1860 photo taken 4 days after Mr.
Lincoln visited Lincoln, Illinois, for the last time. Info at 3 below.
His town does too.
Link to Lincoln:
Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, IL
Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse
About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse,
the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park
Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era
The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and His History and
Heritage in His First Namesake Town,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's
body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn
Introduction to the Social & Economic History of
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge
Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht
"Social Consciousness in William Maxwell's
Writings Based on Lincoln, Illinois" (an article published in the
Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, winter 2005-06)
Peeking Behind the Wizard's Screen: William
Maxwell's Literary Art as Revealed by a Study of the Black Characters in
Billie Dyer and Other Stories
Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage
of Lincoln, Illinois
The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois:
on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"
Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites,
Descriptions, & Photos
The Hensons of Business Route 66
The Wilsons of Business
Route 66, including the Wilson Grocery & Shell
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek &
the highway bridges, GM&O bridge, Madigan State Park, the old dam (with
photos & Leigh's memoir of "shooting the rapids" over the old dam), &
the Ernie Edwards' Pig-Hip Restaurant Museum in Broadwell
The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past &
Route 66 Map with 51 Sites in the Business &
Courthouse Square Historic District,
including locations of historical markers
(on the National Register of Historic Places)
Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square
The Foley House: A
Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of
the Route 66 Era
Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the
Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era
Churches, including the hometown
churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr
Factories, Past and Present
Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era
Hospitals, Past and Present
Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66
Lincoln Developmental Center
(Lincoln State School & Colony in
the Route 66 era), plus
debunking the myth of
Lincoln, Illinois, choosing the Asylum over the University of Illinois
Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities
Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College
Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight
News Media in the Route 66 Era
The Odd Fellows' Children's Home
Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble
fountain of youth
A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era
The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of
The Festive 2003 Sesqui-centennial Celebration of
Lincoln, Illinois, including photos of LCHS Class of 1960
dignitaries & the Blanfords
Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois,
on October 11, 1950?
The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)
in this section tell about Leigh Henson's Lincoln years, moving away,
revisits, and career:
About Lincoln, Illinois;
This Web Site; & Me
A Tribute to Lincolnite Edward Darold
Henson: World War II U.S. Army Veteran of the Battles for Normandy and
the Hedgerows; Brittany and Brest; and the Ardennes (Battle of the
For Remembrance, Understanding, & Fun: Lincoln
Community High School Mid-20th-Century Alums' Internet Community
(a Web site and
email exchange devoted to collaborative memoir and the sharing of photos
related to Lincoln, Illinois)
Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001
Review of Dr. Burkhardt's William Maxwell Biography
Leigh Henson's Review of Ernie Edwards' biography,
Pig-Hips on Route 66, by William Kaszynski
Leigh Henson's Review of Jan Schumacher's
Glimpses of Lincoln, Illinois
Teach Local Authors: Considering the Literature of
Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life
in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of
A Tribute to Bill and Phyllis Stigall:
Exemplary Faculty of Lincoln College at Mid-Twentieth Century
A Tribute to the Krotzes of Lincoln, Illinois
A Tribute to Robert Wilson (LCHS '46): Author of
Young in Illinois, Movies Editor of December Magazine,
Friend and Colleague of December Press Publisher Curt Johnson, and
Correspondent with William Maxwell
Brad Dye (LCHS '60): His Lincoln, Illinois, Web
including photos of many churches
Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois
Fikuarts of Lincoln, Illinois, including their
connections to the William Maxwell family and three generations of
family fun at Lincoln Lakes
Jerry Gibson (LCHS '60): Lincoln, Illinois,
Memoirs & Other Stories
Dave Johnson (LCHS '56): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1956
Sportswriter David Kindred: Memoir of His
Grandmother Lena & Her West Side Tavern on Sangamon Street in the Route
Judge Jim Knecht
(LCHS '62): Memoir and Short Story, "Other People's Money," Set in
Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in the Route 66 Era
William A. "Bill" Krueger (LCHS '52): Information
for His Books About Murders in Lincoln
Norm Schroeder (LCHS '60): Short Stories
Stan Stringer Writes About His Family, Mark
Holland, and Lincoln, Illinois
Thomas Walsh: Anecdotes Relating to This Legendary
Attorney from Lincoln by Attorney Fred Blanford & Judge Jim Knecht
Leon Zeter (LCHS '53): His Web Site for the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1953,
including announcements of LCHS class reunions
(Post yours there.)
Highway Sign of
The Route 66
Association of Illinois
State Historical Society
Email a link to this page to someone who might be interested.
This page is a major addition to Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, & Other Highlights of
Lincoln, Illinois, and was published in the summer of 2004 after the "Best Web Site of the
Year" award by the Illinois State Historical Society. Internet
Explorer is the only browser that shows this page the way it was designed.
Your computer's settings may alter the display.
April 24, 2004: Awarded "Best Web Site of the Year" by the Illinois State
achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater
Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theater, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
to Lincolnite Robert Wilson:
Author, Editor, and Film Scholar
Dear Mr. Wilson, why on earth did you wait so long to make yourself known
to me? . . . I like your book [Young in Illinois] very much indeed,
and am proud to find my name in it. . . . The tragic sense doesn't grow on
Huckleberry bushes. Or the ability to express it."
-- William Maxwell, letter
to Robert Wilson (October 31, 1977)
Wilson (1928-1983) was born in Lincoln and graduated from Lincoln
Community High School (LCHS), Class of 1946--the same class as my Uncle Gib
Wilson (a major contributor to this project). Robert Wilson published Young in Illinois
in 1975 as a special 112-page edition of December magazine. Young
in Illinois consists of short stories based on Wilson's growing up in
Lincoln as well as memoir relating to his experiences in Lincoln and
Chicago. I discovered this book in 2003 while searching eBay for memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois.
Upon reading this work, I realized
it was a small, neglected masterpiece, so I began using the Internet to find more
information about the book and its author. I also knew I wanted to use this
information to create this tribute page and add it to Mr. Lincoln, Route 66, and Other Highlights of
Lincoln, Illinois. Through the Internet, I have been most fortunate in locating Robert Wilson's only child, Sue
Young Wilson, a former editor of Lingua Franca and now a freelance
writer and editor living in New York. She has generously provided
information used on this page--photos, family information, and letters from
William Maxwell to her father. Without the substantial information provided
by her, I could not have created this tribute. At the bottom of this page, I
provide Sue Young Wilson's email address. If you are a "Lincolnite at
heart," please consider sending a brief email to thank her. (She explained
to me that her first name is Sue Young and that she has no middle name.)
Photo 1 below accompanied a Bloomington Pantagraph article by Paul Levin
about Robert Wilson and Young in Illinois (August 29, 1976) soon
after its 1975 publication.
Wilson with Young in Illinois
At the right is the front cover of Young in Illinois
with a photo of St. Mary's Catholic Church. "The church steeple, beautifully
aglow against the overhead sun" (Young in Illinois, p. 16). The bicycle racks and basketball
hoop in the foreground were located on the playground across the street--the
setting of the title short story. Photos in Young in Illinois were
taken by John Cisco.
This page develops the following topics:
Cover Showing St. Mary's Catholic Church at 4th and Maple Sts. in Lincoln,
A biographical sketch of Robert
Map and other information about
the north Lincoln neighborhood of Robert Wilson
A look at Young in Illinois
Notes on Young in Illinois
by Literary Critic Lee Walleck
Publisher Curt Johnson's
remembrance of Robert Wilson (1985; 2003)
Analysis of William Maxwell's
letters to Robert Wilson (1977-1980)
Wilson's memoir of Lincoln, Illinois (2003-2004)
A Biographical Sketch of Robert Wilson
Robert Wilson was born (1928), raised, and educated in Lincoln, Illinois.
Following his high school graduation, Wilson attended Lincoln College, and
earned an Associate of Arts degree in 1948. In 1952 he
received a bachelor's degree from Roosevelt College in Chicago. After
he was discharged from the Army in 1954, he began living in the Hyde
Park area of Chicago and continued his education at Roosevelt College, where
in 1959 he completed a master's degree in sociology. Then, for many years
worked in Chicago as an editor of trade publications.
Wilson used his writing and editing skills in the pursuit of his life-long
fascination with movies. One of his essays in Young in Illinois,
"Life and Art in the Thirties (for William Maxwell)," describes how this interest began in his
childhood when he visited the movie theaters in downtown Lincoln, especially
the Vogue (this essay appears later on this page). As a non-paying "labor
of love," Wilson worked from 1963 to his death in 1983 as the movies editor
for December magazine, a publication of December Press. Curt Johnson
was the publisher; Wilson and he became colleagues and good friends. In a
letter to me of December 29, 2003, Johnson describes December and Wilson's work as
its movies editor: "For about 20 years December was (quite
possibly) the leading independent literary magazine in the U.S. and so, the
world with the notable exception of Paris Review. What Wilson did was
contact movie writers and put together a section on movies for each issue.
Developed the section. Was always great stuff (just as is the Temple
University Press book on Ferguson)." In 1971, despite divorce, job loss
caused by a corporate merger, and hospitalization related to depression, Wilson edited a scholarly work
Film Criticism of Otis Ferguson, and it was published by Temple University Press.
Young Wilson writes, "By the early 1960s,
Robert Wilson had established himself as an editor and had married OckJu
Noh, the younger sister (newly arrived from Korea to study law at the
University of Chicago) of the wife of a publishing colleague and friend. In 1965 they became the parents of Sue Young Wilson, who
is Robert's only child. Robert and OckJu divorced in 1970; but he maintained
a close relationship with his daughter, and the two of them saw, wrote, and
called each other regularly until his death."
Robert Wilson returned to live and write in Lincoln in the early 1970s. His
daughter tells me that at
some point during this period he taught a class in film at Lincoln College,
and she remembers seeing him screen classic films to include in the course. In 1974-5, he received a fellowship from the National
Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to work on Young in Illinois, which (as
noted above) was
published in 1975 as a
special 112-page issue of December magazine.
As an aspiring creative writer and as a veteran editor, Robert Wilson was
knowledgeable about the publishing industry and was well aware of his good fortune in
obtaining the NEA fellowship. In the Pantagraph article, he notes how
difficult it is to get published: "The day of writing your great short story
and waiting for a return letter saying, 'You're the greatest,' is gone. . . ." Wilson pointed to another trend that he said will hurt the
literary community. "I don't think there's much interest in reading in the
United States anymore. There's a relatively small number of people in the
U.S. who do any type of serious reading. Even prominent writers are being
read by the same segments of individuals. If a book doesn't sell 10,000
copies, it's sold as a remainder" ("Contrast of City, Small Town,"
Pantagraph, 8-29-76, p. C-8).
In 1982 December Press published Wilson's The Otis Ferguson Reader. Curt Johnson describes Reader as
"the only December Press book to get reviewed all over--The New Yorker,
The New York Times, Harper's, The Village Voice,
Downbeat--and favorably, and the only book in 25 years to make a nickel
for the Press." Before Robert Wilson's passing in 1983, he had seen many of
the favorable reviews (Green Isle in the Sea, p. 264).
Robert Wilson died in Lincoln in 1983. He, his brother James, and their parents are buried in Union
Cemetery at Lincoln.
Cover of TFCoOF
Cover of TOFR
Map and Other
Information About the
North Lincoln Neighborhood of Robert Wilson
Business Route 66 (in red) at the Heart of North Lincoln
Notes: The map above (adapted from Yahoo) conforms to the convention of showing
north at the top. The aerial photo below, however, was taken from the
The map shows the location of the small, neighborhood grocery store on
Burlington Street owned and operated by Robert's parents just behind their
home on north McLean Street.
The main competitor of the Wilson Grocery of north Lincoln was the Krotz
Grocery, 1010 N. Kickapoo Street. Three generations of Krotzes,
including Barb, LCHS Class of 1960, owned and operated this grocery from
1919 to 1994. Then, for several years, Karl Krotz owned and operated the Krotz
Bros. Lawn, Garden, and Pet Supply Center in this location. My description of the present-day business at
this location--an "extreme" curiosity shop--expresses my interpretation of Karl (LCHS, 1956) and Bob (LCHS, 1946)
Krotz's enterprise, which continues to bear the former name: the Krotz Bros.
Lawn, Garden, and Pet Supply Center. The present business is partly a
collectibles shop, partly a used Crosley auto parts store, and partly a
(free) museum of eclectic and bizarre memorabilia relating to Lincoln,
Illinois, and just about everywhere else. (I love the toy airplanes hanging
from the ceiling, the political campaign buttons, and the photos of
politicos, including a large one of the colorful Paul Powell). Well, you
should visit the place to see for yourself. Karl's business card describes
himself as "the Shabby Sheik." Later in 2004, I will add a Web page to this
Lincoln Web site about Karl and the history of Krotz enterprises in this
historic 1905-10 building--one of the best-kept secrets about Lincoln's
history. The construction of the Krotz Building included materials
from the 1858-1903 Logan County Courthouse. See
13. The Logan
County Courthouse, Past and Present, for photos of a
window in the Krotz Building that came from the historic 1858 courthouse,
where Abraham Lincoln practiced law. He may even have gazed through this
Originally I had mistaken the OK Tavern for Gorens' Tavern, but Pat Rogers,
LCHS Class of 1957, emailed his correction. Pat identifies the location of Gorens' Tavern
as "300 Butler right off Tremont." Thanks, Pat, for the "eagle eye." Gorens'
location would be a little southeast of Wilson's north Lincoln neighborhood.
The 1934-5 Polk's Lincoln City Directory lists a tavern owned by Fred
Gardner at 1201 N.
McLean, the same location as the OK.
Gorens' was an African-American tavern
and the site of the shotgun
"crime of passion" slaying on New Year's eve of 1953. The assassin had confessed to the murder (Lincoln Evening Courier,
April 26, 1954, p. 1). Native Lincolnites will be interested to know the Courier article says that after the
slaying, the murderer visited the J&J Tavern on Pulaski Street in
downtown Lincoln--one of the BoBs
("Buckets of Blood")
mentioned by Fred Blanford. For a contemporary photo of the north McLean
Street tavern and more info, see
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era
and scroll to 36.11. Also, for photos and other information relating to the giant shale
pile, mine, and ice plant, see
Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities.
Hopper's Tavern was a neighborhood watering hole in
the 1930s, and this tavern is mentioned in Robert Wilson's memoir of Lincoln, as cited
later on this page. Lincoln has never had very many neighborhood taverns,
probably because the town was never large. My father, Darold, tells me that
Hopper's name was Henry Geskey.
Adaptation of Two-Page Photo (taken 9-16-1960) in Gleason's Lincoln: A
Pictorial History, pp. 40-41
Young Wilson and Robert Wilson in the Front Yard of the Helen and William Wilson Home
8: Sue and
Robert Wilson in the Back
Yard of the Wilson Home
The above photos,
both probably taken in the winter of 1973, have been provided by Sue Young
Wilson. They show a proud father's love for his eight-year-old daughter.
These photos also help depict the north Lincoln neighborhood of the Wilsons.
The above photo at left was taken in the front yard of the Helen and William
Wilson home on north McLean Street. The Wilson home and grocery store have
since been demolished, and another house occupies the site. The photo shows
McLean street was a brick pavement, like many streets in Lincoln, Illinois.
Additionally, this photo shows typical neighborhood bungalows in the background.
The above photo at right was taken in the
back yard of the Wilson home, between the home and the Wilson Grocery Store,
which appears in the background. The Wilson Grocery faced north on
Burlington Street. The arrow identifies the water tank of the Stetson China Company on north Kickapoo Street (also
formerly Business Route 66). The Stetson water tank also appears in the
photo below. Stetson's has been gone since 1965, but the landmark water tank
remains and is used by another enterprise. For information about the Stetson
China Company, see
Past and Present.
9: GM&O Railroad Tracks Looking North Toward
Keokuk Street (Business Route 66) in Lincoln, Illinois
(Mid-1970s photo by John Cisco in Young in Illinois)
At the right of the photo is the Stetson China
Company and its enduring water tank.
A Look at Young
in Illinois (1975)
in Illinois is a beautiful book, steeped in bittersweet nostalgia,
-- Curt Johnson, Green Isle in the Sea, p. 263.
"Young in Illinois
consists of five stories that read like a novel, slowly written, beautifully
executed. . . . They are stories of youth and manhood, with all the pain,
agony, loss, and acceptance."
-- The Chicago Tribune, quoted in Green Isle in the Sea
Young in Illinois
consists of autobiographical short stories and essays of memoir. The main characters
of the short stories are sensitive young males trying to gain peer approval.
The memoir typically compares the Lincoln and Chicago that Wilson knew in
the past with the Lincoln and Chicago he knew later, mostly in the 1970s.
Robert Wilson dedicated
Young in Illinois to his parents. Robert Wilson's daughter, Sue Young
Wilson, lovingly recalls her Wilson grandparents and provided me with copies
of their obituaries to offer biographical information about them. Helen M.
Wilson (1903-1987) was a daughter of Jacob and Margaret Renchler Grachek.
She married William J. Wilson on June 5, 1927. He (1904-1986) was a son of
David and Tena Heinzel Wilson. The two children of this marriage were Robert
and James E. For 30 years William J. and Helen Wilson owned and operated a
grocery store in north Lincoln on Burlington Street. In addition, the
1934-35 Polk's Lincoln, Illinois, City Directory states that Mr. Wilson
clerked at the Basket Grocery on Chicago Street. Mr. Wilson also had been a
Logan County deputy sheriff; a security guard for Lincoln College and
Lincoln Community High School; a supporter of the Lincoln Railer Basketball
Club; an assessor for East Lincoln Township, and a member of the Logan
County Board. This information shows the William J. Wilsons were life-long,
"salt of the earth" Lincolnites.
Young in Illinois is especially significant because it
provides a very rare account of a young innocent who goes from a small
Midwestern town to the big city to work for years and then returns to the
hometown with a seasoned perspective. The history of American literature
shows few such "round trip" accounts. Also, Wilson's writings
about Lincoln, Illinois--in many ways a typical small Midwestern town--, depict what it
was like to grow up in the 1930s and 1940s in the less-privileged parts of
Lincoln society than those depicted in William Maxwell's better-known, more-extensive
writings set in Lincoln.
Young in Illinois consists of the following (the dates in parentheses
refer to the dates of original composition):
"Winner's Take" (composed in 1956)
(autobiographical short story)
"Young in Illinois" (composed in 1954)
(autobiographical short story). These early stories are marked by vivid
social and psychological realism and skillful dialogue.
"The World Outside Illinois" (composed
in 1965) (memoir of
living in Chicago)
"Life and Art in the Thirties" (for William
Maxwell) (composed in 1972) (memoir of growing up in Lincoln during the
"Chicago" (composed in 1975) (more memoir of
living in Chicago and returning to Lincoln)
In the following
discussion, I use quotations from selections in Young in Illinois
with the generous permission of Mr. Curt Johnson, publisher of December
Take" (composed in 1956)
This short story is set in the
late1930s near the coal-mining section of north Elmsville (Wilson adopts
William Maxwell's fictional name for Lincoln, Illinois). The story opens
with "soon to be seventh grader" Jack Thompson (fictional counterpart of Robert Wilson) pushing
his face into the dirt as he tries to bite and pull out a matchstick, which he has
driven into the ground with his pocketknife. Jack is practicing a key skill
in the game of mumbly peg (or mumble peg, etc.), and he is thinking about a
game of it that he had played the day before with pals, including Sandy and
Mike. (This pocket-knife throwing game was popular with boys--and men--in
early- to mid-20th century. For detailed information about how this game is
played, including illustrations, see the link to Dan Beard's Web page titled "Mumbly
Peg" in the Sources
Cited at the end of this page.)
Jack practices his skill
as he waits for Finch, his playmate, so they can go hunting crawdads at the
Branch [probably Brainerd's Branch--a small creek just a few blocks to the
west of north Lincoln in the pasture of the owners of the grandest mansion
in Lincoln, built by the Brainerds and owned by the McGraths in the Route 66
era]. Finch approaches, kicking a tin can; and Jack
explains that Sandy, who lost the mumble peg game the day before, cannot go
"craw-dad'n." Finch cannot go either because his Dad is sending him to town
to buy nails needed in building a pump. Jack, unhappy with that news, is
critical of Finch, who is a little younger.
They discuss the mumble
peg game of the day before. Finch insinuates that Mike falsely claimed that
Sandy's knife throw had failed the two-finger test. (A knife throw was legal
only if someone could slip two fingers between the blade and the ground
where the blade attached to the knife handle.) Because Mike said Sandy had
failed the test, Sandy had tried to pull the matchstick out of the ground
with his teeth, but failed at that, too, and was doubly humiliated in front
of the older boys. Jack defends Mike and
begins to wrestle Finch as brothers Mike and Roy Wheeler show up.
Jack commands Finch to take
back his accusation about Mike, or Jack will tell the older two boys. Finch refuses. Jack and
Finch begin to fight. Jack is eager to humble Finch and impress the older
Jack discovers that the
younger Finch is not easily beaten. [The larger sans serif type in the
indicates quoted material from Wilson's writings.]
Wilson and Friends
The subjects of this photo are just a little younger than the characters in
"Winner's Take"; but their clothing, pose, and expression suggest a definite
passion for fun and games that must have followed them into their teens.
Photo provided by Sue Young Wilson.
wiped away tears with the sleeve of his shirt, and then jumped up. But
before he could even get a punch off, Jack had hit him twice in the ribs and
Finch staggered away, gagging and all doubled over in pain.
"Now ya had
enough?" Jack said excitedly. "Ya ready to stop messing with me? Huh?" As
Jack waited for Finch to answer, he listened eagerly to the shouts of
encouragement Mike and Roy were beginning to send up now that he was really
showing them what he could do. For the first time in his life he actually
felt they were behind him, on his side, with him all the way, and he was
suddenly happier than he could ever remember. He didn't like knocking Finch
around, but if Finch wanted to keep trying to play the big shot on him, well
he was sure willing to keep dishing it out.
finally straightened up and, still gasping for breath, began to move weakly
in Jack's direction. He stopped a few steps a way. "I never done nothing to
you," Finch said in an accusing, sick voice.
enough?" Jack said harshly.
. ." As Jack's arm went back, Finch made a feeble attempt to block the
swing. Jack's fist smashed into his mouth.
think ya really hurt the kid that time," Mike said. "Better get him out of
here, Jack, 'fore there's trouble. Our old man'll be home in a few minutes"
Jack is frustrated that
Mike and Roy's approval is short lived. In the end, Jack is alone and
tearful with remorse from hurting Finch and failing to console him.
"Young in Illinois" (composed
in 1954, pp. 13-40)
In this lengthy short story, high school boys of the
mid 1940s play basketball on the playground of St. Mary's Catholic grade
school in Lincoln, Illinois, trying to impress one another and
bantering--sometimes with off-color insults. The story dramatizes conflict
between sophomore and junior boys. This story, like "Winner's Take,"
displays sharp realism of character, scene, and dialogue.
At the opening, Paul
Marshall, a high school sophomore, is tending to his father's grocery store
while Paul's father runs errands. [Paul seems based on the author.] Paul's classmate, George Daniels, is there
too, talking to his girlfriend June on the phone. Paul and George wait for
Mr. Marshall to return so he can drive them to the playground of St. Mary's,
where the boys will play basketball. When Mr. Marshall returns, he suggests
George is good enough to play varsity basketball and should forget about a
past conflict with the coach and try out next season. Paul acknowledges
George's ability by referring to him as the Gipper or Gip. Paul's father
closes the store and drives the boys to the playground, where they expect
classmates Droopy and Rabbit to meet them.
Paul and George beat
Droopy and Rabbit in several games, increasing the margin of victory each
time. As they begin to rest, Harry Riggs and Ed Anderson, who have been
playing tennis, approach the other end of the basketball court where some
grade school kids had been playing. Harry and Ed are the only juniors on the
Elmsville varsity basketball team, and they stop to show off their shooting
skill for the grade school kids.
Then Harry and Ed walk
over to the sophomores, and the bantering begins. Ed reveals himself as a
foul-mouthed smart ass, bullying Rabbit. Paul hopes George will complete
against Ed and humble him. Rabbit is amazed as George and Ed talk about
their recent dates. Ed continues his edgy behavior toward Rabbit:
"Say do me a favor, willya buddy? Ed asked, wheeling around. "Shake hands."
on, shake hands."
acted like it was a new game or something. Ed made a limp motion as if he
were going to shake hands, then grabbed Rabbit by the elbow and tripped him
over onto the ground. "Now get off my back, willya junior? Take a nap."
expression "shake hands" is sexual slang for masturbation, so Paul and
George quickly understand the crude insult to Rabbit. Paul hopes George will
retaliate. George says "a few calm but deadly words"
to Ed, who tries to knee George in the stomach, but George quickly turns and
deflects the move.
Taking regular drags on
his cigarette, Ed tells a story about how some of friends and he sexually
humiliated a younger boy. That prompts Droopy, who had been quietly lying
down, into action.
Ed." Droopy had been stirring restlessly or uncomfortably in his
stretched-out position for sometime now he sat up, reflectively running his
hand along his jaw. "Do me a favor, willya?" he asked quietly.
"What?" Ed said in a surprised voice, cocking his head in Droopy's
a favor, willya Ed? Shake hands."
. . .
. At first Ed only stared at Droopy. A slight, puzzled frown wavered on his
face. Then the red started creeping over his neck, and his roughly handsome
features hardened into a scowl as Droopy, his big body hunched over his
knees, gazed back at him. . . ."
is amazed at Droopy's bold retaliation. Ed then begins to talk about
George's girlfriend, implying she and her sister may be promiscuous. Paul
senses that Ed is taking out his frustration on George and that George is
letting down his friends by failing to stand up to Ed.
his head, confusedly biting his lower lip. He just couldn't believe it. The
Gipper giving in to a cheap, lousy bastard like that. And using June
[George's girlfriend]. He had no right, no right at all to do that. George
had betrayed them, that's what he had done" (p. 26).
Next, all of them agree
to choose sides and play a game of basketball. Paul is additionally unhappy
because George and Ed decide they will be the ones choosing the sides. As
Paul and George scrimmage on opposite teams, they compete fiercely, lose
their tempers, and play rougher and rougher. Finally, George knocks Paul to
the pavement. Getting to his feet, shaken and bleeding, Paul hesitates, then
says with dramatic tough-guy understatement, "You fouled
me. . . . "It's my out" (40). Readers are left wondering what effect
this experience will have on the characters' friendship.
Wilson and Gilbert Wilson Among Some Other Members of the
Lincoln Community High School Class of 1946 as Juniors in 1945
The group photo from the 1945 Lincolnite was taken on the front steps of the 1925, red-brick
building. (For photos showing the neo-Classical design of this structure,
In each row of the above photo, students are identified from left to right.
The white oval identifies Gilbert "Gib" Wilson, upper left, and Robert "Bob"
Wilson, lower right. As far as I can determine, these Wilsons are not
Bottom row: B. Wheeler, M. Shonewise, W. Shane, R.
Worth, E. Winkel, S. Tibbs, J. Weaver, D. Tumilty
Second row: P. Walker, J. Sheley, I. Taylor, M. Smith,
Third row: L. Spurling, N. Smalley, P. Schrader, J.
Strunk, L. Slayton, P. Stanley, B. Snyder
Fourth row: H. Tellish, L(owell) Wilson (first cousin
of Gib Wilson), B. Wehner, P. Slayton, F. Scott, E. Sielaff
Fifth row: H. Schmidt, L. Williamson, D. Shroyer, H.
Swille, F. Veff, B(ob) Wilson, D. Stoltz
Sixth row: M. Wiggers, D. Werkman, L. Sheridan, P.
Snyder, G(ilbert "Gib") Wilson, B. Wilmert
12: Young James and Robert
Wilson (with oars) (date and place unknown; my guess is Miller Park in
High School Graduation Photo
The two photos above have been provided by Sue
"The World Outside Illinois"
(composed in 1965, pp. 41-51)
essay is a memoir of
the author living in Chicago in mid- to late 1950s as a young man from a small Midwestern town
becoming involved in the worldly urban lifestyle. The central scene is in a
bar where the girlfriend of a wealthy, irresponsible male friend is a
Art in the Thirties (for William
Maxwell)" (composed in 1972, pp. 73-81)
"Life and Art in the Thirties (for William Maxwell)" is an essay of
memoir about childhood during the1930s in the coal-mining area of north
Lincoln, Illinois, during the Depression. The entire essay is reproduced
here with the permission of December Press Publisher Curt Johnson.
Of six kids I played with and knew well as a child,
two were in penitentiaries at twenty-one, one was committed to an
institution for the criminally insane, two became alcoholics and were dead
at forty, and one ruined his back in a factory but later became the
neighborhood's first school teacher at thirty-five. I was among the first in
my neighborhood to go to college, and the second to enter a mental hospital,
Illinois in the 1930s was much as it is today physically. Not many side and
back streets were paved and crude oil was used to keep down the dust; most
of the houses in North Lincoln, a coal-mining neighborhood two blocks from
our house, across the tracks, had outhouses and many homes hand-pumped
water; water was heated on coal-burning stoves for baths in the homes I
knew; kerosene lamps were often used in North Lincoln, but not in my
neighborhood. Today, the outhouses, pumps, and kerosene lamps are gone, but
not much else has changed. The trees were as numerous and high and green in
the thirties, the homes, most of them, freshly painted every year or two,
the lawns kept freshly mowed and free of leaves in the fall.
The people had been there before the thirties, and
lives then as now followed long, generational patterns. The sons of coal
miners usually became coal miners, until the mines ran dry in the forties;
later, like everyone else, they became factory workers, barbers, delivery
men, and clerks. The sons of alcoholics became alcoholics, the sons of men
who beat their wives beat their wives, the good, provident husbands brought
up sons who paid their bills on time and went to church every Sunday.
The fathers of some of my
friends were on relief, but most of the men worked at their trades during
the thirties, although the work might not last longer than six months out of
the year. I don't know how the lives of these men changed from the twenties,
because I was not born until 1928, but I wonder if they changed much at all.
My friends, growing into the 1950s, were also old men at thirty.
Fathers told their sons that
living and earning a living were as hard as trying to break concrete with
your fists, and the black rages that would erupt from a mood or a sullen
supper conversation, the fists slamming against a head trying to duck away,
the belts being jerked off pants and exploded in every which direction, were
daily reminders that we had to learn to be men even if it killed us. But
gradually, we stopped wanting to be men and the world of our childhood
closed in upon us. Children should be seen and not heard and speak only when
spoken to, and most of us stopped speaking at all, except to each other.
[bold is mine]
Our lives moved with the seasons and the school year. In the winter it was
always cold, inside the house and out. Houses were hard to keep clean
because of the soot from the stoves and the frequent backfires which blew
ashes all over the room. We studied and listened to the radio sitting close
to the big kitchen stove, behind which clothes were always hanging up to
dry. In the mornings, clothing was heated on the oven door before we started
getting ready for school. But as cold as it got, it was never too cold to go
sledding on the streets after a snow, or to build a fortress for
snowballing. In the summer, it was always hot, hotter inside the house than
out usually. We wandered endlessly, from the abandoned stockyards along the
tracks, to the makeshift ball diamonds, to the streams and creeks, sometimes
stopping to help a friend gather coal along the railroad tracks, and then
continuing on down the tracks to see where the horizon curved off. We were
told never to stop and talk to tramps, although tramps who came to our
homes, if they were reasonably neat and polite, were almost always fed, and
we could sit with them on the backporch and listen to their stories while
they ate. Around mealtime, the neighborhood was filled with eerie sounds,
for most mothers had developed a distinctive cry to call their children home
after not seeing them since breakfast or the noon dinner. Our mothers asked
us to stay within a two-block area when it got close to dinner or supper so
we could hear their calls. This was hard because no-one had a watch, so
someone was always getting hit for being late when his father arrived home.
But this was the only time we ever thought of time.
If the seasons followed a ritual
of marbles and football in the fall, sledding and basketball games and snow
ball fights in the winter, marbles and kites and baseball in the spring, the
days were remembered for our favorite programs on the radio, the nights for
the trips downtown to get the newest treat at the ice cream parlor; But day
or night, winter or summer, our thoughts were never far from the three movie
theaters in town.
Double popsicles and ice cream cones were a nickel, milk shakes and six dips
of frosty freeze-covered with syrup were a dime, movies were a dime, an
occasional supper consisting of a hamburger, french [no cap] fries and a milk shake
cost twenty-five cents. We lived a nickel and dime life, and most of the
dimes went for movies. I seldom went to fewer than four movies a week and
usually more. The poorest of my friends always saw two movies a week (on
Saturday afternoon and evening) and they stayed until the theater closed. In
my neighborhood, wealth was measured by the number of movies one could see
in a week. I was in awe of one friend who went every day for a year.
My own compulsion, which lasted twenty years, kept me in a movie theater
fifteen-twenty hours a week. There was always a crossing back and forth
between reel life and real life, as Andrew Sarris once put it, and those of
my friends who crossed permanently over into real life were finished at an
I spent hour after hour listening to the radio--Jack Armstrong, Captain
Midnight, Terry and the Pirates, Tom Mix--but I don't ever remember
pretending to be a radio or comic strip hero, although I was always in and
out of every movie I ever saw. Perhaps movies were a better and richer part
of our daily life, and the radio and comic strips were a kind of fun and
pretending that we knew was pretending. We lived in the movies.
The first movie screen in
Lincoln had been set up at the back of a confectionary store, and my mother
told of watching Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, and Mary Pickford, her
favorites, while she enjoyed an ice cream soda with her mother. By the
thirties, there were two movie theaters in town, and a third, the Vogue,
opened in 1934 with a showing of Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch. The Vogue
turned out to be narrow and barrenly disappointing, but I remember the
excitement of going to that opening with my grandmother, and of seeing color
posters of Buck Jones and Ken Maynard in the lobby, cowboys being brought to
town for the first time by the new theater. The Vogue was converted to a
Woolworth store in the fifties, and the Lincoln Theatre, gilt-edged and
handsome in the thirties, survives today as the only show in town, dust,
disheveled, and largely deserted except for weekends when two or three dozen
high school kids drop in on a date. The Grand Theatre was an old,
rather decayed opera house with a vaguely sinister reputation, even in the
thirties--some of the our mothers told us not to sit either in the balcony
or under it in case the supports collapsed. Which meant that a lot of kids
were packed into the first few rows of the theatre with that huge screen an
inferno of light and action, especially on Saturday night, when we joined
the toughest kids in town to watch the gritty, nonsinging cowboys like Bob
Steele and Tom Tyler. These kids even wore their guns differently, strapped
low and tied down with a thong just above the knee. One of my friends from
North Lincoln spent hours every week waxing his holster until his gun would
flash like greased lightning on a draw. Almost every kid in North Lincoln
wore a gun, although it never protected them from anything.
I remember a slow walk home from
school with Gene, stopping to shoot marbles along the way on a warm spring
afternoon. We were fifteen minutes late arriving at Gene's house; his father
was in the barn doing the chores among the pigs and chickens many neighbors
kept if they had the land for it behind their houses in town. I remember the
grim look on the father's face when he told Gene he had missed doing his
chores, took him into the barn and switched him eight or ten times across
the back and legs with a buggy whip while Gene covered his face and head.
Gene didn't cry or make a sound, which was something we had learned from the
movies. We said so long and I went home.
I remember Trey-ball Fletcher
telling his younger brother not to grab for the bread at the dinner table,
and when Sam reached anyway Trey-ball pinned his arm to the wooden kitchen
table with a steak knife. Trey-ball's head had been banged against the wall
so many times in school that everybody said he wasn't all there anymore. And
perhaps he wasn't, my mother's concern was that I not get hit too many times
in the head; my own feeling is that people telling me that I was going to
end up in reform school with guards doing the beating was probably worse,
and I never saw a prison picture without taking my bearings as one of the
inmates. I spent the thirties walking to the electric chair with Cagney and
Bogart, and no-one ever told me exactly what I was accused of. And I still
don't know. All I remember is my friends getting their hair and ears pulled
and their heads butted into walls, and I wouldn't speak to anyone who did
these things. I hardly spoke at all in school from the time we transferred
from our neighborhood school to the central junior high and on into high
I remember kids being forced to jump into the muck at the bottom of a privy
to retrieve a toy that had been thrown there, and an eye gouged out in a
street fight, and threats to have our arms and legs broken if we didn't
behave, and the one time it came true after David Preston had been warned
not to take a shortcut through the yard of a man who lived on Park Place
when we headed that direction to go craw-daddin. The last time we walked
that way, the man called the city department of streets where David's father
worked as a laborer; when David got home his father broke his arm with a
baseball bat. [bold mine]
[Wilson breaks the essay here
with an extra space and follows with a flush-left line.]
In the dreamlike, violent world of childhood we looked to
the movie screen for an opening into the future. The kid who had been
knocked down by his father could find in Cagney the possibilities of a
tough, jaunty grace at thirty and not a mean-spirited alcoholism. To a
skinny, dirty-mouthed and frightened girl, a Jean Harlow was as important as
John Wayne to a skinny, frightened boy learning to walk with his slow
authority. A lower-class boy who went to school to Cagney or Wayne was
probably better off than going to school. The movies were always there, but
once the dream had been lost or forgotten it was gone forever. Which is why
I came to hate those films like Kings Row which locked one into a
nightmarish double vision of the unrelieved meanness and nastiness of
everyday life. The movies were real and they could haunt all your nights, or
brighten all your days.
In the flotsam of old memories, I think I felt for the
first time the final loneliness of death when the empty horses were aligned
at parade rest while the band played "My Country 'Tis of Thee" at the end of
Lives of a Bengal Lancer. A fear more real than Frankenstein came out of the
fog when the blind beggar grabbed the boy at the beginning of Treasure
Island. And the realism of the disintegrating flesh in Lost Horizon was
another black vision I have never forgotten. But so many of these fears in
the theatre simply blended into the fear we had learned from adult life.
Things to Come, with its vision of a world falling into endless war, was a
realistic extension of the bubble gum cards we passed around after playing
mumble peg. The cards were bloody scenes of the bombing of Ethiopia and the
Rape of Nanking. The newsreels and "the March of Time," with its voice of
doom leading us into the future, were enough to make us wish we had no
future. "The War of the Worlds" panicked some of our fathers and mothers. I
don't think many kids were that impressed.
I don't remember a time when I
wasn't afraid. The murky waters in a creek would make me fear the fish
beneath the surface. But the fear became a chilly pleasure in the Vogue
Theatre when the lightning crackled over the Frankenstein monster and the
green-tinted castle of Dracula filled the screen. The fear was easy to
escape by going to the popcorn machine in the lobby or by ducking under the
seat. The pleasure was always there to take home with you: the endless
afternoons spent climbing a tree with a rope knotted at one end to hook in
the branch above like the Hawk of the Wilderness; slipping into the lake
like Tarzan on the lookout for crocodiles; carrying a lunch on an all-day
trip to a hobo jungle that held all the dark dangers of Trader Horn.
The cowboys and the serials and the cartoons were a way of life, of the
deepest and most profound pleasure and joy. The movie theater was a place
that you dressed up for, that you went with your friends or your
grandfather, that you could whisper in and eat popcorn and drink cokes in;
it was the very best place you could ever go, and I know of nothing that has
ever replaced it.
[Another break here.]
Although I could go to almost
any movie I wanted, looking back I can see that many strange gaps in my
experience of thirties movies were simply a reflection of the town and
neighborhood I grew up in. People tended to reject those kinds of
experience that were too foreign from their own lives in the same way that
they chose their friends or felt uneasy about big cities or other states.
Films with Katharine Hepburn or with stars who talked with an upper-class or
foreign accent were shunned. I never saw a film with Garbo, or an Ernst
Lubitsch or von Sternberg film. Chaplin had lost his popularity by the
thirties, and the misanthropy of Fields was a little too much like the town
drunk. People had likes and dislikes regarding the stars they associated
with in a movie theater that were at least as strong as their feelings about
the people they lived and worked with, and often stronger. (My mother said
she'd rather watch the inmates at the local asylum than go to a Marx
Brothers picture.) However, those films that brought upper and lower classes
into an uneasy but sympathetic relationship with each other were OK, and I
learned to like the Katharine Hepburns with the Douglas Fairbanks and the
Ray Millands because they were the girl friend or friend of James Stewart,
Cooper, or Wayne. I don't ever remember coming to terms with middle-class
people, either inside a theater or out, and it was enough to have a teacher
recommend a movie like Zola or Pasteur to cross off everyone concerned with
the movie forever (I don't remember seeing a Paul Muni film, either). The
first boy to go to college from my neighborhood had earlier set himself
apart by expressing a preference for the effete, but brave, Ray Milland over
John Wayne in Reap the Wild Wind; he never again returned home (I have
learned he became a homosexual, but I don't know, since the terms "student"
and "queer" were used almost interchangeably).
I maintained an uneasy balance
between reading a book and playing basketball, but I never did well in
school after I left our neighborhood elementary school. My grades were so
low in high school that it is doubtful I would have graduated if the policy
hadn't been to graduate everyone except the most violent malcontents and
troublemakers. I came to fit into that classification, too, when it was
discovered I hadn't taken certain essential courses because I disliked the
teachers. The principal told me that it was too bad trash had to be kept in
school at public expense, and then assigned me to make up the courses
beginning at 7 o'clock in the morning. I sat in the empty classroom and
stared at the home-room teachers without speaking or opening a book for six
months and then I was graduated.
I finally went to college after
failing at two or three jobs, and after coming out of a deep and prolonged
depression. I began to immerse myself in literature, but never quite in the
same way I had cared for movies. The books I was discovering were by Joyce
and Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and I read them in the furnace room of a
college building where I would stay for days at a time, leaving only to go
home to sleep. Literature for me became a strategy of survival, of the
minimal means necessary to live and to function. I learned from "A Clean,
Well Lighted Place," and from Chekhov and Dreiser and even from "The Time of
Your Life." Samuel Beckett at a later point was another great teacher, and
so was Nelson Algren, and so many others.
Books and college were also an
opening into a marginal career in publishing, that dark ghetto of former
English majors who are neither writers nor businessmen; but editing,
compared to packing boxes or laying floor tile, is a bookish, middle-class,
rather pleasant occupation, and I remained at it until an explosive
combination of disturbances in my personal and business life spit open the
compartments of my mind and I found myself falling into a black chasm of
fear, down and down towards that ultimate skid row that had seemed my fate
from the very beginning. The fall was arrested in a psychiatric ward, where
I remained for six months.
After my release, I returned to
Lincoln for a visit, to walk the quiet streets that were and were not the
streets of my youth. I was drinking scotch and water, which was enough to
define my difference from my companions, in a neighborhood tavern on my
third day home and wondering about a front window that had been smashed and
patched with cardboard, I found out from the bartender that Gene Baker was
back in town for the first time since his confinement to a penal mental
institution, many years ago, when he returned to Lincoln with a gun to kill
the judge who had sentenced him to prison. I could only guess what had been
said in the tavern, what sly sarcasm about his age and paunch and background
had led Baker to flash in pride and rage when he and the kid who went
through the window should have been able to foresee the consequences. But
then, obviously, none of us had ever been able to foresee anything, starting
as children [for photos of a Chicago Street bar where this scene could
have occurred, see 16 and 17 below].
And now I am leaving the tavern. The sun is warm and pleasant as I walk
slowly towards home. To my left, down the railroad track, I can see the
abandoned brick building where a pie factory was started in the late
thirties. Since our mothers did their own baking, I could never figure out
who bought the pies; but some of my friends dropped out of school after the
eighth grade to begin working there at 25c an hour; the business didn't last
long. All of the old factories are vacant now, the china factory, the casket
factory. The sidewalks are deserted for as far as I can see. But then I am
one of the few people in this town who walks; certainly no father will
ever again trod home at noon for a hot dinner, nor will factories ever again
blow their whistles to let the wives know their husbands are on the way. The
cars are everywhere, and the television antennas rise like a forest above
the tops of the houses. The little buildings, the groceries and the barber
shops that once stood in backyards, either have been torn down or left
permanently empty. A block from the railroad track is a shopping complex;
even in this small town, people don't like the inconvenience of driving to
the city square to do their shopping. I consider stopping for a cup of
coffee. I stand on the sidewalk and look at the four or five modern
businesses joined end to end. This block was grass and gravel when I was a
child; a single wooden structure stood back from the road, and on hot nights
"Hopper's," for that is what the tavern was called, would be crowded to the
When a hot day was beginning to cool into evening, I would be coming down
the street carrying a tin bucket to have filled with beer. My grandfather
has given me a quarter and I have my fist closed over it in the pocket of my
short pants to that I won't lose it. The gravel hurts my bare feet. Inside,
I stand politely behind the men lined up at the bar until Mr. Hopper notices
me. The bucket is heavy when filled, and I am careful not to swing it on the
way home even though the lid is firmly pressed down. I turn the corner
towards our house. A car is parked in front of my father's grocery store.
When that customer leaves, we will be able to eat supper.
I wave to my grandfather. He is
a tiny man in work pants and an undershirt. He is digging in my father's
garden. My grandfather is the neatest man I have ever known; I enjoy
watching even the careful way he shaves with a long, straight razor. He is
able to build almost anything with his hands. But he has been sick for a
long time and unable to find work. We take walks together, and once a week
we go to the movies together. He is a kind, gentle man, and I feel bad when
he has an attack.
My mother comes out on the backporch and smiles at me. I hand her the bucket
of beer to put next to the ice. My mother once won a beauty contest. She
quit school after the eighth grade, but she is very smart. She has been
unhappy since her mother died. When it storms, she sits in a corner and
covers her head and cries. Her body begins to shake when the sky gets dark.
My father puts a lock on the
back door of the store. He is a tall, handsome man. He is in the store all
day and on Saturday and part of Sunday; at night he goes downtown to play
cards. My father is not happy. He seldom says anything, except to customers.
He stops to watch my grandfather in the garden. They come up the walk
together. My mother calls me in to supper. I am happy because the Vogue
Theatre is opening tonight. I think that I shall be happy all the days of my
Theater Marquee in 1943
(Photo from Paul Gleason's
Lincoln: A Pictorial History, p. 103)
This photo is the only one I can find that shows the original Vogue Theater
marquee the way that Robert Wilson would have seen it in the 1930s. Charles
Stringer took this photo of Mark Holland buzzing Lincoln in his C-47 Dakota
on March 23, 1943. Mark performed this stunt to impress his girlfriend, Marcella. The marquee says
"Jack Benny The Meanest Man in the World." For an account of
this incident written by Charles Stringer's son, Stan, see
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era.
in 1975, pages 83-112)
This section is memoir that describes Wilson's living and
working in Chicago from 1950 to the early 1970s, including the unreasonable demands of his job as editor,
bouts with depression, losing his job, being divorced, and returning to
Lincoln to live and write.
Wilson describes the appeal of the big city for him:
"If you were born in a small town, you learned that the
neat lawns and houses would stand as they had always stood, long before you
were born, long after you would be dead. That the gardens and hedges, the
trees and homes led a fragile life, protected from the mess and sordidness
of people. If you could not learn to walk on the sidewalk (never the lawn),
if you could not learn where a candy wrapper belonged, if you could not
learn the thousand rules that protected the town, then your doom was sealed
as surely as the fact that one day you had been born and one day you would
die [emphasis mine].
often painfully, you came also to learn that a thousand additional rules
protected the families who lived in the homes from the mess and sordidness
of their neighbors. The girl who had taken a boy into her basement at 15 was
from the bad part of town and would stay there all the days of her life; the
boy who began drinking beer or playing poker for money at 14 was from the
bad part of town. These were only the first rules, of course; but although
there were many of them, the rules were kept simple so that a whole
generation could settle down by the time of high school graduation. If,
somehow, you graduated from high school without finding your part of town,
or finding it, could not settle down, there was Chicago" (p. 91)
As in other parts of
Young in Illinois, Wilson describes the challenges faced by a young man
from a small downstate town when he moves to the big city. After his
discharge from the Army in 1954, Wilson lived in Hyde Park because he was
"attracted moth-like to the memory of parties I had attended while on leave
from the Army. Candles were burned in those book-lined apartments below the
sidewalk. Slender girls with brown, graceful backs sat languidly on the
floor, seemingly without thought of the expensive gowns they wore:
girls rumored to be the daughters or granddaughters of men who owned the
glittering department stores on State Street, or the renegade daughters,
perhaps, of steel manufacturers in the East. Who or what they were shimmered
mutely in their dark beauty. In the early hours of the morning they would be
gone." When Wilson attempted to correspond with one of them, she ignored his
letters (p. 84).
(Photo provided by Sue Young Wilson)
Wilson then began to seek
the society of others from downstate:
"Gradually, my life took shape around the loneliness of the streets north of
53rd Street. I did not feel comfortable in the student bars or in the bars
where the Beat writers hung out. I was no longer a student and did not have
enough confidence to pass as a writer. A stubborn downstate accent led me to
a small tavern around the corner from 51st and Lake Park Avenue, because the
owner was from Little Egypt, that section around Cairo at the deepest tip of
Illinois. In a neighborhood of students, teachers, and other professionals,
he had managed to build a business around the eight or ten evening drinkers
who came there mostly to talk about their hometowns--Mattoon or Danville,
Illinois, a few deeper south cities like St. Louis and Memphis; lower-middle
class men who worked as butchers and barbers in a neighborhood that was to
be for them forever alien" (p. 85).
In the early 1970s,
Wilson returned to live and write in Lincoln. He describes walking about
town, sometimes visiting bars and meeting locals, including some he had
known in childhood. Wilson may have asked his photographer-collaborator,
John Sisco, to take the photo below of the 100 block of Chicago Street in
Lincoln because it was the location of one of the downtown bars that Wilson
had remembered. The only building on this block I recall that had a tavern is identified by the black box in the photo
below. The photo does not contain evidence that the building was used as a
tavern at that time. The second photo below was taken in the 1960s, and it
clearly shows that the building was then Veff's Tap.
Note: Today (2004)
"progress" has replaced all of these buildings with a parking lot. The
buildings to the right of Ritchhart's, constructed of yellow brick, remain,
however. As I recall, the building immediately to the right of Ritchhart's
was the home of the Basket Grocery. Presently it houses the Logan County
Historical and Genealogical Society, which is a combination museum and
historical library open to the public. (As far as I can tell, the museum
collection does not include any treasures from the Ace Novelty, which was an
adjacent business popular in the Route 66 era.)
Block of Chicago Street of the mid 1970s
with Location of Former Veff's Tap (black box)
(Photo by John Cisco from Young in Illinois, 1975)
Wilson writes, "Pick a bar, perhaps on Chicago Street
where there are many bars. The traumas that stunted the lives of these men
and left them living in a world of permanent afternoons or evenings on
Chicago Street are not easy to discover. You will hear them talk of World
War II and Korea; sometimes of the Great Depression; of the corruption of
cities and government; of the takeover by Blacks and the ignorance of young
people. But you will learn little from these discussions, words floating in
the stale air of empty afternoons that have lasted for 20 or more years.
In a prairie town there is
only one season--a season to be young, to play football or basketball, to
fall in love and marry. This season must warm you each day of your life as
the past inevitably recedes into dim memories and the pictures in a class
For some men, though, the season becomes blighted; an awkward
body, a fearful shyness, the savage laughter of girls, poverty, even the
laughter of one's own family. The bitterness can never be forgotten or ever
overcome; in a small town one grows old within the memories of a single
generation, and another season will never spread its warmth along Chicago
Street" (p. 102).
Businesses on Chicago Street in the 1950s and 1960s:
(l to r) Tumilty Heating, Veff's Tap, and L.B. Ritchhart Sales (auto supply
(Photo provided by D.D. Welch and Fred Blanford)
Veff's Tavern or another tavern in the next block south on Chicago Street,
for example, the Empire, may have been the setting described above where two
fighting patrons exited through the plate glass window.
In 1975 Wilson wrote the following
about his hometown:
The years have been kind
to Lincoln. If the bandshell that stands in Latham Park is rotting and in
disrepair, the homes around the park show the loving attention of twenty
years of affluence. If the railroad station is now boarded-up, perhaps
eventually to be torn down for a parking lot, the shopping center on the
outskirts of town glitters in the sleek expanse of acres of new cars. There
is even a live Rock lounge a block from the old high school, but the one
time my brother went in he said he felt like an elderly hanger-on, and I am
nine years older than my brother. Occasionally, I drink along Chicago
On walks around town, I find it easy to admire the freshly-painted houses,
the immaculate lawns. Nothing changes for the worst except people. But,
then, I know few people. The houses stretch for miles.
I have run into two
acquaintances from the North Lincoln days of the 30s and 40s. Tom Simpson,
who quit school to join a carnival, has had open-heart surgery and spends
his days caring for stray dogs that no-one ever seems to claim from the
kennels Tom put up in his backyard. When I visited him, Tom proudly showed
me a 'true-crime' paperback that quoted some of his testimony at a
rape-murder trial in Chicago. (Tom had worked as a maintenance man at the
local mental institution when the accused murderer had been a patient.) I
was interested in the author's description of Tom: 'an elderly man who had
worked hard all his life at physical labor.' Tom had been 47 when the book
was written. People must age differently in Los Angeles, the author's home.
Everything, but especially
teeth, did go fast when Tom and I were young. Flowers were better cared for.
Harry Sandel's teeth were almost completely black with rot when I ran into
him at a bar on Chicago Street. At this point, it's possible that pride
keeps Harry from having them pulled. On Chicago Street, everything and
everyone is a survivor. I tried to interest Harry in talking about the night
he scored over 50 points in an eighth-grade basketball game, but he said he
couldn't remember doing it. Harry did want to talk about the trotting races
which he attends every Saturday night, winter and summer in Chicago. I
tried, but it had been over 10 years since I last bet on a race. I had never
scored even two points in a varsity basketball game.
After you leave a tavern, if you
walk far enough north on Chicago Street, you will come to an abandoned pie
factory along the tracks. I come this way often. East of the tracks a couple
of blocks in the home of my parents. West of the tracks is the grocery store
where I have set up my typewriter. The store is now a rooming house, one of
the few in Lincoln. But the rooms are too small, the walls too thin, the
tenants--construction workers in town for two or three months--too often
suspicious if not hostile. As the years roll away, I think back to the
furnished rooms in Hyde Park.
I do not believe this voice will
speak again. But then, on the other hand, my daughter's name is Sue Young
Wilson" (Young in Illinois, pp. 111-112).
Note: as of
the summer of 2004, the bandstand in Latham Park has been maintained, and
the train depot has been converted into a destination restaurant.
Young in Illinois by Literary Critic Lee Walleck
Walleck was the literary editor of December magazine, which published
Young in Illinois. He writes that Wilson was "always much more" to
December magazine than its movies editor. "Personally, in spite of his
predilection for the slivered [sic play on words] screen, I always liked him" (Green
Isle in the Sea, p. 33).
With regard to the first
two stories in Young in Illinois, Walleck writes, "Self-effacing as
always, Wilson does not elaborate about his two short stories. Both were
almost published by large-circulation magazines in the mid-'50s, including
New World Writing, which kept the manuscripts 2 1/2 years before finally
rejecting them. (Thirty years ago quite a number of large-circulation U.S.
magazines still published quality fiction. Had Wilson been published by them
back then--who knows?) And in 1966 another of his stories, 'The World
Outside Illinois,' was cited by Martha Foley as a 'notable' story of its
year. Moreover, only three years ago (1982) his roundball epic was
translated into German as 'Betonbasketball' and anthologized in American
Freeway by Maro Verlag (8900 Augsburg1, Bismarckstr, 7 1/2 West Germany),
the same year that a 7-foot West German transfer student played center for
Wilson's hometown high school team in Lincoln, Illinois. Noblesse exchange"
(Green Isle in the Sea, pp. 33-34).
Johnson's Remembrance of Robert Wilson
Curt Johnson was Robert Wilson's friend and colleague. Mr. Johnson is also
editor, and publisher of December magazine and December Press
since 1962. He is especially noted for his novel Song for Three
Voices and his nonfiction book Wicked City Chicago. He edited
the milestone literary-publishing history titled Green Isle in the Sea: An
Informal History of the Alternative Press, 1960-85. Mr. Johnson and I
corresponded about Robert Wilson in the fall of 2003,
and I could not have created this tribute to Robert Wilson without Mr.
Johnson's generous cooperation and encouragement. Mr. Johnson tells me he
has no computer, and I have posted his business address below under Sources
Cited. Thus, if you are a "Lincolnite at heart," please consider sending him
a brief note of thanks for helping with this tribute page.
In a letter
to me of October, 2003, Curt Johnson writes that "Bob Wilson was my closest
friend for 30+ years. . . . I'm very glad you're doing what you're doing for
Lincoln. Bob loved the town--and had his reservations about it. He
corresponded with Maxwell. . . . I went with him to a junior college
[Lincoln College] basketball game there. It's too bad he's not alive for you
and him to get together and talk about the town."
Isle and the Sea, Johnson describes Wilson:
Wilson died July 11, 1983. He was 55. He had grown up in Lincoln, Illinois,
and spent most of his adult life in Chicago. He was a writer and editor best
known for his collection of short stories and essays, Young in Illinois,
and for The Film Criticism of Otis Ferguson (Temple University
Press), which he co-edited. For the last 19 years of his life, Bob Wilson
was also the movies editor of December.
Bob's last 10 years were tortuous for him mentally and physically, I think,
but he bore them with fortitude. Those who have read his "Young in Illinois"
would know he would not complain.
Young in Illinois is a beautiful book, steeped in bittersweet
nostalgia, beautifully written. I once had to give a talk to high school
student writers in Crete-Monee and asked them to read an essay from the
book, 'Life and Art in the Thirties,' as preparation. These writers were
born at least 25 years after the time Bob spoke of in his essay, but so
evocative and skillful was his prose that when we discussed it they
told me--at length--about all the many good things the essay had and
did. [bold mine]
Without Bob Wilson December magazine would have
been quite different than it was and would never have lasted through to this
He cared about good writing, scotch whiskey,
injustice, movies, basketball, jazz, his parents, and his daughter, Sue
Young Wilson. Not at all in that order. And any man who hated two women
and one man as he hated had to be a good man. And good men are harder and
harder to find.
last time we were together in Chicago we spent an afternoon and evening
talking, eating, drinking, and carousing and parted late at night to go our
respective ways with our respective ladies of that evening. We rejoined at
my apartment the next morning, a Saturday, about 10:00 o'clock. For
breakfast I finished what little bourbon I had in the place while he started
to work on a nearly full quart of scotch, which tastes, as is well known,
like medicine. When I ran out of bourbon he shared his jug with me. He paced
and I paced and we talked about our plans for December and about
people and writers we'd known and things we'd done together, and let the
sunlight stream into the room and got closer that Saturday to saying to each
other what we really believed than we'd ever gotten in 25 years of knowing
for 10 years been trying to sell The Otis Ferguson Reader, a book ms.
he'd co-edited, to commercial and university press publishers. Finally he
asked me if I wanted it for December Press. The Reader is a
collection of Ferguson's jazz pieces, among much else. I know nothing about
jazz and Ferguson is best known as a film critic. But The Reader was
good writing, even I could tell that, and if Bob said it was worth
publishing I knew it was well worth publishing. (He had incorruptible
standards; once I asked him to select my 10 best short stories out of 50 I'd
had published so I could submit a collection to a contest. 'I would,' he
told me, 'but you haven't got ten that good.')
that Saturday, at one point in our long, peaceful, continuously refilled
discussion, I said that if I had to pay his co-editor (Dorothy Chamberlain,
Ferguson's widow) more than I'd paid other December Press authors in the
past for their work (almost nothing), to hell with it.
Robert Wilson at December Magazine
(Photo from Green Isle in
the Sea, p. 28)
frowned and half-smiled and paced, lit a cigarette, stopped his pacing,
cleared his throat, frowned and half-smiled and said, "You have to, Curt.
It's my book.'
him off to Lincoln about 3:30 that afternoon, both of us with a mild happy
buzz on. That Saturday was the only day in my life I ever enjoyed scotch.
Ferguson book was published late in 1982. It is the only December Press book
to get reviewed all over--The New Yorker, The New York Times,
Harper's, The Village Voice, Downbeat--and favorably,
and the only book in 25 years to make a nickel for the Press. Bob waited
seven months after its publication, until all the enthusiastic reviews were
in, and then he spread the Chicago Sunday Tribune out on the kitchen
table in Lincoln, Illinois, late Sunday evening after supper on the 10th of
July and started through it and that Monday morning at 3:30 his mother found
him slumped over the papers, his head on his arms on the table, and bigod I
world of arts and letters--such as it is or they are today--will miss him,
too (Green Isle in the Sea, pp. 263-264). Note: In an email of July 2010,
Sue Young Wilson told me that Curt Johnson had passed away some time ago.
With some Internet browsing, I discovered he was born in 1928 and died in
2008. Two good sources on Johnson's life and work are as follows:
Cover of Green Isle in the Sea
Johnson from Green Isle in the Sea, p. 240
Analysis of William
Maxwell's Correspondence with Robert Wilson (1977--1980)
Wilson wrote William Maxwell to tell him about the publication of Young
in Illinois (1975) and to send him a copy.
Sue Young Wilson explains, "Maxwell responded with a letter dated October
31, 1977; and this exchange began a correspondence that lasted several
years. On Maxwell's side, it consisted of at least nine letters and a
postcard he wrote to Wilson. Wilson clearly responded with an unknown number
of letters to his mentor, who, as the correspondence continues and
warms, increasingly answers as a personal friend. But since Wilson
mailed his side of the exchange off to Maxwell, these letters were not among
his papers at the time of his death. If Maxwell kept them, they may be in
the collection of the latter's correspondence now held at the Rare Book &
Special Collections Library of the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign (see link in Sources Cited). Maxwell's correspondence has
not yet been completely logged into a database, but the Library is open to
the public, and staff are available to help with searches."
The letters reflect these writers' mutual interests in their craft and in
the neighborhoods and houses referred to in Maxwell's publications set in
Lincoln. Maxwell expresses encouragement for Wilson to write more and
concern for Wilson's health. On some of these letters, Wilson wrote brief
notes. Sue Young Wilson kindly provided me copies of these letters.
In a letter dated October 31, 1977, Maxwell says he wishes Wilson would have
introduced himself earlier, saying he would have wanted to help Wilson in
the publishing world. Maxwell offers high praise for Young in Illinois
and encouragement for Wilson to write more:
"I like your book very much indeed, and am proud to find
my name in it. It is the real thing. And very moving. And so well written. I
particularly admire the trick of offering facts that would stop a clock in
such an offhand way that they cannot fail to make the effect you intended
them to make.
Our memories are
complementary. I was particularly struck by 'In a prairie town there is only
one season--a season to be young, to play football or basketball, to fall in
love and marry. This season must warm you each day of your life as the past
inevitably recedes into dim memories and the pictures in a class album.' My
bones tell me that this is correct, and surely all you would need for a
novel. [bold mine]
I hope you will go on letting me see what you write. The tragic
sense doesn't grow on huckleberry bushes. Or the ability to express it. And
if you should come to New York, please call me." [bold mine]
In a letter to Wilson
dated December, 1977, Maxwell says he mailed a copy of Over by the River
to Wilson. The letter says, "you are to consider it a
present from your mother and daughter. And me too, of course."
At the top of Maxwell's letter to Wilson dated November 16, 1979, Wilson
notes that he wrote a review of Maxwell's novel So Long, See You Tomorrow
for the Chicago Tribune. The first paragraph of Maxwell's letter
"For many reasons I wanted you to like that book,
and I am very glad that you did. Placed one after another those quotations
are extremely revealing. As you intended them to be. I don't expect any
other reviewer to understand the book as well."
On other literary
matters, in a letter to Wilson of July 6, 1980, Maxwell refers to a question
Wilson had asked about ranking "my novels according to excellence." Maxwell
"I think I would put They Came Like Swallows at
the bottom of that list, and The Chateau third, but I know that
TCLS moves people in a way that it doesn't move me, and suspect that I
am simply too close to it to judge.
In terms of the difficulty to
writing them, I think I would have that they were all five equally
difficult, for entirely different reasons in each case. In every case I was
convinced that the whole idea was a mistake and I would never be able to
pull it off. What bothered me most about So Long, See You Tomorrow
was that, for the first time, I was writing about people I did not know but
only had observed superficially as a child. I wrote and wrote and wrote,
ever so many scenes that were never used, and finally wrote myself into what
seemed like knowledge. There was also the difficulty of how to combine two
separate stories [the story of Cletus Smith, whose father murdered Lloyd
Wilson, and the autobiographical story of the author's friendship with
Cletus]. I didn't know why I had to tell my own story as well at [sic]
at Cletus's. I just knew it had to be done. And when I found the Giacometti
quotation, I said I have found my novel."
Maxwell encouraged Wilson to write more. After Wilson published
Young in Illinois in 1975, he may have been working on another book.
In a letter to Wilson dated September 14, 1979, Maxwell asked,
"Are you able to get on with that book? I would like to
know how things are with you." In a letter dated November 16, 1979,
Maxwell wrote, "I hope you can continue to have your
daughter near you, and that the move to Chicago turns out satisfactorily,
and that you are able to write. You are the only person I have to pass the
stick on to." This last sentence may imply that Maxwell regarded
Wilson as inheriting the mantle of writing about Lincoln, Illinois.
The letters refer to photos that Wilson took of houses in Lincoln owned by
members of the Maxwell family and described in his writing. Wilson sent
these photos to Maxwell. These houses included the childhood home of Maxwell
that is the setting of They Came Like Swallows; the Ninth Street home
of Maxwell's maternal grandparents, the Edward Dunallen Blinns; the north
Kickapoo Street home of Maxwell's paternal grandparents, the Robert
Creighton Maxwells; and the Park Place home of William Maxwell's father
described in So Long.
In a letter of November 16, 1979, Maxwell writes,
"I wish I had been with you the day you set out
with your camera to take the old houses on Ninth Street. They have been
rather prettied up. In the old days they were just white, with no shutters
or any kind of shrubbery but bridalwreath. The Kiest house, next door to
184, is still the way it was apparently. With, I think, the same family
living in it. You got the numbers right, and I misremembered the number of
my grandfather's house [the Blinns]. I wouldn't have been able to tell
anyone the number of our house, but when I saw the '184' I suddenly knew it
was right. Through their paint jobs I recognize all those houses, each of
which carries a carload of memories. Thank you for taking the pictures, and
for the supplement from the Courier. The inside of my grandparents'
house [the Robert C. Maxwells], which I have never seen sounds like a Fun
House in a carnaval [sic]. But I suppose, in its period, it made
sense. My cousin has an old picture of a children's party, grouped on the
front steps. The lace curtains in the front window were an exact duplicate
of the carpenter's scrollwork."
In a letter to Wilson
dated July 6, 1980, Maxwell responds to a photo of a Park Place house that
Wilson had sent him. Wilson had alleged that this house was the one built by
Maxwell's father and stepmother as described in So Long:
"Though I would have preferred
to be on your side of any argument, the truth is that the pictures you sent
me are of the house Jim McGrath built. The house my father built--it is like
a game of musical chairs, I am not even sure I have it right. But anyway,
the house my father built is across the street. Mrs. Perry lives in it, so
far as I know, and it is directly across from Dr. Bob Perry's present house.
When we moved to Chicago [1923 when Maxwell was 15], Wallace Perry (the
present Dr. Perry's father, who was also a doctor bought it from my father).
When Ted McGrath married, his mother, who was Mrs. Perry's mother, lived in
the Perrys' house, and when my father and stepmother moved back from Chicago
they lived there. I am touched that you find all this interesting. The
houses that move me (what is left of them are on 9th and 10th Street and
elsewhere in the older part of town."
Note: As you might suspect, I have located the addresses all of
these houses and have driven past them more than once--looking for the
ghosts that surely inhabit these neighborhoods.
Sue Young Wilson's Memoir of Lincoln, Illinois
"I do not
believe this voice will speak again. But then, on the other hand, my
daughter's name is Sue Young Wilson."
-- Concluding sentences of Young in Illinois
Wilson summarizes some of her childhood memories of Lincoln:
write you a whole book of essays about my own memories of Lincoln, and those
my father shared with me as we walked about it. Lincoln was much beloved by
me; when I was a child, I felt it as a second home, except better (because
my absent father lived there; and my grandparents, whose first
female grandchild I was, doted on and spoiled me and fed me that wonderful
fattening semi-Southern cooking (chicken and noodles and home-made mashed
potatoes and gravy); and because it stood for vacation and peace and ease.
With no trouble at all I can still conjure up all the smells of the place,
from the newsprint in the news agency [Lincoln News Agency on Chicago
Street] to the snow and cold earth of the winter fields to the smell of
frying onions and hamburgers and chocolate milkshakes at the lunch counter I
favored (Diamond Pete's?)" (from an email to Leigh, November 5, 2003).
Sue is referring to the late Pete Andrews' former Coney Island Gem Lunch Room,
located on Pulaski Street in downtown Lincoln during the Route 66 era.
In January, 2010, Carolyn Wyse
Miller Webster (widow of Roger Webster), LCHS Class of 1955, emailed me the
following information and kindly gave permission for me add it to this Web
"I grew up next door to the
and can still picture Bob as he frequently walked by, on his way to a movie
- head down, hands in his pockets. He always had a smile to answer your
hello, but he wasn't much of a conversationalist. As I read his essay
Life and Art
in the Thirties (for William Maxwell), it all becomes understandable.
It's not difficult to put a few names with the toughies he knew and
described in north Lincoln, but I am somewhat surprised there is no mention
of Danny Baker. It sticks in my mind that Danny was Bob's best friend in
high school days, but I don't know what happened to him after he was
discharged from the Army.
I remember, too, when Bob graduated from Roosevelt University, married OckJu
and and Sue Young was born, all of which were so exciting to his mother,
I was the
same age as Bob's brother, Jim, so my memories are more detailed with Jim,
Helen and Bill. I can still see Bill coming out the back door of the
grocery store when Helen called him to eat, and as he hoed the huge
strawberry patch between their house and ours. He loved to fish, and there
was a catfish farm near Peoria where he frequently took the family on a
weekend. My mother told me Helen had been a beauty queen, but in a child's
eye it was difficult to reconcile the mother of two with my
Miss-America-version of a beauty queen. She was a lively, friendly little
bird who more than made up for the silence of the men she lived with.
I'm sorry to say I didn't realize the extent of his literary ability.
moving, articulate, and so completely descriptive. I hope to find a copy of
Young in Illinois, to both read and treasure."
21: Helen Wilson, 1968
22: Sue and Penny, 1968
23: Helen, William, Robert, and Sue Young Wilson in 1973
at the Wilson Home on North McLean Street in Lincoln
4: Sue Young Wilson in 2003
Books cited above are typically available at
such online sellers as abebooks.com.
Dorothy, and Robert Wilson, eds. The Otis Ferguson Reader. Highland
Park, IL: December Press, 1982.
Gleason, Paul. Lincoln: A Pictorial History. St. Louis, MO: G.
Bradley Publishing, 1998.
Kruchkow, Diane, and Curt Johnson, eds. Green Isle in the Sea: An
Informal History of the Alternative Press, 1960-1965. Highland Park, IL:
December Press, 1985.
Levin, Paul. "Contrast of City, Small Town Basis of Lincoln Man's Book."
Pantagraph, Sunday, August 29, 1976: C-8.
Maxwell, William. Letters to Robert Wilson, 1977-1980.
_______. Over by the River and Other Stories. Boston, MA: David R.
Godine, Publisher, 1984.
_______ . So Long, See You Tomorrow. NY:
Vintage Books-Random House, Inc., 1996.
_______ . The Chateau. NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961.
_______. They Came Like Swallows. NY: Vintage Books, 1997.
Polk's Lincoln (Logan County, Ill.) City
Directory 1934-35. Chicago, IL: R.L. Polk & Co. Publishers.
University of Illinois
Rare Book and Special Collections Library:
Robert, ed. The Film Criticism of Otis Ferguson. Philadelphia, PA:
Temple University Press, 1971.
Robert. Young in Illinois. Chicago, IL: December Press, 1975.
Email comments, corrections, questions, or suggestions.
Also please email me if this Web site helps you decide to visit Lincoln, Illinois:
"The Past Is But the