1860 photo taken 4 days after Mr. Lincoln visited Lincoln, Illinois, for the last time. Info at 3 below.

This President grew;
His town does too.
Link to Lincoln:
Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership

Site Map
Testimonials

Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of Lincoln, IL

1.
Abraham Lincoln and the Historic Postville Courthouse,
including a William Maxwell connection to the Postville Courthouse

2.
About Henry Ford and the Postville Courthouse, the Story of the Postville Courthouse Replica,
Tantivy, & the Postville Park Neighborhood in the
Route 66 Era


3.

The Rise of Abraham Lincoln and the Founding of Lincoln, Illinois
,
also the founding of Lincoln College, the plot to steal Lincoln's body, and memories of Lincoln College and the Rustic Tavern-Inn

4. 
Introduction to the Social & Economic History of Lincoln, Illinois,
including poetry by William Childress & commentary by Federal Judge Bob Goebel & Illinois Appellate Court Judge Jim Knecht

5.
"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
)

5.a.
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

6.
Introduction to the Railroad & Route 66 Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois

7.
The Living Railroad Heritage of Lincoln, Illinois: on Track as a Symbol of the "Usable Past"


8.

Route 66 Overview Map of Lincoln with 42 Sites, Descriptions, & Photos

9.
The Hensons of Business Route 66

10.
The Wilsons of Business
Route 66
,
including the Wilson Grocery & Shell Station

11.
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Lincoln Memorial Park
(former Chautauqua site),
the Historic Cemeteries, & Nearby Sites

12.
Route 66 Map & Photos Showing Salt Creek & Cemetery Hill,
including
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

13.
The Historic Logan County Courthouse, Past & Present


14.
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)

15.
Vintage Scenes of the Business & Courthouse Square Historic District

16.
The Foley House:  A Monument to Civic Leadership
(on the National Register of Historic Places)

17.
Agriculture in
the Route 66 Era


18.
Arts & Entertainment Heritage,
including the Lincoln Theatre Roy Rogers' Riders Club of the 1950s

19.
Business Heritage

20.
Cars, Trucks & Gas Stations of the Route 66 Era

21.
Churches,
including the hometown churches of Author William Maxwell & Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr

22.
Factories, Past and Present

23.
Food Stores of
the Route 66 Era


24.
Government

25.
Hospitals, Past and Present

26.
Hotels & Restaurants of the Railroad & Route 66 Eras


27.
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

28
.
Mining Coal, Limestone, & Sand & Gravel; Lincoln Lakes; & Utilities


29.

Museums & Parks, including the Lincoln College Museum and its Abraham Lincoln Collection, plus the Heritage-in-Flight Museum

30.
Neighborhoods
with Distinction

31.
News Media in the Route 66 Era

32.
The Odd Fellows' Children's Home

33.
Schools

34.
Memories of the 1900 Lincoln Community High School,
including Fred Blanford's dramatic account of the lost marble fountain of youth

35.
A Tribute to the Historians and Advocates of Lincoln, Illinois

36.
Watering Holes of the Route 66 Era

37.
The Historic 1953 Centennial Celebration of Lincoln, Illinois

38.
The Festive 2003 Sesqui-centennial Celebration of Lincoln, Illinois,
including photos of LCHS Class of 1960 dignitaries & the Blanfords

39.
Why Did the State Police Raid Lincoln, Illinois, on October 11, 1950?

40.
The Gambling Raids in Lincoln and Logan County, Illinois,
During the Late Route 66 Era (1950-1960)

_______

Pages 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 Bulge)

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)

Directory of Email Addresses of 168 Mid-20th Century LCHS Alums

Leigh Henson's Pilgrimage to Lincoln, Illinois, on
July 12, 2001

Leigh Henson's Review of Dr. Burkhardt's William Maxwell Biography

Leigh Henson's Review of Ernie Edwards' biography, Pig-Hips on Route 66, by William Kaszynski

Teach Local Authors: Considering the Literature of Lincoln, Illinois

Web Site About
Leigh Henson's Professional Life

__________

Pages in this section are about the writing, memorabilia, and Web sites of other Lincolnites:

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 i

Brad Dye (LCHS '60): His Lincoln, Illinois, Web Site,
including photos of many churches

Dave Armbrust's Memorabilia of Lincoln, Illinois

Leigh Henson's Review of Dr. Barabara 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

J. Richard
(JR) Fikuart
(LCHS '65):
T
he 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 66 Era

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

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, including excerpts from Young in Illinois and from Maxwell's letters to Robert; family photos and information from Robert's only child, Sue Young Wilson; commentary from Literary Critic Lee Walleck; and memoir by Curt Johnson

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 Times:
1926-1960

The Route 66
Association of Illinois

The Illinois State Historical Society

Illinois Tourism Site:
Enjoy Illinois

 

 

Email a link to this page to someone who might be interested.   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 Historical Society "superior achievement: serves as a model for the profession and reaches a greater public"
 

Marquee Lights of the Lincoln Theatre, est. 1923, Lincoln, Illinois

 
  You can go home again.                                                  Email Leigh Henson at dlhenson@missouristate.edu.
 


The Creative Writing and Memoir of Jerry Gibson:
Native Son of Lincoln, Illinois

Noble Class of 1960
Lincoln Community High School
Lincoln, Illinois

     In an email to LH on 6-3-01, Jerry offers a little background for his interest in writing.

     "In 1985, I was without work for several months because I was laid off by an employer, and then by choice as my wife suggested I take some time off anyway, and so I attended Elgin Community College for a few courses. (By the by, Paul Hegele was an instructor in the Business Department. He lives in St. Charles ...about 10 miles south of here. I attended a one-day seminar sponsored by one of my employers, which he taught in 1978.  We talked at the last reunion. He is retired.) Well, writing was the course I liked the best. It takes so much time. I never stayed with it. I guess my impatience rules. I did my best writing when I sent letters home from my military days. My mother kept all of them; however, some were inadvertently lost, and there are gaps, but some of the stuff was a real weekly chronological documentation of one soldier's life."

All material copyrighted by Jerry Gibson.

     Jerry invites responses to j18gib@sbcglobal.net.

     In an email to LH on 6-3-01, Jerry offers a little background for his interest in writing.

     "In 1985, I was without work for several months because I was laid off by an employer, and then by choice as my wife suggested I take some time off anyway, and so I attended Elgin Community College for a few courses. (By the by, Paul Hegele was an instructor in the Business Department. He lives in St. Charles ...about 10 miles south of here. I attended a one-day seminar sponsored by one of my employers, which he taught in 1978.  We talked at the last reunion. He is retired.) Well, writing was the course I liked the best. It takes so much time. I never stayed with it. I guess my impatience rules. I did my best writing when I sent letters home from my military days. My mother kept all of them; however, some were inadvertently lost, and there are gaps, but some of the stuff was a real weekly chronological documentation of one soldier's life." (All material copyrighted by Jerry Gibson.)

 

My Diploma

     When I was turning in my cap and gown on graduation night, I opened my diploma and discovered that Jack Hodgson had not signed it. I asked Dick George if his diploma had a genuine JOH...sure enough his had the handsome signature.  As panic set in, I hunted Mr. H down in the hallway by the cafeteria and asked him if he really wanted to keep me. Hurriedly, he grabbed his pen, snatched my diploma from my hand and placed the document on the concrete block wall to make sure he had a firm surface to make it legal. As he signed, he uttered something about 'Of all people, I want to make sure you aren't back next year'......but I think he actually had me confused with my cousin Vic, who had graduated the previous year! Just kidding, Vic. (June, 2001)

 

One Summer

     Hay baling season during the summer of 1959 was as typical as any Logan County Illinois, the days were hot and humid.

     Jon Diers, Ron Castor, and I would wait at Dial & Jones Texaco for our 4th baler and leader, Carson Culleton, to pick us up in his car, so we could ride dusty hay wagons and stack hay in stifling hot barns and sheds. Our reward for working for John White, George White's son, was the best pay, kind people to work for, Mrs. J.White's lemonade, tea, sandwiches and cookies during breaks in the shade.
     Possibly the best reward, for me, was the memory of the companionship of working together with those guys. Diers could unwittingly get in enough trouble on his own, but Castor was always 'helping' some how. One day, George volunteered to drive the four of us in his car to the next site where we to put up hay.

     One of the reasons George White was financially successful may have been because he knew how to use his money. For instance, his 1953 Cadillac doubled as his pick up truck by removing the rear seat. By omitting this cumbersome object, George now had  practical room for hoes, shovels, spades, fence wire, hammers, and boxes of hardware items needed for farm work (material most likely purchased from Lauer's Hardware).  Now, if this 'pick up truck' would not have had a car top on it...there would not have been a problem for Gibson and Castor.

     Since Culleton and Diers were previously aware of this vehicle, they landed in the front seat next to George.  In the back seat area ,we could not sit on anything, so we had to crouch in a duck walk position for about 5 miles over gravel roads, farm lane ruts, and pasture pot holes to the next work site. So each bump resulted in our backs or heads hitting the top, or our rumps stabbed by garden tools. Plus, the back of the back seat was removed, allowing the dust from the tires to roll into our part of the compartment.

     I don't remember if we ever got back at Carson for his quick move, but Diers was reminded, by us, every time George was in earshot, with, "Diers, if there is a way to do it wrong...you'll figure it out." It came about when the vehicle approached a long gate blocking the entrance to the field where the hay shed was located.

     George told Diers to 'Open the gate.'  Now this may seem a moot point to some, but to George White it was a big deal.  Well, to any farmer who does things his own way it is a big deal. The gate was hooked at both ends. Diers headed for the end closest to him.....BUT it was the WRONG end!!! Yep, George wanted the other end unhooked. George's voice was shrill and weak so Diers couldn't hear him, over the engine noise, that he was at the wrong end of the gate. George wasn't as spry and agile as he once had been so it took him many seconds too long to exit the car to get Diers' attention. Diers unhooked his end of the gate; the gate proceeded to fall to the ground in a huge billow of dust (which slowly settled all around George).

     That gate was heavy to lift back upright especially when we were weak from suppressing the laughter we wanted to release at the scene of the heavy set, red-faced, coveralled, straw-hatted individual shouting at a skinny city kid about which end of the fence gate to open.

     The footnote to this is that a vehicle could have been driven around the gate! The gate had no fence on either side of it, only posts at each end! I guess you know what our quoted phrase for the rest of baling season was...'Diers, if there is a way..........' (June, 2001)

 

Birdhouse Blues

     (Note: Pete is the author's wife's nickname, and this context was sent to her sister):

     Pete wanted me to tell you that yesterday morning as I was doing some outside work, I walked near our decorative bird house which hangs from the garage side of our pergola. I looked up and found a sparrow with its head wedged into the entrance hole.  The poor thing was stuck with all of its body on the outside and its head inside the house.

     Well, my first reaction was to run inside to get Pete because it was such an unusual scene. She was painting our bedroom closet, and she wasn't too thrilled at my request for her to stop immediately and look out the window at the plight of a bird.

     At my request, she grabbed the video cam.  I rushed back outside with the Polaroid to make a still record of the event. By this time the bird [I don't have any idea how long it had been stuck] is running out of gas. Pete suggested I take the birdhouse, and the bird, off the hook so I could work with getting it unstuck. The bird is so pooped it doesn't give me much of a struggle. It did, however, have to wait while I donned gloves and protective glasses. So I gently wrapped my hand around both wings and legs to see if maneuvering my index finger to its neck would help the little rascal out.

     Geez! I did not realize what a fragile creature it is. I immediately let up for fear of pulling its head off or injuring it to incapacitation. Now, I look to Pete for help. "What should I do?", to which she advises me that either I do something or the bird dies in the hole.  Great.

     So I set the birdhouse and its part occupant down to try and decide the bird's fate.....and the damn thing pulls its head out and flies off in a noisy flurry to a large bush at the far corner of the garage! As it peeped and twitted to the other birds in the bushes, I'm sure it told its fellow birds I tried to kill it by first catching it in a torturous trap and then separate its little birdy body from its little birdy head.

     In order to avoid such incidents in the future, I boarded up the hole, and we now have a birdhouse for decoration only. (June, 2001)

 

Detasseling

     A recent correspondent reminded me of my then life's ambition to be tall enough to detassel corn. Oh, to reach the required height to be accepted by Fuller's so I could earn my own spending money (and maybe be taller than the girls my age), at last.

     First, I had to obtain a Social Security number. Now, that was a big deal in 1954. I made sure I had  'Jerry' on the card.  I detested Jerome. Little did I foresee the hassle that I would have many years later trying to get the legal thing straightened out with Uncle Sam.

     What a privilege to wait on Hodnett's Corner for the truck to pick me up so I could dress in clothing, fit for winter, to protect me from corn leaf cuts, pollen down the back of my neck, mud inches thick on my boots, and a skin-burning sun.  Yeah, I walked the rows. I think I only rode once or twice.

     Anyway, the most vivid detasseling story I have is Jim Cave's adventure into manliness. If the boy crews were lucky enough to work in the same field as a girl crew, and the boy crew were even more fortunate to take a break at the end of the rows when the girls arrived at the same time...then it was a signal for the boys to show off.

Cave whipped out a plug of tobacco from his shirt pocket while all watched. He was so excited he had a coed audience, that he inserted the entire plug into his face and somehow moved his puffed out cheeks into a chewing motion. As the mess in his mouth began to expand, the boy's side wondered how much longer before the inevitable expulsion and the girls, sensing something not good was about to be seen, hurriedly prepared to go back to the wet, insect-infested corn stalks.

     Noticing the quick preparation by the girl crew, Cave chewed faster to get an impressive wad to prove his manhood. As he inhaled to muster a most man-like scene, he quite underestimated the size of his mouth and size of the contents. As physics prevailed (in order to launch, as it were) in the amount of air needed to accomplish the deed, he sucked most of his hard chewed labor into his stomach.

     The boys were in shock, the girls were already in the corn and Cave was yelling for water. Now, this was not a real smart request, because he immediately got his wish granted.

     Let's review.  What happens when you mix tobacco and water? I believe that boy wretched for several hours. As I recall , he did not return to detasseling for a couple of days.  (June, 2001)

 

Mudjacking

(A story addressed to Carson Culleton's son, Chris)

Chris,

     The political story is another story leading to this one, but I must put the cart before the horse to get this one on paper. You gave me inspiration to clean up and add detail to this story:

     During the late 1950's, Carson, myself, and a lot of guys had summer jobs with the State of Illinois, working on road clean up crews...cutting grass with hand sickles or long scythes, redirecting roadside ditches with shovels after heavy summer down pours and mudjacking.

     For a number of geological reasons the highway top surface would sink at a certain location....many times at the approach to a railroad track that crossed that portion of roadway. It was the State's responsibility to bring the highway up to 'grade' or level with the tracks. In comes the mudjack, which is a device consisting a gasoline engine which in turn forces a mixture of clay, water, and some sand through a two inch hose into two inch holes drilled at strategic sections of the sunken road.

     Road crew history has it that the rookie crew members would be the first candidates for this job. Usually it was the strongest guy or a guy who thought he was the strongest know it all. Pretty straight forward...hold this hose in the dinky little hole until it fills up and then move the hose to the next hole, so on, so on, until the road rises up to the required grade....easy job..hole fills up...move...

     My memory vividly sees the impish grin on Carson's face when the road foreman would announce at the morning pre-workday meeting that today was mudjacking day.  Man, Carson would smile all the way to the work site while us veterans would be silently wondering to ourselves of his choice rookie operator au jour.  You see the garage foreman, Ed Masterson, knew of Carson's game and he always appointed Carson as the 'instructor'. Carson knew this procedure and he knew the ins and outs (so to speak) of how to accomplish this method. I do know Carson and Ed had a motive. I know it was great sport and I know Carson liked the limelight. Hell, it gave us all levity and an esprit de corps.....naw...it was good ole boy stuff pure and simple.  

 After giving the new operator most of the instructions on how to fill the holes, Carson would position himself well out of mud flinging range behind the air compressor with his hand on the main control valve and wait for the filling to begin. The rest of us were, of course, busying ourselves with shovels and brooms moving a few rocks and a little loose dirt, a safe distance away from the action but well within spectator distance. With a down hand motion signal to the hose holder victim, Carson would adjust the roaring compressor to commence filling the hose. The hole filled within seconds catching the guy completely off guard because he couldn't hear the hole filling up over the damn compressor noise. His clothing goes muddy first and then the work area around him while he ties to catch the out of control withering hose.  Carson wouldn't let the poor guy go too long as it gets messy real fast. Hell, the stuff gets all over the place in a few seconds and guess who gets to clean up the surrounding mess.. yes us!!! ..but it is worth the few seconds of panic expression on the new guy's face. The laugh for us.....

     Ok, philosophical time.. Sure it was funny to us...'the guys'...,but this is important to you, Chris......Carson was testing the guy...could he take it? That's what was the attraction to Carson: he was a leader.  He was the first to help the guy, to help him get settled down, and to help clean him up.  All the while Carson is testing the guy..could he take it?... can he work with the rest of us.  Oh, yeah, by this time the rest of us are very busy cleaning up the mess because we have to get this job finished for the State of Illinois.  (winter, 2002)

 

Traveling with the LCHS Tennis Team in 1959

     My apologies to all named and especially Mr. Royce Lovelace and family. If I did not have any respect for such a fine educator and tennis mentor, I would not relate this:

     The traveling tennis squad consisted of six players. Whether that was Big 12 rules or all that we could fit into Royce's (again, no disrespect but we all unofficially referred to him as such) Chevrolet station wagon. The road trips to Bloomington, Springfield, Decatur and surrounding conference schools were painfully long mainly because Royce wanted to set a perfect example by practicing EVERY driver's training law written, since he was the LCHS driving instructor.

     I must note the mechanical data of this period automobile which doubled as the driver's training vehicle: straight six cylinder engine propelled by a clutch-actived three speed column mechanical shift. Speed and propelled may be oxymoron's, here, because Royce did not exceed the posted limits.

     After each match, we players were tried and bored. In order to obtain comedic relief, we resorted to a teenage antic of pestering Coach Lovelace. I am going out on a limb here and say this was one team member's idea but all contributed to the 'gag.'

     Seating arrangement was designed by Dan Dutz who was the number one player and had shot gun front seat. The number 2,3,4, members Luther Dearborn, Gerry Dehner, and Thom Zimmerman sat three across in the second row seats. The back of the station wagon belonged to the number six player, Steve Schreiber, who had to lie in curled position around the rackets and equipment in the far back compartment. The number five player (me) was in the front row suicide seat where the exposed rearview mirror was at the vulnerable forehead level. In those days rank had its privilege.

     In his every effort to set a prime example as an instructor and educator to us as future drivers, Royce would shift the wagon with PRECISE engine speed, clutch engagement, and gear shift movement through EVERY gear EVERY maddening start up. So instead of encouraging him to move a little faster to get us home quicker, in our teenage mind's it was better to make a joke of his efforts.

     With a lot of encouragement from row two passengers and the idea seeded by mister shotgun rider, Dutz and I would subtly move heads when Royce shifted which would make him think he had not shifted smoothly. So the long story shifts down: Mr. R shifted the vehicle in a perfectly acceptable diving school manner and we passengers made it seem like he was not so proficient.

     I really think he caught on and let us play our silly game, because, after a time the snickers from row two were not subdued. However, I still believe the performances from row one were outstanding. (2-2005)

 

      Leigh's note: the following are from the 1958 Lincolnite:

 

Working at the Illinois State Fair in 1959

     This doesn't pertain to this article, but who will forget the waving neon figures, the service station attendant and the waitress on top of the Tiz-Rite at the four corners?

     Since you asked about the brief stint I had helping out in a carnival, I must include some Logan County, Illinois, background before I get to the point. Lincoln is the county seat and is located 25 miles northeast of Springfield on what is now I-55 which once was the famous Route 66. Before that it was Route 4.

      This easy access route to the state capital made it possible for a lot of folks in Lincoln to procure employment compliments of the taxpayers. The one catch was that you had to have a profound affiliation with either the Democratic or Republican Parties, as a good portion of the jobs were 'political.'  For whatever reason my dad and his brothers had always declared Republican in the primaries and so our family was established on that side of the political fence. 

       During my high school years the Secretary of State was Republican, and one of the responsibilities of that office was the 400-plus acre Illinois State Fair grounds.

     In late July 1959, I was at the usual early evening hangout, Dial's Texaco, (just one block down the alley and a quarter block from my house) when the Republican County Chairman, Joe Sapp, stopped in to buy gas from his Republican friend, Harry Dial.  He usually came in to say a few words and look over the teens gathered there to make sure they told their fathers that Joe was circulating.  As he surveyed the teen group this particular evening, he announced he had some job openings at the Illinois State fair grounds, 'Anybody free for those couple of weeks?'

       We weren't as dumb as we looked so we asked him what was available. Turns out there were several openings for night grounds cleaning crews and a few for ticket takers on the Midway on both the day and evening shifts. Most of us were broke and so he had plenty of takers and we settled in dividing up the jobs. It was really a very orderly process because we were all life long friends and there wasn't any bickering over who took what.  Surprisingly, the groundskeepers went first and that was ok with me because I didn't have any transportation. I did have a better chance at the day job of ticket taker so I got that with a guy by the name of Tom Werth. His dad was a big-time farmer and I figured I could get a ride with him. I knew there was no chance I would have a ride as we only had one car, a 1954 Packard, which was, unfortunately, a lemon.

          I worked with Tom on his grandfather's farm painting a barn and white fence, which must have been two hundred miles long, the previous fall.  Since we knew each other fairly well, I was confident this adventure was going to be a breeze.

     We had to report to Springfield a few days prior to the fair opening day to get our assignments, orientations, and badges. Tom drove. On the way back from Springfield, Tom got a speeding ticket and as punishment, his dad took away his driving privileges and told him it was his responsibility to find a way to work. This is where the 'breeze' ended and ten days of 'headwinds' began for us to arrive at our job sites on time.

     Since we were the only two from the area on this shift and this assignment, we were reduced to the Greyhound Bus lines. The only bus left Lincoln for Springfield just before 6:00 am., daily, from the Maid-Rite all-night restaurant. This was about the only traveling luck we had during the ten-day running of the fair.

     Our job assignments were ticket takers for the carnival rides and shows on the Midway which was located in a natural land indentation on the grounds referred by all as 'Happy Hollow'.  Neat name but during the hot humid days of mid August, all of this stuff was trapped with the heat from ride generators, grease pit carnival food stands, and over- heated human beings waiting in long lines to board rides. Oh, yes, and if it rained, and more than often than not August rains are downpours, and the topographical lay meant that all the run off water ended up as 'Lake Happy Hollow'. Maybe it should have been 'Electric Lake' because of all the cables running from the generators to the rides.

       Each day the "Call" or opening was staggered; sometimes 9:00 am; one day it was 11:00 am; and so Tom and I had time to get some sort of breakfast and find our friends for their stories from their nightly clean up jobs, until time for us to report for our assignments.

       At least the bus drivers were always helpful by making a special stop near a gate for us, with our sad story, of course. We always managed to catch the evening bus but I don't know how.

       So our job was to deposit the sold ticket stubs into a locked ticket box, which was given to us at the beginning of each shift. That box stayed with the ride or sideshow through the next ticket takers' shift and then it was turned in when the carnival closed.  The purpose of this tabulation was to insure that the agreement between the carnival operators and the State of Illinois received equal half share of the receipts. The fox was watching the hen house.

       Now then, for all of the hours of listening to mixed sounds of 'Come see the Three Legged Man', 'Jo-Jo the Dog Face Boy', (who I did without asking, thank you); 'Miniature Horses so small you will not believe it you MUST see them with YOUR own eyes'; 'They are Rolling Thunder! Motorcycle Daredevils riding on walls of Death!' over and over and over, the same blaring, scratchy, repetitious voices coming out speakers not far from our sun-drenched ticket taking posts; plus there were few breaks from this din as the utility men who were assigned to relieve us usually got stiffed by a lot of the guys they relieved, we were paid the handsome net wage of: eighty (80) bucks.

       The benefits, you ask?  The female scenery was like a smorgasbord to a high school kid. We all gave free rides to our ticket taking buddies, which was more than cool, the experience was a lesson in, "don't work in a carnival", although, I almost did, since I had plenty of offers from 'Carnies', I was a lousy student, I had a hankering to see what the world outside of Illinois was like and I got to write about this teenage experience. (spring 2005)

 

Route 66 and Small-Town Culture

     Cousin Leigh:

     As I scanned your recent Lincoln, Illinois posting, I was reminded of several things that many Lincolnites may have forgotten or just fail to mention.

     Since most of us draw on personal experiences stimulated by Fred Blanford, David Armburst, yourself, and the many Lincoln historians quoted by you, I must offer readers the jobs I acquired from the State of Illinois. 

     Working for a State of Illinois road repair crew based from the Lincoln facility, noted by your gracious posting of one of my writings, was my first job with political ties.  

     My second job began at the end of the summer of 1960 when most responsible high school graduates were off to college. I was still hanging out at Dial & Jones. and Joe Sapp asked if I wanted a job as a surveyor's assistant for a few months working out of El Paso, Illinois. As it turned out, during a five month period, I helped with the final stages of a job which completed a four mile stretch of two lane US Route 51 from El Paso to Kappa. One windy, cold fall day, the field superintendent sent my boss and myself to empty weedy acreage on the northwest side of Normal, Illinois to finalize elevations which eventually, many, many years later are part of the now I-39, I-55, I-74 interchange. (How about that, Nelson Tiechman)

     After that stint ended, I interviewed and was accepted for a job in the Illinois State capital.

     For many months I rode with Lincolnite Paul Leo Jones from Lincoln to Springfield. Many folks from Lincoln commuted on the old Route 66 just as Leo did. He was more efficient than any bus or train operation. He picked up his riders at a designed time in Lincoln and was always on time at the Springfield locations. He worked with his brother operating a floral business in Springfield for many years and drove Route 66 five and half days a week without fail.

     Leo and many Lincolnites depended on the salaries provided by the State. Many other Lincoln occupations, depended on commuting as a necessity. Many readers probably have more commute stories about Route 121 to Peoria and Decatur for work.

     Lincoln was a bedroom community long before the larger metropolitan areas invented the term. Lincoln was the perfect hub of working class ethics on the spokes of larger job bearing cities by its location being twenty five miles from Springfield and Bloomington, thirty five miles from Decatur, and forty some miles from the various Cat plants in the East Peoria area.

     Shortly after WWII, my dad, Ted Gibson operated a door to door bread/pastry service in Lincoln for Community Bakery out of Springfield. Every night he had to drive to the Springfield bakery on Route 66 in the bread truck to pick up the next day's orders.

     During those days 66 was TWO lane. My mother and I would accompany him on many of those trips and I learned every manufactured auto and truck from that era by name and year. Probably many guys from the middle '50's who played Little league remember our summer bus trip to St Louis and our excited waving to the contractors and workers who built the four lane 66. Some of the men who built the road were fathers of the boys on the bus. Great fun.  

     I must remind readers of the lost art of small town respect for fellow residents. This concept  is completely gone from today's urban societies. Since a great majority of Lincoln's working population relied on shift work salaries (before heavily insulated homes and air conditioning), many mothers reminded their children to play quietly and respect those workers who needed sleep time during the daylight hours. 

     So many things that were second nature, small town-ways-of-life are now lost in the 'hurray up' society of today.

     Along with this walk down my memory lane of past employments, I must take time to reflect at my good fortune to have been a part of this melting pot of Americana and that the lessons of sound work ethics produce positive rewards.  

     Cheesy? Maybe. Sappy? Probably. Sincere? Ubetcha. (March, 2007)

     Note: in a follow-up email, Jerry writes,

     Leo Jones was strict with his transportation business. The revenue he got from that venture not only paid for his gas but helped him trade for a new Oldsmobile every 18 months. The man was like clock work with his pick up and delivery (if you were not ready, you did not get a ride). Also, he had a designated seating arrangement. The rider had to sit in the same seat location every trip. Usually he had five riders. During the few months I rode with him there was a single woman who lived with her mother on 4th street, Ken and Stella Mays, and for a short time, John Burt. Other names fail me now. Of course, I eventually acquired an apartment with Burt and a couple of other guys in Springfield. Hence the 2 Brothers stories. 

     Jerry invites comments, questions, and suggestions for other stories: j18gib@sbcglobal.net.
 

Jerry Donates Rare Banner to the Logan Co. Genealogical & Historical Society

     In May, 2007, as Jerry was looking through some boxes left to him by his parents, life-long Lincoln natives Ted Gibson and Eleanor Hoblit Gibson, he discovered this very rare memento of the 1953 Lincoln centennial celebration. Jerry had not seen the banner for many years and assumed it had been lost. He has generously donated this banner to the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society (LCGHS) on Chicago Street (rather than sell it on eBay).

     Just before he went to the LCGHS to donate the banner, he took it to show folks at the Courier. There, he was complimented for his donation to the LCGHS and was told that the Courier would probably announce this donation in the Gems section of a forthcoming issue. The Courier carried Jerry's story on June 4, 2007:
http://www.lincolncourier.com/story.asp?SID=6194&SEC=8.

      I have written the LCGHS to suggest an account of how the banner came into the possession of the Gibson family and Jerry's donation of it would make a good, major feature story in the Society's newsletter, Roots & Branches.

     Jerry describes this unusual piece of history:

     "The banner is of gold fabric with blue lettering and border, and two and one half by three feet dimensions, and it hung over the thoroughfares welcoming visitors to this event. Since the inks used in those days were not the quality of today, there is some sun fade, but the lettering is still very readable, and the fabric is in remarkable shape.

     Jerry tells a most revealing story of how his father, Ted, acquired the 1953 Lincoln centennial banner: "Early one morning some time after the 1953 Centennial ceremonies for the duration were complete, I was with my dad when he was delivering bread ( I accompanied him a lot on his route). We saw two city employees taking this banner down from a wire above the street in front of a grocery store. Dad asked them what would happen to the banner. They said they weren't sure, but it would probably just end up in the dump. My dad muttered some words under his breath and asked them if he could have it, so they gave it to us. I think Dad found it hard to believe that Lincolnites would not be more appreciative of their town's history."

     "As a side note, I just wish I had discovered this before the 150th celebration parade as I would have hung it on the 1960's class sponsored float (remembering the old Rec building) on which I was an animated member."

     Leigh's notes: in today's communities we are used to seeing countless banners on streetlight posts. The photos I have seen of Lincoln's downtown streets taken during the centennial celebration show striped banners (no doubt red, white, and blue), but these photos do not show this banner. Thus, it truly is a rare find. At his own time and expense, Jerry made a special trip from his home in the Chicago suburbs to Lincoln in order to donate this banner, and it surely must be regarded as a premium memento by those who administer and visit the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society.

     Leigh's notes continued: For examples of how today's Lincoln community sometimes fails to preserve historic structures and sometimes succeeds, access key passages relating to "LJHS Building" and "Historic Preservation" in my review of Jan Schumacher's book, Glimpses of Lincoln, Illinois.
 

     Jerry Gibson with the 1953 Lincoln Centennial Banner He Donated to
the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society in May of 2007

     Jerry invites comments, questions, and suggestions for other stories: j18gib@sbcglobal.net.
 

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"The Past Is But the Prelude"


 

The founding fathers of this town asked their attorney, Abraham Lincoln, for permission to name this new community after him, and he agreed.  On the first day lots were publicly sold--August 27, 1853--, Abraham Lincoln, near the site of the train depot, used watermelon juice to christen the town as Lincoln, Illinois.  It thus became the first town named for Abraham Lincoln before he became famous.