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Yesteryear: December in Oswego/Montgomery-area history

The interior of the Oswego Public Library's main floor on Jefferson Street in the village's downtown as it appeared in 1972.
The interior of the Oswego Public Library's main floor on Jefferson Street in the village's downtown as it appeared in 1972.

December 2002

Traffic volume on the Orchard Road bridge spanning the Fox River just outside Oswego’s municipal limits had increased more than 50 percent within the first 10 months after the bridge opened, the Ledger-Sentinel reported. Traffic count figures released by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) showed 8,800 vehicle crossed the two lane bridge on a weekday in June 2002, an increase of 3,000 vehicles or 51 percent more than the 5,800 vehicles counted on the bridge in September 2001 just weeks after the bridge was opened to traffic. Fran Klaas, Kendall County Highway Department engineer, said an initial significant jump in bridge traffic was expected as area motorists became aware and then accustomed to using the new structure.” I expect to see significant increases yearly,” Klaas said, referring to the bridge traffic. “But, hopefully, we won’t be seeing increases of 50 percent or more every year.”

December 1997

At the recommendation of John DuRocher, Montgomery village administrator, the village board voted unanimously to hire an independent appraisal firm to prepare appraisals of homes in the village that had been determined eligible for a proposed voluntary flood buyout program. A total of 100 homes that were severely damaged in the July 1996 flood were eligible for the program, which offered homeowners slightly more than 75 percent of the pre-flood fair market value of their homes. The homes were located in sections of the Blackberry Heights, Parkview Estates and Marvray Manor Subdivisions.

Officials with Goodrich Quality Theaters, Inc. announced they would open their new Kendall 8 theater in Oswego’s Townes Crossing shopping center in January.

December 1992

Upset at the Oswego Public Library District’s plans to expand its downtown Oswego building and the earlier closure of a branch library on Douglas Road, the Montgomery Village Board voted to have its attorney investigate potential legal steps the village could take to de-annex from the library district. Village president Ray Kozloski, however, said he disagreed with the board’s action. “It’s bad to make the last option the first option,” Kozloski said.

December 1987

Oswego School Board members reviewed a proposed construction schedule for a $14 million addition and renovation project at each of the district’s six school buildings. Voters had approved funds for the projects in a referendum the previous month. A total of $9 million of the $14 million was proposed to be spent on the construction of an auditorium, field house, learning center and additional classrooms at Oswego High School.

December 1982

In an editorial, the Ledger-Sentinel hailed an Oswego School District Board decision to purchase 30 acres of vacant land adjacent to Oswego High School. The board OK’d the purchase to provide space for the eventual expansion of the high school. The Ledger-Sentinel predicted the school district’s enrollment would increase when an ongoing nationwide recession ended and new home construction resumed in the school district.

Timex watches and Russell Stover candies were among the Christmas gift possibilities on sale at Grimm’s Drugstore at the Boulder Hill Market in Boulder Hill, according to an advertisement in the Ledger-Sentinel.

December 1977

Ledger reporter Betty Grimshaw offered this assessment of the Oswego Village Board after attending their monthly meeting: “Money is short in various areas, manpower is short in the police department, and tempers are being held in check with short reins.” Grimshaw added, “The (police department’s) list of criminal activity this past month is pretty staggering: thefts, bomb scares, attempted suicide, a streaker in the Lark (restaurant on Main Street), trespass, burglary, auto theft and hit and run.”

December 1972

From Dec. 28 Oswego Ledger: “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men came to an abrupt stop in Oswego Christmas night, with the derailment of three diesel engines from the Burlington-Northern tracks in the heart of the village. The 80-car, four diesel freight train was southbound when at 2:57 the train went off on a stub end of track near the grain elevator, located on Benton Street near Adams. The engineer stated later that he did not see the open switch in time to stop.”

December 1968

Oswego Police Chief James Vinson announced 1968 village vehicle stickers would go on sale Dec. 15 at Shuler’s Drugstore at Main and Jackson streets in the village. The stickers were priced at $3 each, $5 after April.

Montgomery Village Board members voted unanimously to have a resolution drafted in support of Waubonsee Community College’s Dec. 16 referendum. The newly organized college was seeking funds to purchase a site for a campus off Ill. Route 47, just north of Sugar Grove.

Featured entertainment at the December meeting of the Boulder Hill and Long Beach elementary schools’ combined PTA were “Mardoni and Louise.” The duo put on an entertaining demonstration of ESP, according to the Ledger.

December 1957

Downtown Oswego merchants hosted a “Stag Night” promotion to encourage men to do their Christmas shopping in their stores. “We suggest that men take advantage of this opportunity to buy the little woman’s gift without fear that she will be peeking over his shoulder,” according to an article in the Ledger.

During their monthly meeting, the Oswego Village Board authorized their engineering consultant to draw up plans for the installation of 18 street lights in the village’s downtown area, increased village police officer Paul Dwyre’s monthly salary to $325, agreed to consider an ordinance banning pinball games, and opened bids for a new village police car. Low bidder was N.B. Anderson Motor Sales, Newark, with a bid of $1,938.44.

In an advertisement in the Ledger, Shuler’s Drugstore at 68 Main Street, announced it had filled 130,000 prescriptions since it opened Dec. 6, 1937. The first prescription filled was for a Mrs. James Campbell of Oswego. The cost for the 100 tablet prescription was 35 cents, according to the advertisement.

December 1952

In his weekly editorial in the Oswego Ledger, publisher Ford Lippold noted “many towns throughout the nation are endeavoring to put Christ back into Christmas.” Lippold encouraged every business owner and resident of the village to do their part by displaying their own nativity scenes.

Weather was in the news in Oswego in 1952. Warned Lippold in another editorial: “Several motorists have reported that they had close calls during the past few days with children coasting on the streets. It is hard for motorists to stop quickly even when moving at a snail’s pace on the icy streets of the village.”

December 1937

The Cutter drug store business has been sold to A. M. Shuler of Crystal Lake, who will conduct the store to be known as Shuler’s drug store.

December 1942

The Record reported there were “many Christmas parties, many happy family gatherings, and some sad ones in this war year, 1942.”

December 1932

The Record reported: “Harold Tregillus recently made a business trip to New York by plane. He left from Chicago about 1 in the afternoon and came back the next night. He said it was a fine trip, the air was so clear that up at 10,000 feet those in the 10-passenger plane could easily make out the lights of the cities below. They made the trip to New York in four and one-half hours with a good tail-wind blowing. The return took longer.”

December 1927

A representative of the Traverse City Hydrant & Valve Co. presented a demonstration with a sample valve and hydrant to the Montgomery Village Board. Later during the same meeting, board members voted to make the firm’s hydrants and valves standard for the village. In other business, attorney Robert J. Wing of Aurora presented information to the board concerning the cost of the Aurora Sanitary District’s proposed treatment plant “and other incidentals.” The board then voted to have a petition prepared calling for the village to become part of the sanitary district.

The Record reported on Dec. 14, 1927, that Melvin Parkhurst, a junior at Oswego High School, broke his arm the previous Saturday while cranking his car.

“There will be a municipal Christmas tree located at the bank corner [Main at Washington] and lighted during Christmas week, beginning Wednesday evening, December 21,” the Record reported from Oswego. “It is sponsored by the Nineteenth Century Club, the town board, and the business houses of Oswego. Christmas carols will be sung each evening.”

On Dec. 21, the Record reported that the Kendall County Road Boasters Association had been organized the previous Wednesday evening and a big drive started to further the interests of the county to get Route 47 built from the Wisconsin line to Morris in 1928. President of the group was John D. Russell of Oswego.

December 1897

“The hello racket on the telephone was ushered in last Saturday,” the Record’s Oswego correspondent reported on Dec. 15, 1897. “The poles have been set all around town. It is much appreciated by some of our people, and quite a few distant colloquies were had by them through it.”

December 1887

“Our corporation has a new and unique way of enforcing their ordinance against leading horses across sidewalks into vacant lots; it is by fencing in the street, so as to keep them from getting to the sidewalks,” the Record’s Oswego correspondent reported on Dec. 7, 1887.

December 1872

“The R.R. company is now constructing a stock yard near the side track north of Jackson street,” the Record’s Oswego correspondent reported on Dec. 5, 1872. He added that “The observance of Thanksgiving day was not general, I think none of the business establishments were closed; the Post office was shut during divine service, which took place at the Baptist Church.”

“Over 400 hogs, making seven carloads, were shipped from here last night,” the Record reported from Oswego on Dec. 12. “Six of the loads belonged to Davis of Ausable Grove; and one to Wollenweber and Knapp.”

The Record reported on Dec. 26, 1872 that one of Oswego’s most historic structures was destroyed by fire. “The residence of Daniel Pearce, about one mile east of town, was burned Sunday morning and proved a very distressing occurrence; most of the family was yet in bed when the fire was discovered and the boys, James and Corbin, rushed out in their bare feet to carry water from the spring; James failed to secure his boots in time, which were in the kitchen, and was compelled to go to his brother’s house (Ezekiel, a half mile distance) barefooted, the weather from 16–20 degrees below zero, his feet were badly frozen. There was nothing saved except a couple of trunks. The fire originated, it was supposed, from the ashes which the old lady had taken up and set outdoors.” Daniel Pearce and his family were, in 1833, the first settlers of Oswego Township. The house was located on the U.S. Route 34 curve where the Fox Bend pro’s house – which was built by Pearce following the fire – is located today.

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