It’s good to be back writing for MBIP after what feels like forever (really, it was only about 2 months). Where have I been? Completely inundated with countless tasks, projects, and events, and in the interest of full disclosure—I’ve also been moving out of the East Bluff. Yes, after 30 years I’m now a stranger in my own neighborhood, and each time I drive through it feels a little shadier than the time before. And since I’m no longer there, I figured my first contribution back after this short hiatus should be about things that aren’t there anymore either.
Around this time a year ago I met Oscar Weber, the son of Herman Weber who was the subject of my second piece for MBIP. Through writing it, I got to meet and know a lot of the Weber family, reaching far enough to even receive comments and messages from relatives still living in Germany. I got another call from Oscar recently, who said he had found something stashed away in a drawer at home that I might be interested in. And sure enough, I was.
Waiting for me was a small bundle of sheets gathered by a few pointed, rusty staples. The paper is almost sixty years brittled, its ink that distinct hue of “mimeograph purple” that I’ve not seen for decades, and the contents inside are gold (figuratively, but also literally when you consider its yellowing from age).
It is a copy of Von Steuben School’s “newspaper” from May, 1953—the Viking News. I attended Von Steuben in the early 90’s and we had school newspapers, newsletters and the like, but none so quaint and amusing as this one. As more graffiti and “notices to abate” decorate the territory surrounding Von Steuben School today, this front page featuring “Dick and Jane” in mortarboards waving goodbye for the summer is a veritable time warp of antiquity-a snapshot of a truly different time in a very familiar place. It would also stand to reason that not many issues of the Viking News survive today, and at more than sixty years old, this one is a sure rarity.
The content you will find within the “Viking News” is no exception in this time warp either. The News section’s big stories are several 8th graders’ recaps of class field trips to Springfield and Dickson Mounds...
Also included is “Room News” for each specific class—an intriguing read, to be sure. Most recount their successful classroom exhibits and presentations for the Spring Open House from April 30th, but you can also read about how Mrs. Westergren’s first grade class had eleven cases of red measles in April and May, 1953. And how Miss Hammond’s Kindergarten class celebrated spring with a maypole dance for their mothers on May 22nd.
As this was the special “end of year” edition, it also included the “History” for each class, highlighting triumphs for the year in all grade levels (Von Steuben in those days was K-8, switching to grades 5-8 in the early 1980s).
The 8th grade class also predicts the future with a “Prophecy” section, describing where they and many of their classmates will be in the far off futuristic year of 1970...
The outgoing 8th graders also offer up a Last Will and Testament page, leaving everything from athletic and artistic skills, broken gadgets, and “Don Juan ways” to the underclassmen as they all move on to the greener pastures of (presumably for most) Woodruff High School a whole two miles away.
Sports scores and accomplishments are covered on the sports page…baseball appears to be the only sport mentioned, making the sports page literally just a page.
And in the Society section, you can learn of “fads and fashions” as well as read a retrospect on the spring dance, as well as the recent father/daughter and mother/son banquets separately held earlier in May.
The Viking News also offers this message and tips to its students on their way out the door for summer vacation…funny to think about as I see many of my teacher friends now dreading their return to school over the next few weeks.
The Viking News had an extensive student staff (are any of you out there reading this right now? Come forward in the comments section!) One of its more interesting aspects is the advertising, hand drawn and lettered by students within the pages. Small boxes, half pages, some even full pages, sold at various sponsorship levels I’m sure. These charmingly crude illustrations are every bit as precious as the paper’s written content.
Advertisers were placed on the paper’s “subscription list” and delivered issues, which is how the Weber’s came into possession of this and probably scores of others at one time.
I thought it might be fun to utilize this key to the past and see what it opens by taking a closer look at the sponsors of “The Viking News, May 1953” (absolutely none of which still exist today). The plan was to take a quick and easy walking tour of their listed addresses to see what’s there now, but I hit a snafu almost immediately making this more difficult than I was expecting.
In the 1950’s, a great many streets in Peoria were re-named, reshuffled and renumbered, particularly on Prospect where many of them were located. With a little bit of detective work I was able to figure out many of them, but ran into some contradictions and inconsistencies, so in some cases you’re getting an approximation of where they were.
I think I have enough solid information to get this show on the road, so let’s finally start our journey into bygone days when phone numbers had only five digits, first by treading on some familiar territory…
WEBERS FOOD MART-GROCERIES-MEATS-MAGAZINES-SCHOOL SUPPLIES. AT THE CORNER OF FORREST HILL AND WISCONSIN. PHONE 5-0380.
Now of course, this corner is occupied by Demanes Animal Hospital.
FORREST HILL CLEANERS-804 E FORREST HILL-NEW PHONE-2-6681-ONE OF PEORIA’S MOST MODERN AND COMPLETELY EQUIPPED DRY CLEANING PLANTS. WE AIM TO PLEASE-YOUR BUSINESS IS WELCOMED AND APPRECIATED AT YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD SERVICE.
Forrest Hill Cleaners had the back page of the Viking Press to itself. These days, I see activity in this space but still don’t know what this is in the process of becoming…
GRAHAM’S STANDARD SERVICE-OIL-GAS-LUBRICATION-WASHING-ACCESSORIES-MINOR REPAIRS-SEE H.M. GRAHAM-OWNER, MANAGER. 802 E FORREST HILL WE GIVE S&H GREEN STAMPS PHONE 59992.
When I last stopped here, it had housed the recently closed Cookie Shack, but now we get this place, for all your lotto, tobacco, and-whatever else, I guess. But I doubt they give S&H Green Stamps.
AL KAISER BARBER SHOP-PHONE 5-1431-1736 KNOXVILLE-SIX CHAIRS-QUICK SERVICE
FIRKINS VARIETY STORE-1738 KNOXVILLE AVE-PHONE 5-3821-PEORIA, ILL-FRIENDLY SERVICE-SHOP AT FIRKINS
Get this—I never realized it before, but there is NO 1700 block on Knoxvillle at all anymore—the numbers end in the 1600’s and immediately jump to the 1800’s, right at Long John Silver’s. Therefore, since Firkins and Al Kaiser’s existed before my time, I assume they were here somewhere, before this block was leveled and the shopping center built.
PENCE STANDARD SERVICE-LUBRICATION-WASHING-PROSPECT & SCIOTA-PHONE 5-9988-ACCESSORIES-TIRES-BATTERIES-ROAD-SERVICE
Filling a full page ad was this service station at Prospect and Sciota—easy enough to find and figure out...now known as Heights Auto Sales and Service.
ROECKER PAINT STUDIO-1901 PROSPECT ROAD-PHONE 2-0802
Roecker’s, of all the places on Prospect in this tour, is the one I really remember being in this spot which was a valuable jumping off point for me in figuring many of these addresses out. It is now an antique shop.
SCOOT-N-SCAMPER SHOE STORE-1833 PROSPECT ROAD PH 5-5559 OPEN EVERY NITE TILL 9
I recall at some point this “Prospect Place” strip mall getting a bit of a makeover—many years prior to all of that though, you could scoot-n-scamper your way here for shoes.
LYNDS PHILLIP 66 SERVICE STATION- S&H GREEN STAMPS-1815 PROSPECT RD. PHONE 5-9931-LUBRICATION-CAR WASHING
Another easy one to figure out-the design is a dead giveaway. How about those S & H Green stamps again, huh? Now home to Keith Cotton Photography, which I believe Marty has visited before.
BUY GOOD THINGS TO EAT-PROSPECT BAKERY- PHONE 25722-address 1809 N PROSPECT RD.
One of these little shops was once the home of a place where you could “buy good things to eat”.
PROSPECT ROAD COFFEE SHOP-1703 PROSPECT RD.-NEW PHONE 22219-FAMILY STYLE SERVICE-LUNCHES-FOUNTAIN SERVICE-FULL COURSE DINNERS-OPEN SUNDAY!-WE CATER TO BANQUETS AND PARTIES-OPEN 11-11, CLOSED ON MONDAYS
Approximating the location here due to some inconsistencies in research-now home of Rumberger’s Wings (great wings I might add). Funny to me too that Prospect Road Coffee Shop hosted banquets there.
BOGARDS -1615 PROSPECT-PHONE2-8236-MAGAZINES-PRESCRIPTIONS-DRUGS-PHOTO FINISHING-POSTAL SUBSTATION-SCHOOL SUPPLIES
I recall Bogards being located a few blocks further north on Prospect next to Trefzgers, but this address would indicate that its home was also once here, in a spot closer to Forrest Hill.
CHUCK DOWLING MOBILTIRES-MOBILGAS-MOBILOIL-COMPLETE LUBRICATION-MOBILTIRES AND BATTERIES-THE HOME OF FRIENDLY SERVICE-1601 PROSPECT RD. PHONE 2-6231
Growing up, I knew this as “Prospect Car Care”. Several other mechanics and used car dealers have come-and especially gone. Currently vacant.
WS ALLEN CONSTRUCTION CO.-CONTRACTING AND BUILDING-1604 CALIFORNIA-PH. 2-0219
CLEAN FLOOR SERVICE-1100 LONDON AVENUE PHONE 5-7313-OFFICE AND COMMERCIAL-FLOORS OUR SPECIALTY
WALTER J. SMITH COMPANY-PAINTING AND DECORATING-INTERIORS AND EXTERIORS-1703 MARYLAND-PHONE 5-2370
These advertisements were all for businesses with residential addresses—I opted not to photograph them, as presumably someone still lives there and that would be creepy, right?
PALMER & GAA-GROCERIES-VEGETABLES- 3103 WEST GLEN-PHONE 5-2029-A COMPLETE MARKET FOR GOOD THINGS TO EAT.
I surrendered on this one—Glen disappears once you hit the mall area. I could not, for the life of me, find this one-that address does not exist, at least it doesn’t seem to anymore. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller...Bueller...
With no better way to conclude this, I guess that about wraps it up for now. And I’m thinking this might also conclude my writing of the East Bluff, as I’m now just a stranger in a strange neighborhood. Support the businesses that continue to thrive in this area, and make it a good place, okay?
Oscar requested I take this copy of the Viking Press to the Peoria Historical Society after I was done with it, and I’ve done just that. It’ll be placed in the archives I suppose, and preserved for years to come. Too bad you can’t do much else to preserve such a simple wholesome time...
Time to head to my new home.
Today’s post was brought to you by Sugar Wood Fired Bistro. Check them and all the other fine businesses helping to support this blog over at the MBIP Bucket List Page. Your Daily Random Linkage awaits you at the bottom of the that page as well!