A Long-Range Plan to Brand the First Lincoln
Namesake City as the Second City of Abraham Lincoln Statues
Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Lincoln, Illinois
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
Creative Writing and Memoir of Jerry Gibson:
Native Son of Lincoln, Illinois
Noble Class of 1960
Lincoln Community High School
In an email to his
cousin Leigh Henson
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
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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)
(Note: Pete is the author's wife's nickname, and this
context was sent to her
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
outside and its head inside the house.
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.
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
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
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.
to avoid such incidents in the future, I boarded up the hole, and we
now have a birdhouse for decoration only. (June, 2001)
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.
I foresee the hassle that I would have many years later trying to get the
legal thing straightened out with Uncle Sam.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
What happens when you mix tobacco and water? I believe that boy wretched
As I recall , he did not return to detasseling for a couple of days. (June, 2001)
(A story addressed to Carson Culleton's son, 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
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
he was the strongest know it all. Pretty straight forward...hold this hose
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
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
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
hand motion signal to the hose holder victim, Carson would adjust the
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
guess who gets to clean up the surrounding mess.. yes us!!! ..but it is
the few seconds of panic expression on the new guy's face. The laugh for
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.
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
up the mess because we have to get this job finished for the State of
Illinois. (winter, 2002)
Traveling with the LCHS Tennis Team
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.
Leigh's note: the following are from the 1958
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
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)
66 and Small-Town Culture
As I scanned your recent Lincoln, Illinois posting, I was reminded of
several things that many Lincolnites may have forgotten or just fail to
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
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:
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.
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. The banner is displayed in the Lincoln Room of
the LCGHS offices on Chicago Street across from the railroad depot.
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
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
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
Link to photographic historical essay on the 1953 Centennial Celebration
of Lincoln, Illinois:
Note: A black and white version of the photo above and related story of
the banner are included in Leigh Henson's book The Town Abraham
Jerry invites comments,
questions, and suggestions for other stories:
Homepage of this Lincoln Web site: