of drilling a third well. Suppose if we hook up the shopping center with the water plant, then after we use the water to cool the shopping center, we pump it up to the water plant. We sell it as air conditioning water in the shopping center, then we run it through the filtration plant, and turn around and sell it again as city water, sanitary water." I said, 'Well, you mean you wouldn't have to have the cooling towers?" "No, because if the pump should break down ‑‑ and it's not likely to ‑but if It should, we have a pump in the water plant where we take the water out of Wells One and Two and ultimately Four, and pump it back to the shopping center through the same line in the other direction, and we still have fifty‑nine degree water, and enough to service the shopping center until the emergency is over when we can get Number Three back on the line." I came to the next meeting. and I said. 'Well, we think we have come to a
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solution at the shopping center which will do away with the need for cooling towers." I told Sam Beber this idea and he said, 'We sell that water twice! We sell the water twice!" Oh, it was fun. But they did think this was a very ingenious idea, but It still had to be passed in front of the state Department of Health. So. we asked the state water board, and do you know how they reacted to it? They thought this was one of the greatest ideas for conservation of water they had heard! "Carroll, would you please come down and address a seminar of waterworks people throughout the state and tell them what you did here and stimulate them to think of similar ideas to conserve water?" So, this was a unique solution that was developed by Bob Enzweiler, who was a mid‑level ‑‑ not a trained engineer, but a project engineer for the waterworks system. He did go over to the city staff of the waterworks when it was taken over by the city, but he died shortly thereafter. But all the credit for that is due to Bob. It wasn't mine. Bob had been chatting with a supplier, and they had come up with this idea. It was a great idea. Everybody in the state recognized it.
JN: What about Richard Bennett?
CS: Bennett was a partner of the firm after he became ‑‑ he became a consultant first, I think. I don't think he was an employee at first. I think he was a consultant. Then he was offered a partnership and became a partner, and most everybody now thinks of the firm as Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett. When we first did business with them, it was just Loebl and Schlossman. I think he was with the firm forever after as far as I know. I
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don't know anything about what happened to Dick, because when they passed beyond the design stage, Dick was involved with whatever other architectural business they had.
JN: But he did design some of the other buildings in town, separately.
CS: I imagine he was involved in the design of all the buildings that Loebl and Schlossman did for us and the first two schools.
JN: He did design Trinity Lutheran Church and Beth Shalom synagogue. Did you have much contact with him? Do you know his personality?
CS: Dick was a very pleasant person. All three ‑‑ Red Schlossman. Jerry Loebl and Dick Bennett were just as pleasant and obviously competent as they could possibly be. I never had any criticism. Outside of the fact that they had not come up with this idea that we came up with on the water, they immediately embraced it when they heard it. It was too obvious not to work.
JN: And anything to say about Sam Beber's style?
CS: Well, as I say, I have mixed feelings about Sam Beber. I'll tell you a sequel to that story. [Editor's note: Mr. Sweet is referring to a story previously told off‑tape.] I left here and went to Grand Rapids to join a building firm. It didn't work out, and I was out of work for some months, a
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year about, until two people named Jack Cornelius [and Henry Hirsch]. I don't know if you've heard the name before.
JN: I've heard it.
CS: Jack Cornelius was a close friend of mine from the Navy, and then after the Korean War he came back and lived in the house next door to mine on Oakwood. He became a village trustee here. Then he moved north [to Northbrook]. Jack and I have been friends for many, many years and still are. He's retired in Florida now. Jack and a fellow by the name of Henry Hirsch, who was a member of the upper staff of the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry (Henry Hirsch had been a junior officer of mine on the aircraft carrier, which you'll find out all about when you read my Navy story) heard that I was out of work in Grand Rapids. They decided that Carroll should come back to Chicago. Chicago appreciated me. Grand Rapids didn't. So. they started contacting people that they thought could use somebody like me. One of the people they contacted was James C. Downs, Jr. He headed Real Estate Research Corporation, which was then the major real estate economics firm in the United States. They had done studies out here at Park Forest, mainly on the shopping center. Downs was a friend of Phil Klutznick's because Phil had been a client of his. So, he called [ABC when he was considering employing me] to try to find out about [me]. He had heard that I worked out here, of course. Cornelius and Hirsch told him that I'd been out here in Park Forest for ten years, and he called and tried to talk to Phil Klutznick, but Phil was out of the city. So, he talked to Sam Beber. He
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asked Sam Beber what he thought of Carroll Sweet. Sam said, "Carroll's Sweet is one of the greatest employees that we ever had out here. We don't know what we could have done without him. He was just. . . " and gave this [glowing recommendation]. Downs was just dumbfounded, because he knew Sam Beber and he knew that nobody could get along with Sam Beber. So. he later told me. "I figured that if you could satisfy Sam Beber like he told me you did, that you certainly would satisfy me." He had a speaking engagement over in Grand Rapids and called me up and asked me to meet him [at the train and drive him] over there. He offered me a job with his company. I had another job with Centex in the offing, but they weren't ready for me. Centex was then the largest home builder in the United States, and they were looking for somebody for a big project out at Elk Grove Village. They were building a whole city out there. They wanted somebody who had some experience with operating waterworks, and I was one of the few people they could find in waterworks that knew the state of Illinois regulations and so forth. So, they told me they'd like me, but they wouldn't be ready for me for about six months. So, I told Jim Downs that I had that in the offing. He said, 'Well, I'd like to have you come to work for me immediately, and I think once you go to work for Real Estate Research Corporation. you won't want to leave, but if I'm wrong and you do want to leave and join Centex next spring, you will certainly go with my blessing." I was with them for twenty‑five years.
JN: Did you find that Manilow and Klutznick had their own camps?
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JN: Yes, had their own following.
CS: I guess inevitably. Manilow had people that had been with him for many years in the construction business. He had confidence in them, they knew how he operated, and when he came in for a period of a year or so when Phil Klutznick left [to assume international Presidency of B'nai B'rithl, it was just automatic. I think any president that had his own team would tend to want to bring his team into the picture when he was responsible. But interestingly enough, when Phil came back, basically those members of the team stayed in their present location. Phil did not replace them with anybody. So, obviously, he must have thought they were doing the job properly, because Rashkin stayed on as sales director and Goldman headed construction, and Herb Plant was in charge of maintenance, although Herb died not too long afterward.
JN: Are there other ACB personnel that you would like to discuss? We've covered several of the people I had listed here, but we haven't talked much about Dick Senior.
CS: Dick Senior wasn't around very long. Harrison was out. I don't think Harrison even was still with us when we moved out here from Chicago.
JN: Okay, that's Allan Harrison?
CS: Allan Harrison. He was picked out, I think, by Phil.
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JN: What was his role when he was involved?
CS: He was in charge of construction when there wasn't any construction to do. but it was really planning for construction.
JN: And then Dick Senior?
CS: [Harrison] hired Senior to be his assistant, then sort of backed out of the picture shortly and Senior took charge of construction. And I don't think Senior was here through the [construction of the] entire rental area. He was here when we started it, but I don't know that he was here ‑‑ I know he wasn't here when we started the homes‑for‑sale area. I don't know whether Dick Senior was here through [construction of] the entire rental area or not.
JN: He's discussed in "Building the Townhouses" transcripts, so I wanted to clarify that.
CS: The townhouse design was Loebl, Schlossman and Bennett, although it did have to pass that planning committee that you have the picture of.
JN: No, I'm talking about I have a transcript called "Building the Townhouses," and the men in that talked about Dick Senior. That would clarify the point how long he stayed. What about Edward Waterman?
CS: Well, Ed Waterman was hired as Is Rafkind's assistant. When Is Rafkind
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left, Ed Waterman became comptroller. Ed Waterman, as far as I know, was highly competent, and he was a very pleasant individual. Rafkind was another one of those people who ‑‑ if you crossed Rafldnd, it was difficult. He was very good at his business, quite opinionated about it, but a delightful person if he felt that you and he were in the same harness. I got along fine with Iz Rafkind. He was very much of an orthodox Jewish person. He lived over in the second court, and he invited me for dinner one night, I remember. and [observed] all the Jewish ceremonies at mealtime, which were a little strange to me being raised as Episcopalian more or less. I was very fond of Is Rafkind, but I think there were those who weren't. but I think to be a good comptroller, you have to make a few enemies. Ed Waterman was a little more easygoing than Rafkind, but he [could be] firm, too. They were both good comptrollers.
JN: Okay. How about Joseph Goldman? We didn't talk about him too much as a person.
CS: Personally? Joe Goldman was of the opinion that the greatest construction man in the world was Joe Goldman. And, yet, Joe Goldman was an easygoing, generally very likable guy, and I can't criticize that because I feel that people who are good at their business usually think themselves pretty good at their business. I inherited several jobs that Joe didn't particularly want to do that were really construction jobs, but that's all right. They were done.
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JN: Okay. And he was here as a construction man through the homes?
CS: I'm not sure exactly when he came here. Of course, he was construction boss of all Manilow's operations ‑‑ Jeffrey Manor, Libertyville, Des Plaines Villas, Homewood, and so forth. Of course, that basically ‑‑ outside of Jeffrey Manor ‑‑ basically, all the other houses were pretty much the same house. Manilow was in charge here when he first planned the houses for the homesfor‑sale area. So. virtually all the houses in the first new homes‑for‑sale area were the same house virtually that Manilow had built all over and that he had sold quickly. It was a very typical, not very fancy house; [only a two bedroom]. Some of the owners were later able to put second stories on it [or expand it otherwise]. Joe Goldman knew how to build that house like nobody else knew how to build that house. He had all his own subcontractors, his own hardware suppliers, his own lumber supplier. They all knew Joe. They had worked with Joe for years, and they knew what Joe expected. That, in many respects, is the key to being a good construction man ‑‑ to be able to coordinate all those various trades that you had to have to build any kind of a unit, and the contractors you're using know what to expect of you and you know what they will produce. So. I think Joe Goldman ‑‑ I won't say he was the world's greatest construction superintendent, but I think he was quite adequate for the job. Later he moved out to Rancho Bernardo in the San Diego area. I never saw him after he moved out there, and he died shortly afterwards. I believe his widow is still living out there, and his brother may still be living around here. His brother was Manilow's comptroller, George
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Goldman. and he may still be alive. I don't know. As far as I know, he never came out to San Diego.
JN: Now, I think you've partly answered this when you were talking about the innovations, so just a brief answer is probably fine. Was there a real pioneer spirit around in the ACB early days? Did you feel like you were creating something, breaking new ground?
CS: Yes, I would guess that you might say that. I wouldn't have thought it was really pioneer spirit, but maybe you could say that. It certainly was being brought back to us without any question that we were solving problems every few days that had not been solved before. We could tell by the fact that nobody knew how to solve the problems, and we had to solve them ourselves.
JN: Okay. You touched on this just slightly without naming any of the other builders around, when Klutznick ran into flak from other builders. How were Abraham Levitt and his sons, the builders of Levittown, of the two Levittowi's, regarded by the ACB people?
CS: At that time, I didn't know much about them. Phil did. I have never seen either Levittown, Long Island ‑‑ I might have seen it, but never seen it from the point of study ‑‑ or Levittown, Pennsylvania. Levittown, New York, was something of a contemporary of Park Forest. Those people that I have talked to about it seem to indicate that they felt that Park Forest was much better planned than Levittown was. I haven't been there, and I am no judge.
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I do know that Phil, from his connections in Washington, was offered the job of Levittown, Pennsylvania, before Levitt was. He took it up before the board, "Can we branch out and build this big project in Pennsylvania while we still have Park Forest on our hands here?" It was the consensus of opinion, "Let's do a good job with Park Forest rather than a questionable job in Pennsylvania and Illinois." So, he turned that down, and Levitt undertook it. I might say that in later years as a consultant, I happened to have the opportunity of doing a job in South Norfolk, Va., which was Bill Levitt's first [large scale] job. He did it [while he was] an officer in the Navy. They found out at the time that they needed to build some Navy houses and he had had some experience. He was not yet the famous Bill Levitt of Long Island, but he had had some experience. Afterwards, when Real Estate Research got involved in it, [we found it to be] a disaster, an absolute disaster. I could spend more time telling the story of that, but I will tell you one thing, that if there were any more mistakes that could be made in a project than were made in that project, I don't know what they were. So, Bill's learning at the expense of the Navy, the project later was taken over by the city of South Norfolk; it was no credit to Bill Levitt, but I'm sure that he learned from that. I don't think he really wanted the job, but he learned from it, and it helped him to become a major builder in New York and Pennsylvania.
JN: Okay. What other communications occurred between the parties? Between Levitt and Klutznick and between their management people and your management people?
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CS: There were no other communications unless they were through Klutznick, and I don't know what there was through Klutznick.
JN: Okay. Would you tell me about your life as a resident in Park Forest?
CS: We lived here about four years ‑‑ we moved out to Lake Dalecarlia. Indiana, in the spring of 1948. And then about Christmastime 1949 or '50 ‑I don't remember ‑‑ Christmastime, several of us in the top staff were given as our bonuses, custom lots [of our choice]. They had made up their minds what lots were going to be for custom housing and what lots were going to be for the homes‑for‑sale program. I had my choice of any custom lot down there, and perhaps I was in a better position to judge, because planning was my department. I picked a certain lot on Oakwood. It turned out to be the address of 350 Oakwood. We had been thinking about the floor plan of a house ever since I was in the Navy. That summer long, when we realized we were going to have a chance to build it, we [began putting our ideas on paper]. Every night when I came home, my wife would say, "Carroll, I don't think that's big enough," or "Don't you think that would be better there?" We were changing that floor plan all that summer, and then we took it to a close friend of ours who is not a trained architect but who had a gift with architecture. He was a prominent builder in Grand Rapids. He drew up the plans. Colonial was not his long suit, but it was my wife's and my choice, and the house became about the only colonial house in Park Forest. Ed Waterman also got a lot at that time, and Ed Waterman built a two‑story house [on plans of a house belonging to Mrs. Waterman's aunt in New England]. It was more
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colonial than modern. I guess Ed's house and ours are the only houses in Park Forest that are not modern in design.
JN: Where was his house?
CS: His house was down on [the south side of] Monee Road. You know, the easternmost entrance to that area up [across Thom Creek]. You go just to the left as you turn off South Orchard, Monee Road, and his house is on the left‑hand side there.
JN: Okay. So the entrance to Thom Creek?
CS: The entrance to Thorn Creek Drive, I believe, is on the left‑hand side. I think that drive has two entrances.
JN: Okay. Obviously, then, your family moved with you when you came and got your house.
CS: We moved here at the end of June 1952, on one of the hottest days of the year. We were here a couple of years. [The family included LeNe, Polly, Pam and our faithful dog, Dusty.]
JN: How many kids did you have?
CS: How many children?
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CS: I had two daughters at that time. The oldest daughter was born in A 1, so in '52 she was about eleven, and the youngster was about three years younger. When the bowling alley was built, Polly became the first junior girls champion bowler of Park Forest and went on to become one of the best teenage bowlers in the United States and later won at least one major tournament, although she never became a full‑time professional. [She also won swimming awards at the Aqua Center in Park Forest].
JN: Okay. So, what were the two daughter's names?
CS: Pauline Louise, called "Polly," an extremely popular girl wherever she went.
JN: She was the eleven‑year‑old.
CS: She was the older one born in '41. And her younger sister is Pamela. Pam was in Blackhawk when we left here in '56. She started school in Sauk Trail School, then was transferred to Blackhawk. Polly had had a year in Rich Township High School when she left here.
JN: And she started where? What other school did she go to? Sauk Trail?
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JN: Okay. Did your kids like Park Forest?
CS: Very much. Pam was very adaptable, but Polly was one of those people that always attracts a bevy of friends. Everybody loved her, and she loved everybody. Of course for her to move was heartwrenching for her because she was leaving all her friends behind. Polly was one of these people that made friends wherever she went. So. we went to Grand Rapids and she enrolled in school there and started making friends. She had a very best boyfriend here, of course. We brought her back here to see her friends once or maybe twice. After that, she didn't want to come back. She'd made new friends up there. And she knew when she left here she would never be happy any place else.
JN: What did your family think of being associated with ACB? Did you move them in here late enough that they didn't hit a lot of the flak that the Klutznick's went through?
CS: I don't think the girls ever got much, and LaNe joined garden clubs and won blue ribbons. [We loved our home and] she was very happy here. My family didn't get much flak, but I got my share before moving here.
JN: Okay. By the time that they moved here, you weren't getting a lot of tenant problems.
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CS: No, but I had lived through all that. Because of the way we approached things, Phil Klutznick's philosophy ‑‑ and mine, too, for that matter ‑‑ was do everything you could to be helpful. And, you know, you can't be mad at people that you know are trying their best to be helpful. And that was what we were trying to do. So, we had wet basements, a big problem with wet basements. I don't know if you heard that.
JN: People still have problems with wet basements. That's why I laughed.
CS: Well, we tried everything. We got consultants in from all over, and we finally ended up by apparently licking most of them. There was an obvious problem, and we understood it. The ground here in Park Forest was very, very hard clay. [See illustration at p. 103A.] In the rental units, we excavated for the foundations down like that, and obviously you have to dig for the footings here, and you have to dig down here and dig down here, breaking into this very hard, impervious clay. No matter what you do, this [backfill] is going to be loose and porous. So. here were our basements, and our houses were built on top of them. The water from rains and melting snow would drain down in [the backfill], and despite the fact that we had rain spouts and had run them out beyond the backfill, water would [seep through] and get underneath the basement floor and pressure would build up [outside the walls] so the water level was outside like that. That pressure, that hydrostatic pressure, would break almost anything. Water tries to seek its own level and tries to seek its own level with a tremendous amount of pressure. I have seen spouting through floor cracks three feet high like a
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fountain blowing for three or four days until the pressure was relieved. See? Well, what we finally came up with, which helped a lot, there is a floor drain in all these floors which is connected to the sewer. But it has a trap here so the sewer gas cannot come up here. We cannot put the drain under here because . . .. [We chopped out the concrete as necessary and laid French drains ‑‑ drain tile laid in a gravel trench ‑‑ to collect the water and lead it to the floor drain. Then we drilled holes in the floor drain pipe above the trap to relieve water collected by the French drains, thus relieving the pressure of accumulated water.]
TAPE 3: SIDE B
CS: That proved enough of a solution to the problem that it ceased being critical.
JN: Okay. So, you could not drill to the trap, but you did
CS: You've got to leave that water in the trap. See, that's a trap, and according to all laws, you've got to have that trap in there. Otherwise, sewer gas is going to be released into the basement and asphyxiate the residents.
JN: So, you drilled where? Show me again.
CS: We drilled just above that trap and just below the floor.
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JN: Drilled through just above the trap. Okay.
CS: This is information you're not going to get from anybody but me probably, because this is the type of thing I was involved in. Now, they were involved in wet basements, but nobody else had solutions, and I don't even think that Phil ‑‑ although these were reported at the meetings ‑‑ I don't think Phil could today tell you how we licked It. We did do a lot of other things, you know. We extended the water from the downspouts out. tried to get them out beyond the backfill here, but that was [not sufficient because there were trenches for all the utility lines entering each house and water would flow from the trench backfill into the foundation backfill]. We did a lot of various things, but this was the thing I think that did more than anything else. I don't say that we've licked all the problems, because where you've got basements, you're going to have wet basements unless you have sump pumps, and sump pumps were put into a lot of them more recently, I believe.
JN: So. it's this impervious clay that wouldn't let the water drain out.
CS: This clay had not been disturbed for [centuries]. So, when we disturbed it here ‑‑ when I built my house I built it in a very unique fashion. I didn't disturb the clay. [I didn't install a basement either.]
JN: How did you avoid that?
CS: Well, I didn't have a basement, but I still had to put a concrete
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[foundation] wall down [below frostline] and a footing below it. Instead of excavating it like we did everything else. I dug this with a trencher. Do you know what a trencher is? A trencher [has an endless belt of scoops to dig a trench] about six inches wide. [They use it to install pipes and so forth.] So I used the natural [undisturbed] dirt for the forms. We took a long‑handled shovel and dug out a little bit [to flare the] footing at the bottom, but we made that all integral, and then we just filled up the hole with concrete. The impervious clay was never touched around it, because I built this house myself.
JN: You did it?
CS: I did all the contracting work, that is. I didn't take out and hammer every nail, but I subcontracted it myself.
JN: What was your own experience as a Park Forest resident?
CS: Well, obviously, I was working very, very hard. I attended meetings. Sometimes I had a meeting in my office and a meeting in the boardroom and I had to stand out there in the hallway so that I could be in on both meetings [at the same time]. There was almost no night that I didn't have a meeting. I also got the job of apportioning land for churches, which was another big, big problem. The only thing that ever irritated me ‑‑ I can remember once coining back from a session with Sam Beber. almost ready to scream on the way home in the car, I was so uptight. But again, we could bowl in the same
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league with Sam Beber, and Sam Beber was just, you know, sweet and nice as he could be.
JN: Now, one of your very important achievements here in Park Forest was your involvement with the Rotary. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
CS: Yes. I told the Rotary Club all about it yesterday.
JN: Yes, so I will have that on other tapes.
CS: I told them that I felt that since I was the only person in the original membership that had any background in Rotary, that actually my background in Rotary was the club's background in Rotary. My background in Rotary went way back into the early '20s when my dad was a member of the Grand Rapids, Michigan, Rotary Club and was president there, I think, in 1921 or '22. 1 remember sitting up on the dais alongside of him for father‑and‑son day and things like that. I told them about what I thought were some very important contributions Dad had made to the projects of the Rotary in those days. [You have all that on another tape.] Then, when I came out here, I had been asked to join Kiwanis and Lions, but I was a Rotary man. If Rotary didn't want me, I didn't want anything else. So, in the early days out here, there were many things that probably never get in the history books unless I put them in there. For instance, there were milk wars. The various dairy people who delivered to houses in those days would give free milk in the fervent hope of signing [up customers]. If the second man came around and found the free milk sitting on the back porch, he'd spill the milk and put his milk
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there in place of It. You know, things like that. It was very competitive. One of the dairy owners was a Rotarian in Chicago Heights, and he invited me to join the Chicago Heights Rotary Club. A number of other members of the Chicago Heights Rotary Club were people that we were doing business with out here [in Park Forest] ‑‑ the regional manager of Northern Illinois Public Service Company, various people of that nature, a man who owned and operated a Chicago Heights office supply which we used for everything because he was the only office supply person in the neighborhood, and so forth. And it was very good that I had such a contact, I was the only one in the company that had such a contact. In 1952, the head of the office supply place became president of the Chicago Heights Rotary Club. I'd been a member there perhaps three years at that time, four years maybe. Presidents of Rotary come in the first of July every year, and the first meeting after that, he stood up and he read from a list on which he had listed things he expected each member to accomplish that year. There were about sixty‑five members ‑‑ he'd assigned every member of the club what he expected them to do this next year. They were to serve on such and such a committee and so forth. He came around to me. "Carroll Sweet, you're to form a new Rotary Club in Park Forest." I [already) had enough work to do out there. I didn't want any more work. But it was one of those things you didn't argue with. So, I said, "How do we go about doing this?" "Well, you first have to contact the district governor. He will instruct you." The governor's name was Taylor. We made an appointment and he came out ‑and [he explained just] what I had to do. I had to have at least twenty‑five members, they all had to be either owners or managers or top officers of the
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firm they represented, management qualified, to be qualified for Rotary. They had to have certain other characteristics. The ACB organization was running so many things out here that basically we had more people that were qualified than any other group out here. They [Rotary] have a rule that if there Is such a domination in the community of one company that they can never have more than twenty percent of the membership. So, of the first twenty‑five members, which I had to have as a minimum number to qualify, I think I had five from ACB. I went in, for instance, as manager of the water company. Ed Waterman went in as comptroller. Somebody else went in as something else. I can't remember who they all were. Rev. Engleman went in as religion [Protestant] and so forth. We had our charter night which was hosted by the sponsoring club, the Chicago Heights club, so they picked out a place over in Steger, I believe, a second‑floor place. We had our charter night in February 1953. 1 was the only person who had had any background in Rotary out of these twenty‑five people. They said, well, okay, now we're Rotarians, what are we supposed to do? So, I had to become familiar with every one of the duties of all of the officers in each club, so I could explain them to each one, and train them, which gave me a pretty broad background in how Rotary works, too, because at the Chicago Heights club, I only concentrated on one little thing each year. They elected me practically by default, because nobody else knew anything about Rotary and I was the only one who did. so I was elected president. By the end of June, there was supposed to be a change in presidents, but nobody then had had more than about four months experience. They didn't feel that was enough to be president, so they persuaded me to take it for another year. So. I was
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president from February of '53 to end of June '54. 1 was succeeded by Eric Baber, who was the superintendent of the high school. Our first meeting place Eric Baber had made available, a small meeting room in the high school. As I recall, it was cafeteria style. We were served in the cafeteria, then went on to the meeting room. We had speakers from an over [the world], and somebody asked me what were our fund‑raising activities, I can't remember that fund‑raising was that important to us at that time. We were trying to learn our jobs in Rotary and we weren't that sophisticated that we had big projects that required a lot of funding.
JN: Who were among the first Rotary leaders? You've named these people, and obviously those people all came in as first leaders, but were there other people that you can think of?
CS: Waterman was in. [also "Bud" Hecht and Tom McDade from ACB, Eric Baber, high school superintendent, Bob Anderson, District 163 superintendent, the city manager, the city engineer, Heilman, etc.]
JN: What's the spelling on Baber?
CS: B‑A‑B‑E‑R. He was the first superintendent of Rich Township High School. I understand there are two Rich Township high schools now. In Rotary, every member is allowed to have what we called an additional active [member from his own organization], whose membership depends on [the first] member. Baber brought in the athletic coach, whose name was Greg
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Sloane. Sloane had a very good basketball team. They were the first or second team, and that was a big item of enthusiasm here. [They won the regional championship and many of us] went down to the state finals in Springfield with them. But anyhow. Greg Sloane was a member. I don't think he was a charter member, but Baber brought him in. An additional active loses his membership when the first member resigns or for some reason or other leaves the club. However, in ninety‑nine percent of the cases then he is elected to be the primary member from his organization. So, he doesn't really lose his membership but only as a matter of paperwork. Another member was the newspaper distributor here, whose name began with 'V," had a local newspaper here, he was _______.
CS: Yes, Rudy Vistain. He was a member.
JN: I probably have that in the twenty‑fifth anniversary book, but we can cover it with that book.
CS: There were twenty‑five, and I'm so happy to find that something we did was right or the club wouldn't be existing all these years later.
JN: Were you an active member of anything else? A church or anything?
CS: No. [Well, we joined Lincolnshire Country Club in about 1954.]
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JN: When did you leave Park Forest?
CS: January 1956.
JN: Why did you leave?
CS: I was offered what seemed like a very good partnership in a successful construction business in Grand Rapids, my home town. It didn't work out.
JN: And you were eager to try being a partner instead of just an employee.
CS: Well, I could see things coming to an end here. I had [obtained] the approval of the plats for the Lincolnwood area, [and this seemed like a good time to leave].
JN: And that was going to be the last?
CS: It looked like that was going to be the last. They later built the area between the railroads on the east side of Western. I don't think that was ever a good place for houses, but that was not my decision.
JN: Where have you been since?
CS: Well, as I say, in Grand Rapids for a couple of years. [The affiliation which attracted me to Grand Rapids did not work out, and in a few months I
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was out of work. But we had made a commitment to the move, and I stuck it out.] Our oldest daughter. Polly, was the type that, as I explained to you before, loved her friends so. She was in high school then, and I wanted to give her the opportunity of seeing herself through her senior year activities. She was one of these gals that had to be cheerleader, had to do this, had to do that. It was just her personality. To break her up and take her out of a high school with only one year to go or something like that [was almost unthinkable]. Besides the fact that when I finally joined Real Estate Research Corporation [in Chicago in September of 19571, most of the analysts there were on the road all the time, including me. We would be assigned a project. then go [to that site, usually out of town]. For instance, the first project I was assigned was because Mr. Downs was looking for a person with the background and experience and such that I had. A client had six thousand acres around Waldorf, Maryland, which is about twenty‑five miles east of the United States capital at Washington, D.C., and he wanted to build a city there. So, Mr. Downs was looking for somebody who had some experience building a city, and there weren't many of them around. When he found me, I reported to work at eight or nine o'clock Monday morning. By five o'clock. I was on my way to Washington. So. my indoctrination was not very [extensive]. [After completing the field work, I returned] to Chicago and to a little cubbyhole of an office [where I made my analyses and] wrote my report. Well, as you know, writing has always been easy for me, and I think the reason I was a success [as a market analyst was] probably because I was a pretty good writer. When I was through with that job, I was assigned one in
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Memphis and so forth. Frequently I was out of town. I'd go home to Grand Rapids for the weekend.
JN: But you were headquartered in Chicago.
CS: Headquartered in Chicago. Seventy‑three West Monroe. Real Estate Research Corporation. But there was no sense in moving my family here when I was going to be out of town all week anyhow.
JN: Right. So, they just stayed in Grand Rapids until when? For that twenty‑five years?
CS: Well, no. After a year with Real Estate Research Corporation, I could see things that I thought could be improved. We had a very small branch operation in Los Angeles, and I felt it would be a good idea if we had a branch office in the East. So I spoke to the president ‑‑ Mr. Downs was chairman of the board and he owned the company, he and his family ‑‑ but they had a president and a vice president who actually ran the company, although they never did anything that Mr. Downs disapproved of. So, I told the president, "I think it's time for us to have an office in the East." 'Where would you think it should be?" "That's a good question." 'Well, you come up with an idea of where you think it should be and the reasons for it, and we'll consider it." Well, there's a lot of potential business in the government, and Washington is fairly centrally located between Florida and Boston. So. let's talk about Washington. New York is a hell of a place to work anyhow. You can't get
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around any place. So, let's talk about Washington. Okay, so they took it to Mr. Downs. Mr. Downs called me in, and I told him what I thought. He said, "All right, be prepared to go down there and pick out an office location. You're in charge of it." So, I went down there and picked out an office and hired a secretary. Very quickly we grew to about fifteen people of which three of them were MAI appraisers and two of them were analysts. including myself, and so forth.
JN: And that was in Boston?
CS: That was in Washington. We opened on the first of April 1959. 1 had joined the Real Estate Research Corporation in September of '57. So, we opened the office in Washington in. April of '59 and I trained at least one man to succeed me. During that time. I had asked the company to consider me for a Florida office if they opened an office in Florida, and they agreed to do so. In the meantime, in the late fall of 1962, they had sent a man [named Ed Leuthenser] from the Chicago office ‑‑ I had worked with Ed in Chicago ‑‑ out to sort of take over the L.A. office. The man they had had out there was a pretty good analyst, but he was not a good manager. As the office grew out there, his deficiencies in management techniques became more noticeable. So, they sent Ed from the Chicago office out there to take over management. He was an outstanding, I'll call him a salesman, although in technical work you'd say "business developer" or something. He could really sell our type of business. But, then, there was nobody to take charge in seeing to it that the work that he sold was produced. We had a pretty good‑sized staff in L.A., but
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there just was nobody who could take charge of it and coordinate the production. So. they [made me a vice president and] asked me to go out there and do that. I went to Los Angeles and took charge of the production of that office, and we had a pretty good‑sized staff. We had about twenty‑seven people out there, and we did very well as long as Ed was director. But then Ed's father died. Ed's father had a business that was very unique to him. Ed had several brothers and sisters, but they all had commitments of one kind or another. For example, one brother was a General Motors automobile dealer and had a big investment in that. None of them could [arrange to take over] their family business except Ed. So, Ed resigned and took over his father's business and has made an international success of that. [Real Estate Research Corporation decided to] follow the recommendation of an efficiency expert and name the head of the San Francisco office to head both the San Francisco and the L.A. offices and have the L.A. office [directed] by somebody reporting to him. Although everybody ‑everybody in Chicago and everybody in the L.A. office ‑‑ expected me to be named to that directorship, the man heading the San Francisco office was one of these people who has a hard time delegating work. He knew that from my experience in Washington that I was used to operating independently. I would keep him informed, but I wasn't about to tell him every time I wanted permission to go to the bathroom, and he wanted that type of person. So, he named a person from his own office. That kind of fouled up the L.A. office, because all the people in the office were loyal to me. So. after a year, he decided that I [should open a new] San Diego office and get out of L.A. But he had placed so many restrictions on my operating in San
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Diego that I couldn't operate. In other words, I could not get any work outside of San Diego County because that would interfere with Los Angeles County, and he said the L.A. office needed all the work they could get. But they didn't leave me enough area to operate because I was restricted to the county of San Diego. Every other office in the country had several states in their territory ‑‑ not just counties, but states. His San Francisco office had the whole Northwest and Alaska and [Hawaii]. Los Angeles had practically all the Southwest, everything to the Rocky Mountains. I had one county. So, I was doomed to not being able to make a go of it there. But he soon had a heart attack and died. The Lord looks after me, I guess, in strange ways. The home office decided to close the San Diego office and offered to bring me back to Chicago. Well. that was not really what I had in mind. and so they offered me a little different deal. They said, 'Well, why don't you live at home, and we'll give you assignments out of the Chicago office, and pay you as you do the various jobs." Well, luckily I had some family income, because I couldn't have gotten along with just [this arrangement]. and working out of my home was not a good idea. So. I hired an office and paid for Real Estate Research's rental out of my own pocket. I stayed with them, as I say, until '82. By then there was a different administration and they had picked up those expenses. They knew me from way back, and anyhow, I got along until '82, when they sold the business and I nominally retired, although I kept [the office] open in my own name [as Carroll Sweet Research], and did some consulting after that. That's all explained in [the epilogue to Navy Daze], incidentally. The [large condominium] development [where we lived developed] some problems that had to do with deficient construction ‑‑
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we're talking in terms of sixteen to nineteen million dollars, so it was a pretty big job.
JN: Was that in La Jolla?
CS: Yes. They decided that I should run that job. That kept me busy for two or three years until late in '89, less than two years ago. It took me out of the consulting business, because when you're away from the consulting business for two or three years, nobody remembers you anymore. So, I figured it was time for me to retire [permanently].
JN: Okay. So, they actually didn't use you just as a consultant. They used you exclusively.
CS: [Well, it was almost a full‑time assignment.] They authorized me to submit bills up to fifteen thousand dollars a year, which isn't a whole lot of money to live on these days. But luckily I've had income from other sources.
JN: Now. you actually are retired.
CS: I guess so. I have no [business] income anymore, so it must be that I am retired.
JN: Okay. Thank you very much for the interview, unless you have anything
else we didn't cover that you want to cover.
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CS: Oh, yes, there are a lot of things.
JN: We have almost ten more minutes in here to go on.
CS: I had something in mind. [Tape turned off an on. Mr. Sweet began to talk about the history of churches in Park Forest.] ... the history of that which I wasn't really involved in originally. Hart Perry and Phil, I think, handled most of that negotiation. We wanted to make sure ‑‑ Phil, of course. is from a very religious Jewish family and was very aware of the importance of religion in the social way of things. And so, we didn't want to have more churches than we knew what to do with around here. So, they contacted the church federation, and the church federation thought this was a great idea, and we always thought it was a good idea, and that was to consolidate all these Protestant churches. There were something like twenty‑six separate denominations which accepted that and formed the First United [Protestant] Church. We got in contact with the bishop's office and the bishop's office said, "Fine. You give us the land. we'll give you the services." So we didn't ‑this is off the record. (PAUSE) The two Lutheran churches didn't want to go along, and the Episcopal church didn't want to go along. So, they had their own sites. But, then, we found that the congregations from Olympia Fields and one town or another were looking around and saying, "Gee, we want to get a new building for our church, and here they're giving free sites over in Park Forest." That was not the intention. The intention was to adequately church Park Forest and not to adequately church the south suburban region. But we did establish a front foot value based on our cost, we did offer them
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the sites ‑‑ not for free like we had been offering, but at a cost basis, no profit to us, based on our front foot costs for streets, sewer, water and so forth. I don't think many of them took us up on it, maybe one or two of them.
JN: Oh, really? They only wanted the free deal.
CS: Yes. Of course, neither of those congregations were from Park Forest. They were congregations from Olympia Fields and places like that who didn't mind driving over here if they could have a little church and the church could be built without any cost for the land. If they had to pay costs for the land, they didn't, basically identify with Park Forest, which was all right. We didn't particularly want any congregations in Park Forest that did not identify with Park Forest. So, that was the way to stop that. Oh, I can think of so many other things. I'm just trying to remember. Oh, I'll tell you one ‑fluoridation of water. We wanted to do everything possible, and we had so many youngsters here. We investigated fluoridation, and everybody whom we talked to who was technically knowledgeable [agreed that it was a good thing for children]. They weren't quite sure what fluoridation did that was good. There was no question about the fact that it did good [by minimizing dental caries in preteens]. Big study projects had been running for years in places like Grand Rapids and Muskegon, Michigan. Muskegon and Grand Rapids took their water from the same source, Lake Michigan. Grand Rapids was fluoridated, Muskegon wasn't. They could test their carries counts over the years and Grand Rapids was much better. [Most dentists agreed fluoridation] was good. But there were always people that were saying, 'You're putting rat
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poison into the water," because the fluorides were good in moderate quantity, but in large quantity, they're like chlorine. Well, chlorine in large quantities is a rat killer, too, you know. And. yet, there isn't any public water supply in the country that isn't chlorinated. So, anyhow, we [decided to fluoridate Park Forest water], but we had people who said they wouldn't drink the water if we put fluoride in it. They'd stop us. They'd go to court. They'd do everything. But that's the _______ . It happened that the weekend Phil announced the beginning of fluoridation (and I don't mind you knowing this. I just told Phil this four years ago. I never told him about it before then.) I was at a water company seminar down at the Allerton ‑‑ you know the famous Allerton Park ‑‑ at Allerton House outside of Champaign. I was keeping in touch with Bob Enzweiler, at the water company. They had a big celebration and Klutznick was officiating. They turned on the fluoridating equipment up at the water company. He reported it to me, and I said, "Turn it off." "What do you mean we should turn it off?" 'Turn it off." I wanted somebody to be able to come back and say their teeth were falling out and one thing or another, and a week later say something happened and it was never turned on. So, a week later nobody had come forward with any serious complaints, so I said, "Bob, go ahead and turn it on." I told Klutznick ‑‑ I never told Klutznick that until about four years ago. And, of course, this happened in about 1950 or something.
JN: Yes, so he never knew it was turned off for a little while ...
END TAPE 3 SIDE B