Archive ID: 2019-065-05

Robert H. Bork oral history interview, tape three

Date Created: 1982-05-27

Donor: William Bork

Media Type: Oral History

Language: English


Born in 1906, Bob Bork was raised on the East Side in a family of Swedish immigrants with eleven children. As one of the younger siblings, Bob was able to attend high school for a few years before dropping out to work to help support his family much as his older siblings had. He got a job as a junior clerk in the accounting department at US Steel-South Works where his older sister Betty already worked. South Works allowed him to work part-time so he could go back and finish high school. Bork worked at US Steel- South Works for 48 years in the accounting department and, during World War II, as a foreman. He was a life-long resident of the East Side.

In a series of three oral histories, Bork offered detailed descriptions of life in Southeast Chicago. In this tape, he describes recreation in Southeast Chicago in the early 20th century. He noted, “years ago, very few people in the neighborhoods on the East Side had automobiles and [so] the center of attraction was Calumet Park.” He recalls an early bathing house and full body bathing suits in Calumet Park, the creation of the park fieldhouse and other amenities in the 1920s, and the expansion of the park through landfilling with slag generated by the steel mills. Bob also describes the excellent semi-professional sports leagues in early Southeast Chicago as well as famous Chicago sports figures of the era. The oral histories with Bob Bork were conducted and donated by his son, William Bork, who also wrote a master’s thesis about the 1937 labor event, The Memorial Day Massacre.

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