I just recently was reading an article someone had written in another area newspaper, and they remarked that life was simpler when they were growing up in the 1950s than it is today. I thought he was really correct and had gotten things right.
I graduated from high school in Norris City in 1956 and attended all twelve grades from the first through my senior year in high school in Norris City. We didn’t have kindergarten then. Our first grade room, which first grade students shared with the second grade, had a sandbox along one wall, so I guess you might say our first grade was like a combination of what kindergarten and the first grade is today.
If we got in trouble and misbehaved in school, we got punished at school, and, when we got home, we got in worse trouble because our parents already knew about it and we got punished again. Nowadays, a teacher might get arrested or sued if they spanked or punished a child like we were in school.
Back in the 1950s, we didn’t have drugs in school or in our community and such a thing was unheard of anywhere. The worst thing back then was a student getting caught smoking a cigarette.
We old timers, and I have to admit, I am now one of the old timers in the community, say the 1950s were the “good old days,” and they were, compared to everything that is happening today.
We could buy nearly everything we needed on a daily basis at a store right here in Norris City in the 1950s. Now we have to go out of town to buy most items, and for most services we need, and to find
We stuck together and helped each other, and we knew everyone all over Norris City. Now we often don’t even know all of our neighbors in our neighborhoods. The number of residents in Norris City, population wise, has not changed that much. Are we just not as neighborly anymore?
When I was in high school, Kenneth Cole from Norris City was the Sheriff of White County. He organized the Norris City Junior Police. We were given a badge. I was one of the members of this group. We had our meetings at the old Norris City Jail which was located on the north side of East Wabash Street to the east of the present Norris City Fire Department building. We parked cars at ballgames at school and watched our hometown.
Kenneth Cole took us to the school gymnasium and taught us self defense moves, including how to disarm a person with a gun or knife and to break their arm at the same time and moves to stun them. He had been in the FBI and Illinois State Police and had been trained by them. One time Kenneth Cole took us to visit Menard Correctional Center in Chester, Ill. The warden at that time, Ross Randolph, was a friend of his. We toured the prison and ate lunch with the warden. Seeing the prison and the prisoners made a lasting impression on all of us. Not a one of the members of the Norris City Junior Police ever got in trouble with the law that I know about.
If young people could have followed me around when I talked to people who were incarcerated, and saw what had happened to them, many of them had been people with high IQs at one time who had literally fried their brains with drugs and had stolen or killed to get money to buy drugs. They were found guilty by reason of insanity or were mentally unable to stand trial, or not guilty by reason of insanity, and were incarcerated.
Back when I went to Menard Correctional Center as part of my job, Illinois still had the death penalty. It was so sad to walk down death row and see so many young men on it.
Maybe today we need another community leader like Kenneth Cole to work with our youth, and to take them and show them what could happen to them if they make the wrong choices in their lives. The law changes we need are in our privacy laws. I remember a sign in the infirmary at Menard Correctional Center that stated that if anyone, including the doctors, revealed certain things about an inmate; it would be a felony under Illinois State law. So, if a person has a violent tendency, it is kept secret and not revealed. No wonder we have people released on our streets who do violent things.
I miss the way Norris City and America were back in the 1950s. Yes, I will still say those were the good old days.
NOTE: In my last article, the caption on the picture of the post office when it was located on the west side of South Division Street in Norris City, said this building is now occupied by The Salon Image Beauty Shop. Not being a beauty shop customer and used to the old way of beauty shops being named after the owner/operator such as Virginia’s Beauty Shop, I got the name wrong. It should be Hair Creations owned by Lesley Karns Ray.
I am looking for pictures of service station buildings, the motel and restaurant and Army-Navy store at the south intersection, and other such pictures of Norris City buildings that are now gone. I can be contacted at Edward Oliver, P. O. Box 456, Norris City, IL 62869, telephone 618-378-3176, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.