Rockford Area Historical Society News for 1-30-20

By Terry Konkle – President

I have had many responses to all three of the pictures shown in a recent column. Many remembered the skating pond that was located off from Rum Creek to the south of the football and baseball fields. Some recalled skating there and taking their children to the place. I know my children skated at that location in the 1960’s. An email from Nancy Patterson, Rockford class of 1957, added the following covering the years 1952-54 when she spent time at the pond:  “There was a small building on site that contained benches on which to sit and pull on your skates and an old, black pot-bellied stove. And always, there was an old gentleman we only knew as Mr. May. Perhaps Fred was his first name. He would help us lace and tighten our skates and keep that stove full of burning wood. Lots of hockey games took place. I don’t remember the lighting – most of the skating took place after dark. And I don’t know who shoveled the snow off the rink. Perhaps the first kids that showed up. Good memories. Rockford was a great town to grow up in.”

Others mentioned the photo of the Rockford Dam and the buildings in the background. The lumber storage place, the Pickle factory and all of the  Wolverine complex are now gone. People spoke of how the area used to look and shared their thoughts. To put a date on the picture was difficult without research on when the buildings beside the track were removed.

The photo of the house also intrigued some with a few even driving around town to try to locate it. At a meeting I attended,  I was told that it was on East Division Street, but before I could check it out, I received a call from Carolyn Wills who said the house was located at 150 East Division. I went by that site and it was the house. It is on the south side of the street and  is the second house from the corner of South Monroe going east. When time permits, I intend to do some Rockford Area Museum (RAM) research to see what other information I might find (more later if successful).

Sometimes information comes my way just after the column is sent in to the paper. Such was the case with a “Nugget” answer received from Carole Holden Christensen. She knew that Don Verduin and Ralph Munger coached our undefeated, untied football teams. So, her name should be added to the list of correct responders.

Recently I was asked how many football seasons Rockford High School had over their history. The 2019 year was number 107. During the 107 years we had 24 varsity head coaches. It is interesting to note that Coach Verduin (23 years)  and Coach Munger  (28 years) were in charge for 51 of the 107 years. Coach Verduin  began  in 1954 and Coach Munger  retired in 2019 so 66 football seasons took place during that time with 51 of the last 66 being under their excellent guidance.

A new display featuring postcards from our area history is now available at the RAM. There are examples of Rockford area businesses, churches, schools, streets, lakes, houses, trains, bridges, the Rogue, Squires Street, Stump fences, the Rockford Dam, Wolverine and the fire that destroyed  our high school in 1922. Please consider stopping to view the history that is contained in the exhibit.

As always, I welcome your questions, ideas, concerns, suggestions, column ideas, donations and corrections. I can be contacted by email (tnjkonkle@hotmail.com) or by phone at 616-866-0530. HAVE A GREAT, POSITIVE WEEK!