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Short Posts of Historic Facts and Events in Illinois




Naperville Art: Streaming History

The five tile panels of “Streaming History” were installed in 2017 along the foundation of the Water Street development. The artist, Debora Duran-Geiger, works out of Sante Fe, New Mexico and has been creating tile murals for over 20 years. Not only are these porcelain pieces frost-free, but they are impervious to water, which was especially useful when the river overflowed this spring.

Each panel depicts a scene recalling our city’s history. They are titled: Winter on the River, Immigration Celebration, Water Street Yesterdays, Harvest Time and Commerce Comes Alive. Accompanying plaques tell a little about each panel and the donors who commissioned them.

The Commerce Comes Alive scene features business activity from Native Americans and early traders through Rubin’s Department Store, sponsored by the Rubin family.

Sam and Anna Rubin moved to Naperville in 1920. Their first business was the Chicago Bargain Store, later called the Home Department Store. The shop was on Main Street which once was Carousel Shoes and is currently Liam Brex cabinetry.

Sam and Anna lived upstairs and their son Alfred was born there in December of 1920. He was joined by siblings Norman, Lucille and Gertrude. As adults, they formed the Rubin Family Partnership, responsible for many business and civic projects in Naperville, including the namesake Alfred Rubin Riverwalk Community Center across Eagle Street from the library.

Also in the Commerce Comes Alive mural is a tile version of a photograph of some “Bridge Sitters,” a legendary part of Naperville’s past. While certainly folks have always sat on bridges, during the 1960s and 1970s, the city was very concerned about the long-haired hippie freaks that hung out on the Washington Street bridge. While many of the teens were just mildly rebellious, there was also some serious drug trouble and downtown shoppers found the crowd intimidating. Then-Officer Pradel didn’t actually mind them congregating on the bridge, he later said, because “at least we knew where they were.”

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Naperville Art: Naperville Loves a Parade

On the west side of Main Street is an alley known as Rubin’s Way where the “Parade of the Century” goes by on one side, watched by Naperville citizens on the other. Some faces in the painted crowd are familiar and some are just average folk, but they all are enjoying the parade. 

“Naperville Loves a Parade” was dedicated, appropriately enough, just after the Last Fling Labor Day Parade in 2014. 

Three artists, along with assistants, worked on this mural for four years. Adela Vystejnova, who created the “Parade of the Century” on the opposite wall as well, originally lived and studied art in the Czech Republic. Diosdado Mondero, who immigrated from the Philippines as a child, also painted the “Pillars of  the Community” mural on Main Street. Marianne Lisson Kuhn was born and raised in Naperville and worked on several Century Walk pieces including “The Way We Were” and “World’s Greatest Artist.”

 Over 300 faces appear in the crowd and many local landmarks and businesses are featured as well. To be included in the mural required a donation ranging from $600 to paint in your face and up to $5,000 to depict your business’s building. About $220,000 was raised through those donations.
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Naperville Art: A City in Transit

On the southwest corner of the Washington Street and Chicago Avenue intersection is a large mural called “A City in Transit.” Celebrating our city’s “evolution of travel.” it was painted in 1998 by Hector Duarte and Mariah de Forest, two prolific Chicago muralists from the Taller Mesitzarte workshop and gallery.

Folks don’t travel on the DuPage River as much as over it, so a couple of bridges are illustrated. There’s also bit of the Old Plank Road which was originally a Native American trail and now is Ogden Avenue/Route 34.

1865 wooden bridge at Washington Street with 1856 stone bridge on Main Street beyond

Because of investments in the Plank Road, Naperville first refused a railroad before  eventually agreeing. In the mural, the Chicago-to-Denver Zephyr is shown waiting at the station.

Many of the buildings sport signs to help identify them. The Pre-Emption House is one and the Naperville Creamery is another.

Walter Fredenhagen started making Frozen Gold ice cream in the 1930s. With partner Earl Prince, he launched Prince Castle ice cream shops, like the one in the mural, which became the Cock Robin ice cream chain. Fredenhagen Park is now where Naperville’s Cock Robin was located, just steps away on Washington Street.

Other signs name the myriad of garages, gas stations and motor companies that used to be downtown, although that may seem strange to us today. At one time, Jimmy’s Grill was one of several gas stations and there were five different car dealers in the middle of town. Clyde Netzley opened his garage in the 1920s and later operated a Chrysler dealership just across the street from this mural where t
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Naperville Art: Volunteers Welcome

Other cities might have a “Welcome to —” sign at the city limits with service club logos. Naperville has a mural on Washington Street at Van Buren Avenue. The title has two meanings: A welcome from the city’s clubs and a declaration that Naperville loves its volunteers.

The piece by Ernest Claycomb and Jennifer Richmond is actually two installations: the originals at ground level and enlargements at the top of the wall. The original paintings were scanned and enhanced with faux architectural elements before being printed on a vinyl banner. “Volunteers Welcome” illustrates seven service clubs with long histories in town.

Paul P. Harris started a service club in 1905 in Chicago with rotating meeting sites. Naperville’s first Rotary club was founded in 1941, followed by Sunrise in 1991, Downtown/4:44 in 2007 and After Dark in 2017. Their Harmony Park was just installed at Rotary Hill.

Another Chicago businessman, Melvin Jones, started the club in 1917. Lion’s focus on vision care dates to a 1925 challenge from Helen Keller. Naperville’s chapter was founded in 1948 and they host the annual Turkey Trot 5K.

Exchange Club
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, their national project is the prevention of child abuse. Naperville’s group started in 1987. Exchange has hosted Ribfest since 1988, but 2019 is their last event at Knoch Park as they look for a new venue.

“JC” stands for the Junior Chamber of Commerce launched in 1920 for young men. Women were included in 1984 and the local chapter opened in 1964. Rick Motta and the Naperville Chamber organized the Last Fling in 1966 and passed it on to the Jaycees in 1981.

Born in 1915, again in Detroit, the local club was founded in 1955. Kiwanis host an annual Pancake Festival, including a showcase of junior high bands and choirs.

Woman’s Club
Started as a literary meeting of local women in 1897, the Woman’s Club provided the first books for Nichols Library. In June, they will host their 60th annual Fine Arts Fair.

Junior Woman’s Club
Nationally, Juniors were created in 1932 to encourage service among younger women and Naperville’s chapter started in 1967. They launched Safety Town programs in 1978 with Officer Friendly George Pradel and facilitated Safety
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Naperville Art - Symbiotic Sojourn

The Promenade Building, where the Naperville Chamber is located, was developed by Dwight and Ruth Yackley of BBM, Inc. in 2003. They also commissioned a bronze relief to be installed in the courtyard: “Symbiotic Sojourn.”

“Symbiotic Sojourn” was created by Jeff Adams, an artist who works out of his own bronze-casting facility, inBronze, which is located in Oregon, Illinois. He started working in a local fine art foundry when he was just fifteen years old, but pursued a degree in civil engineering before returning to sculpture. Adams also created
“Two in a Million,” the bronzes of Walter and Grace Fredenhagen along the Riverwalk and he worked with Dick Locher’s design to cast the Joseph Naper statue on Mill Street.

The idea behind “Symbiotic Sojourn” is that we have a symbiotic relationship with our home planet that needs tending. Two children are found at the feet of the woman who is the Spirit of the Earth. The girl child is trying to hold the pieces of a fracturing Earth together. The boy child is pulling a wagon piled with cans and bottles, a throw-back
image of recycling’s humble beginning.

“Symbiotic Sojourn” was inspired by Barbara Ashley Sielaff, a local recycling activist from the 1970s. Sielaff was a district teacher who also wrote a column for the Naperville Sun called “You Can Save Our Earth.” She established the Naperville Area Recycling Center in 1973 and managed it for several years before moving out of state.

After the Center closed, residents appealed to the city who tapped the League of Women Voters, the Kiwanis and the Naperville Woman’s Club, among others, to fill the void. NARC started as a not-for-profit volunteer-run drop-off center. After a while, one homeowner’s association began collecting recyclables from the entire neighborhood to drop-off at NARC. More neighborhoods followed suit, and eventually, recycling collection became a city-wide program.

In warm weather, dining patrons can sit out in the courtyard and listen to water spilling from the hand of the Spirit of Earth into the pool below. Larger than life, “Symbiotic Sojourn” is beautiful to look at, but Adams, Sielaff and the Yackleys hope diners will also bring the recycling message home.
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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.

Just-for-Authors Website

Author Website

There are so many website options out there today. You can spend $10,000 or build one for free. And it's tough for most folks to figure out how much website they really need. 

Sprocket Websites put together an website package that provides a custom solution for an author's specific needs. We know what's important to successful book marketing so we made it easy to upload book images, summaries, reviews and of course, sales links. There's a calendar and a blog tool as well.

Check out all the details and you'll see why this is the perfect website for author success.

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.