Depending on how you view it, Carl Sandburg and I have very much in common; and also very little in common. We lived our formative years in Galesburg. Our childhood values were that of honest Middle America. Decency and love of country were highly esteemed. Carl Sandburg was born in a house on Third Street, ''the wrong side of the tracks''. I was born on Grove Street, ''the nicer side of town''. We both moved to Chicago in our 20's. Later we moved from Chicago but neither of us returned to Galesburg to live.
Carl Sandburg became world famous. I never will. His death was far from Galesburg. I will most likely live the rest of my life in Sacramento, California and my death will be far from Galesburg also.
Our love of Galesburg is the thread of our common bond. Each time I return for a visit I, love to drive around town. Time may make many physical changes there, but the nostalgic loving memories will always live in my heart. A childhood in Galesburg is a blessing.
In 1931, at the beginning of the Depression, I was born in the Cottage Hospital.. At that time it was a small rectangular building. Several more additions have made it the large efficient hospital it is today. Carl Sandburg was 47 years old that year.
I was an only child and my first home was on East Grove Street. Our neighborhood grocery store, Charlson's, was on the corner of Pearl and Grove Streets. Galesburg had no national chain grocery stores at that time. Charlson's made their own ice cream right in the center of the store. You could get a double dip for five cents. They also hand dipped pint and quart containers. They always had vanilla, chocolate and strawberry but sometimes they had special flavors like pineapple or peach.
My parents always paid cash as they bought their groceries. I was jealous of the kids whose parents ran up a charge. When their parents paid what was owed on payday, the store gave them a small bag of penny candy!
Cookies were sold in the bulk. The fresh fruit and vegetables were on both sides of the front door in the windows facing the street. They were not iced nor cooled by electricity. We called the owner ''Ol' man Charlson''. It wasn't a demeaning name at all, it was just what everyone called him. He had a son, Johnny. My mother played cards with his wife. When you got into her car with their little girls the car always smelled like Juicy Fruit gum because they all loved to chew it.
The candy was in a glass case near the cash register. You could get a Jaw Breaker, Guess What or Tootsie Roll. If you wanted a candy bar there was an O'Henry, Baby Ruth or Hershey bar among others to choose from.
As you ordered your groceries a clerk ran and collected each thing you wanted. There was no self service in those days. Ol' man Charlson was a good-hearted man. When the mama cat that hung around the store had kittens we were allowed to go down in the basement and play with them. He also let us take cardboard boxes home. We carefully cut out peepholes and inverted the boxes over our heads to make them into our ''cars'' and ''tanks.'' After tiring of that we would split them out and make ''ships'' lying flat on the ground. We could ''sail the world''. In those days oranges were wrapped in squares of orange tissue paper. This made our ''fires'' to cook lump lump pudding (a cardboard egg carton turned upside down).
My best friend, Beverly Lundquist, was a girl born six months later than I. She lived down the street on our block. I don't ever remember a part of my life before her. We were inseparable best friends. We learned to roller skate on the rough brick sidewalks. We laughed, cried and argued but never did you see one without the other.
Before my dad had his own collection business, he worked for a collection agency that made it necessary for him to travel. One time he was gone for several weeks. When he drove home he passed our house. Drove right by it! During the time he was gone my mother had Mr. Limier, a neighbor contractor enlarge and enclose our front porch into a sun porch. It was a surprise to him but he liked it and loved telling his friends how he didn't even recognize his own house. While puffing on the addition to our porch Mr. Limier made some stilts for me out of the scraps left over. Every neighborhood kid wanted some like mine after that.
By the time we were four, Bev and I took tap dancing at Breedlove's Dance Studio. How we loved the pretty costumes when we danced in our reviews. Shirley Temple was the rage at that time and every mother tried to make her daughter's hair into curls like Shirley's.
When I was about that age I fell on a curbing in the street and knocked the upper front four teeth out. Dr. Watts, our dentist in the Bank of Galesburg building, put a brace across the front of my mouth to keep the back teeth from moving forward until my permanent front teeth came in. I was frustrated that summer trying to eat corn on the cob.
An excitement in our neighborhood was when the big coal truck backed into our driveway. One man would go down into the basement and to the coal room. He would open the window and a man on the truck would place a chute running from the truck to that basement window. Then shovel full by shovel fill coal would slide down that chute. The man in the basement had the dirty job of getting it evenly distributed by using another shovel to push it back or forth. Bev and I would stand and watch until the last bit of the coal in the truck was gone.
We had Hot Point refrigerator. There was no frozen food in those days. There was a two compartment freezer in the center top of the refrigerator for ice cube making. My mother took out the divisions that made the cubes and make a delicious frozen salad for her bridge club parties. It was made out of sour cream, whipping cream, bananas and nuts. I am not sure what else was in it but I loved it. Each week or so you had to pull the plug and defrost the refrigerator.
Garbage disposers? Not in those days. We had garbage men who collected the garbage weekly. They walked to the side or back of our houses and carried the garbage can to a truck on the street. They then had to carry the empty can back and put the lid on it. We had a trash burner for paper and anything else that would burn.
Our furnace had no stoker in the early days. My dad had to bank it up to be sure it kept us warm during the night. Sometimes on cold winter mornings I would sit by the fancy grill register in the floor to get dressed. My mother put a can of water on the registers so the heat would be moist as it circulated through the house.
We had a washing machine with a wringer. Mother had a stick like a cut off broom she dipped in the hot soapy water to lift up the clothes to the wringer. There was an oval brass tub that sat on top of a little table holding a small two burner gas stove. All wash cloths and bath towels got boiled before going into the washing machine so they would be sanitary in my mother's eyes.
When we went to bed after the sheets had been washed and hug outside on the line I'll never forget the wonderful fresh fragrance they had. No little squares of Bounce in my dryer today can compete with that scent. There was a pole that propped up the heavy clothesline so sheets wouldn't touch the ground.
In the winter everything got hung up in the basement room the furnace was in. The things next to the furnace got dry first. When the clothes were ready to iron you had to ''sprinide'' them first with water. Usually it was done by hand from a pot of water. Some women used glass Coke bottles with a pierced aluminum top you could push down into the bottle.
Next, after rolling all the things to be ironed together, they were damp and ready to iron. I always begged to be allowed to iron the hankies. There were always a lot of hankies because there was no Kleenex in those days. As I glided the iron back and forth across the hankies I loved the smell of perfume drifting up.
Carl Sandburg was famous at this time in my life. I am not sure if his home was considered a National Monument at that time. If it was, I was unaware of it and I never ventured there.
One monument I was aware of was Mother Bickerdyke's in the courthouse yard. My mother told me her history of the forty-four year old widow who served as a nurse in the Civil War. She was dubbed as ''the Cyclone in Calico'' because of her great help to the soldiers' welfare.
Mother also showed me the site of the Lincoln Douglas debate by Knox College's Old Main building. Beecher Chapel was another place I was aware of at a very young age. Sometimes we went to recitals there by Knox College students. Mother taught me that to be a citizen of Galesburg was a very special honor. Her grandfather, Ira Rawson Stevens, was an architect in Galesburg. He lived with his family on North Street near Broad. He helped build many of the buildings of Knox College and also the City Jail. He constructed some of the most beautiful homes on North Broad, Cherry and Prairie Streets.
Each Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m., I walked to Miss Eastes' house on the corner of North and Broad for my piano lesson. I had a leather zipper case for my music book and a little spiral note book she wrote my lesson in. Recitals were held in the ballroom of the Custer Hotel.
Church was where some of my allowance went each week followed by a nickel to be saved. The rest I could spend on movies, candy or ice cream. Thirty- five cents went a long way then. Today's children can not imagine life without computers, microwaves, cell phones, T.V., three speed bikes or freezers. We lived on our imaginations, little money and lots of love.
Bev's dad put a swing into their garage. Each night he had to hang the swing over on a nail at the side of the garage so he could get the car into the single garage. One day we got into his paint and painted F M on the inside of the garage wall. The F M stood for Feather Merchants, our secret name. Her parents laughed about it and left it there. Many years later at a Galesburg High School reunion visit I drove down Grove Street. The garage door at Bev's former address was open. I walked back and looked in the garage and there was F M still to be seen.
My first and second grades were spent at Lincoln school. It was fifty years old and torn down after my second year there. I remember as a student there no one was allowed up on the third floor because it was condemned. It was always a desire of mine to see it before they tore the building down but I never got the chance.
In the second grade I had Miss Jeanette Herlocker. She was the daughter of Judge Herlocker. One day she had a headache and chose me to walk to her house on Losey Street to get an aspirin. I was very proud to be the one she picked. We always sang ''Good Morning to you'' to start our school day. In those days we held up one finger to be dismissed to go to the rest room. Two fingers indicated we might need a longer time to be gone.
It was fun that year. Our learning project was to fix up our room like a post office. We used play money to buy stamps, count change and deliver mail within our room. The highlight was when we all walked two by two to the new post office on East Main. The WPA had built the building and we gazed up at the wall mural of early Illinois in awe.
My third grade teacher, Miss Tanning, was one of my favorite teachers. Actually, I really liked all of my teachers. Miss Tanning's sister, Dorothea, married the very famous Surrealist artist Max Ernst. After his death she published her memoirs in her book called Birthday. She became a Surrealist artist in her own right.
The neighbor lady next door was a very beautiful and talented lady. At a time when most of our mothers used lipstick and a bit of powder, Mrs. Barlow used Merle Nonnan make-up foundation. It had a fragrance I loved because of the association of her beauty in my eyes. She had two daughters a little older than I. Her porch was like something out of House Beautiful. There was a swing, rocker, wicker chair with pillows and a table to hold magazines. She bought Movie magazines. When they were a month old she would put them on the table on the porch. This meant we were welcome to come and read them.
My mother didn't allow me to ''waste money'' on Movie magazines. We had Reader's Digest, Life, Ladies Home Journal, McCalls and Field and Stream at our house. This made the Movie magazines even more attractive to me. One day Bev and I read that Hollywood was looking for a young girl to star in a movie about horses. You could enter by sending in your personal information and a picture. Bev and I carefully put our age, weight and address plus more information about ourselves. I can't remember what we wrote but MGM must have had a big laugh when they received the two entries in one envelope to save postage. Our anticipation was great and we waited for the mailman to bring us the notice that one of us had won. We made a vow that if either of us won the other could be her stand in. I really worried because I didn't know how to ride a horse. Bev laughed and said the studio would teach me.
We never did get a reply but it was announced that fall that the winner was Elizabeth Taylor. She had been the girl chosen to star in National Velvet. Once we found she won we were happy for her and turned our attention back to things closer to home.
Saturday afternoon shows were part of our life. Each Saturday we would go hand in hand to a show. Usually we went to the Orpheum. Occasionally we went to the West because they had double features. On the way I'd make Bev go through the tire department in the back of Sears Roebuck. I loved to smell those tires. Next stop was Osco's Drugs. There you could get three candy bars for the price of two. Bev and I would pool our nickels, get the three candy bars and split one in half.
Once inside the Orpheum we always went down the first floor left isle and sat on the right side the third floor light back, one seat on the isle and the seat next to it. Once when I had some new shoes I kept puffing one foot under the light to admire it. Shows had a main feature, Pathe news, cartoon and coming events.
As we walked home we loved to stop at the KannelKorn shop. Two unmarried sisters owned it. The thought of the delicious KarmelKorn made in their shop still makes my mouth water. They also had chocolate candy in the back of the store. Another lady worked there occasionally but never any men.
Grove Street was a haven for the neighborhood children. We ate apples from Bev's Uncle Ernie's tree. In the spring we ate them green with salt. Other neighbors let us pick and eat their cherries and raspberries. We knew where all the violets and lily-of-the-valley grew in profusion. There were no six foot high wooden fences with locked gates like we have in California nowadays. Our feet wandered through back yards at random.
A vacant lot served as our baseball field. We had a tree in another vacant lot in which each of us had our own place to sit for our club meetings. Sometimes we even baked potatoes in ashes under that tree.
When summer nights came we played under the street light. We played Kick the Can, Lemonade, Tag and Punch the Icebox. At 8:30 everyone went home. Time for a bath and to bed. My mother always said my prayers with me.
It didn't take a computer or TV. to keep us entertained. Those things hadn't even been invented. Bev and I spent hours playing cards, board games or ''Hangman''. We also played duets on the piano. The Daily Register-Mail came to our house each evening but the only thing we looked at were the funnies. On Sunday the big Chicago Tribune had colored funnies and Brenda Starr paper dolls.
I can still hear the patter of the rain falling on Bev's roof as we played in her attic. Her mother let us go up there in the warm months when it rained. Our paper dolls were an important part of our days. In her attic we would ''travel'' the world over with our paper dolls. No part of the world we had seen in movies or read about was safe from imaginary invasion of Bev, myself our and our paper doll families. We would shop at Marshall Fields, dine at the finest restaurants and go any and everywhere. As we twirled to beautiful music in Vienna, we were blissfully unaware that in the real world Hitler was invading Austria.
In May of 1939 my parents announced that as soon as school was out we were going on the Zephyr to California. I had an Aunt Alta and Uncle Jack Tillar who lived in Los Angeles and that was our destination. Mother took me to Maurita Dale's children's clothing to buy me several pretty new dresses.
The train was to pick us up around midnight at the Santa Fe Railroad Station. I went to sleep on our sun porch studio couch as mother cleaned the refrigerator and pulled the plug. When we left our house I noticed it was one of the few times our front and back doors were locked.
The several days it took to ride to California were fun. A special lady kept us few children entertained. It was my introduction through her I first learned of Paul Bunyan and his Ox named Babe. We had an upper and lower berth. My dad was above and mother and I below. The diner was something special. There were tablecloths and linen napkins. Each night on our table a silver bud vase with a fresh rose or carnation greeted us. Our waiter was a big black man. When he smiled I could see he had some gold sparkling in his upper teeth.
At bedtime we undressed in our curtained berth, put on our pajamas and robe then walked to the rest room to brush our teeth. The gentle sway of the moving train lulled me to sleep.
Real Indians met us at a stop in New Mexico. We bought two rabbit's foots. One foot had a beaded Indian lady dress and the other with a beaded Indian Chief outfit. I had never seen mountains before and was thrilled to look at the interesting landscape go by.
We had an outstanding visit in Los Angeles and did much sightseeing. My best memory was that someone who knew my parents saw to it that we had a tour through MGM studios. I saw scenes where the Wizard of Oz was being filmed and some of the Andy Hardy sets. Another tour took us by Shirley Temple and Jane Wither's homes. One night my Aunt and Uncle took my parents to a nightclub. Of course my cousins and I stayed with a baby sitter. My dad brought home a drink menu. I couldn't believe anyone would pay a whole fifty cents just for a nickel coke. On top of that it said you had to pay a cover charge of $2.50 per person just get in! That certainly would be unheard of in Galesburg. Ray Bolger was the main entertainer the night they were there. He was popular at that time because he was the straw man in the Wizard of Oz.
I don't remember much about the ride back. When we came home over ran Bev and we held each other and cried. Several years later Bev's family drove to California. I think we cried when she came back too. We were never apart for very long time.
Lake Storey and Lincoln Park were so far away our parents had to take us there in a car. Lincoln Park had pretty flowers and a big windmill at its entrance. At one time there must have been live bears kept in an enclosure there. By the time we went there it was empty so we could walk around and through it. In the winter time we could go ice skating there. There was a small house with a potbellied stove to keep the skaters warm. At near by Lake Storey there was a big brick pavilion by the swimming area. Upstairs was an outdoor area with a jute box. You could buy candy and pop there from Conkey, a man whose company made their own potato chips. Downstairs were the dressing rooms. We left our nickels and dimes in our clothes left after changing into our bathing suits. Nothing ever got stolen. The building is still there today much as it was then. The raft was a goal for Bev and I to swim to in our youth.
Bev and I learned to swim at the YMCA. The indoor pool had a strong Clorox smell. Later our Girl Scout meeting were held up on the second floor. To become a Girl Scout was a big deal to us and we took our oath very seriously. We were proud of our uniform and could we~ir them to school on our meeting day. We tried to get as many merit badges as we could. The merit awards were sewn on a yellow material sash across our chest from the waist up and over our shoulders to the back of our belts.
I went to Camp Shaubena two times. There were twelve cabins. Our cabins held about ten to twelve girls each. There were bunk beds with straw mattresses. An inspector looked into each cabin once a day. The cabin chosen as the neatest got a special mention that night at the campfire and a banner to display on our cabin the next day. Before we had diuner, the flag was lowered. We loved to go to campfire each night.
Meals were served on wooden tables. If we were served a special treat at dinner we would sing ''Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah'' as a thank you for Dinah the cook. There were boats to row. Lolly, my leader, would get our boat out in the middle of Lake Bracken then lean over the edge to frighten us. To get to the campfire area we had to walk down a path of scary woods. There were wooden bleachers around the big campfire. Each cabin took turns entertaining on the stage. We then sang. ''Slew Foot Sue'', ''The Cannibal King with the big nose ring'', and ''Hail, Camp Shaubena'' are a few melodies which come to mind. Another path led down to the lake to the swimming area.
Mail came and we all looked forward to that. I suppose we were gone only a week but I had never been away from home alone so I quietly cried into my pillow. I didn't want anyone else to know I was homesick. Looking back now, maybe they were too and didn't want to admit it either.
When it was time to start third grade Bev and I were transferred to Silas Willard school. We rode our bikes in good weather. When it snowed we walked that mile. It didn't bother us. There were snow angels to be made by lying on our backs and waving up and down our arms in the snow. In below zero weather we would break off little icicles and lick them.
Our lunches were eaten in the basement of Silas Willard. My mother would put soup in my thermos one day and hot chocolate the next. A sandwich, piece of fruit and cookie or candy rounded out out lunch. The lunch pail was a solid color and the thermos clipped into the rounded top. Sometimes I went to Mrs. McGahey's Bakery for lunch. We could go upstairs to eat or stay on the first floor. Lunch was thirty five cents. I don't remember tipping.
Mothers seemed to sew in those days. We had a singer foot pedal machine. Mother made some of my dresses and a lot of my doll clothes. One time she made a dress out of the same material for me and my doll. How proud I was to wear the dress and take my doll to school on what we called ''Doll Day''.
Saturday night was the ''big night'' for going down town in the thirties in Galesburg. My mother loved perfume (as I do today). She bought her perfume in the Kellogg & Drakes. As you entered the store, on the right was a very pretty blond lady who stood behind a wonderful array of all types of cosmetics. I never knew her name but she was there for years.
After shopping at OT. Johnson's and some other stores we would end up for a treat of ice cream. Maybe we would go to The American Beauty restaurant. It was next to the Bank of Galesburg on Main Street. My favorite sundae was called ''The Oriental''. I'm not sure what was beneath the vanilla ice cream but it seemed to nuts mixed in a chewy base of dark syrup.
If we chose to go to the dime store for our treat we sat at a counter and Mabel would wait on us. There I would order a ''Fiesta''. This was a sundae served in a bright colored pottery dish known as Fiesta style. Fresh hot donuts were made in a machine by the front door. Before our eyes we could watch through the glass as the machine formed, fried and flipped donuts in the sizzling hot grease. We seldom went home without a bag of those if we were there on a Saturday night.
In the back of the store were small turtles with their backs brightly painted. Some had decals of roses or a name. When you bought a turtle you also bought an oval plastic bowl with sides three inches high. In the center was a raised area the little turtle could walk up to get out of the water placed in the bowl.
As a very young child I remember our first kitchen table was a rectangular shape and made of wood. A center drawer held our everyday silverware. The top had oilcloth glued on it. The dime store had bolts of oilcloth. It was fun to help pick a pattern out. After measuring it carefully, my mother would paste right onto the tabletop. Once I memorized the state flowers from looking at the squares designed in the oilcloth. When we moved away from Grove Street we didn't take that table. I've never seen a table like it since.
Mother canned from the bounty of our garden. She canned tomatoes, green beans, corn, jams and jellies. They were stored in our basement in a room next to the coal room. It was cool down there in the summer time and in all of our basements we children took turns having plays, playing beauty shop and playing house.
When it was time to have our pictures taken we went to Holcomb's Photography. It was in the first block east of the square on the north side of Main Street. The studio was upstairs. Beside the door leading up the steps, was a glass window case adjacent to the wall. There one could see portraits taken on two sides of the case.
Next to Holcomb's was Hawthorn's Drug Store. An old-fashioned marble topped ice cream fountain was on the left as you entered. To the right was the perfume counter. As you walked to the back of the store to pick up a prescription you would find all sorts of medical needs and aids. Mr. Hawthorne had twin sons. Later, as they became older, they often worked there.
As times became better we moved to North Cherry Street. Bev's family moved to Losey Street. We remained good friends throughout the years if only by writing one another. I moved to Chicago after graduating from Galesburg High School in 1949. Later, when I married, I moved to California. I love to visit Galesburg but have never moved back. My mother came to live with Me in Sacramento and died just before her l0O~ birthday. Bev is a widow in Arizona. Memories are precious. Galesburg will always be ''home'' to me in my heart of hearts.
Second Place, Historical Entry: Memories of Galesburg, by Harriette Mohr
My life started in Galesburg in 1933, during the Depression.
We lived in the east end of town on Chestnut Street, and I remember begging my mother for cottage cheese and chocolate milk from the milk man, who delivered to individual homes with horse pulling his products in a truck-box-like item (I don't remember what it was called). She told me that it would be purchased at the corner grocery. I was probably three or four years old by then. There were two stores within a block from home on Main Street at that time, on the northeast corner of Chestnut and Whimpey's on the southwest corner of Ohio.
In the basement of Whimpey's was a tavern where my father took me -- just one day -- as this was a complete no-no as far as my mother was concerned. It was there that I amazed the patrons with how many pretzels my tiny body could consume. It was my first taste of this morsel, and the first ''first'' in my memory.
Diagonally across the street, about where the ATM is in HyVee's parking lot was George Jones's barber shop, where I had my Dutch bob trimmed often. My brother is all of 18 months older than I am, so my mother sometimes had him take me to get my hair cut.
My brother started to school at Washington School while we lived there. This building is still standing at Walnut and Erickson Avenue one block north of East Main.
I believe that at one time there was a skating rink at the northwest corner of Walnut and Main, as we went down to watch when fire destroyed it.
When the circus came to town, they set up in a grassy area either where the east parking lot of Hy-Vee or the motel is now. We often went to see the elephants up close. In later years, we waited until they stopped on the railroad tracks in the south end of town and went to see the animals as they waited to be unloaded from the train.
It was around this time that I vaguely remember standing in a ''bread line'' for food. My memory tells me it was in back of old City Hall, but I'm not sure. My mother told me that they were not given an allowance for me to have meat when I was a toddler, and they were not allowed to have a car.
My dad was working at the brick yard at that time and, of course, walked to and from work, as we had no car until I was ten years old. Members of the Historical Society have told me there is a photo of the brickyarders marching in the Labor Day Parade all dressed in white around that time.
One day Daddy walked my brother and I out to see where he worked. I remember the ice cold water to drink and the very hot kilns on that typical summer day.
Next we lived at Second and Chambers St. where life was exciting. It was just across from a bus stop, and patrons liked to use our front steps as a place of comfort, as it was (and still is) very near the sidewalk.
The street light out at the curb brought hundreds of ''lightning'' bugs to the corner. Gross as it may seem to some, we tore off their wings and stuck them to our skin as jewelry.
Although we did not have gangs or the kind of violence we have now, we had small tastes it here and there as the children had their little disagreements, which sometimes brought the mothers against each other. We could lie across our mother's bed and make faces at our next-door enemy across the mere sidewalk between houses (when it got too hot outside in more ways than one). One time I do recall the mothers in the yard shouting at each other.
Of course, there was also the family, who shall remain nameless, who would take our bouncing ball and put it down the outside toilet while their parents were disagreeing.
Saturday was always very interesting there, as the paddy wagon of police usually came to one particular rental house in the neighborhood because of domestic disturbance.
Then if you looked the other way there was a drunk crawling and falling down his girlfriend's steps and calling her names while she ignored him. I tell you the above things for comparison to our problems nowadays.
I hesitate to tell you of the resident of Carl Sandburg's birthplace at that time, but I guess this can be censored. She was an old lady who had lost her husband, and her son had left town; she had lost her mind. She would come down the street asking if we knew the whereabouts of her ''boy Joe''. An incorrect response would get you swatted with her cane.
Douglas School was at the first corner east of Carl Sandburg's birthplace. I don't remember the old school building, but I do recall the demolition of homes and clearance of land to build the new Douglas School, which is now the Rescue Mission. I started first grade in the new school, as there was no public kindergarten at that time.
We were not allowed to play on the grass except when supervised by our teacher for what we called ''gym''.
All grades except first were on second floor. The music room, gymnasium, first grade, and office were on first floor.
Miss Munson was my first grade teacher, and she taught three generation of students from the ''bloody seventh'' ward. (Even the ward number has changed.)
As I mentioned before, my brother was a year ahead of me, and before I started to school, first grade had visitors day on Friday afternoon, so I was rather familiar with the routine before I started to school.
We moved to the 1200 block of South Chambers in my second year of school. At that time there were very few houses in that block, and a huge cornfield was north of our house. We had a small barn and raised chickens and ducks..
We could see the lights at the ball park at H. T. Custer Park from our front yard and hear the noise from the ball games on a summer night. Of course, the park was our second home during the day. In those days you only had troubles from other children to fear. Nowadays, I have taken my grandchildren down there and left on high after undesirable adults arrived.
My father would get himself and us four kids all cleaned up and go to watch the ball games when he didn't have to work.
We had a merry-go-round there at that time which was engineered so the braver kids could climb on the pipes of the top of it and hang down precariously. Then it was considered necessary for someone to push it as fast as possible. I'm sure there were some broken bones from this.
The swings with the wooden seats were just made for pumping up so high you were even with the top bar, which would eventually cause your swing to twist and jerk. Being a stick-in the-mud, this is the most daring thing I did in my childhood, but I loved it.
The city furnished craft classes to us in the shelter during the summer sometimes.
On Sundays our family often caught the bus to Lake Storey Pavilion to watch the Galesburg young ladies jitterbug with the soldiers from Camp Ellis. At that time the pavilion was open all summer, with jukeboxes for music and wonderfUl cool air blowing though the building.
We waited at the bus station which was at the southeast corner of the square. It was for me a very depressing place as it was dirty, noisy, and usually crowded.
The square was not nearly as nice as it is today, as many people hung around there who were poor, unkept, and had bad habits. It is very distressing for me to hear the city council trying to make the square different than it is at this time. Have they ever heard, ''Be careful what you wish for''?
I read a letter to the Editor in the Register-Mail suggesting that it would be a good place to rest on a bench when walking to or from a senior/handicapped facility. This I would go along with if there were a way to keep it safe for these people. We'll see how the new plans for it pay off. Let's be optimistic.
Not too far from the Square, my grandfather, Thomas Dyer, Sr., had a blacksmith shop across from the Terry Lumber Company on Academy and Ferris. My uncle, Walter Dyer, later built one out on Monmouth Blvd.
Toward the end of my fifth-grade year at Douglas School, my family moved to rural Knox County. While the teacher of our fifth-through-eighth-grade class got the eighth-graders prepared for their eighth-grade exams (required only in County Schools -- not Galesburg) I learned about phonics among other things that were taught differently than in city schools.
Upon returning to Galesburg, I started at Lombard in what I viewed as an almost new building. Maybe it was not as new as it seemed to me. This was about 1946.
High School was still downtown at that time and was in three buildings -- main building (also housing Churchill Junior High), Home Economics Building facing west, and the gym with entry on Simmons Street. Many times I went to Home Economics with my top wrong side out, as I had to hurry over there from the gym.
After graduating, I went to work at Burlington Truck Lines, which was not at that time a part of the railroad. It was on Second and Pearl Streets. I was a picky eater and so tried not to carry my lunch. Instead, I often went to the little grocery store in a house a few houses southeast of work.
We could still go downtown to shop (It was the only place), and so I spent Saturday afternoons with whatever friend was available.
The Orpheum, West, and Colonial (south of West Theater) were our choices for double features, meaning one movie following the other. We had to earn the right to be entertained by watching the news before what we came for. This often included seeing starving war orphans and other things just as pleasant.
A cartoon was also included. Then as now parents were prone to use the screen as a babysitter.
There were many good eating places with the Broadview Hotel on the Square, Scandia Restaurant, Country Kitchen in the corner of the Bondi Building, American Beauty, and Hotel Custer, plus a few ''hamburger joints''. Huddle Drive-in was out on North Henderson Street, and A&W was where the New Friendly Cafe is now on North Farnham.
My wanderlust took me out of Galesburg and Illinois in 1953, and the next strong memory I have is coming home from out of state and standing at the corner of Main Street by the Farmers and Mechanics Bank. Laugh at me if you want, but I felt as if I now knew the feeling of heaven because the change from this vantage point was so peaceful as compared to what the Square area was when I left.
Third Place, Historical Entry: Memories of Galesburg, by David D. Fleming
Although I have never lived in Galesburg I have enjoyed a lifelong connection with ''The Burg'' starting with the day of my birth, October 12, 1923, at Galesburg Cottage Hospital. In an era when many babies were delivered at home, my mother was determined her children would be born in a hospital. She was a 1910 graduate of Knox College who taught for a number of years before becoming a farmer's wife near Ipava, Illinois, about 50 miles south of Galesburg. So when it was time for her children to be born she decided it should happen in Galesburg.
About two weeks before the anticipated births of my brother, sister, and myself she would board a Burlington Railroad train in Ipava and wend her way to Galesburg. Until it was time to go to the hospital she stayed with her good friends Nellie and Mary Armstrong at their home on Ella Street just north of Main Street and close by the Burlington tracks. ''Aunt'' Nellie was a long-time, much-loved elementary teacher in the (Galesburg schools, and ''Aunt'' Mary was a teller at the old First Galesburg National Bank. As a child I visited in their home many times and was awed by the freight trains rumbling by, almost on their doorstep. I remember also their admiration for Omer N. Custer, the legendary business and political leader of his day.
A few years ago I had opportunity to examine some of the old records of Cottage Hospital. In the early 1920s hospital records were handwritten in ledger books. I was fascinated to discover the pen-and-ink record of my mother's admission on three different occasions, followed by entries recording the births of each of her three children, and finally the entry that mother and baby were discharged from the hospital a full two weeks later. How times have changed! I guess I really did live in Galesburg after all, at least for two weeks!
During the years I was growing up on the family farm near Ipava I looked forward eagerly to the days when my parents took me with them to visit their Galesburg friends. It was Depression time and a great adventure for a farm kid to visit a metropolis like Galesburg. To this day I remember the excitement I felt when I learned we would be eating at the American Beauty Restaurant on East Main, a highly popular gathering place with delicious food.
It was also exciting to visit the multi-floored stores on Main Street, a far cry from the small one-level establishments I was familiar with in Ipava. My favorite was Kellogg Drake & Company, located on the present site of Doyle's Gift Shop. My special liking for that particular store may have been because it was owned and operated by Ward and Irene Mariner, probably my parents' closest friends in Galesburg. It was a always a treat to go there, and it was also a treat to visit the Mariner home on Park Lane. The houses on Park Lane were the most elegant I had ever seen and to this day I consider that street one of the most handsome I have ever visited. In my youth Park Lane was at the far northern end of the city, bordered by corn fields to the north.
On one of our visits to Galesburg we attended an air show at the new Galesburg airport on the northwest edge of the city. I still recall the main hangar which is now the site of Duff's Ace Hardware and the single north-south runway. The skies seemed to be filled with aircraft, though I doubt if there were as many as I thought there were.. This was at a time when farm kids (and adults too) raced outside to look up whenever they heard the noise of an approaching aircraft. After all, it was only a few years after Lindbergh's epic flight across the Atlantic.
Perhaps my most memorable childhood recollection of Galesburg is of the Burlington railroad yards. My father was a cattle feeder, and a couple of times a year he shipped his cattle to the Chicago Stock Yards. The railroad permitted one ''drover'' for each car of cattle so on two occasions I was allowed to accompany my father and the cattle on the train. In early morning we would drive the herd four miles to the stockyards in Ipava and load the animals aboard two cattle cars. The afternoon freight would stop to pick them up, along with my father,and a wide-eyed boy who rode in the caboose to Vermont, where we were transferred to a train headed north through Bushnell and Abingdon to Galesburg. Once in Galesburg, our two cattle cars were switched to a Chicago-bound train, and my father and I were treated to a ride in the cab of a switch engine across the Galesburg yards to our new train, followed by an all-night ride in a swaying, bouncing caboose--an experience that probably only a kid could truly enjoy! But I will never forget those trips I made with my father, especially the switch engine ride in Galesburg and the excitement of rolling into the famed Chicago Stock Yards in the early dawn.
My Galesburg memories also include visits to the Roof Garden during my first years as a student at Monmouth College before World War II. This wonderful rooftop dance hall was a favorite destination for Monmouth students. Generally we would hitchhike to ''The Burg'' and spend the entire evening at The Roof. In the more recent past, I had the privilege of serving for 13 years on the staff of Cottage Hospital. from 1972 to 1985. It was then that I was able to review the hospital records I spoke of earlier. Ever since the end of World War H I have resided in Monmouth. and have been a frequent (and for 13 years daily!) visitor to Galesburg.
Though I have toured the Carl Sandburg home in Galesburg and also his later dwelling in Flat Rock, North Carolina, I remember seeing him in person only once. I was a student at Monmouth College in 1941 and Mr. Sandburg made a visit to the College not long before Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of World War II. He presented a program at the college auditorium during which he read some of his works and played and sang selections from his ''American Song Bag''. I was seated in the front row of the balcony with my girlfriend and there was hardly any one else in the balcony although the main floor was crowded.
Near the end of his performance Mr. Sandburg glanced up at us and announced that he ''was going to dedicate the shortest song in 'The American Song Bag' to the young lady seated in the front row of the balcony.'' He then played and sang the song in its entirety: ''Great God, I'm feelin' bad -- I ain't got the man I thought I had!'' The audience shouted its approval and we were both mortified and embarrassed. That recognition by the famed poet is undoubtedly the only moment of stardom I have experienced!!
First Place, Sandburg Entry: 1958, by Mary Eyre-Cerkez
As the adult, I try to maintain traditions, and to respect and preserve history. But in 1958, I was the child just learning about traditions, and experiencing history in the making. A first grader at Bateman School, ponytailed and just another 'sponge' sitting cross legged on the then shiny floor of the gym.
Our principal hushed us all as she introduced a very special man who looked like my grandfather...so much white hair! But this man had a guitar and would sing his own songs! All of us kids were in awe as we took our cues from the adults who displayed a sense of honor and pleasure at Carl Sandburg's presence. Sandburg had returned home to Galesburg from Flat Rock, North Carolina to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates
I'm certain that our teachers told us he was a two time Pulitzer Prize winner, and Galesburg's native son. But what pleased me was that he was fun, and even funny...like my grandpa! ''My name is Yon Yonson, I come from Wisconsin,'' lyrics from a Sandburg song which I now teach my 'little sponges' at Silas Willard School. I'm a first grade teacher maintaining traditions, while respecting and preserving history. My students and I delight each January in singing along with selections from Sandburg's Flat Rock Ballads, an album my parents bought for me long ago.
This recording refreshes my memory and has become a valuable teaching tool. The songs reveal an earthy, sincere voice of a man with a storytelling quality which appealed to me then, and to first graders even into the new millennium! Another favorite selection, ''Suckin' Cider Through A Straw,'' tells of Carl stealing his first kiss from Lillian (his future wife). The lyrics, ''The prettiest girl that ever I saw, was suckin' cider through a straw. And all at once that straw did slip, I sucked some cider from her lip,'' conclude with, ''And now I've got me a mother-in-law, from suckin' cider through a straw.''
My class of 2001, and the classes before them have giggled and laughed as I did and do even now, delighting in Carl Sandburg's lyrics of life and love. A white haired man, Galesburg's native son, leaving traditions and important history for the young and old to absorb, and to enjoy, share, and preserve. Do you know of a sponge eager for a soaking?
Second Place, Sandburg Entry: Carl Sandburg and Me, by Jim Jacobs
As best I can remember, it was 1955 and fourth grade at Farnham School when I first heard the name Carl Sandburg. Mrs. Gregory, my teacher, talked a lot about Galesburg's history and mentioned that this famous writer from our town named Sandburg had written some books about Abraham Lincoln.
Being a nine year old, I didn't think much of it. But more and more, Carl Sandburg would pop up in my life, and my opinion of the prairie poet would evolve, until the fact that he and I were the native sons of the same town would become very important to me.
Starting about fifth or sixth grade, I recall that Galesburg's grade school kids were asked to bring in our pennies for the annual Penny Parade. Again, it didn't mean too much to me. I had some vague idea that it had something to do with a house Sandburg had lived in. The teacher or principal would come in and select a couple of kids to tote the container of money over to a ceremony. It was never me chosen, so I didn't care. In fact, I sort of scoffed at the whole event, figuring that they weren't very smart. After all, what could you buy -- even in the 1950s--for a bunch of pennies.
When I entered Lombard Junior High, Sandburg was brought up even more as a topic of discussion. Teachers like Mr. Patterson and Miss Smiley talked about Sandburg. We even read some of his poems. I think ''Fog'' was one and ''Buffalo Dusk''was another that we read and discussed. Mr. Patterson told us, I think in eighth grade English, that Sandburg had gone to Lombard when it was a college, and that he might have even taken courses in some of the buildings where we sat every day. That made me feel sort of strange.
I'm sure that my teachers had no inkling of it, but they were starting to interest me in poetry and especially in Sandburg. The problem was that junior high is when being popular is the most important concern in the world, and in those days no self-respecting teenage boy at Lombard would own up to being interested in Carl Sandburg.Actually, most of my friends and their parents had some curious ideas about Sandburg. They thought he was very rich and only cared about rich people. One of my buddies used to tell this story -- apocryphal, I'm sure -- that Sandburg had once returned to town and planted a sapling on the Lombard campus. Then one of the ''tough'' guys in school had become a legend by attaching one end of a rope to the tree and the other to his Cushman motor scooter and ripping it out of the ground. It was like the kid had gotten even for ''ordinary'' people, and although I'd laugh each time the story was told, I really thought it was a pretty senseless stunt. But what fourteen year old would admit to that.
Another time, I was riding home with one of my friends and his parents from the old Y down on Ferris and Seminary, when Sandburg came up. It seems that either Life magazine had done a feature on him or he had recently appeared on television or something. Anyway, my friend's mother announced that she had no use for Carl Sandburg because all he thought about was sex.
I was fifteen at the time and couldn't see what the big deal was, that's all I thought about too.
By the time I reached Galesburg High School, in August of 1961, I knew enough about Sandburg to tell folks from out of town that he was a famous poet from my town. My sophomore English teacher, Mr. Beck, stressed to our class that Sandburg was more than a poet, that he was perhaps the most important biographer of Lincoln. In fact, Mr. Beck said he thought Sandburg would be remembered more for his prose than his poetry. We spent a class period or so that year on Sandburg the historian by discussing The War Years.
But it was during my junior year at GHS that I began to see a different Sandburg, the political and anti-establishment Sandburg. Mr. Weinberg, my American Literature teacher, introduced me to this Sandburg.
One day, Mr. Weinberg was talking about him, when a young lady in the class said that she thought Sandburg was a ''disgrace'' to Galesburg. Of course, she was asked to explain herself So she launched into this story about how she had heard that during one of his visits to Galesburg several of the prominent citizens had planned a reception for him at the Hotel Custer and instead of showing up, Sandburg was found down at the Alcazar, a local watering hole, playing his guitar for the patrons.
Now, I have no idea whether this was fact or more small-town legend, but Mr. Weinberg asked her what her point was, and she replied, ''Well, don't you think Sandburg should have attended the reception rather than waste his time playing and singing for the town drunks?''
''No,'' replied Mr. Weinberg, ''obviously, playing his guitar at the tavern was more important to Sandburg than attending the reception at the Custer Hotel.''
The teacher had my attention.
Another student suddenly interjected, ''Well, at least Sandburg could comb his hair. Why doesn't he take time to make his hair look better?''
''Because Sandburg has more important things to spend his time on than combing his hair to please other people.''
The teacher's words stuck with me.
By the time I left high school, I realized that Sandburg was indeed, as Mrs. Gregory had said, a famous writer, and I took a little pride in the fact that, like me, he had been born and raised in Galesburg.
Perhaps the first time that it really sank in that Sandburg had stature as a writer was when CBS ran Edward R. Murrow's interview with him. I don't remember what year that was, but when I saw Sandburg on my television in my house talking to this famous newsman, I felt unique and sort of connected to the world beyond Galesburg's city limits.
I left Galesburg in 1965 and went away to college in Indiana. One day while browsing in the campus bookstore, I came across Harry Golden's biography, simply titled Carl Sandburg. I picked it up and read about all those places and things familiar to me and anyone who had grown up here: Cottage Hospital, Brown's Business College, Knox and Lombard, the streets and names uttered nearly every day in my childhood and adolescence. About an hour later, I carried the little paperback up to the cash register and bought it, proudly informing the lady who ran the bookstore that Sandburg and I shared the same home town. She politely pretended to be interested.
For the remainder of that day, I didn't do any of my course assignments. Instead, I let Mr. Golden guide my through Sandburg's life, the first years of which had been somewhat like mine. It was like I was back home again. But more important than that, the skeleton of Sandburg, which my teachers had constructed for me, was fleshed-out. There was Maury Beck's Sandburg the Lincoln biographer and Joe Patterson's Sandburg the Lombard College student. But it was my high school lit teacher's Sandburg who appealed most to me. It was the 1960s and the anti-establishment Sandburg caught my fancy. Brother, were all those notions we had about Sandburg being for the rich all wrong--an organizer for the Socialists in Wisconsin, a left wing writer for the Chicago Daily News, and the bare-fisted poet of laboring people. This was my kind of man.
After finishing Golden's biography, I headed over to the Marion College library and located Always the Young Strangers. And there in the stacks I absorbed Sandburg's own words about his life in our town.
Next came more of The War Years and also The Prairie Years.
Then his poems ''Chicago,'' ''Prayers of Steel,'' and ''To a Contemporary Bunk Shooter.''
When the college held it's annual poetry competition, Sandburg encouraged me to take a risk. I sat down and penned my best free verse effort, ''A Storm is Coming.'' I received second place and shocked everyone on campus.
From that time until now, I have tried my hand at most all of the literary forms -- novels, short stories, and plays. Unlike Galesburg's great writer, I've sold nearly nothing and mastered none of them. But because of Carl Sandburg, I am still becoming a writer, and that is enough.
Third Place, Sandburg entry: Meeting Carl Sandburg, by Josephine Kennedy
I remember a lovely fall afternoon returning home from my classroom at Mable Woolsey Elementary School in Knoxville. The Register-Mail had printed an article, a few weeks before, stating that Carl Sandburg would be returning to Galesburg accompanied by Howard K. Smith and a television crew to do some scenes on the Knox College campus for Carl's last nationwide television performance. No definite date was stated, and since we lived near the campus, I had been checking for any unusual activity as I drove by each late afternoon.
When I spotted signs of television equipment in the yard, east of Old Main, I hurried home and picked up Cindy and Mary two of our daughters, along with a niece, Linda Johnson, all high school students at Corpus Christi High School.
We walked into the yard east of Old Main in time to see Carl Sandburg walk through the east side door and stand on the small porch, gazing out over the campus. Amazingly our group, acquaintance Dale Panther, and a youngish man, holding a pad or notebook, were the only people present. I could hardly believe there were no other townspeople, students, or faculty anxious for a glimpse of the great poet and writer -- or even the television personality Howard K. Smith.
We stood there in the grass, a few feet away from this renowned personality, who grew up in our own town. He smiled at our group, and made a number of comments -- one being how lovely looking the young ladies were and compared them to flowers. Carl Sandburg said, ''If I were twenty years younger, I would like to spend the evening dancing with them.''
About this time (still no action from inside the building where Smith and his crew were no doubt talking about plans for the production coming up), Dale decided to go home and get his camera. All of a sudden, the man we didn't know addressed Carl (we were still standing in the grass a number of feet away from Carl) and I'll never forget his exact words.
''Mr. Sandburg, we all know what the poet Robert Frost thinks of you. What do you think of him?'' asked the man.
At that time, the press critics, educators, etc. frequently expressed their opinions as to which was greater of these two (probably) favorite poets in America. but not friendly poets.
Carl Sandburg turned slightly to face his antagonist,who was trying to provoke fighting words about Frost, and with completely changed expression, lashed out with words that were not pleasant to hear. I cringed for the man enduring this tongue lashing from the professional. By the time Carl finished this vituperative diatribe, I think the young man skulked away.
Carl turned to face us again and after the shock of what we had just heard wore off, I finally got up enough nerve to say, ''Mr. Sandburg, I'd like to tell you now much my fourth grade class enjoys your ''Rootabaga'' stories that we read each year.''
Carl Sandburg smiled and said as he walked towards us, ''Young lady, I'd like to shake your hand.''
One regret, the man with the camera did not return in time to record an historic event -- the great Carl Sandburg walking across the grass to shake the hand of a little known elementary teacher.
Honorable Mention, Oldest Memoirs: My Memories, by Frank L. Mills Sr.
My name is Frank L. Mills Sr. I was born on September 27th in 1908. I am still sleeping in the same bedroom that I was born in.
I went to Cooke School on the corner of South Academy Street and West Second Street.
Now I will get to some of the early days of the century. The C.B. & Q. Railroad yards were just three blocks east of where I lived. There was an icehouse where they iced the refrigerator cars. It had a long platform the same height as the refrigerator cars and it was quite long. They had big metal carts that the ice (25 lb. chunks) was transported. The cars had ice bunkers at each end. They also had a coal chute where they fueled the steam engines.
They had a big stockyard. It went from Liberty St. to South Henderson and from Louisville Road to the C.B. & Q. tracks. There were barns and pens. On Fridays, the stock traders would come in and buy/sell cattle, hogs and sheep. In 1913 or 1914, the stockyard caught on tire and burned for three days.
Now for the downtown part. On the Public Square, they had cast iron watering troughs for the horses. We had a big horse and mule barn around by the Leroy Marsh Horse and Mule Sale Barns. The horses and mules were shipped by rail. They had a man by the name of William Green. He had a bad leg and limped. He would tie three or four horses together and take them to the sale barn. During WWI, the Army was buying lots of horses and mules.
There was a livery stable on East Main St., on the north side. It was owned by Hanson. It was a wooden building and had a plank floor.
After the livery stable went out, Fred Gerloff started a drive-yourself agency. I worked for him,, washing cars and parking them. They were Model A Fords. Later on he went to the Bondi Building.
Bert Bunker had a shoe store that later became Hawthorne Drug. It had a mahogany soda bar. The floor was little squares of white tiles.
In 1951, Galesburg had 83 grocery stores and meat markets. Larson and Hultgren had three stores and meat markets. The first one was at N. Henderson and North St. The second one was at South Cedar and W. Second St. The third was at E. Brooks and Pine St.
Frost Manufacturing Co. was on S. Henderson St. where Butlers s is now. They built steam engines for mines and had a Manufacturer's Camp. They also had a boiler shop where they built big boilers. My father, Earl L. Mills, was a machinist at Frost. I have a picture of all the men that worked in a machine shop at the early part of the century.
Before Swift and Armour Meat Companies built on Mulberry St., they had a big old wooden building across from the C.B.&Q depot. The packing companies were ''Swift & Co., Armour & Co., Wilson & Co., Cudahey & Co., and S&S Packing of Chicago.'' Those were the days when ice was used for the coolers. The big ice company was just south of the meat houses on B. South St. The meats in those days were delivered by horses and wagons until 1929. Swift bought two trucks, one Ford and one Chevy. I have a picture of the opening of the new plant and all of the employees. (I am the 6 years old boy standing to the left in the picture.) Rath Packing Co. of Waterloo, IA, opened a branch office and cooler on S. Chambers St., just south of E. Main St.
''Winslow Boiler and Engineering Co.'' of Chicago, had a plant and produced oil burners called Kleen Heet, The market crash of 1929 stopped their production. It was located on the corner of S. Chambers St. and E. Knox St., I have a picture of all the employees. My dad worked there.
I have a picture of Cooke School that was taken on a May Day Celebration in 1916.
Honorable Mention, W.W. II P.O.W.: Galesburg Before as Seen Through the Eyes of a WWII Vet, Written by Rhoda Semington for her father, Lloyd Smith
My family moved here from Kewanee, Illinois. From the most early days, Swedish people dominated residency here in Galesburg. They were easy going people and quite friendly.
The streets of Galesburg were of dirt and gravel. Movies were only ten to fifteen cents to attend.
The policemen walked the beats. Many times, if someone was arrested, you'd see the officer walking them on to the jail. They weren't always driven there like today. An officer back then who walked the beat was nicknamed ''Jimmie the Flee.'' Many times, when a disturbance came up, he'd beat the officers in the squad cars to the scene. So they named him ''Jimmie the Flee.'' He was a fast one on foot. In those days, there were no sirens, just a bell-like sound from the squad car. There were some police officers on horseback. In those days, there was no need in trying to outrun the police. Police back then never would bother or harass anyone as long as you didn't cause any problems.
The downtown area was busy, but around the Square was the spot at night. The Square in those days looked like a scene from an old western movie. There were taverns surrounding the Square. Back then, a draft beer was fifteen cents and a whiskey was twenty-five cents per shot. The light poles around the Square were candle like which were lit at dusk and would burn out by dawn.
If you couldn't afford a hotel room, the Galesburg Mission was right uptown on Main Street.
Galesburg used to be the spot! Yes, we used to have the big bands playing here, and the town was always busy from Main Street clear around to Broad Street.
In 1918, gangsters came here to hide out from the Feds. Al Capone stayed at the old Broadview Hotel (located where the Ramada Inn is today.)
We didn't have to go far to have a nice time. On Broad Street, we had the Armory which had the bands coming to play. We had very famous bands and the dances were great. The town committee would alternate the dances between the blacks and whites. One night, the bands would play for the whites and then the next night the dance would be for the black people. They made sure everyone was able to enjoy themselves.
Sometimes we would have various singing artists who would perform at the ''Old Galesburg Opera House'' on Broad St. It was much like the Orpheum is now. There were singers and theatrical plays. Duke Ellington performed there.
In those days, anything you needed you would find uptown from ice cream factories to doctors' offices. There were dime stores and lots of taverns. There was a meat market across from the Central Congregational Church. Back then, the hamburger was only five cents per pound.
The original man who played Superman, George Reeves, lived in an apartment up over a place called Johnson's garage, which is ''Turner's Prescription'' now.
Galesburg started to grow and more people started moving here. The first black people here were the Maces, the Flemmings, and the Wades. Old man Flemming could speak Swedish fluently. He worked around the Swedish and spent lots of time with some of them. Old Mrs. Allen was one of Galesburg's first black women in politics. The Wades lived out on Henderson Street, but in those days, there wasn't much of any businesses or residents there. Henderson Street was a very lonely looking district.
The tie plant, which was out at the railroad, would hire out-of-towners (many of them were black). They would like it here and move their families here.
Soon, the streets were not just dirt or gravel; they were now brick.
Ike and Tina Turner performed at the Armory. People from Peoria and Chicago attended. Galesburg may have been a small town, but the history of it is huge. Many a famous face had come through Galesburg back then, to perform or just to visit.
Richard Pryor lived here for awhile as a child and went to the old Cooke School [unconfirmed], but his grandma moved to Peoria and finished raising him there.
Yes, Galesburg has really grown. By the time I came back from the Army in 1945, there were more businesses on Henderson Street; downtown had more dime stores, etc. The population had really grown. Yes, the once small town has now grown into a small city. To this day, I don't know if that was good or bad. But that was Galesburg back then.
Honorable Mention, Historical: Busy Kitchen, by Alice. L. Hare
A fly stuck on a honey colored fly strip buzzed in vain next to a dozen of its brothers that buzzed no more. The strip fastened to the plaster ceiling by a brass thumb tack helped control the houseflies that had entered my mother's kitchen past the screen door that slammed whenever anyone entered or left the house. The kitchen was the center of most activity in my parent's farmhouse located between Alexis and Galesburg, Illinois.
Walter and Laura Price moved into the house as newlyweds in February, 1924. It was not a new house then, built in a T shape with 6 rooms and a basement. As a bride, my mother kept a day book recording that she paid $2.58 for kitchen wallpaper, $.15 for a dustpan, $9.50 for the kitchen table, $9.00 for 4 kitchen chairs, $47.15 for dishes and utensils from Churchill's in Galesburg, $106.00 for the Round Oak Chief kitchen stove from Mc Knight's in Alexis and $34.85 for the Hoosier cabinet.
The kitchen I remember always had a flannel-backed oilcloth on the square table with a sugar bowl and salt and pepper shakers in the center. Linoleum was the floor covering. South facing windows were brightened with salmon-colored geraniums. A shelf half way up the window held eyeglasses, current letters, a box of short, pocketknife-sharpened pencils, a small notebook that recorded the breeding dates of my father's registered Shorthorn cattle, and a kerosene lamp.
The cook stove, fueled by corn cobs, chopped wood and coal was nearly always warm. An aluminum tea kettle, encrusted with lime sat on the stove. A reservoir at the right end of the stove provided warm dish water. Damp flour-sack dish towels dried on a rod that was behind the warming ovens above the stove surface. These ovens often held loaves of bread rising in black tin pans.
Sometimes in cold spring weather a box of silky, new-born, white-belted Hampshire pigs or a wet new calf was warmed behind the stove until lively enough to return to barn and mother.
On laundry day the stove top held a large copper boiler filled with rolling gallons of hot water. The boiler had been purchased from Mc Knight's in Alexis for $2.40. Slivers of Eels Naptha Soap were added before the water was carried to the wringer washer in the basement.
A nourishing and delicious array of food was produced from garden, orchard, hen house, and barnyard. Springtime's first fare was asparagus. A child might have the enjoyable search for tender pink and green spears pushing through the collected leaf and twig mulch of Winter. A blue-eyed white violet blossom might also be gathered in the search. A large dish of creamed asparagus made from fresh cream and butter graced many supper menus. Close behind the asparagus, appeared the long row of rhubarb plants with giant leaves that formed fans or umbrellas for the child harvester. A sharp pull yielded a 15-inch long, firm, smooth red rhubarb stem. Sometimes a hidden hen's nest of eggs might be a bonus find. Close watching would note the fuzzy chick's debut behind the ruffled, clucking white hen. The tangy rhubarb was used to make cornstarch-thickened sauce with raisins, rhubarb cobbler topped with sour cream cake, or rhubarb pie leaking thick pink juice from the vents in the brown crust. The crust design on pies from our oven was always a wheat head motif made by quick moves of a knife when the top crust was rolled out.
Strawberries hidden under a canopy of green leaves were brought to the kitchen by young pickers with fingers and lips painted pink and happy smiles.The smiles might have resulted from a tummy full of sweet berries or the exciting discovery of a striped garter snake or a young wild rabbit in the large berry patch .Strawberry shortcake was the usual dessert prepared with a biscuit base and fresh cream topping. Raspberries and black berries came from beneath the apple trees. These thorny plants seemed to form mazes where face-high webs of black and yellow garden spiders lurked. The dark sweet berries were made into cobblers or canned for later season pies.
The apple season started with early Wealthy apples. These striped red apples made applesauce that retained the apple slice shape. Applesauce was eaten at many meals. For breakfast, pancakes with apples was a treat. For dinner and supper applesauce complimented any menu. Fall, sound Jonathan apples were stored in burlap bags in the basement.They made apple pie or a crisp school lunch item. Any worm present at the core was eaten around. Faulty apples were made into apple butter rich with cinnamon.
Fuzzy, small yellow peaches were pealed with a sharp knife, hand made by a neighbor Sue Gardner Adcock, for peaches and cream, cobblers or pies. Extra peaches were canned in glass jars capped with red rubber rings and white glass lined zinc lids.The stove top on canning days was full of aluminum kettles holding bubbling peaches swimming in juice and clean hot jars awaiting filling, sitting in hot water.
New potatoes with peas was a favorite spring dish. It was quickly prepared with fresh cream and butter. As potatoes matured they came to the table mashed, scalloped or boiled. Left over boiled potatoes were frequently fried for breakfast. In the fall potatoes were stored in bins in the basement. As spring neared the potatoes got soft and wrinkled and bristled with sprouts. Occasionally my father would fix himself fried potatoes and onions for supper, using his own smoothly worn pocket knife for pealing.
Green beans grew well in the garden. Early snap bean segments were slim.As the season progressed the segments were thicker with loose beans in the serving dish. Canning beans was a long hot process. The cook stove's heat and hot weather made Mother's brow wet. The pressure cooker, heavy even empty, was kept at proper pressure by moving to warmer or cooler sections of the stove top.
Tomatoes were a major food item in our meals. We especially enjoyed raw sliced tomatos. Faulty fruit was cooked for Spanish rice or soup. They were also canned in pieces or squeezed through a cone shaped aluminum colander using a cone shaped wooden presser.Skins and seeds remained in the colander to be given to the chickens.
The hen house was a major producer for our kitchen. Large brown, sometimes double yolk eggs were used every day.Fried and scrambled eggs were usual breakfast fare. Oatmeal cookies,chocolate cake, baked custard, potato salad, deviled eggs, and feather light divinity were favorite foods.Meat type chickens were raised, usually Plymouth rocks. We waited eagerly for chickens to reach frying size. A bucket of scalding water from the tea kettle was used to dip freshly killed chickens so feathers could be rubbed quickly off. A flaming, crumpled newspaper passed under the naked chicken removed pin feathers.After whetting her best butcher knife on a stone crock top,Mother dressed the still warm bird for frying in her blackened iron skillet. A chicken could go from chicken yard to table in 1 1/2 hour. Older chickens were Sunday dinner, baked in the oven while we attended Coldbrook Christian Church 4 miles away.When a hen stopped laying it was boiled and served with fluffy dumplings. A large rooster had enough meat to prepare creamy chicken pie for four hungry children and their father.
A fawn color Jersey cow supplied a bucket of milk for our family. She was milked twice a day by my father.The milk was poured through a fiber filter into two or three gallon crockery jars where cream rose to the top.Cream was skimmed off for topping oatmeal, for churning into butter, or for making oatmeal cookies or cake.Extra cream was sold at the Galesburg Creamery on Chambers Street.Large glasses of milk were served at each meal. In winter hot cocoa warmed chilled bodies. Clabber milk was made into cottage cheese in a pan at the cooler back of the stove.Whey left over was fed to the hogs.
At hog butchering time, a large iron kettle in the yard rendered lard that produced the flakiest pie crusts. Ground pork seasoned with sage salt and pepper was fried and canned in glass jars. Hams, sides and shoulders were salted and put into brine in the basement or were smoked in my grandmother Emma Price's smoke house, near Alexis, in hickory smoke.Head cheese was made by boiling head bones until the meat was tender. The meat bits and broth formed a gelatin product when cool that was good in sandwiches. Ribs served with tasty brown sauce were a family favorite.
Visitors came to the kitchen door, chatted by the kitchen table and enjoyed the fare and companionship of the busy kitchen I remember.
The Simple Life, by Marjorie Evans Massey
I lived on the 1400 block of East Main Street, Galesburg, Illinois, from 1916 to 1936. It was a friendly neighborhood with similar family standards. None of our mothers worked outside their homes; no baby sitters!
Summers were days of freedom to play whatever someone planned. A blanket over a clothesline became a tent, and we would camp. A trip up Arnold St. meant an ice cream cone. Sometimes we visited the ice wagon looking for some chipped ice. It was a busy, fun time.
One of the most exciting events of our summer life was the coming of the circus. As soon as the big posters went up we began to plan.
When I was six I really enjoyed circus days. Our home was just two blocks from the circus grounds on the corner of Farnham & Main. Early the morning of the circus we were wakened by the sound of the wheels of the large tent wagons rumbling on the brick pavement and the strange animal sounds. A look out the window verified the fact the elephants were pulling the tent wagons as well as some cage wagons. I would dress in record time and dash to the porch to begin my exciting day of watching another world revealed. By 8 o'clock I had had breakfast and my Gramp, E.M. Kenney, who lived with us, came out on the porch and asked if I was ready to go. That meant we were going to go watch the elephants pulling up the tents as circus workers secured the rope on the stakes.
Watching the cooks' tent was most fun, I thought. The cooks could flip those pancakes so high, one thought they would stick to the top of the tent. And did it smell good!
After a short time Gramp would say, ''Let's go home and get ready for the parade.'' By the time of the parade our porches were filled with guests who didn't live on Main Street. After going out to the curb dozens of times to check, we finally heard the calliope, and with a big cheer we waited for the band, the beautiful horses pulling the wagons with the roaring lions and pacing panthers, and the clowns. It was fun to see the circus performers dressed in splendid jeweled costumes, some we recognized as those doing menial jobs at breakfast time.
It was great! But there was an added attraction for the 1400 block. We could see the parade return to the circus grounds. Needless to say, the clowns looked hot and tired; the acrobats leaned back in their wagons exhausted, and one wondered if they could recover for the show.
Gramp didn't take me to the show every year, but it was a thrill when he did. While we were dose enough to the circus to walk, I envied those who rode in the open street cars. All day long the extra street cars were going back and forth. My father, Herbert Evans, was a motorman on the street cars. Knowing my desire to ride on the open cars that were used only for circus days and band concerts at Lake Rice, my father would stop and let me get on and ride to town and back. Traffic was bad from the time the matinee was over and the evening show began. The street cars were loaded to capacity.
As soon as the evening show started the horses took the small tents of the side shows to the railroad yard. There were always large crowds in the morning and at night watching them load and unload. But I never left my front porch at 1455 East Main.
The heavy wagons gradually caused major damage and ruts to the brick pavement. Years later the city banned circus parades. The circus parades on East Main were only a memory
The 1400 block was between Phillip and Arnold. It was a friendly neighborhood. The Daltons (Louise Streedain & Hensely)were fun playmates.Their playhouse was the pride of the neighborhood. Louise's older sister, Dorothy, usually was in charge of the playhouse. Sometimes it was the depot where Martin Sandburg Jr., who lived at the west end of the block, would give us rides with his pony cart to Farnham School where he would unload us and tell us to wait until he came back with two more passengers. I think we paid a penny for the exciting ride.
Merrill (who I think was about 5), was Martin's younger brother and played with the Daltons. One summer day (probably around 1918 or 1919, I would've been about 7 or 8) Merrill and I were in our front yard playing a game when his grandmother and his Uncle Carl Sandburg came along on their way to Mrs. Sandburg's house on the south side of the 1500 block dose to Farnham Street. They stopped and spoke to Merrill and asked us what we were doing. Merrill said he was playing a game and would go home soon. After they passed by, Merrill told me his uncle was visiting. Merrill said that he, ''couldn't understand his grandmother because she was Swedish.'' I asked him if he could understand his Uncle Carl and he said, ''yes.'' I later asked my mother, Margaret Kenney Evans, why Mrs. Sandburg spoke Swedish and she said, ''it was because she grew up learning Swedish first and didn't learn to speak English until later.'' She also said, ''if Carl Sandburg was going to become popular as a poet he better cut that lock of hair.''
Years later during my teaching days I always approached the Sandburg segment of poetry with enthusiasm. My fourth graders in Fulton contributed their pennies for the preservation of the Sandburg Cottage. I lived for fifty years in Savanna, illinois, because of my interest in Carl Sandburg I gave numerous programs during that time based upon Sandburg's life, prose, and poetry.
Ada Gentry George, one of the early leaders in the Sandburg preservation efforts, was a friend who inspired me and encouraged my interest in Carl Sandburg. Galesburg owes much to her foresightedness and excellent organizational skill.
My 20 plus years of life on the 1400 block of East Main supplied many happy memories for which I am grateful. Memories are a great blessing to everyone and especially cherished by this 89 year old.
Seeing Carl Sandburg, by C.N. Flanders
I never met or knew Carl Sandburg, but I did see him one time. It was, it seems, important to me. I suppose that this is enough to qualify for your memoir writing contest.
I think it must have been the Spring or Summer of 1959. I was a couple of years out of a Chicago suburban high school. As a senior in high school we had studied Carl Sandburg and his poetry, for a week or so, in English class. We started with ''The Fog'' and then went on to his ''Chicago Poems''. I wasn't very interested in ''The Fog'', as a high school senior, (today, I think it's a lovely poem), but the ''Chicago Poems'' did get my attention
I don't think it was the ''stacker of wheat'' or the ''hog butcher of the world'' or the ''city of big shoulders'' that really got me interested, but the ''painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys''. I suppose I was at an age when I was interested in ''reality'' or some such silliness. At that time I thought that Carl Sandburg and his poems were ''nifty''. I suspect that ''cool'' or ''fab'' might be the words used today. I had a real burst of interest in Sandburg's writings that still continues today.
Anyway, I was out of high school and living in Chicago on the near north side. I was working for a typewriter company downtown and was walking home to my apartment from this work. I suppose it was in the 300 block of North Dearborn Street that I noticed two people walking ahead of me. They were walking quite a bit slower than I was. We were on the east side of the street. I suppose I was 10 or 20 yards behind them when I realized that one of them was Carl Sandburg.
I suppose that it was the white hair that first caught my attention. I don't really understand how I knew it was him. I don't remember really seeing any pictures of him, but somehow I knew that it was him. I recall that I wanted to say something to him, maybe get his autograph or something, but I was too shy to even get closer that the 10 or 20 yards. So I just followed them. I don't know who the other man was. I remember thinking that it might be Ben Hecht, for some reason
I knew that Sandburg and Hecht both had worked for the a newspaper in Chicago in the early 1900's. It might have been the Chicago Daily News. I have no idea how Mr. Hecht looked. Don't know if I have ever seen a picture of him to this day. This man was probably about 5' 2'' or so. A little bit on the heavy side, but nothing serious. Balding some, with grayish hair, but not white hair like Sandburg's. I remember that he had glasses on. Who it really was, I have no idea, but I distinctly remember thinking that it could have been Ben Hecht. Why I thought this I really don't know.
So, anyway, I followed them north on Dearborn Street at this distance of 10 or 20 yards or so. They were not in any hurry at all. Just walked slowly north. I noticed that Mr. Sandburg had a bit of a limp. They came to the southeast corner of Dearborn and Chicago Avenues. There were traffic lights at this intersection and they waited for the light. They talked (I suspect) about a night club that was on that corner. It was there in 1959 and I know it isn't there now. It was called ''The Gate of Horn''. Don't know why I thought that they talked about the night club, but I did think that they did.
They crossed the street, still going north on the east side of Dearborn Street. I crossed Chicago Avenue and then went to the west side of Dearborn. I still kept the 10 or 20 yards distance. I don't think that Mr. Sandburg or his friend ever did notice me. Anyway, they walked north on Dearborn and I still followed. A couple of blocks north of Chicago Avenue is a park commonly called ''Bug House Square''. I understand it has been compared to Hyde Park in London because this is one of the places in Chicago that "soap box" speakers came and talked, like they did in London's Hyde Park. Lots of people spoke here on all kinds of subjects. Often politics. Sometimes poetry was read. I am not certain of the park's correct name.
Anyway, Sandburg and his friend stopped across the street from this park and talked for 3 or 4 minutes about (I think) where one of their friends had lived. Don't really know why I thought this, but I did. I did notice that Mr. Sandburg pointed to one apartment building and his friend pointed to another. Possibly this is the reason I thought what I did. They then crossed the street and sat on a bench in ''Bug House Square''. I walked past them and also sat on a bench.
I wondered if they had listened to the speakers in this park. Almost certainly Mr. Sandburg did, I thought. Anyway, I suppose they sat on the bench 15 minutes or so talking some, but most of the time quiet. I had the idea that they were reminiscing about old times or something like that when they were talking in the park. I also remember thinking that they both were aware that this very possibly could be the last time they would be together and the last time they might see this neighborhood. Really don't understand why I thought some of these things, but I do remember thinking them. So, after the 15 minutes or so, they got up and slowly walked north. I stayed on the bench in the park and let them walk past me. They stayed on Dearborn Street until they were out of sight.
So, that is the story of my seeing Carl Sandburg. It never entered my mind at that time that later I would hire out on the railroad and end up living in Galesburg, Illinois, Carl Sandburg's home town, but that is what developed. I am happy to say, since seeing Carl Sandburg that day in 1959, that burst of interest I had in him and his writings continues. I, now, probably have read all that he has written and to this day am still a Sandburg fan.
My Tale of Two Cities, by Tom Simkins
''Based on a true story.'' An often used phrase found sandwiched between parenthesis or in an italicized form immediately before or after a movie title, book, or magazine article, offered to lend a certain degree of authenticity or believability to the modified medium. The phrase would seem to serve a varying degree of poetic license ranging from the cold, hard ''truths'' of non-fiction to the more imaginative works of make-believe. Along these lines, my forthcoming tale of boyhood remembrance can be said to be, without the slightest fear of deceit, based on a true story. While the reader may discover some inaccuracies as to factual detail, the truth and realism is rooted solely in my own vivid memory, a recollection spanning about 40 years.
I was born and raised in the southern suburb of Abingdon. Actually, very few, if any people have been born in Abingdon on purpose since the advent of anesthetics, pediatric wards, and birthing rooms. I suppose there have been a few rare occasions under the watchful care of a midwife or perhaps when a miscalculated ''bag of waters'' has broken, that a fortunate soul's first glimpse of the new world fell on the shadow of Big Daddy Totem Pole. But for the most part, we quadrigenerian Commandos were delivered inside the silver-streaked walls of either Cottage or St. Mary's Hospitals in the big city to the north. These brick institutions were actual hospitals where nurses wore crisp white caps and stuck thermometers in the mouths of lucky patients. Years later, about the time Vietnam vets were no longer shell-shocked, but suffered from post-war stress syndrome, these institutions became medical and trauma centers of glass and metal construction where nurses sported multicolored, pajama type outfits and stuck cone-shaped fever measuring devices in the patient's ear. Having the brain of a newborn at the time, I can now recall little about my first time in the big city of Galesburg. I am told that I cried a bit and made funny noises.
A young boy growing up in Abingdon in the early 60's had everything he needed to survive within the few square miles of our small town. Football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball from the vernal to the autumnal equinox. Russ's Grocery was well stocked with Stan Musial and Bob Gibson trading cards and you could always grab a dozen dew worms on your way to bob for bass at the clay pit. Russ was a clever entrepreneur who would even buy worms for a penny a piece from us boys eager enough to supply the product. I remember a time when my buddy Denny Landon, his brother Frank, and I figured through basic math that we could put ourselves through college with a 5-gallon can full of the little eels. We had ventured with flashlights in hand to the football field across from the A&W and struck it rich after an early evening rain. It must have been nightcrawler mating season as we excitedly pounced on many love-struck two-fers. However, upon our celebrated return to the back of his store, Russ carefully explained the theory of supply and demand which left my dad wondering for years later why the ground was so well aerated and bumpy for mowing in a particular area of our backyard. Shanks Clothing was the Macy's of Main Street with the current trend of pre-bell-bottom apparel and all the really essential items to maintain a healthy seven-year old could be found at the local five and dime.
Schedules were so much less hectic in my childhood that the mere mention of getting an appointment for a haircut would have seemed highly absurd. We had the choice of spending a 3 haircut wait at Jim's Snip and Clip by checking out the gun shop in the rear or reading Boy's Life magazines at Paul Hummel's on the main drag. An extra attraction at the latter was when Mr. Hummel would appear like an apparition from a secret door in the back of a closet. I later learned this was just a connecting door to his residence.
During the greatest time of year which began with the annual May release of inmates from the educational prisons until thoughts returned to such things as notebooks and erasers in late August, the ballpark on the west side of town was open for business. Like the swallows from Capistrano, the daily migration of town youth to our own Treasure Island was much anticipated. With your mitt semi-permanently hanging from your handlebars, you could hang out at Mr. Gearhart's neighborhood from breakfast to supper. I would often have my dad's 35 inch Mickey Mantle autographed Louisville Slugger slung over my shoulder on the off chance the older guys would invite me to play in the big game. This bat was my ticket into the big show as nobody had ever seen a bat that big in Abingdon and I'd let studs like Mark McCurry use it if I got to play. I became known as the ''kid with the big bat.'' They thought it was safe to let me patrol right field as the gene pool in Abingdon had, over several years, produced a dominantly right-handed population. The only lefty who was capable of pulling the ball my way was Jimmy Gordon and he would always hit the ball over the fence anyway. If nothing else, I was a good fence-jumper/retriever. If the numbers were not right and I had forgotten my bat, a couple of us younger guys would check out a bat and ball and head for the big diamond to play Indian ball. We would hit from a spot just far enough from the fence in the outfield that we could crack a few out once in a while and feel like pros.
When Mother Nature rained out baseball, we would gather under the pavilion to play Booby Trap or chess. If you were real adventurous, you could join the long line at the 4-square game. Typically, there were 3 junior high age boys controlling squares 1-3 and unless you had a good looking older sister (I was also known as the ''boy with the good-looking sister''), you spent a lot of time watching in line. While my two sisters undoubtedly got me into the good graces of the older boys in town on many occasions, their arrival on a sandlot could screw-up a good game of ball faster than the soundtrack of the good-humor man. I would get mad at them and they would later hold me down, call me ''Tunnel-tooth Tommy'' because of the inherited big gap in my front teeth, and let our wiener dog, Minnie, lick my face. They thought this great fun until Dad would show up with his gap and a switch from the weeping willow tree. Some people had wood sheds, but we had that weeping willow. Dad was never mean or brutal, but we grew up with a healthy respect for discipline and doing the right thing.
While my little red bike was my key to independent travel, any trip extending beyond the reach and endurance of a 22 inch inseam pedaling a 20 inch Schwinn with an Ernie Banks clothes pinned to the spokes (Cubs were dispensable for spoke chatter) was deemed noteworthy. And so, Mom and Dad would attempt to crowd the three anti-amigos and maybe even Grandma and Grandpa into our cherry red, '63 Impala. With Jack Larson's big band tunes serenading us in the background our car would groan forth on its journey.
My dad had a real weakness for strawberry ice cream on a Sunday afternoon in the heat of summer. Our family excursions to Knoxville were like little pieces of rainbow sherbet heaven. Returning home from a holiday spent at Uncle Dean's in New Windsor, I recall lying stretched out in the back window of the Impala, emphatically reminding my mother to ''wake me up when we get to the car in the tree.'' How that insurance company got that wrecked car up in that old oak is still a mystery to me. The last day of May was reserved for paying respects to family members I knew only from the stories my parents would tell on our trips to Maquon and Gilson. My sister and I would race to the well to work the rusty hand pump which provided the water for the geraniums or petunias Dad would plant near the headstones. As we drove away, we would count with pride the stones with our family name on them. But these excursions paled in excitement when compared to a trip to the thriving metropolis of Galesburg where things were upscale, peculiar, and happening.
If Dad the contractor was along, the first stop was inevitably at Wickes Lumber on Route 41 to shoot the bull with Mr. Johnston, a man with the strange affliction of a constant giddiness and smile perhaps caused by always having a fresh toothpick either darting about his mouth or stuck behind his ear. He was a great guy, but I sometimes wondered if the combination of yellow pine and ear wax had taken a happy effect on him. Upon entering the southern outskirts of the ''burg,'' we were often met with the stench of what Mom identified as burning manure emanating from the solitary farmhouse there. Perhaps this is the reason the city has grown little in that direction in the past 40 years.
As our trips to the city were usually textile related, we often found ourselves pulling our Chevy into the Sears and Roebuck parking lot on East Main Street. I believe they had some kind of parking ticket system there, maybe even an attendant. Mom preferred this to the ''feeding the meter'' system found behind Grants and it set us up for a perfect east to west and back navigation of shopping. The old Sears building was a fantastic place to shop with three floors of multifaceted offerings. Somewhere they sold clothes, furniture, linens, and tools, but the basement housed the sporting goods department. Kids could lose their mothers there and I recall at least one time when the store paging system would attest to that fact. As we moved on our journey west toward Klines, we frequently would sneak past a person I shall never forget. I believe he was a legless blind man who would prop himself up against the building and proceed to sell pencils out of a felt hat. According to my mother's wishes, I would try not to stare at him and I never dared enough to buy a pencil from him. Big cities were home to these kinds of people.
Kilnes was a big bust for me in more ways than one. It was a chick store with nothing to offer a prepubescent boy but countless, meaningless hours of continuous female fashion. Shane and Showers was a cool name for a store and you could browse the window displays in search of the fastest pair of PF Flyers. These canvas sneakers covered all the bases, the precursor to the cross-trainers of today. You could play basketball, rugby, baseball, and dodgeball in them as well as wear them to church on Sunday if Mom wasn't looking. Shopping outside also meant you could avoid the pressure from the ''may I help you?'' folks inside who would undoubtedly try to cram your foot into one of those silver slider gadgets to measure your foot. Nobody wanted that, especially since you just played 6 sweaty innings in the socks you had on.
Many of the stores were memorable for some small, unique quality they possessed. Gale Ward Sporting Goods was the coup de grace with its pearly gate on the north directing you to ''use the other door.'' It had everything. A Hillerich and Bradsby bat rack with fat-handled wooden sticks yet to be adorned by electrical tape or 3-penny nails. Golf clubs without wooden shafts, bowling shirts, and lots of neat things like colored shoelaces, stopwatches and pedometers. Grants had a food area where you could sit on swivel stools and try to figure out why the orange and raspberry drink fountains with their liquids cascading down the sides, never got more than half full. You could get your Cub Scout supplies at O.T. Johnsons and then take a trip to the second floor, which they called a mezzanine, via the elevator at the back of the store. This elevator was operated manually by a person from the Elevator Operator's Union. The union evidently required this person to be female, wear 3 layers of make-up, and smell like bubblegum. Additionally, she was required to be capable of sitting on a stool for hours on end, possess a vocabulary of words like ''which floor please,'' have a keen sense of timing for stopping the car at the perfect spot, and have a strong left arm for sliding the cage gate of the elevator door open and closed. Next door under a common awning, The Continental was an oxymoron of sorts -- a men's clothing store without blue-jeans. The salesmen were impeccably attired with soft hands and manicured hair. I went in there once to get my dad a Christmas present. A 7-year-old has limited funds and when they would not allow me to buy the mustache comb out of the men's shaving kit it was in, I left. I returned 20 years later and bought a new suit to wear to my father's funeral and it seems I had it all wrong as they were very nice and accommodating.
Crossing the street was an experience. It was all in the timing and waiting for the streetlight with the little white man on it to show up. There were often many people in the crosswalks and it was imperative to make advance eye-contact with someone coming from the opposite direction so as not to run into each other. If Mom had sent you and a nickel on a mission to the parking meter before it expired, you would have to play the game of A.J. Foyt on the sidewalks. On the south side of Main Street, Walgreen's Drug Store had a revolving turnstile at the entrance and gave you the feeling they really weren't sure whether you would pay for everything you took out of the store. When we hit J.C. Penney's on a back to school trip, it was time for the rule of fives to apply. Five pair of underwear, five pair of socks, first pair of trousers and five matching shirts. Mom did our laundry at the local laundromat on Saturday and anything sooner was out of the question.
If we had the time and money, we might get to take in a movie at the Orpheum. This was always an awesome experience. With only Channels 4, 6, and 8 on the black and white at home, this was a privilege indeed. And if we were really lucky, the red velvet rope was not across the stairway, allowing access to the balcony. I remember being perched in what we called the third balcony watching a double feature of the ''House of Dark Shadows'' and ''The Bride of Frankenstein'' with Dooley Morrison, his older sister Sue, and a box of Milk Duds in the middle of a Saturday afternoon. Life just didn't get any better than that.
At that time Galesburg had only the Henderson Street McDonald's and the most lavish thing on the menu was a double cheeseburger. There was no drive-up facility and very little seating inside. That meant that Mom would give one of us kids a $5 dollar bill and drop us off on the north side of the building, hoping to time it right to collect us as she drove around the south side. Sometimes she parked and we just ate in the car. There also were no handicapped parking places, so you could park pretty close. I've never understood why they did not have hot dogs and root beer.
Sometimes, after piling back in our car at Sears, Dad would drive down Kellogg Street and take a left on South Street. This left turn was an exciting signal to my sisters and me. Experience had shown us that there were nothing but good things on the other side of the South Street underpass including bags of crushed ice at the ice house on top of the hill. These bags were good for only one thing in my mind -- hand-cranked homemade ice cream, the thrill of all thrills. Taking the back way home via South Seminary Street gave my older sister the chance to whistle her way through the viaduct on County 10 road, the one thing in life she had mastered to perfection.
We had fun in Galesburg but I always loved getting back on my own turf. While our trips to the big city were always greatly anticipated, once there I always felt like a little fish in a big pond. Now that I have grown to the experienced age of 42 and have resided in that same big pond for 15 years, I have come to realize it is not the size of the town you live in but the people that you meet and interact with that make life what it is. Today, my son gets his ice cubes at the refrigerator door, he watches movies on cable or rents a video, and he has a baseball game on the computer. My nine year old daughter with the gap in her teeth goes to the mall without a coat in the dead of winter to shop, the parking is free, and she plays scrabble with unknown parties over the Internet. We have a wiener dog named Roscoe, a name taken from my grandfather's tombstone which I drag my kids to see every May. If I hold my son down and let Roscoe lick his face he will probably mess up his braces and the neighbors will report me to the Department of Children and Family Services for abusing my kid. We make homemade ice cream with an electric machine about once a year. I no longer see the legless blind man with his pencils on Main Street but I do give rides to church to a blind man named Harold from Galesburg Towers about once a month and we have some nice conversations. The Elevator Operators Union has long since dissolved but I took my daughter to see ''Miracle on 34th Street'' at the Orpheum last Christmas. My wife and I do the laundry seemingly every day and I had a Big Mac from the McDonald's on East Main today. I wanted to ask for a hot dog but decided against it.
I guess the old saying holds true. The more things change, the more they stay the same. After all, opening day of baseball is just around the corner and the kid with the big bat and good-looking sister can hardly wait.
Memories -- July, 1942-1950 -- Galesburg, Illinois, by Stelia Adams Skinner
Up until July, 1942, my family and I lived in rural Lancaster, Kentucky where we raised tobacco. After the baby of the family died, my parents were so overcome with sorrow, that they decided to move to Galesburg, Illinois, where my grandparents lived. The small acreage was sold and we, with our meager possessions, traveled to Galesburg in a small pickup truck. I'm laughing now as I think about it. We must have looked like the original ''Beverly Hillbillies'' as we swarmed into Grannie's small house at 972 Lombard St. We were farmed out to different family members for a short time until Dad and Mom bought a house.
Soon we all settled into the newly purchased, freshly painted, two-story, white house located at 916 Chamberlain Ave. The house sat in a southeast corner lot, at Chamberlain and Day Streets.
DADDY GOES TO WORK
Daddy went to work at the CB&Q Railroad (Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy.) Some of us younger ones were enrolled at Douglas Grade School on Third St. Some were at Lombard Junior High. The older ones went to work at various jobs. Mom wasn't well and I would help her get the wash water ready before I went to school and then hurry home at night to empty the dirty water and bring in clean. This was in 1942, during the Second World War. when a German housepainter named Hitler, and his German Army set out to conquer the entire world. All the kids at school used their meager allowances to buy savings stamps for the war effort. Everyone worked together and was behind our country 100%, or so it seemed. Negativity toward our USA or our President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, was unheard of At least we would have been ready to fight if anyone had been brave enough to speak against them.
We children, went about the neighborhood collecting old rags, paper, and tin cans to be recycled for the war effort.
We all learned songs related to the war; i.e. ''Bell Bottom Trousers'' and others.
It seemed like everything was rationed. I especially remember shoes, tires, sugar, gasoline, nylons, and other clothing items were rationed. You had to have both stamps and money in order to buy. My dad wore denim overalls to his job on the CB&Q Railroad and when they wore out, we could buy only one new pair. The store clerks made it their business to monitor purchases and would refuse to sell over the allotted amount of rationed items.
AIR RAIDS and BLACK OUT DRILLS
There were air raid drills during school time and black-out drills at night time, when ''all'' lights in town were to be turned out.
Those families who had lost loved ones in the war effort had special ribbons hanging in their windows.
I remember we hated the Japanese, ''Old To-Jo'' and Hitler. After the war, we kids brought hygiene articles, soap, deodorant, etc. to school to be sent to displaced families overseas. I especially remember our teacher, Miss Florida Omeis, telling us that the Crisco we were sending would be used as a spread for their bread, since they had no access to margarine or butter.
My sister, Linda, had a boyfriend serving overseas and he had sent her a grass skirt. All of us younger girls rode the train to Cincinnati, Ohio, where Mom's family lived, and I remember lots of soldiers riding on the train. One had taken his shoe off his wounded swollen foot; he had to cut his shoes with his pocket knife in order to get it on the next day. It was during the war that the railroad began to hire women, though it was extremely hard work. My dad worked as many as sixteen (16) hours per day, seven days a week. He was home only long enough to sleep and, of course, we had to be quiet as mice.
Everyone was encouraged to have a ''Victory Garden.'' Of course this was nothing new to us as we had always grown our own vegetables in Kentucky. Along with other seeds, Dad would buy a large bag of onion sets which meant a never ending job of setting them, one at a time, in long rows across the garden. Using my ever-working mind, I tried to think of a better, or at least an easier, way to get the job done more quickly. So, after laboriously setting each onion set just so, and planting many rows, I decided to get rid of the last of the sack by burying them; (They were only tiny sets anyway.) Well, wouldn't you know it, my secret was soon revealed when every one of those little sets grew?!
Even though we still lived in town, we still had an outside toilet. Like many of our neighbors, we also had a few chickens that roamed wherever they pleased. One dark night, while Daddy was using the toilet, he was scared out of his wits when a chicken (which was hiding in the darkened toilet,) suddenly began to cluck. Daddy said that his hair stood on end. in those days, people kept chickens, cows and horses in town or close by.
Our home was heated with a coal and wood burning stove in the front room. Each spring, the stove was taken down and carried to the back porch until cold weather.
There was a pump at the back door and water was carried into the house in a galvanized water bucket. Being inquisitive as always, I had to see what would happen if I stuck my tongue on the cold pump handle. Well, I soon found out and never tried that again! I also remember wondering what it would be like to walk barefoot in the snow, so I went to the basement without my shoes. Of course, Mom never knew about this experiment!
WATER-PUMP AND ICE BOX
Although we still did not have any modem conveniences, we thought we were right ''uptown'' with water close at hand.and an icebox! The iceman delivered ice from the ice house on East South Street. He carried it into our home on his back, holding on to it with ice tongs. He knew how many pounds to deliver by a card in our window which indicated the amount needed.
The irons continued to be heated on the wood and coal burning cook stove, and Mom washed on the old washboard until an electric washer was purchased.
WE MOVE TO A FARM -- JOAN IS BORN
For some reason, we then moved to a farm somewhere around Laura/Williamsfield, Illinois. Sister Joan was born there on August 12, 1943. I was ten years old at the time and did not know that Mama was expecting a baby. people just did not talk about being pregnant back in those days. our wise twelve year old brother, ''Moe,'' whispered the fact to Edith and I as we were pulling weeds in the garden.
The farm house, barn, and out buildings were fun places to be, and I have many pleasant memories of living there. We played in the oat bins, ran through large patches of sunflowers, and ate mulberries from a large tree standing beside the long driveway. We swung in a rope swing that hung from a very large fir tree in the front yard. We held funerals for dead baby pigs. Edith sang and I preached the funerals, then we buried them.
I was helping Edith learn to ride an old bicycle (much too large for her; I believe it was a boy's bike,) along a gravel road which slanted toward the ditch ever so naturally. She, being very small and frail, fell into the ditch and broke her arm. I felt really badly about this and blamed myself for the accident. Dad took her to the doctor's office in Williamsfield where her broken arm was set and a cast applied. When the arm healed and the cast was removed, it was full of oats from our playing in the oat bin.
FREE ICE CREAM CONES
We kids were allowed to ride along into Williamsfield when Mom or Edith went to see the doctor. While there, we frequented the drug store and were permitted to buy ice cream cones. If we were lucky, we would find a slip of paper at the bottom of the cone saying we had won a free one! Talk about a treat!
Mom continued to bake cornbread and biscuits for every meal but, of course, we were crazy about store bought bread. When money was available we would hang out a white dish towel to signal our desire to buy bread, at which time the bread truck driver would stop.
Brother William (Bud) stayed at Aunt Mandy and Uncle Charlie Baker's house in Galesburg in order to have a job. He would ride the little train, called the ''Doodlebug'' home for the weekends. Dad would meet him at the train depot in Laura and return him there on Sunday afternoon for the ride back to Galesburg.
ONE ROOM SCHOOL
While living in the country this time, we attended a one room school in Laura, IL called the Nightingale School. One teacher taught all grades. It was a typical country schoolhouse, heated with a coal stove. There were two outside toilets, one for the boys and one for the girls.
Then, just as suddenly, we moved back to our house on Chamberlain Avenue and to school in Galesburg. I loved school and thrived with the interested and caring teachers at Douglas School. Learning to read was the most wonderful thing that ever happened, as it opened the world to me. I must have read every book in the school library. I also worked in the library and enjoyed it very much. One special teacher, Miss Dorothy Carrol, brought out the best in me and I always did very well in school.
STELLA NEEDS GLASSES
In grade school, I could never see the blackboard because my eyes were so bad. Since I was older and taller, I was always seated at the back of the room. At recess, or after school, I would rush to the board to see, read, and learn what the teacher had written there. It never occurred to me to tell anyone at Douglas School. When I transferred to junior high at Lombard, I tore my first report card up and threw it in the trash can because I had received all ''B' s.'' I was devastated, to say the least, but again, I suffered in silence.
Somehow or other, someone discovered that I needed glasses and, of course, this made a great difference.
On Dad's payday, Mom would go buy groceries at the A&P Grocery Store on Water Street. The oleo was uncolored at that time. It was white and enclosed in a plastic bag along with a capsule of yellow food coloring. The bag was squeezed, breaking the capsule, and the oleo colored yellow. Along with buying groceries at the A&P, we bought groceries at a little neighborhood store operated by the Johnson's on Day Street (at the end of East Third Street.) We kids walked and carried many large bags of groceries from that store. One winter, after a snow, I came out of the store with two big bags of groceries, only to encounter two neighborhood brats. One was on each side of the door with hands full of snow to rub in my face. Of course, I couldn't defend myself with my hands full. Later, when this store closed, we walked to another on on South Chambers Street to get groceries between Mom's visits to the A&P.
MOM VISITS PARENTS
Mom would occasionally go to visit her parents in Cincinnati, Ohio. When she was gone, I was left to wash, cook, and take care of things at home.
DAD'S TYE-DYED CLOTHES
As a direct result, my dad had the first ''tye-dyed'' clothes from my pouring bleach on them as they washed. Dad just laughed.
MOE WORKS AT CB&Q
Brother ''Moe'' (Ervin,) got a job working at the CB&Q Roundhouse. He must have been at least fifteen years of age at the time. his car was a little cop and he left it parked on the terrace by our driveway. He always awakened me every morning to help him push his car and get it started. At the railroad, he left it parked on a hill on Seminary Street and after work it would start easily while it rolled down the street.
HORSE-DRAWN MILK TRUCK
Early every morning, the horse-drawn milk wagon clip-clopped down our street. The horses knew where and when to stop and go as the delivery man ran to the houses and left glass bottles of milk on the porches. In the wintertime, if the milk wasn't taken in right away, it would freeze and the frozen cream would push the covers off the bottles. We bought our gallon jugs of milk from a private home on the corner of Lombard and 5th Streets. In the summer, there were all kinds of trucks driving along our street selling fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish.
A CIRCUS COMES TO GALESBURG
A wonderful memory was when the circus train came to town. Early in the morning, about 4am or so, the elephants would be unloaded from the train at Day Street and the CB&Q track. We would never miss this event.
DAD, STRICT BUT FAIR
Dad was very strict with us and would never let us leave the yard without permission. Heaven help you if you were ever caught misbehaving or making noise. The neighbors finally confessed to Mom, when the family moved away in the early 50's, that they were really concerned to have such a large family move into the relatively quiet neighborhood but that they rarely heard a noise out of any of us. (Wonder why?)
STELLA KEEPS BUSY
In the summertime, there was nothing to do but housework, gardening, or yard mowing. This was no problem for me as I actually like to work and clean. I liked to keep the house clean and straightened, but had very little help from my siblings. Their only comments were to accuse me of hiding the shoes and clothes I had picked up from over the house. When not working, I spent my time doing calisthenics in our yard. My sisters and I entertained ourselves as best we could. Neighborhood kids came to our house to play. They always stood out on the sidewalk and loudly called our names when they came to play.
AIl businesses were closed up on Sundays so, after returning from Sunday school and church at the McCollum Chapel, there was really nothing to do but lie on a blanket out under a tree. When Dad was home, he would take us for a car ride, usually through a surrounding town. He said he did this to make us appreciate our home. At that time, some of the houses were in very poor condition. Dad always saw that we got ice cream cones during our drives. Back in the 40's, we frequented a little ice cream shop on Huber Avenue.
CHRISTMAS IN GALESBURG
At Christmas time, Dad gave Mom orders to buy us the biggest dolls she could find. So even though we were still far from rich, things were certainly better than in Kentucky.
OVERNIGHT AT AUNT CORA'S
We loved to go stay overnight at Dad's sister's house. Aunt Cora was like a big kid herself and didn't push us to wash the dishes right away, just do them by the next meal time.
While visiting her house in Wataga, a Mexican ''Gandy Dancer'' (railroad worker) just a kid really, probably no older than we were, would come over to jump rope with us out on the front sidewalk. He lived in a boxcar parked on the railroad track and was no doubt very lonely. This day, he had just gotten paid and he came walking up with a big smile on his face and carrying a very large watermelon to share with us. Well, Aunt Lizzie, Dad's brother's wife, had come to s;pend the evening with Aunt Cora while her husband was at work. Aunt Lizzie was a very stern person and we weren't sure she would approve of us playing with the Mexican boy, so we attempted to tell the boy that Aunt Lizzie was in the house. He couldn't understand what we were trying to tell him; he spoke only Spanish and we spoke only English. He became very frightened, dropped the melon and ran away to the boxcar.
Next door to us on Chamberlain Avenue, lived Mrs. Paulson. As a child, I always liked old people and would spend as much time as possible sitting with her on her front porch swing. As time went on, she became more infirm and, as Mr. Paulson worked the evening shift, I tried to help her as much as possible. She would raise her bedroom window and blow a whistle when she needed something. No matter what I was doing, I would stop and rush to see what she needed.
As time went on, she was bedridden. Once she asked for a pair of scissors and, being a kid and always obeying adults, I gave her the scissors. She used them to cut the mattress to get the ''little man'' out. Mr. Paulson instructed me to never give her the scissors again.
She was a very large woman and I was very small. Anyway, I would somehow get her out of her bed, onto a straight chair and, by moving the chair one side at a time, I could scoot her out into the front room. As time went on, I would stay with her each night until Mr. Paulson came home at midnight.
Once, I noticed that her felt house slippers were worn, with holes in them, so I took it upon myself to see that she got a new pair. I organized the neighborhood kids to go door-to-door and take up a collection to buy her the new slippers. Then, we asked Mrs. Seward to come to the Paulson home and play the piano as we presented her the new slippers. I have since wondered if the Paulson's were embarrassed by our begging for the money to buy the shoes, since they had plenty.
Brother Norman Junior, usually had jobs where he wore dress shirts, usually white, and had purchased some very expensive ones. As Mom had so much to do and was not well, I ironed them for him.. .for a price, of course. Our cousin, Tommy, also had a job as a salesman and didn't have nice shirts. So he would come by our house and simply take a shirt off the clothes line and wear it. This did not go over well with brother Junior,
BUYING CANDY AT MINGARES
As kids, we bought candy at Mingare's Grocery on the northwest corner of South Seminary and East Third Streets, just east of Carl Sandburg's Cottage. I often think of Theresa as she patiently waited, and waited, and waited, behind the glass candy case until we finally decided how we were going to spend our pennies. There were many little grocery stores in what was know as the Seventh Ward at that time.
Sister Joan walked at the normal time, but for some reason unknown to us, she got so she couldn't stand up. I was about eleven or twelve years old and I remember standing her up against the couch, holding on to her hands and encouraging her to walk. If she fell forward, I ws there to catch her. In the end, she did relearn to walk. I don't remember how long this took, but I just know that I was relentless as I worked and played with her. She has been able to walk ever since.
I remember going inside the old Lombard College building before it was torn down. It sat on the northwest corner of where the Lombard Junior High School is located, at Knox and Lombard Streets.
I never met Carl Sandburg, but have walked the streets and fields of Galeburg's south side, as he did. I have visited his cottage many times.
Shopping on Main Street -- 1959, by Ann Dickson Hoffman
As I stood on the grassy boulevard on Broad Street in front of Galesburg High School, I thought to myself ''What a great time to be at GHS and experience being the last sophomore class in the ''old'' building''. What a great old building it was, with Senior Alley, Steele Gym, the Home Ec Tunnel, big study hall 104 and of course ''Honest Abe'' greeting you as you entered. It is late March 1959 and ''HI-O Silver Away'' still is ringing in the air, as the Silver Streaks and John Thiel have just won 3rd place in the state basketball tournament at Huff Gym in Champaign. Things are finally getting back to normal!
As I stand here waiting for my Mother to pick me up, I glance across the boulevard at the very historical Beecher Chapel with the ivy on its brick fa9ade. It is hard to believe it was really part of the Underground Railroad. Directly South of the Chapel is Whiting Hall, the woman's residence of Knox College, it is neat being so close to the Knox College campus.
Mother and I are going out for dinner tonight and shopping for a formal for the spring dance. My Dad who is an engineer on the CB & Q is gone a lot, so Mother and I eat out often. We have to drive around the block many times looking for a place to park. These brick paved streets are unique to our town because Purington Pavers are made right here in East Galesburg. They are found all over the world! We find a parking place right in front of the American Beauty Restaurant. We put enough money in the parking meter to get through dinner. The wonderful smell of homemade chocolates, the black and white tile floors and the waitresses in the black uniforms with crisp white aprons make going to the American Beauty a real treat! Mother has her usual Chicken Croquettes, and I always have a chicken salad sandwich and a Coke. I always thought it would be fun to have a party in the Walnut Room, which was across the back. When we pay our bill we always buy a few peanut clusters to take home, now that is a meal complete!
As we step back out on Main Street we glance in at Don Anderson's Florist, it's so small, but has such a pretty window. We cross over at Kellogg St. making our way down to Flecks. Flecks diagonal show window is always dressed in the latest fashion. Walking in you are greeted with that great smell of ''fur blend'' sweaters! The entire wall and showcase is stacked full of Darlene and Garland lambs wool fur blend sweaters of every color, each folded in its own bag.
Of course, there are matching straight skirts with back kick pleats too! This trip we are shopping for a formal. The saleslady takes you through the back room and up a small wooden staircase to a loft that is full of lovely pastel strapless gowns made of rows and rows of organza and tulle ruffles. How hard to choose!
Next stop is back across Kellogg and Main to the Kellogg and Drake department store. What a great store, the jewelry, handbags, and gloves all up front near the entrance. After we purchase a pair of long white gloves with pearl buttons, our money goes in a metal cylinder through a suction tube up to their office. We always take time to look at the china and crystal in the basement.
As we make our journey down Main Street on a busy Friday evening we pass Lindstroms Record store. ''Everybody'' is packed in those little booths across the front of the store listening to the ''Top 10'' 45 records! How does Dean Lindstrom put up with all of us teenagers!
Our final stop is at Rogers Shoe store, my favorite shoe store. As you grab hold of that huge silver ball doorknob, you are greeted inside by Dutch Rogers or Ron Graffouliere. A purchase of white pearlized leather heels makes my new dance outfit complete.
Well, our shopping trip is complete and we have had to ''feed'' the parking meter all evening to get it all in. We drive down Main, almost to Chambers, and stop at the Karmel Korn. The smell from there makes your mouth water! A big box of Karmel Korn and a praline and we are on our way home.
Seventh Ward Water, by Mary Cullen Lowman
We arrived at Grandfather's house -- lock, stock and barrel. Six refugees from some invisible terror happening on a street we never played on. Wall Street. The two grown ups worried. We four kids were invincible. Kind of like a war, but war was yet to come. It was 1939 and I was seven.
The Seventh Ward was a wild churning of nationalities and religions: Irish, Swedes, Italians, Croations. Prejudices and fears firmly rooted in bare-knuckled struggles for jobs. My grandfather worked for the ''Q'' as a railroad engineer. August Sandburg worked iron in the shops. Long after that, grandfather ran an ice cream parlor and grocery store on Seminary Street. He could read and write and on Saturday nights he penned nostalgic memories of Ireland.
Grandfather loved his house at 330 East Second Street. He had seen many just like it in New York City on his way in from the coast. He was sure such sturdy bricks would never burn. He was right. The old brick still stands. Personally, we kids thought it looked like a squat ugly church.
On the back end of our field stood a small cottage made of wood at 330 East Third Street. An old Italian lady lived there. She walked with a crutch and shook it at anyone coming too close. Her son, Joe, looked after her. We kids knew she was a witch. Every Halloween we dumped her outhouse and ran breathless, sure she was after us. There were no fences and the tall grasses hid us well. It was a surreal place smelling of dry wheat with a faint whiff of chicken house, rabbits and grapes.
WAR. Jobs, excitement, FEAR. We watched trains passing heaped with secrets. Scrap metal first, later came canvas covered shapes. Tanks and airplanes with wings folded back or no wings at all. Hot young men waved out open windows on their way to and from somewhere.
The tall grasses were cut. Our lush hollyhocks and sunflowers disappeared when the horses came to plow everything under for a ''Victory Garden'' -- whatever that was. No more dancing ladies ballooning their flowered skirts in a tub full of cistern water. Flowers were frivolous.
Military straight rows of corn festooned with webs and luminous spiders. Occasionally a volunteer corn stalk grew in the potatoes and peppers. Souvenirs from the plow horses. I loved these ''breaches of etiquette.'' Dad hammered rusty nails into a barren old apple tree. Whether it was kids in her branches or the added iron, we had apples for canning throughout the war years. Mother was against our using a new white powder in our garden. She made us pick potato bugs and tomato worms off the plants by hand. I can still conjure up the crunch and squirmings in that coffee can. We carried cistern water a lot and prayed for rain.
I loved cats and a poem about a cat sitting overlooking a harbor. I hadn't a clue who the author was. I was turning into a reader. By the end of high school, I was well aware of Carl Sandburg and a devoted fan. The nuns taught me a lot.
My mother suggested I do a painting of the Sandburg Cottage. I won my first art award with a small water color of 330 East Third Street.
It seemed like everyone in the Seventh Ward did SOMETHING: sang, played piano, yodeled or did a vaudeville act at the Gala or beat out all comers at horseshoes. Such energy. People had money to buy things but there was nothing to buy. Dad loved playing air raid warden-fire watcher and stopped by to check on Mrs. Cianelli every time there was a drill. Sirens scared her. Our poor witch's son, Joe, was stationed somewhere in Italy.
I wrote a story loosely based on my grandfather's poetry writing and my father's dormant jealousy of Carl Sandburg's fame. Grandfather had called him ''Charley.'' I called my short story ''Dennis Rafferty's Saturday Nights.'' It was a confusion of my father's tales and foggy memories. I left for college.
Freshman Composition. I resurrected my short story and touched it up because the old PhD head of the American Literature Department was a dedicated Carl Sandburg fan. I sensed an ''A.'' One day she motioned for me to stay after class. ''I particularly like the part about your dad tap dancing in the kitchen and your images of the limburger cheese and homemade bread,'' she said. ''Did he really write poetry?''
I went for it. ''I grew up on the same block Carl Sandburg was born on.'' I didn't mention that the Sandburgs had moved to Berrien Street seven years before dad was born. Proudly she pulled out a handwritten postcard sent to her from HIM. ''Ask your dad anything he remembers. ANYTHING! After all, he grew up in the same time slot.''
After Thanksgiving break she caught me in the stacks. ''Well?''
''Well,'', I began, ''You know, it's sometimes hard to get an Irishman to sort out fiction from fact... but, dad said he remembers an older boy hopping a freight by the switchman's shack on Second Street (ALL the older boys hopped freights heading for Quincy or Chicago; my brother did it when he was 14) and he remembered shoveling after the horses for a place to sleep in the firehouse loft on Brooks Street with an older boy who needed a haircut real bad and dad said he looked like a Swede.''
And then the zinger. Goodbye ''A.'' Maybe even goodbye graduation!
Chin quivering, I whispered, ''My father said CHARLEY WAS A DUMB SWEDE!'' The one statement that had made me think maybe he did remember SOMETHING...
Sister's face froze. Her hands flew up in horror. She turned to stone. The stone fractured. She began to laugh. A roar from the tips of her black brogans up through the top of her bonnet.
Every time Sister Chrysantha ran across me on campus, she'd stop, shake her head, point the bony finger at me and grin in bemused wonder.
In 1967 I began teaching at Douglas School, two blocks away from my old house on Second Street. Things were different now. The cabin on Third Street was all painted up and a big rock was stuck in front of it.
Kids collected pennies for it. I walked troupes of second graders past it twice a year: once in the autumn and once in the spring. I smiled at things my kids never saw. A barn where grandfather's team, Jack and Jenny, once sheltered -- rain barrels to catch cistern water -- hollyhocks and sunflowers and grave vines -- GONE.
We all drink city water now.
A 50's Child and Sandburg, by Patricia J. LaDuke
The garden of the little brown house was packed with people. So many people in such little space. 'Gee, this is really a big deal', I thought as our school choir director led us through the crowd of people and manipulated our young bodies with tugs, pulls, and soft pushes to position us around a small boulder in the backyard. We were here to sing for the memorial service as the ashes of Carl Sandburg's earthly remains were interred beneath the boulder.
Of course I knew all about Carl Sandburg. You didn't go to school in Galesburg and not be introduced to this native son. There was to come a time when pennies were collected Galesburg school classrooms. A few pennies from everyone amounted to a lot of pennies and it took lots of pennies to keep his birthplace open as a museum. Teachers read students Carl Sandburg's poetry. They told us his life history. Yet, I can truly say that I wasn't really that interested in the author and didn't pay that much attention to the lessons about Carl Sandburg. He was just that guy who wrote ''the fog creeps in on little cat feet''.
As we stood there waiting to sing, I felt a little nervous. Suddenly, realization began to sink in. Men, obviously newspaper reporters, carried around cameras and were taking pictures. The leaders of the city were in the forefront. There were quite a number of people gathered around the boulder, standing, and waiting for the service to begin. I remember thinking, 'We must be very special to be chosen to sing at this ceremony.' It was also impressive to think that Carl Sandburg wished his remains to be brought back to Galesburg and to this little house where he came into the world.
The memorial service began and introduction of the Sandburg family members, who were present, was made The one I can vividly remember was his daughter, I think her name was Helga. She reminded me of the pictures of Mr. Sandburg our teachers at Bateman School and Rose Hoben Welch had shown us. She was short in stature with such a pretty soft happy face that reflected the pride she felt in being Carl Sandburg's daughter. She seemed what my mother would call a 'sweet lady.' Then, we sang. The songs we sang, I cannot remember.
Memories are precious. Windows to our past. Looking back in time, people and places and events are left etched in some mystic place within us. Memories are treasures locked away. A simple name, an object, or an event can trigger a key that unlocks that secret place and brings long lost days back to be relived. The name of Carl Sandburg sends me back to that one day when I was a young teen given the privilege to sing the songs he once loved. Songs requested by his family. Maybe...just maybe...his family has a memory of me being there at a monumental moment in their lives. A young face in a crowd of strangers.
How different was Galesburg in the days when Carl Sandburg grew up here than the Galesburg of the 1950s and 1960s that I knew? Oh, I know it was a totally different world. A different era. But, there were parallels in our lives, too. Parallels that would bring the interest and the reality of the great achievements made by a simple Galesburg-born man with humble beginnings. A man destined to become world renown.
When I look at the humble abode where Carl came into the world and spent his first years, I can compare it to the humble home I grew up in on Fremont Street. Carl's house so small. To many, it would not seem to be the home of a a person destined for greatness . His father was a railroader. My father and my uncles were railroaders. Someone in his childhood must have given Carl a love of the written word and developed the sensitive side of his soul that enabled him to feel and think and record his soul on paper. For me, that was my mother. She gave to me the love of reading.
It was so glorious growing up in Galesburg in the 1950s!!!! When Mom and Dad brought me home from Cottage Hospital to West Fremont Street, we lived on the edge of town. The airport was across the road. I was the seventh of the Moore children and another would arrive five years later. The formative years of our lives would be spent mainly within the boundaries of an area of Galesburg from Fremont Street to Hawkinson Avenue to Frank Street. This was the area of the homes of our schoolmates and playmates and we weren't allowed to cross those lines without permission.
It was a glorious age of innocence. Everyone's mothers were at home. Everyone's mothers went from house to house visiting with their kids in tow. It was as if all the mothers were one big organization. Everybody looked out for each other's children, and if you did something wrong, your mother heard about it from someone else's mother as soon as she could get the operator on the phone and request your home phone number.
Summertime was glorious. We played from sunrise to long after dark. We played hard and we played like there was no tomorrow. There were always enough neighborhood kids to get up teams for a baseball game. We played Jacks, Hop Scotch, Handy-Andy-Over, Ghost in the Graveyard, Kick-the-Can, and Hide and Seek. Somebody, generally, had a badminton or croquet set up and ready for a game. The summers seemed endless and the winters more so.
It was those long snowy winter months when I probably gained the most valuable lessons of life. For those days brought times of personal development. Since Dad worked two full-time jobs, Mom was the center of our home. My earliest recollections are of the tiny house bulging with children and Mom trying to survive it all. Being the oldest of eight children herself, she was really great at keeping the upper hand amongst the crowd.
What was most amazing, most of her days. she also had a novel in her hands. I can still see her standing at the stove with a baby on her hip, cooking some huge pot meal, and reading. She seemed to have eyes in the back of her head all the time and always knew if we were sneaking around and doing something we weren't allowed to do. At the same time, her attention was riveted on the pages of a book and she had escaped to some mysterious place and for a little while she was living a life she could only dream about.
Mother knew her poetry by heart. So many nights we'd huddled on her bed on cold winter nights as she recited "Hiawatha" or "Little Orphan Annie" or "The Highwayman," my favorite. Somewhere Mom had gotten a whole set of Elsie Dinsmore books and we devoured them. The first book that I totally read on my own, which was to addict me to reading for the rest of my life, was "Indian captive," a story of a young settler girl captured by Indians. For awhile I lived among the Native American Indians and learned their way of life. (That book was still available in the Galesburg Public Library a few years ago. I hope children today get into the excitement of reading that book just as I once did).
The public library was definitely a hot spot for our family. Rarely did we leave the boundaries of our territory. Who wants to go anywhere and drag eight children behind them? We hardly fit in a car! Yet for books, Mom would meet the greatest of challenges. The library seemed massive. The large stone structure was probably the most impressive building in all of Galesburg. I felt so small within it's massive walls that towered endlessly upwards. But, what was to be found inside was the greatest treasures of all. Books and books and more books. Here were the books with the pages that would take me away to exotic or enchanting places. For a day or a week, depending on how good the book would be, I was living somewhere else and living someone else's life. Oh, the people I could be and the places I visited were so different from the boundaries I lived within. This was a whole new world.
Then came a night when Galesburg was literally lit up. We all stood at the side of our home looking Southeast watching flames climb high into the sky. The beautiful library with all its treasures was being consumed by fire. No one spoke. We all stood there. Mom and I and my siblings. In the silence, we shared the devastation, the shock, and sorrow. When I think of it today, I can still feel sense the loss that night. What was lost would never be replaced.
In my early years, I didn't think too much about Carl Sandburg and his accomplishments. I loved the poetry of rhyme and rhythm that my mother so loved. Yet, love of the written word grows as time passes and appreciation of all types of writing develops. At fifty years of age, I can drive down the highway, leaning over the steering wheel trying to see through the dense fog of winter mornings and think, ''Yeah, Mr. Sandburg, it is so quiet and so still and so dense. The fog creeps in on little cat feet.''
Memories of Galesburg, by Karen A. Pierson
I was born in a farmhouse beside the old Covered Bridge near Maquon, Illinois. My parents farmed and had one daughter born in the same home three years earlier. When I was about one year old we moved to a home at 618 East South Street. My Dad had found a job at the CB&Q Railroad. The house was a huge rambling black exterior. A big porch extended across the entire front. The back porch was enclosed and steps up to it. Inside the door you could go into another door to the Kitchen or into a door to the Living Room. Also outside was Cellar doors leading to the basement. Walkways curved around from front to hack. A Cistern to catch rainwater at a corner and the well by the back door. Bay windows all around the house. Back of the house was the ''outhouse.'' Lovely old trees scattered around the yard. This was our Galesburg, Illinois home.
The kitchen was apple green. We had a pump by the sink. We went from the kitchen into the Dining Room. A French door into the Living Room and then yet another set of French doors led to a bedroom. Off the kitchen steps to the basement inside the house. The basement was a scary place. The first room was the wash room. The next room where fruit and vegetables were stored and canned things. Then the room with the furnace, which ran on coal. The last room was the coal room. Upstairs we had two bedrooms and an attic area. My parents added one more baby about two years later. We also had an old garage outside that matched the house.
I remember my parents painting and wallpapering the house. We soon knew nearly everyone in the neighborhood, for in those days we talked and worked in yards and gardens. We were not inside much except winter-time. Summers we spent growing the food to eat then and canning foods to eat in the winter. Homes smelled of baked breads and cakes and home cooked meals. Rarely could anyone afford to eat out a meal. Garbage men came to the back yards and picked up the garbage. Trash was burned. Leaves were burned, Every year gardens were burned off to keep down disease and insects.
Trains filled the air with dirt and smoke, and in the summer you had to keep windows closed to keep it from coming inside. Always cleaning up homes. Nearly everyone heated with coal and in the winter smoke from chimneys joined in with trains to cover the snow with soot. When we cleaned out the furnace we saved the cinders to put in the driveways. Nearly every street in town was brick. We could fall asleep when out for a ride in the car and know instantly when we got to Galesburg, from the bumpy brick streets.
We only lived a block from the ice house and I remember taking a wagon to the ice house and getting a chunk of ice put on it, and taking turns sitting on it to get home. Sometimes we made homemade ice cream. My mom and dad made the best ice cream ever. I remember when a horse went by and left milk. We didn't have that long, till a truck began to deliver milk and eggs and cream. Sometimes we got ours from relatives still on The farm.
I also remember going to the Train Depot. We bought Sunday papers there. We walked to the store. We had one just down the street from our house. I'd go to the store for older people too, and they'd give me a nickel or dime for going. We had many friends and knew them all through school. One neighbor had a husband who worked for Howe's Bakery. We went there and got bread a lot.
Every time we went to the bakery we'd hold our noses as we went past the creamery. The smell of sour cream was awful. The Bakery was heavenly once we got past the creamery. As we grew older we went first to Weston School and then to Lombard and High School, the old Senior High across from the old Library. We walked to all. Lombard and High School were about one mile.
I remember Saturday nights in the summertime and bath times. The huge old wash-tub pulled to the porch and filled with hot water heated on the stove. We could either be first in the tub or play longer. Clean water or used water. Water was scarce and you never dared to waste it. After baths they cleaned porches and watered plants, etc.
One time I remember my parents went to visit friends and left us alone and we were playing with the water and pump. The pump broke. It sank into the ground, with only the top and handle keeping it up. We were terrified and thankful when my parents came home and had company follow them in the driveway. We didn't get spanked, but sent to bed and teased by cousins who were there to visit.
My Dad began to remodel our home. Through the years, the large porches were gone. He re did it. The foundation even out and the house on jacks. Put bathrooms in basement and upstairs. Took away the bay windows, dug out for a new kitchen, in back where the old porch once was. (We walked in and out on a plank, dropped a cake upside down on a birthday.) Took off the old bedroom in back where it came out and made a living room into my parents' new bedroom. Dining room where the kitchen once was. Living room where dining room was. The basement eventually became one room with a bath. The upstairs was the least changed. The old garage torn down and a huge new one, cement drive and all. No outhouse. Old playhouse gone where we'd played and spent the night. Thought someone after us and all went running into the house at once. It was only a neighbor opening and closing her door. Even a new playhouse was build for my Dad's grandchildren, later used for storage.
That old house holds many happy memories and a few sad ones. We lived in it about 30 years. We celebrated our birthdays, anniversaries, had wedding receptions, brought home babies, graduations, Easters, Christmases, loves, friends, etc. Each was special and each was a different memory. Bad health caused my parents to move to another home. That house has my Dad's heart and soul. He loved it. He spent many hours working on it, as did the rest of us. The yard never had a weed, my Dad wouldn't allow it. We'd see him on knees pulling weeds. We all worked in the garden, a huge garden with tomatoes, potaoes, turnips, corn, green beans, peas, strawberries, asparagus, and every possible vegetable and flower imaginable. Roses, irises, peonies, various flowers. Hibiscus by the patio. Moss everywhere. First we mowed with old hard-to-push mowers, then finally went to a power one.
My sisters and I had friends we met as children, and have many yet to this day. The neighborhood gang. No TV. Radio was special and not used a lot. Phones were several others on the line with you. No privacy. Hard to even get the phone at times. I remember several of us fighting over who should talk on the phone one day, all of us teenagers arguing back and forth, when an adult came on told us she had an important call to make and needed the phone. We give it up and found out she was only talking to a friend, and not special. But in those days, you didn't dare argue with an adult.
TV came into homes as we were young girls. Many friends had a TV before we did, but we got one before many others. I remember as kids playing football and baseball, riding bikes. I remember the polio scare and not being allowed to leave the yard, or anyone come to ours. Afraid to eat fruit without washing carefully.
At first we only had one bike. Then one day three bikes 24 inches tall. We were 5,8 and 12. My younger sister had quite a time learning to ride her bike, but she did. We often rode them to East Galesburg, Knoxville, Knox Station and to an uncle's farm. Schwinns.
Our mom was a nurse, and we were expected to do the housework, washing, and cooking. And we did. Some of our neighbors told my mom that to watch our place about 3:00 when she got off work, was more fun then TV as mops came flying out and dust cloths and rugs were shaking, trying to get it nice and clean just before she got home. We were busy ourselves, and any friends there had to help too. We got 10 cents a week allowance and later up to $1.00. We baby-sat too. At 16 I talked my parents into working at Steak & Shake. Didn't really want me to do it, as it was dangerous, but gave in. It was 20 degrees below zero that night I started. I lasted two hours and quit. They were glad. Shortly afterward I got my next job at the Golden Cream Dairy. I worked at all three stores different times. Kellogg, Broad Street and Grand Avenue. My sister also worked for them. 60 cents an hour.
We could go to movies at times. But when we were old enough to drive and have cars, we went to the drive-in. We especially loved buck nights when we could get into the car, all you could get in for $1.00. Chip in on gas too. Pack cars and sit inside on ground or fenders . We took popcorn, picnics drinks, etc. too. One girl used to get a huge cigar and light up just to watch all the other people stare at us. We also drove around lakes and to skating rinks up and down Main Street. We'd go to the Square and eat Barney's Hamburgers or to Main Street by Sears and eat at Irv's. We'd go to the Karmelcorn Shop and get Karmelcorn and hot peanuts and caramels. We'd go to Golden Creams and play the jukeboxes and have Green Rivers. Shakes, ice cream. We'd go to Coffee Corner for hamburger and fries and cokes. Most of the teen years, we walked all over town to places to talk and listen to music. Later on we got cars and went in those. I had a 1957 Chevy, and my sister a 1955 Chevy.
My Dad is deceased. My Mom still lives in Galesburg, but not one of us lives on South Street. But all of us are in Galesburg. I left and lived many other places for many years, only to return. Today I have mixed feelings about Galesburg. Too many changes. I miss the beautiful old trees that once lined every street. Trees whose branches reached across to touch each other. The elms, oaks, maples, etc. Today Illinois Power has ruined these. And we get new small types planted in place of the others. I remember the old High School, with the tunnel to home-ec. The swimming pool in another building, where hair froze getting to class after swimming... I've a lifetime of memories.
My Memories of This Area as a Child and Young Adult before 1967, by Donald W. Nelson
Having been born in Kelly Township, Warren County, on the Knox/Warren County line on March 28, 1916, I have lived here all my life. My parents were William Nelson and Emma Moberg Nelson. As most were, I was born at home. I was told that about three years earlier a brother had been born, only to live a few weeks. They couldn't get anything to agree with him. He is buried by my parents in Henderson Grove Cemetery.
When I was almost five years old my parents and I moved to another farm, about four miles east in Henderson Township, Knox County. With help, my father built a new house there. In 1922 my brother Edsel was born. I had been top dog for six years and had a hard time adjusting. That was also the year I started school at Greenleaf School about a quarter mile from where we lived. I went to this one room school for seven years, as they skipped me over the third grade.
Although Galesburg was our main place to shop, in Soperville there was 0. Augerson's General Store. They sold everything from Ford, Overland and Velie (made in Moline) automobiles, farm machinery, clothing, yard goods, and sewing supplies to groceries. I remember at age eleven riding a pony to Augerson's store with a gunny sack and a list. Everyone in the area had an account at Augerson's. I still have one of the account books.
Also in Soperville there were two coal mines where farmers worked in the slack season. Both of my grandfathers worked in these mines. My father told of going down with his father to help him in the mine.
My father's first car was a Velie Touring car purchased from Augerson's. It had a six cylinder engine about 4 feet long, 1 foot wide and 3 feet high. It had to be overhauled with new rings and valve work at 4000 miles and was worn out at 7000 miles. You almost always had to shift into second gear or first gear to climb hills. I have no idea how much the car weighed.
I also remember going to Galesburg to shop. By this time my father had a 1922 Chevrolet car. My father did most of the shopping. My mother would maybe go along to town once a month in the summer. I remember two fruit markets on Main Street in the first two blocks east of the square. One was owned by Solly Diamonds and the other by Cully Zeros. Scharfenberger's Meat Market, Bazley's Meat Market and two grocery stores were on the Square's north side. The Manufactured City Gas plant was about where Galesburg Lincoln Mercury is now. Where the Ramada Inn is today used to be the site of the College City Ice Cream plant. At one time my father sold fresh cream to them.
At this time Galesburg had electrically operated street cars that ran from the Square to East Galesburg. The street car barn was where First Glass is now located. When coal was burned to make city gas, the heat from the process ran steam engines that ran alternators to generate the electricity for both the street cars and the whole city. When the street cars would start, the lights in the whole city would dim.
We attended Henderson Grove Church, of which I am still a member, as well as my sons and their families.
My grandparents on my father's side had both passed on by the time I was born. My father was 35 years old when he and my mother, who was 31 or 32, married. I remember my mother's parents, though. Grandma Moberg died when I was four and Grandpa Moberg when I was six. All my grandparents were born in Sweden and came to the United States in 1850. The Mobergs were married in Sweden and had four children when they left Sweden but buried one at sea. They had seven more; eleven in all and celebrated a 60th wedding anniversary. Grandpa lived to be 87. One uncle, Andrew Moberg, lived and worked at Cottage Hospital as a maintenance man. He got scratched by a rose thorn one day and died of blood poisoning. I was about five years old.
One of the biggest events that happened in Galesburg was the opening of the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company Store, the A & P Store. It was the biggest change in grocery shopping until the arrival of the supermarket. At one time in the area where the Associated Bank is today or where Ross Shaver and Typewriter Business was located, there was Glasgow Tailors on the second floor. Glasgow Tailors would make tailor-made suits, topcoats or overcoats to order.
In 1929 I received a graduation certificate from the Superintendent of Schools of Knox County. Mr. Boyes personally came to Greenleaf school to give the examination for graduation. I still have the certificate. That September I enrolled in Galesburg High. "Dear old Galesburg High School.'' The silver and the gold. I weighed 74 pounds and was one of the three smallest boys in the class. I did not like high school after being in a one room school house with one teacher for eight grades and a total of from 20 to 35 pupils. High school had as many as 40 students in one class. It took a lot of coaxing and encouragement from my parents to keep me going, especially as arithmetic had been my best subject in grade school, but algebra! But I had a very patient algebra teacher, a maiden lady named Sarah Larson who, I discovered later, was a second cousin of my mother's. The boy I rode to high school with had things he liked to do after school such as go to the pool hall. So I went along for 20 minutes after school for about three weeks and together we mastered the game.
There were many great teachers at Galesburg High. John Aitcheson taught physics, Frank Sieler taught chemistry, Ellen Irvine taught English, Mr. Jennings taught math and A.J. Rehling taught agriculture. Five years ago Mr. Rehling was living in Spain and communicating with the Galesburg FFA and Mr. Connor. Gerald Phillips taught P.E. and was the basketball coach and John Gillispe taught P.E. and was the football coach. I admired these last two very much as I was not athletically inclined and would sink like a brick when trying to float. But I liked swimming after Mr. Phillips taught me how, so they got together and decided I should take swimming as physical education for all four required semesters. I can still swim but I am not very graceful. Much later, after I started farming, Mr. Gillispe used to come out and fish in my pond.
In my sophomore year my father bought me a car, a 1927 Chevrolet Coupe for $125. I achieved much mechanical skill keeping It running. The first summer I took the engine out with a rope and pulley block and tackle and put in new main bearings and a new clutch.
When I was a senior in high school, times became very rough. In my final semester the tires on my 1927 Chevy gave out. No amount of re-liners or boots or patches would keep them on the road. Route 150 was under construction and it was one mile across a field to Route 150, so having no transportation, I would walk across the field and try to "bum" a ride to town. I was successful all but two times. It was an eight mile walk. One day a boy named Albert Wenstrom picked me up. He ordinarily drove in on Seminary Street but said if I paid him 20 cents a day he would go Route 150 instead.
So that is how I finished my last semester. It was a real sacrifice on my parent's part to buy the proper attire for my graduation. I needed a white shirt, white flannel trousers, black bow tie and black and white shoes. They got it done and although I was not dressed as expensively as some, I still looked okay.
Sometimes in the winter and spring the country roads would become impassable and the only way to travel them was with a horse and buggy or on horseback. Some boys road horseback to school, but the Marsh Horse and Mule Barn charged 50 cents a day to tie a horse in there. You had to furnish your own horse feed and go down and water it at noon. This barn was located where the parking lot of the "Parts House" auto parts store is located now.
So many times I stayed with an aunt and uncle in town. They were Mabel and Will Sandeen, parents of Ernest Sandeen who graduated from Knox College with high honors and was a student of Carl Sandburg's. Ernest went on to Oxford University in England on a fellowship. He published quite a bit of poetry and taught English at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana after a hitch in the Navy as Lieutenant J.G. and teaching at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. His father (my uncle), Will Sandeen lost a hand in a corn shredder and had a hook. He was custodian of the gymnasium at Knox College. They lived on South Prairie Street near Knox College. Once during a big snowstorm I had to stay with my Aunt and Uncle two weeks.
I had another uncle, Herbert Nelson, who was custodian at Knox College's Science Hall but lived on North Pearl Street, which was too far to walk to high school. Uncle Herbert had two children: a girl, Doris, one year younger than I and a boy Keith, two years younger than Doris. I was rather close to both of them. Keith now lives in Virginia near D.C. Both these cousins also graduated from Knox.
I have three daughters who graduated from Knox College as well. Barbara graduated in 1962 and now teaches at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Daughters Donnie and Christine both graduated in 1969. Chris works for OCLC in Dublin, Ohio. Donnie teaches chemistry at Johnson County Community College in Olathe, Kansas. Donnie earned her Masters in Chemistry at MSU, East Lansing, Michigan and Christine received her Masters in English from the U of I. Another daughter, Marjorie, attended a one room school house, then went to Henderson Grove School, then attended Hitchcock Junior High, then Churchill Junior High, then the old high school and finally the present Galesburg High School. She now teaches learning disabled in Albia, Iowa. Beverly graduated from Monmouth and teaches chemistry in Hackensack, New Jersey. I guess I'm too proud of my children.
I graduated from Galesburg High School in 1933, during the Depression years. My grades were not good enough for scholarships and my family did not have the funds to send me to college without help. So I opted for technical school, Coyne Electric near West Monroe Street in Chicago. I lived at the YMCA four blocks from the school. Chicago blocks are eight to a mile. They poured the information into all students as hard as they could, eleven hours a day and six days a week. On Sundays I would ride a street car as far as a nickel would take me and then back on a transfer. I saw a lot of Chicago.
After I finished at the technical school there were no jobs available so I helped my father farm. In the fall of 1935, Mr. Elmer Anderson, President of the Dairy Herd Improvement Association, and Mr. A. R. Kemp, Farm Advisor, offered me a job doing their testing and record keeping. Mr. Ray M. Arnold, an attorney in Galesburg, owned a farm on south Henderson Street about two miles south of Galesburg and had a herd of dairy cows. In those years, when you made herd records, you arrived at the farm in the afternoon, sampled and weighed milk from each cow and stayed all night with the family on the farm. In August, 1937 I arrived at the Arnold Farm. Mr. Arnold Carrico was the herdsman, and he and his wife, Georgia, lived there with their sons Frank and Ray and daughters Martha and Patty. This time, two young ladies who were Georgia's sister's girls were visiting from Louisville, Kentucky. Eugenia was 18 and her sister, Merle, was two years younger. Eugenia and I fell instantly and hopelessly in love. It can happen. In December of that year Eugenia became my wife.
We farmed and raised and sent to college eight children and lived happily for just 18 days short of 61 years in the Galesburg area, but that is another story. I am proud to be a member of Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation."
Carl Sandburg used to come and visit neighbors of ours in the Soperville area. Some of his writings mention the Krans Farm. I love Sandberg's book "Always the Young Stranger" and have read it many times. This will prompt me to read it again.
My Remembrance of Carl Sandburg at the University of Illinois,1957-58, by Richard A. Coon
In the fall of 1957 I was a freshman at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Freshman year was a blur, thinking back on it, especially dealing with the transition from a high school of 200 students to a college of 20,000. My home was Elmwood, Illinois with a population at that time of about 1,600. Elmwood is in western Peoria County.
Among the blurs of classes, dormitory living, and learning the large campus, there were several highlights that I remember. One was seeing Red Grange at a pep rally before the homecoming football game. He wore a heavy fur coat and got lots of cheers. However, the one occurrence I most often have thought of is one that especially stands out in my mind. It has grown more important as time passed for me. Maybe it is because I like writing and I like poetry, and I like to keep things as simple and focused as possible. I am now 61 years old and find myself back in the Midwest, and specifically back in my hometown of Elmwood. My wife and I moved back last year, 35 years after leaving in the summer of 1965, the year we were married.
The highlight I am speaking of is seeing, hearing, and being present in an auditorium full of students when Carl Sandburg came to campus and ''performed'' on stage. Yes, I saw Carl Sandburg recite poetry, sing songs and play the guitar and speak on stage before a young college audience at he U of I. I was there, and I am proud to have seen him. It was in the afternoon. He came on stage, and as I looked down from a balcony seat off to his left, I could see the white hair. It especially stood out from my high vantage point. He wore rather dark clothes and carried his guitar and walked to a straight chair or maybe a stool and stood for awhile. He was the only one on the stage. He spoke like only he could speak, slowly and distinctly with definite emphasis on the words he wanted to emphasize. He rolled some syllables stretching out words he wanted to emphasize. That was especially so when reciting his poetry. He spoke to an auditorium full of students. He commanded their (our) attention.
We listened, knowing he was telling us something from the heart, something that had been thought out. It was thoughtful and deliberate, and it was something we probably should be paying attention to. After a while he sat down and strummed and sang some folk songs. I learned later that he collected folk songs and published a collection of them. I have seen the book on sale in the gift shop at Connemara, his home in Flat Rock, NC, now an historic site managed by the National Park Service. His home there is truly a national treasure. While there, I watched a video of Carl being interviewed by Edward R. Murrow. At one point Mr. Murrow asked him what was the worst word in the English language. Carl Sandburg replied ''Exclusive.'' He rolled it out ...Excluussive... emphasizing the long U sound. Asked why, Carl said it is because it keeps humanity from all being treated equally.
Carl Sandburg recited several poems that day. He sang some songs, but I cannot remember what they were. To a kid 17 years old, I guess I knew I wasn't going to have a test on them. But I remember having the feeling that it was good to be there, and that I was listening and watching a very important man, and one that was very human. I later bought a reel to reel tape of Carl Sandburg singing folk songs. I have since sold the tape recorder, but I still have the tape. It has a great picture of Carl Sandburg on the cover.
My wife and I visited Connemara in 1999 to see where he lived... and died. We. saw the beautiful country setting, the civil war vintage house, the Sears Roebuck furniture, the books from floor to ceiling in nearly every room, and the room upstairs where he did most of his writing, and the room where he died. The house has not changed materially since his wife turned it over to the National Park Service a few years after he died.
Carl Sandburg is an inspiration to us all. The stepping stones in the back yard of his birthplace home in Galesburg, where Carl is buried, especially tell what kind of man he was. ''There are dreams stranger than death,'' ''Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes,'' ''Love asks nothing,'' ''To know silence perfectly is to know music,'' ''When will anyone know what the birds know,'' ''I rest easily in the prairie arms on the prairie heart.''
Working at the ''Q'' Icehouse, by James P. Symmonds
In the summer of 1954, I was hired to work at the C B & Q Railroad icehouse. It would be the first of three summers working on the ''Q.'' I learned a lot about Galesburg, the railroad and myself during those years.
That place and that time provided a perfect opportunity to experience a way of life that was rapidly passing and to view the shape of the future.
The icehouse existed to service perishable goods, such as fruits, vegetables, and meat being shipped by rail car. This was before the widespread use of automated refrigeration equipment. Perishables were shipped in insulated railroad cars called reefers. These cars had two compartments at each end of the car. Ice was placed in these compartments along with varying quantities of salt. The amount of salt used determined the speed of melting and therefore the temperature.
The icehouse was a curious structure, seemingly more at home on an ocean front than in a railroad yard. It was an enormous, pier-like, elevated platform some four feet higher than the railroad cars and nearly as long as three football fields. On the ground floor was the facility where the ice was made and pulled by chain up to the platform in five hundred pound blocks. Salt was also stored on the ground level and brought by conveyer to the top of the platform. The salt was then placed in large two wheeled carts which were pulled by workers to salt storage bins placed along the side of the platform. The raw materials, ice and salt, were then ready to be used when the trains were pulled along the side of the platform.
The icehouse was a very dangerous place. There were no OSHA rules or regulations. There was no safety equipment. No handrails. According to the ''old hands'' at least three men had fallen to their deaths from the platform. At the age of 17, this information was of interest, but not applicable to me. At 17, mortality is but a dim concept.
My jobs for all three summers was to open and close the eighty pound insulated doors on top of the reefer cars. It was a simple, but exhausting task. A sixty car train involved opening and closing 480 doors! As I worked toward the back of the train, other men chipped ice and slid it into the compartments in the car. Other men then shoveled salt on top of the ice. The amount of salt per car was determined by one of the supervisors according to some arcane formula that was never shared with the laborers. I would then come back to the first car and start the task of shutting and dogging down the doors.
The mid 50's were pivotal for both the C B & Q and Galesburg. The era of steam was just ending. It was not unusual for us to come home covered with white fly ash because a steam locomotive had ''snowed'' on us. The steam engine seemed to be living things. They were warm, breathing creatures, unlike the more efficient and more sterile diesels. In the 1950's, it was not unusual to meet employees who had started railroading in 1920 or before. They had known only steam locomotives and were openly contemptuous of diesels. You could tell if these men had started as part of a steam engine crew -- the backs of their necks were invariably pocked with cinder burns incurred while firing the coal fired boilers. The stereotypes of railroad workers wearing handkerchiefs around their necks started with these men as a matter of sheer practicality. Some of these older workers could remember days when there was vicious animosity between labor and management. At one time, they laughingly said that C B & Q stood for ''come boys and quit.''
I was one of only two or three students hired as summer help. The other workers at the ice house were older men who worked for the railroad full time. At that time the Swedish influence, like the steam engine, was a strong but fading force on the railroad. Swedish was still spoken by some of the older people in Galesburg (often to the horror of their grandchildren). Several of the regular workers were third generation Swedes with strong ties to the Swedish culture. On several occasions these men would bring Swedish dishes, such as lutefisk, crusty rye bread, and frutsup to share with all of the workers. As I recall, the lutefisk was an acquired taste for those of us who lacked Swedish genes. All workers then carried metal lunch buckets with rounded tops to accommodate a thermos bottle. All lunch pails seemed to smell the same, a combination of coffee and bread.
The mid 1950's were less than a decade away from the end of WWII, a fact which I was vividly reminded of one hot July evening. A group of us workers were sitting on the platform waiting for the next train to arrive. A search light was sweeping back and forth in the sky over Galesburg, signifying, I think, the opening of a new restaurant. But for one of the men, who had been a tail gunner in a bomber, the search light illuminated vivid memories of a very personal nature. He talked quietly of missions over Berlin and Dresden. Of planes, caught in the beam of German spotlights and the red burst of anti-air craft fire. He talked of planes spiraling out of control toward the earth and his attempt to count the parachutes. It seemed that the number of parachutes was always less than the number of crewmen. Abruptly he stopped talking. None of us said anything. To comment on his remembrances would have seemed to be an intrusion into a very private area of his life. I worked with this man for two more years. I never heard him mention his war experiences again.
Now, of course, there are no more railroad ice houses. Nearly all perishables are transported by trucks with automated refrigeration systems. But for several decades, the ''Q'' icehouse made it possible for people to enjoy food that was harvested or prepared many hundreds of miles from their home.
I often think of my three summers working at the ice house. One particular memory always springs to mind. It is more accurately a fragment of memory. I am walking along the ice house platform under a velvet July night sky. The lights from the hump yard cast coronas in the distance. I can smell creosote, oil and steam. And I can hear the whistle of a long freight leaving the yards. I know that this sound represents both Galesburg's past and future. It is the signature sound of Galesburg.
When Carl Sandburg Paid Us a Visit on South Cherry Street, by Pete Creighton
I was a member of the staff of The Galesburg Post in 1953 when Carl Sandburg came to Galesburg. It was to observe his 75th birthday and the publication of his autobiography, ''Always the Young Strangers.'' During the years of 1941-44, ''The Post'' carried a weekly syndicated column written by Sandburg. Perhaps for that reason and the fact that he and ''The Post'' were fellow Democrats of long standing, Carl took time to visit the office of ''The Post Publishing Company. At that time, it was located at 123 South Cherry Street.
After greeting publisher Mary Allensworth Creighton, of whom he was earlier acquainted, and our small front office staff, he asked,''Where is the backshop where the working printers are?'' He was led to the long adjoining back room which contained the linotype, composing stones, printing press, etc. He greeted and spoke with each of the three printers to their surprise. After being shown the heavy Babcock flatbed cylinder press, Sandburg stepped aboard the platform where 24X36 newsprint sheets were hand fed each week. Stretching out his arms over the feedboard, Carl intoned: ''I bless this press for the good work it has done.'' Of course, we were all a little astonished and very proud of his blessing. I think ''The Post'' was being recognized as humanitarian. Sandburg had long sought justice for the worker and the poor.
This is just a small incident in the memorable weekend wherein the famous poet-novelist biographer visited Galesburg after being greatly honored in Chicago. The main event of his Galesburg visit was Sandburg's discourse in Central Church, where he spoke and recited folk songs while strumming his guitar. While here, he stayed at the Hotel Custer, as a guest of the manager, Bernard Schimmel. The Sandburg Suite was especially designed and prepared for the occasion. A press conference was held in the suite shortly after Sandburg arrived at the C.B.&Q. Depot. It lasted for nearly two hours.
In his visit, Sandburg fulfilled his No. 1 desire, to walk again the streets of his youth: Berrien, Day, Pearl and South Streets, that he remembered.
Sandburg's Birthplace Rescued by One Determined Woman, by Pete Creighton
There is an interesting tale behind the restoration of the Sandburg Birthplace at 313 East Third Street.
For years, after Carl Sandburg left Galesburg for Chicago, Milwaukee, etc., no one seemed to know or care where his original birthplace was located. That is, until Adda Gentry George, wife of a Knox College professor, remembered that when she was a young teacher in Milwaukee, she read a column written by Sandburg. He wrote of being born in a little frame cottage near the railroad yards in Galesburg, where his father worked as a railroad machinist.
Adda George began to search for that little home in the mid 1940's. No one here could help her. Many knew of two of three later Galesburg homes where the Sandburgs lived, but not about the little one he wrote of. Mrs. George contacted two older sisters of Carl. At first, they feigned ignorance, saying they would like only the later homes of the Sandburg family known as Carl Sandburg's home. The last of these is the sturdy two-story house at 809 Berrien Street.
Adda George was determined to find the actual house where the famous poet/biographer was born. She pleaded again with the Sandburg sisters and they finally told her it was in the 300 block of E. Third Street.
As reported by the ''Galesburg Post'' publisher, Mary Creighton, a close friend of Adda George, the persistent retired schoolteacher finally located a rundown, very small, faded white cottage and knocked on the door. An elderly immigrant woman answered and could not understand, and was suspicious of Mrs. George's interest in her little home. She soon closed the door.
But Adda George had found her prize. She found the owner of the property and he told her the little house was to be torn down soon. She protested, and told him it was the birthplace of a famous poet/writer. She had a little sign made which read: ''This is the Birthplace of Carl Sandburg.'' When Carl Sandburg was notified of the ''discovery,'' he requested whimsically that the sign say more poetically: ''Here stands the Birthplace of Carl Sandburg.'' The sign was corrected.
The very energetic Adda George quickly formed a group of supporters with the goal of obtaining and restoring the birthplace. Like the two sisters, Carl probably would have preferred to have one of the later homes recognized. But only this one was the true birthplace. It was reported that he was quite surprised and pleased when he was shown the restored cottage during his visit in 1948.
Local volunteers and donations supported the birthplace until the state assumed it's care in May of 1970.
That little cottage, which is now a state and national landmark, was about to be torn down when rescued by Adda Gentry George. It is reported in newspaper file copies. Without the persistence of Adda Gentry George, Carl Sandburg's connection to Galesburg would be quite different, though still great no doubt.
Memoir, by Pat Stephens
In my high school days, we began as Sophomores having completed three years of junior high at Lombard, Churchill or Hitchcock. I graduated in 1954 from the building on South Broad St.
I rode a city bus to and from school. Sometimes I walked home to our place in the fourteen hundred (1400) block of East Losey St. so that I could save the bus fare for something else. That was how I bought a twenty (20) piece starter set of Franciscan dinnerware from Doyle's China Shop which was located near the area where the Cottage Corner in now. The ''Desert Rose'' pattern that I selected for my mother's gift, cost under $20.00 then and is still available for a great deal more today.
My friends and I sometimes had french fries and cokes in the lunchroom at the rear of the Walgreen Store on Prairie and Main Streets. Our favorite hangout was to the south a block. We spent many a late afternoon talking and giggling at the Coffee Corner on Simmons St.
In those days, there were many outstanding stores located downtown. There were large department stores such as Block and Kuhl's, Sears, Penneys, Klines, and Kellogg and Drake. My favorite was O.T. Johnson's. They had a wonderful restaurant and all of the latest fashions. I remember the ''wide cinch belt'' with the gold clip closure and my ''white buck'' shoes. I felt pretty ''cool!''
O.T.'s had a ''U'' shaped display window with two display window cubes in the center of the ''U''. At Christmas time, the main display windows had a succession of boxes with costumed dolls and appropriate props telling the story of ''The Christmas Carol.'' I was enthralled!
There were several dime stores downtown; at least three (3) drug stores. There were banks, men's clothing stores and numerous ladies dress shops. For a short time, there was an inexpensive little place called The Holly Shop at the corner of Kellogg and Main Streets. That was where three of my friends and I bought matching dresses for a ''Sadie Hawkin's Day'' dance in which the girls invited the boys.
Another favorite store was Lindstrom's record shop. Although I didn't have the means to buy a great many ''45's,'' I was able to get some of the hottest tunes of the day. My mom nearly lost her mind listening to ''Rock Around the Clock!''
I'm happy for the memories but, time marches on and life is good if you let it be.
Linwood Cemetery, by Lucille Dunn McBride
My name is Lucille Dunn McBride. I can explain why Linwood Cemetery is on both sides of Linwood Road.
My Uncle Ben Dunn owned and resided on the farm west of Linwood Cemetery. The city was needing to expand the cemetery and was threatening to condemn his property. He was not satisfied with the price they offered.
He and a local doctor started a cemetery and called it ''Dunndale.'' The city was forced to go across the road to the east. Thus Linwood Road divides Linwood Cemetery.
Years later, Dunndale Cemetery's name was changed to ''Memorial Park.'' The original farm home is still there.
I have been told that the present car wash on W. Main St. was an underground railroad. Another uncle of mine, Sherm Dunn lived there. It bad a brick house and farm buildings.
These events occurred in the 1920's.
I Remember When, by Martha Morrison
I remember the C.B.&Q Depot and the Santa Fe Depot. I lived by the tracks that goes to Rock Island. A steam engine pulled a passenger train up and back at 9:30 at night. I remember the long trains of coal cars pulled by steam engines.
They always said that trains and cars could not fall off the tracks, but a tank car fell at the overpass on Fremont St.
On South Seminary St., just off of Main St., were taverns on both sides of the street. Across from the fire station on Simmons St. was called ''Boones Alley'' where there were taverns. Upon the square on the southeast corner, were taverns. In the middle was the Rescue Mission.
On the northwest corner of the square was the Broadview Hotel, an ice cream store and a funeral home.
Down Main St. was ''O.T. Johnson's.'' My dad drove the bundle wagon. They would deliver a spool of thread if someone called the store for it.
''Kresge's'' and ''W.T. Grant's'' were down the street as well as the ''West'' and ''Colonel'' shows which cost ten (10) cents to get in. I went to the Orpheum and saw the ''W.L.S. Barndance.''
I worked at the ''Meadow Gold Dairy'' during WWII for thirty-five (35) cents an hour. We supplied the hospital where they had men back from the war.
I remember when the war was over. We marched down Main Street. It was a great day.
Galesburg Memories, by Barbara Felthan
It's August 1943. I am entering my Freshman year at Bradley Polytechnic Institute this fall. Mother and I are shopping in Galesburg for my college wardrobe. (Bradley did not become a university until 1947.) No jeans, too large shirts and backpacks for coeds in the 40's.
We shopped for skirts and sweaters, saddle shoes and loafers, tailored suits and formals for the formal dances. I must not forget the hats and gloves for the Sorority Rushing Teas.
Some of the downtown stores, in that long ago time, where we shopped, were ''O.T. Johnson's,'' ''Kellogg Drake,'' ''Sparks,'' ''Rodeffers,'' ''Grossman's,'' ''Kline's,'' ''J.C. Penneys,'' and the ''Ida Ann Shoppe.''
In those days, salesladies who knew their merchandise were in every store to assist their customers. I especially enjoyed selecting hats at O.T.'s and Kelloggs. The salesperson would seat you in front of a mirror and then bring out an endless supply of hats which she placed on one's head, tilting them at just the right angle.
We took a break in shopping at noon and enjoyed lunch at the ''American Beauty Restaurant.''
Those were the days which are only fond memories now.
Memories Beyond Monkeytown, by Carol D. Smith
''Monkeytown'' is a part of Galesburg that holds many childhood memories for me. Such a wonderful place to live in and grow up in, yet I found other areas outside of our neighborhood that helped me create ''memories beyond Monkeytown.''
Growing up during and after World War II, meant most families had only one car. Mother did not drive until the war began for America. With their husbands off to war, it was almost a necessity for the women to drive, especially if they had become ''working women,'' helping the ''war effort.'' Since cars and drivers were at a minimum, we children had few options to use to venture beyond Monkeytown. Their were city buses, sometimes a mom with a car, but mostly we had our own two feet. We learned all the shortcuts to wherever we wanted to go. We knew the bus schedule by heart and the bus driver had become another friend.
I still remember the exact route our bus took to and from town. For a nickel, we got a ''grand tour'' of the northeast section of Galesburg. If we wanted to go farther then where our bus went, we would ask the driver for a ''transfer, please.'' When our bus got to the bus depot near the southeast corner of the square and E. Main St., we got off and waited for the bus we needed to transfer to and were on our way. Since we lived in the north part of the city, we always said we were going ''downtown'' as town was south of us.
''Downtown'' had many stores and places that made memories. For your pick of the latest movies, there were three theaters. On Saturday mornings at the Orpheum Theatre, kids were treated to a free movie while their parents shopped. The movies were sponsored by a business or merchants' group. They donated items for a weekly prize drawing held halfway through the movie. One time, I won a sewing kit for doll clothes. The Children's Room at the Public Library was full of many more wonders than just books. Most of us went to the YMCA for swimming lessons.
If we got hungry while shopping, we went to my favorite place, ''Coney Island.'' We sat at school desk-type chairs and ate ''coney dogs'' and a special item, mashed potatoes covered with ''downtown gravy.'' This was how we referred to that rich, dark brown gravy that I still smell and taste in my memory.
If we wanted hamburgers, it was ''Barney's'' on the Square or ''Irv's Lunch Counter'' on E. Main St. next to Sears. For ice cream treats, it was the soda fountain at Walgreen's Drug Store,'' We sat at the counter or in a booth and enjoyed a malted milk, a milkshake, a Root Beer float, or a big hot fudge sundae.
For the one-stop shopping of today's ''WalMart,'' Galesburg could boast of three ''five and ten cent'' stores on Main St. They were the ''S.S. Kresge's,'' ''F.W. Woolworth's,'' and the ''McCrony McClellan'' stores. At the candy counter, you could ask for a nickel or dime's worth of candy and get a bag full. I would buy chocolate stars. I would spend a dime for a bag of warm ''Spanish'' peanuts, so delicious and salty, that my next stop was the lunch counter for a big glass of ice-cold Coca Cola.
The one store that we always went to was ''Lindstrom's Record Shop'' where the popular music of the day was available on 78rpm records. We asked for a demonstration record to take to one of the ''listening booths'' in the rear of the store. We listened to several records before deciding which one we wanted to buy. I don't remember buying many records, but I remember having the opportunity to hear much of the ''best music in the world.''
Another special place to hear wonderful music was in a building on the west side of Lake Storey Road, near the entrance to the park. This was where ''Elmo's Roller Rink'' was located, now it is a farm field. One afternoon a week, during the summer months, a neighborhood mother would take a carload of kids to ''EImo's.'' We strapped on the old style skates and spent the next few hours gliding around and around on the wood floor. At that time, there was no air-conditioning so the sides of the building would be propped open. I never knew if this was done to let the heat out or to let the heat in. If we happened to go to Lake Storey for an evening picnic, that beautiful music floated across the road for all to hear and enjoy.
Our family often went to Lincoln Park where my older brother and I spent many happy hours in the big round wading pool. A part of the park that always attracted me was the ravine west of the playground area. Some very old animal cages were located there. Brown bears had been caged there from 1922-33. For a few more years, the cages were used for smaller animals. I don't remember any animals in these cages, but I remember children, myself included, playing in and around the empty cages until their removal in the 1970's.
About once a year, on the northeast corner of Grand Avenue and South Farnham St., a carnival wold set up for several days and nights. My grandpa lived in the 1700 block of Grand Ave. and walked with us to the carnival where we rode the Merry-Go-Round, the Ferris Wheel, the Caterpillar, my favorite, or whatever rides we felt brave enough to try. I was always thrilled watching the young men roaring their motor cycles up and down and around and around in the big ball-shaped steel cage. No trip to the carnival was complete until we bought that big gooey pile of sweet, sticky, cotton candy. I would manage to end up with some stuck in my long hair.
A number of places were within walking distance of home. We walked to the Grove Theater on the northwest corner of E. Grove St. and N. Kellogg St. which is now the Assembly of God Church. Here, with the help of those special red and blue eyeglasses, I saw my first ''3-D'' movie. ''Ray's Hobby Shop'' was in the middle of the 200 block of E. North St. It was in an old grocery store building on the south side of the street. My brother bought model airplane and model car kits to put together. I bought craft things like long, thin strands of plastic to make necklaces and bracelets. We both bought small balsa wood airplanes that slipped together. These often wound up on the roof of the house or garage or up in a tree.
Near the end of my childhood years, a new attraction became a part of Galesburg. As Sunday afternoons came to an end, we watched the darkening skies for a beam of light that shot straight up in the clean night or bounced off any clouds in it's path. A World War II searchlight was the source of this sweep of light that meant one thing, ''Kiddieland'' was open! For a small amusement park, it had rides from kiddie-cars and a small train to the giant swings. Young and old alike could enjoy a thrill or two.
Galesburg offered many more places to go and many more things to do, but these are some of my favorite ''memories beyond Monkeytown.''
School Days, by Inez Gossett
In 1926, my grandparents moved from East Galesburg to a house on South Broad Street. Shortly after we moved there, my mother and stepfather came back from Elgin, where they had worked in the watch factory.
Grandpa came down with smallpox. The doctor came to the house, followed by the health officer. We had a big red sign on the door saying ''Quarantined.'' For six weeks, we couldn't leave the house. I was the only one that didn't get sick as I had been vaccinated. We got our groceries twice a week. A boy came and called. Grandma would step onto the porch and call out the order. We called the boy, ''Rocky.''
Soon school started. I still hold fond thoughts for Mary Alien West School. My teacher was Miss Orpha Welch. The next year, it was Miss Carrol. The principal was Rose Hoben Welch. Many times she gave me a nickel or dime to go uptown and pay a bill or buy something for her.
The year I started junior high was the same year the school gym was built. Before the gym, all the basketball games were played in the Galesburg Armory.The girls wore blue ''bloomers type'' of outfits. Miss Cypreausen was the gym teacher.
Ervin Hayes was our typing teacher and we made him earn his wages. There was a large chart on the wall with the letters and numbers on it. The typing keys were blank. Everyday we typed to marching music. Some days he would appoint someone to restart the record and he would leave the room for ten or fifteen minutes. One day, he chose Elizabeth Reffett as changer, little knowing that she had a record stashed named ''Minnie the Moocher's Wedding Day.'' He came back a little sooner than expected and he certainly was angry.
He yelled, ''Who?! Who?!''
Liz said, ''Like George Washington, I cannot tell a lie.'' She was expelled for a week. That was just one prank, but there were a few others.
Miss McGivern was the geography teacher. She was an easy mark for the pranksters. She was a good ''foot stomper'' and wrote a lot of detention slips. Usually, you could count on her tearing the slips up. One day, she was stomping and scolding and the elastic in her bloomers broke and fell down around her ankles. She went in the cloakroom and cried until the class was dismissed. She was a teacher for many years. Her students were the only children, as she never married.
One of my other favorite teachers, was Prince Slaven. He taught English and Latin.
Miss Ora Stewart and I didn't get along very well. I kept my lessons up for at least two days. If my lessons were done ahead, she would give me a library slip and I would go and spend my time with Miss Anderson in the library.
In about 1933, the kids in the neighborhood bought a Model T Ford from a college boy. We chipped in and bought the car for eight (8) dollars. It was painted white with a lot of silly sayings written on it. The car had no windshield and no back seat. We had a lot of fun in that car. We would meet other kids on South Prairie (3 cars) and would play what we called, ''alley tag.'' One car was ''IT.'' The other two cars would run for it. We knew every alley downtown. The only time the cars could leave the alley was to go into another alley. Whoever got caught on the street was ''IT'' and the game would start over. We usually didn't start our game until nine o'clock at night, or after.
One time, there were four kids in the car and three on the running boards. We were in front of the Orpheum Theater where, on over, city cops stepped off the curb and said ''If you can't get in, get off and walk!'' We went around the block, picked up our friends and took off again.
We were not bad kids. We didn't destroy everything. We just had harmless fun. None of us ever got into trouble.
Going to the Burg, by Dick Speer
I was born on a small farm about twenty-five miles west of Galesburg and grew up during the great depression. We didn't go to Galesburg often although it wasn't difficult. We had a '27 Pontiac and lived on Rt. 34. It was mostly economic. All we needed, and could afford, was available in Kirkwood and Monmouth. Even luxuries like ice cream cones and ten cent matinee movies. The first trip that I remember was on my eleventh birthday in August of 1937. The depression was easing. Corn was selling for over a dollar a bushel; hogs for over ten cents a pound and Dad was beginning to breathe a little easier.
My parents, my older sister Marian, two neighbor boys, Jerry and Paul, and I crowded into the '27 Pontiac and ''went to the Burg.'' We went north on Henderson, past the airport and to the beach on Lake Storey. I pulled on my swimsuit, scratchy wool, and joined Jerry and Paul in the water. None of us knew how to swim. Our only swimming holes were little mud-bottomed creeks that we dammed up to waist depth for an afternoon of splashing.
That lake with the pavilion and sand beach was a revelation. Dad had inflated an old inner tube and we took turns lying on it as we paddled it around. I discovered I could lie on my back, fold myself double and drop through the center, which I did once too often. I expected my feet to find the bottom about three or four feet below. They didn't! I was in way over my depth! I reached up and grabbed the inner tube. When I pulled myself up, I was really scared. Then I was even more scared. The lifeguard had seen me and blew a blast on his whistle. He waved me in with a mean expression that was almost as terrifying as finding myself in six or eight feet of water. I'm sure other memorable things happened but that's all that remains after sixty three years.
After splashing and tearing around all afternoon, we were starving and Dad took us to the Steak 'N' Shake on East Main Street. It was shiny new, all gleaming white tile and stainless steel.
The cooking was done, without walls, in the center. A sign boasted, ''IN SIGHT, IT MUST BE RIGHT.'' Marian, Jerry and Paul chose big, juicy hamburgers that made me drool like a dog but I wanted a shake. I was a great fan of chocolate cones so I wanted a chocolate shake. They came in two sizes, regular for ten cents and jumbo for sixteen. I wanted the jumbo..
''You won't finish it,'' Marian said with that big sister superiority that always drove me wild.
''Yes I will! I want it! I want it!'' I begged. I don't know if Dad gave in because it was my birthday or because I was making a scene.
The first taste exceeded anything I could imagine. Pure delight. This continued through most of the first quart but the edge was off. The others had finished their hamburgers and Marian was watching with that ''I told you so'' look. I was halfway through the second quart and fading. If it wasn't for Marian's look, I would have quit. Jerry and Paul were snickering. Marian was triumphant. I kept dragging on my straw, choking down that disgusting chocolate glup. The straw rattled with air. I slid off the stool and waddled to the car. That was my first and last jumbo shake. I doubt Steak 'N' Shake sold many of them.
World War II and high school, for me, started almost together. It was a different world. The going wage for a sturdy farm boy who was willing to work rose from fifty cents a day to fifty cents an hour. Now, if we could get the use of a car with four serviceable tires and enough gas rationing stamps for three or four gallons of gas, car-loads of us boys ''went to the Burg.'' We didn't need to. There were pool halls and movie theaters and skating rinks in Monmouth but they didn't have the mystique of the big city. We loved dazzling freshman and sophomore boys with Monday talk about what we did and saw in the Burg Saturday night.
We went to shows at the Grove or the Orpheum. We skated at the Glass House. For the ultimate in sophistication, we went to the Roof. Girls were everywhere. In peacetime, they would have been pairing off with young men in their twenties. Then, they had to make do with boys under eighteen, 4-Fs, and farm boys with agriculture deferments. And there was also a sprinkling of servicemen, home on leave.
My memories of ''going to the Burg'' are all good. I don't remember vandalism, fights, drugs, all the things attached to young people today. We were there to have a good time and to connect with girls who were there to have a good time. The Roof Garden was something special for farm boys. In winter, they used the fourth floor of the Weinberg Arcade building and in summer, the roof There were flowers, potted plants and small potted trees arranged like a real garden. There were benches against the walls that extended about five feet above the roof. Management ran a tight ship. You could take your girl there and know nothing rowdy would happen.
Two incidents, that contradict this, remain after fifty some years, probably because they were so unusual. Alcohol was not sold but some appeared in small flat bottles. Then it got mixed with 7up and Coke in small clusters of giggling kids. We weren't experienced enough to handle it. I remember a teen-age girl turn white and clamp a hand across her mouth. There was no time to dash for the restroom. She hopped on one of the benches and sprayed over the wall onto the sidewalk below. If anyone was using that sidewalk, she didn't care. She was past caring. Spot, a casual acquaintance from the Coldbrook area, strolled up behind her. He stopped, studying her, as he swayed slightly. He had been sampling the fortified Coke too. Then he carefully slid his hand up the back of her legs, thoughtfully, like a stock buyer checking the finish on a Hereford steer. I expected a kick in the teeth, at least, but she didn't even quiver, past caring.
The other incident involved three Kirkwood High School couples. A cocky young guy in U.S. Navy uniform made a lewd remark about Doc's date. Doc wasn't going to take that, not when he was bigger. He didn't say a thing, just swung. This was what the sailor wanted. He wasn't very big but lightning quick and knew just what to do. In the blink of an eye, Doc was sitting on the floor, shaking his head. Homer and Buster sprang to Doc's defense. They were both big, roughneck kids who loved to fight and were good at it. Homer was a much more experience fighter and didn't make Doc's mistake of leading with his right. He jabbed with his left, once, twice, three times, setting the sailor up for the clincher right.
A funny thing happened. The sailor's head slid beside or under the jabs and he countered with three of his own, right on the button. They were jarring, tooth-loosening blows, not enough to dump anyone as big and strong as Homer but more than enough to make him re-assess the situation. He backed away with his arms in front of his face. ''Don't hit me! Don't hit me!'' he said. ''I can't fight you. They told me they'd never let me in again if I get in another fight!'' This may well have been the truth. And what about Buster? He sprang with Homer but his date clamped her arms around his waste and wailed ''No! No! No!'' He put his hand in her face to push her off, then noticed what was happening to Homer and removed the hand. The sailor swaggered off, cock-o-the-walk.
And where was the bouncer during all this? He probably never knew it happened. The whole affair took less than a minute. One unexpected result. Doc showed up in Sunday school the next day, the first time in many months. And it wasn't even Easter. That was a nice thing about ''going to the Burg.'' You had a good time and could learn a lesson too.
Late 40s, by Carlene N. Barstow
I was a student at Knox College in the late '40's when Carl Sandburg made a visit to the college. As a member of the a cappella choir which practiced in Beecher Chapel, I was present when he gave a short recital, entertaining us with guitar and folk song. Later that evening our group gathered in front of the president's (of the college) home and serenaded them. They both came out onto the porch and graciously thanked us
A few years later, in 1953, while I was working at the Arthur J. Nyman & Sons jewelry store, Carl Sandburg came to town to celebrate both his 75th birthday and the publishing of his autobiography, Always the Young Strangers. The O.T. Johnson department store was having an autograph party and so on my lunch hour I accompanied Maurine Tanning Nyman around the corner to O.T.'s to meet Carl Sandburg and have him sign my copy of his book. Maurine was acquainted with him as her father, Andy Tanning, was a friend who had been his tent mate in the Spanish-American War in 1898.* When I met him he said, ''What a fresh, young face.'' Needless to say, that was many years ago!
*see page 408, Always the Young Strangers.
Galesburg Before 1946, by Esther E. Olson
I remember Galesburg before 1946. I think there were three dime stores. Kresge's, and Woolworth's were two of them. Then there was W.T. Grants's where people did lots of shopping and Three Sisters, the Holly Shop for really cheap clothes, O.T. Johnson's, Gambles, Kellogg & Drake, which had a little bit of everything. There was also Black's Hardware on Seminary St. and Main. I bought lots of Christmas gifts at Kline's when I worked at the Knox Laundry. Other stores were J.C. Penneys, Block & Kuhl's, Sears Roebuck, Bota Shoe Store, Kinney Shoes, and several other shoe stores. In one shoe store, you went downstairs. Maybe it was by the Orpheum Theater. Spiegel's Mail Order store was on Prairie St.
I ate at Park Drive Dairy on Kellogg St. when I worked at the laundry. I caught the bus at the bus station on the Square after we got out of high school.
The Gala Theater was next to the bus station. Redmond Hall was above the theatre or close to there, where in 1945 & '46 we danced and square danced. We also danced at the Roof Garden upstairs, I think, across from the Hotel Custer on Prairie St. There was a place to eat along there too.
Kroger's Grocery Store was on Main St. and an A&P Grocery on Seminary St. On the Square was Gregory's Ice Cream. We got three dips for five (5) cents.
Before the war (WWII,) there was a grocery store that sold ''hamnaise'' (which was similar to ham salad )and was very good on sandwiches. I think it came in a jar.
Of course things were cheap then, but the wages weren't very much then either. I can remember the milkman and iceman. My parents had an icebox and a metal window box thing that sat in the window and the milk would freeze. Also, my mother made ice cream out of clean snow.
I never knew Carl Sandburg.
Growing Up in Galesburg, by Elaine McDowell
As a child growing up in Galesburg, my fond memories are walking to downtown. The memory of the ''Nine Cent Shoe Repair'' which was located on the southwest corner of Main St. and Cherry St. There was an outside chair where you could be seated and have your shoes shined by a black gentleman.
''Frank Jewelers'' would run a special in the Register-Mail with a coupon for a free gift during the weeks before Christmas, just for coming in. The bakeries which were not too far from the post office, would offer a child a cookie while their parents shopped. The ''KarmelKorn'' was next to the post office. ''Meadow Gold'' was on the corner of Chambers and Mulberry Streets. The smell in the air was a special memory of it's own. A time when parents and children would take walks to the ice cream parlors. Our favorite was ''Virginia's.''
One could not forget the grandeur of our old Railroad Depot. I am reminded of when I've been at the Union Station (the great room) in Chicago. Our's may not have been as large, but it was every bit as magnificent.
These were the days of ''Kiddieland'' on Henderson St. which many children and parents enjoyed. These were days when children used their imaginations to make up games or toys; the days of hopscotch, homemade stilts, jacks, and marbles.
At this period of time, our town had forty-four (44) grocery stores and meat markets, and fifty-three (53) beauty shops. There was the old ''YMCA'' where anyone could get a room.
If time only stood still, or if I could only go back and take pictures of everything I saw.
Does anyone still remember the bear caves at Lincoln Park; or how about passing Lindstrom's and seeing the dog in the window?
From the Late Thirties, by Bob Johnston
My name is Bob Johnston and I was a member of the famous Peck Street gang. Other members of the gang were Dick Graflund, Jim Wartield, Paul Lindberg, Bob and Shirley Jacobs, Lois Johnson, Lee and Tom Webber and Chuck Busick.
At the time we had a thriving business adventure going. We were raising pigeons and selling them to a meat market for five cents a pound. I don't remember the meat market's name, but today it is Mimi's Apparel Shop. Next door was a restaurant and the best cook in town -- Helen Meade, who later owned the Millionaire Hotel!
Today many people don't realize just how delicious pigeon pie is, and as kids just having fun, we had a very good past-the-time business.
We built our own pens behind Dick Graflund's home. (All of this adventure was his idea.) We would take our daddy's big shirts and tie them at our waists, then at night we would go up church rain pipes. We would collect pigeons in the bell towers, stuff them in our daddy's big shirts and carry them back down to our pens. Boy, we were a mess when we got back to the pens. Being a mess was just part of the fun we were having!
We also had a regular routine of going around to the grain elevator and picking up feed off the ground to feed our newly-acquired pigeons.
In those days the Peck Street Gang made up our own fun. We would travel Cedar Fork from one end to the other. We would ride our bicycles from Cedar Fork out to the Railroad through the big underground sewer pipes built around 1936. Nowadays you can't do this 'cause the sewer pipes have just a small opening from Cedar Fork.
Fun from the Past, History to Remember.
Memories of My Generation, by Rose Anne Weaver
Little did I realize that my generation would become known as ''The greatest generation''! When journalist Tom Brokaw wrote with great dedication about people during and shortly after World War Two -- this was my generation. My son-in- law refers to this period in history as the ''Big One'' or ''W W Two.'' To me it was just part of my growing up years. When I was twelve, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and the following years are written in great detail in the history books.
Being born during the great depression -- surely I must have been an unwelcome expense for my mother and father; however, my mother always assured me I was special. There are wonderful memories of my family. My father used to bring a half sandwich home in his lunch pail -- for me. My mother probably packed extra so he could do that. He worked so hard to bring enough money to keep our family clothed, housed and fed -- but so did all the fathers of my friends in the neighborhood. There just wasn't enough food, nor jobs, nor money. It was a tough time for everyone.
Transients walked the rails from one destination to another looking for work or food or a place to sleep. I remember my folks sharing food with people- if they worked for it. Our neighbors were just like us -- not enough of anything -- but enough of everything to get along just fine. I guess you could say we were poor -- but all of my friends had the same monetary status -- and I didn't feel as though I was deprived. It was just a way of life! To this day I believe people need to remember from where they came and be thankful for what they have. We all had clothes with patches, shoes with half soles and two pennies for candy. What more could we want?
Walking to school kept us all trim and slim. The school nurse worried that I was too thin and suggested I should be placed on the ''milk'' program. I should have that problem today! School was five blocks from home and my sister and I gathered friends along the way and by the time we got to school, we had a small gang of five or six. We sang, ran and chased -- played tag -- fell down -- fell on the cinder streets, (Yes, Galesburg did have a lot of cinder streets in the ''30's'') scrapped our knees and still we managed to get to school on time. I might add -- this is when you used a clean white rag and the old Watkin's Salve -- not band-aids! There was not a lunch program at school, so at noon we ran home, ate lunch and repeated the morning process all over again.
My grade school education was in a really old school building and the rest rooms were in the basement -- along with the heat pipes and janitor supplies. There was a pull string that lighted the basement -- most of us didn't go there very often. The floors were hard wood, worn, polished and smelled of oiled cedar floor shavings. A cloakroom existed in almost every classroom where someone got acquainted with his first form of punishment. Ceilings were high -- making room for blackboards with chalk and erasers. George Washington's picture hung from a heavy wire next to a regulator clock. If you were very good you got to dust erasers for the teacher and you emerged with as much chalk on you as the erasers.
My teacher was a hundred hears old, or so I thought. She was a lovely lady with white hair piled high upon her head. She wore a Mother Hubbard dress and an apron. She was the most patient sole I ever met and this lovely lady, Miss Munson, taught me how to read. How I loved the competition of being the first one to finish a book. Junior high school was even farther from home -- eighteen blocks -- this is the school I was attending when Pearl Harbor was bombed.
One Sunday my friend and I went to a movie -- ironically titled ''I wake up screaming.'' When the movie was over, my parents came to the Orpheum Theatre to pick us up and related that Pearl Harbor had just been bombed. They told us that very likely our country would go to war. The name of Hitler was remote and we were not aware of his marches through Europe, nor were we aware of the problems of Japan or the Kremlin. We were so young! I remember my mother crying and I wondered why? What was war? Would they bomb our country? Would soldiers march in our country? Would my father go to war? What would happen to us?
Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor my brother enlisted into the Air Force, as did many of his friends and neighbor kids. At the beginning of his military career he was stationed in Biloxi, Mississippi. It was only a matter of time until he, along with many others, was sent to a theater of war -- either Europe or South Pacific. While in the South Pacific Theatre my brother was stationed several different places, including Australia, New Guinea and the Philippines.
Although my father had just lost his job, our family decided to go to Mississippi to visit my homesick brother. Because of my father's strong honesty and a genuine sense of integrity, he was a political football in a city job. He voted for the man who did not win the election and when the new mayor asked my father for whom he voted, my father told him. The new mayor said, ''Good-bye, Howard.'' I still remember my mother being certain that this would be the last time we would ever see my brother, and so, even without a job to come home to, my father and mother packed our family and left for Mississippi. My mother was an extreme worrier!
In a way she was right, for it was four years later when the war was almost over that my brother was honorably discharged from the 5th Air Force and returned home. He had enlisted in the Air Force as a sturdy one-hundred-eighty pound boy. However, when he came home after years in the South Pacific, he looked like an emaciated one-hundred-twenty-pound old man. In the meantime, I changed from a twelve-year-old kid to a sixteen-year-old high school junior -- a big change for both of us.
During the time when my brother was shipped from port to port and everything was ''top secret,'' he tried to send little tips where he was going. Letters of military men often were censored and the letters we received had little holes where words had been clipped out -- making a strange lacy looking letter. How hard we tried to guess what those gaping holes must have said. I remember one time he was sent to Port Moresby. My brother asked my parents to send cigarettes -- either Pall Mall or Philip Morris and my mother thought this was strange. She said PM -- P.M. -- and decided he was tying to tell us where he was going -- and later we found she was right.
We sent packages of cake, cookies and candy -- all packed in popcorn to assure the safe arrival of unbroken contents. Ha! Not only did the contents arrive broken they also arrived late, sometimes as much as three months late and many times the contents were totally water soaked. Pocket games or puzzles were a better choice.
At school and home we were trying to do our best for the war effort. One way to show our patriotism was to grow a victory garden. People at home needed food, as did the people in the service. There were shortages of everything -- gas, rubber, elastic, sugar, metal, leather, meat, butter and even overalls were hard to find. I had a pair of shoes made of cardboard. The government rationed things that were needed for men and women in the service. Now that economic times were better, there was a shortage of many things and you couldn't buy some items for love or money.
Some foods were rationed and we could only get a very limited supply. The government issued tokens for meat and coupons for sugar and stamps for gas. Not only did the tires on cars wear poorly, they also were extremely hard to find, and patches on inner tubes were common. When we were able to go places in our car, the speed limit was about thirty-five miles per hour. Each person was allowed only so many pounds of sugar per ration book. I had a friend whose mother put each family member's sugar in a separate container, and when she made cookies or cake she took a little from each canister -- thus making it fair for each person. Vacation trips were cut short -- it was not patriotic to use gas unnecessarily.
Our country was at war and it was not prepared for war, and when our country needed great quantities to sustain its army, the people at home tightened their belts -- and did without. There were shortages of everything. We young people gathered scrap metal. There was a huge scrap metal heap on the school grounds. When it grew to a mountainous size it was sold and reprocessed into weapons, trucks or whatever was made of metal for the armed services. Each of us felt as though we were doing our part for the war effort, and we knew this helped to hasten the end of the war and the return of our G.I.'s. At school we bought ''victory'' stamps and converted them to ''War Bonds.'' Eighteen seventy-five would buy the smallest denomination of bond and of course the bonds helped finance the war. With this way of financing the war, it made it so everyone could help and everyone wanted to help, from the smallest child to the largest company -- from a ten cent Victory Stamp to the large monitory War Bonds. It was patriotic!
I went through my school years with Franklin Roosevelt as the president. I can remember asking my parents if there was ever going to be anyone besides President Roosevelt leading our country. It was after his third term that laws were changed and never again would there be a three-term president. This was another part of history. My father listened to the radio for reports of the war and we children were told to ''be quiet'' so he could hear the valuable news reports -- always much later than the actual happening. Radios squeaked and squawked, and trying to tune them in was next to impossible -- depending on the weather. Many times the static was so bad you could only guess what was being said. Movie Tone News was at the theaters and of course this news was very, very stale, but it kept you focused.
The economy turned around during World War Two. Everyone who wanted to work was able to find work, and wages were much better. My father went to work at the Arsenal in Rock Island and worked there for several years before he was transferred to Mayo General Hospital in Galesburg. If you had a classified job during World War Two you couldn't just quit a job -- you had to have clearance from the government. My father was in an auto accident and therefore succeeded in getting a medical release so that he could make a lateral work move -- thus he transferred to Mayo Hospital. We were happy to have him home and not driving the long daily trip to Rock Island (still at about thirty-five miles an hour).
When there wasn't enough housing in Galesburg because of the economic boom, my folks rented the upstairs of our home. We made many new friends from various parts of the country as people came to work in Galesburg. Many were service men discharged from the service and now living in Galesburg who found work at Admiral, Gale or Mayo General Hospital. Galesburg began its biggest growth spurt. Our schools became crowded and our downtown was wall to wall with people. Saturday night was a social outing and people met at Walgreen's Drug Store (the corner of Prairie and Main Streets) to have a ''green-river.'' Families parked on Main Street just to watch the people. Soldiers were everywhere and concerned fathers gave their daughters strict advice. It was an exciting time! 0. T. Johnson's, the biggest store in Galesburg, and many others on Main Street did a landslide business. It was a fun time, a building of the future time and a great time to remember.
Well, that's the story of the ''Greatest Generation'' from my memories, and I'm proud to have been a part of that time in history. I learned a lot about life -- about people and about myself. People in Galesburg are hometown people with values and great dedication to making a community work -- and I like to think I'm part of that dedication. Visionaries are such an important part of the future. One must plan and continue to plan ahead, to take the broad view of the future and to make our town even better than when it was our generation.
I learned the pride of living in a melting-pot city where changes occur. I so look forward to the dreams of youth that have the great opportunity to help plan the future. There are a million ways to view problems and just about as many ways to solve them. But, if there is anything I have learned, it is people today pretty much want the same things my parents wished for -- when they were part of The Greatest Generation -- a God who cares, money enough not to go hungry, a happy home, and close relationships.
Memories of My Early Days in Galesburg, by Eileen Shay Knapp
I'll start with before I was born, because the days are similar to what they were then. My folks were married in March of 1917. They started farming to buy the farm just west of what is now Lake Storey. In just a few years a depression started, with prices for what farmers had to sell that didn't pay the bills. Then farmers had pigs, cows, chickens, and gardens, They grew corn, oats, stacked straw for bedding for their animals and they grew hay to feed them. Most mothers sewed as many of their clothes as they could. Today, farmers are going through a depression too and have been for about four years.
My parents moved to Galesburg, and left the farm. My father got a job selling fuel to the farmers for their field work, cars, and kerosene for the summer cooking of their meals. He worked in the area where he knew the people.
I remember hearing him tell he had delivered gas three times to a farmer and hadn't gotten paid for it. This time he stopped because he knew someone was at home but they wouldn't come to the door. He drove the truck out to the hog pen and loaded up a pig to take to market. The woman came out and said, ''You're loading the pig in your truck!'' Dad said, ''I've left gas for you three times when you've called for it. I don't get a paycheck unless I bring back the money for the gas I leave at people's homes.'' The woman paid him and he unloaded the pig.
My memory starts when we moved to Galesburg about the spring of 1925. We were a live-in family to the Rev. N. T. Allen of Methodist Faith on Allens Avenue. His two daughters had families and they didn't feel that as old as he was, he should be by himself. Mother said that he had married more couples, in and around Knox County, than any other minister at that time.
My brother and sister had started school in the country. That fall, they went to school right across the street. I don't remember the name of the school. A year later, I started school there, but before the year was up, they could no longer use the third floor where the auditorium was. They used the rest of the school one year before another one was built.
Right after school started, the next fall, Rev. N.T. Allen died. We moved across town to Mr. Carlson's home on Walnut Ave. in order to see to him and his home. At that time, he worked for the city waterworks of Galesburg on West Main St. There were five cherry trees, a pear tree and a grape vine, plus a chicken house, a small barn near his house and an extra lot. At the north end of Walnut Avenue, there was a ''Ma and Pa'' small grocery store on North Street. That building is still there.
At the south end of Walnut Avenue was an icehouse. Trucks would deliver ice around Galesburg in the summer time. They would ring bells when they stopped and the kids on the block would come to get little ice slivers to suck on.
We walked to Old Bateman School on Losey Street by the fire station. Galesburg was building a new Bateman School on North Maple Avenue. That fall, we went back to the old school a couple of months while they finished the new one. Then everyone carried their books and walked to the new school. We couldn't carry our lunches to school, so the children from Walnut Avenue ran most of the way home and back after getting our lunches at home. The next year we went to L.T. Stone School.
An airport was built on Henderson Street and Fremont. There was a lot of news about the first night the beacon light would start running. It could be seen for miles. They didn't want people to become too excited about the flashing.
I had ridden the streetcar that was on some streets in Galesburg, but we walked most places. We didn't have a car.
At Christmas time, we would walk to the north end of Prairie Street because that was where Dad's folks lived. Often we had snow. I often think about that now.
Downtown Galesburg, on the north side of Main Street, had different businesses in the first store. Next there was a ''Piggly Wiggly'' grocery store, then a drug store and the ''Farmer's and Mechanic's Bank.'' Across the street, south, was a corner photo studio. Then across Cherry Street, I remember a ''Ford Hopkins Drug Store.'' They had a lunch counter. The Knox College kids liked to visit often. ''Ham's Meat Market'' was on Cherry Street in the middle of the block. I believe there were three ''five and dime'' stores on Main Street. ''Kresges'' and ''Woolworth's'' were two of them. One of them had a large lunch stand.
''Kellogg and Drake'' was a big clothing store. My aunt worked in the beauty parlor. Another clothing store was ''O.T. Johnson's.'' There was an elevator there. ''The Continental'' mens' store was on Main Street for a long time. Another grocery store was on South Prairie Street in the first block and was called ''Lloyd Luper's Kroger Grocery.''
''Osgood's Photo Shop'' was a good place to get family photos taken. I believe his shop was on South Seminary Street.
There were three bakeries back then in Galesburg. ''Strand's Bakery'' was on South Street. ''Howe's Bakery'' and ''Lucky Boy Bakery'' sure made the air smell good when they were baking.
The ''Orpheum Theater'' ran children's films on Saturday mornings for ten cents.
Galesburg was always a big railroad town. The route was from Chicago and went on south or west from there. These trains have changed so much and have increased in engines' sizes and speeds. There's been more freight during the last five years.
We moved from Walnut Avenue to the four hundred block on South Cherry Street, which is part of Knox College now. I went to Mary Alien West School for fifth and sixth grade which was on the corner of Simmons and West Street. Then I went to Churchill Jr. High and Galesburg High School downtown.
Nylon hosiery was on the market in 1940. Every girl in the graduating class that spring was checking the stores to make sure they would be sold in Galesburg so we could wear them for graduation.
Memories, by Lorene Sullivan
I lived half of my life on an eighty acre farm, sixty acres tillable and the rest woodlands. On that amount of land, my father and mother raised four children; all of them became responsible, caring adults. Many people today think that farming is all work and no play, but we had lots of fun! We really lived off the land all year around and made hard work (at times) into an adventure!
SPRING -- March, April and May -- We all loved tramping through the woods, and as soon as the sun came out after a shower, off we'd all go! It was fun just walking with Mother and Dad, being out in the sunshine, smelling the flowers and observing the new growth, seeing wildlife up close. We didn't have any maple trees easy to get to, but our neighbor did, and Dad would help him set the drains in the trunks of the maple trees as soon as the sap started to run. Sometimes one or two of us got to ride along and visit with the neighbor's kids. The sap was collected daily in little tin pails hanging over the drains, and it meant we got to spend some time with Dad. The neighbors did the boiling down, making the best tasting maple syrup and sugar I've ever tasted.
We had a lot of horseradish. Dad would dig it up, a great amount, and Mother would wash and clean and then run the roots through the old food grinder. This job was usually done outside on the porch as fresh horseradish is very pungent and guaranteed to open up your nasal passages and make you cry! Each of us would grind a while and cry a while until the job was done. Mother would then add some salt and vinegar and put it into small jars. Later, she would ''swap'' a jar of horseradish for some maple syrup, which really was a pretty fair swap, for it took the efforts of many to produce so little! My, that maple syrup tasted so good on fried mush, and we liked horseradish on meat.
Dad also dug sassafras out in the woods. Mother would clean and scrape the roots and let it dry before putting it away. It made the best hot tea and is still used as a base ingredient in soft drinks today!
Sometimes, Mother and us girls would go for walks and gather lambs-quarter leaves and dandelions and have fresh greens for dinner. They tasted so good early in the spring before our garden produced much. We also hunted wild asparagus on our walks which Mother cooked and served creamed over boiled potatoes. To this day, I love the morel mushrooms rolled in cracker crumbs and fried in butter. We tramped all over the hills, hollers, and bottom lands looking for them. They were a meat substitute!
Dad always worked hard getting the crops all in, corn, beans, wheat or oats, and clover or alfalfa hay. On some little patches, we sometimes planted popcorn and peanuts, broom corn or sorghum cane. Once, he tried buckwheat, but it didn't turn out very good, I don't remember why. The ''bottom'' land flooded almost every spring and was the last planted. Dad would go check it every so often, seeing how fast the creek was running; if it was in it's banks, etc., or if land was fit to plow.
It was a happy family when he'd come home sometimes with a big carp or snapping turtle that he had caught because it hadn't been able to get back into the channel quickly enough. They were a welcome change in our diet
Sometimes he found some ginseng roots and was so happy to wash, dry and store them until he had enough to take to the druggist in town. I was a grown woman before I realized why he prized them so. The druggist paid good money for those dried roots. The only trouble was, he never could find a lot at a time. I loved the redbud and dogwood trees when they were in bloom and used to pick may-apple blossom bouquets. How many kids today can identify any of the plants I've mentioned?
SUMMER -- June, July & August -- A very busy time on any farm! There were the crops to till, hay-making and threshing the grain. I could write a book about that alone! We always had gardening chores and our surplus was canned and put away for next winter. Mother often sent us out berry picking -- all wild strawberries, dewberries, gooseberries, red and black raspberries and big blackberries. We'd all pick until our pails were full. The berries all ended up on our table either fresh or in pies, jams, and jellies. I don't think there is a hotter place in the summertime than in a blackberry patch! Whew! It makes me sweat just thinking about it. Some people also picked the elderberries, but since we didn't make wine, we left them for the birds. None of us kids liked the gooseberries. Not only did we have to pick them and lug them home; after that, we had to snip off the tips. You like gooseberry pie? You can have it!
FALL -- September, October, November -- Again, a very busy season. It was time to harvest the crops. If we had sorghum cane to cut, Dad would take it to a farmer who had a mill and usually ''swapped'' half of our crop for half of the sorghum it made. We kids had to help shuck the popcorn, or dig and dry the peanuts, pick the pole beans, that had been planted in the cornfield and help bring the pumpkins in -- choosing our own jack-o-lantern. If we had broom corn, Dad would bundle it up and take it to a man in town, again ''swapping,'' which was a fair deal for everyone. A lot of swapping went on in those days, as no one had much money.
We all enjoyed the fall colors, but best of all was being in the woods and gathering nuts -- butternuts, hickory nuts, walnuts and hazelnuts. You had to watch the hazelnuts really close and gather them just before the nut clusters opened, dropping the nuts out! All were gathered in gunny sacks and taken home to be hulled, dried and cracked later. Sometimes, we'd eat a paw-paw or a persimmon, but weren't fond of a ''puckery'' one!
My folks had apple trees and we'd store them or make apple butter in an old copper kettle, outside in the yard. My dad would take his gun along when shucking corn by hand, and sometimes he would bring home some rabbits, squirrels, or quail, as well as his load of corn. They also wound up on our table.
WINTER -- December, January, February -- The slowest season of the year, Yet, there were many activities. As soon as the ground was frozen, everyone started talking about butchering hogs for winter meat supply, and that in itself is another story. Dad often went hunting at night -- sometimes alone with our dog or sometimes with a neighbor who had some coon hounds. Either way, if a raccoon was treed, it belonged to whoever shot it! Usually, it was taken to the house to be skinned and sometimes one of the families ate the meat. I remember raccoon meat as being tasty, but Mother didn't cook it very often.
Dad also ran a trap line and this required skill in setting and concealing the trap good enough to still attract critters. Every other day, he would check his traps and bring home mink, weasel, opossum, raccoon or fox. Heaven forbid he brought home a skunk! Raccoon and skunk pelts brought good prices, but Mother was hard to convince that skunks were worth the trouble!
My brother could hardly wait till he was ''growed up'' to go hunting with Dad. He proudly carried the lantern following Dad up and down hills trying to catch up with the baying coon hounds. Later on, Dad let him have the trap line, and this gave him a chance to earn some pocket money -- but he had to skin and stretch his own pelts. How many people today know how to skin and stretch a pelt, let alone a 12 year old boy? He had to pull the pelt over a skinning board and then salt the flesh side to help it dry and cure. Fur dealers came by on a regular basis and many a time someone got a new coat or a pair of shoes purchased with Dad's fur money! Cream and egg money hardly bought needed necessities like sugar and flour.
I remember one time Aunt Josie gave us a ''Family Christmas Gift'' which was a walnut bowl and six picks and nut crackers, silver colored. We considered this a special gift for we'd been using Dad's old hammer and a rock to crack the nuts and skinny nails left over from some other project for picking out the nuts. Often at night, we'd have a bowl of nuts to pick out. Mother stored them away in jars to use later in baking or candy making. Sometimes, we'd have popcorn or roast peanuts, make taffy or fudge on Sunday evenings and got to stay up a little later if Uncle Fred came to visit. He told the best ghost stories. We were afraid to climb the stairs to go to bed!
I remember after a big snow, Mother would take her clean dish pan outside and fill it with newly fallen snow and bring it in. She would stir in some sugar and good old Jersey cream and vanilla. We all had a dish of ''snow ice cream'' -- a real delight.
I never see a kraut cutter, hog scraper, shucking peg or a steel trap in an antique store today, that they don't bring back memories of my younger years. From the bright green of spring to the colorful dazzle of fall -- hot or cold, I loved the seasons all!
P.S. I left the farm in 1960, moved to Galesburg and adjusted to city life. I met a lot of new friends and my first contact with Carl Sandburg was at his birthplace. Lauren and Mary Goff were caretakers. If memory serves me right, a dedicated group of Sandburg supporters had a hard time keeping it open to the public. We became good friends of the Goffs and on occasion ''hosted'' on Sunday afternoons. Once when Mr. Goff returned, he just beamed when I told him I had convinced a tourist to buy one of Sandburg's Lincoln books. They were the most expensive items for sale. I remember the backyard before Remembrance Rock was brought in and the State took over the operation of this historic spot. I, for one, appreciate the vision of those who preserved this home for all generations to come.