Oct 14, 2009

The Village--and JFK

The Village ice cream shop was at 7814 S. Ashland Ave.,
probably in the parking lot to the right of this building.

Dot had one of her typically busy days on October 14, 1946. She got a letter from Jim Parks, made a Voice-O-Graph recording with Dave, and then, with Chuck, Dave, Doty, Sunny and Sis, took a ride in Chuck's car to The Village–a “real cute ice cream parlor” at 79th & Ashland. Typically, it's difficult to find information about the small, 1940s-era establishments that Dot and her friends went to. That was the case with this ice cream shop, until now.

In July of 1958, its owner, William Scholl, gave testimony in Washington, D.C. before the U.S. Select Committee on Improper Labor Activities in the Labor or Management Field. Among the officials asking questions of Scholl were a Senator John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert. Other well-known government figures present were Barry Goldwater, Sam Ervin and Frank Church. The Chairman was Frank McClellan. Mr. Scholl apparently was a victim of extortion.

One of the Kennedys--I'm not sure which--asks questions of Scholl in this excerpt (emphasis mine):

Mr. Scholl: My name is William Scholl; 9232 South Trumble is where I live. My place of business is 3422 West 95th Street, Evergreen Park, 111. That is where the White Mill is. Village Ice Cream is at 7814 South Ashland Avenue, Chicago, 11.

The Chairman: Are you in the restaurant business ?

Mr. Scholl: I am, and ice cream, both.

The Chairman: You waive counsel ?

Mr. Scholl: Yes, sir.

The Chairman: All right.

Mr. Kennedy: Do you deal in any special product, Mr. Scholl ?

Mr. Scholl: Yes, I do, in a very high butterfat ice cream, one of the outstanding ones in Chicago, in Evergreen Park, and we make our own flavoring, chocolates, marshmallow, all of the different ones, and then we put on good whipped cream, pure whipped cream.

Mr. Kennedy: You have two restaurants, the Village Restaurant and the White Mill, the Village Ice Cream Shop?

Mr. Scholl: Yes, sir.

Mr. Kennedy: During 1951 you were approached by representatives of local 594 about organizing your employees ?

Mr. Scholl: I was.

Mr. Kennedy: What did they state to you at that time ?

Mr. Scholl: Mr. Trungale told me that I had to become a union house, and I would have to put some employees in the union. I told him I didn't want to. I said I didn't see what benefits they would get, or, "If you can tell me, enlighten me on what they would receive, anything better than what they are getting," and he said, well, he
didn't seem to know just what the wages were, but to keep on working under the same conditions, the same wages, which was far above the union wage, and the conditions would be the same, but I would have to put in about eight employees, which I did.

Mr. Kennedy: You did? You selected eight ?

Mr. Scholl: Eight employees.

Mr. Kennedy: Did he tell you there would be a picket line unless you put in these employees ?

Mr. Scholl: Yes; all the waitresses. I only have about two carhops.

Mr. Kennedy: How much money did you pay him at that time ?

Mr. Scholl: At that time I paid him $65.

Mr. Kennedy: In check or cash ?

Mr. Scholl: Cash.

Mr. Kennedy: Did you make payments periodically after that?

Mr. Scholl: I did for dues every 3 months.

Mr. Kennedy. Always in cash ?

Mr. Scholl: Yes ; always in cash. I had to come

Mr. Kennedy: 'Why did you pay him in cash ?

Mr. Scholl: Well, they wanted it in cash.

Mr. Kennedy: Who wanted it in cash ?

Mr. Scholl: Mr. O'Connor.

Mr. Kennedy: Did you just make the payment to Mr. O'Connor?

Mr. Scholl: The dues were paid to Mr. O'Connor.

Mr. Kennedy: Did you make these payments back in 1951 in order to avoid difficulties with the union ?

Mr. Scholl: Yes; I did. They would have a picket line out in front.

Mr. Kennedy: Was it a form of extortion, in your estimation ?

Mr. Scholl: In my opinion, it was.

I don't know what became of William Scholl after the hearings, but I hope things turned out all right.

As I noted above, the location appears to now be a parking lot. However, the building adjacent to it is probably very similar in appearance to the one that housed The Village--Dot's “cute, little ice cream parlor” that later came to be known by a future President of the United States.

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