While perusing Facebook last night I came across a page devoted to the photographic history of my town. Some of the things were way before my time, but there were a lot of memories. Here is the opening of a website about our town:
Knowing the history of the city lets you know its character, and the character of the people that make it up. The history of Rockford, Illinois is quite interesting. This mid-sized city in northern Illinois turned 150 years old in 2002. The city was founded in 1834 and called the “Village of Midway” initially. This is because it was located at the midway point between Chicago and Galena. This name stuck around until 1837 when it was officially changed to Rockford because of its location on the Rock River. This name was chosen because of the good “ford” on the Rock River. A ford is a naturally occurring low water area in a river, allowing people to walk or drive across without a bridge.
Rockford is located 70 miles northwest of Chicago, just south of the Wisconsin state line. It was at one time the machine tool capitol of the country. Camp Grant was an Army training facility located at the Rockford Airport, which was renamed the Rockford-O’Hare airport after UPS built a huge distribution center there. When the Concorde first flew, it landed here because O’Hare didn’t have a long enough runway for it to land.
As with most towns,the downtown was the heart of the city. There were 5 movie theaters, businesses and recreational facilities, like a bowling alley/pool hall and a roller skating rink where the family could go. We have a landmark movie theater named the Coronado, which I’ll post about at another time, given I don’t want to use up a lot of space.
We are not without our celebrities, like Perry Mason co-star Barbara Hale, Olympic skaterJanet Lynn, the Rockford Peaches baseball team, and our hometown heroes, Cheap Trick. I thought maybe somebody would enjoy something that wasn’t a political rant. You can get those anywhere. Bear with me, I’ll try to do some regular stuff after my Thursday breakfast meeting with my kin.
THIS IS WHERE I HAD MY FIRST HOURLY-PAYING JOB IN 1965. HAMBURGERS WERE 12 CENTS, CHEESEBURGERS 15, AND HAND-CUT FRENCH FRIES AND MILKSHAKES .20. STANDING OVER A FLAT IRON GRILL IN THE DEAD OF SUMMER WAS NO FUN, BUT IT DIDN’T KILL ME, SO IT MUST HAVE MADE ME STRONGER.
THEY WERE CALLED ROOT BEER STANDS BACK THEN. THIS ONE WAS BUILT NEAR HARLEM HIGH SCHOOL, HOME OF THE HARLEM HUSKIES. MY WIFE IS A HARLEM ALUM. SHE SAID SHE SPENT MANY A MUGGY SUMMER NIGHT HANGING OUT HERE, QUAFFING ROOT BEERS, FRIES AND GOSSIPING WITH HER GIRLFRIENDS. WE KNEW HOW TO HAVE FUN>
THIS WAS THE DRIVE-IN THEATER ON THE WEST EDGE OF TOWN. IT WAS WHERE WE ALWAYS WENT. WE POPPED CORN AT HOME, TOOK SODA IN A COOLER, AND DRESSED IN OUR PAJAMAS BECAUSE HALFWAY THROUGH THE FIRST FEATURE WE WERE ZONKED OUT IN THE BACK OF THE STATION WAGON. I EVEN HAD MY FIRST CAR DATE HERE. IT STOOD UNTIL THE 80’S WHEN A BAD WINDSTORM BLEW DOWN THE SCREEN. IT WAS NEVER REBUILT. IT NOW HAS SELF-STORAGE UNITS ON THE GROUNDS.
THIS HAD TO BE ABOUT 1974-75. DW WENT TO SCHOOL WITH THE DRUMMER,BUN E. CARLOS (BRAD CARLSON) AND RICK NEILSEN’S DAD RALPH OWNED THE BIGGEST MUSIC STORE IN TOWN. BY THE TIME HE FINISHED HIGH SCHOOL, RICK COULD PLAY MORE THAN 20 INSTRUMENTS AND WAS ALREADY DESIGNING HIS OWN GUITARS, AS HE STILL DOES. I HAD A MUSIC THEORY CLASS WITH HIM AT OUR COMMUNITY COLLEGE. I WORKED MY BUTT OFF FOR A ‘C.’ HE SHOWED UP FOR ABOUT TWO CLASSES AND ACED IT. GO FIGURE. CAN YOU IMAGINE SEEING ALL THESE BANDS FOR TWELVE BUCKS?
THERE WAS AN AMUSEMENT PARK CALLED KIDDIELAND. EVERY TIME A KID WENT BY IT THE WHINING WOULD START. I THINK WE WENT TWICE OUR WHOLE ADOLESCENT LIVES. IT HAD A TRAIN, A ROLLER COASTER CALLED ‘THE LITTLE DIPPER’, A PONY RING AND BOATS THAT WENT AROUND IN A RING OF WATER. IT WAS MAGICAL.
EVERY CHANCE I GOT I HEADED FOR THE RECORD STORE TO BUY THE LATEST 45s FOR 1.49. IN THE PICTURE YOU CAN SEE THE PALACE SHOE REPAIR. OUR FIRST DRUMMER WAS THE NEPHEW OF THE OWNER. HE WORKED SATURDAYS SHINING SHOES. THE GUITAR PLAYER,BASS PLAYER AND I WOULD GO IN AND MAKE HIM SHINE OUR SHOES FOR FIFTY CENTS. HE GOT EVEN BY STOPPING PLAYING IN THE MIDDLE OF A SONG. IT WAS WORTH IT.