Rockford Area Historical Society News & Update

history2Terry Konkle – President

The last “Nugget of Rockford History” question brought many responses and lots of information. I asked for the name of the man who had a bakery on Courtland Street in the area where Ward’s Barber Shop is today. Several readers called with a correct answer of Johnny Green. Then, it started to get interesting!

Paul Blakeslee called to tell me that a family with the last name of Caster had a bakery in that location before Mr. Green and his wife owned it. Paul said “ My dad (Wayne Blakeslee) used to own the property and sold it to the Casters.” Shortly after, I received a nice letter from Eleanor Porter Grifhorst . She graduated from Rockford High School 1940 (Eleanor DeBoer) and was a classmate of Arlene Caster the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Caster. Mrs. Grifhorst confirmed that the Caster husband and wife team ran a bakery there in the 1930’s and 1940’s.

Many Rockford residents will remember Eleanor as the wife of Darcy Porter (RHS 1935). Their four children (Phyllis, Ron, Charles and Darcia) were also all Rockford High School graduates. Darcy and Eleanor were docents at our museum on Saturdays and donated several things, including her 1922 baby book and his campaign button collection, to the museum archives. Eleanor wrote “I was born in Rockford, so it is special to me.” My thanks to Mrs. Grifhorst for her letter and support.

So, there were two correct answers to the question (Green and Caster). Those who called with the Johnny Green answer had only positive comments about the Greens and their bakery. After talking with readers, I wished that I could have sampled some of the baked goods. Here are a few responses concerning their products: Edna Norman “They had the best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted” ; Ruth Graves “Their donuts were great but you had to get there early because they only made one batch”; Bob Winegar “They made the best cookies. They were large and they only cost five cents”; Sharon Berry “I often bought a glazed donut on my way to school. They were good but I might have been a little messy when I got to class”.

Bob Boyer, a Rockford teacher, remembered ordering donuts from the Greens to sell as a fundraiser for the Hi-Y club. “They were so good that we kept having to increase our order total. When we got up to about twelve dozen, Mr. Green contacted me and said that he couldn’t do it anymore. We found another place out of Grand Rapids to supply us, but the donuts were not nearly as good.”

Bonnie Bovee Orvis called from Tacoma, Washington. “My mother worked for Mr. Green. He was a nice guy who treated everyone well. I went into his bakery one day and told him who I was. Later, he called my mother to tell her he had met me. He cared about people!” Paul Blakeslee added “He was a real nice guy. I know that he bought clothes and shoes for a large family who couldn’t afford it.”

Ric Farmer, Lue Hawkins, Marty Vogel and Lee Paull also knew that Mr. Green was the answer. My thanks to all for their interest and their responses. If I made any errors, please let me know (616-866-0530).

Here is a new “Nugget” question. Today, a statue of a civil war soldier stands next to the Community Cabin. It was moved to that location from another place. “What building was it beside immediately before it was moved?” Contact me with your answers (by July 26).

Finally, the historical society will have some things for sale during the “Sidewalk Sales” but only on Friday, July 19. We will be at the old museum site, so stop by to check it out!

About Squire News

The Squire has been Rockford’s free weekly newspaper since 1871. Our loyal readership includes over fifteen thousand homes in the Rockford area, including the affluent Lakes area of Lake Bella Vista, Bostwick Lake and Silver Lake; Belmont, Blythefield, as well as Algoma, Courtland, Cannon and Plainfield Townships. The Squire is distributed through the U.S. Post Office every Thursday. We also deliver to in-town businesses and homes with paper carriers and news stands in our grocery stores and over thirty local shops.
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