Ruth Simos and Janis Liedtke have lived in Bay View their entire lives. And they’ve seen it all. Keep scrolling to hear their stories.
It’s a busy day at Humboldt Park in Bay View — a crowd is here to celebrate the parks’s 125th anniversary.
As I wander around, polka music fills the air, and I run across two ladies sitting on a bench, Ruth Simos and Janis Liedtke.
They seem like old friends, but their connection goes beyond just friendship. They have a shared love for the place they live — Bay View.
“We’re a working class neighborhood with a lakefront, which has been a best kept secret for many years,” says Simos, 93.
“When we were ready to buy a home, I asked my husband if we could look in Bay View, and he said ‘whatever makes you happy,'” adds Liedtke. “And we’ve been here since 1961.”
As we got to talking, Simos and Liedtke enchant me with stories of how the world has changed in their lifetimes.
“I lived through The Depression and through the War,” says Simos “My wedding shoes were made out of cloth and cardboard, because if you got leather shoes it took a coupon. And you certainly needed daily shoes more than a pair of white slippers to run after the streetcars and things,” says Simos, referencing leather rationing during WWII.
“And now we’ve had about five wars in my lifetime, which are five too many,” she adds.
“Everybody can’t get along,” Liedtke interjects.
“I keep wondering when the human race is going to evolve a little bit,” says Simos.
But there is one thing they’re both happy has remained unchanged — that feeling of community in Bay View.
“It’s still a neighborhood, that’s its charm,” Simos says.
“It’s just a wonderful place to be,” says Liedtke.
Humbolt Park Friends, a nonprofit group, presented the 125th anniversary party for the park. For more about the organization, visit its website.