When Arlington Heights butcher delivered on Saturday night

 
Posted1/19/2016 3:55 PM

Once Arlington Heights was a cozy place to live. A housewife could call her butcher at 9 p.m. on Saturday night when she suddenly remembered that she had no meat for Sunday dinner, and he would bring her order by on his way home.

Not a few villagers slept on bags of corn husks. All spaghetti was homemade. Calico was five cents a yard at Fred Redeker's General Store. And children got little bags of candy, often their only candy of the month, from Redeker if they came along when their parents settled their accounts at the end of every month.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

In 1916, a family could expect to rent a seven-room house with city water and enough yard for a garden and chickens for $20 a month. John Weilinski, who built our house, was the "thistle warden" of the township. He warned farmers to get rid of any thistles he found in their fields. Volunteer firemen got $2 a fire.

When high school kids heralded Homecoming with a snake dance through town, villagers ungrudgingly stopped in the traffic tie-ups the kids caused.

Even camels took advantage of the town's laid-back nature. When the traveling circus came to town every summer, young kids led the exotic -- for Arlington Heights -- animals up Dunton Street to the empty lot above Vine where the carnies set up the circus tents.

Dick Weidner told me years ago how careful he had to be to keep hold of the leash of the camel he led up Dunton. "I had to hold on very tight because the camel lifted its head to eat leaves from the trees as it made its way north."

The stories I like best tell of generous gestures by early residents. Redeker was famous for his bags of candy and the "extra measure" he provided to people who bought lengths of cloth or bulk cookies. It was the same with the "pop factory." The Muller family was well regarded for its generosity to locals doing good works -- a practice that goes back to the company founding when Arlington Heights was still Dunton.

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I like to think that one of the founding principles of our town is that generosity thread in our town's tapestry. This comes to mind because the Arlington Heights Museum Store is selling "vintage pop" this summer.

Old recipes for sarsaparilla, lemon, strawberry and ginger ale will be followed to give current imbibers the iconic tastes of yesteryear. As they drink their sarsaparilla, they can think themselves back to 1872 when "Sass and Brother" began manufacturing soda water. The proprietor was F.W. Muller.

In our day, we talk often of visual aids. This summer we can talk about taste aids, with lemon sour and cream soda reminders of days when the butcher delivered your Sunday chicken on his way home on Saturday night.

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