Reviewing a Lifetime
(A Psychotherapist's Nightmare)
by John D. Sedory

Copyright©2013,2016 by Daniel B. Sedory, Editor. All Rights Reserved.

Chapter 1
Beginnings

 

    Every family consists of a father and a mother. In order to prove I was not hatched, I want to begin with my real-life father and mother: Dad and Mom (actually in later years she was always "Ma") lived in a town located about 90 miles or so southwest of Chicago: Streator, Illinois. They both were children of parents of Slovak descent. [But the origin of the name Sedory is Hungarian; see our explanation under Footnote 3.]

    Dad was the third oldest in his family, having a half brother George and a sister Anna who preceded him. George was the only child of Zsuzsanna ("Susanna") and Jur ("George") Novotny[1]. George Sr. died about 23 months into the marriage [on September 23, 1890; in a coal mine accident[2]], and Susanna married George Sedory[3] at a later date [April 5, 1891].

 
 
 Susanna and George Sedory (holding George Novotny on his lap), and
Susanna's sister, Mary [Vanta] Antolik. (Provided by Alan Post.)
 
 
 

That marriage brought six children: Anna [3-27-1894], John ("Jack" - my Dad [October 24, 1896]), Maria (Mary [5-17-1899]), Emma [4-30-1902], Susanna (Sue [1-7-1905]) and Margareta (Margaret [6-29-1908]). Uncle George [or "Bill"] carried the Novotny name.

[Editor's Note: Both the date and location of the following photo of George's girls is unknown. However, Margaret appears (to this editor) to be no older than 3. If we assume it was taken the end of June, 1911, Margaret would have just turned 3, and Anna would be 17 and single (married, September 9, 1912).]

 
 
 From Left to Right: Emma (9), Anna (17), Margaret (3), Susanna (42), Mary (12), Sue (6).

  (Picture provided by Matthew Schademann, 2016.)


George's family; about 1917. Back row: Emma and Mary; Middle: George, Margaret, Susanna; Front
row: Sue (standing), Anna (sitting with her daughters, Viola and Evelyn--rubbing her eye), and John.




This photo had only "Around 1917 or 1918" on back. Standing (Left to Right): George ("Uncle Bill") in uniform.
Assuming a date of April 30, 1918 would make him 27-1/2, then Emma (16), John (21-1/2) and Sue (13-1/3).
Seated: George (49-2/12) and Susanna (49-2/12), and Margaret (9-10/12) kneeling in front.

Neither Anna (24-1/12) nor Mary (18-11/12) are shown in this picture.
 
 
   
 

 

The Vagaskys

    Mom was the eldest of four kids in her family: Mary [my Mom; December 9, 1903], Anna [3-7-1907], Elizabeth [3-25-1909] and the only boy, Thomas (Uncle Tom) [9-22-1915], all members of the Vagasky clan.

    Dad was seven years older than Mom. They both attended a Slovak Lutheran Church, as did all the family members. From what I can recall, they met at some sort of church affair, picnic or social perhaps. They must have hit it off, as they eventually married in 1921.

The Author, His Name

    Philip Andrew became the firstborn to John and Mary Sedory. Later, on March 29th, 1923, along came John Daniel, the trouble-maker who's writing this. Next came sister Mary Elizabeth (took on "Marie" later in life) on June 15, 1924. We were still living in Streator, Illinois, possibly now at a home our grandparents owned which was located on a lot adjoining their home.

    My name, John Daniel, was quite evident in its origin since the baptizing pastor was Reverend John Daniel, pastor of the Slovak Lutheran Church in Streator.

Old Number 3

    About ten years later [some people wanted to take] that old church ... to the Chicago World's Fair or The Century of Progress as it was called. The church was something like [50] years old and had historic value.[4]

    I know I was either the last baptism in the old church or the first in the new one, a church which was either built new or bought as an existing building, I'm not certain. The old church was located in a section of town called "Old Number Three[5]." The newer one may have been in the "Painter's Addition" section, or at least near to it, since Grandpa and Grandma Vagasky lived in that section and weren't that far from it.

    In Slovak, Grandpa and Grandma Vagasky were called "Dzedo" and "Baba" [Note: A recent Slovak dictionary, uses the word dedko for Grandpa, and babička or babka for Grandma; baba is now derogatory, with 'old woman' being its nicest translation]. In my many years of visiting there I never called them anything but those names, nor did my sister or brothers, as I recall.

    Since we lived in the house at the bottom of a slight hill, and since I was just a youngster, I was told for years that I often fell flat on my nose going up and down that hill. This was supposed to be where I got my larger, flatter nose. As much as I might have liked to believe that story, I'm afraid the truth to the matter is that I inherited it from my Dad's genes. We had almost identically shaped noses—something I considered less than flattery all my life, but something about which there was little I could do. Little, that is, outside of having had an operation in 1971 for a deviated septum and having some corrective surgery done to the shape of my nose as well. The problem with that surgery was that the doctor and my wife decided it wouldn't do to make my nose too small because of my larger face and features; and it turned out less than what I'd hoped for. It became a lot less flat on the tip, but in straightening it out, the surgeon extended it upward. So in reality it became longer, yet not all that small. Oh, well, that's the way it went and I can't change it. Maybe God knew I'd be too vain to handle looking as normal as most people do!

    You have to know something about our grandparents in order to appreciate some of the things I'll be relating to you. They were both of Slovak descent, from Slovakia. And that was their primary language for communication. In Streator this was no problem, for it seemed almost everyone spoke Slovak or Polish, which had some similarities. Or maybe it was just that the people I'd see while there on vacation were accustomed to speaking in their foreign tongue.

    Later on in the book I want to relate many of my memories of those vacations at Baba and Dzedo's home at 816 Jackson Street, Streator, Illinois.

Grandma Sedory

    You will notice I've concentrated on Dzedo and Baba Vagasky, while saying almost nothing about Dad's folks. The reason for this is the fact that Grandma Sedory passed away when I was very young [2 years old], so I don't remember her. She was supposed to be quite a woman!

 
 
 Died: April 7, 1925.

(Riverview Cemetery, Streator, IL)
 
 
 

    Grandma fell victim to a stove explosion, as I've heard the story told. Whether it was a coal, wood or oil fire, I don't know. She was supposed to have had her clothing and hair ignited from the blast, and I think the reason I don't know more about it is because I wanted to spare myself the agony of it all.

    So Grandpa Sedory was alone, though other of his children lived close by, especially the Novotney family (Aunt Anna), who I think may have lived next door to him. Another thing about Grandpa Sedory is the fact (hope I'm not wrong about this) he spoke very little English, making it difficult for us kids who spoke only English to communicate with him. In case this is incorrect data, it somehow just wasn't appropriate for us to spend vacations with him, while it was perfectly ideal for us to stay at the Vagasky's (Mom's folks).

Chicago

    Somewhere in the year after Marie's birth, the family moved to Chicago. The only reason I can think of for such a move was to provide better work opportunities for Dad. This was the beginning of changes that would follow [our move] to that city.

    It had to be 1925, because the fourth sibling joined us there in Chicago on September 8th of that year. It was another boy, Edward Thomas. So now there were two younger and one older than I among us kids. What had already been a "job" in handling three kids now grew. Mom's time surely was well occupied, and Dad's responsibilities in providing for us also broadened.

    The house in Chicago couldn't have been very large, and the living conditions evidently nothing to brag about, either; so we were off for another move! I doubt we lived there for more than a year or so. It also could have been that Dad located work at the brickyard[6] in Stickney, and it was too far to travel.

[Editor's Note: Some time in the summer of 1918, John "Jack" Sedory, who had turned 21 on October, 24th, 1917, had to fill out a 'draft card' for the second registration of WWI. We see he used a middle initial "J" for his name, and that he was employed at the "Streator Clay Works". This was, or at least started as (back in the 1890s or earlier), a mining company; with underground shafts. For the 1920 US Census, on January 28th, 1920, both John 'Jack' Sedory and his father George are listed as working at a "Brick Yard"; so our author's father already had brick yard experience before moving to Chicago.]

John ("Jack") Sedory's 1918 Draft Card:


Notice item 7 ("Father's birthplace") on the card above is give as: Austria. Prior to the end of WWI, Slovakia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire; which it appears was often shortened to simply "Austria" on various documents. As mentioned on our page about the family's 1920 census data, the place where the Sedory family came from (near Sabinov, Slovakia), became part of a new country called the Czechoslovak Republic some time after WWI.

 
 
 

Foreword

TOC

Chapter 2

Footnotes

1[Return to Text]  Not to be confused with the Novotney family (with an 'e') which the author's Aunt Anna married into. These are pictures of Zsuzsanna and Jur (likely short for Juraj which means "George") Novotny and of Jur's grave stone in Moon's Point Cemetery (sometimes incorrectly referred to as 'Moon Creek' cemetery):

 

Here's what we wrote of his gravestone at Moon's Point Cemetery; link includes more pictures.

2[Return to Text]  We do not have any records of which mine this occurred in. Concerning mine accidents in Streator, Paula Angle wrote on page 59 of her work, Biography in Black (see link in Footnote 5):

    "Though Streator's mines never witnessed a major disaster, few weeks passed during the period between 1870 and 1910 without at least one fatality underground."

3[Return to Text]  Although they came to America from Slovakia, the "Sedory" name is actually derived from Hungarian origins: The book PÁL MESTER :: BAZINI ÉS SZENTGYÖRGYI GRÓF :: ANONYMUS by György Gusztáv Szentgyörgyi, includes notes about the "Sedory" family (originally spelled: Szegyory) being a line of Hungarians possibly starting with 'Master Paul'. On page 21 of the 1907 edition from Harvard, this genealogical tree contains references to the author's family in America:

John D. Sedory's grandfather is the "György (George) sz. 1869" (in BLUE); John's father being one of the 3 children born in America ("3 fiú született Amerikában"). In the 1908 edition, this note was changed to '5 children...'. The "János (John) sz. 1871" (in GREEN) also moved to America, married and had children in Pennsylvania. Robert J. Sedory (1926-2009), whose father was this János, provided us with a copy of the 1908 edition of this book.

"Sedory" is an anglicized version of the Hungarian name, Szegyory. Hungarian has seven letters (in its 38-letter alphabet) called digraphs. These letters have been represented for a long time by two characters each from the Latin alphabet. They are: cs, gy, ly, ny, sz, ty, and zs (as we've seen in 'Zsuzsanna'). In Hungarian, sz is pronounced like a regular English s as in 'sell', never like a z as in 'rose' and gy is pronounced like dy, or the d in 'adulation'. At this point it should be clear how Sedory, came from Szegyory. This name, however, is closely related to, and simply a shortened form, of a longer and much more common name in Hungarian: Szentgyörgyi, or Szent-György. The word, "Szent," in such names, would mean, Saint, and "György" is a Hungarian form of the given name George. Thus, the name means Saint George. As a matter of fact, the phrase Szent György kereszt is how the "Red Cross" organization is known in Hungary! In other words, its literal meaning there is: Cross (or Crest) of St. George. So, 'Sedory' can also be thought of as meaning 'Saint George'.

4[Return to Text]  The editing above is due to the author having incorrectly believed the old Slovak church was actually brought to the Chicago World's Fair; it was not. [More will be said about the 1933 World's Fair in Chapter 13.] (The author had also written, "the church was something like 100 years old," but having been built in 1884, it was only 49 years old in 1933.) Most likely his parents heard from relatives that it might happen, and he believed that it did. However, the facts are:

    "The historic Slovak Lutheran church ... was the object of much attention recently on the part of Century of Progress officials. They sought to have it moved to the World's Fair grounds in Chicago, but Merrimack [a founder of the church] objected vigorously, and the request was denied." [Streator Daily Times-Press, Tuesday, March 14, 1933]

5[Return to Text]  Odd as it may seem, these are actual references to parts of Streator as noted in this historical work:

    "Reflecting the trend of general United States immigration at this time, many of Streator's newcomers were from central and eastern Europe, particularly Poland and Slovakia. Many Slovaks clustered together in Painter's Addition, to the northeast. Both Poles and Slovaks settled on the southern edge of town in the Vermillion City area (at this time generally known as "Old Number 3," after a CW&V [mine] shaft, or as South Streator). The oldest Slovak Lutheran church [building] in America was built in this neighborhood, just west of Bloomington Street, in 1884." [Biography in Black: A History of Streator, Illinois by Paula Angle (1962), p. 44.]
(You can download "Biography in Black" from its archive.org link as PDF, text, etc.)

6[Return to Text]  Only later (in Chapter 9) does the author identify the 'brickyard' as being run by the "Brisch Brick Company". But he also describes areas he and his brothers would frequent in and around the brickyard in Chapter 6.

 

Foreword

TOC

Chapter 2