by TERRY KONKLE
President, Rockford Area Historical Society
When my wife and I came to Rockford in the summer of 1960, we needed a place to live. I had signed a contract to teach and coach at Rockford High School starting in September and was working as a driver for The Camera Shop in Grand Rapids during the summer. One of my delivery stops was Langridge Drugs in downtown Rockford, so I would drive different streets each day looking for a house to rent. My wife and two-month-old son would sometimes ride with me, and one Friday we spotted a “For Rent” sign on the porch pillar of a house on the northwest corner of Bridge and Fremont streets.
The next day (Saturday) we returned to town and went to the house to inquire about renting. Dallas and Myrna Harger lived there, and we found out that the actual house for rent was located at 145 East Bridge Street across from the library. At that time, the Hargers owned most of the houses in that block.
Early in our conversation that day, I learned that Mrs. Harger was the librarian at Rockford High School and that I would be working with her. I never dreamed that she and her husband would become our friends, and that Myrna would be a tremendous, accurate source on Rockford history.
We rented the house, which had three rooms on the main floor and three more on the upstairs level. There was also an unfinished basement with three rooms, where some things could be stored.
Before we left town that day, Mrs. Harger made a comment that went something like this: “Rockford is a nice area with lots of good people. We are a growing community so if you stay around awhile, you will see a lot of changes.”
She was, of course, correct about the changes, and over the next few columns, I will discuss some of them. My wife and I have been here 52 years, but I know of others who have been in this community longer than that. I encourage readers to contact me with some of the changes they have seen.
Both of the Hargers have passed away now, and I think we all realize that death will change the people in a community. New people will move in while many will move out. People changes are going to happen, but the important factor is “what people do while they are here.” Many of our changes are done by people.
For instance, the house at 145 East Bridge Street looks a lot different than it did in 1960. People have added on additional rooms and a semi-circular driveway. I am sure the inside is better than it was. The house is still there, but changes have been made. Even the tree in the median in front of the house has changed. It is a lot bigger than when I often watered it to help it grow. I wonder if people still hit golf balls the length of the block behind the houses.
There are other changes to the Bridge Street area, which will be covered in another column.
Before closing, readers know that a major change is happening now with the movement of our museum to the open courthouse building. A lease agreement is pending and renovation will start soon after that. We still need help to reach our goal for constructing new exhibits. If you can, please consider joining our positive cause with a donation or pledge. Send them to: Rockford Area Historical Society, PO Box 781, Rockford, MI 49341. Any questions can be asked by calling me at (616) 866-0530.