Rockford, Illinois was the second-largest city in the state for a long time. Now Springfield has taken its place. Forbes Magazine has named Rockford the worst or second-worst place to live in America numerous times.
We have great schools and the cost of living is pretty cheap compared to the Chicago area, less than an hour away. We have the Chicago Blackhawks AHL affiliate, the Rockford Ice Hogs, and have been host to a CBA team and several class A baseball teams.
I grew up here, I’ll die here. We lived far enough outside of city limits that we could enjoy what the city had to offer and still retreat to our acreage and the quietude.
We had 5 movie theaters downtown. I remember getting a bus token from granny and going to wait for the bus to take me downtown where the action was. I was 12 when I made my first solo journey. My grandparents didn’t even get arrested for child abuse.
We have lovely parks and golf courses, and until insurance and costs shut it down, a festival every Labor Day weekend called On The Waterfront, where the entire downtown straddling the Rock River drew thousands for the food, music ranging from jazz to country to old rock and roll, like Mitch Ryder and Gary Puckett (minus the Union Gap). It finished with an awesome fireworks display over the water. There were carnival rides and food from dozens of restaurants.
This is the national landmark, Coronado Theater. They don’t show movies here anymore, but they do have concerts and other entertainment. Until the Metro Center was built, this is where high school classes had their commencements. You would have to see it to appreciate what a magnificent structure it is.
A movie cost 50 cents and a soda and popcorn was about $1.50. The movies played on a loop, so if you came in late you could stay and watch the cartoons, previews and beginning again if you wanted. The seats were velvet and the carpet was plush.
Prince Castle was a franchise based in Dixon, Ill., Reagan’s hometown. My cousins lived 1 block from the one here in town. They used square scoops for dispense ice cream and had the best grilled burgers in town.
The Robin Drive-In was one of several in town. It was nearest to our place, so it’s where we went with granny, mom, and sometimes mom and a boyfriend. We dressed in our pajamas because they had a playground in front of the screen where we played until it was dark enough to start the show. (It was also when I got my first taste of feminine pulchritude, but that’s another story.)
BEYER STADIUM WAS HOME TO THE ROCKFORD PEACHES FROM 1942-1954. NOBODY KNEW MUCH ABOUT THEM UNTIL THE MOVIE CAME OUT.
UNTIL THEY BUILT TWO STADIUMS, THE CITY HIGH SCHOOLS PLAYED THEIR FOOTBALL GAMES THERE. NOW ALL THAT’S LEFT IS THE BRICK ARCH AND TURNSTILE. THEY BUILT A GRADE SCHOOL AND PLAYGROUND WHERE IT ONCE STOOD.
ANGER’S JEWELERS WAS ON WEST STATE STREET SINCE IN 1920’S. THEY FINALLY WENT OUT OF BUSINESS IN THE 1990’S.
I THINK THE LANDMARK CLOCK IS NOW PART OF THE CLOCK MUSEUM AT THE CLOCKTOWER INN, AT THE ENTRANCE TO INTERSTATE 90.
The city now has more than its share of robberies and murders. A lot of it has migrated from Chicago. Obama is trying to shove more low-income housing down our throats in the name of “diversity.” Most of the south and west side, once home to old Italian and Polish families, is now minority-infested. That’s why I’ve lived in Loves Park across the river for much of the last 20 years.
Things change, usually not for the better. I’m so blessed to have enjoyed an amazing life. No complaints.