November 13, 2018

The Odd Ones Out

There are 99 Sears models that have never been found. Some of these models are unusual looking--unusual enough that if you ever came across one you would likely remember seeing it.

Here are six of the most distinctive undiscovered Sears models. Have you seen any of these? Email me!

1. No. 264P158

No. 264P158.  Customers built this house in New York, NY and Terre Haute, IN. Were those the only two built?

No. 264P158 was a sizable house--24' x 44'. It featured a huge reception hall, large living room and dining room. It had an extremely large kitchen for the time and also an attached pantry. It had a servant's room on the first floor, and four bedrooms upstairs--one being exceptionally large for the era at 12' x 18'. No. 264P158 was not a house for just anyone, which certainly accounts for its rarity.

2.  No. 138

No. 138. The porch roof is oddly shaped, with a cut-out. There is a teeny dormer in one of the upstairs bedrooms that originally had colored art glass.  This house was sold for only one year, and then Sears designed a completely different No. 138. Scan courtesy of Dale Haynes.

3. The Edgemere

The Edgemere (also known as No. 199) was sold between 1911 and 1918. It is a small two-bedroom house with ornamental detail like exposed rafter tails, eaves brackets, and decorative flower boxes. The front door is covered by an overhang, and then there is an unnecessary sloped roof over the porch. According to Sears Roebuck, customers built this model in Northwood, IA, La Porte, IN, Osgood, IN, Havre de Grace MD, Ann Arbor, MI, and Massillon, OH. None of these houses have been located.

4. No. 204

No. 204 was sold 1911-1913. It almost looks like a house from today that has had an awkward second story added. The square windows on the second story are an enclosed sun porch.

5. The Vinita

The Vinita from the 1921 Modern Homes catalog. The Vinita was sold 1920-1922. It was part of the Sears "Econo-Bilt" line of homes, which was a cheaper quality product than the "Honor Bilt" homes we typically see.  What I find interesting about the Vinita is the busyness of the paneled walls. Today, those walls are likely sided over and the trellised entrance may be removed as well.

6. The Millerton
The Millerton was sold for only two years--1931 and 1932. One of the odd features of the Millerton is that the front door and a rear door are both housed on that projection. The dormer seems crammed in too close to the roofline of the front entrance. I will bet that this model is hiding in the Chicago area somewhere.

November 1, 2018

An Afternoon of Quiet Horror in Park Ridge

Today is El Día de Muertos, a day to remember the children who died before experiencing the joys and sorrows of adulthood. 

In 1957, a horrific incident took place in Park Ridge that no one ever speaks of today.  If you ask old-timers in the community, no one seems to remember the event at all.   It has been wiped from everyone's collective memory, which is surprising since it was a national news story at the time. On this El Día de Muertos, we are going to revisit this tragedy and remember the long-forgotten victims.

Richard and Beverley Puetz were married in 1951. They met at the University of Iowa and moved to Chicago for their respective jobs.

Richard in 1945.

Beverley in 1950.

Son Johnny was born in 1952, and, by 1953, twins Kerry Lynn and Debra Lynn were on the way.

In need of more space to accommodate their growing family, in 1953 the Puetz family purchased a Sears Puritan in Park Ridge.

219 Columbia Ave., Park Ridge.

Sears Puritan.

On January 2,1957, there was a minor fire in the house.  While the house was being repaired, Beverley took the three kids to Bonaparte, Iowa to stay at her parents' house. Richard stayed back in Park Ridge; he worked as the manager of Bramson women's apparel shop in Evanston.

Richard picked up his family in Bonaparte on Saturday, February 2. Initially, Richard would say that Beverley acted normally that weekend. Later, he said that his wife was suffering from a nervous condition, but was not under a physician's care.

In the early afternoon Monday, February 4, Richard called Beverley while he was at work. He said she sounded "happy", according to news reports. Richard called again around 5 p.m., and hurried home when no one picked up.

When Richard entered the house, he smelled gas and found Beverley in the kitchen unconscious, with her head in the oven. He dragged her to the rear porch and then called the police and the fire department.

The firefighters revived Beverley with an inhaler. Richard was unable to find the kids in the dark and shouted: "My children! My children!" to the police.

An officer went upstairs and found the three Puetz children dead in the water-filled bathtub--John (age 5), Debra Lynn (age 3) and Kerry Lynn (age 3). They had been dead for about two hours.

The bathroom of the Sears Puritan.

Police also found two notes written by Beverley in the kitchen.

The first note read: "Notice from Beverly Puetz. I drowned the children trying to kill myself but having trouble - gas, electricity, etc. Want police to know I did it because I can't handle myself. Been going for some time ... My husband, Dick, has been wonderful and is better off without me and the kids for I have them so mixed up I felt they couldn't be straightened out - nor myself."

The second note read: "To Dick, I hope you can build a new future. I have ruined all this - kids and you - all my own doing. You deserve so much better and I failed you and I couldn't go on."

Part of the note.

Beverley was sent to the Cook County Psychopathic Hospital. She was charged with three counts of murder the next day.

In an interview with police, Beverley said that she woke the children from their naps and proceeded to drown them in the bathtub. She attempted to drown herself in the tub as well. When this attempt failed, she tried to electrocute herself with a fuse box, drank ammonia, and finally stuck her head in the oven. Beverley told police that, "a feeling that I had nothing left to live for overcame me."

In an interview with the Park Ridge police, Richard talked about Beverley's possible motivations.
Deputy Coroner C.W. Richards: Has she been under a strain?
Richard Puetz: Well, she felt there were certain drawbacks to the children. Johnny's speech is not as good as it should be and...
C.W. Richards: Does he have a speech impediment?
Richard: Just slow. We did the right thing, we sent him to speech school.

Later in the interview:
C.W. Richards: The only reason I am asking you all this is because there has got to be a reason for this. I would like you to think this over to find some reason for this after we have left-- some big incident that could have brought this on.
Richard: Big incident--the fire, January 2nd. She left that morning;it was only charred but it was a shattering blow for a woman to have a home she cleaned and tried to keep nice, burned.

Beverley said that she had a feeling the children were "inadequate" and that they were becoming more inadequate. The only reasoning she could provide was that Johnny had a lazy eye, and Beverley noticed the twins may have had lazy eyes as well. 

The children were cremated on February 8.

Beverley was an inpatient at the Kankakee State Hospital until her sentencing on April 1958. She had a baby, Richard, while committed.

In April, a judge ruled Beverley insane and uncured, against the medical opinions of experts. She was found not guilty of murder and all charges were dropped. Beverley was moved to the Illinois State Hospital in Elgin.

Beverley had another son in April 1960, but I'm not sure if she was out of the hospital by that point. Psychiatric patients were being released much more quickly from Elgin in the late 1950's due to use of Thorazine and other psychotropic medications including antidepressants.

Beverley was definitely released by the fall of 1961 because she was living in Chicago. 

Beverley and Richard Puetz divorced around 1963. Both remarried. The two boys lived with Richard, their stepmother, and stepsisters.

Johnny, Debra, and Kerry--we haven't forgotten about you. 

October 23, 2018

Sears Jeanette in Hazel Crest

For about $40 per month, you could buy your own Sears Jeanette. That's exactly what Sidney and Ada Morris did in 1929. Sidney built the house across the street from his parents' house in Hazel Crest. 

17060 Orchard Ridge Ave., Hazel Crest. Photo from Realtor site.

Sears Jeanette.

Another angle of the Jeanette in Hazel Crest. The double diamond-muntin windows and variegated roofline of the Jeanette are unmistakable. Photo from Google Streetview.

The Jeanette has a decent-sized living room (18' x 12'), a kitchen, and two bedrooms. Photo from Realtor site. 

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Photo from Realtor site.

Sidney and Ada needed a new house because they were having a baby. Daughter Shirley Ann was born in 1930 shortly after the house was completed. Shirley Ann died the following year, and Sidney and Ada moved to Chicago thereafter. I believe they still owned the house, but rented it.

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