Rockford Area Historical Society News for 6-13-2019

By Terry Konkle – President

When I asked readers in the last “Nugget” quiz where Gary Baldwin and Gale Smyth worked, I had a feeling that I would get several responses and I was correct. Twenty two  people, Sally Judson, Dan Cleveland, Bill Boyd, Sharon Berry, Denise Bradley, John Walters and  Mary Lou Ohnsman, Linda Schuitman, Larry Rogers, Dave Baker, Dianne Skiver, Billie Hunt, Diana Hoffman, Carole Holden Christensen, Lee Paull, Tom Baer, Verna Ashley, Jim Thomson, Ken Phillips, Deb and Marty Vogel and Mark Meek,  knew that Sears-Coon  was the answer. I appreciate and thank all of them for taking  part.  Both Gary and Gayle are now deceased but  were well respected businessmen in downtown Rockford for many years. They cared about our town and helped out in many ways. Let me give a personal example!

For twenty years my wife and I had a business, “Sports Treasures” located one building east of Sears Coon (where a much larger building houses Grill 111 today in 2019). Shortly after starting our venture, Gary and Gayle saw me carrying large factory boxes of baseball cards from the store to my car. “Where are you taking those boxes?” Gary asked, and I said “To my garage”.  I went on to explain that we did not have storage space at the store. Gary immediately responded “ We have lots of room in the basement of our store that you are welcome to use.” I must have looked rather puzzled or shocked because Gary  added  “There will be no charge to use the space.” Each year, after that, I would try to give them something, but they refused. They wanted us to be successful and were positive and caring friends!

The new “Nugget” will ask readers to go back to 1975/76 when Rockford built a new Municipal Complex. In last week’s column I mentioned that change often brings on more change. The move meant that a building that had been used for many things since 1898 was no longer useful. Built and used as a storage unit by Ross Squires until about 1913, it was then purchased by the Rockford School system for use as a classroom for first and second graders. In 1923, all students went to the new school on North Main and a pool hall replaced the elementary students. The city of Rockford bought the place in 1929 and it became a fire barn with city offices, council chambers and a two cell jail. Our first library was there along with the police department and license bureau. When the building was empty, the city decided to take it down in late July of 1976. The question for readers to answer is “Where was the building located?” Please contact me by email ( or phone at 616-866-0530  with  your answers.

On Saturday, June 1, 2019 the Rockford Area Historical Society (RAHS) set up a table at the “Reading Rocks” event. We (my wife and I) met many people, sold a few items and left just before a  storm  arrived.  A lot was accomplished before the rain and wind made things tough. The event is always well organized and a very positive experience. The society is always happy to take part .

On Thursday, June 6, 2019 the RAHS  picnic  potluck was held at the Community Cabin. After an excellent meal, the society elected officers for the 2019-20 year. They are: President-Terry Konkle, Vice President-Bob Winegar, Recording Secretary-Jennie Griffee, Corresponding Secretary-Carla Blandford, Treasurer-Dianne Skiver, Trustees-Jon Stamp, Gerry  DeMaagd, Joan DeMaagd and Floyd  Havemeier and Program/Publicity Chairperson-Janette Konkle.  Kathy Christensen will continue to schedule school tours and be in charge of hosts and hostesses. Pat Frye is our RAM research director and Al Pratt the director of the museum. A short quiz followed the election and we adjourned until our September meeting.

As always, contact me with questions, concerns, ideas, comments and especially corrections and HAVE A GREAT, POSITIVE WEEK!