The service on Saturday was very nice and many people had great things to say about my dad. I was able to pick up a rough, handwritten copy of his last column and did my best to write it word for word. I included “(sp?)” following words that I just couldn’t quite decipher. I was hoping that you might know which places he was talking about or could find out. Unfortunately his handwriting deteriorated near the end.
I also had the chance to browse your website and dad’s “Reflections” archives. I was blown away as to the quantity of columns, but not surprised for his love for Galesburg. Part of my heart will always thank this quaint Midwest town, for it nurtured and inspired a great man.
Thank you for taking the time to remember my dad.
What do I miss about Galesburg?
By William Monson,
Submitted by his son Dave, in memoriam
You can start with restaurants — The American Beauty, the Huddle, the East Main Steak 'n' Shake, the Dairy Queen on Grand at Farnham, the A&W farther out, the Tasty Grill opposite the Orpheum. At least the Coney Island has hung on after the decline of downtown.
I miss Steele Gym and the auditorium in the old high school on South Broad. The fire engines grinding and howling as they left the Central Station. Knox basketball games at the armory. Ted Grothe's shoe store on Main with its magic fluoroscope that let you see your toes wiggle inside your new shoes.
The malted milks at the marble topped soda bar at Hawthorne's Drugs. The canaries at Kresge's dime store. The spring displays of baseball bats and gloves at Weatherbee's. Reading E.C. comics at the old Tobacco Shop. The suppertime rush of passenger trains at the Lincoln Street overpass over the Santa Fe. High School football games at Lombard Field. "The Strand Studio Story Hour" at WGIL in the Hill Arcade. Band concerts in the gazebo at Lincoln Park.
Carnivals at Grand and Farnham and circuses on East Main. Skinny-dipping at the old pumping tower at Lake Rice.
Parades on Main Street — especially Memorial Day when the aging "Sammys" marched stiffly by in the khaki uniforms with wrapped leggings and were followed by an ever-diminishing number of Spanish-American War vets in old automobiles, including the Gale.
Crossing the Fourth Street Bridge on a Sunday drive when the yard below was full of locomotives with one being loaded under the huge coal tipple.
The YMCA pool, where in one glorious epiphany, I lost my fear of the water and became a swimmer.
Warm summer evenings on my grandparents' screened-in porch on Mulberry where the adults talked and we kids watched for "falling stars," and all of us ate dishes of Meadow Gold ice cream.
The old Carnegie library with its marble floors and steps, the children's library on its first story, the bound collection of old Life magazines across the hall, the spacious reading room on the second floor, and the mysterious stacks beyond. It was the launching pad of my imagination — a place to go after school and Saturdays to seek out other lands, other dreams, other potential personalities.
But what I miss terribly are the elms — the trees which arched over major streets and the way to Knox. They towered over our house, too — limbs crashing down in winter ice storms, swaying wildly in summer squalls, always a threat to draw lightning, yet home for robins, cardinals and squirrels. Lombard had the widest spreading elm right on its campus. I drew cartoons and wrote my first news stories for the junior high's Elm Newsette. They were Galesburg's pride — its mark of distinction — and when the Dutch Elm disease destroyed them in the 60's, an important part of Galesburg disappeared forever. Now, they live like the other things above only in my fading memories.