Petrakis helps Norridge remember
Name: Myron Petrakis
Known as: Norridge’s historian
Updated: June 29, 2012 8:21AM
At 90 years old, Norridge resident Myron Petrakis is naturally impressed by wonders of the World Wide Web.
“It is such a wonderful tool for information,” he said. “I am so amazed by the things I can find.”
As Norridge’s first historian, Petrakis has an appreciation and knack for digging for information — and stuff.
Originally a Chicagoan, he moved to the village in 1955 to raised a family with wife, Catherine, whom he married six decades ago this year.
Petrakis worked as a mechanical engineer in the plastics industry before returning to one of his first lines of work: civic service.
Earlier this month he retired from the Norridge Board of Fire and Police Commissioner after 53 years.
Though he served for a significant amount of time, perhaps the longest-lasting contribution he has made to Norridge is the founding of two museums.
He created the galleries of local artifacts after telling then-Mayor Joseph Sieb in 1994 that time was going by and history wasn’t being preserved.
“So (Sieb) said, ‘Myron, why don’t you do it?’ and that was that,” Petrakis said.
Next thing he knew, he was rummaging through garage sales, searching the basements of old buildings and houses, and serving as a drop-off point for residents’ interesting old things to document the village’s short but rich history.
Turn-of-the-century typewriters, a Norridge volunteer firefighter uniform from the seventies, and a chunky cell phone — complete with a shoebox -sized carrying case — are a few of the hundreds of items Petrakis has collected for the village for the past two decades.
One of the museums of the Estelle Sieb Community Center, 7774 W. Irving Park Road, is dedicated entirely to Norridge’s servicemen and women.
A World War II veteran himself, Petrakis served in the U.S. Navy as a motor machinist. The proof is in the white uniform displayed on the wall and a hammock mattress from boot camp that sits on the floor, underneath a glass encasement.
Inside Norridge’s museums with Petrakis, Google is not needed. As he points to shrapnel retrieved from a soldier’s back and a photograph of Hitler found on the streets of Germany during World War II, he recites the items’ history from memory.
They are legacies of people, he explained.
“Everything here has a story,” Petrakis said. “It’s not just a collection of military artifacts. It’s a collection of Norridge veterans.”