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Archive of: Historic Photos

Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Eugene Field School Reading Class, October 1949

Eugene Field teacher Kathryn Carnahan leads a crowded classroom of 40 first graders in this October 1949 scene. Opened in 1936, Eugene Field in Normal closed as an elementary school in 2005, and today the 81-year-old building serves as the Vocational Training Center for McLean County Unit District No. 5.

Who’s a Eugene Field alum or had children that attended this neighborhood school?

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

The Great Levant, February 1950 Pianist performs in Bloomington

Oscar Levant (right), the famed American pianist, composer, and actor, performed with the Bloomington-Normal Symphony on two consecutive nights, February 23 and 24, 1950, at the Scottish Rite Temple (now the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts).

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Route 66 Hit-and-Run Towanda, May 1948

In the early morning hours of May 19, 1948, a hit-and-run truck driver knocked down two gasoline pumps at D.E. Henderson’s service station in Towanda. Fortunately no one was hurt.

Who remembers when gas pumps looked like this?

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Normal Fire Department New pumper, May 1968

Fire Inspector Charles Smalley (left) and Fire Chief Victor “Spud” Sylvester, Jr. take a close look at the controls of Normal’s new 1,000-gallon-per-minute pumper truck. It cost $23,000 at the time, which would be more than $162,000 in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Free range … no more! City Hall booking, March 30, 1958

Bloomington Police officer Robert Shepherd (left) books a startled hen on accessory charges. That’s officer John Hauptman keeping the prisoner from flying the coop. She was picked up when officers arrested a man they found trying to stuff her in a paper bag.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Corn farming in McLean County … 800 years ago!

Area farmer Nuel Downs, a lifelong collector of Native American relics, is shown here in mid-July 1972 assisting with an archeological dig at the Noble-Wieting site north of Heyworth.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Eureka Williams aerial June 1966

This summer 1966 view of the near southeast side of Bloomington, looking east, offers a wealth of information. “A” is Oakaland School; “B,” Holiday Club, a private park that the city purchased in 1970; “C,” Meadows subdision; “D,” Lakeside County Club; and “E,” Eureka Williams Co.

What else can you see? Who remembers the water tower north of Holiday Club?

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Saybrook’s last Civil War widow Emma Cook, May 1938

Seen here is 85-year-old Emma Cook, on the porch of her Saybrook home, looking at a portrait of her late husband Riley Cook, a veteran who died in July 1918. Mrs. Cook was the village’s last Civil War widow. She passed away on August 5, 1941.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

National Air Mail Week May 1938

Art Carnahan (left), manager of the Bloomington Municipal Airport (now Central Illinois Regional Airport), greets Harold Medbery, a pilot from the Tazewell County community of Armington. Medbery brought in nine pouches of airmail from towns southwest and west of Bloomington. That mail was then loaded onto a waiting Chicago & Southern airliner.

This May 1938 demonstration was staged for National Airmail Week.

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Written by Bill Kemp in Historic Photos

Easter Lily Sales March 1958

Here’s a group of Y-Teens from the Bloomington YWCA, March 29, 1958, selling Easter lilies in the State Farm Insurance Co. headquarters downtown. The girls are not identified, but that’s Gladys Martin (left) and Betty Moore in the back.


The girls were raising money for the local chapter of the National Society for Crippled Children and Adults.

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