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
Lights of the Lincoln Theater, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois
A. "Jim" Knecht:
Memoir and Short Story Set in Lincoln,
Jim Knecht grew up literally along side the railroad tracks in
downtown Lincoln, Illinois; and I grew up in south Podunk (on the west side
of Lincoln)--the wrong side of the
tracks. Our paths first crossed at Dial's Texaco Gas Station at Fifth and
Union Streets during our high school years. Harry Dial, a former Illinois
State Policeman, kindly allowed many teen guys to gather in his station, and
dozens of us took advantage of this hospitality. Dial's was on the west edge
of downtown Lincoln, a short walk for Jim and a mile-long walk for me--my
family lived two blocks north of the historic Postville Courthouse site.
Jim and I graduated from Lincoln Community High School (I
in 1960, Jim in 1962) and from Illinois State University. We not only
survived growing up in somewhat challenging neighborhoods, but also
appreciate their respective positive influences.
Something on this page may prompt your desire to reach Jim Knecht. Respond to him at
Jim Knecht's childhood home was in the heart of historic
downtown Lincoln, where he lived with his mother in a second-story apartment
above a tavern
on Sangamon Street. Paralleling Sangamon Street and just yards across
the street to the east were the dual tracks of the GM&O Railroad. These tracks were along the alignment of the Alton & Chicago, which was the
original railroad company that brought about the founding of Lincoln,
Illinois. Farther east on the other side of the railroad tracks was
Elm Park: it was established on land that the founding fathers had donated to the community. Beyond Elm Park to the east of the railroad tracks and parallel with them (and
thus with Sangamon Street) was Chicago
Street, which also had many old storefronts. As Jim grew up, he became
very familiar with all of downtown Lincoln, as reflected in his writing
quoted on this page with his permission.
to an email discussion about social circles in Lincoln, Illinois, involving
several LCHS alums, Jim comments: "Given my time spent in an apartment
over a tavern in a single-parent family on Sangamon Street and years of
playing in Elm Park and on the railroad tracks and in downtown alleys and
down both Sangamon and Chicago Streets, I have a number of observations
about social strata, the class system and Lincoln -- but all by way of what
I believed was simply interesting commentary on the human condition"
(Jim Knecht in email to Leigh Henson, 8-22-03).
Below, I first present
Route-66-era photos of Sangamon Street
along with some of Jim's recollections of the businesses and people
associated with that time and place. Then, I present Jim's account of
how Lincoln, Illinois, influenced his decision to pursue a legal/judicial
career, and that is followed with background for
Jim's short story titled "Other People's Money," including a photo of Jim
and friends at a pool table and a photo of the building that is the story's
setting--Hickey's Billiards on Chicago Street in Lincoln. Next is the
engaging story itself, followed with information about another pool hall in
old downtown Lincoln, including a Fred Blanford photo of the building on
Pulaski Street that housed it. This page concludes with information about
Jim's professional life and about alumni awards he has received from
Illinois State University. I include an award-acceptance speech in which he
pays grateful tribute to his family.
Sangamon Street of the Route 66 Era
(now in the Logan County Courthouse Historic District)
describes the Sangamon Street of his childhood as "my own concrete
"Gehlbach Implement was on the [nw]
corner of Sangamon and Pulaski Streets [see photo below]--a Sinclair gas station was
on the corner of Sangamon and Broadway--so, that was my block--although I
ventured north into the Dehner Block to play with or see Judy Malerich at
Malerich Cleaners and south to Lyons Grocery--which stayed open later than
Eckert's--I think Lyons' is where the tavern now is in that block [Old
to the south just before Alexander Lumber was Bertsche's--a combination tire
store, junk dealership, pawn shop--Bertsche was a small, dark elfin man--like a
child's vision of a junk-store gypsy--glittering eyes, quick speech,
eccentric--he cashed payroll checks for a fee--and always kept large amounts
of cash hidden in various parts of the store under used car parts. He
was the victim of several strong-armed robberies and burglaries during my
Grocery was also run by two brothers--Markie and John Lyons. It seemed
to cater more to rural customers who came to town in the early evening,
course farther south on Sangamon was Bee's Ice Cream Parlor--they also
fried a steak-n-shake-style hamburger. Bonnie Keys and I ran to Bee's
many a Friday night as children to pick up a bag of burgers for my
mother and aunt, her parents and a family friend, Pauline Stoltz, who played
cut-throat pinochle (not partners) for money in my mother's apartment every
4th Friday--the game moved from place to place" (from Jim's handwritten note
to Leigh, November 10, 2003).
1. Bee's Ice Cream Parlor at
the Southwest Corner of
Sangamon and Clinton Streets in Lincoln, Illinois
(Undated photo from Paul Gleason's
Lincoln: A Pictorial History, p. 61, and
reproduced here with permission from the G. Bradley Publishing Company of
below on this page show other buildings in Jim's neighborhood. Unless
otherwise noted, these photos were taken in the 1960s and are compliments
of Lincolnite D.D. Welch. These photos were electronically transmitted to
Leigh by Norm Schroeder (LCHS Class of 1960) and Lincoln Attorney Fred Blanford
(LCHS Class of 1959).
six photos below show the 100 block of Sangamon Street, also known as
"Dutch Row" because of the many shopkeepers of German descent who owned
businesses on this street from its origin and well into the twentieth
century. I have sequenced the photos below to show the storefronts in this
block from left to right (south end to north end of block).
2. The Pluth Building
in the Mid 1960s
Jim Knecht and his
mother lived in the second-story Pluth Apartments above the West Side Tavern
(at left with Schlitz signs) and the Ed Pluth Tin Shop (in the above photo at right of tavern
with signs in window).
Side Tavern was operated by Lena and Tommy Forehand. Jim Knecht
indicates they lived somewhere on Sixth or Seventh Street. My dad, Darold
Henson, tells me that the Forehands ran a tight ship.
also observes: "Another note on Lena Forehand's tavern--she was Dave
Kindred's grandmother, and he spent every summer with her from the time he
was 9 to age 15 because he played baseball and Atlanta--where he lived--had no Pony League or Junior baseball. I knew him and his sister and
cousin-- Merle Helton. He went on to Wesleyan and then became a
sportswriter for the Louisville paper, the Washington Post,
Atlanta Constitution, Sporting News, etc., and is one of the most
respected writers in those circles today. . . . He wrote an article
that was carried nationally when his grandmother died, and he wrote about
was gone--he was 3 or 4 years older than I--, I would sometimes roll my
shot put on the floor of the apartment and the pie-eyed drinkers below
(Lena's term) believed there was thunder and were shocked to see the sun
brightly shining on a late summer afternoon as they peered out the tavern
door" (email message from Jim to Leigh, 9-9-2003).
Knecht sent me a copy of the memoir about Lena Forehand and the West Side
Tavern written by her grandson, acclaimed sportswriter David Kindred. In
January, 2004, in a phone conversation I had with David, he gave me
permission to include that memoir in this Web site. The memoir was
originally published in the Washington Post and then in the
Bloomington, IL, Pantagraph and other papers. The memoir and a photo
of the Tavern appear at
* * * * *
Tin Shop was one of Lincoln's long-time businesses. A1950 Lincoln
Evening Courier ad for Pluth's said it was established in 1920. In
1950, Pluth's business included air conditioning, sheet metal work, furnace
cleaning and repair, and roofing and guttering. Brands of equipment
sold were XXth Century, Winkler, and Sunbeam. In 1950, Pluth's had 8
employees with a total of 114 years of experience (Courier,
1-28-1950, p. 8).
writes that the "Pluth Tin Shop made beautiful tin ceilings with designs
embossed or pressed into the surface of the tin--those ceilings were popular
in the first half of the 20th century and still grace the buildings where
Eckert's and Pluth's were" (email to Leigh, November 9, 2003).
3. The Eckert
In the photo
above, note the figure in the second-story
window between "Eckert" and "Market." At the right is part of the
Jim describes Eckert's
Market and its owners: "When I was a boy, Eckert's still had a coal furnace with a local retiree
who was colorful and gruffly friendly who stoked the furnace--Jim and Stan
Eckert worked for their father and were still slaughtering livestock into
the late forties and early fifties in the rear of the butcher shop. I
watched both steers and hogs killed and butchered and was aware Old Man
Eckert--their father--made a blood pudding with the blood from a freshly
killed goose. Jim and Stan were interesting men who ran a clean,
well-stocked neighborhood grocery with the added attraction of fresh
meat--and affluent customers ventured to the Sangamon Street despite the
presence of the Western--a much rougher bar than Forehand's, right next
door--because Eckert's had high-quality meat. Jim and Stan treated me with
kindness and affection and some degree of interest in my playing football
and throwing the shot put in high school."
Apartments had lots of interesting folks, including Jess Simpson--a terrific
bowler and Pony League baseball coach--an interesting guy--Pete and Ron
Ross's grandfather" (from Jim's handwritten note to Leigh, November 10,
continues: "Next door to Eckert's was Hap Armbrust's lunchroom (back
to the south toward Pluth's [Dave's Upholstery in above photo]--he had a
lunch counter, a few card tables in the back and a great selection of comic
books and newspapers in the front--he gave up trying to run me off--I read
every comic book just as I strived to read every piece of adult fiction at
the library, at least in part because Clair Kresse--the librarian--told me
children were not allowed in the adult section. I conspired with my
mother and other more congenial library clerks to begin reading Hemingway,
Steinbeck, and several books with turned-down or dog-eared pages where the
good parts were" (email to Leigh, November 9, 2003).
following two photos were taken approximately a century apart ("the past is
but the prelude").
4. Early 20th-Century View of
Sangamon Street Showing the Eckert Meat Market
(Photo in Gleason, Lincoln: A
Pictorial History, p. 71)
reads, "The 100 block of South Sangamon Street was known as 'Dutch Row'
since the business owners in that block were of German nationality. Pictured
left to right are P.M. Biwer's Grocery; the Lincoln Volksblatt (upstairs);
Stuhlman & (Adams) Bucke Shoe Store; and John Eckert's Meat Market." Note
that most of the men are wearing suits and ties. Standing in front of
Eckert's are four butchers in white aprons. Hanging on either side of the
front door are carcasses (of hogs?).
Contemporary View of the Pluth, Eckert, and Western Hotel Buildings on
(Leigh Henson photo, 10-2003)
several parked vehicles on an autumn weekday afternoon suggest that Sangamon
Street continues to be a commercial focal point 150 years after the founding
of Lincoln, Illinois.
railroad depot in 1853 was on the near side of this street at the far right
(out of sight). That was the site where Abraham Lincoln christened the
town with his name on August 27, 1853.
Second Hand Store and Avers' Clothing Exchange
At the left
is part of the Western Hotel building with sign in lower window that says "Coming
Soon! The Record Shop." The photos I have in this series from the
1960s do not include one showing the main part of the Western Hotel,
unfortunately; but we are lucky to have the ones we have.
indicated as the future Record Shop must have been the site described by Jim
Knecht: "On the other side of the Western was Frank Ball's barbershop--I
think Frank was Trelby Ball's father--I believe Trelby and his wife still
live in Lincoln. Then Stuan's Second Hand Store--which I think was a
Feed Store--grain for chickens, livestock, etc., before it was a second-hand
store and then next door was Avers' Second Hand Clothing Store--Mrs. Avers
was Mrs. Stuan's daughter--I think--and then the Illinois Tavern owned and
operated by Grover Field--I believe his granddaughter may be the present
proprietor of the Blue Dog--or at least she is related--, and one of Grover's
daughters was Blanche Madigan who ran the bowling alley of Broadway with her
husband Harold [the Tin Pen Recreation]--they were related to Red Madigan--the father of Congressman
Madigan--I think Harold's father was Red Madigan's brother" (email to Leigh,
November 9, 2003).
Field's Illinois Tavern and Charles Dutz's Paint Store
where the Illinois Tavern was located is now the Blue Dog Inn Restaurant. A photo of the
Blue Dog Inn appears at
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era. The Dutz Paint
building has been razed, and the property is now a parking lot.
gigantic ball of string in the window of Mr. Dutz's store. This great
example of folk art from the Route 66 era is still on display in downtown
Lincoln. Read about it and see a photo at Lincoln Daily News:
of the Route 66 Era
(now in the Logan County Courthouse Historic District)
The storefronts on
Chicago Street below faced the buildings on Sangamon Street seen in the
above photos. Again, separating Chicago and Sangamon Streets were Elm
Park and the GM&O Railroad tracks. The photo below shows John
Hickey's Billiards, the setting of Jim Knecht's short story titled "Other
8. Storefronts on the 500 Block
of Chicago Street, Lincoln, Illinois (1965),
Showing Hickey's Billiards (Center, with Dark Facade and Striped Awning)
Jim says that to the left of Hickey's is Don's
Barber Shop, where Roscoe "Squirrel" Paterson also cut hair. Leigh
Henson had been one of his clients, and he does recall some of the barber's mannerisms.
Part of the sign on Don's Barber Shop is noticeable
in a photo I have that was taken of an Illinois State Police truck in the
middle of Chicago Street on the evening of October 11, 1950, during surprise
gambling raids. These raids, among many throughout the state that year, were
conducted by the Illinois State Police at the direction of reform Governor
Adlai Stevenson, II. Certainly, there were more heinous crimes in Lincoln
and Logan County in the Route 66 era--including death related to botched abortion and murder
by shotgun--, but the gambling raids and the subsequent legal proceedings
engrossed countless citizens and sparked much debate. Later in 2004, I intend to add a Web page to this site to tell that
story, based on my reading last fall of numerous editions of the Courier and the
St. Louis Post-Dispatch on microfilm.
My proposed Web page will explain that in Lincoln
and Logan County most of the illegal gambling machines confiscated from
various businesses on October 11, 1950, were pin ball machines, rather than
slot machines. The raids were very controversial--raids on
taverns, but not on such private clubs as the Elks, KCs, Moose, VFW, etc.
Jim says the business to the right of Hickey's was
Slick's Tavern: "it was an interesting place
that seemed to avoid both scandal and fights--a quiet bar. I think
there had been a poker game upstairs earlier, but like Hickey, Slick
concluded the risks outweighed the benefits" (email to Leigh, 10-17-2003).
[Leigh's note: "Slick"
was Audas Foutch. I have seen ads for Slick's in the Lincoln Evening Courier
of the 1950s indicating steak was on the menu. The photo above shows a sign
advertising Budweiser. I am not sure why the tavern photo does not show a
Schlitz sign [Lena's tavern had one]. A reliable source tells me Slick had
the lucrative Schlitz franchise in Lincoln--there was a time when Schlitz
rivaled Bud. Perhaps Slick switched allegiance to Bud, or perhaps the photo
shows the tavern subsequent to Slick's time--different owner, different
Lincoln, Illinois, and the
Beginning of Judge Knecht's Interest in the Law:
A Tribute to the Legal Profession in Logan County of the
Route 66 Era
In January of 2004, I asked Jim for some comment on how
Lincoln, Illinois, influenced his decision to pursue a legal/judicial
career, and he emailed me the following response on January 15, 2004.
Clearly, his account echoes the theme of this Web site that "the past is
but the prelude"-- the past lives today and inspires the future. I think
you will find his response most interesting and informative.
"As a boy I played on
the courthouse square both before and after the Centennial and I saw men
who I believed were lawyers and judges--and when I later learned their
identities I thought about first impressions. Walsh was a character who
would have been known whether lawyer or village philosopher.
One man who made a
strong impression was John McCullough--he was a county judge in the early
60's before I graduated from high school and I watched him handle
proceedings involving several young men who were friends or
acquaintances--in those days, juvenile proceedings were not closed to the
public--he seemed to have strength and resolve and be totally in command
of his courtroom [emphasis mine].
He defeated Harold Trapp in a county
judicial election which then made Judge Trapp available to run for the
Appellate Court in 1964--the year of the Goldwater debacle. Under the
judicial article there were to be three justices of the Appellate Court
elected to the court from central Illinois--the selection of candidates
was at a convention rather than a primary. A contingent of Democrats met
with Republican bigwigs and suggested the Republicans nominate 2 in their
convention, the Dems would nominate 1 and no one else would run--thereby
giving the Republicans the majority on the court, but the Democrats would
have 1 judge.
The Republicans laughed, refused and
nominated 3 candidates assuming they would win all 3 seats--instead they
elected only 1 because Lyndon Johnson carried even central Illinois--the 2
Democrats elected were Harold Trapp and Jim Craven--2 Democrat
liberals--Harold served for 20 years and Craven for 16. John McCullough
always claimed he was responsible for Harley Trapp being on the Appellate
Court--if Harley has been elected County Judge he would never have run for
the Appellate Court, but since John beat him it gave Harley a chance for
1984 when Justice Trapp retired, it was John McCullough who was elected to
take his place after winning a hotly contested primary and general
election. In 1986 I was elected to the Appellate Court and have served 17
years with John McCullough--and we served together on the Circuit bench
from 1975 to 1984. It seems symmetrical that I was influenced by his
manner and the way he carried himself to think about being a judge, and
now we serve together.
While being educated in the affairs of life
at Hickey's Billiards, I met a friend of my father's named John
Mestinsek--who I believe ran a shoe store years earlier--he was by then
retired but worked part time at Schoen's Shoe Store on the square while
also studying the racing form and getting tips from Frank Buckstegge, a
former fire chief or assistant chief who was the morning attendant at
Mr. Mestinsek told me I should become a
lawyer--he knew I was a good student and he wanted to give me advice,
knowing my father was away from home in the Army. Odd that he was giving
me that advice as I was thinking about that very profession. He told me
being a lawyer was the best job because the most important people in the
world as well as the working man all came to the lawyer with hat in hand
to ask for help when they were in trouble or to ask for advice about some
legal problem or issue. I perceived that he was talking about power--and
that appealed to me at the time, but I also wanted independence and I
believed a law degree would provide that. Later when I was working at
the [Lincoln] State School, I began thinking about the law as an
instrument of social change--and I believe the desire to help others,
particularly those less fortunate, was a motive to attend law school
there is an echo in my life of what I told you about my discomfort and
resentment at having a backer or a stakehorse--someone whose interests I
served --I believe this may have led me to the judiciary where I saw
myself as serving others with a degree of independence and not being at
the beck and call of a client. I would have the opportunity to do well
while doing good.
I believe the county seat lawyer who
accepted almost every client who walked in the door and who agreed with a
handshake or a nod of his head to a colleague's request for a continuance,
who met for coffee with other lawyers but also the people of the town and
ate at the lunch counter and sipped a beer in the dark, cool dark of a
corner saloon, who had a mastery of the language and who could draft a
will or cross examine a witness, and play cards with the Sheriff but
challenge him on the arrest of a client--who could argue and fight and
laugh and tell stories--some even true--those lawyers were the craftsmen
of a way of life which had to change, but for a time they were the knights
errant of the prairie, and were men to be admired for their versatility
and their willingness to do the best they could for every client no matter
his social station or race--I believe they existed even though my
impression is an idealized one that led me to the law and helped me
understand practicing law in the grand manner is a thing of the past--it
is now a business. It was not when I came to it or came to the
realization that was what wanted I wanted to do [emphasis Leigh's].
If more lawyers today and politicians and
men and women of business understood small town America and understood the
people of their time and place--and spent more time in pool halls studying
the human condition, the world would be a better place" [emphasis
Luminaries of Bench and Bar of the Route 66 Era
in Lincoln and Logan County
9. Celebration in the Hotel
Lincoln of Judge Stringer's 75th Birthday
(From Ethel Welch and Raymond Dooley's
The Namesake Town: A Centennial History of Lincoln, Illinois,
Note: The scene above most likely
occurred in the Banquet Room of the Hotel Lincoln. A color picture postcard,
showing that rich Tudor-style setting, can be seen at
& Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66 Eras.
Several men in the above photo were involved in the
aftermath of the 1950s gambling raids in Lincoln and Logan County (mentioned
earlier). Seated at the far right is Judge Bevan; he presided during the legal
proceedings related to the raids. Harold Trapp, Sr., standing at the center,
defended the handful of businessmen who fought prosecution. As my proposed
Web page will show, Counselor Trapp was truly a sly old fox of a tactician from the old school described by Jim Knecht
above. The defense of these businessmen was Mr. Trapp's last
major case before his passing. Also pictured above is C. Marvin Hamilton, States Attorney
in the early-to-mid 1950s during the ongoing and controversial anti-gambling
activity in Lincoln and Logan County.
Attorney Fred Blanford and Judge
Knecht have provided information about Lincoln Attorney Thomas Walsh (not
pictured above)--an old-school
lawyer they knew in Lincoln and a close contemporary of
the men in the above photo. A color picture postcard of the Tap Room of the
Hotel Lincoln, where Fred sometimes chatted with Mr. Walsh, is available at
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era.
Using the information about Mr. Walsh provided by my native Lincolnite collaborators,
I added a page to this Web site in tribute to him at:
10. Judge John McCullough, LCHS Class of 1949, with
Colleagues of the Logan County Bar, Including Counselor-Writer-Sage Fred
Blanford, LCHS Class of 1959, and Logan County Circuit Court
Judges Gerald "Gerry" Dehner (retired), LCHS Class of 1960, and David Coogan, LCHS
Class of 1961
(From Paul Beaver's History of Logan County 1982, p. 628)
Background for "Other People's Money"
early developed an abiding interest in literature (as well as in pool). Before attending the
College of Law at the University of Illinois, he graduated from Illinois
State University in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in English. Presented
below on this page is Jim's first published creative writing. It is a short
story whose setting is Hickey's Billiards, the site of some of Jim's
extracurricular activity that by his own admission proved very educational.
Jim shares a
passion for billiards with his Lincoln Community High School classmate Dr.
Thomas "Tom" Tierney of Tri State University at Angola, Indiana. In the late 1990s, Tom and
Jim took semi-private lessons from Jerry Briesath, the Academic Dean of The
Pool School, in Madison, Wisconsin. Briesath is the "Dean" of certified
master instructors--certified by the Billiard Congress of America. Jim
explains, "that experience [lessons] plus my giving Tom a book of pocket
billiard stories entitled Great Pool Stories edited by Robert Byrne
(containing stories by Pushkin, Tolstoy, Milne, Stegner) prompted him to
challenge me to write a pool story for a humanities program at Tri State"
(letter to DLH, November 14, 2003).
11. Left to right: Judge
Jim Knecht, Dean Jerry Briesath, and Professor Tom Tierney
(Photo provided by Jim Knecht)
Jim provides further background and context for his story:
"I did a short story about pool and Hickey's as part of an Indiana
Humanities Council program at Tri State University in Angola, Indiana--an
engineering school where Tom Tierney was responsible for single
handedly creating a humanities program and institute and getting a beautiful
old building renovated with a small theater, an impressive board room for
meetings with wonderful etchings and museum quality items on display. . . .
I appeared there for a special program jointly sponsored by the Humanities
Council and the University and WBNI Public Radio in Ft. Wayne.
I gave a speech on "Pool, Politics and Abraham Lincoln" and then read the
original short story for broadcast over WBNI--and then had the story
published in the Southern Indiana Review. [In the speech] I
hypothesized what a pool game between George Bush and Al Gore would be like--with their behavior and attitude toward the game as clues to the voters
about how they would be as President. This related to Lincoln because
he played billiards--and I suggested if more politicians had spent time in
the poolrooms of America they would be closer to and have a greater
appreciation of their time and place and the people who would be voting for
them. Then, after the speech I read my short story "Other People's
Money"--it was the short story that was published but both the speech and
the short story went out over the public radio airwaves of Indiana.
joyous to read my short story aloud to an audience in that beautiful theater
on Tri State's campus (the building, theater, etc., are Tom Tierney's legacy
to that school--by force of will he garnered contributions and support for
the renovation). The audience liked the story--I was amazed.
One of the
things I enjoyed most was getting to write a short blurb about myself as a
writer for the literary journal--I noted that I was paid to shoot straight
for a living--I like thinking about what I learned in the pool hall about
people and the human condition when I decide cases.
All of this is by way of saying that it took me years to realize what
writers have often said is really true--write what you know. The
story about pool and an evening in Hickey's was essentially autobiographical
with a fictional gloss.
There are stories everywhere, but the stories of Lincoln resonate in a
special way for those who were children there and lived in the stories" (Jim Knecht in email messages to Leigh Henson in August and September,
8, 2003, I made written request to the Southern Indiana Review to
reprint "Other People's Money" here and received that permission from the
journal's editor (Web site of the Southern Indiana Review is
http://www.usi.edu/SIR/index.asp). Jim, of course, has also granted permission for his story to appear on this Web
page. You will surely enjoy this fictional account of Jim competing at pool in
which his main
adversary is not his opponent.
"Other People's Money"
by Jim Knecht
The screen door slammed and I looked up from the
snooker table at the back of Hickey's Billiards. In the low light of
the room I recognized Wayne Kendall as he stood swaying near the counter.
The man with him wore a suit and was smoking a cigarette. The pool
tables were empty.
Kendall stood for a
moment, his eyes adjusting to the dark. Mr. Hickey spread his hand on
the card table in back behind where I was shooting snooker balls. He
raked in the pot and then got up to saunter toward the front and see what
I ran the numbered balls
on the table without a miss as the three men spoke in a low murmur.
Behind me, someone dealt another poker hand as Col. Wolpert filled Mr.
Mr. Hickey came halfway
back to me and motioned for me to come to the front table. I spotted
the pink six ball and banked it into the tight side pocket and then left the
snooker table. I walked to the front carrying my cue. I leaned
against the cigar counter listening to the Cardinals on the radio as I
stared at Kendall.
Kendall's eyes glimmered
as he stretched his neck and looked me over.
Kendall said, "That's
Mr. Hickey said, "He
shoots a good game. The best of anyone around here."
Kendall grunted but
stepped forward too close. I could see the pores of his nose and smell
the liquor on his breath. He said, "I want you to play this guy for me
and beat his ass."
"Why don't you play
him?" I asked. Kendall had once run the other pool hall in town and
was the best bank pool player I ever saw. "I'm drunk and he won't
shoot banks. I need you. Hickey says you shoot a good stick and
I want to send this fat sonofabitch home to Peoria with an empty wallet."
I looked at Mr. Hickey
and he nodded while chewing on his cigar to tell me it was ok to play with
Kendall backing me.
I looked at the other
man. He smiled. Old suit--bad teeth and scuffed shoes. I
figured he'd been drinking but not as much as Kendall. "I didn't come
here to play some kid," the stranger said. "What's up, Kendall? I
thought we'd play."
Kendall craned his neck
and looked him in the face and said, "I'm not stupid--I can't even see the
end of the table. The kid will play for me and do the same as I would.
He'll beat your ass, Baynes."
"Ok," I said.
"Let's play 9-ball."
They bickered over the
stakes and decided on $20 on the 9 and $5 on the 5, with Mr. Hickey to
handle the rack.
Baynes asked if anyone
had a cue he could use, but Mr. Hickey told him all the private cues were
locked up. He picked up a house cue and we lagged for the break.
He shot the cue ball and I shot the 9. The cue ball floated up and back and
didn't quite make it to the rail. The 9 ran smooth and even with flashing
stripe and came soft to the rail. I won the break. I break from
the right to get more action. I made 2 balls on the break, then made
the 1 in the side and left myself in traffic. I kicked at the 3, and
left him safe. He stepped to the table and with good stroke made a hit
on the 3 leaving me with a tough bank. Instead of playing safe I
banked the 3 in the corner where it dropped with a soft thunk. Then I
ran the table. Baynes ignored me as Mr. Hickey racked the balls and I
broke again making the 9 on the break.
I was shooting over my
head. After the next break, I missed, Baynes got a 5 ball, but I made
the 9 after a nice four ball run. I lost track of the dollars, but
Baynes only made the 9 ball twice and a few 5 balls as I won game after
game. Baynes was disgusted--pacing, sighing, cursing, and moaning
about my luck, and I was lucky. When you're making shots you get
lucky. They go together. Baynes had no luck and his good stroke
couldn't clear his clouded eyes. I could smell the stink from his
body--booze and cigarettes.
I could tell he and Kendall
didn't like each other and Kendall picked at Baynes about his shooting and
losing to a kid and Baynes started making noise about going home.
Kendall snorted and called him a chump.
Baynes got mad and swore
at Kendall for setting him up--promising to play and then having me play
instead. He got worked up and paced back and forth. Kendall was
up about $250. Baynes offered to play a three game set for $500 and
then quit. It was after midnight. The poker game was over and
the players had drifted home. The pool room was quiet but for the
faint whirr of the overhead fan and the hum of the lights.
Mr. Hickey racked the
balls, chewed his cigar and said nothing. Kendall looked at me, and
then at Baynes and smiled. He clenched his cigarette between his teeth
and smoke curled around his head. He said, "Let's do it."
Baynes said, "I want the
break on the first game." Kendall was cocky and gestured to tell him
to go ahead. Baynes broke the balls, made one on the break then one
more shot and played safe. We played safe back and forth. Baynes' stroke was soft and sure, and his bridge was steady. His eyes
We each made another
ball. Baynes had a combination shot on the 9 but didn't seem to see
it. He was more careful as he looked over the table before his shot.
I saw his tight smile and we made eye contact.
His eyes were cold and I
knew he'd seen the combination. He lined it up and gracefully stroked
the cue. The cue ball clipped the 5 and the 5 tapped the 9 into the
corner. It dropped and Kendall's face sagged.
Hickey was slow in
racking the balls giving me time to think. I didn't want to think.
I wanted to shoot--to play. Baynes broke and no balls fell. I
ran five balls and left him safe. We jockeyed and nursed the balls,
both of us trying to avoid a mistake. The 9 ball sat close to the
corner pocket. If I made a thin cut on the 6, the cue ball would
travel three rails and kick the 9 in the corner. It was a three
cushion billiard Mr. Hickey taught me. The cut was risky. I
could miss and leave the table open. Anyone would expect me to drill
the 6 and get position on the 7. That would be the smart way to play.
My stroke was measured
and even and I paused on the back swing. I shot and the cue ball
sliced the 6 and began its journey around the table. The cue ball
neatly kicked the 9 into the corner. Baynes tapped the butt of his cue
on the floor recognizing the difficult shot.
Kendall's face was red.
He'd been nipping on a half pint of whiskey from his rear pocket. "You
lucky shit--you didn't even see that 9 ball. You shoulda shot the 6
and then run out. You got lucky using my money."
Hickey racked the balls
and I chalked my cue. Baynes knew I played the shot. So did Mr.
Hickey. But Kendall was unhappy even though I made the shot.
We were even--one game
each. The next game would decide who went home with a thinner wallet.
I moved the cue ball to a different spot behind the string to break. I
made two balls on the break then two more on good shots. Kendall was
still muttering--not satisfied--I could hear him telling Mr. Hickey I
thought too much of myself.
I ignored Kendall and
focused on the table and Baynes. He was clear-eyed and steady, with no
slump to his shoulders. Our eyes met. I knew he had been
sloughing off. He was a strong player and had never been drunk.
He was hustling Kendall and hustling me. But now I was the shooter and
could make Kendall some money by playing my game and running the rest of the
balls. This was the game.
Baynes nodded. He
was ready to lose. He knew I could shoot. My billiard shot
showed what I could do. I saw Kendall out of the corner of my eye.
I shot the 7 ball--a tough shot--it rolled slowly and stopped in front of
the pocket. The table belonged to Baynes. He ran out--crisp and clean
and drilled the 9. The set was over, the money was lost. Kendall
was out $250 instead of up $750. He counted out the bills--and left
them on the counter. Baynes gathered up the bills and neatly added
them to his money clip.
"Nice shooting, kid.
It was just my night." I could see the intelligence behind his eyes.
He knew what happened. He might know why, but that didn't matter.
Kendall was tired and
drunk and disgusted. Baynes walked out the door alone. Kendall
tossed a crumpled $10 bill on the counter. He didn't look at me, but
told Hickey, "Give this to the kid for his trouble." He walked out
into the dark summer night and the screen door slammed once again.
Mr. Hickey looked at me
and I looked at the crumpled bill. Slats Houston was sitting in shadow
in one of the big chairs along the wall. The old wino had watched all
our games. I picked up the bill and walked over to Slats. "Here
Slats, this is yours." Slats smiled and licked his lips and wiped his
mouth. His hand grasped the $10. I walked back to the snooker
table and placed the numbered balls on their spots. I began shooting
the balls. I like shooting balls. I never cared about other
Note: When Jim snail mailed his story
to me, he included a note that says in part: "In September  I
had a 4 1/2 x 9 pool table (the size of Hickey's front table) installed in
my office. Great for my mental health."
Pulaski Street in Downtown Lincoln
following photo shows the distinctive architecture of an 1893 building that
housed the only other pool hall in Lincoln, Illinois, during the Route 66
era. The buildings picture below are located on Pulaski Street, which was
perpendicular to Chicago and Sangamon Streets. The buildings shown
here were just around the corner from Hickey's Billiards in the direction
the courthouse square and just one block west of it. The pool hall of the
1893 building had been owned, somewhat chronologically, by folks named
Baker, Bree, Kendrick, Naugle, and Smith.
Building That Housed the Only Other Pool Hall in Lincoln During the Route 66
(Photon taken and provided by Fred Blanford, 2003)
was emailed to me by Fred Blanford--another native Lincolnite pool-playing
attorney before he knew I was making this Web
page. Fred wrote about this place: "where I learned and practiced the gentlemanly art
(despite Music Man) of pocket billiards" (email message to Leigh Henson,
weeks after I announced this page, Stan Stringer emailed the photo below,
which comes from Dan and Betty Baker and which shows much of the store front
seen in the above photo. The date near the top of the building, however, was
not captured. Stan's message included this explanation: "Last fall I visited
Dan and Betty Baker, who now live in Collinsville, IL. Betty asked me if I
could copy some family pictures for her to share in their family. I was
pleased to do this for my former neighbor. Two of the pictures from the
Baker family were quite interesting, and I asked Dan if he would have any
objection to me sharing them with you for your website. Dan said he didn't
mind." The other photo Stan refers to dates to 1910 and shows Dan Baker's
18, in the Scheid's Cigar Store. That photo appears at 22.
Past and Present with the section on cigar making. Email Stan at
13. The Dan Baker Cigar Store at
405 Pulaski Street (billiards, too)
(Photo from Dan and Betty Baker
dating to the 1930s)
Judge Knecht's Professional Life
The official biographies
of Illinois Appellate Court judges appear in the Illinois Blue Book
(published by the office of the Illinois Secretary of State), and the
following biography of Judge Knecht is taken from the 2001-2002 edition
(Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State):
"James A. Knecht was born
in Lincoln in 1944. He was educated at Illinois State University (ISU) and
the University of Illinois College of Law, graduating with honors in 1973.
He served as a law clerk to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert C.
Underwood (1973-74), as an Associate Circuit Judge (1975-78) and as a
Circuit Judge (1978-86) before being elected to the Appellate Court in 1986.
He is secretary of the Appellate Lawyers Association of Illinois and a
member of the Illinois State and McLean County Bar Associations, the
American Judicature Society, the Illinois Judges' Association, and a fellow
of the Illinois Bar Foundation. Judge Knecht is secretary of the ISU
Foundation Board of Directors and serves on the Illinois Family Violence
Coordinating Council and the National Board of Directors of the Corporate
Alliance To End Partner Violence. He has been an adjunct professor at ISU
since 1977 and is co-founder of the Robert C. Underwood Inn of Court. In
2000, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from ISU. Judge Knecht and
his wife, Ruth, reside in Normal. They have two children and two
grandchildren" (p. 184). [For a professional biosketch of Judge
Underwood, Judge Knecht's mentor, see
In an email message to me
of 1-5-04, Jim provides the following update:
"I am President of the
Appellate Lawyers Association of Illinois--the first justice of a court of
review to be elected a member of the Board of Directors, an officer and
then President of this unique bar association comprised of lawyers who
specialize in appellate practice--I got involved in the Association
because I wanted to maintain a connection with the lawyers who regularly
appear in courts of review.
I am President of Beyond the Books
Educational Foundation--a not for profit charitable foundation that funds
innovative programs in the schools of Bloomington and Normal--programs
that would not be funded by the school districts. I am also a member of
the National Judicial Advisory Board of the Judicial Education Program of
AEI-Brookings, a program at the Brookings Institution which provides
economic and scientific programs for state court judges."
attended law school, Jim worked at the Lincoln State School (later called
the Lincoln Developmental Center), and some of his recollection of that
experience appears in this Web site toward the bottom of
4. Introduction to
the Social & Economic History of Lincoln, Illinois.
About his role as adjunct
professor at Illinois State University, Judge Knecht emphasizes that
"classroom teaching is an important part of the life I have chosen" (letter
to Leigh Henson, 11-10-2003). At ISU, he has also
served as a member of the Attorneys' Advisory Council sponsored by the
Department of Politics and Government, which provides a biographical sketch
of him on the following Web page:
from Illinois State University and a Tribute to His Family
In 1990, ISU honored Judge Knecht with the Alumni Achievement Award, and
in 2000 ISU presented him with the Distinguished Alumni Award.
14. From the Illinois State
University Alumni Magazine
Below is the text of Judge Knecht's acceptance speech of the ISU
Distinguished Alumni Award:
"When I was a boy, I
lived a stone's throw from the GM&O railroad [in 1972 the GM&O merged with
the Illinois Central, forming the Illinois Central Gulf (ICG)]--and just as
close to the train depot where Abraham Lincoln squeezed the juice from a
watermelon into a tin cup and poured it upon the ground to christen the
There until I left for
college I sometimes sat on summer nights on the curb in front of Hickey's
Billiards and watched the Anne Rutledge and Abraham Lincoln
passenger trains pull through the station.
The dining car windows
gleamed at night, and when I heard the lonely whistle of the train depart, I
wondered if I might someday leave on a train and wondered where and how far
I would go.
Today I am but 30 miles from
where I began, yet I have traveled a journey of a thousand leagues.
When I dreamed about where I would go, I believed there would be a
destination--an identifiable place to stop. Now, I know the meaning and true
pleasure of life is in the journey and there is no one place at which
I am blessed to be on
this journey with someone I love--and but for my wife--who saw things in me,
I did not see in myself, I might well still be on that curb in front of
In 1990 I received the
Alumni Achievement Award. Then I said this university gave me a respect for
ideas and a joy for learning. This university gave me a knowledge of history
and literature. This university gave me a means to an education.
My wife gave me faith in
myself and hope in our future. My family gave me love and support. My
daughter and son-in-law gave me two precious gifts--my grandchildren--Jade
and Jackson. My sister-in-law became my sister and her son--my nephew. My
friends and neighbors have given me support and counsel and keep me in touch
with the real world outside the limiting confines of a courtroom.
Today, Illinois State
University awards this honor for my achievements.
But the honor belongs to
my teachers, and to my wife and family and friends who helped me achieve and
who inspired me to strive, and seek and find.
And the true glory of
this award is not in receiving it--the true glory is that I have a family
and friends such as you to share this moment.
I am honored.
I am grateful" (April 8,
At the University of
Illinois College of Law, Judge Knecht had served as an adjunct
professor and justice, and the U of I College of Law also presents a page
summarizing his career in private practice and public service:
Respond to Jim at
Businesses on Sangamon Street in Lincoln, Illinois
Many Sangamon Street buildings have been maintained
or restored, housing present-day businesses ("the past is but the prelude").
Below are links to information about some of these businesses.
The Eckert and Pluth
Buildings: An article--with
photos--in LincolnDailyNews.com about the renovation of these structures and
their present-day businesses. Access the following link, and scroll to "Lincoln: A Destination."
former Illinois Tavern site: Web site of the Blue Dog Inn:
The former Lyons Grocery
Building: An article about Old Joe's Tavern:
The former Lauer Brothers
Hardware Building: Web site of Coffee with Einstein:
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