Story 2: Valentine's Day Baby - Raymond is Born
Photo of: Raymond Kuehn at age 8 months, taken October 1923
Raymond Emmit Kuehn was born into this world on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 1923 at 22 North 12th Street, Belleville, Illinois. His birth was assisted by Clara’s mother and possibly other family members. Clara’s parents Anton and Lena Rist, and her four unmarried sisters had moved from Mascoutah to Belleville in 1922, and lived less than three blocks away at 1211 West D Street. Clara’s father, Anton, like his son-in-law Louie, was an employee at the Orbon Stove Company. Clara’s sisters Edna, Edwina and Eleanora were all gainfully employed in Belleville, the youngest sister Ottillia “Tillie” was in seventh grade at St. Mary’s Elementary School. Clara’s other sisters Josephine and Adelia had gotten married and no longer lived with their parents. Yes, Anton and Lena Rist had seven children - all girls - who helped in farm work while Anton was still a farmer outside of Mascoutah. (See Clara Rist Stories from the 2013 Writing Challenge (https://kuehnfamily.org/index.php/blog/writing-challenge/27-fhwc-2013)
February 14th 1923 was a cold day in the low 20’s and the daily paper reported the “Worst Cold Wave of Year” coming down from Alaska with temperature plummeting to 8 degrees Fahrenheit that night. The Belleville area was known for it large resources of coal, and there were many coal mines, and in the local newspaper for this day there continued to be stories about coal operators and miners. With the approaching cold, additional coal was added throughout the day to keep the house warmer for the newborn baby, and stronger fumes from the basement furnace permeated the house from the wall registers. The newborn baby slept bundled in his baby blanket as the women made conversation - perhaps deciding on a name for him, or perhaps Raymond was Clara’s first choice for their first son before Louie’s brother was killed in World War I. The name Raymond reached it’s peak in popularity in 1918 when it was the 15th most popular name for boys. It stayed in that range until 1926 when it popularity started its decline to now be rarely used.
Raymond was the third grandchild of Anton and Lena Rist. The second grandchild was Georgianna Riess, daughter of Adelia (Rist) Riess born in 1921. With the Anton Rist family living so close, Clara’s youngest sister, Tillie at age 12 in the picture below, would often visit and help Clara with the care of Raymond. She shows up in several family pictures.