A relic of Pekin’s railroad past

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Now that we’ve completed our series reprinting F. F. McNaughton’s daily dispatches relating the Pekin Kiwanis Club’s weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., in June 1932, it’s an ideal occasion to turn our attention to the mode of transportation by which the Kiwanians got from Pekin to Washington.

The Kiwanis Club members and their families back then were carried to and from the nation’s capital by passenger train. McNaughton mentioned in his editorial columns that they took “the Alton” to Chicago, and then “the B & O” to Washington. “The Alton” was the Chicago & Alton Railroad, while “the B & O” – a name that Monopoly-players will recognize – was the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. In the days before the construction of the interstate highway system, rail was Americans’ preferred method of long-distance cross country travel.

Shown here is an old train schedule for the Chicago & Alton Railroad for Dec. 2, 1923.  The Alton depot in Pekin was located near the intersection of Broadway and 14th streets. A few years ago the depot -- no longer in use after since the rails were pulled up -- was relocated about a quarter-mile further east on Broadway. IMAGE COURTESY OF BOB CARROLL

Shown here is an old train schedule for the Chicago & Alton Railroad for Dec. 2, 1923. The Alton depot in Pekin was located near the intersection of Broadway and 14th streets. A few years ago the depot — no longer in use after since the rails were pulled up — was relocated about a quarter-mile further east on Broadway. IMAGE COURTESY OF BOB CARROLL

Shown here are the old routes of the Chicago & Alton Railroad in December 1923.  IMAGE COURTESY OF BOB CARROLL

Shown here are the old routes of the Chicago & Alton Railroad in December 1923. IMAGE COURTESY OF BOB CARROLL

The Alton Depot in Pekin was often known in town simply as “the Pekin Depot.” It was located near the intersection of Broadway and 14th. Even years after passenger rail travel ended in Pekin and the old tracks were pulled up, the Alton Depot still stood in its place as a reminder of days gone by. When the historic structure was threatened by the construction of a new Walgreens, the depot was preserved for future generations by being relocated about a quarter-mile east on Broadway.

Shown here is the old Pekin depot of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. Photo donated Jan. 2017 by Bob Carroll.

Shown here is the old Pekin depot of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. Photo donated Jan. 2017 by Bob Carroll

The old Alton Depot is historic not only because it served so many travelers leaving from or coming to Pekin over the years (such as the Pekin Kiwanians who toured Washington, D.C., in 1932), but in particular because it was the scene of Pekin’s first presidential campaign whistle stop on Nov. 4, 1932. On that date, President Herbert Hoover, racing at a feverish pace across the country in a valiant but ultimately vain attempt to secure reelection, made a disappointingly quick stop at the Alton Depot. His train was running late that day, so he barely had time to say, “Ladies and gentlemen,” before the train pulled away, making it necessary for several Pekinites to race down the track in order to try to give bouquets of flowers to the First Lady.

for the last few weeks, President Hoover’s whistle stop has been featured in a display in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room, along with articles and mementos on President Abraham Lincoln’s Pekin connections and the Pekin visits of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and Vice President George H. W. Bush. The display will be exhibited through the end of this month.

President Herbert Hoover's campaign whistle stop at the Alton depot in Pekin in 1932 has been featured in a exhibit on Pekin's "presidential" connections that has been on display in the Pekin Public Library's Local History Room this month.

President Herbert Hoover’s campaign whistle stop at the Alton depot in Pekin in 1932 has been featured in a exhibit on Pekin’s “presidential” connections that has been on display in the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room this month.

#alton-depot, #b-o-railroad, #chicago-alton-railroad, #f-f-mcnaughton, #herbert-hoover, #kiwanis-trip-to-washington, #pekin-kiwanis-club

Kiwanis trip to D.C.: ‘Here we are, home again’

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton used his daily “Editor’s Letter” newspaper column to chronicle the weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., that the Pekin Kiwanis Club and a party of Peoria teachers took in June 1932. The sixth and last of his daily log entries, written in Pekin after their return, was printed on the front page of the June 18 issue.

McNaughton’s trip log entries which we’ve reviewed over the past few weeks can help bring to life what life was like in America during the 1930s, when passenger travel by train was common. In the case of McNaughton’s final log, however, a couple passages in which he makes racially-charged if not racist remarks about African-Americans living in Washington, D.C., also help to remind us of the great changes and progress in attitudes regarding race since those days.

This final log entry here follows:

*****

YOO-HOO!

Well, here we are, home again. Two autoloads of friends met the boys and me at Bloomington, the grandparents from Texas having arrived while we were away. They had the best linen out at home and a three-course dinner waiting so the comedown from those dining car meals would not be too great, but at that we missed the finger bowls! However, we didn’t miss a swim in the greatest little pool this side of that one at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.

And did we need that swim, after two days and a night on a train, taking the dust and cinders as they came. I could lean over and shake my head and hear the cinders fall.

If you insist on the truth, I slept better on those improvised beds Thursday night than I did last night at home in my own bed. Why? Because of that gale. Wasn’t that some blow at 12:20 last night?

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton in 1979. PHOTO FROM LOCAL HISTORY ROOM COLLECTION

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton in 1979. PHOTO FROM LOCAL HISTORY ROOM COLLECTION

Speaking of blows, we had one plan blow up. Our special was making such a good time westward bound that at Garrett, Ind., we got the consent of the dispatcher to roll right into the Grand Central station at Chicago 15 minutes early. We were to leave Chicago at 3 o’clock from the Union Depot, hooked onto the rear of the Lincoln Limited.

So we decided to parade up State street in Chicago during the 1 ¾ hours we had to wait. We found a piece of carboard (sic), and with a red lipstick and some blue ink we made a red, white, and blue banner. Art Kriegsman had furnished us a clan call the first night out – a loud, long drawn out “Yoo-Hoo,” pronounced, “You-Who.” Wherever a Tazewellite saw another in Washington, even if it was clean across the Capitol grounds, he would shout “Yoo-Hoo,” and the “Yoo-Hoos” that came from the hotel windows at 2 a. m. made the nights merry. So for the Chicago parade, we arranged that if anybody got lost, he was to start shouting “Yoo-Hoo” at the top of his lungs, which was to be the signal for all the rest of the Yoo-Hoos to rush to his rescue.

The minute we reached Chicago, we swung from the coaches to start our parade, when trainmen ran to halt us, telling us that instead of trailing us home on the Lincoln Limited, they were sending us along in a few minutes as a special. So Chicago missed a bigger parade than they had all during the G. O. P. convention – not to mention the “Yoo-Hoos” they missed.

Speaking of Art Kriegsman, there were 184 on the train besides Art and they are all for Art. He made the beds for the ladies, he carried drinks to the aged, he Yoo-Hooed for the weak lunged, and he made fun for everybody.

The most hilarious moment of the trip came at 3 o’clock yesterday morning. Art, sitting two seats away, saw Mrs. Arends rousing from a troubled sleep. Quickly Art put on some ugly spectacles and slipped into his mouth some hideous protruding teeth. Mrs. Arends, half awake, saw Art and thought she was having a nightmare. Shaking herself, she looked again and thought it was somebody whose false teeth were falling out; or maybe a fiend had gotten onto the train. At this moment, Art drew a cup of water and started toward Mrs. Arends with it.

“I don’t want anything. I don’t want ANYTHING! I DON’T WANT ANYTHING!” Mrs. Arends screamed till everybody in the car were sitting up, sharing her terror. Whereupon Art took his teeth out, emitted a loud “Yoo-Hoo” and moved on to the next car. There he found the crowd was trying to locate a dying calf which was bawling piteously. It turned out to be a hidden device that Bill Janssen had found in an oddity shop in Washington. You must hear that calf bawl; and if you’ll drop a penny in the tin cup, Art will Yoo-Hoo for you.

The crowd insisted on signing a Round Robin to be presented to the Kiwanis club, thanking them for the trip and expressing their amazement that so much could be given for $36. Really, everybody seemed to feel that they got their money’s worth.

At the end of this column, is a vote that I took on the homeward train of the things that folks liked best on the trip. Frances Towle followed me up with a vote on what folks were most disappointed in.

You will notice that the White House was an easy winner in the disappointment vote. This was, I think, because the President did not shake hands with us. They have had to tighten down on many things in Washington the last week because of the thousands of bonus marchers in the city. They were everywhere – hundreds upon hundreds of them. We even had to get a special permit thru Mr. Hull’s office to get into the bureau of engraving. So Mr. Hoover is not shaking hands just now. In fact, he and Mrs. Hoover were listening over the radio to his renomination at Chicago while we were wandering thru the famous east room, green, blue and red rooms, etc.

From the number of things that somebody gave first place, you will realize how different are human interests. Evidently the boys and I missed the second most interesting thing on the trip – the Annapolis Naval Academy. I wanted, too, to see the Cathedral where Wilson is buried. Of one thing I am glad – that is that Attorney Prettyman decided to extend the trip the extra day. The crowd wants the Kiwanis club to get up another such trip.

Here’s the vote on what the folk liked best:

Mt. Vernon … 43
Naval Academy … 36
Lincoln Memorial … 19
Capitol building … 12
Congress in action … 10
New museum … 6
Washington’s monument … 5
Bureau of engraving … 1
Old museum … 3
Pan-American building … 2
Congressional library … 2
White House … 2
Robert E. Lee’s home … 3
Arlington cemetery … 4
Flag parade … 1
Art gallery … 2
Allegheny mountains … 1
Eats … 1
Cathedral … 1
Zoo … 1
Monastery … 1
Ford theater … 1
Associations on train … 1

Quite a few could not make up their minds, and some of them (women) wanted to change their minds after they had first voted. They would!

Now here is Miss Towle’s list of disappointments:

White House … 42
Hotel … 15
Not seeing President … 6
Beds on train … 6
Pan-American building … 5
Ford theater … 5
Congressional library … 4
Bureau of engraving … 3
Harper’s Ferry … 3
Ladies’ clothes (museum) … 1
Pittsburgh … 1
Lighting on train … 1
Shopping district … 1
Too many Negroes … 1
Foreign legations … 1
Location of hotel … 1
G. A. R. building … 1
Red Cross building … 1
Not seeing cherry trees … 1
Train sickness … 1
Poor Annapolis guide … 1
Narrow streets … 1
Mountains … 1
Switching at Chicago … 1
Mt. Vernon … 1
Not seeing Old Ironsides … 1
Monument … 1
Free afternoon … 1
Not seeing mint … 1

It might be explained that there is no mint in Washington; and that Ironsides could be seen from the top of the Washington monument. Concerning the Negroes, I really wonder if they are going to take Washington over. It is a shame they ever started Washington so far to one edge of the nation. It ought to be out closer to the common run of folk. But it looks like it is there to stay. They are building constantly – are building now. There is vastly more to see now than there was 10 years ago. There will be more 10 years later; and if the Kiwanis club decides to put on another tour to Washington 10 years from now, I believe every person who was on this trip will advise you to take it in. Certainly I do.

#art-kriegsman, #f-f-mcnaughton, #frances-towle, #herbert-hoover, #kiwanis-trip-to-washington, #mrs-arends, #pekin-kiwanis-club, #racism

Kiwanis trip to D.C.: ‘Full of interesting scenery’

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton used his daily “Editor’s Letter” newspaper column to chronicle the weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., that the Pekin Kiwanis Club and a party of Peoria teachers took in June 1932. The fifth of his daily log entries, a letter written from Washington, D.C., was printed on the front page of the June 17 issue. This log entry follows below:

*****

Washington, D.C.
Wednesday night

Say, we’re so full of interesting scenery we’re dizzy tonight.

In five big busses in a caravan today we’ve been doing the countryside.

Couldn’t get in the house this a. m. – such a crowd of bonus men here.

But we went over to the senate with the bonus army overflow and heard a red hot catch-as-catch can debate between the eloquent young Hoosier, Senator Robinson, and unruffled Senator Reed of Pennsylvania on a veterans’ bill.

One of my boys whispered to ask me if they ever got into a fist fight.

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton in 1979. PHOTO FROM LOCAL HISTORY ROOM COLLECTION

Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton in 1979. PHOTO FROM LOCAL HISTORY ROOM COLLECTION

At the museum we saw a locomotive over 10 years old and the very first autos, built 30 years ago; also stage coaches, early rail boats, and the like.

Oh, I must not forget the main thing in the old museum – Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis. The boys looked long at that.

Then to the new museum to see Roosevelt’s animals. But we didn’t stay long there, because it does not compare with Field’s museum in Chicago.

This entire afternoon we’ve been traveling. Stopped at General Robert E. Lee’s home; Arlington cemetery; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Alexandria, the gorgeous Lincoln Memorial and Mt. Vernon.

I’ve just asked the boys what they enjoyed the most today. Two of them pick Washington’s home. The other picks the debate in the senate.

Tomorrow we’ll climb the Washington monument. That’s where our binocs will come in best.

A busy forenoon tomorrow ends with a visit at the White House.

We know President Hoover is home because his flag was flying when we came by a bit ago.

Speaking of flying flags, we certainly saw them last night. Two hours of them as that flag day parade marched by with floats, Indians, drum corps, cowboys, crack bands, stage coaches, pretty girls as statues, Negro bands that sure made music, and hundreds of bonus marchers.

I wish we had time to run out to the ocean for a swim tomorrow, but I don’t see how we can figure it in.

P.S. – Tell Harry Herbig to save us a good swim in the pool. We’ll need it when we get home. Also tell Ceil if she’s not too busy to drift over to Bloomington to meet us at 5:40 Friday night.

#f-f-mcnaughton, #harry-herbig, #herbert-hoover, #kiwanis-trip-to-washington, #pekin-kiwanis-club

Presidents in Pekin on display

The Local History Room at the Pekin Public Library currently features a display of articles and mementos pertaining to the Pekin connections of U.S. Presidents. As is well known here in Pekin, prior to his election as President, Abraham Lincoln frequently visited Pekin and Tremont while working as an attorney in central Illinois from the 1830s to the 1850s. Much later, President Herbert Hoover made a quick whistle stop in Pekin during his re-election campaign on Nov. 4, 1932. President Dwight D. Eisenhower also made a campaign whistle stop in Pekin on Oct. 2, 1952. Then in June 1973, President Richard Nixon came to Pekin to dedicate the Dirksen Congressional Center here at the Pekin Public Library. Two years later, in August 1975, President Gerald Ford returned to dedicate the new library building. Pekin was next visited by Vice President George H. W. Bush in Sept. 1988 during his successful election campaign that year. During his U.S. senatorial campaign in 2004, Barack Obama made a campaign stop in Pekin, and later, during his 2005-2008 term in the U.S. Senate, President Obama visited the Aventine Renewal Energy plant in Pekin on March 14, 2005, also meeting constituents at the Pekin Public Library as senator. He later visited East Peoria as president (but not Pekin). Similarly, John F. Kennedy campaigned in East Peoria before his election, and George W. Bush visited East Peoria as president, but neither of them visited Pekin. (President Theodore Roosevelt also once went hunting in the Spring Lake area of Tazewell County.)

The Local History Room display, which will be exhibited through Lincoln’s Birthday next month, includes mementos of Lincoln, Hoover, Nixon, Ford, and Bush.

presidentsinpekin-nixon

presidentsinpekin-lincoln-hoover

presidentsinpekin-ford-bush

presidentsinpekin

Photographs by Emily Lambe, library staff

#abraham-lincoln, #barack-obama, #dwight-eisenhower, #george-h-w-bush, #gerald-ford, #herbert-hoover, #presidents-in-pekin, #richard-nixon, #theodore-roosevelt

Pekin’s Kiwanis Club rides the rails to D.C.

By Jared Olar
Library assistant

Recently the Pekin Public Library’s Local History Room collection received an old photograph donated by the Morton Public Library.

The photo, taken June 15, 1932, pictures a large group of people on the steps of a building — in fact, the U.S. Capitol building. At the bottom of the image is a caption that was inscribed on the negative, describing the occasion as a tour of Washington, D.C., by the Kiwanis Club of Pekin and a party of Peoria teachers, who had traveled to the nation’s capital via the Baltimore and Ohio and Alton Railroads. Herbert Hoover was then the president of the United States and was seeking re-election, and the Great Depression was then in its third year.

The Pekin Kiwanis will mark their 96th anniversary this spring. Information about the Pekin Kiwanis Club that is on file in the Local History Room tells us that the Kiwanis Club was founded as a social club for tradesmen and merchant in Detroit, Mich., the first club being chartered in Detroit on Jan. 21, 1915, only two years before the U.S. entered World War I.

Pekin’s club was organized only five years later, on May 24, 1920, and its first president was Pekin attorney and Tazewell County judge Jesse Black Jr. At the time of the Kiwanis Club trip to Washington in 1932, the Pekin club president was Oscar Van Boening.

Two years prior to that, the club president was Pekin Daily Times owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton – and McNaughton himself went along on the D.C. trip, chronicling the experience day-by-day in his “Editor’s Letter” column on the Daily Times front page that week. In one of those columns, McNaughton appends a list of all of the Kiwanis Club members and the club members’ families who went on the trip. His tally may help to identify people in the group photo.

Keep your eye on this column space. Over the next few weeks, this column will reprint F. F. McNaughton’s daily log of the Washington, D.C., trip.

The group photograph, a recent donation from Morton's to Pekin's public library, shows the members of the Pekin Kiwanis Club and the Peoria teachers party who toured Washington, D.C., in June 1932. The trip was chronicled day-by-day on the front page of the Pekin Daily Times by the newspaper's owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton.

The group photograph, a recent donation from Morton’s to Pekin’s public library, shows the members of the Pekin Kiwanis Club and the Peoria teachers party who toured Washington, D.C., in June 1932. The trip was chronicled day-by-day on the front page of the Pekin Daily Times by the newspaper’s owner and publisher F. F. McNaughton.

#f-f-mcnaughton, #herbert-hoover, #jesse-black, #kiwanis-trip-to-washington, #oscar-van-boening, #pekin-kiwanis-club