Holidays a century ago as busy as today

Updated 12/18/2010 2:05 PM

"Do you really think that Elgin house is haunted?"

"I think that doctors make enough money without charging for telephone calls."


"It's so nice to hear that Elgin people contributed more than was needed for the holiday baskets."

These are some of the comments people might have made after reading the Elgin area newspapers of a century ago.

Here's a look at those stories and others that made headlines during November and December 1910.

@Neighbor leadin:Happy holiday: The holiday season was a good one said many area merchants who reported store sales better than they expected. Funds for fighting tuberculosis were given a boost by the many Red Cross stamps bought for a penny a piece that were affixed to Christmas cards. And, nearly 200 needy families received holiday baskets a fund that raised almost $200 more than was needed for the cause.

Santa letters: Finally, hope, fear and joy were among the feelings expressed in hundreds of letters to Santa Claus sent to a local newspaper.

Dolls and doll clothes were among the common requests from girls, while many of the boys wanted a drum or a gun. One less fortunate girl wanted some boots so she could go to school, while another asked Santa why he had forgotten her last year since her Papa died.

"You stopped at the houses on both sides of my street, but didn't even bring me a little candy," she wrote. "My Mama said you did not stop because we are poor. I hope you will not forget."

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@Neighbor leadin:Haunted house: Was an east side Elgin house haunted? Members of Elgin's Progressive Research Society believed so and were continuing investigations into the matter. Doors opened and closed by themselves, lights turned on automatically, and the unexplained sound of footsteps were among the strange goings on at this North Gifford Street residence.

Two families had moved in and out in a relatively short period of time before the current residents occupied the home.

"We do not desire publicity," said the current resident, who added that it wasn't humans who were causing the strange happenings.

@Neighbor leadin:Cleaner schools: It's time to improve "hygiene" in the Elgin schools, said the district superintendent after hearing the city health official speak to a gathering of local physicians.

Students should be provided individual cups for drinking, coats should be hung so they do not touch each other, and classroom temperatures should be maintained at 70 degrees, the superintendent said.


Seats should be thoroughly cleaned and "soiled" books should not be shared between students. The outdoor toilet at Washington School the last building to have one would be replaced with an indoor facility as soon as possible, he added.

@Neighbor leadin:Gun problems: Saying they were playing "Boy Scouts," one east side Elgin youth shot and killed his cousin with a 22-caliber rifle.

Just weeks earlier, an East Side girl was shot in the leg during similar play. In both cases the guns used were purchased by young boys.

"Without the help of the parents and the hardware dealers, the police are helpless to strictly enforce the sale of firearms to minors," said the police chief.

In many cases, the parents of children who were unable to buy guns bought them for their children anyway, one newspaper discovered. The city's gun ordinance was published in the newspapers and offenders reminded that fines up to $200 were possible.

@Neighbor leadin:Police hospital: Elgin had two hospitals Sherman and St. Joseph's but that wasn't enough to meet the community's needs, said the city physician, the top health officer in the city.

In many cities the size of Elgin there was a hospital inside the police station, which is what the city should have, he explained. This would allow for a "padded cell" for "delirious" patients, as well as a facility where accident victims could be treated without forcing doctors to "work under a handicap."

The top official acknowledged his idea was a long-term goal, but urged city officials to move ahead with plans for a padded cell.

@Neighbor leadin:Streamline aid: "The United Charities scheme is the only hope for Elgin," said a local minister who advocated having many of the city's charities operate in a unified manner.

"Under the present system, several charitable organizations working independently of each other deliver food, clothing and other supplies to needy families, bringing them much more than is needed," he said.

This new plan would not only assist needy families but work to help them become independent, advocates said.

The move eventually led to the formation of Associated Charities, a group that would later merge with the Family Welfare Service, now the Family Service Agency of Greater Elgin.

@Neighbor leadin:Improving politics: Would giving women the right to vote improve government?

"We do not blame you men for making a bad mess of things, although you must admit you have," said a woman's suffrage speaker addressing a local businessman's group.

"We do not say that by women voting we will better conditions, but we are entitled to the right as a matter of equality," she added.

The speaker advocated suffrage for not only Illinois women but for the nation.

@Neighbor leadin:Telephone treatment: The time had come to start charging patients $1 for telephone calls to the doctor, said some Elgin area physicians.

"A doctor will go home at night, tired out, and then be awakened early merely to inform someone about a cold or a headache," said one physician.

Other practitioners said they rarely held "important conversations" on the telephone and did not care to charge for such consultations. Doctors in support of the charge said their actions were merely part of a nationwide trend. Lest a dollar seem small, the amount was equal to a half day's wages for many.

@Neighbor leadin:Movie therapy: Could watching movies help treat mental illness?

"There is no question, but that the pictures are benefiting the patients," said a representative of the Elgin State Hospital, now the Elgin Mental Health Center, which introduced the plan.

"They revive the patient's minds and give them something to think about other than themselves."

During the showings, consisting of two educational films and two comedies, "there wasn't a sound from the audience," he added.


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