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Recollections by Zoa Berenice Lasbury

Compiled by Sarah Beth Lasbury

Listen, I remember all the dirt roads before people had cars to travel.

I remember the day World War I ended with a parade. It was 1918 and I was six years old. I remember my father saying they should kill the Kaiser in Germany who ruled during World War I.

We lived on Church Street in East Alton, Illinois, We had a barn, chickens and a chicken house, coal shed and big garden. We used lamps and my mother cooked on a coal stove and heated irons on coal stoves. There wasn’t a washing machine. We had no bathrooms. My mother gave Charles baths in a tub and added a little fresh hot water from a tea kettle and then gave me a bath. Charles was my only brother. He was born in 1908 on a farm, before my parents moved to East Alton. We moved in 1910 to Smith Avenue. When I was twelve, I played an organ you pump with your feet for the Baptist youth to sing. I remember when Television came in.


As a young woman, I met your Grandfather at High School. His full name was Edwin Charles Lasbury (Charles Edwin Lasbury on his birth certificate), and he was known as Ed. Our first date was a boat ride on the Mississippi River with the Alton Demolay. He didn’t have a car. We took a bus to St. Louis to a big theater, where I first heard talking movies, I married in 1929 at the Baptist parsonage. By 1933 we moved to Indiana. We were transferred from Standard Oil Company, and first lived in Whiting. My son Charles Edwin was only two, going on three. After we lived in Whiting we got a radio in a huge walnut cabinet, After we got furniture, we got a refrigerator.

I Joined Eastern Star, and Lady Oriental Shrine, Ed belonged to the Masons, Shrine and Consistory. We belonged to the Hammond Baptist Church until Charles Edwin decided to be a minister when he was 18. Then we all joined the Methodist Church because of him. He graduated at Indiana University and he left for Delaware to go to Wesley College, now at Washington D.C. Eddie had a church when he was 19 years old. In 1987, the Shrine called me a life time member. One year when I went to Delaware Mr. McDade took me to his friend to see a yacht. So the friend took us for a ride on his yacht. It was swell. It was on the Delaware Bay.

We had three sons. Charles Edwin was born in East Alton when we lived with my parents. Charles Edwin married Kaylene McDade and had three children. Later he studied two years and graduated as a Doctor at Drew Theological Seminary in Madica, New Jersey. It was great to go see his graduation with a Doctor Degree. I was happy to see Bishop Lord of Washington D.C. ordain Charles Edwin. Ed and I flew there.

Richard Lee was born March 5, 1934. Dick graduated at Indiana University and received his dentistry degree in 1965. He married Betty Converse. The dental school let balloons fly when they got their degree. Dick’s dad did live to see Dick a dentist and start his office and buy a home.

Thomas Jon was born in East Chicago, Indiana on March 24, 1946. Tom married Sarah Beth Murphy in 1968. Ed died in 1969 so Tom decided to go into State Farm Insurance like his father. They have one daughter, Nora Lynn Lasbury, born February 6, 1977. Tom built an office in Dyer in 1973, and they bought a house in Munster in 1987.

We finally bought a house for $3,500 on 165th Street in Hammond Indiana. This was years before 165th Street was busy, and it was known as the Wagon Road to Chicago. When we moved there, it was like the last street in town. I felt so far out. Later Hammond built up and then Munster and Dyer, Schererville, etc.

Our house on 165th Street in Hammond was paid for in 1946 and in the same year we had our first all new car. Eddie used to tell people, “Wipe your feet, wipe your feet”, when they came into our house. When we got a refrigerator, Dick was able to talk and he said, “Eddie, don’t breathe in the ice box”. We still called it an ice box. I asked Tom once what his teacher was like, and he said she’s gray, but not feeble. Dick and Charles Edwin always had paper routes and store jobs as they grew up.

According to History Time Line, I was born in the period called Europe the Overlord. I was born in July 3, 1912. That’s before the Modern World Era, Henry Ford began assembly of cheap motor cars in 1909. People used to call a ford a “Tin Lizzie”. The Modern World began in 1914. The outbreak of World War I began in 1914. I remember soldiers in the war. New inventions like the airplane, radio, and cars rapidly developed.

I went to the Holy Land. I first went to Charles Edwin’s in Delaware. Then we left Baltimore airport. We flew across the ocean and in the morning I could see lights turning on in England as we passed over. We did stop at Frankfurt, Germany for fuel. Then we flew to Cyprus and got on a ship on the Mediterranean Sea. The ship sailed at night while we slept. Some got very sick but I didn’t. Every morning we got up and had breakfast and they gave us a bag lunch to board a bus all day. The bus rode us to different countries, then we went back to the ship at night. I saw the River Jordan, Dead Sea, and the Sea of Galilee. One night we didn’t get to the ship to sleep.

I slept in a hotel in Jerusalem. After the trip ended, we got the plane at Cyprus and flew to Lisbon, Portugal for fuel and back across the ocean to Baltimore, The church people came in a big car and took us back to Delaware. Later I flew back to Chicago from Ed’s house in Delaware. The Mediterranean is very rough and one night dishes were sliding off the table and we were told to go back to our rooms. There was a dance floor on ship. I danced with Ed and a Professor from another state. He was very young. It was fun. I was 60 at least then.

Berenice Lasbury died May 31, 1989 following a heart attack and several days in the hospital. Her ashes were spread in Lake Michigan off the north Hammond shore.


Edwin C. Lasbury, my husband was born August 24, 1910 in Alton, Illinois. He died April 9, 1969 in Hammond, Indiana and is buried at Elmnwood Cemetery in Hammond. He died of a massive heart attack. Edwin C. Lasbury worked for Standard Oil for many years, then became a State Farm Agent in 1954 while he was still working at Standard Oil. He was one of nine children.

Linked toEdwin Charles Lasbury; Zoa Berenice Thomae

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