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Living Illinois Valley

Spring 2013

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Spring into Illinois Valley Living!

We sure can’t complain about our Illinois Valley winter this year, however, it’s always great to see spring arrive. From the baby animals sprinkled throughout the countryside, to spring flowers popping their heads up in your backyard, to our area farmers heading back into the fields ... spring in the Illinois Valley is a truly a welcoming sight. To me, spring is about second chances. Though the barren countryside of winter looks bleak and oftentimes brutal, that same countryside in spring offers us hope, another chance to appreciate the beauty of the Illinois Valley. I hope you’ll join me in embracing this beautiful season. It’s difficult to believe it’s already time for another edition of Illinois Valley Living. Why ... it seems as if it was just a few days ago, we were putting the finishing touches on our winter edition. Nevertheless, we’ve had a good time with this Spring 2013 magazine, and like the rest, I know you won’t be disappointed. Like the past editions, this one is filled with the people, places and things of the Illinois Valley — the people, places and things that make our home special. You’ll find a heaping helping of fun among the pages — stories about your friends, family and neighbors ... stories about places familiar and unfamiliar ... stories about things that may surprise you. I am so thrilled with the responses I’ve received about our Illinois Valley Living magazine. I’m glad you enjoy it as much as we enjoy bringing it to you. As always, I’m anxious to hear your input and ideas. Feel free to give me a call. Happy reading ... and happy spring, my friends! Best regards, Terri Simon, Editor


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Illinois Valley Living

Illinois Valley

PUBLISHER Sam R Fisher EDITOR Terri Simon SALES DEVELOPMENT Pam Pratt-Marsh PAGE DESIGN Greg Wallace PUBLISHED BY The Bureau County Republican 800 Ace Road Princeton, Illinois 61356 (815) 875-4461 MAIN COVER PHOTO Kath Clark

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hey arrive to remind us of the cycle of life. Though dormant through the winter months, we watch them poke their heads through the moist soil every spring — life goes on ... Fragrant, colorful, early or late ... spring flowers are always a welcome sign of spring. The Illinois Valley is situated in the prime location to produce a bouquet of beauty with little to no work — other than a bit of pruning, and of course, a bit of snipping to bring in those blooms so you can enjoy them indoors. Like every other season, the flowers of spring in the Midwest are many, but following are some of the most popular varieties of spring flowers you can enjoy.

Tulips A list of spring flowers wouldn’t be complete with a tulip or two. Several varieties are abundantly popu-


lar — some which arrive very early and some with make you wait until the end of the season. And there’s no shortage of colors either. You can choose from white, yellow, orange, red, purple, pink ... and a variety of colorful mixtures, textures and blooms. Plant your tulip bulbs in the fall, and your spring will be a colorful reflection of your hard work.

Crocus When it seems like winter won’t go away, you’ll look out your window one day and be pleasantly surprised to see the dainty crocus in bloom. Usually the first flower of the spring season to bloom in the Midwest, you can find them in miniature versions or the giant ones that will grow to a massive 2 to 4 inches tall. Like the tulips, after planting the bulbs in the fall, you’ll enjoy a wide array of colors like pink, orange, yellow, blue, purple and white in the spring. Crocus have a strong scent and often will lure bees out of their hives in February or March.

Tulips Illinois Valley Living

Hyacinth You’ll know there is a hyacinth close by because it’s fragrance is memorable and can be detected several feet away from the actual bloom. Often found in potted containers for the Easter season, the hyacinth bulb is also planted in the fall and will quickly poke its head out in the spring. Victorians loved hyacinths for their sweet lingering scent and often planted them in massive beds, putting a single color in each row. If you want to try your hand at this, consider all the hyacinth colors available ... red, pink, orange, yellow, blue, purple and white.

Daffodil If you want your wintry mood to change quickly, all you have to do is get a glimpse of daffodils in your spring garden. Once you plant the bulbs in the fall, you’ll clearly understand in the spring that they were worth the wait. These attractive flowers bear showy yellow or white flowers with six petals. Their leafless stems are hardy, which makes them perfect for planting between shrubs or in a border. One perk of the daffodil for rural gardeners is that the deer and rabbits don’t particularly care for their taste.


Iris Like the Greek goddess for which it is name, the iris comes in an array of magical colors. It is hardy, reliable and easy to grow, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds throughout the season. It also makes a lovely bouquet of cut flowers for your spring table. There are more than 300 varieties of iris, arriving in your late spring garden in colors of pink, orange, yellow, blue, purple, white and multicolor. For years, the iris was a favorite for those taking flowers to the cemetery at Memorial Day.

Peony Hyacinth

Illinois Valley Living

The beautiful blooms of the peony will flower in the spring and leave behind lush foliage you can enjoy all summer long. Fragrant and showy, this perennial requires little work, yet produces huge blooms in shades of red, pink, yellow or white.




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Artists in residency The Illinois Valley is filled with a plethora of artists, who do more than just dabble in their artwork. Illinois Valley Living chatted with 10 different artists, who are as different as the work they produce. Find out what makes these artists tick ... what inspires them ... and more ...

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‘We regret to inform you’ A HANDSOME MAN IN A UNIFORM CHANGES ONE WOMAN’S LIFE Story and photos by Barb Kromphardt Photos contributed


uth Wealer of Princeton has led a long and happy life. She and her husband, Vince, enjoyed a long marriage and were blessed with seven children. They moved to Lake Thunderbird in 1972, before moving to Princeton in 2000. Although Vince is now gone, she enjoys living in Princeton’s Clark House and participating in area activities. But not much time goes by without her thinking about a dashing young man, handsome in his Coast Guard uniform, who remains forever young in her memories.

Wealer grew up in Chicago and dated that young man for the last couple of years in high school. “He was a good-looking boy,” she said. “He was voted the handsomest boy in the class in high school.” That young man, Forrest Oren Rednour, joined the Coast Guard after high school. When he came home on leave in December 1942, he had a plan. “He came back on leave and wanted to get married,” Wealer said. “I had just turned 18.” Wealer’s mother was not in favor of the marriage, so on Dec. 23, 1942, Wealer went to work; and then she and Rednour went to City Hall and got married.

A young Ruth Wealer poses with her first husband, Forrest Rednour. The two were married in 1942, and spent only a few days together as husband and wife before he was killed in action in World War II.

See Wealer Page 8

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Princeton resident Ruth Wealer holds a photo of her first husband, Forrest Rednour. The two were high school sweethearts and married after Rednour joined the Coast Guard in 1942. Rednour was awarded a Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps medal for outstanding service.


From Page 7 “I was in love, I thought,” she said. “I’d known him for quite awhile, and there’s always the appeal of a man in uniform, you know.” And Wealer was always a bit of a rebellious child. “I used to call my sister Goody Two Shoes because she never got in trouble, and she said, “I don’t get in trouble because I watch you,’” Wealer said with a laugh. The newlyweds had one night together before Rednour had to go back to his ship. He dropped his new wife off at her parents’

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home on the way out of town. “When I got inside, Christmas was coming, and they were pretty upset with me,” she said. “So was the whole world. You just didn’t go off and get married those days. That wasn’t done.” But Wealer’s parents got used to the idea, and even took her to the troop train in February 1943 when she went to spend a week with her husband in Boston. “I sight-seed all the time because Forrest had to go back to the ship, and he was only back at night,” she said. “I had a wonderful time all by myself. I felt like a world traveller when I came home.”

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Little did she know that those few days of married life were all she and Forrest were to have together. It was June 17, 1943. Wealer was at work, expecting her husband to come home on leave soon. “My grandmother got the telegram, and she called and she said, ‘There’s a telegram here. He must be telling you when he’s coming home,’” Wealer said. “She started to read it, and she got half-way through it, and she said he was gone.” Rednour was stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Escanaba, which escorted ships through the dangerous North Atlantic

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waters. Three days earlier the Escanaba apparently hit a floating mine and exploded. Only two of the 105-member crew survived. “It was such a short marriage,” Wealer said. “But it happened to lots of women in those days.” Rednour was gone, but another event that happened during February 1943 was to continue to impact Wealer’s life. While at sea, the Escanaba was accompanying a convoy when the Army transport Dorchester was hit by a torpedo. Rednour and other rescue swimmers leaped into the freezing water to pull the victims to safety, saving an estimated 132 men. “He risked his life by pushing them away from the motor,” Wealer said. “He stayed in the water longer than a lot of them did.” For his efforts, the Navy named a ship for him, the U.S.S. Rednour. On Feb. 12, 1944, Wealer traveled to Massachusetts to christen the ship. “It’s quite an honor to have a ship named after you,” she said. Two years later, Wealer married a second time. “I had a very happy second marriage, and I had a very good life afterwards,” she said. “I don’t know what it would have been with Forrest.” So the handsome young man lives on, forever 20 years old, in the fading photographs Wealer still treasures. “I would do it over again,” she said. “I have no regrets.”


Ruth Wealer accepts her late husband’s awards for his bravery during World War II.

Ruth Wealer christens the ship named in honor of her late husband, Forrest Rednour.


Forrest Rednour received the Purple Heart and the Navy and Marine Corps medal for outstanding service. His citation reads, “For heroic conduct while serving aboard a U.S.C.C.C. Escanaba during the rescue of survivors from a torpedoed ship in North Atlantic waters. Despite the menace of possible enemy submarine action, Rednour risked his life in the black and icy waters of the Atlantic to aid in the rescue of unconscious and helpless survivors. Realizing the danger of being crushed between the rafts and the ship’s sides or of being struck by a propeller blade if the engines backed, he swam in under the counter of the constantly maneuvering Escanaba and prevented many floating survivors from being caught in the suction of the screws, in one instance retrieving a loaded raft. Rednour’s gallant and voluntary action in subjecting himself to pounding seas and bitter cold for nearly four hours contributed to the rescue of 145 persons and his courageous disregard for his own personal safety in a situation of grave peril was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States naval service.”

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Earl Monari (right) owns Monari’s 101 Club with his sisters Cathy Martin (below, center) and Renee Monari (below, right). The popular LaSalle night spot has been a popular venue for diners for nearly 50 years.


Story and photo by Terri Simon Photos contributed


ith the mighty Illinois River just a hop, skip and jump away, Monari’s 101 Club, located at 101 First St. in LaSalle, has been a popular place for friends to meet for years. It’s the same every time you go ... You walk in to see a bar filled with customers; people are eating, chatting, laughing ... and Earl Monari — the club’s front man — greets you with a smile, a joke, a tease. Customers have come to expect Monari’s welcoming demeanor as much as they’ve grown to love the consistent and flavorful menu — both which help to set the popular venue apart from the rest.

But when the bar stools are empty, the ovens and fryers have been turned off for the night, the lights are dimmed and the doors are locked for the day, a business side of Monari shines through. Oh, he still smiles easily; there’s still a twinkle in his eye; and he’s as quick-witted as ever ... but it becomes increasing clear how dear this family-owned and operated establishment has become to Monari’s heart. Monari’s parents, Earl and Betty Monari, purchased the 101 Club July 1, 1964 — nearly 50 years ago. In 1970, they bought the building and surrounding property, when the couple changed the name to Monari’s 101 Club. The two ran the business until 1986. When they retired, the passed the ownership of the business to their children, who still own


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and operate the business today — Earl Monari, Cathy Martin and Renee Monari. While Monari is probably the most visible — and clearly the most vocal, he is quick to speak of his sisters, who play an equally integral part in the family business. “My sisters are the people who allow me to do the things I do,” he said, emphasizing how each family member has a role to play that compliments the roles the other two siblings perform in the equally-owned business. “If it wasn’t for them, I couldn’t do the things I do.” Monari, who grew up in the business with his parents, spent three or four years in the accounting business before he headed back to Monari’s 101. To date, he’s spent 38 years in the business — more than half of his life, and he doesn’t even hesitate when he’s asked if he had it to do all over, would he do it again ... “Yes, I’d do it again,” he said quickly. “It’s my lust.”


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That lust for the family business translates to an environment that resonates of good friends, good food and an equally comfortable atmosphere. “(Our customers) know they are welcome here. It’s like coming into someone’s home to have a meal,” he said. “You don’t want to be surprised. We try to offer a consistent meal at a good price ... We like to treat our customers like we would like to be treated as customers.” Even though the club was closed during this interview, Monari paused to answer the phone — a customer calling for a reservation. Monari chats with the caller like an old friend was at the other end of the line. Only when Monari asks the caller’s name, do you realize he was speaking to a stranger. As important as Monari’s entire family is to the business, he is quick to speak about the staff, who play an important role in serving his customers. Monari said it’s important to him and his sisters that the staff are allowed to show their own personalities as they tend to their work. “We like to let employees be themselves. That makes them better employees ... We’re blessed to have them” he said, adding they employ a first class staff who are supportive of the family’s mission to offer a welcoming experience to customers. The club employs 14, and the business’ catering service employs six. Monari said he considers everyone who

Illinois Valley Living

Located at 101 First St. — which is where the restaurant gets its name, Monari’s 101 Club offers diners a consistent menu at a fair price, said coowner Earl Monari. works at the business an important “cog in the wheel.” Monari said the menu and the hours at the club are consistent, and that’s by design. “We’ve got to be consistent. Our consistency is serving the most memorable meal you’ll ever have,” he said, adding that consistency also translates to serving a meal at a good price. “A fair price is the key.” Monari spoke briefly of some of his most popular items on the menu, including deep fried shrimp, deep fried or

broiled cod with drawn butter, barbecue ribs, a filet, lyonnaise and hash brown potatoes, homemade salad dressings and “good solid drinks.” “We’re a throwback restaurant that developed from a fry house to a full-line restaurant,” he said. Monari is also proud of the business’ catering service, which was developed in 2000. He said the catering part of the business came about when the industry began changing, and it turned into a good offshoot of the regular business. “We decided to bite the bullet before it bit us,” he said with a grin. And then there’s that famous saying ... “So you think this is easy?” The slogan, which was developed by Monari’s father, subtly calls your attention when you enter the club. A red neon sign, which was made by the Miller Brewing Co. with the help of Tony Mautino, grabs your attention when you walk in the door. Another sign in the dining room reminds you of those words, now associated by many with this iconic location. “It’s a reminder of where you’ve been and where you’re going,” Monari said of his father’s words. “If you take for granted what you do, you’ll probably get bitter. If you love what you do, it will show ... I want you to have a good time here. I can’t help myself. I believe in total customer contentment ... If you come in and are a stranger, you won’t be for long.”



Photo by Kath Clark

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painting on canvas I have ever done — 6-feet-by-7-feet. It’s an original drawing of mine, and it was for a very close friend. The process was so much fun including, matching my pallet to the space it would be displayed. It’s the centerpiece in her living room. I cherish the experience and the outcome because I raised the ceiling in my own personal achievement and skill level. Other than un-stretching it and re-stretching the canvas to get it out of the door, I pulled it off almost effortlessly.

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Brother George Matsuoka greets a St. Bede student. Matsuoka has been a fixture at St. Bede Academy and Abbey for many years, and he takes pride in making sure he greets students every day.

A most special handshake ST. BEDE STUDENTS AND BROTHER GEORGE Story and photo by Barb Kromphardt Photos contributed


ore than 1,500 years ago, St. Benedict urged his followers to “welcome everyone as Christ’ — to greet them as joyously as though they were Christ himself. At St. Bede Academy in Peru, Brother George Matsuoka takes the rule to heart, greeting the students as they arrive at school each day, and frequently sending them off with another hand shake in the afternoon. Brother George was born in Chicago on Aug. 27, 1921, where he grew up in the Angel Guardian orphanage.

Brother George said he felt called to the religious life when he was in the eighth grade. He contacted three different abbeys as prospective communities for himself, applying to St. Bede in 1942. Brother George took his final vows in 1944, having made his decision to stay about one month after his arrival. Brother George began working in the bakery, where they baked bread and pies for the monks and the boarding students, who at that time numbered a few hundred. Although he remained in the bakery for only three years, his talent at baking cookies has followed him through the years.


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“I used to meet them out here by the entrance and they would hold out their hands,” Brother George said. “They wanted cookies. The best ones they like are peanut butter cookies.” Brother George said he used to make lots of them, baking almost every day of the school year. “I used to bake for the boarders,” he said. “They didn’t get cookies every day, maybe once or twice a week.” Brother George also became known for his pies, particularly his cherry, apple and pumpkin pies. After working in the bakery, Brother George was reassigned to the abbey print shop, hand-setting type.

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Brother George Matsuoka is remembered above (center) in an old St. Bede yearbook showing him working in the St. Bede print shop. Matsuoka also worked in the bakery and is well known among staff and students for his cookies. “Oh yes, I love printing,” he said. “I was there for maybe 20 years or so. We printed all kinds of printing, letterheads, news, things like that.” In 2009, Brother George was inducted into the St. Bede Athletic Hall of Fame. During the ceremony, the Bruin varsity football squad presented him with a jacket, plaque, flowers and some candy bars. For many years, Brother George has been a faithful presence at the top of the entrance stairs at the school. For student Danielle Claggett, he’s a welcoming figure. “Every time you see him, he’s got a big

smile on his face, and he’s always laughing,” she said. “It’s just kind of a reminder that you’re part of the family here.” “He’s a great welcoming figure to the school,” classmate Michael Slingsby agreed. “He’s always funny, and he’s got good jokes.” For Brother George, the decision to greet the students is easy. “It’s because I like them,” he said. And Brother George expects no thanks for his daily task. His philosophy is a simple one ... “I’ll work until I’m dead, and then I’ll go to heaven,” he said.

Above, Brother George Matsuoka always enjoys spending time with St. Bede students. At left, Matsuoka is always willing to help out with promoting Academy fundraisers and other special events.

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Stories by Terri Simon Photos by Kath Clark


hile Utica may be known as the gateway to Starved Rock, there’s a sweet connection to this well-known title. The streets that lead to this well-known tourist attraction are lined with specialty shops, sure to tempt your sweet tooth, while delivering a myriad of goodies you’ll want to snack on while you’re there. And plan ahead, sweet-treat lovers ... make sure you take a bag or box of these wonderful pastries, popcorns and candies home with you.

Nonie’s Bakery and Cafe Address: 522 Clark St. Utica. Owner: Mary Lemrise. Hours: Open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Closed on Tuesday. Specialties: Pastries, baked goods, cake/pie orders, breakfast/lunch menu. Most popular items: Apple slices, Millionaire Pie (a mousse comprised of pineapple, coconut and pecans), Peanut Butter Mousse Pie, Sticky Buns, Coconut Cream Danish, Holiday Specialties and S’More Bars. Most unique item: S’More Bars, since they’re made with homemade marshmallows, homemade fudge filling and homemade graham crackers. Lemrise, who opened her popular Utica bakery/cafe in June 2012, characterizes her establishment as “comfortable, cozy and family-run. The prices reflect a small town,” she said. The bakery/cafe is run by Mom Mary and her three daughters and two sons. They pride themselves on their made-from-scratch items, which go out the door quickly. Mary said their pies and cakes are ordered by many in the area for birthdays and other special occasions and helps the Utica establishment make it through the slower winter months. She said she also appreciates all the local Utica residents who patronize her business. A meal or sweet treat at Nonie’s Bakery and Cafe will come served on a variety of mismatched China plates, and a wall of equally

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mismatched coffee cups are there for diners to enjoy a great cup of coffee. You can learn more about Nonie’s on the business’ Facebook page, its website — — or by calling 815-691-8043.

The Chocolate Shoppe Address: 122 Mill St. Utica. Owner: Andie Groff. Hours: Spring/summer hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Specialties: Handmade chocolates, fudge, truffles, caramels, barks, toffees, chocolate fruit and nuts and chocolate covered bacon, bacon bark and bacon caramels. Most popular items: Specialty Bacon Chocolates, Truffles, Salted Caramel Bacon and Sweet Jalapeno Pecan Bacon Truffles, Seasonal Specialties. Most unique item: Chocolate Pasta and Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar. Groff, who opened The Chocolate Shoppe in Utica in September 2009, said all of her chocolates are handmade on site. If it’s true that chocolate is said to soothe one’s soul, entering this Utica sweet shop mimics that feeling. Quaint and cozy, the smell of chocolate abounds, and it’s clear Groff and her father, Roger Baker of Dixon who works with her, have chocolate and customers on their minds. “We take a lot of pride in everything we make — no preservatives or additives. Everything is natural or organic,” Groff said. “That’s the difference between our chocolates and others ... When you taste our chocolate, that is what chocolate is supposed to taste like.” Groff said about 40 percent of her business revolves around her chocolate/bacon products. She also offers many gluten-free and sugar-free chocolates. The company ships around the world. You can learn more about The Chocolate Shoppe on the business’ Facebook page, its website — — or by calling 815-667-5900.

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Two Girls and a Cupcake

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Address: 723 S. Clark, Utica. Owner: The Cupcake Family — Jill, Tim, Taylor, Mason and Colton. Hours: Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekends or until sold out. Specialties: Cupcakes. Most popular items: Cupcakes in variety of flavors, including Bacon/Maple, Cookie Dough, Strawberry Shortcake, Pineapple Upsidedown Cake, Chocolate Banana Split, Elvis and The Big Nasty. Most unique item: A Mountain Dew and Doritos cupcake. Two Girls and a Cupcake opened in June 2012. One glance at the shop tells sweet shoppers about the people who own the place and the cupcakes they bake. The shop is bright pink, and the personalities inside are just as colorful. Jill said the business is “all about the cupcakes,” all which are made on site. They use real butter, real fruit, real cream cheese ... real everything. An open area in the bakery allows visitors to watch the cupcake process, from mixing to icing to decorating ... and ultimately eating. “It’s always happy here,” Jill said. “Everybody comes in smiling. We want customers to know it’s their cupcake shop ... We’re fun people. We just like to have fun. I value the people who come into the shop. These cupcakes are like our babies.” You can learn more about Two Girls and a Cupcake on the business’ Facebook page or by calling 815-667-7075.

Address: 143 Mill St. Utica. Owner: Becki Serrato. Hours: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Specialties: Gourmet popcorn, fudge/pralines, praline nuts, raw nuts, Amana popcorn and spices. Most popular items: Chicago Combo (cheese, caramel and plain popcorn), Cyclone (cheese over caramel corn), Chocolate Covered Cherry Popcorn, Dill Popcorn, Bacon Popcorn, Carol’s PB Roos (popcorn with chocolate, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and butterscotch chips). Most unique item: All 45 varieties of gourmet popcorn, including their very hot Five Alarm Popcorn and the smoothest cheesy cheddar popcorn. Flutterby, which opened in Utica in November 2005, combines a family-friendly atmosphere mixed with gourmet popcorns made and mixed on site. Mary Roche of Ottawa, who was mixing up a tri-color combination of gourmet popcorn, said all the flavors “are made with loving hands by staff members,” including herself, Kim and Morgan. “It doesn’t matter. We have something for everybody, or we’ll make it for you,” Mary said. The company encourages special orders and ships anywhere in the United States. Samples are abundant, and the smell ... well, the aromatic smell of popcorn hits you when you walk in the door and entices everyone to buy a few bags to take home. The company offers a flavor of the month, a buy seven get the eighth one free opportunity and also specializes in tins, gifts, wedding and shower gifts. You can learn more about Flutterby on the business’ Facebook page, its website — www.flutterbypopcorn — or by calling 815-667-4477.

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Voice of the children Photo by Terri Simon Teacher Tracy Barnes’ third-grade students at Lincoln Elementary School in Oglesby told Illinois Valley Living readers what they like best about spring. Their answers are written just as the students wrote them.

My favorit thig to do in the spring is make a pond and buy fish, plant flowers around my pond. Staying up all night, I like to swing and play on the munky bars. I like to ride my bike and make my own water slide. Wake up ealy in the mornig to sneke a posicl from the frezere. That is what I like to do in the Spring.


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My favorite thing to do is to smell the flowers. I like to do play on the playground.


My favorite thing to do in the Spring is swim in the pool with my frends. and play with my little puppies in the park.

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My favorite thing to do in the Spring is to ride a horse. To play with my ball. To pick a flower’s. To go to Six flags. To go to my frind’s house.

My favorite thing to do in the Spring is go golfing with my dad and cousin clay. I also like to rede my bike. I like to play legos in the sun.

My favorite thing to do in the Spring is pogo on my pogo stick. When i go to my grandma’s house I jump on the trampoline and go in my tree house.

My favorite thing to do in the Spring is wrestle my sisters in the spring and go to my Grandmays hous to swim.





My favorite thing to do in the Spring is help my mom and dad put the plants in our garden. I also play baseball. I have water gun fights with my sister. I go swimming and I play with my friends.

My favorite thing to do in the spring is going swimming, riding my bike, playing with my friends, going hunting with my dad, play outside, and plant flowers with my mom. that is what I do in the Riley spring.

My favorite thing to do in the spring is to go swimming and riad my bike and play in the forest with the Dases.


My avorite thing to do in the spring is picking flowers, planting a gardin, and going to Valeria the Mall and bying stuff and toys and going to the movies. And playing with my wii, playMy favorite thing to do in ing with my playstation two. the Spring is going to Door County, Wisconsin. Also I like Rayne to hunt for Easter eggs. But I really like to go to the Shed My favorite thing to do in Aquarium to feed the penthe spring is Jump on my guins. Also I like to go outside trampoling. play with my and play with my dog. Thas kitty. do art out of boxes. what I would do in the Spring. Natalie


My favorite thing to do in the Spring is to ride my bike and on my scooter. I like to have my freindas. My cousins always invite us to stay at teir house in Wisconsin. Also we go to either the Shed Aquarim or the Brookefield Zoo. Thats what I would do in the Spring.

My favorite thing to do in the Spring is play with my freinds. I play basketball in the spring. I play football in the spring. These are what I play in the spring.


My favorite thing to do in the spring is play wii and my Marjo playstation 2. I also punch my punching bag. My favorite thing to do in Cam the Spring is watch the animals come out of hibernation My faivorit thing abut spring and pick lots of flowers. I like is hunting season, goin to to make wishes on Dandilthey and shoting Bebe guns. ions, and pick Daisys, and I Watching movies with my like to see Rainbows. Last but family. not least I like to run in the Colten sun. This is what I like to do in the Spring. My favorite part of spring is Alexis flowers and the animals that come out. My favorite thing to do in Jeremiah the spring is read my books, ride my bike, play with my My favorite thing to do in cat, wrestle, play my moms spring is swim if it is nice out. wii, play my Xbox 360. Mason


Illinois Valley Living


3 generations of Brownings FAMILY BUSINESS KEEPS CUSTOMERS ON THE ROAD Story by Lyle Ganther Photos by Lyle Ganther Photos contributed


rowning Ford-Chrysler in Princeton has a rich history, going back to its roots in Bradford in 1945 when Glenn Browning started a Ford dealership. Glenn Browning, who is now 99 years old, moved the dealership to Princeton in 1964 on Route 6, which was the main road through town at the time. He built a new building in 1969, which is still home to the Ford dealership. In 1980, the Browning family bought the Chrysler franchise and purchased a showroom just a mile from the Ford dealership, also on Route 6 in Princeton. This building is still used today for the Chrysler sales ; all detailing of the dealerships’ vehicles are also done at this facility. The Ford dealership building houses all service, parts, sales and accounting for both Ford and Chrysler dealerships Glenn Browning sold the dealerships to his son, Don Browning, in the 1980s. Don owned and operated both dealerships until his death in 2003. Don’s son, Tim Browning, then took over ownership of the dealership. “I enjoy owning this car dealership,” said Tim, who hopes one of his three children will take over from him. “It is part of my family’s history.”

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Glenn Browning, now 99 years old, started a Ford dealership in Bradford in 1945 and moved it to Princeton in 1964. His grandson, Tim, now owns the business. Computers and the Internet have revolutionized the way people shop for vehicles, Tim said. “It used to be that Saturdays were the busiest days of the week for dealerships,” said Carole Eich, general manager. “Twenty years ago, it was common to go without breakfast or lunch on Saturdays because we were swamped with customers who had to buy the car on their day off.

“Now, consumers can shop 24/7 in their pajamas if they choose. They shop online then come in anytime and sign the papers. Within seconds, they are in and out of the dealership,” she said. The Internet also makes it very easy for us to find the exact car a customer wants. “Fifteen years ago, if we didn’t have a certain color or option, we would get on the phone and start calling other dealers,” Tim said. “Now we have access to each dealer’s inventory on our computer. We can find the right car or truck and have it in Princeton the next day.” Browning’s Business Manager Rod Mink said, “We have sold vehicles all over the United States and even to Norway!” “I believe women now are a driving force in our sales. Twenty years ago men did all the buying and negotiating,” said Eich. “Occasionally the men would consult for choice of color. Now women come in to drive and choose the vehicle, negotiate the deal and set up their own financing.” Women buy 68 percent of all vehicles sold in the United States, according to Automotive News, and 65 percent of all tires sold in the United States are to women, Eich said. “Another change that I have seen over the years is safety,” she stated. “The introduction of a steering wheel air bag was big news! Now we have

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Illinois Valley Living

Glenn Browning

Glenn Browning (left) and Lynn Velde stand in front of their Ford dealership in Bradford in 1945. They weren’t able to get many new cars because of World War II, so they sold and repaired tractors and farm equipment.

Don Browning

10 air bags on most vehicles, roll over protection, safety cages, knee protection, five-point safety belts and double reinforced side impact door beams, crush zones in the front and back and remote keyless entry with auto start.” Technology has also made cars more intelligent and customers more informed. Mink cited the industry’s trends talking about customers wanting all the options. Power windows used to be the big thing. Now it’s Navigation, Sync, and collision avoidance, park assist, heated seats, remote starting, etc. “Technology has taken the automotive industry by storm,” Eich added.

“Consumers want the latest toys from high tech, hands-free navigation systems to park assist and adaptive cruise control. We can now offer heated and cooled seats, front and back, and heated and cooled cupholders. A family can watch three different entertainment systems at one time.” A dealership’s inventory is now tightly controlled by market trends and seasonal changes, added Eich. “We listen to our customers wants

and needs and stock our inventory accordingly,” she said. “The weather patterns, grain prices, economic trends and political views can all influence our stock. Keeping our finger on the pulse of these issues is imperative to our success.” The manufacturers (Ford and Chrysler) want customers to have consistent experiences no matter which dealer they go to.

See Browning Page 22

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Illinois Valley Living


Right, staff members at Browning Ford-Chrysler in Princeton stand around a new car in the showroom on West Peru Street. Below, Tim Browning, current owner, is the third generation to own the dealership. He stands by a picture of his grandfather, Glenn.


From Page 21 “Just like Starbucks and McDonald’s are consistent across the country, they want their brand to be consistent as well,” Tim said. “As a small town dealer, we have to occasionally push back and tell them what works in Princeton. We have to ask if our customers really care that we have a new sign out front or a specific color of blue in the showroom. We prefer to invest in good sales people and mechanics. Ultimately, that is what our customers remember when they leave the dealership.” Eich believes the future challenges will be fierce competition between dealers. “As the economy improves, corporate CEOs of big automotive franchises will push for more uniform cookie cutter stores. The smaller dealerships

will feel the pinch to conform. We have seen this trend in fast food and department stores. Now the automotive industry is following the trend, More conveniences for customers in the showroom will become the norm. Cappuccino machines, free WiFi, soft surroundings with big screen TVs and state-of-the-art playrooms for children will become mandatory.” The company’s business mission over the years is simple, treating customers and employees like family, being honest in every transaction, and above all else, doing unto others as you want them to do unto you. “This philosophy has sustained our company for more than 67 years and will take us into the next century,” Tim said. “We know that in a community like Princeton, we have to be in it for the long run. We have to be nice, honest and good at what we do.

“There is a trend for small town dealers to hire marketing companies to come in for a few days and run a big promotion. It usually includes some type of sweepstakes or chance to bring in a key to see if it fits in the ignition to win a car. Once at the dealership, a team of hired salespeople take over to make the sale. “These aren’t local people; they go from town to town, week to week. We would never try to trick someone into buying a car. Our local customers know they aren’t really going to win anything. Buying a car is a serious and thought-out process, not anything gimmicky or frivolous,” Tim said. “I am thankful for the efforts of the entire staff to make our dealership so friendly and successful,” he added. “I also truly appreciate the people in the Bureau County area who choose to buy their cars from a local dealer.”

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Illinois Valley Living


JoEllen Fiorentini Residence: Utica. Favorite medium to use: Mosaic art. Favorite subject: Nature. Who has most influenced your art: Mother Nature. Which piece are you most proud of and why: Garden mosaic art. Photo by Kath Clark

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Illinois Valley Living


Behind the scenes DR. PAUL BONUCCI TALKS ABOUT HIS LIFE OUTSIDE THE EMERGENCY ROOM, CLINIC Questions compiled, photo by Terri Simon

Paul Bonucci, MD

Hospital in Peru and the owner of Princeton Prompt Care. What is the last song you listened to: “School Boy Heart,” by Jimmy Buffett. What is the last book you read: “Outliers,” by Malcolm Gladwell. What is the last TV show you watched: “Any Given Sunday,” a movie.

Town where you live: Princeton. Where did you grow up: Princeton High School Class of 1980. Family: Son — Daniel, a senior at PHS, and daughter — Ellie, a sophomore at PHS. Occupation: Emergency medicine doctor — medical director of emergency medicine at Illinois Valley Community

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have just one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be: Chicken lo mein. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one thing with you, what would it be: A sailboat. What is your favorite local restaurant: It’s a tie — Park Tavern and the Underground.

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People would be surprised to know that you: Spent one year traveling around the world. What is the most exciting aspect of your job: Helping critically ill patients. What is the biggest challenge of your job: Some people have unrealistic expectations of what modern medicine can do. If someone asked you to name a memorable moment, what first comes to mind: Too many to count! What is your favorite thing about the city you live in: Friendly people. If you could change one thing about your town, what would it be: More employment opportunities.

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ARTIST IN RESIDENCY Desiree’ Gatza Residence: Peru (Dimmick Township). Favorite medium to use: Pastels. Favorite subject: Nature, sunlight streaming through the trees and highlighting the landscape is very beautiful to me, and I like to try to capture it and share it with others. Who has most influenced your art: Historically, I was always drawn to Impressionistic paintings with their use of bright colors and the sense of freedom they convey. I particularly like Claude Monet’s paintings and the way he made everyday scenes become sun-filled places that you almost feel like you are walking into. I was personally influenced by two great teachers. My first teacher, Mrs. DeSpain, was always full of creative energy that was very contagious and encouraged me to explore everything and create art from every type of media and some things that aren’t even considered artistic materials. It was always a fun and exciting time with her. The second person to influence me artistically was Mrs. Garrett. She introduced me to historical figures in art and showed me all of the different styles of paintings and 3-D art that fill our everyday lives. She encouraged me to keep creating art and practicing everyday. She encouraged all of her students to pursue art seriously but to always keep it interesting and to enjoy the act of creating art. The joy

Contributed photo

you feel while making a piece of art is felt in the finished painting. Which piece are you most proud of and why: I am most proud of the piece I called “Follow Me” (pictured here — curving road

leading into the rock formations) because getting the sense of depth, the sunlight and shadow on the road proved difficult, but in the end, I feel like it all turned out well and does draw the viewer into the scene.

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Proud To Be Your Hospital! 25

Unofficiallly speaking ... ... WITH OGLESBY CITY CLERK BECKY CLINARD Questions compiled, photo by Terri Simon

Becky Clinard City: Oglesby. Where did you grow up: Hillsboro, Ill. Family: Husband, Jim; sons, Kevin (Larissa), Brandon (finance, Kim), daughter, Andi (Eric) Bjerkaas, and three grandchildren: Aleksa, 9; Caleb (2) and Lydia (10 months) Bjerkaas. Pets: Two Cocker Spaniels, Belle and Tucker. Occupation: City clerk, city of Oglesby. What is the last song you listened to: Craig Morgan’s “Redneck Yacht Club.” What is the last book you read: Jodi Picoult’s “Sing You Home.”

What is the last TV show you watched: “Downtown Abbey” (catching up on Seasons 1 and 2). If you were stranded on a desert island and could have just one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be: Garzanelli’s rib eye steak dinner. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one thing with you, what would it be: My puppies. What is your favorite local restaurant: Delaney’s for Sunday breakfast. If someone handed you a million dollars, how would you spend it: A-section, center-court Illinois basketball tickets for my family for a lifetime. People would be surprised to know that you: Struggle with being in the public eye. I much prefer to be the person working behind the scenes.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job as city clerk: I enjoy being part of a group of people who are willing to work hard to make Oglesby a great place to live, work and play. What is the biggest challenge of your job as city clerk: Balancing the duties of the city clerk’s office with the additional responsibility of planning city events. What is your favorite thing about the city you live in: Oglesby is a great place to raise a family. Our schools are top-notch, and our parks and kids’ programs are the best in the Illinois Valley Area. Local businesses know you by your first name, and they treat you like family. The streets are lined with homes that are well-cared for and reflect pride of ownership. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. If you could change one thing about your town, what would it be: I’d love to see the west end develop, providing good-paying jobs for our residents and an increased tax base for the city.

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Illinois Valley Living

What would Thomas Edison have to say? SHAUN BORRI MAKES MUSIC ... LITERALLY Story by Ken Schroeder Photos by Daniel Acker


hey say they don’t make ‘em like they used to. In this particular case, that’s not quite true. In this case, they’re made almost exactly like they used to. Borri Audio Laboratories in Princeton is one of only two places worldwide that still makes and sells Edison Phonograph cylinders. “Today, there’s just me and a guy in England,” said Shaun Borri, owner of Borri Audio Laboratories. When Thomas Edison first invented the phonograph, recordings were made on cylinders of wax. Early models of Edison’s

commercial phonographs ushered in the era of recorded music. But while the Edison phonographs could play music, they could also be used to record at home with some minor alterations. For that purpose, blank wax cylinders were made available to the general public. Enter Shaun Borri ... “When I was a little kid, I was really into history and historical figures,” Borri said. “My favorite, though, was Thomas Edison. Edison was great.” Through patience and persistence, Borri has picked up several pieces of the original Edison line and has been making both cylinder blanks and recordings

See Borri Page 28

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Shaun Borri, owner of Borri Audio Laboratories, poses for a portrait in his home in Princeton. Borri stands with audio equipment including an 1897 Edison Phonograph, small bell at right, and an Ampex reel-to-reel recorder that he is reverse-engineering from a solid state recorder back to vacuum tubes at left.


From Page 27 for the last 12 years. Perhaps the prize among his acquisitions is an 1897 Edison Phonograph, which still plays beautifully. “It’s the oldest one I have,” Borri said. Borri first became interested in collecting the Edison equipment in his late teens. “I repaired the old Victrolas for the LaSalle County Historical Society when I was 18. That’s what got me started.” Since then, Borri has acquired several pieces of musical memorabilia — from his 1897 Edison to an Ampex reel-to-reel recorder that he is reverse-engineering. “It used to be a solid-state recorder, but I’m in the process of reverting it to vacuum tubes,” said Borri. Borri delivers hundreds of cylinders a year to audiophiles throughout the world. In addition, he also has recorded several for personal use and for sale. “A while back, I did some work for the Thomas Edison Historical Park,” said Borri. “They had some of the older cylinders which were starting to deteriorate. I was able to use the masters and make


devices of any kind (Edison players were hand-cranked for power). The work was recognized as the first wax cylinder recording since 1914 by the Grammy committee. Among others who have collected some of Borri’s recordings are members of the rock band Metallica. While the first cylinders were made of wax, Edison’s chemist, Jonas Aylsworth, continued experimenting with new compounds to try to increase the longevity of the cylinder. After several years of trial Shaun Borri holds a wax cylinder he made for an Edison Phonograph above and error, in 1896 Aylsworth settled on a other cylinders curing in a wooden box. cylinder made using hydrated alumina as The cylinders must cure for approximate- a base. It’s that same compound that Borri ly 30 days before they are trimmed, and still uses today “with a few tweaks and modifications. It’s a trade secret,” he said. the surface is prepared for recording Once molded, the cylinders have to with a shaving machine. set for 30 days, then be shaved down to some new cylinders for them.” a usable size. Borri uses a 1934 Edison Recently, Borri worked with musician shaver, which still runs as quietly as when Thomas Negovan on a unique project, it came off the assembly line. which resulted in a cylinder recording “It even has the original belts,” said by rock band Kiss. Last year, Negovan Borri. would use some of Borri’s inspiration to And by the way, the recordings sound record the album “By Popular Demand.” just like the phonographs of old — bright, The recording was done using no electric crisp and surprisingly clean.

Illinois Valley Living

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ike a pair of favorite gloves, they seem to fit perfectly. They finish each others’ sentences. They seem to know what the other is going to say long before they say it. They are a team in the truest sense of the word, however, their individual personalities compliment this couple whose commitment has stood the test of time. On Jan. 8, Ron and Marvalyn Himes of Princeton celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. That’s right. The pair tied the knot seven decades ago, and they never looked back. Well ... they do look back, but they do so with fond memories of a lifetime between two people who have spent the majority of their lives together. “We were sweethearts in high school,” Ron said. “I was ready to be drafted in February, so we got married. “We were too young,” he added, remembering back to that wedding day when he was only 19 years old. “We didn’t have any money.” “We had been going together for two years,” Marvalyn said. “I was only 17.” “I rescued you off the farm,” Ron quickly reminded his wife. “I always wanted to get off that farm,” she said with a smile. The Princeton couple said as teenagers, they both enjoyed sports, and that’s what really brought them together in the Byron area in the early 1940s, when Ron was playing basketball, football and track, while his bride later played softball for the Bittner Bakery Girls in Byron. But there was more than just sports that


The hands of Ron and Marvalyn Himes hold an old photograph of themselves from many years ago. The Himes recently celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. brought the two together, though all the reasons they fell in love aren’t crystal clear anymore. “I don’t remember it all, but gosh, she was a nice gal, very pleasant,” Ron said, glancing rather sheepishly at Marvalyn. “And her father was a hunter and a fisherman. I liked that too.” The Himes couple tied the knot on Jan. 8, 1943, driving all the way to Kehoka, Mo., for the ceremony.

“It was raining, sleeting, by the time we got back,” Marvalyn remembered. “And I went in the Navy the next month,” Ron said. After the service, Ron worked in a foundry in Rockford, and later in the 1950s, after teaching himself electronics and working in a radio repair shop, he took a position as an electronics technician at Barber Coleman Co., also in Rockford. In 1963, the overhead door division of

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Barber Colman moved to Sheffield, where, after several years as sales manager, Ron assumed the position of president of BarCol Overdoor Co., later purchased by Plycraft. He retired from the overhead door business in 1987 following a 37-year career, Marvalyn was just as busy, first working at First National Bank in Byron and then at the Snow White Bakery. Following their move to Princeton, she began her 20-year career as the office manager for Spurgeon’s Department Store in Princeton, retiring in 1989. Through the years, the Himes said they had a variety of interests, including dancing, going to movies and traveling. They both smile as they speak of the times they went dancing as a younger couple, and likewise, their vacations later in life in their travel trailer are special memories, because of the friends they met along their journeys. When it comes to the highlights of their 70-year marriage, Marvalyn, now 87, and Ron, now 89, said the birth of their two children — Terry (Sara) Himes of Princeton and Wendy (Charles) Wilmarth of Palos Hills — clearly top the list. Their grandchildren are also the apples of their eyes as well — Erin, Mike and Drew Himes, all of Chicago. As they thought back to years gone by, they also agreed getting both of their children through college was a highlight which makes them proud. Another highlight they treasure was the opportunity to take their grandchildren on trips in their

Marvalyn and Ron Himes said they rarely disagree with one another, even after being married for 70 years. “We didn’t fight too much,” Ron said with a smile. travel trailer. Even after 70 years, the Himes said they rarely disagreed with each other. “We didn’t fight too much,” Ron said. “He was bigger than me,” Marvalyn joked. “No ... we got along pretty good.” Ron showed a photo album he put together with pictures that span the couple’s 70 years. Old black and white photos of themselves, mixed with photos of their children as they grew. Color photos are sprinkled in the back of the album. Ron laughs as he takes a stroll down Memory

Lane, pointing to a photo he took of Marvalyn in front of an outhouse. The couple’s eyes meet, and for just a brief moment, they are lost in the memory. Marvalyn said one of the secrets to the success of a 70-year marriage is “to find things you both like to do together. And then find some time to do things on your own too.” Ron continued to chuckle about the photo of Marvalyn in front of the outhouse ... If they had to do it all over again, the Himes said they probably would have waited a little longer to tie the knot, since they were only in their teens and without much money when they first got married. On top of that, they did move around quite a bit when they were first married because of Ron’s job, however, Ron said, “We didn’t mind it. We did what we had to do.” Since 70 years of marriage clearly qualifies the Himes to be experts on the topic, it didn’t take Ron long to give some advice for youngsters who are going to tie that proverbial knot ... “The best advice I can give is to expect to be married for more than one or two years,” he said, seriously. “Back in the days when we got married, people stayed married.” And Marvalyn’s advice? “We’ve learned from being together for such a long time,” she said. “You have to respect each other’s opinions, and don’t be afraid to let your spouse win an argument.”

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Getting the message! JOHN YOUNG PUTS THAT MESSAGE TO WORK Story by Elin Arnold Photos by Kath Clark


ohn Young of Spring Valley describes himself as a welder ... but most would describe him differently. Young was raised as an Illinois farm boy, and today, he is a visionary, inventor and entrepreneur, whose ideas, he said, come straight from God. When Young hears the directions, he puts his hand to the plow and follows through. That’s how Young’s Custom Ag Service and the Harvestmore came into being. Young is the fourth generation of his family to live and work on the farm located just north of the Walmart Distribution Center on Route 89, Spring Valley. In fact, Walmart is located on 48 acres of the 167 that used to make up the Young farm. The rest of the land is still owned by the family and is where Young has developed his business. “Sixty years ago, it was everything people think of as an all-American farm,” Young said. “The livestock was all sold when I was 6. My uncle gave me some runt pigs to raise when I was 8. I raised them, brought them to weight, and took them to market. That was it. I was going to be a pork producer!” As Young got into his teens, school activities took over from the pork production. “I was always serious about my scholastics,” Young said. “But being part of the farming operation was in my blood, so in the fall when it was basketball season, we were harvesting, and I wanted to come home and ride the tractors. In the spring during track season, I wanted to be part of working the ground.” In early 1978, Young bought a new combine and has worked every day since. He started his custom combining service at this time and continued for 23 years, noticing all the while he combined for other people that

John Young of Spring Valley has developed a bean head that has created a huge difference during harvest. the combine head needed to do a better job than it was doing. In 1993, he bought the farm house and all the buildings from his mother. It was the fall of this year that God gave Young the idea to modify the 820-bean head for closer cutting to the ground ... the rest is history. Young owned an 820, so he took the plan God had given him and modified his first bean head in the gravel drive in the yard. It is those bean heads that have made the Spring Valley farmer an icon in ingenuity. “There was a monstrous difference,” Young said. “It turned the head of everybody. The 820 was a well-built head structurally, but it wasn’t built to cut close The name of the game is to cut close, shave the ground, and get the grain in the bottom pod.” This is money in the farmer’s pocket. An inch and one-half closer cut assures getting the bottom pod on the plant. This pod will have three beans in an average size pod in an average population. That translates to three bushels an acre which translates to

$15 to $16 a bushel. Young’s bean head business has expanded from coast to coast and from Texas to Canada. He employs six to seven workers — 12 through the busy season. The business also produces custom built Powerlift Hydraulic Doors for agriculture, aviation, industrial, commercial and residential buildings. God has always been a part of John’s life. “I remember my grandfather always led the table prayer,” Young said. “When he prayed there was a hush at the table I have always revered and never forgotten. In my late teens, I had a friend take me to a church camp where I was saved. When I got saved, I got reignited, and the fire has never

gone out. “If we operate on anything we operate on grace,” Young continued. “God has given me four ideas while I have been sitting in church that I drew out on offering envelopes and then put into action. “The reason most people never see God is they never close their eyes,” Young said. “They don’t hear from God because they don’t close their mouths. If you’re not hearing from God, you’re not listening, or you don’t want to hear what He says. I give God the glory for all my accomplishments in the past and what will come in the future.” And the future is promising. Young is working with a Canadian distributor that handles all of Canada including 40 dealerships. Eighty percent of their bean heads went to Canada last year because of the major drought in this area. Young plans to continue working in Canada and is looking at ways to open up the Asian market. With his ability to custom build grain heads, he can move into any market and provide whatever they need.

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ARTIST IN RESIDENCY Jamie Atkinson Residence: Dalzell. Favorite medium to use: Pencil. Favorite subject: Eyes — there is a lot of depth in your windows. Who has most influenced your art: The Lord, other artists, friends, family. I could say I liked the famous artists, but I never met them. As for my influences, that’s all you got in the end. Which piece are you most proud of and why: I drew an eye with a reflection of a hand pulling a puppets string; the title of the piece is “Black.” I did this as someone looking at someone else who is not being themselves. You are meant to be you.

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Learning the basics, Spanish-style MENDOTA’S BLACKSTONE EMBRACES THE LANGUAGE BARRIERS Story and photos by Donna Barker “Un día gris de invierno, David vio un hermoso árbol. “Cuando llegó a la escuela, se quitó las botas y colgó el abrigo. “Buscó un lapiz y una hoja de papel en blanco.” Just like elementary teachers around the state, first-grade teacher Becky Kramer reads to her students every day at Blackstone Elementary School in Mendota. But unlike many of those other teachers, Kramer reads to her students exclusively in Spanish, the native language of every child in her class. Kramer’s class is one of five sections of first-graders at Blackstone with all 18 Spanish-speaking first-graders placed in Kramer’s classroom. Kramer also has 17 Spanish-speaking kindergarten students who come into her class for reading time. Though her students do know some conversational English when they come to school, they are not able to read or write in English. Therefore all reading, language and writing skills are taught in Spanish with math lessons and other activities like reviewing the morning calendar done in both Spanish and English. The premise behind the predominately Spanish education is to give her young students the solid foundation they need as they start school without having to conquer a new language, English, as well, she said. Kramer said research shows a child learns best in his/her native tongue, and students will be more successful later in school if they have that early solid foundation. Research also shows students who do not have English as their native tongue were missing out on basic components and understanding of their education, if they were taught in English, she said. This is the first year Blackstone has taken such a complete Spanish-teaching approach to education for its Spanishspeaking students. The federal No Child Left Behind law requires any school having more than 20 students speaking a certain language to provide a bilingual education for them. Superintendent Kristen School said the ideal format for the Spanish-speaking kindergarten and first-grade classes is


Above, students in Becky Kramer’s class at Blackstone Elementary School in Mendota work on an assignment in Spanish. Below, Kramer reads a story to her young charges, again using the Spanish language. The school places all the Spanish-speaking, first-grade children in Kramer’s class, and they are taught in their native language, while incorporating some English into their curriculum.

for the instruction to be taught in those early years on an 80/20 ratio — with 80 percent of instruction taught in Spanish and 20 percent taught in English. As the students progress each year, the goal is to have that ratio switched to 90 percent in English and 10 percent in Spanish by the

junior high years. School said the Mendota school does not want its Spanish-speaking students to lose their Spanish skills. That bilingual heritage will be an advantage to them as they grow older and is a gift which needs to be fostered, she said.

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Indigo Bunting

pring is in the air as the first birds arrive signaling the start of a new season. A male redwinged blackbird belts out notes proclaiming it’s territory. The haunting call of sandhill cranes high in the sky on their way North to nesting grounds confirm winter is finished for another year. The most productive time for birding is mid April, with many resident birds staking out territories and starting to build nests. Illinois Valley is a busy migratory corridor with ducks and geese coupled with a wide variety of other birds. Having woods, wetlands and prairies along the way for resting and feeding makes it attractive to these feathered friends. The noise of the flocks arriving one after another in a swirling mass, as one group explodes off the water, soon to be replaced by another ... well, it’s a welcome sight for those who enjoy bird watching. The songbirds start arriving from their distant wintering grounds in mid April, as

Barn Swallow the first trees start to bud. During this short window of time, many colorful and hyperactive warblers, along with a wide variety of other birds, can be a once in a lifetime experience. Hanging upsidedown orioles, waxwings and warblers move like high-wire acrobats, holding still just long enough to catch a glimpse ... if you’re lucky.

Egret 36

Illinois Valley Living

Sandpiper At this time of year, many birders are known to become afflicted with “warbler neck” from the prolonged looks into the leafless treetops, trying to locate that one particular bird. The Illinois Valley is privileged to be home to Starved Rock and Matthiessen State Park, two of the top birding spots in the area. With miles of trails throughout the many prime habitats. the deep canyons with small streams can be an excellent place to look for migratory songbirds. Dixon Waterfowl Refuge is another location that allows an excellent opportunity to see numerous waterfowl from the trails, boardwalk and observation tower. With prairies, wetlands and woods filled with hundreds of native plants adjacent to the Illinois River, it is an ideal birding spot. Ranked as an Important bird area, it is a “must visit.” In any of the wonderful habitats throughout the Illinois Valley, you’ll want to watch for; Oriole, redstart, catbird, rose-breasted grosbeak, scarlet tanager, yellow-rumped warbler, black and white warbler, brown creeper, indigo bunting, northern shoveler, hooded merganser, wood duck, red-winged blackbird, eastern towhee ... to name just a few. For more information, check out the following websites — Illinois Audubon, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Starved Rock Audubon, Wetlands Initiative.

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Savannah Sparrow

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

American Redstart 37


Lorrayne Cabral Residence: Princeton. Favorite medium to use: Oil. Favorite subject: Floral. Who has most influenced your art: Artist Gary Jenkins. Which piece are you most proud of and why: Barn scene taken from Gary Jenkins. Photo by Terri Simon

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ARTIST IN RESIDENCY Wayne Notson Residence: Mendota. Favorite medium to use: Acrylics. I have painted with acrylics for the past 25 years. Oils take too long, and I’m not patient enough to wait for them to dry. Favorite subject: I like everything. I like houses and barns. At the present moment, I’m into Japan. During the Korean War, I was stationed in Korea and Japan, and I have a lot of slides that I turned into pictures. They are so pretty. I don’t stick to one subject. Who has most influenced your art: As a child, I used to love Norman Rockwell. His pictures still fascinate me. I just love his work. They are just gorgeous. I have all of his books. Which piece are you most proud of and why: I have one that I painted years ago, and it’s of the street I lived on. Photo by Donna Barker

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Long-time Princeton pharmacist and community leader Bill Nelson decided to close the doors of his Main Street pharmacy after 63 years in business. Nelson retired at the age of 93 on Oct. 27, 2012. He plans to spend his retirement visiting with family and having a good share of fun on the golf course..


Story and photos by Donna Barker Contributed photos


ongtime Princeton pharmacist Bill Nelson has put away the tools of his trade and closed the doors to one of Princeton’s longest existing businesses. At age 93, Nelson retired Oct. 27 after 63 years as owner/pharmacist of the Nelson Pharmacy Drug Store in Princeton. Nelson said he’s proud to be the longest operating business on Princeton’s Main Street, as well as the oldest operator. In recognition of his long and successful career, Nelson was the first recipient of the Illinois Pharmaceutical Association’s Lifetime Achievement in Pharmacy award, given to him in 2009. In a letter sent to customers announcing his retirement, Nelson appropriately addressed the letter “Dear friends,” for that is what his customers are. Some of those customers he’s had for all 63 years in business, and many of his customers represent

multiple generations of families. “As I reflect back on 63 years in Princeton, the one certainty is that it has always been a complete pleasure to see all of our customers in and out of the store,” Nelson said. “It would not have been such a joy to stay in business this long, if it were not for all of you.” Working in Princeton, raising his family in Princeton, and serving the community and its residents has been a good way to live, Nelson said. Nelson and his wife, Ramona, moved to Princeton in August 1949 when they bought Trueson’s Drug on North Main Street. Nelson said he moved to Princeton on a Saturday and took over the drug store on Sunday morning with his mother-in-law giving him $50 for the cash register. His wife handled the bookkeeping for the business until her death in 1986. Nelson and his wife raised their five children, Dale, Karen, Connie, Bill and Eric, in

Princeton and also in the business with all five of the children working in the family drug store while growing up. Three of Nelson’s grandchildren also worked in the store. Nelson’s Drug was a good place for an afterschool job for his own children and other area young people, Nelson said. Like his own children, Nelson began working in a drug store when he was just a boy. He was born in Rockford, but his family moved to Chicago when he was 10 years old. He started working as a young teen at the local pharmacy, sweeping floors, cleaning shelves and then making deliveries when he got older. The drug store even had a soda fountain, and Nelson made more than his share of chocolate malts, he said. During his 63 years in business, there’s been a lot of changes in the pharmaceutical world. For one thing, Nelson said in order to succeed through the years, drug stores have needed to diversify and offer other things

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like medical-related supplies, shampoos and lotions, school supplies, cosmetics, candy and magazines. After all, if someone got sick, you might see him only once or twice a year, maybe even every few years, which wasn’t enough to keep a drug store open, he said. Another big change has been the continued development of new drugs, Nelson said. Through the years some drugs have become antiquated, while other drugs are developed and introduced. Drugs have been developed to handle most every problem known to mankind, he said. Along that line, Nelson said today’s pharmacists are selling more and more tranquilizers than he ever did in his early years. People seem more worried about everything ... from the economy to their health, nowadays. Of course, you can’t think of change without thinking about the new technology developed in the last 63 years, Nelson said. Though the explosion of technology is sometimes a bit intimidating to some people, maybe especially senior citizens, Nelson said he isn’t one of them. “The growth of technology has been fantastic,” Nelson said. “Technology has made it so much simpler to have a profile on people that can be easily reached by just entering their name. Research on the person can be done to find what prescriptions were given to whom, when and for how long. Technology is getting better all the time.” Looking back on his career, Nelson said the toughest part of being a pharmacist has

Bill Nelson chats with a friend at Nelson Drug Store in Princeton during his last day on the job. Area people came to wish Nelson well, after serving the area for more than 60 years. been the long hours, even though he’s had some great help through the years. As he closed one chapter of his life, Nelson said he’s proud of his work ethic. He started working at the age of 9 selling newspapers in Chicago. In all, he has held a job in each of the last 10 decades. When asked if he ever considered retiring when he was 65 years old or even 75 or 85, Nelson said he might have thought about it for a brief moment or two, but then he didn’t know what he would do with his time. Still active at 93, Nelson said his health has been good because he’s been fortunate to

work regular hours without having to work with swing shifts. He’s also practiced a decent diet and he’s watched his blood pressure. With more good years still ahead, Nelson said he and his wife, Judy, whom he married in 1995, plan to visit more with their children, grandkids and great-grandkids. He also plans to go out for coffee more, play more golf, enjoy a few more Cubbies games, enjoy watching late night television shows and bum around a bit. When the doors to Nelson Drug closed on Oct. 27, another door opened wide for Bill Nelson.

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“During our library board meeting, when we were talking about it, there were a few recipes that came up where someone said, ‘Oh, we absolutely have to get this recipe.’ ‘We absolutely have to have somebody submit it.’ ‘Somebody has to have Mary Torri’s Sick Soup.’” And somebody did. In addition to Mary Torri’s Sick Soup, recipes for Italian favorites such as bagna cauda, polenta, and zuccerine cookies were submitted. “That’s what we kind of were hoping for, to get some of the old recipes that everybody remembers from their grandmothers,” Galetti-Bosi said. Galetti-Bosi said cookbooks like “A Taste of Ladd” help to tie the past with the present. “For people my age, I think it’s nice to have that connection,” she said. “Instead of just going to the computer and going to Pinterest or going to or something to get a recipe, I think it’s nice when you have that community cookbook. You can say, ‘Oh, this came from so and so, so I know it’s going to be a good recipe.’”

Story by Barb Kromphardt Photos by Kath Clark


ou might expect a cookbook from a rural community to feature all-American food. But many of the early settlers of Ladd – in eastern Bureau County – were Italian miners, so several of the recipes in “A Taste of Ladd” reflect that heritage. The cookbook was the project of the Ladd Public Library, and spearheaded by library Director Amy Galetti-Bosi. “The summer reading theme was ‘Reading Is So Delicious,’ and I just happened to get a flier from the Morris Press Cookbooks company,” Galetti-Bosi said. “I thought, hmm, this might work. We could kind of tie it together with the summer reading. Get the kids involved a little bit, get

Ladd Library Director Amy GalettiBosi poses with the new “Taste of Ladd” cookbook, featuring recipes and specialties from area residents and renowned cooks. some of the community involved, and do a little bit of fundraising at the same time.” Pleas went out for recipes, including a note in every water bill ... and the recipes came back – almost 500 of them.

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Babba Ganoush 1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-by-1/2-by-3/4-inch slices 2 large red peppers, sliced into 1/2-inch slices 2 medium red onions, sliced into 1/2-inch slices 1/4 cup olive oil Sea salt Italian parsley Preheat oven to 250°. On a large jelly roll pan lined with foil, place all vegetables. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt. Drizzle 1/4 cup olive oil and toss until coated. Place in oven for 1-1/2 hours, turning every 20 minutes. May add more olive oil as needed. Continue roasting until onions are translucent. Increase heat to 400° and roast an additional 1/2 hour, or until peppers start to turn brown. Sprinkle with Italian parsley and put into a bowl. May add more salt if desired. May be served warm or cold over bruschetta toast, toasted pita bread or pita chips.

Mary Torri’s Sick Soup 1 (46 ounce) can chicken broth 3 eggs 1 cup bread crumbs, coarse 1/3 cup grated cheese Dash of nutmeg (optional) Bring broth to a boil. Beat eggs. Add bread crumbs and cheese. Mix well (it will be a thick paste.) Very slowly pour a small amount of broth into egg mixture just until well blended. Then pour back into remaining broth. Bring quickly to a boil. Remove from heat and sprinkle with nutmeg or parsley.

“A Taste of Ladd” is available by sending a check for $14 plus $2.50 shipping and handling to the Ladd Public Library, 125 N. Main St., P.O. Box 307, Ladd, IL 61329, or by calling 815-894-3254.

Betty Piacenti’s Zuccerine Cookies 6 eggs 3/4 cup sugar 2 teaspoons anise extract 2 teaspoons anise seed 1/2 pound butter 1/4 cup whipping cream 4 cups flour 4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt Frosting glaze: 2 cups powdered sugar 3 tablespoons boiling water 1 teaspoon anise extract

Forgotten Stew 1-1/2 pounds stew meat 1 can tomato soup 1 can cream of mushroom soup Celery, cut into pieces Carrots, cut into pieces Potatoes, cut into pieces 1 can peas 2 tablespoons flour 2 cans water 1 package dry onion soup Put all ingredients except onion soup in a greased casserole. Sprinkle onion soup over top. Cover with foil, then cover with a lid. Bake at 325° for 3 hours.

Mountain Dew Dumplings

Beat eggs well with a mixer. Add sugar, anise extract, anise seed, softened butter and whipping cream and mix well with a mixer. Add flour, baking powder and salt to egg mixture. Mix well and chill. Cut off a piece of dough and roll with your hands until about 4 inches long and the diameter of your little finger. Tie into a loose knot and place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake in a 350° oven until done, but pale in color, not browned, about 10 minutes. Cool and then frost. When frosting, coat zuccerines with a pastry brush or with your index and middle finger. Frost tops and bottoms and place on waxed paper to dry.

1 cup butter 1 1/2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon cinnamon 2 Granny Smith apples 16 refrigerated crescent rolls 1 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew In a saucepan, melt butter. Add sugar and cinnamon and heat until smooth. Core and peel apples. Roll up apple slices in crescent rolls, tightly sealing the edges. Place in a greased, 9-x-13-inch baking pan. Pour butter mixture over dumplings and pour 1 can of Mountain Dew over the top. Bake at 350° for 40 to 45 minutes until lightly browned. Great served hot with ice cream.



Weekend Mass Times 4:30 p.m. Sat.; 8:30 a.m. Sun.

CheCk out what’s happening and watch the Mass LIVE on-line at Illinois Valley Living

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ARTIST IN RESIDENCY Denny Elliott Residence: Princeton. Favorite medium to use: My favorite mediums are oil on canvas paintings, wood sculpture and poured bronze sculpture. Favorite subject: My favorite subjects are scenes on the Hennepin Canal, rural structures, surrealistic imagery and various figurative imagery. Who has most influenced your art: Over the years my work has been influenced by an array of artists from the past as well as present day. I believe we can learn not only from other artists’ work, but also from nature and from self introspection. Which piece are you most proud of and why: I take pride in each of my works. Contributed photo

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Rick Kamrath (center) is surrounded by his seventh-grade physical education class at Logan Junior High School in Princeton. After 22 years in the Lions’ Den, Kamrath will retire from teaching and coaching at the end of the school year. Kamrath also taught at Ohio Grade School. Kamrath retires with 330 career victories.

Letting go of the Lions KAMRATH HAS FOND MEMORIES OF HIS COACHING CAREER Story and photo by Kevin Hieronymus


here are two things in life Rick Kamrath holds most dear to his heart — the Green Bay Packers and Princeton Logan Junior High Lions basketball. The Packers have been his lifelong passion ... and the Lions for the past 22 years. Kamrath wrapped up his final season coaching at Logan, capped by winning the Starved Rock Conference Tournament championship. The Lions defeated Ottawa Shepard, 58-24, to finish the season at 15-0. Kamrath, who will retire to the greener pastures of Packer football at the end of the school year, said he couldn’t have asked for a better place to coach than Logan. “It’s just been a gold mine for kids. It’s just a dream situation for coaches — it really is. It’s just a good gig, if you can get in here,” he said. Jerry Thompson has worked with Kamrath for 19 years. They had been opposing coaches previously — Kamrath at Ohio and Thompson at Tiskilwa. Now, they have formed a partnership of building Logan Lion basketball teams


and character, carrying on the Logan tradition from decades past during the Bill Kaiser-Mike Kesseler era. “They are the face of Logan; they really are,” Kamrath said of his predecessors. Kamrath recently passed Kesseler with 330 career victories. Kaiser remains No. 1 among Logan coaches with 346 wins. “We haven’t had a bad club go through. Not so much coaching, just good guys go through,” said Kamrath, who compiled a 330-50 record at Logan and 446-149 including his time at Ohio. Thompson said he’s really going to miss having his partner in coaching crime around. “When you work with somebody that long you will miss them. You just rely on them being there, rely on their advice, their loyalty. He’s been a good friend,” he said. Thompson, however, won’t miss Kamrath’s devotion to the Packers, especially on Monday mornings after beating the Bears. “It’s pretty hard to live with him being a Packer fan. He is a die-hard. Monday mornings are a little rough around here,” Thompson said.

Kamrath grew up in Pardeeville, Wis., one of six boys in his family, who were close friends to the seven Bortz boys, including 1985 Chicago Bear standout Mark Bortz. “No lack of height in Pardeeville back in the ‘70s, just skill,” Kamrath joked, referring to his family more so than the Bortz clan. Kamrath came to Bureau County to coach at Ohio, Ill., schools, cutting his teeth with the high school girls’ program before teaming up with head coach Lloyd Johnson in the boys’ program. Ohio was certainly another gold mine with the likes of all-staters Brad Bickett, Lance Harris, Todd Etheridge and Brian Piper, along with many other Bulldog standouts, in the mid to late ‘80s. Today, Ohio still holds a place dear to his heart. “Ohio was a lot of fun going through the ‘80s with Lloyd,” Kamrath said. “The people at Ohio were real supportive. It was a wonderful place to be.” While his days coaching at Logan are finished, Kamrath won’t rule anything out. “I’ll coach again if the Packers or Badgers call me up,” he said.

Illinois Valley Living

A bunch of brunch It’s that time of year when family and friends start to gather ... Whether it’s for an Easter meal, a baby or Judy Dyke bridal shower or just a gathering of those you love, why not substitute a lunch or dinner meal with a fun and festive brunch or breakfast. The best part about hosting a brunch or breakfast is the meal is held early in the day, so you still have the afternoon to relax, enjoy each other’s company and kick up your feet. Enjoy!

Flaky Biscuits 2 cups sifted flour 3 tablespoons sugar 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 3/4 cup milk, room temperature 4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup butter, chilled In large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and cream of tartar. Cut in butter, until bits are size of peas. Mix in milk, only until ingredients are blended. Do not over mix. Form into a ball. Pat out on floured board to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut with a biscuit cutter, 2 1/2 inch in size, on floured board to 3/4-inch thickness. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes at 475° or until golden brown. Makes 10 biscuits. I usually make smaller size biscuits. Serve with sausage gravy.

IT’S THE PERFECT TIME OF YEAR TO PLAN A BRUNCH FOR FAMILY AND FRIENDS Sausage Hash Brown Bake 2 pounds bulk pork sausage 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided 1 10 3/4-ounce can cream of chicken soup, undiluted 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream 1 8-ounce carton French onion dip 1 cup chopped onion 1/4 cup chopped green pepper 1/4 cup sweet red pepper 1/8 teaspoon pepper 1 30-ounce package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes, thawed In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, drain on paper towels. In a large bowl, combine 1 3/4 cups cheese and the next seven ingredients, fold in potatoes. Spread half into a greased shallow 3-quart baking dish. Top with sausage and remaining potato mixture. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover, bake 10 minutes longer or until heated through. Serves 10 to 12.

Sausage Gravy I usually make my sausage gravy the easy way. I brown 1 pound of sausage in the skillet. Break the sausage up into small pieces. Stir in 2 to 3 tablespoons of flour depending on how much gravy you want to make. Then stir in milk till you get the thickness you desire for your gravy. Salt and pepper if you desire. Then I add a little beef bouillon granules to make gravy more brown. Be careful to not get to salty.

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Breakfast Casserole

Scrambled Egg Muffins

1 pound pork sausage (fry and drain) 9 eggs, beat lightly 3 cups milk 8 slices buttered bread, cubed 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard 8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded Mix gently with fork. Bake at 350° for 1 hour in a 9-by-13-inch dish. Can add bacon or ham. I also put in 1 can potato soup.

Breakfast Casserole 2 pounds of ground turkey sausage 4 eggs 2 cups milk 1 1/3 cups of Bisquick 2 cups grated cheddar cheese 1/2 cup onions, chopped 1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped

1/2 pound bulk pork sausage 12 eggs 1/2 cup chopped onion 1/4 cup chopped green pepper 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese In a skillet, cook the sausage over medium heat until no longer pink, drain. In a bowl, beat the eggs. Add onion, green pepper, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Stir in sausage and cheese. Spoon by 1/3 cupfuls into greased muffin cups. Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Makes 1 dozen.

Favorite Pancakes

Grease a 13-by-9-inch pan. Heat oven to 350°. Brown sausage in skillet and add to baking pan. Mix all other ingredients together and pour over sausage. Bake about 45 minutes. Check after 30 minutes. When a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, it’s done.

1 egg 1 cup buttermilk 2 tablespoons oil 1 cup Gold Medal flour 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon soda 1/2 teaspoon salt Blend egg, milk and oil. Blend dry ingredients. Add to liquid, beat well. Fry with Pam sprayed on pan. Serve with butter and your favorite syrup.

Citrus Grove Punch 3 cups sugar 2 cups water 6 cups orange juice, chilled 6 cups grapefruit juice, chilled 1 1/2 cups lime juice, chilled

1 liter ginger ale, chilled In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until cool. Combine juices and sugar mixture, mix well. Just before serving, stir in ginger ale. Serve over ice Makes 6 quarts.


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Peaches and Cream French Toast 1 cup packed brown sugar 1/2 cup butter, cubed 2 tablespoons corn syrup 1 29-ounce can sliced, peaches, drained 1 1-pound loaf day-old French bread, cubed 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cubed 12 eggs 1 1/2 cups half and half cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, pour into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Arrange peaches in dish. Place half of the bread cubes over peaches. Layer with cream cheese and remaining bread. Place the eggs, cream and vanilla in a blender, cover and process until smooth. Pour over top. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Brunch Fruit Salad 1 20-ounce can pineapple tidbits 2 large firm bananas, cut into 1/4-inch chunks 1 cup green grapes 1 15-ounce can mandarin oranges, drained 1 golden delicious apple, sliced 1 red delicious apple, sliced 1/2 cup sugar 2 tablespoons cornstarch 1/3 cup orange juice 1 tablespoon lemon juice Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Combine the pineapple, bananas, grapes, oranges and apples in a large bowl, set aside. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add the orange juice, lemon juice and reserved pineapple juice, stir until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Pour over fruit, mix gently. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serves 10.

Coffeecake Muffins 8 tablespoons granulated sugar STREUSEL 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon 1/2 cup pecans MUFFINS 2 large eggs 1 cup sour cream 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup granulated sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks and softened For the streusel: Pulse 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter in food processor until just combined. Reserve 3/4 cup sugar mixture for cinnamon filling. Add pecans and remaining granulated sugar mixture and pulse until nuts are coarsely ground. Transfer to bowl and set aside for streusel topping. Do not wash food processor. For the muffins: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°. Grease muffin tins with cooking spray and line with paper liners. Whisk eggs, sour cream and vanilla in bowl. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter in food processor until mixture resembles wet sand. Transfer to large bowl. Using rubber spatula, gradually fold in egg mixture until just combined. Place 1 tablespoon batter in each muffin cup and top with 1 tablespoon cinnamon filling. Using back of spoon, press cinnamon filling lightly into batter, then top with remaining batter. Bake until muffins are light golden brown and tooth pick inserted into center comes out with a few dry crumbs. Makes 22 to 28 muffins Cool muffins in tin for 30 minutes then Carefully transfer to wire rack to cool.

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ARTIST IN RESIDENCY Bartlett Lee Kassabaum Residence: Princeton. Favorite medium to use: Prismacolor pencil/mixed media (watercolor and gouache. Favorite subject: Light and shadow. Who has most influenced your art: Jon Nagy, Paul Calle, Norman Rockwell and Maxfield Parrish. Which piece are you most proud of and why: Two works ... My first of four Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamps (1980, 1983, 1985 and 1987) because it jump-started my professional career, and my “No Free In Freedom” art because it was used for the cover on a nationally-released country CD album; the prints of that art are the best selling work I have, and I donate many of these prints to military veterans. Photo by Kath Clark

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Restoring the mansion HEGELER CARUS MANSION GETS A FACELIFT — ONE INCH AT A TIME Story by Goldie Currie Photos by Kath Clark


he famous Hegeler Carus Mansion, which sits pleasantly at the end of Seventh Street in LaSalle, is pushing 140 years old. The mansion’s 16,000-square-foot of interior space is quite the antique to see and tour, but with its rapid, growing age has come the need for major restoration. Old age has caused paint to crackle from the walls, as well as considerable wear and tear on the floorboards. More than a century-worth of residue build-up coats the inside of the some of the most spectacular work of the mansion’s famous interior designer, August Fiedler. The Hegeler Carus Foundation took

possession of the mansion around 1995, which was when the establishment became listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Being a part of the list is quite the honor, but with it comes stipulations for keeping each detail of the mansion to its true original state. The foundation’s executive director, Kelly Klobucher, explained each restored portion, whether its paint on the wall or wood on the floor, must be tested to see what kind of materials it was made from. Once it’s determined, the cleaning process can begin. The process – done by experts from Chicago – is a very gradual and tedious job. “Just (testing) a strip of color took them about six hours,” said Klobucher. “There

is a lot of chemistry involved because they have to figure out the right combination of solutions that will remove the residue, but not damage what’s beneath it.” The experts clean one-square inch at a time, and use a small Q-tip or mini brush and correct solvent for the job. “It’s really exciting when you think about it…We have almost 140 years of build-up, “ she said. “All those years of burning wood and coal in the fireplace left quite a residue.” Members of the foundation were shocked when the cleaning process began on a wall they were convinced was dark green, but ended up being a sky blue color after it was finished.

See Mansion Page 52


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From Page 51 With the floor, the process it the same. Once a section is cleaned, a conditioning oil is smoothed over the surface. A coat for protection will be added to the surface once cleaning is complete. The last man to live in the house was Mary and Paul Carus’ youngest son, Alwin. He lived in the mansion until 2004, when he died just 12 days before his 103rd birthday. Alwin gave ownership of the structure to the foundation in the mid ‘90s, with the promise to let him live out his life inside the mansion. Years before turning the mansion over to the foundation, Alwin stopped repairing any damage within. His thought was that no one would be able to afford to maintain it after his death, therefore the mansion would be torn down. “By the time he was in his 80s, if something was to break, like a water leak, he would fix the leak, but not the plaster damage,” Klobucher said. “Why would you spend all that money on plaster, when you thought your house was going to be torn down sometime soon in the future?” Alwin never imagined he would live much longer past his 80s, because his family members hadn’t lived past their 60s and 70s. “They’d fix the problem, but not the damage,” Klobucher said. “Now we are fixing the damage.” DAILY SPECIALS • Wraps

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A stipulation with being on the National Register of Historic Places is every restoration process has to be reversible. “So if we repaint something, it has to be reversible. We have to be able to remove it and bring it back to what we had,” Klobucher said. “We can’t just paint over it. We can’t just go to the paint store and buy that paint.” We are the most complete work of August Fiedler’s work anywhere,” she said. “ It’s unaltered and hasn’t been touched in 137 years.” Paying for the restoration of the mansion requires a large wallet. It’s been estimated that just to restore the first floor parlor will cost somewhere in the ball park range of $80,000. The foundation’s current realistic goal is to restore

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the complete first floor of the mansion, which includes 10 rooms. Once that’s complete, there are around 55 other rooms throughout the mansion that eventually may be restored sometime in the future. Currently, the focus is on restoring the parlor room. When the foundation first took hold of the mansion, the first agenda item was to restore the reception room. Klobucher said it took around six months to a year to complete. They anticipate it to take about that long to complete the parlor. “Hopefully, by the end of 2013, we’ll have it done or close to done. A lot of it depends on the availability of the experts,” she said. The cleaning process proceeds as donation money flows in. “Donation dollars go completely to the restoration; it doesn’t go to towards utilities or salaries,” Klobucher said. The foundation receives a grant from Carus Chemical to pay just for those expenses and has attempted to secure grants for the restoration, but not many are currently available for historic preservation. Klobucher said with the way the current economy is, it’s more difficult to raise the needed monies quickly. But, she’s confident it won’t always be this way. “I know it will turn around, and there will be more available resources for us,” she said.

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Adapting to changing times PERU PUBLIC LIBRARY MEETING NEEDS OF ITS PATRONS FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY Story and photos by Lyle Ganther


he Peru Public Library will continue to adapt to the ever-changing needs of its patrons as it has done for more than 100 years. Peru Library Director Charm Ruhnke said the Peru Public Library was started in 1910 when the German Association Library and Peru’s first library, which started in 1886, joined to form the Peru Public Library. These two libraries were funded by local property tax dollars after merging in 1910. The Peru Public Library received a $15,000 Carnegie Grant to build a library facility in 1910 on Putnam Street, opening on Dec. 1, 1911, with a collection of 2,000 books. In 1953, the historical room was opened on the second floor, and the children’s room moved to the lower level. After serving the community for 74 years, the Putnam Street building became inadequate for community needs, so plans were made to build a new facility. A matching grant was received from the Illinois State Library to complete the new building in 1986 on 11th Street, next to Washington Park. The Peru Public Library has a collection of more than 40,000 items available for borrowing by the residents of Peru. Books, the first items purchased, still remain popular today as do magazines and newspapers. Records were added in 1950-51. Other additions over the years included VCR cassettes, audiobooks, large print books, music CDs, DVDs, full text databases and now e-Books. Public computers were added in the 1990s; there are currently 12 computers for adults and 2 for children. Free WiFi is also offered to patrons. “We see a growing awareness of literacy,” she said, despite the introduction of Nooks and e-Readers. “There is an assumption that if someone comes into the library, they can read. Many aren’t reading to their potential or ability. Libraries are stepping up to work on that issue.” Ruhnke said she likes to host cultural programs at the Peru Public Library, despite the lack of space at the facility. “Our meeting room doubles as storage area, and the storage, right now, is winning,” she said. “Our meeting room can hold 10-15 people. We don’t have a nice meeting room like the LaSalle Public Library, but we have very, very loyal program followers. “Programs we have on Friday nights for teens mean we have to use our first floor,”’ she said. “We also have programs through our downstairs children’s library where it


Peru Public Library Director Charm Ruhnke stands in the children’s area of the library that has been serving the residents of Peru for more than a hundred years, starting in 1910 when it merged with a German Association Library. takes over our upstairs area.” “We still have a steadily increasing number of people who ask for books only,” she added. “We still have people who still read books despite having a Kindle or Nook. Many love both. Some come to our library to read books and then buy the books for their Kindles or Nooks.” A popular service offered at the library is tax filing preparation for individuals who qualify for the service. This is done two days a week. “We also have one or two people a year who come to the library for their tax returns who learn what kind of services are available at the Peru Public Library,” she said. “Since they have to wait for an appointment, they look around and discover what is offered at the Peru Public Library.” “We have a strong teen awareness at the Peru Public Library where many teens become regular library patrons and return as they get older and go to college. Many come back during their breaks to see the librarians,” she added. Another popular service offered at the library is an electronic version of Consumer Reports where they can find the best deals on LCD TVS or researching vehicles. This information can be accessed at the library or from a patron’s home computer if they have a library card from the Peru Public Library. Also, electronic databases of 1,700 newspapers around the country, more than 3,000 magazines, journals and dissertations and WorldCat for interlibrary loan is available and popular. “We can’t keep mysteries on the shelf,” she said. “They are a very popular genre today. Our new book section is the first stop for many of our patrons to see what new titles

we have that have been published in the last six months.” Most librarians live in the fear they aren’t getting all the titles patrons want because many libraries don’t know what they want without talking to them, Ruhnke said. Patrons have such a variety of tastes, especially in non-fiction, that makes it difficult to know what to get to satisfy every patron. “We are fortunate that every recommendation or suggested title by our patrons, we are able to do about every book or DVD,” she said. The Peru Public Library hosts historical programs periodically through a cooperative consisting of LaSalle, Oglesby and Peru public libraries along with Lock 16 of the Canal Corridor Association. These Civil War exhibits and programs were offered in February through the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library in Springfield. The 17th Corps Field Hospital, a medical reenacting group, displayed Civil War-era Union Army medical unit where participants can experience a re-enactment of recruiting, minor and major surgery demonstrations and pill making during the event. Ruhnke came to the Peru Public Library in 2010 from the Lewis and Clark Library System in the St. Louis area. The other library directors at the Peru Public Library were Fanny Snyder from 1911-39, Evelyn Ball from 1940-42, Amy Plynn from 194344, Dorothy Hess Gillmann from 1943-50, Dorothy Bieneman from 1951-73, Kenneth Hansen from 1973-82, Mary S. Hahne (interim) from 1982-83, Carl Berry from 1983-86, Carol Bird from 1986-89, David Green from 1989-96, Marydale Stewart from 1996-2005 and Mary Jean Hauger from 2007-10.

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Everyone is welcome at Our Table GOOD FOOD, GOOD FELLOWSHIP, GOOD FRIENDS ... Story by Donna Barker Photos by Becky Kramer


or nearly two years, on each and every Monday evening, the smells of a hot meal and the sounds of conversations fill the social hall at the First United Methodist Church in Princeton. Our Table is in progress. Since starting in May 2011 as a free meal for the community, Our Table now averages about 125-150 people each week, including those serving in the kitchen who

join in the meal with community members. Spokesperson Jim Miller said Our Table does not belong to any one church or individual, but to God and His people. About 10 area churches and businesses support the outreach through grants and donations. There is no charge for the meal; no donation baskets or free will offerings; no applications needed. It’s also not an exclusive Princeton thing, but people come from throughout the area, including as far away as Peru, Miller said.

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Brian Huffstodt of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church and other parishioners dish up a bowl of chili during an Our Table dinner. Every Monday, a different group sponsors the evening dinner, where all are welcome to attend, eat and enjoy fellowship with others. Our Table’s mission is to feed the hungry and offer fellowship to all.

Our Table

From Page 56 Miller’s wife, Cheryl, is the general manager for the meal itself and keeps a calendar on the groups, churches and donations who sign up to help with the program. The rewards of Our Table are also personal, reaching beyond those receiving a free meal, Miller said. “The faces of the people who come, with their fears and their wants, that’s what we remember when we go home at night,” Miller said. “If you saw the look of the faces of the innocent kids who are in these situations, you can’t walk away from that.” Our Table will continue to serve meals from 5 to 6:30 p.m. each Monday until there is no more hunger, Miller said. “The need is unbelievable,” Miller said. “This is just a start. We realize hunger is not the only creature need. There is also a need for warmth and shelter, jobs. We are helping as much as we can, but not as much as we’d like.” One year after the start of Our Table at the First United Methodist Church, the Princeton Elks Lodge, partnering with the Princeton Rotary Club, expanded the outreach into a Thursday evening free meal at the Princeton Elks Lodge, located at 1005 E. Peru St. If people are hungry on Mondays, they are hungry on Thursdays, Elks Exalted Ruler Penny Best said.


Smiling faces are a prerequisite for Our Table, where the public is invited to enjoy a free meal and fellowship at the First United Methodist Church in Princeton. A different meal is served weekly by different groups in the community.

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Welcome to Jonesville TINY COMMUNITY BORN FROM A COAL MINE Story by Barb Kromphardt Photo by Kath Clark rivers travelling from LaSalle to Oglesby on Route 351 can be excused if they barely notice Jonesville. There are few houses, a bend in the road, and then drivers are continuing the trip from the Illinois River up the hill to Oglesby. The little area of Jonesville, combined with Piety Hill and Crockettsville, was born sometime before the end of the Civil War in 1865, when the LaSalle County Carbon Coal Co. opened a mineshaft. The mine was owed by O.L. Jones, which made the name of the new town easy to determine.


Bob Marincic’s family has a long history with Jonesville. His grandfather worked a number of the mines in the area, and one of his prized possessions is a certificate from 1917 when his grandfather was certified as a coal miner in the state of Illinois. Marincic said the mine closed down in 1929. “There was some kind of a strike going on, and they had somebody actually dynamite one of the shafts,” he said. The mine was bought by Union Coal, who had plans for reopening the mine, but instead sold off some of the property. Some of the land was sold to Marincic’s father, John, who built a tavern on

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Jonesville used to have many bars and other businesses during and immediately after its coal-mining days. Most of those businesses have since closed, however, those familiar with the area still hold a plethora of memories regarding the good old days in Jonesville.


Contributed photo

the land in 1938. “Dad had always lived there with his parents,” he said. “There were five children in the family, and they all lived within four or five blocks of one another. Back then, nobody moved.” John Marincic, also known as Shine, played the banjo with various groups throughout the area before opening his bar. “He saw how much money these tavern owners were taking in, and he said, ‘I can do it,’” Bob Marincic said. John Marincic built Shine’s Tap in 1938, and he was only 20 years old. “He couldn’t even get a liquor license because he wasn’t old enough,” Bob

Marincic said. “In order to start the business, my grandmother got the liquor license in her name.” John Marincic also opened up a gas station next to the tavern. He also ended up moving the old Columbus School down the hill next to the highway for use as the Valley View Motel. “When I was a kid in the mid-1950s, Route 351 used to be Route 51, and there used to be a lot of north and south traffic before the interstates,” Bob Marincic said. Marincic said Jonesville used to have a lot more residents, as20846-0316 back then everyone Property had large families. “But it’s still a nice little community,” he said.

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A history of the Jonesville area was written by Carole Wenzel in 2002 for Oglesby’s centennial celebration. Wenzel had a special interest in the area because her grandparents and her mother lived in Jonesville. To write her history, Wenzel did a lot of research at the genealogical society and pored through old newspaper accounts of the village. “I have a love of history,” she said. “Whenever something was in the paper or a book, I would save it.” Wenzel also had the stories told to her by her grandparents, as well as some photos from her mother. Wenzel also did some extra research on the Jonesville Tabernacle Church because her mother was confirmed there, and the Cox School, a country school her father attended. Wenzel said nowadays people don’t know much about Jonesville, Crockettsville or Piety Hill. “There’s no post office, and there’s no police department,” she said. “It’s a whole littleMe areaIVLiving that grew up Merchants Beetz because of a coal mine.”

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ILLINOIS VALLEY INSIDER Via Facebook polls, Illinois Valley Living asked you three fun questions regarding your favorites in the Illinois Valley. Here’s what you said ... WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO GET TACOS IN THE ILLINOIS VALLEY? You said: 1. Kelly’s, Tiskilwa 2. Los Ranchitos, Princeton 3. Valley Bar and Grill, Spring Valley 4. Tie: Fajita’s in LaSalle and Skoonerz in Princeton Honorable mentions: Princeton Moose Lodge, Clover Club in Mark, Old Town Tacos in Spring Valley, Garden Room Grille in Princeton, Water Street Pub in Peru. Editor’s choice: Valley Bar and Grill in Spring Valley

WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO GET A COLD BEER IN THE ILLINOIS VALLEY? You said: 1. Duffy’s, Utica 2. Skoonerz Grill and Bar, Princeton 3. Princeton Inn, Princeton 4. Park Tavern, Princeton 5. Pipe’s Pub, Ohio Honorable mentions: Cabin Fever in Peru, Wise Guys in Princeton, Rips in Ladd, Brother’s Pub in Sheffield, Red’s Pub in Sheffield, Indian Valley Inn in Tiskilwa. Editor’s choice: Princeton Inn


WHERE’S THE BEST PLACE TO GET A GREAT BREAKFAST IN THE ILLINOIS VALLEY? You said: 1. Indian Valley Inn, Tiskilwa 2. Tie: Main Street BBQ, Wyanet, and 4 & 20, Princeton 3. The Red Apple, Princeton 4. Starved Rock, Utica Honorable mentions: Gold Mine in Spring Valley, John’s North Star in LaSalle, Cindy’s on 34 in Mendota, Delaney’s Family Restaurant in Oglesby, Brandy’s in Peru and IHOP in Peru. Editor’s choice: ZBest Cafe on Main in Sheffield

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• April 7: Happily Ever After Bridal Expo, sponsored by the Bureau County Republican and A Hundred Acre Orchard, both of Princeton. The event begins at 11:30 a.m. and runs to 3 p.m. at A Hundred Acre Orchard, west of Princeton. It includes vendors, a style show and more. Call the Bureau County Republican for more information at 815-8754461. • April 11: April in Paris Tea from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Lock 16 Center in LaSalle. Event-goers can escape to Paris for the afternoon and enjoy afternoon tea with a French flare, including French delights and homemade scones while sipping tea. Reservations are required. The event is $19.50 per person. Call 815-2231851 or see for more information. • April 19: A bluegrass, gospel and country music jam will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at the First Lutheran Church, 116 N. Pleasant, Princeton. For information, call 815-875-2057. • May 3-4: Midwest Morel

Fest, Washington Square Park, Ottawa. Sponsored by the city of Ottawa and the Ottawa Visitor Center. Call 815-434-2737 for details. • May 4: Alpaca show at the Bureau County Fairgrounds in Princeton. • May 18: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Men’s March Against Violence, sponsored by Princeton Tourism and Freedom Home, a domestic violence shelter. Registration is now open online at by searching for Freedom House Illinois and choosing the “events” link. You can also contact Freedom House at 815-872-0087. • May 18: Fishing Exposition for children, ages 4 and up. The event is from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Baker Lake in Peru and consists of a series of manned stations, where children are presented a variety of information and handson fun about fishing. The expo is sponsored by the Better Fishing Association, Inc., of Northern Illinois. For more information, see

They are a legend in the Illinois Valley, so you won’t want to miss their newest CD — “Those Oldies But Goodies — Love Generic Music” by the Generics Goodies Band. Filled with 32 selections — a mixture of music and jokes — the CD is one worth playing over and over again. Members of the Generics Goodies Band, spearheaded by Gary “Frog” Swanson of Princeton who plays with several area locals you’ve come to know and love is available at Hoffman’s Patterns of the Past in Princeton or from any member of the band. The group started began in 1989, and though many of the band members have come and gone and come again, the sounds they produce will have your toes tapping and your memory reeling. The CD is dedicated to the memory of band members Ray Pierson (1939-2009) and Larry Kuepker (1947-2007). The CD was recorded at GES Studios in Princeton and engineered by Swanson.

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ARTIST IN RESIDENCY Dana Collins Residence: Princeton. Favorite medium to use: Currently, oil, but I do work in many different media. I like the way oil paint moves. I love the act of putting the paint on canvas, the way oil can convey the gesture of the moving brush. Favorite subject: Over the years, I have returned most often to landscape, particularly places where I spend hours and hours in a small boat, painting reflections on water. The subject seems to suit the paint — it is always moving, always full of surprises, continually shifting and changing. The painting develops as a result of hundreds of touches of the brush, the subject itself never the same. Each time I look, something is different — the wind, the light — so there is always something more to learn. And of course those places are also suffused with memories, with voices, echoes of people I have loved who have been there with me. That has become part of the subject; those unseen things which make a subject real and compelling. Who has most influenced your art: First, three teachers: Arthur Osver at Washington University, the sculptor Calvin Albert at Pratt Institute, and Bernard Chaet at Yale. I observed in them the example of lives devoted very

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joyously to really hard work. It echoed, in art, the example I had already known all my life in my father, Harold Collins’ dedication to music. Second, some painters who were so exciting to discover: Berthe Morisot, especially her watercolors; the late William Turner (I had the wonderful chance to study hundreds of his unframed watercolors and paintings in the Clore Reference Library at the Tate in London), and Pierre Bonnard. Photo by Terri Simon More recently I’ve started to study some of the Chinese and Japanese artists, pre-19th century, in museums in California. The bravery and command in some of those large ink paintings are stunning. Which piece are you most proud of and why: I like some works better than others, but I really could not point to a single piece. Each of the different series that I do is focused on different ends. Some of my constructions, using language and poetry, seem to me good and worth developing. I have one painting that I am very, very fond of. It’s from when I was 10 years old, my Mom got me an oil painting set, and I did a little painting of a ballet dancer. I loved doing that. I can still remember the first time I smelled oil paint. In later years, I always felt lucky that I could earn my living while smelling that paint.

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Illinois Valley Living

Gentlemen ... start your engines THE BOBBY COMPANY IS ON A FAST TRACK IN PRINCETON Story by Derek Johnson Photos by Dan Acker


espite the wintry weather on this particular Sunday morning, The Bobby Company parking lot was full at 10:30 a.m. Though the signs inform passersby on Route 6 in Princeton that this is a scrap metal shop and Champion compressor dealer, it is obvious on the inside that this is, at least in part, a hobby shop. And on most Sunday mornings, the enthusiasts working diligently on their high-speed, remote control cars let you know what these folks like to do to pass the time ... They like to build and race remote control cars — better known as RCs to the folks at The Bobby Company. Although The Bobby Company opened as a scrap yard in 1946, it now doubles as a gathering place for RC lov-

ers to meet, buy parts and race. It’s also one of the only indoor tracks of its kind in the region, drawing folks from as far away as Iowa and Wisconsin, co-owner David Klein said. The track is open for practicing a couple days a week, but Sundays are for competing. Walking past the counter, the first room you enter is the repair area, where people meticulously worked on their cars, as race time was fast approaching. One person was lubing hubs, another trying to replace a missing part. “When you go on the other side, you’ll see the track and the pit,” Klein said. There were people of all ages scattered throughout the building like you’d expect at a family-oriented event. As the clock inched toward 11 a.m., participants chased pizza slices with soda, grabbed their cars and moved into

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Remote control cars and buggies race the track at The Bobby Co. the track area. At the front of the track there is a viewing area and opening for people to walk on and off. To the left, a set of stairs leads to a deck that gives racers a bird’s eye view of the track. At the end of the deck is a booth where an announcer calls the races.

See Racing Page 67

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erhaps you have a passion for those old porcelain coffee pots that you used to see on Grandma’s stove. Or maybe your collection of old tools, salt and pepper shakers or shot glasses has a prominent place in your home. Old furniture, sleds, watering cans, thimbles ... yesterday’s treasures are abundant in the Illinois Valley. Whether you take an hour here and there or dedicate an entire day to antique hunting, you’ll want to make time to visit one or all of the antique dealers listed below.

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Illinois Valley Living

Drivers of the remote control vehicles are all business when it comes to race time.

Matt Byrd of Washington, Ill., makes a suspension adjustment on his two-wheel drive remote control truck between races.


From Page 65 Just like at any big car or truck race, there are sponsors’ logos around the track. The track itself is marked by plastic tubing. Before getting started, RC enthusiast and race organizer Scott Mecum addressed the crowd of about 40. He pointed out rules for the race, which

include where marshals will stand as they help keep the race flowing and what violations they will be looking for. The cars flip over a lot and do not have reverse, so there have to be people on the track to right the car if it gets into a tight spot. He then points out features of the track saying, “Do not try and jump the triple. You won’t make it, and

the car will flip over, so there’s no need to try it.” The triple he referred to was a set of three tall hills that might entice a racer to try and clear them by shooting over the first one at high speed. The hills were spaced too far apart for the cars to be able to make it.

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From Page 67 Drivers were also directed to watch the quad which was a collection of four less-steep hills for the cars to maneuver through. Not surprisingly, the marshals overseeing that part of the track were the busiest during the races. The racers run in four car heats; those with the best times move into the final round of races at the end. This Motocross style tournament design allows for the races’ worst performers to compete in heats that could “bump” them into the final round. That’s a good way of keeping people interested in competing, even if they are new or maybe just not the very best. They also change the track periodically which is another practice that keeps things fresh. During the races, the whine of the electronic motors and directions from the announcer are about all you can hear. The crowd itself is very calm and attentive. All together, six cars will race in the day’s final competition ... with bragging rights as their grand prize. “In here, these cars will run in the 20 mile per hour range. On a straight away, they can get into the 50s, but going that fast it could break someone’s leg if it hit them,” Mecum said. Mecum added they regulate the battery size in the cars to make sure no one can go too fast.

Tom Bledsoe of Brimfield makes an adjustment on his two-wheel drive remote control truck at The Bobby Co. in Princeton. On this day they were racing 1/8 Class cars, which means the engine is roughly .21-.32 cubic inches in size. They do race other vehicles at The Bobby, including trucks. “We have a point series too,” Mecum said, adding the last point series compeTANNING tition, similar to NASCAR’s post season qualifying competition, ended just after Christmas with Mecum and Klein saying

that another point series was scheduled to begin sometime after the Super Bowl. Mecum said a person could get started in the hobby for around $100, adding that “Then, like any hobby, it is endless how much you can spend.” The Bobby Company, located at 1805 SALON W. Peru St., is smoke free. Those who would like more information can call 815-875-4433,

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Illinois Valley Living

ARTIST IN RESIDENCY Greg Wallace Residence: Walnut. Favorite medium to use: I like to use watercolors, acrylics, oils, colored pencils, pastels, Photoshop, Illustrator, stained glass, airbrushes, carving knives and wood burners but the medium I utilize the most is Bic pen on paper. Usually a black Bic pen. Sometimes blue. Favorite subject: I wish that I could say landscapes and portraits but I usually gravitate towards caricature, cartooning and humorous illustration. You know, stuff that makes me giggle. Who has most influenced your art: A good answer would be the old masters like Da Vinci, Rembrandt and Van Gogh and maybe someone more recent like Picasso or Norman Rockwell but my true influences are probably Mort Drucker, Don Martin and Sergio Aragones from MAD Magazine, and of course Roger Shule, my elementary and high school art teacher. Which piece are you most proud of and why: I think that I once drew a picture of the Easter Bunny for my daughter that she thought was pretty cool. Photo by Greg Wallace

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Illinois Valley Living Journal By Terri Simon Photo by Kath Clark

While my memories are many, perhaps the most vivid memory is the one of me riding on the tractor with Grandpa behind the don’t see a freshly-planted cornfield wheel. This was long before the cabs of the without thinking of my grandfather. tractors were equipped with all the ameniHe was clearly a man of the earth, ties of home. and he took his task of tending to the With Grandpa in the seat, I was allowed soil very seriously. to stand next to him and lean against the By today’s standards, Grandpa’s farm big fender that protected us from the huge was minuscule. His nearly 100 acres tractor tires that took us all over the farm. would be laughable to today’s mega Always concerned with my well-being, farmers. Still, I don’t think anybody Grandpa drove with one arm around me could have been prouder of his farm and one hand on the wheel. Of all the than my grandfather, and because of things to do on that farm, this was my absohis love for his land, he transferred that lute favorite. Even though there were seventhusiasm to his family. eral rules — “Don’t touch this! Stand still! As a young child, I spent hours with Don’t touch that!” — I didn’t care. Grandpa my grandpa. Tromping through the dew- and I were the king and princess of the soaked morning grass to slop the hogs farm atop that old tractor, and I wouldn’t or deliver food and water to the rest of trade those memories for the world. the livestock, the two of us talked and My grandfather and I rode that tractor talked and talked. It didn’t matter that I all over the farm, but perhaps my favorite was only 4 years old, and he was nearplace to go was up the long lane that led to ing 70; every day was a holiday with the cornfield. I think I liked it because it Grandpa. seemed like such a long ride, but in retroTogether, we made fence. We brought spect, it was probably only a quarter of mile the cows home from the pasture. We or so. Nevertheless, I was with Grandpa, so picked vegetables from the garden. nothing else mattered. We pumped water from the well. We The tractor chugged up the lane, and checked on the animals. We gathered when we got to the edge of the cornfield, eggs. We ... well ... it was plain and sim- Grandpa would lean forward and turn off ple ... we farmed. Grandpa didn’t seem the engine key. Even as a little girl, that was to mind having his 4-year-old grandmy cue to stop chattering. It was time to be daughter tagging along behind him. quiet ... and quiet we were.



I have no idea how long we would sit on the edge of that cornfield, but it seemed like a long time. Both of us were silent — alone with our thoughts, as we looked over the corn in varying stages of growth. Tiny immature plants, knee-high plants, plants that were nearly as tall as the tractor and plants that were ready to be harvested. We spent a lot of quiet time with those corn stalks ... Grandpa and I. It translated to respect for the earth, and even though it took me a while to understand that, I’ve never forgotten it. We never said a word. It was just us and the corn and the sky ... but it was enough. Reluctantly, he’d eventually turn the key on the old tractor, and we’d head back down the lane. Many years have passed since Grandpa and I spent time in the cornfield, but even today, I don’t pass a field without thinking of the man who taught me to respect the earth and all it has to offer. Every spring, I feel like I’m offered a second chance to spend time with my grandfather. As spring enters your world, may you have the opportunity to enjoy some quiet time with nature. The season is filled with second chances. May you embrace each moment. Illinois Valley Living Editor Terri Simon is an Illinois Press Association award-winning writer and columnist. You can reach Simon at

Illinois Valley Living

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