Elgin headlines from 50, 75, and 100 years ago
"Do you think they should build a school over an old cemetery?"
"Elgin people sure seem to like Wendell Willkie for president."
"Do you think there is less drinking now because of the new law?"
These are some comments Elgin area people might have said after reading the newspapers 50, 75 and 100 years ago. Here's a look at those and other year-end stories as recorded in the newspapers of 1915, 1940 and 1965.
Motorized fire equipment
After a six-month delay caused by the war in Europe, Elgin Fire Department officials learned their first two pieces of motorized equipment were about to arrive. To compensate for the additional wait, the Packard Company, which built the vehicles, said it would be reducing the cost by $50 per month to compensate for additional feed for horses. When asked if the fire department planned to travel under the speed limit when answering calls -- as was required in another community -- the chief responded, "That's a foolish order. When going to fires, the main object is to get there as fast as you can."
A more sober city?
Did Elgin's decision to vote "dry" a year ago and end the sale of alcoholic beverages in the city affect the arrests for "drunkenness?"
"Most definitely," said the police chief, who supplied records showing the total arrests had dropped from 209 to only 90 after the new law went into effect. Figures for both years also showed arrests for imbibers peaked in the spring and summer during both years.
It is one thing when someone is awarded a Carnegie Medal for heroism, but when it's a former Confederate captain being honored for saving the life of a Union officer, it becomes even more unusual. "The freight train passed an inch from us," said 74-year-old Confederate Captain William Creighton in explaining why he was given the award for saving the life of 86-year-old former Union officer James De Pew. Following the 1913 incident, Union veterans also gave Creighton the unique honor of marching at the head of the city's Memorial Day parade dressed in his Confederate uniform and flanked by a Union honor guard.
Presidential contender visit
Witnessed by a crowd of about 2,500 people, a train carrying Republican presidential contender Wendell Willkie wound its way slowly through Elgin as it passed from Rockford to Chicago. Willkie and his wife waved to supporters from a platform at the end of the last car while loudspeakers played the song "God Bless America."
Though Willkie would later carry Elgin in the presidential election, the race was comfortably won by incumbent Democratic candidate Franklin Roosevelt who garnered an unprecedented third term.
All night street lighting
It's time that Elgin stop turning the streetlights off at midnight, explained a city commissioner. The current plan was put in place as a cost savings nine years ago during the beginning of the Depression and conditions have changed, he added. The commissioner said all night street lighting would particularly benefit early morning commuters. Elgin officials also hoped to resolve the confusion with the electric company as to which utility poles were owned by them and which by the city.
Water Plant security
As the nation moved closer to war, Elgin officials announced that residents would no longer be allowed to visit the city's water pumping station located along the Fox River near Slade Avenue on the city's northeast side. They also said additional police patrols would be added to the area to protect the city's water supply. Similar measures, including fencing in the area, were set to be undertaken during World War I -- though abandoned when a peace treaty was signed.
School vote approved
A $4 million referendum to address growth in School District U-46 -- a measure approved by only two Elgin precincts -- was given the go ahead by district voters. Included in the construction plans for Elgin was an addition to Larkin High School and the construction of Hillcrest Elementary School on the west side and Channing Memorial Elementary School on the east side. The eastern portion of the district would benefit with a new school in Streamwood and additions to buildings in Bartlett and Ontarioville. The land for Channing, which was a former cemetery converted to a city park, was to be acquired by trading it for an athletic field the district held elsewhere.
At the movies
Film goers headed to Elgin's Crocker Theater to see the Beatles in "Help," while those who went to the Grove Theater could view Charlton Heston and Richard Boone in the "War Lord." Those who ventured east to the Star View Outdoor Theater at the corner of Routes 20 and 59 could enjoy Elvis Presley and Ann Margaret in "Viva Las Vegas." Children under 12 years of age were admitted free.
Drive-in with phones
Joining the list of new drive-in restaurants in the area was the Queen Bee Drive-In on Dundee Avenue near Hickory Place on the city's near east side. To order, restaurant goers parked under a canopy and called their orders in on phones located on islands between their vehicles. Car hops brought their order which might include the restaurant's signature triple decker Queen Bee Burger for 59 cents as well as other menu choices including chicken and homemade pies.
Jerry Turnquist writes about Elgin history. He welcomes questions and comments from readers. Email him at IBeMrT@aol.com.