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posted: 9/21/2017 10:57 AM

South Elgin collector auctions off military memorabilia

South Elgin hobbyist lists gigantic collection for auction

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  • South Elgin resident Steve Thompson is auctioning off his collection of military memorabilia, some of which he discovered while visiting World War II sites.

      South Elgin resident Steve Thompson is auctioning off his collection of military memorabilia, some of which he discovered while visiting World War II sites.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • South Elgin resident Steve Thompson has collected many artifacts while visiting Pacific island sites from World War II. Now, he's listing his collection with Doley Auctions in Union.

      South Elgin resident Steve Thompson has collected many artifacts while visiting Pacific island sites from World War II. Now, he's listing his collection with Doley Auctions in Union.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Many of South Elgin resident Steve Thompson's collection of flight jackets include the pilot's scrapbook or other notes.

      Many of South Elgin resident Steve Thompson's collection of flight jackets include the pilot's scrapbook or other notes.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • South Elgin resident Steve Thompson has spent a lifetime collecting military memorabilia, but now, he says, it's time to auction it off.

      South Elgin resident Steve Thompson has spent a lifetime collecting military memorabilia, but now, he says, it's time to auction it off.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 

Steve Thompson of South Elgin has been collecting military memorabilia since he was about 10 years old. At 77 now, he has had plenty of years to collect and care for items from World War I and II, and other conflicts.

With that sort of commitment, it will be quite difficult for him to give up this hobby and put his gigantic collection up for auction. But it's time.

Thompson says he is finding it tougher to keep showing his collection after about 10 years of doing so in Antique Market I in St. Charles as the Dixie Devil Diver museum, and also when packing up his stuff and traveling to various shows.

"If I was perfectly healthy and younger, I wouldn't be giving my collection to auction," Thompson said. "I can't physically walk as much and set up displays any more, so the items are just taking up room."

Instead, Thompson hopes his collection of more than 1,300 items will end up in the hands of people who will keep the honor alive of the men and women who served in our country's major conflicts.

Those items will be for sale Saturday and Sunday at Donley Auctions in Union, with much of it available online.

It's something that tugs at Thompson's heartstrings far more than his financial purse strings. Even when he sold items from his collection in the past, Thompson said he donated most of his profits to charities that support veterans and their families. He'll probably do the same this time around.

If he has a fair amount of items left after the auction, Thompson plans to seek a museum that would be receptive to taking the memorabilia, which includes uniforms, guns, flags and other gear.

His museum in St. Charles has turned into Dixie's Corner, where Thompson's wife now operates an antique shop.

"I accomplished my mission with the museum, and I will miss it," said Thompson, who served in the Army in the mid 1960s. "But I am very anxious to get on with the auction."

As for the future, Thompson certainly won't lose interest in our nation's military history and the pieces of that history that keep us linked to our past.

"I think I will just go to the shows now and walk around," Thompson said.

But that's not all.

"Once this auction is behind me, I plan to finish a book I started a few years ago about the trips I have taken with different veteran groups," Thompson said. "It is intended to be a legacy for my family."

Know your art:

You'd think that most of the art on display in St. Charles would be well known to most residents.

But the folks at the St. Charles Arts Council know better. In fact, the reason for the council's existence is to promote the arts and give residents a better understanding of what is all around them.

That's also the premise behind the council's Art in Public Places project that essentially catalogs the public and private art in the city and provides stories, images and details about that art via a website, brochures and an electronic map and tour.

This art includes downtown pieces and those at parks, the library, park district buildings, schools, businesses and other locations.

Council members know they can't possibly have the full stories on all of these pieces of art. In that regard, they encourage anyone who knows the behind-the-scenes story on these historic and cultural pieces, or knows of art that should be added to the list, to contact them.

The project's website is ArtinPublicPlacesSTC.com.

In the hangar:

For the fifth straight year, the Fox Valley Hands of Hope wine tasting fundraiser will be held in the aircraft hangar of Valley Air Service at DuPage Airport.

Various aircraft and classic cars will be on display for supporters to view, in addition to a silent auction, at the "Wine, Wings & Wheels" event from 7 to 11 p.m. Nov. 3.

It will help the nonprofit Hands of Hope organization continue its mission to serve those with life-threatening illnesses and those who have lost loved ones.

Tickets at $90 each are available at (630) 232-2233.

Helps the wallet:

Here's a blessing that has helped my pocketbook tremendously the past two years. I no longer take the train into the city to work every day at my full-time job. Other than about a dozen trips downtown a year for conferences or meetings, I work from home.

In the meantime, Metra is talking about rate hikes -- again.

Some nice 'woods':

It's been more than a year since we first mentioned the interesting new homes planned for the west end of the Geneva Golf Club.

The Cooper Woods project through Havlicek Builders is now well along, and it makes for an impressive setting with the golf club fairways as the backyards for a few of the houses.

It's called Cooper Lane, which is a cul-de-sac with entry and exit off of South Street.

dheun@sbcglobal.net

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