When Fall Descends onto North Central Illinois
On September 7, 1976 we came back from a summer's vacation to take up residence at Oregon, Illinois. Our twins were 13 that day and they, all five of our children, missed their school pictures that year. I think the school had taken pictures the first day of classes. It seems to me they've not done it that way again.
We were still camping with the Able family when October came. To our complete delight, the Autumn on Parade, started on the first Saturday of the first weekend. Country folks and others of the town put up booths to sell their wears on Saturday and Sunday, all around the Court House square. Near noon on Sunday the festival parade began. We walked from the parsonage a half block with folding chairs to watch the bands and many displays progress along the street. Jim Barns was mayor. He and his wife, Barbara, had been instrumental, with others, in organizing the annual parade a few years earlier.
Early in November we moved into an old brick farm house, ten miles out of town, which we rented for five years. That was a great place for our children to have their first experience of country living. We all enjoyed it very much. There we grew a large garden, raised rabbits, ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens and goats. At least all of those.
At the end of those five years, our family were needing to move to town. The kids were involved in after school activities. Lilly and I were both working in town or beyond, and different shifts. So the logistics of getting everybody to their place on time required the move. We were able to buy an old house that met our needs right on the parade route. So all these years, if we were in town, we've sat in our own front yard watching the great parade go by.
Oregon, Illinois is alive with gorgeous trees as well as the surrounding country. The town was built on the banks of the Rock River. On the bluff across the river, Lorado Taft erected a repleca of Black Hawk, the great chief of the Sauk Indians. It stands 48 feet tall above the bluff among the wooded hills. The statue was poured there of cement in December 1911 and timely repairs keep it available for generations to come.
It is said the first settler arrived here in 1837. There were already others coming into the area. John Deere came in 1834 down river a few miles at Grand Detour. He set up his black smith shop and built a house. On its completion he brought his family from the State of Vermont. Soon John had developed the plow that opened the prairies for the great migration of farm families who would come from places afar to make their homes and raise their young.
The region around is rife with delightful points of interest. Parks for camping and picnicking can be found throughout the area. Chicago is one hundred miles to the east on the shores of Lake Michigan. Galena, home of General Grant, is about 70 or so miles to the northwest. Within a hundred mile radius of Oregon there is a years worth of weekend getaways. It has been a beautiful and healthy area to raise our own young during these thirty-eight years.