Letters to Mother Burg 2007-current
From: Ginny Rozmiarek
Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2007
Subject: Mother Burg
Dear Mother Burg,
My daughter came upon this site and sent it to me. We only lived there for 12 1/2 years, but they were so memorable. My husband was transferred there in 1963. We had 3 little ones, and by July of the second year there, we had 4 kids under 4. Six years later had another little girl. We remember going to Lake Storey, Lake Bracken for the fireworks, and to celebrate a very special occasion, “Harbor Lights”. The kids remember kiddieland fondly. We made to trips to the St. Louis Zoo, to a ball game in Chicago. In one year, I was chairman of our church’s sodality, where we made and delivered cakes to students at Knox College. We were transferred back to Denver in 1985, but Galesburg will always have a place in our hearts.
And I'm sure I will remember more for a later time.
From: Maggie Landow
Date: Mon, 11 Jun 2007
Subject: Who are you?
I live in Houston but born and raised in Galesburg. I am trying to get back there to live but working conditions make that difficult. Nevertheless, I plan to make it happen. I just took a quick look at the Zephyr and intend to take a serious look when I have some free time. This seems VERY interesting. I look forward to more. Thank you. Margie Landow
From: Gerry Deane
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008
Subject: Such memories
I was born in Galesburg in 1923 so most of the items mentioned by your respondents is old hat. The sounds and smells of the steam engines, the SQUARE square, Steak&Shake, Hall's Candy Shop and all the others. My parents worked at O. T.'s during the war years. When Fred Schubach first came to town he worked with my mother, Elsie Jones, at Stamms men store. I worked a year at Goldsteins Pawn Shop while going to GHS. I graduated in 1942. I attended Lombard Jr. High when it was still in the old college buildings. Remember the huge spreading elm tree? Shamons grocery was located on the corner of So. Chambers and Second St. I lived within sight of the front door. I worked for Mike off and on while going to school and a short time after the war. A Larry Mureen mentioned his father, Howard. He grew up on the 700 block of E. Second and was my best pal til I was eleven and moved away for several years. When I moved back we sorta renewed our relationship. We graduated together. I always worked before and after school so was unable to socialize with my classmates. My neighborhood friends included Howard Shane, Joe Collura and his sisters, Ken & Gerald Engstrom, Paul Davis and Bob Anderson. Someone mentioned Steele gym. It was one of the largest facilities of its kind in the entire state. It had two swimming pools and two gyms with lockers & showers on the main floor and a complete basketball facility on the upper level. I worked at the Rip Yard during the summer of 42. Then came the Army. When I returned in 1946 I stayed in town for a few months and then moved to Colorado. Thanks for the Memories, G. W. Deane
From: Nan Strandberg
Date: Wed, 30 July 2008
Subject: Fond memories
Dear, Sweet Mother Burg
What fond memories I have of you! I was born in Galesburg in 1953 and live there through grade school, junior high, and part of high school. I have the FONDEST memories! There were seven people living in our house (including our parents, of course :o) and all of us refer to it as a house where love grew. My mother, Nadene, ranks right up there with the Saints in her children's eyes--what a WONDERFUL LADY! We lived on Academy Street and attended St. Patrick's Church and St. Joseph's Academy. At that time we were free to roam the neighborhoods without fear of being assaulted, kidnapped, raped, robbed--and roam we did! In Summer we spent our days getting groups of neighbor kids together and playing baseball in the street, swimming at Lake Storey, camping out in our backyard, packing a sack lunch and hiking down the railroad tracks till we found the perfect spot to eat our treats, riding our ponies for hours on end. And remember the Mister Softee Van? Geez, what a favorite! We could hear the theme music for blocks and would run home begging our parents for a dime or a quarter for a cold treat--YUMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!! Summers seemed to go on endlessly without a care in the world. I can't think of a place better spent growing up and spending summers than in Galesburg, Illinois!
Nan Rosenberg Strandberg
Havana, Illinois 62644
From: Rob Andrews
Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2009
Subject: After recently reading... A little history revision...
Dear Mother Burg,
I recently took a couple of days to revisit my hometown over the Christmas holiday. I was not so shocked to see the continued declining state of the community considering the inability of the city to bring new companies into town and to find inventive new ways to entice the youth of the community to stay and take root in Galesburg as opposed to leaving and taking their chances on finding opportunities in other places throughout the country. That said I’d like to point some things out.
I have read a number of the stories and I seen a post or two from people saying what a wonderful place Galesburg was to raise a family and I couldn’t help but to shake my head in disappointment considering the city hasn’t been a great place to raise a family since before the 1980’s when odd little things started to happen around the community. I grew up in the burg in the 70s and 80’ and ran away from that place as quickly as I could in 1986, never to be seen again for more than a few days here and there over the 20+ years to follow.
Here is part of the reason why.
The education system in Galesburg has been a joke for years. A bad joke at that. Teachers that can’t be bothered to care about the students and listen to them was something I got use to after I left middle school. Jim Jacobs was the last great teacher I had. Mr. Jacobs, if you happen to see this and if they even bother to print this, I want to tell you what a great honor it was to be one of your students. I was able to hear about some of the things you had been doing in recent years and honestly I can’t say I was surprised to see you still trying to take up the good fight and work to educate students and new teachers alike. You truly are a great man. I wish you and your family all the best.
I hear Sue Dickenson is still in the school system as well. Hasn’t someone caught on yet that she is probably the worst teacher of all time. Why hasn’t she been fired yet? Sue, I didn’t like you in the 6th or 7th grade and thought you were rude and possibly the most callous teacher I have ever met in my life. You couldn’t be bothered to teach. I mean that would have been real work for you to take an interest in your students and actually listen to them long enough to learn how to teach them in the first place. By all account I hear from several friends of mine that still unfortunately live in that town, you haven’t changed one little bit. Maybe you should just retire. Please?!
You guys lost a great band teacher out at GHS when Sally left and for some odd reason, the pride of the high school band left with her. When Sally was the instructor she worked so very hard to build that program up from literally nothing into what had to be the pride of GHS for a number of years. I remember as a kid watching her walk the streets around the high school with the marching band and watched the students that worked with her take great pride in doing the very best they could at every given moment of the day. I remember listening to the high school band nearly every day in late summer and fall as they prepared for one event after another. What a wonderful person she was and what a truly devoted instructor you guys lost when she left. Why on earth did GHS not take the time to screen someone equally as up to the job as her to replace her?
And now on to the real amusement.
For anyone that attended GHS in the mid 80s let’s not forget the most unforgettable moment in GHS history when Mr. Willy did something completely inappropriate and marched a few students out of the boys locker room and paraded them down the hall after a rather infamous incident had taken place. We won’t go into details to protect what should have been the innocence of three boys at the time. Way to go Mr. Willy! You totally broadcast the wrong message about tolerance and understanding of teachers with regard to student relations by doing the most ignorant thing anyone could do. I am so glad looking back now, that I never bothered to join the high school swim team after you repeatedly had urged me to do so. With a teacher like you around, pride was something to crush. What a guy!
Mr. Eisemann wasn’t much better as far as quality goes. Here is a man that as the Dean of Students had to be the worst listener of anyone I ever have met in my life. He was quick to judge and hand down punishment even when he was wrong and didn’t take the time to listen to the whole story from various students that have had to confront him over the years. Yes, this is the impression we want to leave with our kids in the schools. Adults don’t care about your views and ideas or feelings. You do as your told like mindless automatons and forget all about that having a free will thing that God gave us all.
Seriously, the education system and the faculty involved in Galesburg alone is enough to send me packing if I ever had kids that might have to attend that atrocity some people still claim as a educational facility. While I am sure there are a great group of teachers working harder than ever to attempt to educate student, it only takes a couple of really bad apples to taint the entire system and that’s exactly the case from my point of view from first hand experiences I had to tolerate before I left that city and struck out on my own at the age of sixteen. Yes, what a wonderful place it certainly was to grow up and attempt to be educated before being sent out into the cold and cruel world.
Now on to some other little know facts about why Galesburg isn’t the city some people think it is…
I watched an innocent man be convicted of a crime he didn’t commit in an election year while my testimony was never brought into court nor was I questioned by Ray Kimbell or any of the police investigating the crime at the time it took place. Larry Johnson was never in a position nor had the time to kill Pat Mitchell and his daughter and worse yet is Larry would never harm a child no matter the cost yet the real story and truth never was given a chance to be told. I tried for over 10 years to contact someone that might be able to help and to at least take the time to listen after I was out on my own and old enough to maybe be taken seriously. No such luck.
I remember when I was in 3rd grade at Hitchcock Elementary seeing Larry doing all he could to help with a boy named Scott Sharp who had a wretched temper and some real learning disability issues. Larry had the patience of a saint and was always willing to reach out and help a kid when he could. He spared me at the time from getting involved in drinking and doing drugs and even let me help him during the remodeling of his gun store that he opened. He gave me a place to focus my energy and do something constructive as opposed to running the streets and doing a lot of bad things which I later ended up doing because there was literally nothing left for me to care about once Larry was locked up.
Oddly I was with him the night before, the day of and after, and the evening of and after the murders took place. Now with the tiny window of opportunities he had between Jane and myself being around him most of the time, when do you suppose that he had time for this shooting spree the state said he went on? And why was it that during this whole time, not one time had Larry ever acted any differently than any other day? I mean someone that just committed these very serious crimes surely wouldn’t have been so calm and collected that two people that he was involved with on daily basis wouldn’t have picked up on some abnormal moods and activity? You’re joking right? This was a complete injustice on the part of community. A failure to bring the right parties to justice and total failure by the police and district attorney to question any and all witnesses that might have valuable information to share.
Did Larry do something wrong? Yes! However, he didn’t murder anyone. Dare anyone to dig into that a little bit and start asking some questions. A federal judge pushed for further investigation during one of the appeal processes and I was called at one point (10 years later) and asked if I could / would give a deposition about what I seen and knew. As mysteriously as the call came, I never heard from anyone again and as far as I was told, the case was dropped. Why is it that there was never any follow through on this I wonder? So many questions and so little of the community giving a rip about one of its own being imprisoned for something he just could not have done. Go figure.
I was friends with the Eddie Santamaria and worked with Abe one summer enough to get to know him and what a decent guy he was at heart. I remember David as well and he was always a friendly guy when I was still hanging around with them. I watched what happened after their father murdered their mother. I seen and heard one vicious rumor after another about the boys after the fact and watched from a distance as they all got a bit out of control due to the impact the event had on their lives. Where was our precious community when they needed the whole of the community to step up and help them get through one of the most terrible events I have ever seen take place in my life?
It is truly hard for me to be nice about my dear little hometown. We watched as a prison was built inside the city limits and so close to our schools and residential areas where it should never have been permitted to be built. We watched as OMC closed its doors and then eventually Admirals closed its doors as well. We see now even Burlington Northern is having major issues and the train yard is practically a ghost town.
I mean seriously, after reading all the happy little fond memories of Galesburg people write about, when do we start working on the obituary for the city instead of painting these “Fantasy Island” pictures of what use to be our precious little home?
People like me never stood a chance of making a real career in Galesburg. There was nothing in the way of any thriving technology jobs in the area and what little bit is there is so far behind the rest of the world, by the time you think you’ve caught up, you’re still 5 years behind the rest of the world.
I do have fond memories of my hometown. Fishing out on Lake Storey with my grandfather, watching the movies out at the old Drive In Theater from out on the Fremont Street bridge some nights, the massive snowfalls that we occasionally use to get back in the late 70s and early 80s, Railroad Days, and of course Club 41’s famous onion rings even though it was down the road a ways from Galesburg if you wanted to pick up a plate of that heart-stopping food.
I’m certainly not saying that Galesburg is a terrible place but I think what I am basically trying to say is that given the choice, I could never in my right mind tell someone that raising a family is a great thing to do in Galesburg. There are just as many wrong things about Galesburg as there are any other places in the country and some of those faults continue to grow and become a larger problem in Galesburg each passing day. Why would you bother to raise a family in a community that has no possible way to offer true growth for the young community when you can give them so much more by moving to any major city where by sheer population alone, there are more chances for them to find jobs and career interests and possible schooling local to their family?
So, continue to paint the pretty pictures and pray for the best, however until people start to understand the things that are wrong in the town and start working to fix those problems, good things are never going to happen in big ways and the city will continue its steady decline of population until there is one day nothing really left to hold the community together.
The few good things I have to hold on to from the city are not nearly enough to give me hope that something good will happen in the future. Seems to me that the city has reaped what it sewed and the city it was back when my grandparents were in their prime is now all but a fading memory.
Read the Letters to Mother Burg written in 1998
Read the Letters to Mother Burg written in 1999
Read the Letters to Mother Burg written in 2000
Read the Letters to Mother Burg written in 2001
Read the Letters to Mother Burg written in 2002
Read the Letters to Mother Burg written in 2003
Read the Letters to Mother Burg written in 2004
Read the Letters to Mother Burg written in 2005
Read the Letters to Mother Burg written in 2006