The more things change … the more Huntley stays the same

Published3/23/2009 12:14 AM

A lot of things can change in a hundred years, but some never do, I discovered this week when our Huntley American Association of University Women group sat down to dinner and conversation with Nancy Bacheller, author of the new photo-essay book, "Images of America: Huntley."

Browsing the book's 200-plus scenes of early Huntley, I recognized a photo of the Schmalz family outside their white frame home on the corner of Church and Second Streets. I know that house. It's still there today, right across the street from mine, and it's still painted white.


In that photo, Church Street is just a dirt lane leading to a barn, where Third Street now runs.

And my house? There's no sign of it, of course, since it was built half a century later. Just a cow pasture then, it seems. But another picture seemed very familiar - a fuzzy photo of Hattie Schmalz in her garden, with a little cat following her around. That still happens here across the street, when my cat Herbie decides to help me plant begonias.

Some things never change, I thought, as I turned another page to see Huntley baseball fans watching their hometown team play at Oakland Park, circa 1912. That park is gone now, but each summer the Huntley Park District still hosts adult softball leagues. Registration opens May 4 and the season starts June 11, said recreation supervisor Rick Ferraro. For details, call the park district office at (847) 669-3180 or visit

Another photo shows the Huntley Town Band, circa 1918, posing proudly outside Trinity Lutheran Church in their matching uniform coats and cadet-style hats.

That church is gone now and so is the Town Band, but Huntley High School does have an excellent marching band that we can still be proud of.

In fact, Bacheller says, it could use a little community support right now. Keeping a growing band well-supplied is not cheap, and with today's tight budgets, school districts don't have much left over for extras like uniforms or new instruments.

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"They really need new uniforms," Nancy told me. "They're still wearing the same as when my son was in band - black on bottom, red on top, probably over 10 years old. They only last so long, and a lot of kids have worn those old uniforms."

To raise money, the HHS band department will hold its first fundraising gala, "A Measure in Time," on Friday, April 3, in the Drendel Ballroom at Sun City's Prairie Lodge, 12880 Del Webb Blvd. in Huntley. Proceeds from the dinner, dance, and silent auction will help provide new uniforms and other necessities for the school's music students.

The silent auction starts at 6 p.m., along with entertainment by the talented HHS Jazz Ensemble. Cocktails will be served at 6:30 p.m., with dinner at 7 p.m. and dancing to follow. Tickets are $40 per person, available before April 1 by contacting Kathleen Wiedenfeld at 847-669-9934 or Silent auction donations are also needed.

If you're a local history fan, you'll find more of interest in Bacheller's new book, "Images of America: Huntley." The Friends of the Huntley Area Library are selling copies for $20 at the library's reference desk, with profits going to support the Friends' projects and programs. You should hurry, though, says reference librarian Rosie Lukas. They have only about 30-40 copies left of this limited-run first edition.

Copies of the book may also be purchased for the cover price of $21.99 at area Barnes & Noble stores and other booksellers.

• Send your Huntley area news and events to Diane Ayers at or call (847) 669-0848.

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