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150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg Address, Nicolay manuscript, Page 1

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address. On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered brief remarks at the dedication of Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Lincoln spoke for only two minutes, but this short speech is now considered one of the most eloquent and important in American history. Famed orator Edward Everett was the first speaker, and the day after the dedication, Everett wrote to Lincoln: “Permit me also to express my great admiration of the thoughts expressed by you, with such eloquent simplicity & appropriateness, at the consecration of the Cemetery. I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.”

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Art, Music, History, and Dessert


This weekend the Alton YWCA will honor two of Alton’s racial justice pioneers: The Alton Museum of History and Art and New Bethel Rocky Fork A.M.E. Church. The Art, Music, History, and Dessert event is always an enjoyable, educational, and delicious evening, so I encourage you to go learn more about Alton’s history and support these important local organizations.

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“I remember one game I got five hits and stole five bases, but none of it was written down because they didn’t bring the scorebook to the game that day.” —“Cool Papa” Bell

Emmy Award-winning storyteller Bobby Norfolk is coming to Hayner next week to present a program on the Negro Baseball Leagues from 1922–1947. Through the stories of James “Cool Papa” Bell and Leroy “Satchel” Paige, Bobby’s performance will take us through the heyday of the Negro Baseball Leagues, when segregation kept black and white players on separate teams in separate leagues, until the ascension of Jackie Robinson into the major leagues. Join us on Nov. 5 at 6:30 p.m. in the Alton Square Performance Room. The program is free, but please register by calling 1-800-613-3163. You can learn more about Bobby on his website,

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12th Annual Vintage Voices: “Faith, Hope and Charity”


Every October for the last twelve years, Alton Little Theater has shared the stories of former Alton residents through Vintage Voices. Guided tours are held each Saturday in October at Alton City Cemetery, where most of these residents are buried. This year’s theme is “Faith, Hope and Charity.”

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Goodbye Groundhog, Goodbye Fox

Parting is such sweet sorrow…

This Friday, two of my very favorite items in the display cases have to go back home. The mounted fox and groundhog in The Nature Institute display will be making their way back to Talahi Lodge around lunchtime. I will be sad to see them go, but they have a job to do at TNI. It’s field trip time for local students, and the fox and groundhog (along with the great TNI staff) help teach them about hibernation.

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Field trip to Nilo Farms

Everyone loves King Buck! (Lacy with Audubon Missouri staff and board members)

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Nilo Farms as a guest of Olin expert and local radio host Larry Reid. In 1950, John M. Olin established Nilo Farms (Olin spelled backward), a hunting preserve and hunting dog kennel/ training facility on 640 acres in Brighton, Illinois. Olin, a successful businessman and avid outdoorsman, used Nilo Farms to promote the sports of duck and upland game hunting, game management, and conservation. Olin owned one of the most recognized dogs in sporting history, “King Buck,” a black Labrador retriever who was the first dog to appear on a postage stamp and notably the most famous dog in the world of duck hunting. I’d been excited about going to Nilo Farms since I started doing research for the Nature Institute and John M. Olin displays at the library, and it was incredible to look at artwork and photographs at the clubhouse, visit King Buck’s grave, and see the actual trophies won by King Buck and other famous dogs.

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Historic Sites of Alton – YMCA


The Alton Young Men’s Christian Association began in 1883. The members used various meeting places until 1907, when an elaborate new facility was completed at the corner of Third and Market Streets. Fire gutted the building in 1914, but it was renovated and expanded in 1915. The first floor contained the pool, showers, and locker room, weight lifting, wrestling, and boxing rooms. The second floor was used for lobby, offices, lounge, meeting rooms, the boys’ department, and the men’s gym. The third and fourth floors contained sleeping rooms for members, local and transient. In 1964, a more modern facility was built on North Henry Street. The YMCA closed in 1984.

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Historic Sites of Alton – The Green Lantern restaurant

Green Lantern restaurant, 210 Market Street

Right down the street from the Grand Theatre is the former home of the Green Lantern restaurant. It began as the Green Lantern Sandwich Shoppe in the 1920s. George “Red” Walker bought the Green Lantern when it came up for sale in 1943. Red and his wife, Helen, kept the restaurant running until 1975, when they retired. The Green Lantern, which was also just called “Red’s,” was open from 5:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. six days a week. Since there were only 18 seats, you often ended up eating at a table with strangers, but they usually didn’t stay strangers for long. There were many regulars. The Alton Evening Telegraph building was located nearby, and employees frequented the Green Lantern, especially for coffee breaks. When you paid the tab, you told the waitress what you had eaten, and she charged you accordingly. Red, who was originally from Alabama, cooked things his way, “with plenty of grease and lots of flavor.”

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Collecting Depression Glass

Photo by Solitary Spinster,

Depression glass is mass-produced clear or colored translucent glassware that was distributed free, or at low cost, in the United States and Canada around the time of the Great Depression. Popular colors included pastel pink, yellow, green, amber, and blue. The Grand and other movie theaters would hand out a piece simply for coming in the door on slow days. Patrons would try to collect a full set by coming back for shows several weeks in a row. The glassware is highly collectable now, and many Alton area antique shops have dazzling pieces on their shelves. There are clubs and societies dedicated to Depression glass all over the country (and world).  The National Depression Glass Association offers a list of glass clubs in the United States and Canada, as well as articles on glass collecting. The Glass Society of Illinois hosts a large Depression glass show and two collectors’ markets every year.

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