Memories of Aurora in the 50s and 60s
I collected these memories from the old classmates.com bulletin board (while it was still free). The memories are mostly from East High graduates who have moved away from Aurora.


Skating at Parkview roller rink, carnivals at Phillips Park, Teen-A-Go-Go at the bowling alley!!!


How about fireworks at Phillips Park. Ice skating at Phillips Park. Just swinging at Phillips Park. Or, golfing at Phillips Park. And of course, sledding at Phillips Park. Are the Plane, Cannon, still there? Does the water fall still run?


I still have pictures of us sitting on those cannons when we were really small!! What about the sprinklers and the "zoo" and the train??? My brother raced in the Mid America ice skating races every year and always managed to bring home a trophy or two. I can remember the old pot bellied stove in the warming house. I can also remember the island in the middle of Mastadon Lake! It seemd like they always had the entrance chained closed but we would always find a way to get over there!


How about drive-in movies at the passion pit; cruising on Broadway at night; hanging out in a lunch booth at Kresges'; Sock-Hops at the YWCA; HI-Y dances at the YMCA; piling in an instant photo booth; The Stallion restaurant; the Red-and Black Spot snack shop across from Waldo; splashing our feet in the goldfish pond in the sunken gardens at Phillips' Park.


Did you ever stop on the way home from school at Johnny's -Neitsle's(sp.) I haven't a clue how to spell it. It was on State and North Ave. to buy a frozen Snickers or a bag of chips and pop?


How about State Street Bakery or Federal Bakery or Christmas shopping Downtown. Music and Salvation Army Booth or Hi Fi Record store with all the 45's.


State Street Bakery...deeelicious cream puffs. How about the little shop on the side of Hensley's dime store that sold french fried popcorn?...Yum! (It was at Union and Main)


I lived on Beach Street. We had the Beach Street (Copley) Playground at the end of the street. Summer Indian Pow-Wow's; running through the sprinkler; arts and crafts; movie night when we took our popcorn and blanket and they showed a movie outside.


How about movies at the Isle, Tivoli, and Paramount Theaters? Buying popcorn at the Corncrib and sneaking it into the theater. Cartoon festivals every week in the summer at the Paramount when I was in grade school...hours of cartoons for 25 cents plus prize drawings, coupons for free Dairy Queen treats or Jet Burgers. Remember those delicious Jet Burgers? (horsemeat, it turned out)


Those cartoons at Paramount, used to stand in line that went all the way back to the corn crib. I would look thru the cement bridge railing and see turtles in the Fox. I won a camera once there. Had the winning # on my theater ticket. They also gave away riding at Hauntoons Stables. That's what I really wanted but I was only nine. Later years went riding often with group of friends and even had hayrides. I remember one year Mayor Paul Egan gave trips to Riverview for canvasing the town and raising money to spray for mosquitoes. Remember how they sprayed that fog? We all used to run thru it and hide. Oh that Corn Crib...they even had homemade ice-cream. I liked the cinnamon popcorn balls and cheese popcorn.


How about Pike's Dairy - best ice cream cones in the world - peppermint was my favorite - and the yellow delivery trucks when they still delivered milk. Or Hauser's grocery store on the corner of 2nd and Union with the "slow" brother who made deliveries in the woody station wagon?


I loved Pike's ice cream. Now, this is going back to before we moved to Benton, Pike's delivered milk to our house on Spencer off New York with a horse. We kept sugar cubes in milk box to feed her. Her name was Queenie. I remember when they switched to trucks.


How about Peter Wheat Bread delivery man.


Remember how the cement water fountains at Phillips Park always ran. Are they still there?


I remember Pikes Dairy, too. My favorite ice cream flavor was raspberry ripple. Never have found any to compare to it. My cousin lived on the corner of Benton and ? (the street Pikes was on). Sorry..had a senior moment there. We used to go down there when we were little and feed the horses sugar cubes, carrots and apples. My cousin still had a hitching post at the curb by her house.


How about the man who rode around the neighborhood in the summer time on the modified tricycle with the knife sharpening equipment on the front and my mother would send us out with the kitchen knives and the money (don't remember how much). I do remember hitching posts here and there. Also, Second Ave. from Union St. to hmmm...Jackson, I think was still paved with brick until I was in high school, I think. I lived on Second Ave. between Union and Spencer.


Do you remember the Book Shop that sold penny candy as well? It was near Assell's photo shop and down the street from the library. I used to walk there between classes at the Y. The Firestix and Slopokes were my favorites.


Shopping at Scencenbaugh's Department Store was a treat. It was the classiest store in town to my recollection. It was on Broadway across from Kresge's. Kresge's had an iron lung at the front of the store as well as vending machines that sold pictures of the movie stars.


Do you remember the ice cream sandwiches in Woolworths made with Neopolitan ice cream? Pike's best flavor had to be their fresh peach. What a treat on a hot summer night! Dairy Queen was a more economical destination. Cones were 5 and 10 cents. For 15 cents, you could get a giant cone. Oberweis Dairy had circus sundaes for kids with animal crackers encircling the top of a chocolate or strawberry sundae. Their hot fudge with pecans was to die for.


How about hamburgers? Remember McDonald's opening up on Lake Street and buying a sack of burgers for a buck?


I did most of my Sencenbaugh's shopping in their basement - where the deals were. Also, there was a bakery on "Fox" Street (what is it now?) east of Broadway just under the RR tracks where we would buy a cream puff to eat on the walk home. I also remember going downtown to see JFK make a campaign speech in 1960!


Does anyone remember the Aurora Museum, and the Mastadon that was supposedly found in Mastadon Lake?


When I was a little girl and my best friend lived 2 doors down from me on Beach Street, there was an old shoe shop on the corner. The old guy that owned it was John...John's Shoe Shop. We used to go in there and pester him. He would give us scraps of leather and stuff. Later he moved up-town on Union close to Main. Across from his shop on Beach Street there was the Happy Corner Tavern. At the corner of Beach and Claim there was a used comic book and candy store. You could take your comic books in and trade them for ones you hadn't read. We also had The Fruit Juice House store on Beach. Penny candies by the bag full! Around the block from us was a little store where we used to takes the empty pop bottles from behind the store and take them in and get the deposit on them...don't know if the old lady who owned the store ever caught on.


Do you remember the shoe repair in the back of Kresges? Used to have cleats put on my loafers while waiting, would shop or sit at counter and have fries and a cherry-coke.


There was a candy store off "Fox St" from Waldo on Anderson I think. There was a hedge in front and if you checked you might find an empty pop bottle there.


Perhaps you remember in the Hensley's area: The Delicateson, Kearn's(that shop had the popcorn), Johnson's Drugstore on the corner (w/a soda fountain inside and served phosphates.) and the National food store on New York next to Hensleys and accross the street - the Hardware store and Wierricks I think that sold T.V.s and had a ceramic RC Victor dog in window w/tilted ear and puppy. And on the corner of Union and New York was a Sweet Shop. Oh..remember when New York was two way thru town? Sears was downtown?


The Fruit Juice House. Now your talking real pinapple shakes! Had a crush on the girl that worked there. I must have gained 10 lbs just trying to get up the sand to ask her out.....never did.


I remember the drug store with the fountain next to Hensley's very well, and all the stores that used to be there. Remember, on the corner across from Hensley's, the furrier - and next to Hensley's New York St. entrance, the S&H Greenstamps catalog store? We used to call that shopping area Uptown. I remember Mr. Hensley used to give the kids permission to soap his store windows on Halloween, I suppose in the hopes that they wouldn't do any real damage. Speaking of Halloween, remember when the best treats were the homemade ones and there was no danger involved - we could actually eat them?


I remember all the stores Up-town. I remember when all the big department stores were downtown and Christmas shopping was really fun...going in and out of the stores in the snow. Remember the big Christmas Parade every year back then?


Remember twist dresses; penny loafers; petty-pants; bubble hair-does; the little bows we wore in our hair; the big rollers with the plastic picks we set our hair in.


Remember chocolate malts and dill pickles in the lunch room; porcupine meatballs in the cafeteria (the only times I bought my lunch was when they served them...they were delicious); the fruit machine.


Remember Mr. Jennings; Miss Ahrens (later Mrs. Viola) and the spike heels and hickies on her neck; Miss Kennedy; Miss Dollins (Dolly); Mr. Spence; Mr. Hess (Conway Twitty); and so many others.


How about the old Sears store on Broadway and Fox. After Sears moved out it was a white elephant for many years. In 1964 it was the Republican headquarters. I went to see Nixon give a speech there. He was campaigning for Goldwater.


Then there were the Friday night dances at the Tomahawk Club next to the old city hall.


I remember Pike's horse Queenie as she used to stop at my grandmothers house on 5th street and her driver lived up the street (7th Ave I think). I remember the big red house on the corner across from my grandparents. OLGC and the bell from the old church and the bells from the new church. I also remember the trolley bus the went in front of Grandpa Ruten's house out to Phillips park and turned around to return back to down town. It cost a nickel each way! The price of a small root beer was a nickel and a large was a dime. Both had frozen mugs ! My favorite popcorn was the cheddar cheeze. I also remember Bill's pool hall above the old drug store and his packard automobile. Dave Riem and I used to go up there to play. Then we would jump parking meters on the way down to the Broadway for coffee. After the tornado that went down 5th street they started using busses from downtown to Philips Park. But you had to get off at the turn around and walk the rest of the way to the hot house and put on your skates. In the summer you had to walk the other way past the Naval reserve office to the new swimming pool. Lebanon Park had baseball games, arts and crafts, a wading pool, and a new swimming pool that closed when the other one opened. We also used to get on the EJ&E train and ride out to the dump as kids. My dad got real angry when he found out we hopped a freight train! Nobody would ever believe these things were just about 40 years ago. We had a milk door at Grandma's on 5th street. That house had walls that were a foot thick !


I remember riding the bus to the swimming pool at Philips Park. There was an ice-cream place there at the stop. They built a tall apartment tower there now. And the swimming pool got bigger too! Ha ha..For those who do not know the Aurora Aquatic Center is there now. hmmm.. not sure if the Naval Reserve building is still there. We used to use the large room in it to practice color guard drills when I was in the Aurora Vaqueros in 1961-63. REMEMBER THE FIREPLACES AT PHILLIPS PARK? ARE THEY STILL THERE? I used to go into the tennis courts to play tennis after dark because they had lights.


I REMEMBER THE FIRST YEAR THEY PLANTED ALL THE BEAUTIFUL FLOWERS ON SMITH BLVD TO THE PARK. IT WAS JUST AWESOME... MAYOR HUNTER LIVED ON THAT STRETCH OF ROAD....


My brothers and I walked to a junk yard near Jackson Street,I think, and found wagon wheels and things to make go karts. Guess we got ideas from Little Rascals. Ah such fun it was being a kid.


I remember parking and making out on the golf course at Phillip's Park and getting the sprinklers turned on us. Also parking on Hurd's Island and being chased off by the cops.


Dad and I used to go to Smith Blvd. before they made the water falls and other improvements as they used to race the soap box derby cars down the hill. It was the steepest hill on the east side with a good road. When they built the fountain it ended the soap box derby races.


The brick fireplaces were great for cooking hot dogs and burgers back then.


The lake was great skating fun before they built the road. I got kicked out of there for parking too!


About that time I figured out why everyone went to the drive-in movie theaters ! Did anyone ever watch all those beach party movies ? I was always too busy experimenting and learning. Those were very special days !


I marched in the Aurora Vaqueros Drum Corps in 59 when they dedicated that waterfall at the park entrance. We played at the ceremony. On hot summer days some of us would take off our shoes and wade in it.


Some of the guys used to put some high suds soap in it and watch it foam up all the way down the hill! Tide, Joy, Amway liquid, or something else. Great fun and it kept the water a little cleaner. The maintenance guys cussed us for doing this. Most people never knew who was doing all these pranks!


On cabbiage night for two years we dismantled the Daleiden Mortuary horse drawn hearse and put it back together on the roof. That used to make the owner pretty angry. Before he called for the crane service to pick it from the roof we always placed it back in the street. All back together too! Those were the days of hand speed wrenches and it usually took two guys about an hour to disassemble it. Four guys to get it back together. We would steal it, take it to a nearby garage for taking it apart. A flat bed truck to carry the parts. and a few ropes to raise the parts to the roof. Then came the tricky part. One piece at a time! When done, we would call the police, they would call the Beacon News and it would show up in the front page. Not too bad for high school kids. The third year was stopped by my Dad before it happened. He threatened each of the guys with calling their parents after overhearing our planning session. That was great fun but not as good as cow tipping ! Later I found out the cops already knew who was doing it and as long as no harm was done they left us alone. Fun times!


The gas company that was city owned used to have to methane generation tanks on the island that Mooseheart's band did their practice. I'm not sure about the name of the place. The big gas tanks supplied the entire town with "natural" gas.


Mayor Eagan - wow! Wasn't he the one who went around with the lantern "looking for an honest man"? I remember the soap suds in the fountain. Cow tipping, dismantling, outhouses on the 50 yard line?


Was the little old lady who ran the store on the corner of Claim Street and Beach, named Aggie???


You got it! And Hal's filling station was across the street. He used to fix my bike tires when I got flats...for nothing! Those were the days...


Remember the Thor Pneumatic Tool Company. Mastodon Lake: My father worked on building that Lake. I can remember my mother and I sitting up on the hill, watching the men, and waiting for my Dad's lunch period, and he would join us, and we would have lunch that Mom carried out to the Park. Ah yes, the good old days..


Did they really find dinosaur bones when they dug that lake?


Not a dinosaur, but a Mastodon, which was a big animal that looked like a hairy elephant. I think it is a completely true story. Years ago, they put out a book about Aurora, that sort of traced the history of the town. In there is a picture of the men on WPA that dug the Lake, and looking closely, I think I can see my dad in the picture. One of those cases of I think it was him, but I can't be sure. My dad passed away in July 1964, so there is now way of asking him.


I remember my dad taking me fishing at Mastadon Lake when I was a little girl. That was before they built the roads through it. I remember fishing in the Fox River, too...before it became so polluted.


we as a family would do the same thing. Fish at Phillips Park and picnic too on the island. And fish the Fox River by North Ave bridge or North Aurora dam or on 25 on the way to Oswego and other places too that I can't think of right now. Don't think I ever caught one. My dad would though. Catfish and others. I would sit for hours watching that bobber and hardly get a bite. My dad would make, I think they were, dough balls?


Hurd's Island is the one that is just south of the North Avenue bridge, which, believe or not, is south of downtown


You got it!! Spent some embarrassing moments there!!!


I remember parking there. The cops would drive through once with there lights off. They would drive through the island and leave. About ten minutes later, they would come back and have there lights on and shine their spotlight on your car. They would once again drive through and leave. When they came back the third time, you had better have your clothes arranged and be out of there or on your way out....or else


Some things are best kept to myself ! The "Sunken Gardens" and ice skating, the island, and getting caught by the cops without much on one night ! I remember the drive in theater and "fogging" the windows was probably the safest place. I also remember going down Smith Blvd. with my girl friend and almost losing control of the car ! Playing tennis with her, ONCE. Ouch, that still hurts! We had lots of plans but several things got in the way. Going off to the service was the second hardest part. Getting the Dear John was much worse. I remember coming home on leave the first time and running into my good friend Ken Welter (another Lafayette Street kid). We used to double date while in high school. I remember the four of us going up to Lake Geneva one day. The water was a little cold but we had a great time swimming and a few other things. Ken was home on leave from the Army at the same time I was from the USAF and we visited for a few hours. He was going to Germany the next day and I was going back to Texas for more special training. We had some laughs, took some pictures, each had one of my Dad's beers, and talked about what changed. We both agreed the best part of the military training is you get to do lots of pushups, eat well, and run everyday. I went from a skinny 130 lbs. to hard body at 180 lbs in just over 14 weeks. Neither of us knew exactly what would happen to our lives during the next few years but we were willing to try almost anything. After all, we just got brainwashed into the belief we could walk through a mountain. I believe I actually tried it once! A few years later Ken returned to Aurora and bought a body shop which has done very well for him. Ken lived across the street from my parent's house on Grand Avenue (on the West side). Mom passed away from Cancer. A few years later Dad remarried and they sold that house. Dad is very lucky as he married a wonderful lady named Emily and they still live in Aurora. I guess everyone eventually moved away from the original Lafayette Street neighborhood. Ken still owns a body shop in Aurora and I still stop in every time I return home just to say hello. We usually have a coke and visit for an hour before I leave for Texas. I miss my old friends from high school and I am looking forward to seeing them September 22nd and 23rd at our 35th reunion at the North Island Center Ballroom (Hollywood Casino). Maybe I will even get to see some people from the other classes near 1965. It would be an added adventure if that could happen. Leaving Aurora and my childhood friends was difficult but it gave me the foundation for my adulthood life. The mid-west, and Aurora were part of the greatest experiences available and I was lucky to have been raised in that interesting time. The movies and the music that were made from that era are still going strong today (American Grafitti, Grease, etc.). We should all be humbled by the experiences and fun from those times and thank God we are still here to talk about them and enjoy our futures. Several of our peers didn't get that opportunity.


I still live here, and Hurd's Island IS on North Ave between Broadway and River Street, almost across from Builders Supply store.... and for those that are older than us in the 40's that is where the East West football game was played, on Thanksgiving day!


I have read most of the replies to the original ones about the Skating rink, and have heard about Hurd's Island, The Park, Mastadon Lake, but no one has commented about the Stage that was built on the side of the hill where they used to perform Puppet shows, and Entertain on it.... the bleachers were sitting on the ground on the side of the hill! Or of the parties we used to have in the "Birdhouse" in the park across from the "Hot" house for ice skating.


But who can forget the Bill Brooker radio show that was on WMRO telecast from Cook's Hi-FI on Fox St.


We used to get Tony Weed's pizza every Saturday night, and then sit down and watch Wrestling! That seems like forever ago


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