I recently read an article about a company called Mobileye; a manufacturer of collision avoidance systems for cars and trucks. The article announced that the company was partnering with a major German manufacturer of automobiles to develop self-driving cars. This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard of the autonomous vehicle. One would have to have been pulling a Rip Van Winkle to have missed Google’s big announcement of its plans to develop the self-driving car; or the May 2016 headlines that announced the first tragic death of an occupant in an autonomous vehicle on a Florida highway. I’m not one too pooh pooh technology, but haven’t we been through this before?

One major mode of transportation before the widespread acceptance of the automobile was the horse and buggy. The buggy was powered by one or more horses, and the driver directed the speed and the direction of the horses and subsequently the buggy. Basically there were two brains on board, and the horse was always a variable – a breathing and thinking organism that sometimes ignored the direction of the driver and did its own thing; sometimes with tragic consequences. I’ll share a few examples of these incidents that occurred over the years in Marengo.

In a six day span in June of 1885 downtown Marengo was the scene of two incidents involving runaway horses. The first occurred when a Mr. Pearsall of Huntley was visiting Marengo in his nearly new buggy. For some reason his team became frightened and bolted, with Mr. Pearsall behind the reins, east on Washington from State St. leaving chunks of the buggy along the way. The accident must not have too serious because the June 26, 1885, edition of the Marengo Republican News reported no injuries to Mr. Pearsall or his horse. Six days later a man identified as “Uncle Mike Levoy” was headed down State St. in a “dump wagon” and crossed the railroad tracks in front of the 11:00 a.m. freight train. The team became frightened and bolted down State St. In the vicinity of Abbot’s store “Uncle Mike” was thrown from the wagon which resulted in a severely sprained ankle. The horses weren’t injured and no property damage was reported.

For a time when Marengo’s horses occupied city streets alongside the technologically superior automobile, and the two modes of transportation sometimes clashed. On March 20, 1923, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Miller were in Marengo in their horse-drawn sleigh, when they encountered what the newspaper described as an “auto truck” near the railroad tracks on State St. The horses became frightened and bolted southbound. Fortunately for the couple Harold Stock was in the area and quickly reacted and caught the horses and brought them to a stop. The lucky couple was not injured by the wild ride – just a bit shaken.

There are also several examples where horses were frightened by the breakage of equipment associated with the buggy or wagon. In March,1926 Will Husfeldt was driving a coal wagon on State St. for J.H.Patterson and Co. A bolt fell from the whiffletree of the wagon and frightened the horses. A frantic Husfeldt tried to bring the team under control and for his efforts he was thrown to the street and the rear wheel of the wagon ran over his ankle resulting in a painful injury. The terrified horses continued pulling the rider-less wagon at a high speed southbound on State St., and eventually stopped themselves at their home - the J.H. Patterson and Co. barns.

Another problem with a whiffletree frightened the horses of Marengo’s longtime blacksmith, John W. Arlington, on the evening of May 13, 1911. Arlington, his wife, their daughters, and a grandson were in a carriage east of Union when one of the whiffletrees came loose and fell against the back leg of one of the horses. The frightened animal bucked and shook the carriage causing the tongue to fall to ground which resulted in the carriage tipping over. All of the passengers were thrown from the carriage. Arlington managed to grab the horses and wrestle them free from the carriage. The occupants were badly bruised, but no one seriously injured; and all were driven back to Marengo in the much safer mode of transportation – an automobile. The horses were eventually located near Huntley – about 10 miles from the scene of the accident. Ironically, Arlington survived this terrible accident only to be killed in an auto accident in Coral in May, 1921.

The way I see it, these carriages, buggies, and wagons were autonomous vehicles. The stories are examples of what happens when there are two brains on board; that of a driver and a horse. For over a century now man alone has been operating vehicles – not always perfect, but an argument can be made that probably much more safely than in tandem with a horse. So before we go and put another brain--that of a computer-- on board our vehicles we should slow down a bit and ponder the past!

The Wallace family were long-time residents of the Marengo community, at least from the late 1800’s. The elder members lived on a farm near the sharp corner on Johnson Road, about a mile south of the intersection with W. Grant Highway. Their son, Artell, was one of Marengo’s businessmen in the 1920’s, selling insurance under the name of Wallace Insurance. In 1947 his son, Charles, became a partner in the office at 211 S. State Street.

Charles graduated from the Marengo High School in 1939. In 1943, he graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology, enlisting almost immediately in the U. S. Army Air Forces, reporting for active duty at a special U. S. Army Air Forces Meteorology School at Grand Rapids, Michigan. Following graduation from this course of study, Charles was assigned as the Weather Officer for the newly formed 506th Fighter Group (P-51’s) which was destined for the island of Iwo Jima. His group, which consisted of three squadrons, was scheduled for daily missions between Iwo Jima and Japan. He remained on Iwo Jima for the balance of W. W. II and later became the Weather Officer for the 7th Fighter Command Headquarters on the island of Saipan.

Charles was one of many young men going off to far-away places to defend America should the need arise. But what was life like for this young teenager growing up in Marengo? What did he do to keep himself occupied and prepared for a meaningful life as an adult? Fortunately for the Marengo Society for Historic Preservation, Charles wrote down his memories of growing up in Marengo. These memories certainly give today’s residents a bird’s eye view of life in Marengo during the 1930’s. Just as our young men of 2017 look for part-time work, the young men of the 1930’s were no different, looking for an opportunity to earn extra money during the summer months or after school. Charles recorded the following: “Specifically, I remember working for Wendell Swonguer, who owned and operated the furniture, appliance, and funeral business in the building on the southeast corner of South State and East Washington Streets. As part of this business, he sometimes installed linoleum, and I remember helping with the laying of the linoleum floor surfacing in the tavern now (1950’s) known as “the Spot” on S. State Street. I also worked for Ray Shearer in his woodworking shop on the southwest corner of East Prairie and S. Taylor Streets. The latter building has now become a part of the McGill Metal Products Company. Working for Harold Hyde when age fourteen or fifteen was an experience I will never forget. Sometime during the summer, Harold brought the keys to our home for his Terraplane pick-up truck and asked me to take care of his business for several weeks while he would be vacationing in California. It seemed like quite a challenge, because I don’t think I had a driver’s license at that time. Harold owned and operated a draying business along with a small coal yard, with an office on the east side of N. State Street at the site of the present city parking lot. At that time, most freight, merchandise, etc. were shipped to Marengo by train instead of by truck. Twice a day Harold would meet the trains, and then he would in turn deliver the shipments to the local businesses. Because he had only one full-time employee (George Hewitt), it was necessary to make arrangements for additional help when freight car loads of flour for Brey’s Bakery or freight car loads of stoves and refrigerators for Eicksteadt’s Hardware Store arrived in town. Finally, in my last year of high school, I worked at the Marengo State Bank. As I recall, there were a total of only three or four employees in the bank at that time, even though most of the bookwork was done by hand. During that period, I thought I personally was acquainted with nearly every resident in town.

Lucy West, my future wife,also had a part time job while in high school. She worked at the Swiss Miss Drive Inn on East Grant Highway at the site where the First National Bank drive-in facility is now located. The Swiss Miss originally started as a “road-side” stand serving refreshments, later adding a miniature golf course. After remodeling, the last years included the manufacture and sale of ice cream…featuring curb service”.

Do consider writing down your own memories of growing up in Marengo! Many things change in a community, but the teenager’s need to earn some spending money never changes. Hire a teenager whenever possible! You’ll make great memories for them!

The McHenry County Antique Farm Equipment Association of Illinois held its 19th annual dinner/auction on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Zion Lutheran Church, Marengo.

“The club was founded in 1999,” says Brian Barnes, club secretary. “We do four general meetings each year. We raise money for our general fund, for charity, and for trips. We send boxes to our troops overseas and pay for our general operating expenses. We support the Farm Bureau, Ag in the Classroom program. That is our main donation.

 “We do trips in the spring. This year we are going to Galva to view a farmer’s collection.”

President Jerry Darling says, “We expect about 80 people here tonight.”

 “Most of these guys are farmers, but some of them aren’t,” says club member Darryl Knisley. “One guy is a retired airplane pilot and he collects more than just tractors.

“I find it interesting that some people were raised on a farm but left it for other occupations. Now they have come back to their roots.”

Another member, Butch Borchardt says, “This is a good bunch of guys. We all help each other work on tractors. I’ve got an old Monroe corn picker, over 60 years old. A couple of guys helped me out and we picked corn with it last fall.

“We ship boxes to our troops through the McHenry VFW Auxiliary Post 4600. We sent boxes last fall. The boxes got there in time for Christmas. We are sending more next week.”

“I just joined last year,” John Martin says, “I have a good time at meetings. It’s nice to meet other people with common interests.”

The MCAFEAI is an active club which was founded to promote the preservation of antique farm machinery. All you need to join is an interest in antique farm equipment. You don’t need a tractor to belong. Many members belong just to be a part of a great group of guys and gals.

You can find out more about the club online at www.mcafeai.org.

Jayne C. Diller, founder of Empower YOU-Life Source Center says she was born to be a life coach. An ordained minister, Diller has many years of experience walking alongside individuals, couples and families who are hurting, confused and struggling with seemingly overwhelming issues of life.

Diller has been married for 35 years. She’s a mom, grandma, and an ordained minister since 1989. “I’ve been doing this type of work since I was 17 years old,” she explained. Interested in psychology, she went to Aurora University and George Williams College. She considers herself a life-coach. “I take people where they are today, rather than look at yesterday. There’s nothing we can do about yesterday; we can only move on.”

Diller believes that strength comes from family. She uses her experience as a social worker and chaplain to build family relationships. She works with all types of families at various “seasons” of life: marriage, empty nesting, parenting, family crises. She helps people overcome poor communications, issues unique to blended families, and those specific to foster parenting. She also helps people with PTSD.

Diller explains that most people call when they experience some type of breakdown in their relationships like difficulty communicating or a lack of quality time. “Sometimes difficulty surfaces when a family transitions from one season to another,” Diller explained. “For example, newlyweds moving into parenthood often experience a change in friends, have new careers, and wonder about their parenting skills.” Again, when a couple’s children transition to adolescents, “they can feel like their pre-teen entering junior high, have aliens inhabiting their child’s brain.”

Diller walked away from social work because of her experience with other diagnosticians and medication. “Sometimes people just need to be heard and evaluated.” She serves as a bridge between those professionals and her client. “Many times a client just needs someone to talk to.” If client needs medical treatment she will refer them to a clinician.

Diller's office is arranged into several comfortable conversation areas: a kitchen table, a living room, and a traditional office with a desk and chairs. Clients enjoy professional confidentiality privileges. “My objective is to discover how I can help them help themselves and keep them from suffering. Sometimes it’s as plain as the tip of their nose, but they’re missing it,” said Diller. “I like to say I help people get over the speed bump before they lose hope.”

Although her services are not covered by most health insurances, Diller's fees are kept at a minimum. “I just need to pay my bills,” said Diller, “I hope people notice there is somewhere to go before they seek medical care.” Life-coach services generally involve a weekly one-hour session for about two months. It can be longer or shorter depending on the goals set.

In June, triplets Philip, Lucas, and Barbara Meinke will graduate from Marengo Community High School. After eighteen years of living together, they will walk separate paths. Phil plans to pursue a degree in Musical Theatre with a minor in law; Lucas plans to join the Air Force; and Barbara has a passion for elementary education and theatre.

Four years ago, Philip, Barbara and Lucas Meinecke moved to Marengo from Schaumburg with their mother, Gale Taylor. They were starting over in Marengo with a new stepfather, a new house and a new school.

According to Taylor, the triplets were born at 31 weeks and spent over two months in the hospital before going home. Estranged from their biological father they were raised by a single mother through much of their life. The chaotic nature of their childhood was sometimes difficult but they persevered and found joy in performing in plays and music. The family moved to Marengo about the same time the triplets entered high school.

Philip likes the small feel of Marengo, where everyone knows everyone. “It’s a homey, comfortable feeling,” he explained. Philip got involved in theatre when he was in 1st grade. He credits his mother for getting him interested by her involvement and because she often took the triplets to performances. After graduation, Philip will be attending Southeast Missouri State University to get a BFA in Musical Theater where he has been awarded the Presidents Scholarship and a Visual and Performing Arts Scholarship.

Lucas understands how difficult raising three children all at once must have been for his mother. “She had to get three of everything. It must have been overwhelming. It’s even crazier now that we’re all getting ready for college.” Becoming a pilot requires a lot of studying, according to Lucas. He believes that being raised by a single mother helped him become more independent. “Being away from my family will be scary at first, but I know I can manage it,” he explained. “I’m used to being a group. It will be nice to strike out on a new path. I’ll be able to identify my own passion.”

Barbara has not selected a college. She is entertaining offers and scholarships from many institutions after receiving callbacks from 24 colleges after her audition at Illinois High School Theater Fest. “Ideally I’ll get a chance to use my love of theatre as an elementary school teacher,” said Barbara. “Still, it might be easier to get a job as a high school theatre director.”

While still in Kindergarten, Barbara was the first to get involved in theatre. As the only female in the trio, Barbara believes she has an easier time talking to boys. She admits now that she’s dating, her brothers can be protective. “We’re always there to look out for each other,” she explained. Barbara says she was shy in Schaumberg, but in Marengo she joined many of the clubs and got involved in sports.

Each of the triplets assumed a family role. Philip tends to be the spokesperson, while Barbara is the event planner. .Lucas is the laid-back, comewhat- may member of the trio.

The Mieneke triplets each have scholarships based on their GPA, and SAT/ACT test scores, in addition to talent auditions for 32 schools. According to Taylor, it’s unusual to get called back for 10 auditions. Both Philip and Barbara got called back for more than twenty.

Prior to coming to Marengo the triplets were involved in Spotlight Youth Theater and theater at their elementary school. After moving to Marengo, the got involved in the high school theater department, marching band and SWTA with the Marengo Park District. March marks perhaps the last time the three of them will share a stage with the MCHS production of “Singing in the Rain.” Their proud mother said, “I’ve been singing the songs from that play ever since they were babies. I’m sure I’ll be crying at every performance.”

Italians all over the world celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph with the tradition of a St. Joseph’s Table. On or near March19 (St. Joseph Day), a festive table with various meatless dishes, baked goods and pastries is set, and all are invited to eat—rich and poor alike. This custom started in Sicily in the Middle Ages to thank God and St. Joseph for sending rain during a famine.

Here in Marengo, Sacred Heart Parish will host a St. Joseph’s Table on Sunday, March 19 from noon until 3 p.m. Pasquale and Josephine Pizarro are heading up the planning committee for this event. “It’s a chance to carry on a fine Italian tradition and to give back to the community,” Pizarro explained. They welcome all to come enjoy the wonderful food and they ask nothing but a free will offering.

They also welcome any contributions of food for the table—as long as it’s meatless. The tradition calls for only seafood, eggs, vegetables and –of course!— bread and pasta. Drop off any contributions at Sacred Heart on Saturday, March 18. Volunteers are also needed to help clean up. Needed most of all, are guests who would enjoy some delicious food and fine fellowship in the tradition of St. Joseph’s Tables all over the world.

Proceeds from the Table will go to the Caskey family, to help with expenses from their son Derek’s recent tragic death. For more information, contact Pasquale Passaro at 815- 568-0998.


“We work about 250 acres,” says Cody Purdom. “Cody’s Farm will provide high quality, fresh home grown fruit and vegetables to our customers. This is a family business that values health, happiness of children, education and making family memories.”

Cody began selling sweet corn with his grandmother in 1992. Cody and his father installed a permanent farm stand in 1999. The business grew and today Cody’s Farm Fresh Vegetables are being sold in three other farm stand locations as well at Wayne’s Meat Market in Marengo, The Freeze in Crystal Lake and Bohn’s Ace Hardware in Woodstock.

Cody’s Farm has nurtured an apple orchard in the last few years. From a distance, the orchard looks surprisingly like a vineyard with trees planted in rows along a three-wire trellis. The branches are spread along, and supported by, the wires of the trellis. These trees will reach a height of about ten feet and will produce fruit within three years.

“In a Tall Spindle orchard you can pick fruit very quickly,” Darryl Bowen of Cody’s Farm tells me. Last year’s trees have apples. The Gold Rush trees planted in 2015 already have apples. Rows of Ida Red, Cameo, Fuji, Jonathon and Golden Delicious apples planted in 2013 are fruiting vigorously. So are the rows of Blondee, Gala and Honeycrisp apples planted in 2012.

“It is a working farm. It is truly a diversified farm,” Darryl Bowen of Cody’s Farm. “It has beef cattle field corn and soybeans besides vegetables. I don’t think anyone else can offer that.”

Cody’s Farm and Orchard will re-open in May. Further information on Cody’s Farm & Orchard as well as upcoming events can be found online at www.codysfarm.com Or you can visit their Facebook page at Cody’s Farm Fresh Vegetables.

The magical world of the deep blue sea will be witnessed by friends near and far in late April when Kéanu’s Moon premiers. This is an original play written by Michele Hellyer and Kimberly Voller, who is also the CAST director. Not more than a year ago, Kimberly had approached Michele about writing an original play for CAST (Christian Arts Student Theater). She knew it would be an underwater show, focused on the beautiful sea turtles of the Pacific Ocean. Kimberly had many unique and personal “visions” but needed to connect the dots. She knew the person for the job and made the call. Michele, a local author and contributor to our very own Marengo-Union Times, as Kimberly confirms, “has a gift with words.” During a casual meeting at McDonald’s Kimberly presented her idea and Michele gladly accepted, ready to take on this challenge and tackle her biggest project to date. Over the summer characters were born, storylines were developed and a very special turtle named Kéanu would steal their hearts. Finally, by October the final draft was done and what seemed impossible became a reality! Over 60 children between the ages of 5-18 were cast in January by Kimberly, Choreography Director Heather Tynis and Music Director Tamera Kowalski. The characters are so lively and personable, they will make you laugh, tap your toes and cheer. Michele and Kimberly felt it very important that real life messages were intertwined into the story from facing your fears, forgiveness, and always appreciating the world around you. Original songs have also been written to compliment the show, along with a few that you may recognize. Throughout the creative process, experiences from both women’s lives would influence different concepts, but one in particular would become a celebration of a friend’s life. There is a scene that is inspired by an annual field trip that Zion’s 7th grade class has taken the past four years (and will continue to do so). As they hoped Katie Kloess would see the play and be surprised by how “her trip” found its way into Kéanu’s Moon, that can’t happen now. Kimberly and Michele have lovingly decided to dedicate the production to their dear friend Katie and celebrate the kindness she has left in our hearts. The ladies know she will be watching, with her trademark big smile.

Kéanu’s Moon MCHS Auditorium April 28-30, 2017

Tickets will be available soon at CASTMarengo.net or please “like” and visit us at CAST Marengo on Facebook for fun posts from our cast and directors, ticket information or announcements.

Rose Cerra was born one hundred years ago. That is an amazing sentence and it is amazing to meet the tiny woman with sparkling eyes who has been on this earth for a century. Rose was born in Chicago and was a factory worker there. She moved to Marengo to be with her niece, Elaine Rizlieris. Rose is now a resident of Florence Nursing Home, where she was honored on Saturday, February 18, with a lunch with her extended family followed by a reception for friends and Florence residents and staff.

Rose, who never married, is proud to be greataunt to three, great-great aunt to six and greatgreat- great aunt to two. Most of these nieces and nephews of varying great-ness were present for her birthday party.

Asked why she thought she has lived so long, Rose replied, “Well, I’ve always just tried to do what’s right and be happy. I don’t feel any different today than I did when I was nineteen.” Her niece says, “I’ve never known a nicer or more truly Christian woman!” What advice does she give anyone who wants to live a century? “Just keep on keeping on. Do what has to be done. One day you’ll just wake up and find you’ve lived this long.”

The Marengo Park District is proud to announce tentative dates for the rebuild of the playground at Indian Oaks Park.

The park district in conjunction with 1st ward Alderman Mike Miller have begun the planning of the community based playground build that will recruit community residents, organizations, elected officials and businesses to construct a playground in a day. The playground that is being built is Phase 1 of an ultimate grand plan with additional elements to be completed in future phases as funds become available.



Pondering the Past, Tales Lost in Time:  Horse vs Automobile

Pondering the Past, Tales Lost in Time: Horse vs…

I recently read an article about a company called Mobileye; a manufacturer of collision avoidance systems for cars and trucks. The article...

Read more

City Summer Work for a Teenager in the 1930’s

The Wallace family were long-time residents of the Marengo community, at least from the late 1800’s. The elder members lived on a...

Read more
Antique Tractor Club holds annual Dinner/Auction

Antique Tractor Club holds annual Dinner/Auction

The McHenry County Antique Farm Equipment Association of Illinois held its 19th annual dinner/auction on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Zion Lutheran Church,...

Read more