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  • Writer's pictureRochelle Gridley

Charming Business Girls Contest #4 , 1937

Eileen Conroy was born in McLean Illinois, a place I visited just this past weekend. She graduated from McLean High in 1931 and part of the graduation celebration was the senior play, which was put on at the Community Hall, a building that is still standing in McLean. In 1937 Eileen was working for Livingston's as a purse buyer, which sounds like quite a responsible position. She had been working as a saleswoman since about 1932, and she was living in Bloomington on her own throughout the 30s. Eileen married Luke Reilly some time after 1937. She then lived in Rockford and worked with her husband at the Barber Colman Company factory. She was an assembler, and he was a stock handler. Barber Colman manufactured textile looms. Work as an assembler may have paid better than being a purse buyer at the high toned Livingston's department store, but would not have been as satisfying!

Dorotha McHaney was assistant to the DeWitt County superintendent of schools, Mrs. May Porter, in 1937. Her parents were Edward and Lizzy McHaney, a farming couple in DeWitt County. In the 1930 census she was listed as a school teacher and was boarding with a family in Harp Township in DeWitt County. Her alma mater is not noted in or her Pantagraph obituary, but I remain hopeful that with the digitization of the Clinton newspaper, we will learn where Dorotha attended college. She married Richie Roberts in 1939 and lived in Decatur, where she was a housewife. She died in 2010 at the age of 101.

In 1937 Vivian Quinn lived in Saybrook, IL where she worked for the A B Woolley Print Shop and the Roxy Theater. In 1930 her father, Elmer Quinn, was a janitor in a grade school and her mother was a dressmaker. Vivian was the youngest of a family of five children and all four adult children were living with the parents in 1930. A brother was working as a laborer, the oldest sister as a teacher and another sister, who was married but not living with her husband, was not working. Her third sister was a high school student. Vivian married Clair Wycoff, a widower, in November, 1939 in Indiana. Clare Wyckoff was twenty-two years older than Vivian, but was killed in 1955 when he struck a train near Weldon in his automobile. Vivian also outlived her son, Rodney, who died at the age of 68. Vivian was 92 years old when she died in Saybrook, still living in her own home. Few of the women were raised in affluent circumstances, but Vivian may have been one of the poorest of the women, but certainly one of the most photogenic.

Theresa Cotner was a clerk in the S.S. Kresge (a five and dime store related to the K Mart stores) in the toilet goods department. Born Theresa Meyer, in 1937 she was divorced from her first husband. In November 1938 she married again, only to take back her maiden name -- her new husband was Chester Meyer. Strangely enough, Theresa's marriage to Chester was not announced until June 1940 and in April of 1940 she was still living with her parents, and using her married name (Cotner). There is certainly a mystery there!! In 1940 she was working at the Wabash Telephone company and Chester worked at the McLean County Service Company. Theresa continued working for the telephone company, later General Telephone, throughout her marriage. Theresa Meyer was born in Hungary and brought to the United States by her parents before 1920. She is the only immigrant "business woman" in the contest so far.

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