‘Descendant’ of Maryville gives back

By Joyce Duriga | Editor
Sunday, March 26, 2017

Volunteer Christine Hartwig plays with Madeline at the Maryville Crisis Nursery, 4015 N. Oak Park Ave. on Feb. 2. Hartwig’s parents grew up in Maryville’s children’s home in Des Plaines and later married. Children ages newborn through six years receive round-the-clock childcare, up to 72 hours a stay at the nursery. Issues that bring families to the Nursery include unemployment, parental illness or hospitalization, poverty and homelessness. (Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic)

Christine Hartwig’s parents grew up at Maryville in Des Plaines and later married.

Her biological aunts and uncles also grew up in Maryville. After they left Maryville, her parents stayed in touch with people they met there and they became “aunts” and “uncles” to their children.

In some ways, Hartwig is a “descendant” of Maryville. It is a large part of her family’s history.

“We have Maryville slang in our family,” she said. “Bug juice” is a term for Kool-Aid.

“If you say, ‘You’re spoiling my pleasure’ that means ‘You’re bothering me,’” Hartwig told the Chicago Catholic on a recent day volunteering at Maryville’s Crisis Nursery, 4015 N. Oak Park Ave.

Her father came to Maryville at age 3 after his mother died and a grandmother couldn’t care for him. Her mom and her four siblings arrived after her mother died. She was 9 and with her father working all day before they were declared wards of the state.

When her mother graduated, she was able to become the guardian of her three younger siblings who were still at Maryville.

“They came home and went through the process to reunite with my grandfather, and then my mom could raise the younger siblings,” Hartwig said.

Her mom has since died and her father has remarried, but the Maryville memories continue to be shared through her aunts and are being passed on to Hartwig’s three grown daughters.

“It’s a huge part of our lives. That’s why I get really nervous that our children won’t understand Maryville.”

“My girls always ask questions,” she said. “When we’re all together my aunts tell us stories and we just laugh.”

On a recent visit, her aunts shared how they would steal bread from the bakery and toast it using a clothes iron.

Those stories have stayed with her and her brother and their cousins.

“We feel very near and dear to Maryville.”

Her mother’s siblings have different versions of the Maryville experience.

“My mom’s perspective was, ‘I’m here. This is just my life. I’m going to get used to it.’ My aunt Peggy tells everyone she was raised in a boarding school in Park Ridge. My uncle Marty is very Maryville,” she said, adding that the rules they lived by at Maryville he continues today. Her uncle Pat doesn’t speak about their time at Maryville.

Hartwig teaches at Belding Elementary School, 4257 N. Tripp Ave., and volunteers at the nursery once a week.

“This is a great place. Being in CPS and working with kids, having a place to bring your kids that’s safe is crucial.”

Hartwig said she’s at a point in her life where it is time to give back to others.

“When I thought ‘Where could I give back?’ I went back to Maryville because it just feels right.”


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