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Saturday, January 16, 2021

Kate's Brief History

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Naperville 1920 Flashback: Special Christmas Presents

Kate Gingold Host 0 26 Article rating: No rating


While the 1920s started cautiously, with the country still recovering from the war and the Spanish flu, the decade would go on to enjoy unprecedented prosperity and technological wonders before onset of the Great Depression. 

Christmas gifts increasingly included big-ticket items for the home. Kitchens had been evolving with the addition of plumbing and electricity. For years, the kitchen area was mainly a table and some open shelves because wet and messy prep work was done in the scullery or outside while food was stored in a cool larder or cellar. A popular gift in the 1920s was a free-standing cabinet that stored the most often used food prep items and was equipped with flour and sugar dispensers.


Beidelman’s furniture store offered these for sale in The Clarion, one of Naperville’s earliest newspapers. Frederick Long opened the store in 1861 who sold it to his nephew Oliver Beidelman. Family continues to run the shop on Washington Street to this day. 

Another in-town furniture store, Friedrich’s, advertised Victrola phonographs for the family, which is also a pricey gift at $99. This shop was on Jefferson in the building where Floyd’s 99 Barbershop currently operates. Charles Friedrich had only recently become the proprietor after having worked for the previous owner, John Kraushar. 


It’s funny to see the “young folks” dancing in the advertisement since dancing was mostly frowned upon in Naperville at the time. A member of Naperville High School class of 1933 recalls that at their senior banquet, “none of us in the class were allowed to dance at the Tea Room. Our town was located in the middle of the Bible Belt, and social dancing was still considered in the ‘near occasion of sin’ category.” 

 

Naperville 1920 Flashback: Staying in Touch by Phone

Kate Gingold Host 0 38 Article rating: No rating


The city’s first telephone lines were installed in the 1880s by the Chicago Telephone Company, which in 1920 changed its name to Illinois Bell to represent its growing domain. When the City Council granted the telephone franchise to Chicago Telephone, they also received a number of telephones “free of charge” for the city’s use. 

Few homes or businesses had a telephone in those early years. Philip Beckman’s harness shop, which was on the corner of Washington Street where Jimmy’s Grill currently does business, was among the first, although the shop could only connect with his home. Pine Craig, or as it is known today, the Martin-Mitchell Mansion, also had a phone early on to assist with the brick and tile business the Martins ran out of their home office. The first public phone was installed in Thomas Saylor’s ice cream parlor.


Most phone service subscribers used party lines. The Chicago Telephone Company started pushing a two-party service by 1920 because “Troubles and annoyances, occasionally found on the four-party line, are eliminated,” but party-line services lingered for many years as it was cheaper. Saving money would soon became even more important, of course, due to the Great Depression which was followed by World War II.

Early wall phones required you to crank the magneto, which is a kind of generator, to power a bell that alerted the switchboard operator so you could ask them to connect you. Once your call was over, you cranked again to ring the bell to let them know they could disconnect you. The first candlestick phones also required the assistance of a switchboard operator, but instead of cranking a magneto, you clicked the receiver hook. Rotary phones were already available in 1920, but were not widely used for a few decades. 


To add new subscribers and explain this new-fangled device, telephone companies ran ads in local newspapers, like the one from The Naperville Clarion reminding people not to be “cross” when they get a busy signal. They also published helpful articles in the phone books on how to best use one’s phone. The first phone books were just a dozen or so pages and everyone had a three-digit phone number – except for a couple of special cases. For instance, Edwards Sanitorium’s phone number was “6.” 

Naperville 1920 Flashback: Built to Be Haunted?

Kate Gingold Host 0 56 Article rating: No rating

In 1920, North-Western College (now North Central) celebrated its 50th anniversary in Naperville and was making plans to build Pfeiffer Hall. The Halloween season seems a good time to talk about how Pfeiffer is the site of many reported hauntings. 

Henry and Gustavus Pfeiffer, who were founders of Pfeiffer Chemical Company, were major donors and named the hall for their mother Barbara. Henry attended North-Western in 1875 and briefly operated a drugstore in Naperville on west Van Buren. In further business dealings, the brothers amassed a very impressive fortune. Henry and his wife, Annie, never had children and were inspired by “The Gospel of Wealth,” an article written by Andrew Carnegie who believed that those blessed with exceptional wealth had a responsibility of philanthropy. 


Carnegie built over 2,000 libraries across the country – in fact, there is one on North Central’s campus – and the Pfeiffers also shared their fortune with schools and churches in many states. In total, North Central College received $475,000 from Henry and Annie and were instrumental in providing the $230,000 it cost to build Barbara Pfeiffer Memorial Hall.

North-Western College was associated with the United Methodist Church and Pfeiffer Hall opened in 1926 as the Chapel-Music building with seating for almost a thousand. The auditorium continues to host speakers, plays and musical performances today, despite its haunted reputation.

Among the many ghosts sightings that have been reported are “Charlie Yellow Boots” and “The Lady in White.” Charlie is thought to be a custodian who worked at Pfeiffer until the 1950s and wore distinctive boots. A psychic supposedly described the spirit’s footwear which was recognized by someone who remembered the janitor. 

The Lady in White has been seen applauding from her seat in the audience during shows. The most popular candidate for who the Lady might be is Miss Anna Pates of Oak Park and there is considerable evidence to support that theory. 


Don Shanower was a professor in the theater department at North Central College from 1955 until 1986 and was also one of the founders of Naperville’s Summer Place Theatre. In the spring of 1966, he directed his students in a brand-new musical based on “The Mutiny on the Bounty.” “Bligh Me” was written by Robert Lewis and John Danyluk and this was a preview of wh
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Using Tech for Book Marketing

Don and Kate Gingold

 

Kate and husband Don have been building websites since 1996 for all sorts of clients, including authors.

As the Internet has evolved, producing books and marketing them has become much more complicated. Whether traditionally-published or self-published, authors today need to know their way around websites, blogging, social media and other online marketing tools.

Kate regularly writes about online marketing for Sprocket Websites and provides tips and techniques for entrepreneurs, small- to medium-business owners and not-for-profit directors. Since being an author today is not really different from being an entrepreneur with a small business, most of those tips are just as useful to authors.

Frequently Kate also writes about tips specific to authors, some of which are available here.

The Sprocket Report

The Sprocket Report is published every other week with Internet marketing tips, tools and techniques. The archive features articles from 2011 up to the present. You are welcome to read how business owners are using technology to market themselves and apply those tips to your author business.


 

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