Strolling up the avenue
By Ann Reichmann
Yes, there we were, in the early fall of 1947, arriving in a place called Carlinville, smack dab in the center of Illinois. We were “dressed to the nines,” and ready to take on the world. From the minute we stepped off the train, things seemed really different than we had ever known. “Hey!” hollered one of our fresh-faced males, “Look at this! I never saw a street made out of bricks before!” We were astounded. Cement? Yes. Bricks? No.
The train pulled away and slowly we edged towards the line of trucks and the few cars that were waiting on the blacktop road to take us to Blackburn. We looked up and saw the street in front of us, the street that would take us to the center of town, was named West Main. We would become very fond of that street in the months ahead. For the sake of memories and considering the time span covered by your stay in this town of Carlinville, see if you recognize any of the cross streets and the businesses along West Main in 1947. Many businesses had been there for decades. Let’s start by standing with our backs to the railroad tracks, facing the town and strolling by the stores and buildings on the left side of West Main. We’ll cover the years that would have enveloped three, maybe four generations of Carlinville residents and Blackburn students. How many you want to admit you remember is entirely up to you! Anything more that you learn just increases your history knowledge.
Facing the town, let’s start on the left side of Main Street with the Maroses Tavern; then the “SPOT” Cafe’ (best chicken in town at the time), built by Dominic Severino and run by Tom Bergen, then Boente Service Station 31, Martin Welte’s Blacksmith Shop and Wilson Brothers Dodge Dealer. Next we crossed Locust Street, and passed three houses, including Johnny Mack’s, the Mueller Garage and C.D. Marshal’s Chevrolet building. Then we crossed Oak Street and passed Bates Oldsmobile, the C.R. Murphy Lumberyard. Next we crossed South Plum Street, the Marvel Theater, Ford Tractor business and the New Holland Dealership, Konneker Brown Farm Equipment, Heinz Furniture, George Bone’s Barber Shop and the Peter Pugnasus Tavern.
We then crossed Southwest Street and its tracks for the Illinois Terminal trains, the Busy Bee Restaurant and Bakery (that was great food), Schupman Grocery, Woods radio-TV Repair, Brianza’s Clothing (for men) and finally we reached the F & M Bank…and then we were on the Square! That was a long walk!
Going back to the blacktop and coming up the other side of West Main allowed us to pass more history: Boente’s Service Station #2, Dohm Auto Parts, Riley Mack’s Ford Dealership, Beasley Welding Shop and Bud Hemphill’s Phillips 66 Station (later owned by Lloyd Shade).
Then we crossed Locust Street, passed a cleaners, Doc Schaefer’s Candy and Tobacco Shop, two houses, Marchiando’s Tavern (later called Hollywood and Vine), crossed Plum Street and found Abe Leritz-Dodge Dealer, the County Welfare Office run by Roy Boyer, the Al Heinz-Ace Briegel Hotel and Bar, Norman Paul’s Bowling Alley, Walter Weise Hardware and Metzler Brothers John Deere Dealership.
Finally, we crossed Southwest Street and ITS Railroad tracks, Astroth’s Grocery, the police station and city hall, Bowyer’s Bike Store, Carlinville National Bank…and then we were on the Square! How many of those buildings do you remember?
Hey! The living wasn’t/isn’t always easy, but, believe me, we havn’t even begun to remember all those streets and buildings that have served Carlinville for so many years! We could live in this town and certainly survive without going anywhere else. We haven’t even mentioned the Square as yet or the hospital, our schools, our churches, the Municipal Band and charitable groups of all kinds. In general, the wonderful people who made up Carlinville long ago and those who continue the effort to make a peaceful, caring and knowledgeable community today are the backbone of the community. That includes our doctors and nurses, teachers and citizens of every age, skill and ability. And, we don’t always remember the advantages that Blackburn College brings to us in the way of educational and cultural opportunities. We can have, and hopefully will continue to have, a tight handshake with Blackburn. We don’t always agree on every issue, but basically we live in peace and friendliness and care about our neighbors, families, friends and acquaintances! Those concerns require effort and willingness to make the town better.
I’m really glad I came!