Dear Mr. Trainor,
My son, Dr. George B. Lampere, found your article in Wednesday Journal on the Internet. He sent it to me. I was deeply impressed with your article about the barber John Grabowski. I know you spent a lot of time checking all of the facts, but I have to disagree with you on some historical facts.
My father, who came to this country when he was 13, had many jobs. He served in the First World War. When he came home, he got a job as a barber in the Palmer House. After working there for a year, he wanted to buy a car. He came to Oak Park and went down Madison Street (This was automobile row at the time). He noticed that there were no barbershops from Austin Boulevard to Harlem Avenue. He decided to rent a place on Madison Street. The year was 1925. He opened his barber shop at 5507 Madison Street. He married my mother in 1926. I was born June 25, 1927.
I still remember the very small rooms that were in back of the barbershop. I have many stories to tell about those times. I know my father was the first barber on Madison Street. He decided to move across the street around 1930. He opened his barbershop and moved his family in an apartment upstairs. Then times became hard. He moved his family, now with my sister, who was born in 1932 behind his barber shop. These became trying times for all.
Then in 1937 the veterans benefit came through. My father bought a home at 947 Gunderson. In 1939 he traded our home for a building at 406 Madison Street. He had the most modern barbershop in the village.
As a veteran, he belonged to American Legion Post 947. He later became the commander of that post in 1947. He and my mother ran that post with honor.
Even though my father was an immigrant, he fought for his adopted country. He was very proud to be an American. He and my mother did many good things for everyone and their country. I am their oldest son. I will always be proud of both of them. My father died in 1981. My mother died two years later.
Since I have retired over 10 years ago, I still have a very good memory. I have written many stories and some poetry. Some have been published. I have always been a history nut. I commend you for finding out the true history of Oak Park. I wish you would get in touch with me, if you have any questions. I would gladly want to talk to you.
My wife and I have been married for 56 years. Both of us were born and raised in Oak Park. Both of us attended Oak Park High.
Editor’s note: “George the barber” as we used to call him, was a fixture on the north side of Madison Street just west of Ridgeland Avenue for many years. In fact, he gave this editor his first professional haircut in the late 1950s.