This column marks my 18th year with the Daily Herald. During this time, a regular -- and often requested feature -- has been a year-end quiz about local history.
In keeping with this tradition, here are 15 questions to test your knowledge about Elgin and the Fox Valley during the 1950s and 1960s. And, even if you were not alive or living in the area at the time, read on. This is a quiz to learn from -- not one that requires any prior knowledge.
1. For 48 years, this small business operated in the heart of downtown and sold more than 10 tons of their product annually before closing in the summer of 1958. What did it sell? A) Hot dogs; B) Popcorn; C) Newspapers; D) Cigars
2. About 3,500 commuters who took the Chicago, Aurora, & Elgin interurban to Chicago on July 3, 1957 were unable to use the service to return home later in the day. Why? A) Car derailment; B) Electrical blackout; C) The company went out of business; D) Operators strike
3. The sisters of St. Mary Catholic School in Elgin received the donation of a car in 1968. What fundraiser helped pay for much of the cost? A) Bingo; B) Ticket raffle; C) Rummage sale; D) Donut sales
4. Nearly 200 building owners were told by city of Elgin officials in the early 1960s that they needed to make this change to their property. What was it? A) Install new address numbers; B) Install new sidewalks; C) Cut down dead trees; D) Demolish old chicken coop foundations
5. Numerous neighbors in the vicinity of Larkin High School reported seeing this in the summer of 1964. What was it? A) Flying saucer; B) Black bear; C) Lion; D) World War I biplane
6. How did the Meadowdale Shopping Center kick off the location's addition of first time ever Sunday store hours at the mall in the 1960s? A) Dropped ping-pong balls from a helicopter; B) Gifts to the first 100 customers; C) An appearance by Bozo the Clown; D) Free cooking demonstrations
7. The Elgin Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1307 sponsored this contest for boys ages 15 and younger in the spring of 1955. What was it? A) Basketball free throw shooting; B) Marble shooting; C) Bowling D) BB gun target shooting
8. Every guest at the dinner meeting of a club in 1953 left with a check for $100. Why? A) The group had bought an Irish Sweepstakes ticket together; B) The group was an investment club that had a very good year; C) A wealthy club member had willed each club member the money; D) The group was disbanding and dividing up its assets.
9. What did the Elgin Lions Club sell door to door in the spring of 1955 with the proceeds going to charity? A) Roses; B) Wreaths; C) Brooms; D) Calendars
10. When this building was completed in 1962 in the area south of Larkin High School it was advertised as the "First of its Kind in Kane County." What type of building was it? A) Solar powered building; B) Four living units in one building; C) A residence with a built-in bomb shelter; D) An all-electric house
11. In 1963 Elgin amended its liquor code to allow for this change. What was it? A) Elimination of the "Black List" or those who couldn't purchase alcohol; B) Allowed businesses other than liquor stores to sell alcohol; C) Allowed for sale of beer in cans; D) Allowed liquor sales on Sunday
12. This 1958 groundbreaking had an unusual participant. Who was it? A) Easter Bunny; B) Santa Claus; C) Cinderella; D) Bozo the Clown
13. This 1957 plan was designed to save the city of Elgin money. What was it? A) Garbage pickup would only be every other week; B) City Hall would close at noon two day a week; C) Men would serve in dual roles as both policemen and fire fighters; D) Volunteers would serve as some of the secretaries.
14. Something unusual happened one day in June 1954 when a foursome played golf at the Elgin Country Club. What was it? A) A disabled airplane landed on the field; B) A helicopter landed on the field with a quartet to sing "Happy Birthday" to one of the players; C) Two of the men made a hole-in-one; D) One man made three holes-in-one.
15. Forty-four buildings in Elgin had this distinction in 1963. What was it? A) Housed a church; B) Housed a bar; C) Were over 100 years old; D) Designated as fallout shelters
Bonus question: For the third year in a row the Illinois Tollway Commission did this to celebrate the holidays in December 1961. What was it? A) No tolls were charged on Christmas; B) Santa handed out candy canes to children; C) Had a decorating contest for the toll booths; D) Asked all toll collectors to dress like elves.
1. B) Popcorn. Two brothers Ernest "Buster" Brown and Willis Brown operated a popcorn stand on South Grove Avenue in the heart of Elgin's downtown seven days a week from 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. In addition to popcorn, they also sold an uncounted number of bags of peanuts.
2. C) The company went out of business. This midday bankruptcy left many surprised.
3. D) Donut sales.
4. A) Install new address numbers. Some address numbers increased by single digits between buildings while some jumped more than 100. There were also even numbers on the odd side of the street and vice versa. This improvement was prompted by the need for efficient response by police and fire departments.
5. C) Lion. The only evidence was paw prints and sightings that couldn't be documented.
6. A) Dropped ping-pong balls from a helicopter. The balls had numbers corresponding to prizes.
7. B) Marble shooting.
8. D) The group was disbanding and dividing up its assets. The Sons of the North had existed for about 50 years before this time.
9. C) Brooms.
10. B) Four living units in one building. The home was in the 1500 block of Meyers Street.
11. D) Allowed liquor sales on Sunday.
12. B) Santa Claus. This was for the groundbreaking for Santa's Village in East Dundee
13. C) Men would serve in dual roles as both policemen and fire fighters. The plan was one conceived by Elgin's first city manager.
14. C) Two of the men had a hole-in-one. Chap Wells used an eight-iron for a 142 yard hole-in-one on the seventh hole. His partner Jim Handy made his ace on the 17th hole using a number four iron for a 175-yard shot. The other men in the foursome were Al Ziegler and Robert Hermann.
15. D) Designated as fallout shelters. Large signs identifying these locations were placed on the outside of the buildings by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Bonus: C) Had a decorating contest for the toll booths. The maintenance buildings were also included in the decorating contest.