Looking Back

Looking Back for Oct. 10, 2018

Chicago & North Western railroad, 1948. Fourth Street looking down the tracks to the east to the DeKalb Depot. Thanks to the Joiner History Room for the photo.
Chicago & North Western railroad, 1948. Fourth Street looking down the tracks to the east to the DeKalb Depot. Thanks to the Joiner History Room for the photo.

1918 – 100 YEARS AGO

The huge coal pile at the electric company’s plant in DeKalb caused considerable trouble last night and early this morning, on account of it being afire again, and the gas and fumes hanging low over the city. The gas entered sleeping rooms during the early morning hours and necessitated an airing out and closing of the windows in order to sleep.

Speak English, write English and tell your family to write and speak English, is the slogan now among the steel company plants here, and is but another follow-up plan of the recent Americanization meeting held here some time ago. On the occasion of the last pay day at the American Steel & Wire company, every check going to a worker of foreign nationality, was stamped, “Speak English.”

The crushed stone walk from Fourth street to the North Western station is in need of repairs again, about two rods of the walk having caved in some time Saturday night. The last rainstorm that visited this vicinity left a small pond standing along the walk on the railroad tracks underneath and it washed away the foundation of the walk, allowing the fence to fall over onto the tracks.

Save your nut shells, and pits, stones and seeds from fruits, is the request sent out from the Illinois Food Administration. Peach stones, date seeds, peach, prune, cherry, apricot, olive and plum pits, and brazil nut, hickory nut, walnut and butternut shells are all needed for the making of charcoal for gas masks for our army. Wood charcoal has proved deficient, so the government is sending out a plea to save every available fruit stone and pit and nut shell.

The police department was notified yesterday that Mr. and Mrs. Newton, residents at the county infirmary, had escaped from the farm and were bent on getting out of town. The old people got as far as the railroad station and were there waiting for a train, when the authorities here discovered them. They were brought to the station and kept there until the 11 o’clock car today, when they were returned to the infirmary. This is the aged couple’s third attempt to get away from the farm, and each time they said they wanted to go to their old home at Sandwich.

The DeKalb police department received a call yesterday morning to Market street, where it was found that someone possessing little or no gray matter in his head had purposely spilled a pail of soft tar from the gas plant on the walk-in front of the home of a well-known resident, probably for (a) personal grievance.

1943 – 75 YEARS AGO

Did you know that Sycamore is nearly $90,000 short of meeting its quota for the Third War Loan? Did you know that this bloody war is costing the United States practically $3,000 every time your watch ticks? That means nearly 265 million dollars a day and nearly eight billion dollars a month. And remember there are many hard, bitter months of war ahead of us yet before Germany and Japan are annihilated. It is true that Italy has thrown in the sponge, but that is a mere drop in the pocket as to what must be accomplished by the Allies before the war is won.

Home owners are still being reminded by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce of the need for private rooms and housekeeping quarters, both furnished and unfurnished. There is a continuing influx of new people and many requests are made daily for places to live.

A most interesting letter has been received by the California Packing Corporation from one of the Jamaicans employed at Station Three of the DeKalb division. The letter was written by Telamon Taylor on behalf of the group of Jamaicans who worked at that station. For the past several weeks they have been working for the canning corporation helping to pack the vital food crops. The appreciation of this group is expressed for the fine treatment which they received and the letter states that they will have memories that they will never forget.

Employees of Interstate Aircraft and Engineering Corporation and the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company witnessed the flight of the first plane to be produced at Interstate’s DeKalb plant. Hundreds cheered as the plane took to the air for the first time. Russell Whitesell and Carlton Darneal, other Interstate pilots, thrilled the crowd and townspeople with an exhibition of stunt flying using planes built by Interstate’s coastal plants. Navy officials, other than those stationed at the plant, flew to DeKalb for the demonstration. Don P. Smith, president of the company was also present and expressed his appreciation of the speed with which the DeKalb plant was put into production.

1968 – 50 YEARS AGO

The Kishwaukee (Jr.) College in Malta may someday be able to sell revenue bonds to raise money to build a real, permanent school building complex.

Employees of the DeKalb Sanitary District, seeking the reason for recent flooding in the Thornbrook and Fairmont area located the source of the trouble, a manhole on Hillside. Rebuilding the manhole was completed a month ago, since that time the iron cover was removed and at least a thousand pounds of broken concrete and stones were put in the manhole. Four steel fence posts were among the debris removed. The material put in the hole were sufficient to slow the flow through the drains causing a backup that extended for several blocks.

The DeKalb County Court House in Sycamore has received some outdoor decorations in honor of the 150th “birthday” of Illinois. The Sesquicentennial salute lists Northern Illinois University, the Farm Bureau, barb wire, and the home of Chief Shabbona as unique facets of DeKalb County’s history.

It has acres of rolling meadows and hundreds of trees. It has pheasants, beavers, and other wildlife. It is a hiker’s delight and an outdoorsman’s dream, and it’s within the city limits of DeKalb. It is the DeKalb Park District’s newest recreation area, a 39.8-acre park northwest of Clifford Drive and the Kishwaukee River, just south of the Chicago & North Western Railroad tracks, and one-quarter mile east from the proposed Annie Glidden Road Extension. The land is west of Clifford Drive, formerly the Huber farm and once known as Pershing Park.

1993 – 25 YEARS AGO

Lumber is sorted by grade today on the Barbland site. Today is the first day of production and volunteers will be present until the DeKalb playground has been completed. The Barbland committee still needs tools, specifically routers, tape measures, circular saws, squares, drills and hammers.

Although Sycamore families may feel safe nestled in the corn fields of DeKalb County, it seems as though that safety is in jeopardy as the troubles common to the inner city push their way into Sycamore schools. According to Sycamore police, one juvenile from Sycamore High School was found to be carrying a knife near school grounds during the open lunch period on Wednesday.

• Compiled by the Joiner History Room, DeKalb County Archives.

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