Mr. Bradney, you will be missed

Bob Bradney was one of the first people I interviewed after being hired by The Source back in January. With Mr. Bradney’s well-respected reputation as a local attorney, I figured that most of what we’d talk about would focus on his law career, one which included: being active in the Illinois State Bar Association, chairing committees such as Civil Practice and Procedure, Professional Ethics, and Code of Special Responsibility, serving the Illinois Supreme Court on the Character and Fitness Committee, being named to the first class of Laureates by the Illinois State Bar Association, receiving the association’s first Board of Governors Award, and in 2007, being formally named a Pillar of the Bar in the Seventh Circuit for his distinguished professional and community activities by the Illinois Bar Foundation.

But at times in our interview, it felt like I was the interviewee rather than the interviewer; Mr. Bradney made me feel as though he wanted to learn as much about me as I wanted to learn about him. This made things more comfortable – it was more of a conversation than an interview – and rather than bogging down all of our time with minute details of his professional career, we simply got to know one another. As it turned out, despite the 70-year age difference separating the two of us, we actually had several things in common. Like Mr. Bradney, I too majored in History (although he attended Illinois College and I went to Illinois State University). And like myself, Mr. Bradney also shared a passion for writing, evidenced by his brief stint working as a journalist for the Jacksonville Journal Courier for three summers in the late 1940s and later, his contributions to the newspaper you’re currently reading.

“Absolutely the most fun job I ever had,” said Bradney of his journalism career. “The practice of law was a darn stressful way to make a living, which it should be, there’s a lot on the line. I often thought ‘Boy it would have been fun to just stay at the Journal Courier’, but I didn’t, and so that’s why I was interested in writing for The Source, [writing] got in my blood and never got out.”

Born and raised in Jacksonville, Bradney worked at the Journal Courier for three summers while he attended Illinois College in the 1940s. Following his years as an undergrad at IC, Bradney moved east, to Cambridge, Massachussetts, eventually graduating from Harvard Law School in 1950. Upon his graduation, Bradney returned to Jacksonville, where he was initially hired by Vaught, Robinson and Foreman, a local firm that would eventually become the law offices of Rammelkamp Bradney.

“Coming back here, it was a period of time which was quite different from what it is today,” Bradney said. “There was a man who was an officer at Elliott State Bank by the name of F. Osbourne Elliott and he was very well connected financially and very much interested in Jacksonville. With his financial connections, he had organized a group of young men – Ted Rammelkamp being one – to try to get industry here in town…and he got them. So there were lots of jobs being created, it was a very exciting time to be here.”

Early on in his law career, Bradney was mentored by Carl Robinson, a local attorney whom Bradney described as “the most powerful man in the court room I’ve ever seen.” At the time, the law firm of Vaught, Robinson and Foreman was focused primarily on cases within Morgan, Scott and Greene counties. But this began to change around the time Mr. Bradney began his career as a defense attorney.

“I was involved in cases to the north, in Peoria, in Quincy to the west, Belleville to the south and Decatur in the east. I should’ve taken Driver’s Ed in high school, that would’ve been the most important.,” Bradney said jokingly.

So while Bradney worked for firm located in Jacksonville, most of his career was spent outside of Morgan County. Later, in the 1970s, Bradney became involved with the Illinois State Bar Association’s committee regarding professional ethics – an issue that was gaining more attention due to the Watergate scandal of 1972.

“The professional ethics committee prior to Watergate was a very sleepy committee,” Bradney explained. “We probably met twice a year up in Chicago and had an agenda of maybe 12 cases. And because Watergate shook up the Bar, lawyers throughout the country, so extensively…everybody started seeing that they wanted to get answers to things that were bothering them. So our agenda went from 12 cases to 50 to 100, it was phenomenal. It just kept getting heavier and heavier, and this got me involved in some re-writing of the rules.”

Bradney’s career in the court room covered a span of nearly 4 decades, and as previously mentioned, witnessed a number of professional accomplishments. Around the late 1980s, Bradney woke up one morning and soon realized that he had lost his hearing. And while doctors told him that some of his hearing could come back – and some of it did – his temporary deafness marked the end of his time in the court room. Instead, Bradney worked as a consultant to Rammelkamp Bradney for two more decades until he finally retired to his home in Jacksonville.

Last Wednesday I received a text from a lifelong friend – someone who’s known Mr. Bradney nearly his entire life – which simply read “Bob Bradney passed away today.” This was the first time I’d heard from my friend in months (he lives on a different continent 13 hours ahead of me) and I quickly remembered the last conversation we’d had face to face. It was about Mr. Bradney. And it got me thinking: communication is very rare for my friend and I now that we live on opposite ends of the world, but here we were, reconnecting to talk about the passing of a man 70 years older than either of us. Of all the things we could’ve been catching up on, it was Mr. Bradney that brought us back together. Although Mr. Bradney and I had only met once, our lone conversation had been sincerely enjoyable, and sharing it became all the more important. Mr. Bradney, you will be missed.

Stories Mr. Bradney shared with The Source Newspaper

Before the Colors Fade – October 8, 2010

These many grocery stores were supplied in part by two wholesalers, Capitol Grocerty at 234 W. Court and by Jenkinson Grocery Co. at 200 East Douglas.

Why so many grocery stores? Remember in 1936 the Great Depression was still very much with us. Families didn’t have two cars. A lot of families didn’t have a car at all. So neighborhood stores made a lot of sense. Moreover, even though the chains, such as Krogers, A&P, and Piggly Wiggly had stores in town, they were small. The day of the supermarket was several years ahead. In addition, a great many of these stores gave services that would seem unbelievable today. My Mother during all of these years shopped at Redburn’s on North Main, not near at all to where we lived on Edgehill. But Redburn’s was a “cash and carry” store, as I suspect most of them were. My Mother would pick up the telephone and place an order, and later in the day, Mr. Redburn would deliver. He would bill at the end of the month.

Many of these grocery stores were called “Red and White” stores they had a special logo and they carried the Red and White brands. These chain stores came to pass because of the depression, which is to say, they combined their buying power and standardized how they sold groceries. It was a successful chain that got Jacksonville through the depression indeed, some of the stores continued to exist after the war. If my memory serves me correctly, Denny’s at the corner of Pine and Lafayette may have survived the longest, staying open until well into the 60s. I listed the addresses, because as you can readily ascertain, many of the buildings are now being used for other purposes. Thus, Spencer’s on South Diamond is now R&M Appliances; Leck’s on South Diamond is now Ashley’s; Denny’s on Pine is a Church affiliated building.

The building that housed Jenkison Grocery Company still stands at the intersection of East Douglas and North Mauvisterre. What isn’t apparent as one drives by is that the interior of the building contains huge loading docks, docks where fruit, vegetables, and produce were constantly being unloaded. In its heyday, large trucks could be seen entering at all times of the day.

The coming of the supermarkets; the increasing wealth of the people who lived here, thus owning cars to do shopping; and, World War II brought so many changes, that one by one, these stores closed.

The War Years

I really can’t tell you much about grocery shopping in the war years, because I was elsewhere. I am told there were ration cards for many commodities, including meat. I never fully understood why, because in the Army it seemed like all we were fed was Spam; K rations, and something I will called chipped beef on toast. (It had another name in the Army, but as this is a family publication, we’ll leave it as that.) I do know that shortly before the war, the Old Dunlap Hotel on West State Street, immediately east of Trinity Episcopal Church, was torn down, and the Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company built the first supermarket in Jacksonville. As stated earlier, that was the beginning of the end of the neighborhood stores.

The A&P as it was called, got the lion’s share of the business during its heyday. It had competition. The Piggly Wiggly on the Square and Kent Dawson’s on North Main continued to compete. There was a time that I supposed the A&P would always be dominant here, but I now know that nothing lasts forever, and it finally closed, as did the Piggly Wiggly and as did Dawson’s. The last grocery store downtown

After the demise of the A&P, a man by the name of Bill Esslinger decided to occupy the West Street Building with a unique supermarket. As I recall, he asked 10 or 15 prominent Jacksonville woman to advise him as to what they would lie to see in a supermarket. He not only listened to them, but took their advice, and for a number of years, Bill’s carried on a remarkable business. After Bill passed away, his sons continued, but the coming of the Lincoln Shopping Center and the development of West Morton proved to be the end of down town grocery shopping. So here we are in 2009 with three big box stores, one on East Morton and two on West Morton. And, various convenience stores located here and there. An improvement? I suppose opinions vary, but I thought you might be interested in how we got here.

Route 36, 06/07/2012

As South Main once again opens on either the Square, or, the Plaza, or whichever is correct, I am reminded of the fact that in the days of my youth, Route 36 was a major national highway.

It originates in Uhrichsville, Ohio, and terminates at Rocky Mountain National Park, a distance of 1414 mile. If any of you ever decide to drive west, you won’t regret using it to get to the mountains. It’s a wonderful drive.

But this gets ahead of the story. In the days of my youth, it entered Jacksonville from the east on East Morton Road, reached South Main, went north on South Main until it reached College Ave, then went west on College until it left the city limits. And where were the westerly city limits? Appropriately enough, at City Place. That was about the edge of the residential sector— all one sees now was built after World War II.

But what a sight the view going west on College Avenue was. Before the elm trees were destroyed by the blight (in the 1950’s). West College was an avenue of gorgeous elm trees, providing a continuous shaded path from about Church Street, all the way to the city limits. For the motorist, it was like driving under a mile long shaded green umbrella.

After graduating from the Columbia School of Journalism, Helen Patterson, now Helen Hinde, was employed by a newspaper in independence, Missouri, and one of her assignments was to accompany President Harry Truman on his legendary early morning walks when he came home to Independence. When Mr. Truman asked her where she came from, and when she said Jacksonville, Illinois, he said he remembered it well as one of the prettiest towns he had ever passed through, traveling through it each time he came home from Washington D.C.

Traffic was not very heavy, even though this was one of the few ways to get west. To get some idea of its congestion (or lack thereof), the offices of the Caldwell Engineering Company were located at the southwest corner of College and South Diamond. In the summers, the late Bobo Caldwell (much later to become a successful engineer) and his friends, collected pop bottle caps (Only glass bottles were used before the days of plastic), and when it got hot enough, they placed the caps in marvelous designs on the street. Cars would run over them and embed them in the street, given the head the asphalt pavement, and the traffic. The traffic was so light that very little danger of being hit was ever experienced. Imagine, doing that on the Interstate?

Where did the multistage travelers stay? This was before the days of motels, but Jacksonville had an excellent hotel, the Dunlap, given the very best rating by the American Automobile Association. In addition to the Dunlap, it had two other hotels, the Douglas and the Pacific, both quite satisfactory. The Douglas was located where the present Post Office is situated, and the Pacific was on East State the northwest corner of East State and Northeast.

Although this was before the days of bed and breakfasts, one did experience “guest houses”, places where overnight rooms were available. Usually such a house had only a single room for rent, and Jacksonville had one on College Avenue, just west of Prospect.

Although the above alludes to days long ago, Route 36 remains a wonderful way to go west. In the first place, it is being turned into a four lane highway all across Missouri. Missouri has some pretty memorable places to stop for a while and ponder. Within not too many miles, one comes across the boyhood home of Walt Disney; the boyhood home of JC Penny; the homes of General Pershing, the commander of all American troops during World War I and, General Omar Bradley, the commander of one of the major army groups in World War II. Must be something in the water.

At St. Joseph, where Route 36 crosses the Missouri River into Kansas, one can visit where the Pony Express got started, and, indeed, as one goes west, one can still stop and see the Pony Express stations that have been preserved. There are quite a few of them.

Then, a few hours into Kansas, one comes across Marysville. At Marysville you will see where wagon trains left to follow various trails to the west.

There is so much to see and enjoy on Route 36. Way out in Kansas, don’t fail to turn north for a four mile trip and to see where the geographical center of the contiguous United States was located in the 50’s. Before the days of the Interstates it was a popular place, supporting a restaurant and motel. Now, with Interstate 70 bearing the great majority of travelers, it is pretty much deserted, so much so it would remind one of a setting for a Hitchcock movie. Is anything, the boarded up motel and restaurant are a vivid reminder of America’s changing face.

The old two lane highways have a charm that cannot be duplicated, The Interstates are one of the great achievements of this country, but it always strikes me that when one is on them, the scenery is pretty much the same. Many times you a’t tell whether you are in New York, Ohio, Illinois, or Kansas.

As usual, the writer gets carried away, but Route 36 not only conjures up so many memories of days gone past, but some inviting thoughts about taking it west to the mountains. And while the Interstates will get one there quicker, oohing really matches the many small tons one experiences, such as Jacksonville, Illinois.

Train Travel, 03/22/2012

The other day I read that within the coming weeks, high speed trains between St. Louis and Chicago will be tested on a section of the newly installed track between Pontiac and Dwight, and thats a speed of 110 miles per hour is expected to be attained. This will be the first test of the route between the two cities. Completion of the high speed route is several years away.

So. The marvels of the 21st century? Let’s take a look.

In the war years (there have been so many of those one must be specific–1941to 1945), to get from Chicago to Camp McCoy, Wisconsin, one had the choice of three luxury liners, one, the Hiawatha operated by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (also mercifully known as the Milwaukee Road); the Twin Cities Zephyrs operated by the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad (Burlington Route); or the Chicago and North Western Railway’s Twin Cities 400.

While admittedly, the writer can’t recall anyone who was anxious to get back to Camp McCoy, lo, these many years after the fact, those three trains were something else again.

The Hiawatha, to begin with, was a brilliant orange from its streamlined engine to its final club car. The 400, running or more brilliant yellow, again from engine to club ca. The Zephyr was dazzling silver.

Those were the outsides. But the insides! On the Hiawatha the seats were deeply upholstered in vibrant blues, with appointments to match. The competitors’ were equally attractive.

These trims not only were streamlined, but they were engineering marvels. The locomotives were oil-fired to reduce servicing time en route, and were some of the fastest steam engines ever built, capable of powering their five car trains in excess of 100 miles per hour. Indeed, at times they reached 110 mph, this now some 70 years in the past.

Trains crisscrossed the United States reaching their heights during the 40s. The operations of these super liners were impressive. For example:

Leaving Union Station in Chicago and heading east for New York City, somewhere in south Chicago, the train went through a wonderful sower of wash water, spraying up from each side of the train and making it shine as if it had been through a car wash, which it in fact had, except it was a train wash;

Diners were not only good, they were great. Choices were many and the service was elegant. Plastic was not used, but honest to goodness silver and china; (Not sure that plastic had been invented yet)

For those not having the money for the diner (privates were paid $19.00 a onto during World War II), there was a service called Union Tobacco Company. Here’s how it worked. Near dinner time, at a station stop, an employee of the company came aboard with a rolling cart containing very good, and the writer means very good sandwiches and soft drinks. she would go through all the coaches, then get off at the next station stop, re-supply and then meet the next train going the opposite direction.

One of the fun things to do, if one drank Coca Cola (and one did), was to check the bottom of the bottle after consuming the drink. The bottle always had imprinted in the glass the origin of the bottle, and you really couldn’t believe how far and wide those bottles circulated in the United States. No one ever finished a bottle of Coca Cola without turning the bottle upside-down to see where it had been bottled.

If you were from Jacksonville and had to be in Chicago the next morning, you drove over to Springfield, parks your car, had dinner at a Springfield restaurant, then took a cab to the station. Awaiting you, parks on a siding, was a Pullman car. You entered, went to bed, and at 3 am, a northbound train would connect to your car, and you awakened as the train approached Chicago. (I might say that buck privates in the military did not avail themselves of this amenity, perhaps for obvious reasons.)

In Springfield, on the south side of the Amtrak station, today one sees a door, now never opened. During those years (and within the $19.00 monthly government pay check) was an excellent café, and a widely used one. One arrived early enough to have a good meal.

During the war years, it was not unusual to arrive in Chicago and to have a four to six hour wait for the connecting train. Downstairs in Union Station (I would love to know where now), there were marble lined bathrooms where one could actually take a bath. Attendants made sure you had a hot towel.

The mode of travel, though changing in those years, was by train. Somehow it sticks as a footnote to other irrelevant facts, that at one point, Jacksonville was serviced by more than 50 trains a day. Of course, this was no longer true in the 40s, but as late at the 1950s, one could go to Chapin and catch a train to St. Louis.

It was a wonderful system of travel, but it was coming to an end. As World War II ended, eleven million service men returned to civilian life, and each wanted one of those brand new houses being constructed all over America in places called the suburbs. Each one also wanted a new car, and expressways were being built, emptying the center of American cities. Detroit not only was turning out those cars by the millions, but America was eyeing the era of the first, three lane highways, followed by the four lane and finally the Interstate system. Who would take a train?

Besides, the owners of the railroads could see the handwriting on the wall, and did whatever they could to encourage freight traffic and to discourage passengers. The old wonders like the Hiawatha and The 400 began to disappear, as did thousands of miles of train tracks connecting small town America. The era of the great trains was over.

So now, when it makes headlines that we may have passenger trains reaching speeds of 110, well, we’ve been there before.

The Square Revisited:

During the years our children were growing up, we took a camping trip every summer. Sometimes to Missouri, sometimes south, and when the four children started getting older, to New England and to the Pacific Northwest. Each summer as the vacation ended and the train station wagon approached Jacksonville, it became a family tradition that before heading home, we drove once around the Square, and honked the horn twice, with all of the children joining in the chorus of beeps.

Then came the wrecking balls of the 1970’s and that silly family tradition came to an end. The era of the “miracle mile” on West Morton was underway, and going around the Square was impossible.

And so it was several months ago when I suddenly observed that lo, it was again possible. If anyone observed a certain car that day, with an old man driving by himself, and sort of chanting in a loud voice “Once around the Square” and honking twice, well I am giving clues as to aggravated signs of senility. (I emailed all of my children, and they dropped whatever they were doing that day and all said they wanted to come home as soon as they could.) an event that compared with the opening of The Empire State Building in New York City? Well, perhaps not quite, but an event of significance for all of us here.

This city started with a Square. The Square has seen a lot of different eras and different activities in its almost 190 years of existence. In the early days, it held Morgan County’s first courthouse. It was the terminus for the first railroad line in Illinois (from Meredosia to Jacksonville). Sometime, stop in Meredosia and read the historical monument about the railroad. (One can learn a lot by slowing down and reading those historical signs along the side of the road.)

It has been the scene of so many Morgan County soldiers leaving for all wars over the centuries. In its center is a monument, with Liberty looking straight south, commemorating the young men who helped to preserve the Union. We may pass it daily and not think about what it is, but here again, take a closer look. Our Square is a pretty significant place.

Several years ago, the writer described the Square as it existed in his youth, before the coming of the Malls, and it may be appropriate to be reminded of the place the Square held in the life of this community. (The article is reprinted in this issue.)

Nothing ever stays the same. The Square probably never will be the place of commerce it was prior to the coming of the Malls. And yet, something new is being born, and it is gratifying and exciting to watch a new era begin.

So, “Once around the Square, beep beep.” I am glad to see it reborn.

The Early Automobile, 06/14/2010

Bob Bradney is a lifelong resident of Jacksonville and sometimes looks back over a lifetime of memories.

The other day I read that European cars are on target to get 60 miles per gallon in another decade, and that the Obama administration is pushing for an objective of 56 per gallon in the same period of time. I had to scratch my head and try to comprehend that information. Somehow I remember earlier days.

I can remember sitting in our kitchen with friends of my parents, they drinking home made brew (this was during the days of the depression) and all of the men talking about whether their car could make the Meredosia hill.

Occasionally, one of the bottles would be uncorked and the contents would shoot all the way to the kitchen ceiling, much to the hilarity of everyone. Quality standards of home made brew did not come up to Mr. Budweiser, but that is another story someday.

But what does the Meredosia hill have to do with the coming of the automobile in the Jacksonville area?

First of all, the Meredosia hill in those early days was an unpaved two lane dirt highway. It wasn’t any steeper than it is today, but it presented its problems for the early Model Ts. It was easy enough to drive the Tin Lizzy down the hill. The problem was to get the darned car back up to the top without having to get out and push it.

As a small boy, I can still remember the tall tales about variations on the adventure, each one getting a little hairier as the home brew was consumed. The best, of course, was the problem of getting to the top in a rainstorm and when the road was muddy.

How easy were these Model Ts to drive? Getting them started was the first challenge. That challenge consisted of taking a crank (it came with the car), inserting it in the crankcase in the middle of the front of the car, and cranking until the motor turned over. Sometimes that would cause the crank to suddenly spin, sometimes braking wrists, but always adding to the vocabulary of a small boy listening to the interesting words yelled by one’s dad.

But marvels they were, with air conditioning supplied by Mother Nature. Power steering? You bet. You had to have excellent muscles to turn the wheel to get around the corner.

In Jacksonville in those early days, cars were not all of the Henry Ford kind. There were two sisters by the name of Trabue who lived on Mound, and they owned the most beautiful car in town, an electric. One remembers them yet, dressed in wonderful long dresses, sitting on what looked like a buggy, driving silently through the streets of Jacksonville. (The electric motor like those of today made very little noise.)

Of course, as the twenties disappeared and the thirties arrived, cars proliferated and they started getting more sophisticated. One of the most fun cars ever made was a coupe with a rumble seat. A what? Well, it was an enclosed driver and passenger car, and behind it was a panel that could be raised, presenting an open air seat. No better place to ride has ever been invented. I might say, this is also an excellent arrangement to get the kids out of your hair.

By the mid thirties, cars were coming down in price so that they came within the reach of most families. Of course, unless one was rich (and remember, this was at the height of the depression), one made a modest downpayment, and then signed papers for a four year installment contract. By the end of the four years, the new models had improved so much that it is fair to say, no one ever got out of debt, but, the automobile became the engine that drove the American economy.

At first, Ford dominated the scene, but it soon was one among many. I am sure I cannot recall all of the dealerships Jacksonville had, but here are just a few: Ford; Chevrolet; Studebaker; Packard; Hudson; Pontiac; Buick; Cadillac; Mercury; Edsel; Oldsmobile; Lincoln; and I am probably missing ten others.

One of the exciting events each fall was when the new models were introduced. I mean, people would flock to those openings to see what marvels the industry had come up with.

Interesting enough, at the turn of the 19th century, the horse had dominated American life. There were those who were reluctant to convent to the newfangled horseless carriage, and while there weren’t many, there were still some farmers as late as the 1950s who were still using horses to plow. Of course, as the small farm started to disappear, so did the work horse.

But, in the very early 1940s, when the writer was in high school, and had a morning paper route, he can recall that Hudson’s Dairy still used horses to pull milk delivery wagons. Here is how it would work. The delivery man held a basket containing maybe six bottles of milk. He would get out of the wagon, walk along the street, deliver the milk, and the horse (who knew the route as well as the delivery man) would amble down the street and stop where the last bottle was delivered, so the basket could be re-filled.

Ask a modern car that gets 60 miles a gallon to do that!

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