Lorraine Kelly and Elyse Leannais

Recorded January 2, 2020 Archived January 2, 2020 39:51 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: chi003223


Lorraine Kelly (93) tells granddaughter Elyse Leannais (32) about growing up on Chicago's South Side, enjoying a happy marriage, and raising a family.

Subject Log / Time Code

Lorraine recounts growing up on the South Side of Chicago.
Lorraine remembers going to the Chicago's Teacher College after high school, now called Chicago State University. She enjoyed being a teacher.
Lorraine recalls meeting her husband, George Robert Kelly, at a dance in Michigan. They played tennis together the next day. They were married after 2 years and had 11 kids.
Elyse asks Lorraine what it was like to have so many kids at once.
Lorraine discusses how efficiently she managed her home and children.
Lorraine discusses her strategies for feeding the kids and the summer home her father built in Michigan.
Lorraine talks about life after her husband passed away at 90 years old.
Lorraine discusses her brother, Bob, and how he influenced her to pursue in graduate study in deaf education.
Elyse asks how Lorraine and her Grandpa spent time together with so many kids to look after.
Lorraine recalls different family traditions: making Christmas stockings and angel food cake for birthdays.
Lorraine explains to Elyse when and how her parents came to the United States.
Elyse asks Lorraine about her siblings and what Christmas was like growing up for her.


  • Lorraine Kelly
  • Elyse Leannais

Recording Location

Chicago Cultural Center

Venue / Recording Kit


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00:01 My name is Lorraine Kelly and I am 93 years young and today's date is January 2nd 22020. The location is downtown Chicago. The name of the interview partner is

00:27 Elyse

00:31 Rihanna Fenty palette Rihanna

00:35 Have relationships to partner is my granddaughter. Oh, I'm delighted to be able to do this with

00:44 Well, so we just want to hear about your life.

00:51 Oh.

00:53 So, my name is Elise Lee honest. I am 32 years old. Today's date is January 2nd. 2020 location is downtown Chicago. The name of my interview partner is Lorraine Kelly and she is my grandmother.

01:09 So Grandma, okay, I will begin to tell you about my life. I have had a very very full life and very very interesting life turned out to be nice to say that I was I was married for 59 years.

01:29 But I would like to tell you about my not my story.

01:34 I was born September 14th 1926 to Patrick and and Margaret Haley on the southside of Chicago. My parents came from Ireland saver, and they were immigrants they came from Ireland and brought was a mess beautiful face.

02:03 That was shared with me for the rest of my life.

02:12 I went to

02:15 Grammar school on the southside of Chicago s s State St. Lawrence

02:22 And at that time I became very interested in and music. I took piano lessons and I also learn how to play the drum.

02:33 Which I carry me through high school and college. I played in the orchestra Center in grammar school and also returned grammar school. I don't dance. I just kept dancing toe tap toe dancing and ballet.

02:58 Which is called point now when I was growing up it was called Toe dancing. Okay, but now it's called point.

03:08 And and also I did ballroom dancing. So that was I was I did that until I was seventeen and I also thought dancing that has a tap dancing at the dancing school and during this time. Anyway. That's my grandma's folder. And then when I went to HighSchool, I went to Aquinas Dominican high school. And where at where I received a very good education and it helped him develop me even more spiritually, which I really appreciated. The orchestra. They are I was a percussionist

03:54 And I let it be right into college where I play the orchestra in college. Did you just like all the jumps like a normal for all the times? I played Company the company that snare drum bass drum primarily at the spare drum and timpani La the symbol triangle only can't bring instruments.

04:28 And

04:32 I love I love that nice full anyway, so then after high school high school, I went to the dances and and and

04:45 It was wonderful experience, but it was a girl skull.

04:51 And then after that I went when I went to college to Chicago Teachers College, which is now called spell estate on the southside of Chicago and which place I learned to become a kindergarten primary teacher.

05:08 And which I thoroughly enjoyed my teaching and that also when I was in college, I I was

05:21 Other than playing in the orchestra. I I hella several offices in student council and I was very active and and and and some of the activities are going to college.

05:40 After that

05:44 I had I had.

05:47 After I graduate from college in June

05:51 And not July.

05:55 I have to do my folks had a summer home up in Michigan. It's your life storgic, Michigan.

06:03 And down.

06:05 Anyway, I used to play in the band off of Michigan every Thursday. They had I had a band concert and since I spent so much time. I spent all my Summers up and Michigan I got to know so many people up there. That's anyway I ended up playing in the band are in the summertime.

06:34 And I got to know people my age of the ones who had summer cottages.

06:42 On our Lake by Hoover from Georgia. Anyway one night we were going to do a dance or you just Wednesday and that's where I met George Robert Kelly and I danced with him and next day we playing tennis.

07:05 And then I spent the next 6062 years of playing games with George Robert Kelly.

07:17 We did not get married we dated for for two years and I got married on October 7th 1950 prior to that time. I sat in September of of 1948. I graduated in 1948 from college and

07:41 And September of 48 that's when I started my teaching.

07:47 And I taught I taught for two years and then went into the third year.

07:54 And I was at the Bills full virtual years and then I went to the Burnside school for about a half a year.

08:03 And had got married from the from the Burnside school. And then while I was there, I became pregnant with our first child.

08:15 My husband and I had decided before we were married that we wanted 12 children.

08:22 However, we are only blessed with 11.

08:27 We had nine girls and two boys.

08:32 And they're all beautiful beautiful children and very healthy and we were so so blessed.

08:43 Why did you guys decide 12 kids?

08:50 We watched how ever I had a miscarriage. So you had one miscarriage had one miscarriage between the Sexes. Okay first that's 5th and 6th between

09:09 Catholicism and talent we had our first four first five children and four and a half years.

09:19 Amend

09:21 And then after that it was like 2 years apart and then some very end.

09:27 It was four years and but our boys came and numbers to chat.

09:40 Two child and my next son came

10:01 So it was I can't say I have a few no, just Henry. I like can't imagine five kids.

10:10 All like within 5 years of each other. How was that that like a madhouse? He was very busy, but I was quite organized and

10:24 I spent my time with the children and worse at night. So you still worked. No, no. No. I worked at home at night at home at night. Okay do laundry tonight do something with it? Cuz I wanted to spend my time with children and doing very interesting things finger painting and and reading sorry. I'm at the teacher. I was aware of those that language development is so important in the beginning years.

10:59 So that's why I put in and we have breeding times twice a day and and then I took him outside so they have outside playing to develop.

11:13 And then I saw it was busy, but I was young.

11:19 And I was able to do this.

11:22 And I never regretted and his time that I spent. Remember our neighbor saying to me. Well, you know when your children grow up and you'll have time I said no when they're grown up, they'll be gone. And so this is the time that I put into my children.

11:53 It takes a lot of

11:56 Well, you get out what you put in but it takes a lot of putting in. Well, I wanted to tell you about our kind of

12:06 Management and home, which was kind of interesting on Saturdays. We had a list of on the refrigerator door open spelled out each one Shores cuz they had to do at home. That's if they can do it and

12:27 And then

12:29 I had my own program for I I did laundry for two days Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday. I entertained Thursday. I baked Friday. I cleaned and on the weekends Saturday and Sunday. I wanted to just so that we can do fun things with the family Sunday. We went to church and and then try to do something so but as far as our

13:03 Sitting down for dinner. It was always very pleasant. We ate by candlelight and no one picked up there for until I picked up by 4 if we had guests that's at the table.

13:19 Let's try on next one.

13:24 They don't pick up your fart until you from my mother fixed up something. So eating was very orderly and we would counterclockwise when we verse serving food. So I guess it was it was not a another Bedlam text some woman came to the door to collect something and she saw some the dining room. And she said are you having a party? And we said, yes, we have a party every night with searching people people know and but they aren't they all they all helps.

14:03 And that was that was very important.

14:09 During this time. I was involved with a children's activities and schools and I never had to have it a computer to keep track of when I had to pick up people or drop them off or whatever. It was all in the bed. I never never wrote in his me on a calendar or whatever and I certainly couldn't do that today. I could do that today.

14:37 Barely manage some of Henry's stuff. He's not do anything. He's one.

14:53 How did you do that with that sound so orderly the table and I can just like I just think of Henry at the table and he's just one just one mirror toddler. How did you do that with like one or two toddlers at the table all the time?

15:09 The date that they just do that too when you was a little little tiny children. I mean know when you have maybe you have it a child and I share this is your story when I get to be like 2 years of age and Matt to your feeding them and I had the first five I would be cutting up for me and just feed him feeding. One thing at a time. I would just take me to buy a place and then put vegetable around and that's how I said how they ate everything. Yeah, but still bring get overwhelmed if they see everything in the Great Bend place.

16:04 It's just too much. So then they don't need anything. So you just have to give them very very small quantities. And or maybe just one one thing at a time and then the lady bar.

16:19 No, and my children aged very well, that's good.

16:24 I want to talk about the time my folks bought the summer home actually hate that my father Bill's the home and I was there from the time I was 18 months until I went to college and jump it was it wasn't fancy. It was we had we didn't have the trust me and we had to rent indoor facilities, but we had to prime the pump 100 times for places toilet wipes and my my mother and she's all the scanning and everything was can kerosene stove and we used to play games at night so much fun up there. I wished you to swim and fish and my mother and speaking very very is it was around town around?

17:24 And then she went she would can or make jams.

17:29 But that was a special time in my life. And as a married person I brought my family back to that same way and we spent many years up there. Just enjoying everything that we all have all the grandchildren have very special memories of Dowagiac as well going up there every summer for a week or so and swimming in the lake.

18:04 Yes, Jason the squirrels out when we would get there a new season.

18:11 That was a fun time.

18:19 I told you about my family.

18:25 They have all become very they have done extremely. Well, they went to college and then found the passion their passion and what they want to do and they've all been very successful in their careers, and I'm I'm very proud of my eye family there. They are just outstanding.

18:50 And I was I was busted as I said before in the beginning. I was blessed to be married to my husband for 59 years. However, he died when he was 90 and that was 10 years ago since that time I have other than being with my family. I have developed friendships last time. I played Bridge twice twice a month and I play pinochle every week and I have a little group. I called Gabby fruit we get together with every every Tuesday and I also and thank God that I'm able to physically do this. I Prevail fun when I exercise times a week and I hope I'll be able to continue this kind of activity. So I'm very blessed.

19:45 I'm having family and friends in my life. So I'm I feel that you know, I have the World by the tail and then my friend children.

20:03 Are such a joy I have 31 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren and my grandchildren to give me great pleasure.

20:18 I interact with something as much as I can.

20:22 And

20:25 Gives me great pleasure to see them now. I'm we have married grandchildren as that this last summer. We had 5 winnings in the family in four months. So life was very good.

20:46 But they are all just

20:49 Wonderful couples of which I'm very proud.

20:59 So you made it down to all the way to the Bahamas this summer to write? Yes in November the last of the five to get married and I question whether or not I should go because I'm 93. However, I was physically able to go and mentally thrilled to be able to go because it was all so much fun the whole time.

21:30 One thing I didn't mention is that one of my siblings what was profoundly deaf by brother Bob and and was because of Bob. I always wanted to go into deaf education, but but forgot because the program wasn't at the college when I was going to school.

21:52 However, after I had my last child Lorraine

21:58 Also keep my 5 months after I started working on my Master's in deaf education and

22:08 I was so pleased to be able to do that because my brother Bob was the one that I was so close to at home and I help him be able to be understood in my family.

22:28 He did not learn sign language. In fact, or he went to school. If oral they would practically but they did not want you to use it. It was all I look pretty and I have no idea how he learned. But anyway after I finished my degree of things changed and then it began teaching deaf children total communication, which is speech and sign and at that time I was able to communicate with him prior to that time. He went when he went to high school. He went to stay with his high school for the deaf in Cincinnati. And what were you learn sign? So I just changed since I was totally

23:21 He has learned how to communicate with sign until he was in high school. He had no communication whatsoever. He would be so angry wide FYI down and I will try to explain to him because I was supposed to send message to him since I was the eighth of nine children and he was the last piece it was it was just terrible my mother and father had no ways of communicating with him and I was trying to find out what he wanted and it was very difficult until he went to high school then.

24:08 And he started to learn sign and then I started to learn a little bit but I was until later when I started taking science class and then I can really communicate with him. And then after that then when I went to a wedding, but I would I would be The Interpreter I would I would just sign everything that everyone was saying so that he knew what was the conversation was. So extremely close to me in the last year. He's a he's a big mess up my life.

24:46 I just wanted to mention that about I got my generator after I said I started when my baby was 5 months old and I had two daughters were in high school and they would babysit for a couple hours while I went downtown and my husband would come home right after that. I have dinner ready before I left and so everything went right along my husband would take over until I got home, but I did complete see the program which I was happy for. How long did the program take it took me.

25:36 How about 3 years? Because then you have to do student teaching anyway, so after I did that a couple years later, I see I'm before that time. I believe mothers in the home.

25:52 I was offered a job right away, but I did that accept it because I believe mothers in the home and my youngest daughter Lorraine was just four years of age. So I did this didn't win that accept one till after she went to school and she went to concerns she want full time. And I would I have to be in the same school with her and that was okay, but that I stayed teaching for 21 years after that and I actually after I retire to 65

26:34 Computer as a substitute until I Was 80

26:38 And the night

26:40 Cut it all off.

26:43 And then I just started to play.

26:47 Anyway, I've had.

26:57 You have any questions? Oh, yeah. Well, I want to know how how it worked out with you and Grandpa like with all of those kids like

27:09 When did he get home from work? Like did you guys ever get time to just the two of you guys? Yes, we set a time and Wednesday night. We would have a special dinner dinner date. So I would Feed the Children early and then I would put on a formal.

27:29 What does that mean for my laundry?

27:33 And I have a special dinner and the two of us would eat in the dining room and the children would have been fed since and have some activity and so we would have a special that's what we did whenever we did not have a lot of money to be able to go out to you are our funds were or rather Limited.

28:01 But we had we had a lot of social life. We had lots of friends and we have dinner parties.

28:11 And so we go to dinner party. So we have dinner parties and so on.

28:16 We had a group of like something couples that are very very close.

28:23 And so we were now without social in putting out a good Community. Yes, and so

28:33 Really just really friends that you guys knew from Dowagiac or were they friends from no friends of mine from from grammar school high school and taught us and Them

28:50 And self

28:51 It was wonderful. If we had a had a wonderful social base. And then when we removed from the Southside 220 Park and then we had to get all our friends there. And then from there. I'm going to Arlington Heights and so we have developed friends wherever we have been but we kept our friends we had so we would be traveling to the south side of the tire size.

29:20 That's kind of been our better life than in between times. We got together with our family.

29:27 And I should mention about the tradition that we have a Christmas time. I made stockings for my children for my immediate family after our youngest one was Lorraine was born and we put it on the family room wall.

29:49 And so then my girls and Son started to get married and I would make stockings.

30:00 For them

30:02 And then mention that we started having grandchildren and so I made a stockings for the grandchildren and also for the great-grandchildren. So as of this Christmas, we had 73 stockings on our family room wall, which was really quite a sight but and then it was getting full and that's and that's really a big tradition with our family and Sunday before Christmas. We follow it. Kelly Christmas and you come to my home

30:39 And and we each

30:43 And let me go down the basement and Santa Claus usually comes and we opened up gifts.

30:50 And then come upstairs to the family room and the same Carol and that they open up their science. So that's that's art our Christmas tradition and like when I was growing up as far as birthdays for concerned, I never had a birthday party with children.

31:12 But I always had a birthday party with family and my mother always made an angel food cake with strawberries. And in those days you didn't open up a box you made it and so that was a tradition as far as celebrating our birthdays and realize the angel food cake was that long of a tradition? Yes, and she always have the strawberry side job I was so but my parents were a very caring people that lie they did so much to help other people even when I did not have a lot to share a shared what they had it when people were sick.

31:55 I mean they help them out. I was going to I had a cousin that it was partially paralyzed my father used to to take her down to University Chicago and rolly because of all the input said that he had given her that she would like to learn how to walk but it's what my my parents were really outstanding very lovable. And and if I husband has a wonderful gift to face that they pass that on to their until their family and which I hope to spend time with my family as much as much as I can.

32:36 What brought your look at your parents over here?

32:40 My father came over with his brother. My father was one of 14 children. He was the 12 to 14 and he came over here when he was 14 with his brother was a little bit older but they had his his older sister was was here in Chicago. And so they came to her home you had to be sponsored in that time. You just didn't walk into our country. And if you weren't healthy if you had TB you was back on the boat.

33:16 That's just the way it was.

33:19 And so and he came here and then at that time.

33:24 When he would want to get a job if you are Irish and Catholic they would not hire you.

33:32 Because it was the Protestant had such control over the labor force.

33:40 And then my mother came over when she was like 22.

33:47 And then she was she ended up being a chambermaid at the Congress Hotel until my aunt Nelly.

33:58 What's up, a nanny for the Swift meat packing company is Swift and these people lived on the near north side and I can't imagine there and they needed a cook. And so they asked my mother to tell him he's so she was married from from the Swift home. Okay, especially leaving home at 14th and come to us a new country and then and lays to call and someone who came over from the old country. They call them greenhorns you ever hear that term

34:54 Yes.

34:56 So do you have any?

35:00 Yeah, I also wanted you to tell me a little bit about your siblings real quick.

35:07 Play I knew you had Francis passed away when you were when he was 15 and Irene. I would I was one of nine and but you died before I was born. Okay, and so they're the oldest was Anna Marie.

35:26 Mark Margaret Mike, Michael

35:31 And in Francis Francis died when he was 16, he was killed on a bike.

35:37 And then Irene and then met a rain and then my brother Bob.

35:47 And I just had my parents made our our childhood so meaningful.

35:59 A Christmas time do they say funds were limited, but we would get us a team that had a nut and a orange oranges were very hard to get my mother's to go to Helen's to get oranges go downtown Chicago on the train and she was able to get a dozen oranges. And so you only get an orange at one orange.

36:36 A Christmas that you didn't have oranges that's very hard for us to believe is it that you got candy?

36:50 Some candy and a nut and an orange and just at Easter time, but they always used to buy either a little Easter Bunny or some Jackson and they would be underneath the sofa and Matrix us something difference. It's made her as children. We thought that was so much fun. And then we have to find our Easter baskets. They always made it.

37:18 Made out of our Lives lots of fun.

37:23 My parents did the Easter basket for us to I was always a lot of fun trying to find Easter basket in the morning. I know.

37:31 They usually try them usually try to

37:35 Island before the fact

37:46 Other questions

37:52 Well, I don't really have many more questions but

37:56 All those Traditions that we use that you've

37:59 That we bet is with Kelly family in that you've passed onto you know, your children and now us I didn't realize it's a lot of them were so alike far-reaching back into your childhood. Also, I guess I passed a lot of stuff. I've had a very full life and I've loved every bit of it and I would I would do it over again and a minute because I was I was so blessed with a wonderful husband. He is such a and and just kind of gentleman and so having a large family I had to have help and my big help with my husband. He was he was my rock and he was also my boyfriend. He was my boyfriend.

38:55 Thank you, God for everything you gave me.

38:59 Well, and thank you. Thank you for coming out today and talking with but that's about all this. I wanted to do this for a long time with you Elise. You're pretty special to me.