Connie (Wagner) Wiley, Joyce (Kuppler) Kaufman, Walt Farley and Bob Knight all took a “Walk Down Memory Lane” during the recent Independence Day weekend. They spoke about earlier times in Sandwich at the annual event held at the Sandwich Fire Station that’s sponsored by the Sandwich Historical Society.
Connie (Wagner) Wiley
Wiley told some of her favorite memories of the time her family lived at the corner of Route 34 and Main Street. She was one of six children and the house they lived in with their parents (that’s now part of the Bull Moose Bar and Grill) was just across from the business district.
Hank Tattersal was running the diner next door, then built an ice cream shop on the diner’s east end. Wiley remembers Tattersal giving her free ice cream cones every day.
Fran Toombs owned and operated the Sandwich Floral Shop south of their home (it’s still there) and let Wiley water the plants when she was little. Wiley remembers playing outside until the street lights came on and the kids walking to the Sandwich Fair themselves by the time they were 9.
While attending Sandwich High School, she waitressed, prepared and served hamburgers, french fries, sundaes and soft drinks at The Mary Ann, a popular hangout for teenagers. Later, she became a beautician, married Dealas Wiley (their 60th anniversary is coming soon), opened a beauty shop in her Somonauk home, and had children.
Her exposure to the business world as a youngster could have been the impetus for her next venture, opening and operating a yarn shop in a front corner of Johnson’s Floral and Gift Shop, then opening, operating and selling a Hallmark Shop. Both of the stores were in Sandwich.
She later went to floral school and found a new natural gift, floral design. She’s very busy now with her love for family, flowers, cooking, quilting, sewing and knitting.
Joyce (Kuppler) Kaufman
Kaufman lived north of Somonauk on a family farm. There were 10 children in the family, many of them attending country school until high school when school bus transportation was provided.
She gave a lot of credit to a Sandwich High School teacher, Dorothy Harrod, for encouraging her and other students to go into nursing. In fact, Miss Harrod took students to nearby nursing schools so they’d be more excited about the profession, she said.
Kaufman had lots of experience baby-sitting for nearby neighbors, the Fritsches, Phillipses, Wegeners, and Faltzes. Many of them had twins, so she was prepared when she first worked as a nurse at Copley Hospital in Aurora in the Obstetrics Department.
She was employed 29 years as an RN at Sandwich Community Hospital (it became Valley West Community Hospital, then Northwestern Valley West Hospital) before she began working in the home health field. She’s now retired, writes poetry, has joined a nurses' writing group, and is writing poetry and prose in a booklet.
Kaufman said that every patient affects the lives of their nurses, changing how she thought about life. When talking with other “old” nurses and going over their experiences, they recalled working for $2.35 an hour, no loafing, no desk time, and always being at the bedsides of patients.
One of her fond Sandwich memories is taking a non-stop train from Sandwich to Chicago, seated next to an older gentleman who boarded the train at the same time and was so nice to her. It was Kent Early, who was on several Sandwich planning committees.
That could be why she thinks “Sandwich is unique, not because of it’s businesses or structures, it’s because of the people who live here.”
Walt Farley grew up south of Ottawa and the only thing he knew about Sandwich was there were “Bub dances at the Sandwich Fairgrounds.” While attending North Central College in Naperville, he was contacted by Sandwich Junior High Principal Herman Dummer to see if he’d like a position teaching mathematics at the school.
While he was still teaching, the president of the Sandwich State Bank, Harry Krauspe (who was also president of the school board) offered him a position at the bank. He worked at the Sandwich State Bank 28 years, and pointed out many individuals in the audience he hired to work at the bank.
Then Walt went back to teaching mathematics, sixth-graders this time, for another 13 years. His daughter, who taught in the same school, had seniority over him.
A lasting legacy he started on his return to teaching is the cross country program. His first runner, Alan Adams, is still running, he said. Walt was a runner for many years, even competed in the Boston Marathon in the “over 40” category. He and his wife, Mickey, have also participated in long, planned bicycle rides over the years.
He and his wife have children and grandchildren living nearby and he’s “fallen in love with Sandwich.”
Knight came to Sandwich as an industrial arts teacher after graduating from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. That was when Bob Turney was superintendent of Sandwich Schools. After teaching a while, Knight changed professions by working in the insurance field for Caywood and Associates, then establishing Knight Insurance Co.
Knight became involved in several community projects for which his work in the industrial arts field prepared him. With his drafting abilities, he helped the late Augie Otto build a larger miniature steam train by making patterns. Knight also mentioned Norman Troeger’s skill being used. The hand-made, built-to-scale miniature steam train runs every year at the Sandwich Fair, operated by his sons.
Knight told of Otto, who served on the school board, doing the school district a big favor by finding and providing a Bridgeport Milling Machine for the industrial arts courses. It would have cost about $25,000, Knight said, but apparently was free. Knight rode with Otto to the south side of Chicago in a 3/4-ton pickup truck to pick it up. They brought it back to Sandwich and Hyatt’s Co. unloaded it. He said he taught a lot of students with that machine.
Knight also spent lots of time with the late Ott Stahl, who long ago was employed with the Sandwich street, water and sewer departments for many years. In the late '60s and '70s, Knight did work for the city, taking notes and making drawings when talking with Stahl, the only person who knew the underground water system in town.
Now Knight’s retired and spends time with his wife riding the rails in railroad gondola cars, going 25 miles an hour, seeing wildlife and beautiful parts of the country, then returning to Sandwich to plan another trip.