Saturday, May 25, 2019

Happy Memorial Day!

What IS Memorial Day? Is it a time to reflect on our countries sacrifices? A time to honor our noble dead? A time to thank a vet for his or her service? Memorial Day is ALL of these things. 

Originally called Decoration Day it was first observed in Waterloo, NY in 1866. On that day businesses closed, citizens decorated the graves of veterans with flowers and flags. Waterloo was recognized by the federal gov't in 1966 as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

In May of 1868 General John Logan called for a nationwide holiday stating "The 30th of May,1868 is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of  their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land"  On the first Decoration Day James Garfield gave a speech at Arlington Cemetery and 5000 participants decorated the nearly 20,000 graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers interred there.

Originally Memorial Day only honored those lost in the civil war but during WW 1 American casualties were coming home and it was decided that the holiday would honor veterans of all wars. For decades Memorial Day was held on May 30th, the day picked out by General Logan, but in 1968 congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, as a way to give federal employees a three day weekend and set the new date for the last Monday in May.

However you choose to celebrate this holiday, whether you visit a cemetery to lay a wreath, go to a towns parade, or just kick back and have a barbeque remember to thank the veterans, both past and present who paid the Ultimate price so that you can enjoy the freedoms we cherish today.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Warbirds over Illinois

For the last 4 years now the Peru airport has sponsored a TBM Avenger fly in and air show.  One day out of the year vintage WW 2 era fighters, bombers, torpedo planes and more make their way to the Illinois Valley and fans from all over the region come to pay respect to these air classics that are still flying today.

I couldn't make it to the current show this year (Just as well, it started raining shortly after it was scheduled to begin) but here are some memories from past shows for you to peruse and enjoy.  Maybe you'll see a plane your grandfather flew?

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Driving the back roads of Bureau county

It's been a crazy couple of weeks with the weather and my ongoing health issues so I limited myself to grabbing the camera and hitting the country roads closer to home.   I hope you enjoy these few selections that I found in my travels.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

A "Star" is born

While over in Peru visiting the Westclox building I noticed a large display of  Star Union and Star Model memorabilia and thought I'd write up a short article about the former brewery.

Beer has been around for centuries and it's no secret that the earliest successes were from German immigrants who brought brewing secrets with them when they came to America. One such man was Fred Kaiser who started making beer in the Peru area in 1845. By 1868 he had incorporated the business into the Union Beer Co. which he ran until it was bought by Henry Hoerner who renamed it Star Union Beer Co. in 1880. Hoerner ran the company for the next 40 years but when Prohibition came about in the 1920's the company switched over to Root beer to stay in business.

When prohibition was repealed in 1933 they switched back to regular brewing again and the company thrived for another 33 years, growing into one of the largest breweries in Illinois with over 100 full time employees working night and day to satisfy thirsty patrons. In 1963 Star Union was sold to the Canadian Ace brewery in Chicago and continued business for another 3 years before competition and rising costs shut the doors for good on January 9th, 1966. Very little remains of the brewery itself, a few crumbling ruins down near the river front is all there is of the buildings but there's a ton of incidental ephemera left over in the form of coasters, boxes, advertising and more. Here's a few examples.