To the Editor:
As buildings go, McHenry's original American Legion Post No. 491 hall on Green Street wasn't that old. Having served as bot the Legion hall and McHenry Saving and Loan Bank, it recently gave way to the wrecking ball. Old downtown commercial districts in cities such as Mchenry are always desperate for more parking.
Available sites created like this overwhelmingly trump repurposing existing structures. While its demise was inevitable, witnessing the teardown brough back so many personal memories.
The American Legion Hall was in its glory days following World War II and it provided space for outside activities. For me, it meant tap dance lessons taught by Miss Young, who was hardly a spring chicken, and Girl Scout troop meetings, including one where I stitched a handmade cloth table napkin to my Girl Scout skirt.
Sewing was never my forte. Besides this, who of us that consider ourselves McHenry old-timers can forget the Viscount National Drum and Bugle Corps that the Legion sponsored. In 1961, there were national champions.
My memories include saving money from babysitting for the Legion's Fourth of July carnival and fireworks right there on Green Street. It was the type of affair where everyone turned out. Many parents helped out by selling tickets, working the food booths and generally engaging in small town support.
It was, however, memories in the spring of 1956 when those of us who graduated eighth grad at Landmark School were marched down the hill to the Legion hall. Every Friday afternoon, we made the journey to learn ballroom dancing.
The fox trot, waltz but certainly not our newly acquired interest in rock 'n' roll were on the agenda for the formal eighth grade graduation dance.
It was impressively called a cotillion and was the school boards way of preparing us to become ladies and gentlemen. To insure that the dance lessons would be taken seriously, Lamdmark eighth grade history teacher Ethel McGee took charge. So we behaved, awkwardly learning close-contact dancing.
Now, I ask you, how can a parking lot compete with memories like those?
Nancy J. Fike