Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Springfield Rewind

Remember the Southtown Theatre? Above is how it looked in Jan 1949 and below in Nov 2005.

A great new site on the Web is Springfield Rewind, which offers visual tours of our town now and then. The fun part is interactive: place your cursor on a picture of Myers Brothers from 1967, and you see how it looks today.

Sometimes the results are happy, sometimes not. The Illinois State Journal building looks better today as the Historic Preservation Agency, while at 11th and South Grand, the old H. N. Blalock & Son store makes a sad "Beauty Supply" company now.

Author of the site is Russ Friedewald, a history and architecture buff who works with picture collections at the Sangamon Valley Collection at Lincoln Library to document changing Springfield.

So far Russ has compiled pictures of Downtown and Southtown. He is looking for folks who have old photos; if you do and want to share, his e-mail is on the Rewind site.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jack Leckel

1958 English teachers: Mary Sue Dilliard, John L. Leckel, Muriel Eastham, and Mary Virginia Lamson.

One of my favorite teachers at SHS was Jack Leckel. He taught speech and drama at SHS in 1956-58, directing "Antigone," "The Skin of Our Teeth," and "Gold in the Hills." Later I saw him at the U. of I, where he was a graduate student in drama. He wrote and directed his own play, "Blue is the Antecdent of It," and judged the annual Stunt Show.

For a while he tried professional theatre in New York, and later moved to Chicago, where he had a long career training and evaluating teachers in the public school system. Along the way he wrote TV scripts and then cookbooks, all focusing on Illinois food, land, and history. You may still buy copies online; look for "John L. Leckel" as the author's name.

A few years ago, Jack retired to his home town of Collinsville, IL, where one of his childhood friends was Mary Sue Dilliard. There he has been active in historic restoration and in writing online reviews of drama books.

I no longer have Jack's e-mail, but Google gives his mail address and phone. When I corresponded with him, he was delighted to know that members of our class remember him.

On this Thanksgiving Eve, I'd like to thank Jack for bringing his lively, creative imagination into our lives. Day after tomorrow, I will try his recipe for turkey tetrazzini, in The Legendary Illinois Cookbook, page 219.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dan Fernandes

Dan Fernandes leads an active retired life in La Verne, CA, keeping busy with politics, computers, hi-fi music, and (when time allows) tennis and biking. After earning degrees from Springfield JC and the U of Illinois, he worked at General Dynamics for 33 years as an aerospace engineer, mostly building missile defense systems.

In 1980, Dan joined a design team that built the world's fastest human-powered vehicle, "The Vector," featured on ABC-TV "That's Incredible" and also the cover of Scientific American. In the early 1990s, he earned teaching credentials in math and taught for two years at the secondary and college levels.

In recent years, Dan has been a member of the Libertarian Party and candidate for the California State Senate in his district. He stands for individual rights and free markets, and he invites friends and classmates to visit his web site and drop him a line.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Our Town in Photos

The Illinois State Journal-Register marks its 175th anniversary next year, 1831-2006. To mark the occasion, the paper has mounted a gallery of photos on its site, and one set features "Our Town: A Visual Journey," showing images from 1936 to 2005.

The above image depicts an early snowfall on October 16, 1945. The scene is the Old State Capitol, then serving as the Sangamon County courthouse. An American elm stands on the left, and the Springfield Marine Bank at the rear.

I don't know the year or the make of the car, but it looks to be pre-war. The war had ended two months earlier, and we were five years old.

The gallery has 32 images; credits and photo reprints are available at the SJR site.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Jon Corzine

Few people know that Jon Corzine, U. S. Senator and newly-elected governor of New Jersey, is an Illinois native. He was born in Christian County, on a small farm close to Taylorville, about 27 miles southeast of Springfield.

As a kid he joined 4-H and was a St. Louis Cardinals fan. He went to the U. of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, joined the basketball team as a walk-on, served as president of his fraternity, and majored in Commerce.

After earning an MBA at the U. of Chicago, he joined the investment firm of Goldman Sachs and worked his way to the top. He took the company public, winning a rep for being low-key, efficient, kind, calm, and casual--he wore sweater vests on the trading floor, while making billion-dollar deals. (That's Illinois for you.)

Some observers say he may be President one day. Right now he looks forward to moving into a governor's mansion, since his current home in NJ is an apartment in Hoboken.