Archive for October, 2009

Oct 21 2009

House Moving & Downtown Hammond

Published by Donna Muta under General

You’ve all heard me say it before; we can all learn so much by simply taking the time to have a conversation with our elders.  I had the pleasure of doing just that this week when I was asked to meet with Zygmont “Ziggy” Jocha and his lovely wife Pauline Zuzul-Jocha of Calumet City.  They married in 1945 and have 2 girls, Gail Smeach and Carole DeBruin with 5 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.  Ziggy brought in a photo of a one-time Hammond business, John Ahlborn & Son General House Moving that was located at 780 Beal Avenue in the early 1920’s.  This photo was so intriguing to me that I got to wondering, why and how would anyone ever move their home like this so long ago?  Well, I got the answers and then some!  It turns out that Ziggy’s family moved their home from Hohman Avenue to Pulaski Road in West Hammond, now Calumet City, in the 1920’s.  The reason homes were moved was because the area that we know as Downtown Hammond, now around Hohman & Douglas, was being developed commercially.  Their home was being moved for the building of St. Margaret’s Hospital.  Back then, it seemed as though Hammond and Calumet City were one in the same.  Folks seemed to move more freely across state lines when it was called West Hammond.  House moving was more common back then because it was just the way things were done back then.  One could relocate a two-story home, including the addition of a basement and fancy up the home with brick veneer on the exterior for only $5,000!  It simply wasn’t worth the hassle and the wait of building a new home, especially if the wife loved the house!

As you can imagine, moving a home was a laborious task!  For a home that had no basement, a process called cribbing was used.  A crib was a 6’x6’ wooden box, installed around the house’s main structural poles.  Men dug holes around these poles and placed three cribs on each side of the house.  They used screw jacks to raise the house up.  They would then bring in a big dump truck with a conveyor belt to carry the dirt from the ground and empty it into the truck as they manually dug a trench around the entire perimeter of the house and underneath the house.  After the house was freed, it could then be attached to the steamroller or the rubber dollies and moved to the new location.  The house movers were also expected to cut the power lines before moving the house.  It wasn’t such a big deal back then, because there weren’t so many poles and lines like we have today.  Ziggy cannot remember the man’s name, but in the photo, the man 3rd from the left was their line cutter.  One time during a job, he left live power lines down on the ground instead of wrapping them around the top of the pole.  The house moving company was duly warned about this and was ordered by the Hammond Building Commissioner to wait for the power company before cutting lines.  Because he was so impatient, this gentleman decided not to wait, and one day when he was up on top of one of the poles, the police came and threatened to shoot him down if he cut the lines.  Ziggy said he scampered down that pole so fast he burned up the inside of his thighs!

Ziggy thinks this picture was from the early 1920’s because the steam roller method was being used to move the house.  You can see it in the lower left corner of the photo.  In the late 1930’s the industry changed over to using big truck wheels with rubber airline tires on them, known as rubber dollies.  This method was easier on the home because it allowed more shock absorption and cornering flexibility.  Ziggy’s father, Andrew Jocha is the 5th man from the left in the photo.  Next to him is John Ahlborn, the business owner.  On the far right end is Stanley Augustynek who moved his home in this fashion from Memorial Dr. & Wentworth to Pulaski because the Calumet City Park District was taking over the land.    Ziggy’s father, Andrew, migrated from Austria/Poland to West Virgina and worked in the coal mines.  After a horrible explosion, in which he was fortunate to live through, he moved to Hammond because he knew friends and family here.  He got a job with John Ahlborn General House Moving and worked there until he could get on his feet and start his own business, Jocha Construction, as a general contractor.  Ziggy worked in construction for 60 years, up until the age of 80, in 2005. After his father’s company closed, he worked for Wadas Construction in East Chicago, then left to restart Jocha Construction, where he worked out of his home until retirement.

As soon as I introduced myself to Ziggy and Pauline and they learned I was from Hammond Parks & Recreation, Ziggy was so proud to announce that he would walk from his home on Pulaski Road to enjoy swimming and ice skating in the lagoon at Harrison Park.  Pauline said she was originally from Hegewisch, and during her childhood, she would walk to Douglas Park, now Pulaski Park, and even walk to Wolf Lake on occasion.  They were such a gracious couple to welcome me into their home.  I learned so much more, but due to space constraints, I cannot include everything.  I want to thank them for sharing a little piece of their family’s history with me.

Ziggy and Pauline Jocha in their Calumet City home.    John Ahlborn House Moving Company

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Oct 16 2009

More October Fun in Hammond

Published by Donna Muta under Special Events

Hammond FOP #51, 7527 Kennedy Ave., hosts its annual Chili Cook-Off On Sat. Oct. 17 beginning at noon.  Come and sample the best chili recipes in the Region for only $5.  Guest judges will be on hand and prizes will be awarded to the top three chilies.  Call Chris at 219.712.0103 for more information or to enter your favorite recipe.

For Sweetest Day, take your significant other to the Towle Theater to see Letters/X6TM on Sat., Oct. 17 at 7:30 or 10pm.  This hilarious comedy revolves around various ways to end a romantic entanglement.  Tickets are $15.  Call 219.937.8780 for reservations.

The Regional Federal Credit Union is sponsoring the American Red Cross Bloodmobile at the Jean Shepherd Community Center, 3031 J.F. Mahoney Drive, on Tues., Oct. 20 from 2:30-6:30pm.  Call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to schedule your blood donation appointment.
Mayor McDermott’s Annual Volunteers Awards Luncheon will be held on Thurs., Oct. 22, at the Jean Shepherd Community Center starting at 11:30am. Must have a ticket to enter.  Contact Marcus, 219.853.6371.

The Hammond Parks Foundation holds their Haunted Hayride on Friday, 10/23 & Sat. 10/24 from 6-10pm at the Lost Marsh Golf Course, 129th Street & Calumet Avenue.  Adults $2, children $1 and includes hot beverage while supplies last.   Call Art, 219.659.7841.

The Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana located at 2300 – 173rd Street is offering Family Astronomy Nights free to Hammond residents on Fri., Oct. 23 from 6-9pm and Sat., Oct. 24 from 10a-1p.  The theme is Planets of the Solar System.  Space is limited, so RSVP at 219.989.3250.
Challenger Learning Center is also offering one-day fall break Space Camps for grades 3-6.  On Thurs., Oct. 22 from 8:30a-3:30p the theme is CSI: Aliens.  On Fri. Oct. 23 or Fri. Oct. 30 the theme is Survivor: Mars! from 8:30a-3:30p.  Cost is $50 per child; lunch not included.  Call 219.989.3250 or email

For children 14 & over, the Challenger Learning Center is offering the 2nd Annual Howlin’ at the Moon Public Mission on Thrs. Oct. 29 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm.  The cost is $30 per person and a reservation is required.  Call Jan at 219.989.3250 to register.

The Hammond Public Library’s 125th Anniversary Speakers Series hosts “Calumet Beginnings” on Mon., Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. Hammond Public Library, 564 State Street.  Kenneth Schoon, the author of “Calumet Beginnings” and Associate Dean at Indiana University Northwest, describes both the forces of nature, and the people, that shaped the Calumet region. The program is free; the book will be available for purchase. Information: 219-931-5100, Ext. 310 or 306.

The Neuter Scooter for cats only will be at the Hammond Civic Center on Mon., Oct. 26.  Prices are $40 in advance; $50 day of clinic.  Includes rabies vaccine.  Call 866.662.5838 for an appointment.

Beatniks on Conkey, 418 Conkey St., hosts Cheater Dumplin Halloween Spooktacular II, a fun variety show, on Oct. 29 and 30 at 7:30 pm.  Adults are $12 ($10 if in costume); kids just $5.  Call 219.852.0848.

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Oct 14 2009

Still Celebrating our 125th.

Published by Donna Muta under Special Events

By now, you’ve probably heard that Hammond is celebrating its 125th anniversary, (“quasquicentennial”).  You may have seen the eye-catching t-shirts (available, along with other reasonably-priced memorabilia, on  You may have even read the fact-filled brochure (also available at  But what you may not realize is that the party is just beginning!

The culmination of this year’s 125th anniversary festivities will take place on Saturday, November 21st in downtown Hammond.  From 11pm to 6pm, downtown will host the Hammond Holiday Kickoff Celebration: 25th Anniversary of “A Christmas Story”.  This event, which turned out record numbers last year, will take on added significance this year as it focuses attention on our city’s past 125 years.

Not only will revelers enjoy “Christmas Story” themed activities, including movie viewings, a Red Ryder shooting contest, tree lighting, and a visit with Santa and his “mean elf”; this year visitors can also experience Hammond’s fascinating past and watch as a time-capsule is sealed for posterity.  Hammond artist and published book illustrator, Mark Anderson, will unveil the official 125th anniversary poster and a horse-drawn carriage will transport people back in time.

Of course, there are other ways to celebrate this big birthday.  You can view and upload your own historical photographs of Hammond at  You can come to the main branch of the Hammond Public Library on Monday, October 26th at 7 p.m. to hear Kenneth Schoon, author of “Calumet Beginnings”, describe the people and forces of nature that shaped the Calumet region. The program is free.

You can also encourage your children or grandchildren to enter the Quasquicentennial Coloring Contest.  It is open for all children up to 12th grade, and the winners will be announced at the November 21st celebration.  Winners can opt to have their entry posted on the city website and sealed in the time capsule.  Entry forms are available at the Civic Center, Jean Shepherd Center, and online at  But hurry, because the deadline for entries is November 12th.

Hammond is a city that takes pride in its history and accomplishments.  Not only were we the home to Jean Shepherd, author of the book that became the timeless movie, “A Christmas Story”, we were also home to Medal of Honor recipient, William Gordon Windrich, a Korean War hero who made the ultimate sacrifice on a bitterly cold night in 1950.  Not only are we home to the largest bar soap manufacturing plant in the world, we are also home to the Hammond Robotics Team, one of the most successful and highly respected high school robotics teams in the world.

We invite you to celebrate this special anniversary and the unique history that is Hammond’s.

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