Earlier this week, one of our members noticed that the name of the parking lot outside of Workshop 88 had been changed – it used to be called Schock’s Square, and now it is called Pennsylvania East. Some of us thought that was a rather dull name compared to Schock’s Square (the street name is Pennsylvania Avenue) and got us to wonder about who was the Schock of Schock’s Square, anyway?
Another member took the initiative to call the Glen Ellyn Public Library to see if they had any information about the history of Schock’s Square, and a few days later we received the following email from Amy Franco, one of the librarians:
Thanks for your super interesting question about the origins of the name of Schock’s Square in downtown Glen Ellyn! No one at the library knew anything about it, and we couldn’t find anything about it in any of our traditional resources. So I called Harold Prichard, one of our longtime Glen Ellyn residents and he told me a fascinating story:From private correspondence with Amy Franco, librarian at Glen Ellyn Public Library. Reprinted with permission.
George Schock owned a gas station where the square now is in the 40s and possibly the 30s, during a time when there was a gas station on nearly every corner of Glen Ellyn. At George’s station, when you pulled in, they’d check the tires and all the gauges, clean the car, and everyone who worked for him was really nice. George’s station was a few cents more than his competitors’, but his regulars were willing to go there because of the great service and nice people he had working for him.
George would invite some of his regular clientele to join him in the back of the shop for a glass of whiskey while the car was being checked and filled. On Christmas, he would have a huge buffet at the gas station and many locals would stop by. Overall, he was extremely successful and in Mr. Prichard’s opinion George Schock was held in the same esteem in town as the McChesney, Miller, and Young families.
George had two young boys working for him, Ken and Will Major. George taught them about entrepreneurship and how to maintain a clientele, and eventually encouraged the Majors boys to open their own gas station around the corner from him at Crescent and Park where there is now a condo building. Willard Major’s obituary (attached) makes note of running Ken and Will’s Union 76 Service Station from 1955-1985.
I’ve also included a (somewhat grainy) copy of George Schock’s obituary from 1966 in the Glen Ellyn News. The text reads:
George J. Schock, Veteran Business Operator, Dies
George J. Schock, a Glen Ellyn business operator for nearly 40 years and owner of Schock’s Service Station, died early yesterday morning at Central DuPage Hospital after a short illness.
Born in Chicago March 27, 1903, he had lived in or near GLen Ellyn all his life. At the time of his passing he resided on Naperville rd. south of Wheaton.
His marriage to the former Kathryn Pegg took place in Glen Ellyn.
The deceased was the oldest service station operator in the area in point of continuous service. He and his brother, Paul, now of Morris, founded the station at its present location. Paul left the business many years ago. George was one of few service station operators owning his own premises.
Survivors in addition to his wife and brother include a son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Mary Ellen Schock of Glen Ellyn, and a daughter and son-in-law, Joan and Donald McLeese, also of Glen Ellyn. Also surviving are eight grandchildren, George, Kathy and Brian Schock, and Don, Dick, Doug, David, and Katie McLeese.
Funeral arrangements were incomplete at press time. Arrangements are being handled by the Leonard Memorial Home of Glen Ellyn.
This is a fantastic example of what you can learn from your local library! Workshop 88 has always had a great relationship with the Glen Ellyn Library and other nearby libraries. Our members tend to be curious people, and when we get stuck on a question and are unable to find the information we want it is really great to be able to ask for help from the staff at the library.