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Mt. Pulaski , Illinois
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July 13, 1961     Times
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July 13, 1961
 

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---SIL-TENNIAL EDFFION (Times.News, Mt. Pulmki, IlL) THORSDAY, JULY 13. 1961 By Wilhelm (Mike) Kautz Dear Harry: In regard to your Sil-Tennial Celebration, we have been follow- ing your preparations closely thru your paper, and we certainly want to commend all of you for your enthusiasm. And your Sil- Tennial Belles! Their numbers are becoming legion. You know, I just love celebrations, and wish I were there to lend a hand. It was very kind of you to ira. ply that I might have something i to offer in the compiling of your! historical document. I take it that you have already amassed much data, and may I remind you that you are fortunate indeed to have a Paul Beidler at your command. There is a man who has given his entire lifetime to the task of gathering local news, and I know to the countless Mt. Pulaskians scattered around the country, Paul will always be "Mr. Mt. Pulaski" -- their historian. So, it is my considered thought that whatever my contribution might be, it could easily find its counterpart in events that Paul has already given you. As the time approaches for your Sil-Tennial celebration, you Mt. Pulaskians will again find your-i selves in your traditional role R that of.the genial host. And it is in this capacity that I find some of my fondest memories. Meeting the Trains You know at the turn of the century the automobile for all practical purposes was non-exist- ent, and the railroads did a tre- mendous passenger business. There were 10 or 12 passenger trains thru town daily - and don't forget, they stopped, too. We were all mighty proud of that. On special occasions we have had special trains to bring some of our more distant guests. Upon arrival, one of many committees s,w to it that they were made to feel at home. So, shortly before train time, the Mt. Pulaski band assembled on the west side of the square, headed south on Wash- Recalls Fondest Memories of Days Gone POLITICAL LINEUP in which "Mike" Kautz was involved during Dwight Green's candidacy for Governor. Mike will probably want to shoot us for using this picture for he was caught at an awkward moment -- whiskers and all -- when this group descended on him unhearalded at his elevator one morning. Left to right: Fred Reind. ers, county chairman of the Republican party; Joe Kretzinger, Chestnut; Dwight Green, "Mike", Ever. ett Jarvis and H. J. Wible. --Times-News Photo. have experienced first hand. Semi.Cammanial B I guess, without question, one of your biggest events was the Semi-Centennial held in 1886. My good friend, the late John Chtist- man, was quite a historian and he had one of the Semi-Centen- nial posters For the life of me I cannot recall whom he gave it to (We have it, Mike) No doubt, it would give you much valuable data. Old Settlers day was strict- ly a Mt. Pulaski affair, and in fact, I believe the whole county took an active part. These were great events and must rank high in importance. Fourth of July was, of course, celebrated by everyone, but seldom was Mt Pulaski out- done. As I was told, it was some time during the 75's that the col- ored folks of Central Illinois chose Mt. Pulaski as the site for their Emancipation Day celebra- tion. They came by train and marched from the depot to the Capps Park in the north end of town, and it was the first time many of the young people had ever seen colored folks. I recall one outfit that gave us a balloon ascension every day for a week -- shows of every kind and description. I recall the first house of mirrors that came to town. That was quite a unique experience -- you just couldn't get out of them. Then we had the traveling medicine shows. They, as a rule, spent a week in town and gave a different show every night, and upon each pur- chase of $1 or more you were given a coupon that entitled you to cast your vote for one of the local contestants in their beauty contests. You have no idea the enthusiasm that was engendered at these contests. Hypnotism Popular Then we had the winter season too. They made one week stands in the Scroggin Opera House. It was the time of the travelling hypnotist, and there was always a willingness on the part of a few of our more courageous citiz- ens to submit to hypnosis. I assure you there were many skeptics too that questioned the whole procedure. The hypnotist always carried an assistant with the show, and this patient soul must have spent a good part of his life under the influence - and of all the things he was sub- jected to! The crowning event came when he was hypnotized, taken downstairs, and placed up- on a bicycle that had been placed were protracted rides. I have for- gotten the exact number of hours he spent in this ride, but it was l at least a 24-hour stretch, and it is considered thought that it was even longer This, of course, was quite an attraction, and there were intimations that some folks were going to stay up all night to watch for irregularities. I never heard of any discrepancie It was interesting, too, to watch his re. actions to whatever his imagin. ing terrain might be. There was exertion on the hills, relaxation on down-grade, and then of course, the nonchalance of the average cyclist on level ground . all very interesting. Subsequent events have proven that it was all quite genuine, and certain- ly hypnotic therapy today has contributed much in the treat- ment of mankind ills. Walking Age I like to think of this period as the age of walking. People who were in business around the square, regardless of how far out they might have lived, always made two round trips from home to business each day. The Sunday stroll was almost an institution. It sort of had a "Gay Ninety" flavor. Papa and mama, with the younger kids racing ahead, crawling fences and what have you, the older ones sort of bored with the whole thing, reluct- antly bring up the rear. Teen- agers walked to the creek and back. The thought has just occurred to me what an important part the railroad station played in the lives of all of us. What a pleas. ureable pastime it was to walk to the depot to see the trains come in m who was coming and going, and always the possibility that we might see a newer and bigger steam engine. The telegraph office was the source of all news bulletins. And, then, there was State Fair tune and more special trains. From the north they came as far as Gilman and of course, filled up on the way. The P.D. & E. had one each way, and they trans. ferred in Mt. Pulaski to the main line. That took more time. What enthusiasm! And why not? They were going to the Fair, and in most cases they had the invari. able shoe box that held their lunch. Oh, Harry, it was a great age and best exemplified in the song immortalized by the late Harry Lauder m "Never had a lot of money, but always had a er, or to transfer to one of the other lines. It was such a pleas- ant experience. You do appreciate the importance of our depot, do you not? The Com A Your picture showing the dumping of ear corn on the ground certainly prompts a little reminiscing on this important segment of our economy. Years i ago you would see long rows of single plank cribs located near the elevators. These crib sites were quite common throughout the corn belt. Come shucking time and they were all filled with ear corn. In some cases this corn ington Street and was on its way to the depot. And don't forget, it was a marching band, too. There must have been 25 or 30 pieces. And here were all of us kids trying to get just as close as poss. ible to our favorite section. I was always partial to the trumpet. And here we were marching a- long awaiting the roll of the snare, and up came "Under The Double Eagle", and I tell you, Harry, the devil himself couldn't have stopped us. Speeches Galore As I recall, there were no form- al ceremonies at the depot. Re- grouping of kids and band, with our guests on the sidewalk, and we were headed north up Wash- ington St. to the court yard. After the guests were settled, and the band was enjoying a coffee break, our part of the welcoming cere- monies was over. At this point someone would give a welcome address. In most cases this spot was given to one of the elder- ly citizens. You must bear in mind there was no dearth of speakers. They spoke before din- ner, after dinner, and after sup- per, and they spoke with a vehemence that would put a lot of present day orators to shame, and as I recall, they spoke ex- temporaneously, too. It has been said no one enjoys a speech as much as the speaker, but that was not the case with these folks. They were a patient lot and their applause was vigorous and spon- taneous. This patience was born out of a dearth of entertaining media. If the question was asked what was your biggest and best celebration, I would hardly be in a position to say. I was born in 1894 and ,lived in the 3rd ward for 62 years. That's just one-hall of your 125 years. So placing events into two categories, you have the period 1836 and 1898, and from there to your Sil-Ten- nial. In the first group are the events as they were told to me, and in the latter are those that . it was my very good fortune to in one of the store windows some- lot of fun." where along the west side of the I Oh, yes, I had almost forgot- square. It was placed on a rack, ]ten, this was the era of the big elevating the back wheel off the ] circus and they all travelled by floor, and this gentleman mount. | special train. Most of them stop- ed it and started to ride. They [ peal in Mr. Pulaski, either for wat- J many other lmproveme granted. However," civic has prompted me to windmill in these early ments. The time of its tion is somewhat vague, do know that the Yankee Mill was one of the Mr. finest products. For many it gave employment to few people. Its quite general throughout Illinois, and I think some ered out of the State. service they rendered eve# years. Riding Cultirtom Another refinement came the scene . one that was panied with some have the riding mind. All were in did make the task much but the question was - man ride and cultivate effectively as he could do the job? There was pleasure displayed by lords and there were that there might be some ing of tenants if these were indulged in. some rode and some might interpose with ment -- I don't could tell the the opposition yielded on ing-by of the corn -- it all right. Then it was it would be all right to last two times over everybody was riding. As I recall there were t of these walking had a tongue and the a tongueless affair. two wheels, held an arch of some sort. knows what the tugs were hooked to. that intrigued me you got to the end to the whole thing just lapsed. But "after you around and lined out, who knew how to ploW. me The coming of the co' all too recent to merit nlv cussion However it too,_._ , . UltqLA , with certain misgivings"  tionably, if ample time  for ripening and drying, Tber ffi eraI1 quality is superior 1 shucking and threshing , muchWe have seen heavYslockr ar"- havoc with 0$. and then the long  a cess made for long au l factory harvests. On sc casiorls I have seen Wh ed from the shock  "" SkeDq Years ago there method known as grain. The bundles to large cone if properly erected stand much adverse There were a few rae, community who coula stacking properly. Theu were much sought practice, I presume, about by lack of eqt it enabled the his threshing time combine was the ing device that really farm wife. It did big threshing dinner feasts! I shall never: many different pies with crusts on strips on top, any top at all. for calorie counting. Today, with the from the rural the cities, it is the reverse of that and a number of turn of the century- come March 1st, the farm began. This employment for the of the communiW some pool from the thing of beauty. That pecially the case if you was destined for the eastern mar- good team of mules, and ket. In fact, eastern interests bought and paid for much of it. It was held in these cribs, not necessarily for price enhance- ment, but to dry out. And, come summer, nature and time had completed the drying out process and the danger of heating was at a minimum. It was then scooped into wagons, taken to the elevator for shell- ing, then loaded-into cars for shipment east. As corn moved to the elevators at shucking time, it was discretionary with the ele- vators how many loads went into the cribs and how many were to be dumped in the elevators for immediate shelling and subse- quent shipping to points close to home, where the time element held the chances of heating to a minimum. Now this. choice al- ways prompted much controversy. Would you believe that most people were anxious to scoop the corn into the cribs? I think they were given something like one- hall cents per bushel extra for the chore, and of course that meant that much extra money for a plug of chewing tobacco. Chewing to- bacco was big business. The out- standing brands were Horseshoe Starr, Square Deal, and many oth- ers that I have forgotten. If your teeth were bad, they had a shredded product that was mighty good, too. It sort of makes my mouth water just to think of it. I often wondered how many pounds it took to harvest a crop of corn. Tcml Wind Agriculture has always been your lifeline, and I presume it will continue so for many years to come. At least, I would hope so if I were still living there. Had fit ever occurred to you what it took to keep agriculture going at the turn of the century, and what it takes to keep it rolling rule these today? Now there is no point in J corn husking going back too far, so in orderT, "t- wts maintain some semblance of [ ae corn from chronological order, let us take l .ney came ram_ the self-binder, gang plow, and[ (Continued on