With the colleges reopening and the college football season resuming, the University of Illinois has a new coach, Bret Bielema, turns 28NS senior mentor since 1890 when Scott Williams was the first of the Illinois.
Williams was normal.
The first Illinois game in 1890?
Instead of Urbana or Champaign, it was played in Bloomington.
Last time the Illinois won the critically acclaimed Rose Bowl?
That was in 1963, a team coached by Hall of Famer Pete Elliott.
He, too, was from Bloomington.
While Urbana-Champaign has been the sacred home of the U of I for 154 years, its sister city in the northwest – Bloomington-Normal – has undoubtedly played a living part of its life.
For example, the school’s renowned Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology: This is where one of the first web browsers on the Internet, Mosaic, was designed in the early 1990s. A little less well known: the institute is named after a chemist, inventor, industrialist, philanthropist and later multimillionaire Arnold Beckman. He grew up in Cullom and then Bloomington and graduated from Normal U High in 1929.
People also read …
Also at the U of I is the Funk Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Library, a facility that is used around the world to store agricultural data. A little less known, probably: it’s named after the McLean County farm family from the 1800s and 1900s.
As Bill Kemp, librarian at the McLean County Museum of History, puts it, “It’s good to know that such a world-class college wouldn’t be where it is today … without a little help from the good people in McLean County.”
The school’s 58-year-old auditorium is also located there, of course, and is still the only self-supporting concrete dome structure in the world. A little less known, probably: Your general contractor was Bloomington-based Felmley-Dickerson Co. in 1963.
Today the Assembly Hall will of course be renovated, repaid and renamed the State Farm Center.
District farm? It’s the successful company that was founded 99 years ago in … well, it doesn’t matter.
Laesch’s legacy lives on
There has been no Laesch dairy in Bloomington-Normal for more than 20 years. But people obviously haven’t forgotten, nor will anyone ever say, that BN isn’t a great place for big-hearted charities.
The 69-year-old woman, newly titled Author, has written an 85-page book about the history of her family’s famous Twin City dairy and the terrible fate that befell her family too. Known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS has taken five members of the famous Laesch family, with a sixth diagnosed just last month.
When Ellen showed up at the Farmers Market in downtown Bloomington a few Saturday mornings to hand out a few books – they were offered free to anyone who donated at least $ 20 to the ALS Association – Ellen was pleasantly surprised.
Flick: The Success and Tragedy of the Laesch Family from Bloomington-Normal
Armed with many of her books, she leaked anyway.
A long line was waiting for Ellen half an hour before the market opened at 9 o’clock.
Better still, more than $ 5,000 was donated in just three hours as more than 200 cubits welcomed, bringing their total to more than $ 22,000 raised for ALS, and that’s only so far.
“It was just amazing,” says Ellen. “When we got there and saw the line, we thought, ‘Oh my god!’ I am thrilled and overjoyed and cannot believe the generosity and reaction of everyone in McLean County. It was wonderful. “
Progress comes slowly but surely
More women than men have voted in McLean County in recent years.
Some might even say that this is not news at all.
As part of a project affiliated with the McLean County Museum of History, volunteer John Elterich found a fascinating fact about the voters in BN.
A hundred years ago men and women had separate ballots here.
Because in McLean County women were only allowed to vote for certain “less important” offices.
Even 100 years ago, so Elterich’s discoveries: By law, local candidates had to give their actual addresses on the ballot.
And contrary to perhaps current opinion, socialism and progressivism were both fully alive a century ago, if not more so.
In fact, there were six parties on the local ballot: Republican, Democratic, Socialist, Prohibition, Socialist Workers Party, Independent Workers Party and Progressive for Social Justice.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Photos: Teachers welcomed at Stevenson Elementary School in Bloomington
Bill Flick can be reached at [email protected]