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Columns

Yesteryear

Zentmyer's Garage at the northwest corner of Main and Jackson Street in downtown Oswego in about 1920. Today the building at 27 Main Street houses The Prom Shoppe. At left in the photo is a train station which was demolished in the early 1970s.
Zentmyer's Garage at the northwest corner of Main and Jackson Street in downtown Oswego in about 1920. Today the building at 27 Main Street houses The Prom Shoppe. At left in the photo is a train station which was demolished in the early 1970s.

March 2004

In a unanimous ballot, the Montgomery Village Board members approved a resolution asking the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the agency that owns and maintains Route 30, to consider widening the highway from two to four lanes “to accommodate growth and improve safety within the village.”

March 1999

Plans to construct a 113 acre residential subdivision proposed across the Fox River from Oswego’s historic downtown business district gained a key vote of support Monday from the village board.

A large number of Oswego residents want a department store such as a Target or Wal-Mart to locate in the village. That was one of the many findings concerning local buying habits contained in an unscientific consumer survey completed by the non-profit Oswego Economic Development Corporation (OEDC).

The Kendall County Highway Department’s plan to construct a bridge spanning the Fox River received a major boost in the form of a $2.25 million grant from the Illinois Commerce Commission. County engineer Fran Klaas said he was hopeful that construction could start on the bridge in 2001.

March 1994

A home on Circle Drive West in Boulder Hill was the target of a drive-by shooting. The Kendall County Sheriff’s Department reported that shell casings from what appeared to be a handgun were found near the scene. No injuries were reported.

City of Aurora officials confirmed they expected the city would soon extend its boundaries into Wheatland Township and the Oswego School District.

March 1989

U.S. Postal Service officials announced they would survey Boulder Hill residents to determine if they wished to maintain their Montgomery mailing address or change it to Oswego. Jim Detzler, Oswego village president, and Robert May, president of the Boulder Hill Civic Association both voiced support for the address change. They indicated they believed an Oswego address would serve to unify and “help forge a better relationship” between the village and the unincorporated subdivision.

The newly constructed Joachim Center was dedicated at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Oswego.

March 1984

Amid angry shouts from a large group of concerned parents, the Oswego School District Board voted to remove all asbestos building materials from Long Beach and Boulder Hill Elementary schools. Apparently, many of the parents became concerned for the safety of their children after viewing or hearing about a Chicago television news show’s rating “sweeps” report on the potential health hazard posed by asbestos materials in school buildings.

March 1979

Flooding was a problem for homeowners in the floodplain along the Fox River in Oswego and elsewhere in Kendall County as warmer temperatures caused snow to melt. Northern Illinois had experienced record snowfall during the winter of 1978-79. The March 22 Ledger featured a photo of a flooded home along North Adams Street in Oswego.

The Oswego Public Library Board contracted with an architectural firm to prepare plans for an addition to the library building on Jefferson Street in the village’s downtown.

March 1974

Basketball fever gripped the community as the Oswego High School boys basketball team qualified for the first and, to date, only time to compete in the quarter-finals of the state basketball tournament. To reach the “Elite Eight” at the University of Illinois at Champaign, Coach Steve Goers’ Panthers won 22 games, and knocked off perennial powers West Aurora and East Aurora in regional and sectional play, respectively. The dream season, however, ended at Assembly Hall in the quarter-final game as the Panthers lost to Breese Mater Dei, 63-49. Despite the loss, Panther fans packed the school’s gym for a welcome home assembly.

The Oswego School District Board held a closed door executive session to discuss penalties for four Oswego High School students arrested for ‘streaking’—running naked—on school property. The board chose to give each of the students a ten-day suspension. (Streaking was a brief fad across the country in 1974.)

March 1969

Oswego Community Bank officials unveiled plans to construct a new bank building at Jackson and Madison (U.S. Route 34) streets in the village. The vacant property had previously been the site of the Red Brick School which was torn down in 1965.

March 1964

Plans for the installation of traffic signals on Route 25 at the Mill Street bridge in Montgomery were reviewed by the village board. The plans were presented by the village’s engineering consultant, Walter E. Deuchler Jr.

“One of the largest public meetings in the history of Oswego was held Monday evening in the high school gym to hear a report on the proposed method of financing and sanitary sewer facilities for the Oswego area to be annexed to the Aurora Sanitary District. Over 275 interested property owners showed up for the presentation of facts and figures by attorney Robert Dolph, speaking for the sanitary district trustees,” the Ledger reported.

“The Christian in Boulder Hill: in Politics; Race Relations; Juvenile Delinquency; Alcoholism; and the Morals of our Teenagers,” were the topics for a series of open-to-the public discussions held at the Boulder Hill Neighborhood Church.

The Ledger reported that area businesses were asked to close between 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. March 27 in observance of Good Friday.

March 1959

Jesse Owens, star of the U.S. Track team at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, came to Oswego to speak at a meeting of the PTA. Then a staffer for the Illinois Youth Commission, the four time Olympic gold medal winner spoke on the “Brighter Side of the Coin,” the Ledger reported.

Contractors for the Illinois Department of Transportation were proceeding with the construction of Bypass U.S. Route 30 at the Kane-Kendall county line. The project, which linked U.S. Route 34 and Ill. Route 47, included construction of a massive two lane bridge spanning the Fox River in Montgomery. The bridge was scheduled for completion by summer. The bypass was built to relieve heavy truck traffic through downtown Aurora and to provide quick access to the newly opened Caterpillar, Inc. and Western Electric plants near Montgomery. A leading proponent of the bypass was colorful and controversial Aurora Mayor Paul Egan.

March 1954

In separate, positive ballots the Montgomery Village Board approved the issuance of a liquor license to Ernest and Harriett Mikel to operate the Mill Tavern at Mill and South River streets, and the installation of six new street lights on North Main Street.

New traffic signs were put up on Madison Street (U.S. Route 34) at the Red Brick School in Oswego. “The signs were obtained with the cooperation of the village board and policeman Paul Dwyre, and are furnished by the Coca-Cola Co.,” the Ledger reported.

Montgomery Police Chief Bob Woodard was a candidate for Kendall County sheriff. An ad for Woodard published in the Ledger described Woodard as being “instrumental in solving the burglaries at Burkhart’s Garage, Johnson’s Tavern, and Shuler’s Drug store [in Oswego].”

Meanwhile, Woodard’s opponent, Frank Martyn, published a single ad in the Ledger announcing his campaign would be funded solely from his salary as a police officer. “I will be unable to insert very many political advertisements in newspapers or use other usual methods of advertising employed by politicians,” Woodard wrote.

An ad for N.M. Tripp Insurance in Oswego published in the Ledger read, “Life begins at 40...for those who do not do 60 when they are 20!”

March 1934

A youngster was struck and injured by a motorist while crossing Madison Street at Jackson Street at the Red Brick School in Oswego. The Record’s Oswego correspondent warned parents to caution their children about running across the increasingly busy street: “The little school boys walk and play in Madison Street not realizing the danger from traffic which has been unusually heavy since the coming of the direct highway to Naperville.

Also from the Record’s Oswego correspondent, “On Sunday evening, Lawrence Ode lighted a match to see if he needed more water in the radiator of his car. A flash of fire came out, burning his face, but not seriously. The explosion came from the alcohol solution.”

From the March 28 Record “R.B. Stevens is driving his auto with only a skeleton top. On Saturday evening, March 17, a boy from the St. Charles home took the auto from the street in Oswego and it was found the next day at Morris, overturned with windows broken and the top stripped of all covering.”

March 1929

The Record reported March 6, “The town was very quiet Monday morning, most folks sitting around their radios listening to the Hoover Inaugural.”

March 1924

The death of Martha White was announced in the March 19 Record. White had been the Oswego correspondent for the newspaper. No Oswego news appeared thereafter in the Record until April 9.

March 1904

The Record reported that a Levi Gates was the initial owner of the land where Riverview Park in Montgomery was built.

On March 23, 1904, the Record’s Oswego correspondent wrote that a number of changes had taken place in the village during the previous 40 or 50 years. The writer said: “Oswego once had in operation a lime kiln, a brick kiln, a grist or flouring mill, two sawmills, a broom factory, two cooperage shops, two wagon shops, a brewery, a cabinet shop, four hotels, a lodge of each of the Sons of Temperance, Odd Fellows, and the Ancient Druids; also one or more private schools, the county seat—All of these things have gone. Furthermore, it had nine stores of general merchandise, now but one; the churches have diminished from six to four, and then it also had frequent Universalist and occasional Episcopalian services—none of which is now. As to saloons, classing them with what used to be groceries, the place held about its own.”

March 1899

“John Schickler has commenced excavating for his 65 foot front brick building at the [northwest] corner of Main and Washington,” the Record reported from Oswego on March 22, 1899. (The building, 110 years later, is now occupied by The Marmalade Tree and Art’s Barbershop.)

125 years ago this month…

March 1884

“A brown and black bear and two Italians gave a pretty good street performance,” the Record reported from Oswego.

Another item from the Record: “Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Bunn—who are newly married and quite good looking couple—are visiting friends here.”

The Record also reported: “Quite a curiosity was in town the other day in the shape of a span of wooly horses; they were of a brown color their hair quite long and curly. The owner said that they came from Montana, were twin brothers, and out of ordinary horses. That it was supposed the freak of nature was brought about by their mother being frightened by a buffalo.”

March 1879

“The resumption of legal whiskey in Oswego took place yesterday morning,” the Record reported on March 13, 1879. “George Burkhart and George Troll are the licensed dispensers thus far and now you can get your toddy without resorting to duplicity.”

March 1874

The Record reported March 19: “The [temperance] crusade is now only yet the most exciting issue of the community, but is growing in interest and importance as time rolls on, and the persuasive power of it is increasing daily. The lightning rodders are getting ready to move; a number have gone already.”

Another report in the Record: “The authorities of this town have been very energetic the past week in repairing the streets; several stone cross-walks have been constructed, a sewer across Main street uncovered and capped, the principal business portion of that street graveled, etc. Of course some will say that all this has been done just now for effect—the election is close by.”

March 1869

The Record reported from Oswego March 4: “In view of the approaching corporation election, a meeting was held in Chapman’s Hall a week ago last Friday evening for the purpose of harmonizing the conflicting elements on the liquor question. The extremists from either side were poorly represented and the conservatives had it pretty much their own way.”

This item also appeared in the Record: “Oliver H. Sherwood was buried last Sunday. Aged 47 years. So we go.”

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