Readers Write Back
by Terry Hogan
It's really gratifying when a reader writes back and lets me know that something I wrote struck a familiar note. Something brought back a memory. Recently, I've had two such events. It's nice. I hope you enjoy these at least half as much as I do.
Lucky Boy Bakery
Martha emailed to tell me that her father had worked for Lucky Boy. Martha wrote: I have the lucky penny charm. My dad gave it to me when I was young. I have a picture of the Lucky Boy Bakery truck only its me in the picture. I was about 10 years old. My dad's name is Coleman Applebey. He went to work at the bakery when he was 16 years old and worked there for 40 years.
The reference to the "penny charm" was to a lucky penny key chain that Lucky Boy put out in at least a couple of versions. Her reference was to two photos of Lucky Boy trucks that were published with the Lucky Boy article. One old photo showed my father standing by his Lucky Boy delivery truck. The second photo was of my father and my uncle, standing by the Lucky Boy delivery truck, in their Lucky Boy uniforms. Martha had her own version. And I really like the photo she sent me.
Perhaps I am reading too much into the photo, but I think it is a classic. It is a neat old Lucky Boy 1940s truck with a young girl standing, posed, for the photo. She wore a light-colored dress, white socks, and what looks to be new shoes. She was all "dolled up" to stand by her father's Lucky Boy truck. Perhaps she was dressed up for another reason. Martha didn't say. But I like my version. It was clearly a posed photo, as photos generally were for the period. You moved too much and you blurred back then. It was almost the classic summary of the day. There were two important things - your work and your family.
The "movers and shakers" may have influenced Galesburg to be what it is today, by making major events occur. But it was a lot of mothers and fathers, hardworking, day in and day out, carving out a living to support their sons and daughters that kept Galesburg going day to day. They toiled long hours so that their daughters could put on a pretty little dress, white socks, and new shoes to have a photo taken next to Dad's truck.
Almost as an afterthought, I asked my mother if she remember Martha's father from Lucky Boy. Yes, she remembered Martha's parents and recalled that he was called "Colely" and her mother was called "Toots". My mother also mentioned that Toots and she were good friends, but the friendship had ended all too soon. "Toots" died young, of cancer.
History of Lake Bracken
About the same time, I got a hand-written note forwarded to me by Norm, the editor. The note was written by Robert Rush. He wrote that his father, Otis Rush, was the second caretaker at Lake Bracken. They moved to Lake Bracken to start the job the day before the big rain that quickly began to fill the newly created lake. He recalls that the storm occurred on the night of September 1, 1926*. He had me hooked. I had to talk with him and learn more.
I called up Mr. Rush. He hung up on me. I guess I sounded too much like a phone solicitor. I called him again and got enough out to keep him from hanging up on me again. Mr. Rush was about 11 or 12 years old, he said, when the family moved to Lake Bracken. They moved into the caretaker's house that is located near the current Lake Bracken swimming pool. (For people of my age, the house was known as the club manager's house).
On the phone, Mr. Rush said that it rained about 7 inches on September 1, 1926. This not only brought Lake Bracken into sudden existence, but also flooded the Santa Fe depot in Galesburg he recalled. His memory is sharp and clear, but he admits that he does not recall if timber saws and other equipment were caught and covered by the rapidly rising Bracken waters. He does recall seeing teams of mules hitched together to move dirt in the construction of the lake.
I asked Robert where he attended school when he lived at Lake Bracken. He said it was Brush Creek School on the road to Knoxville. This was the same one-room country school house that my two older brothers attended, years later. By the time I attended grade school, it was a school bus stop to pick up a friend. The little school had been converted into a small home. (It still serves that purpose today.)
Robert asked me if I remembered the steps leading to the swinging bridge by the club house. I admitted that I remembered the bridge well, but didn't recall anything in particular about the steps. He went on to say that some of the steps were from cut stones. These were originally from stone curbs in Galesburg, apparently removed for one reason or another during street work.
If my math isn't too rusty, I make Robert out to be about 90 years old. He has a pretty good recall of the early years. I thank him for sharing them with us.
Finally, one of my older brothers, Roger, who now lives in New Hampshire, gave me an updated history of Lake Bracken. There was a "new" old photo in the updated pamphlet**. It was a photo of Lake Bracken in transition- major structures present, but the lake not yet filled. In the foreground, a cow stood in the middle of the creek. The creek looked to be about 30 feet wide and about "knee-deep" to a full grown cow. Off in the distance, looking downstream, one can barely make out the new water intake structure. Unfortunately, the photo doesnt reproduce well.
But now for the mystery. There is no sign of the bridge crossing the creek that I mentioned in the previous article. My best explanation, which may not be right, is that the photographer is standing on the bridge. The photo appears to be taken from a slightly elevated position and over the creek. But it is just a guess.
Thank you for responding to the articles. It makes all the difference. I hope the columns other readers find it interesting and encourage those two or three to write in too.
We all have memories worth preserving and sharing. (And it's reassuring to me to know that somebody reads the column on occasion).
* A published history of Lake Bracken shows Otis Rush as caretaker from 1928-1930 and F.M. Giddings for the 1926-1927 period (See page 24 of cited document, below).
**John W. Carlson. Undated (but probably 1979). A Story of Lake Bracken and the Knox County Country Club. Reprint of history recorded by Earl Thompson (1923-1937); Continued History of Lake Bracken (1937-197). (See page 29 for photo)