Historian Willis Miller: 82 years bring changes, faster paceIt was in August 1922 that Willis came here with his parents, Harry W. and Ida Miller. At the time he was 3 years old. Here is an excerpt of writings by Willis Miller. He published some 20 books with Hudson as the main topic.
By: Willis Miller, Hudson Star-Observer
It has been more than 82 years since the Miller family arrived in Hudson. There have been many changes and the pace of living has accelerated.
Here is an excerpt of writings by Willis Miller. He published some 20 books with Hudson as the main topic.
It was in August 1922 that Willis came here with his parents, Harry W. and Ida Miller. At the time he was 3 years old.
Their first home was at 1416 Third St. The house, owned by Dr. Laurence and Laura Mayer, had 14 rooms, and the rent was $25 per month.
Neighbors of the Millers included Mr. and Mrs. Charles Arnold, Mr. and Mrs. Grant S. McDowell and daughter Anna Mae, Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Shaker and Anna Bette, Melvin and Ida Peterson, Mr. and Mrs. N.C. Hoyer, Mr. and Mrs. Emil Mayer and Mr. and Mrs. Frank Bowers and their two children, Frankie and Virginia.
Hudson in 1922 was a far cry from the city we know today. The municipality had owned the toll bridge but five years. Third and Fourth streets were yet unpaved. The old high school building that had been erected in 1887 was still standing at the southeast corner of Fourth and Oak streets.
The post office, with Thomas A. Walby (1861-1942) as postmaster, was located at 424 Second St., in space now incorporated in Riverbank Junction.
On the main street there were two busy hotels: Chapin Hall House, managed by Leo N. Brooker, now the site of Tulgren Square, and the Commercial Hotel (now the Dibbo), owned and operated by colorful Col. John R. Hanley (1862-1943). The three-story Singer Dry Goods store building at Second and Locust was still standing.
There were three banks at the corner of Second and Walnut streets: the First National Bank (the lone survivor), The State Bank of Hudson (owned by the Websters) and the National Bank of Hudson, with F.J. Carr as president.
The old fire hall, at Third and Walnut, was still standing, and hadn't yet been replaced by the current city hall.
The use of radios was just filtering into Hudson and caused a wave of excitement and wonder in our neighborhood.
There was no beautiful lakefront park with its retaining wall or bathhouse in those days. Instead, the area had dilapidated and unsightly boathouses that stood along the lakeshore.
One of the beauty spots in Hudson was lovely Prospect Park on Liberty Hill, with its summer kitchen and dining room, the bandstand and dance pavilion.
There were, during the summer months, free Saturday evening concerts at the corner of Second and Locust streets by the Hudson Military Band under the direction of James R. Penman (1876-1948). It was requested in the local newspaper that during the concerts, "Keep your autos as quiet as possible during the rendering of the numbers."
There were dances in the Prospect Park pavilion which were, on occasion, a benefit for the Military Band. The admission was 50 cents for gents and 10 cents for ladies.
In 1922 the newspaper, the Star-Observer, was edited by Percy Ap Roberts and cost $2 a year "strictly in advance."
City officials for 1922-23 included: Mayor, A.G. Ruemmele; City clerk, F.T. Condit; Treasurer, George R. Hosford; Assessor, Stephen Everson; and Police justice, C.A. Disney. Aldermen were: George J. Crosby, Gerhard Wallesch, E.A. Sutherland, Harry H. Harding, R.J. Birkmose and Oscar D. Wanner.
The county judge was Otto W. Arnquist (1858-1935), circuit judge was George Thompson (1875-1947) and the sheriff was August Larson (1863-1934).
Prices were a lot different in 1922. A.J. Sampson, the shoe man, was selling ladies' pumps for $2.98.
The Ellis Motor Co. of Hudson was listing a 1923 Buick, 5-passenger sedan at $1,935, while the 7-passenger car was $2,196. Holden & Moen were advertising the Studebaker "big six" at $1,650.
Bickford and Hellweg, a grocery and bakery at 413 Second St., had a weekend special Aug. 12, 1922, that included Texas watermelon, large size, each 55 cents; white clover honey, one pound, 25 cents; and White Crest flour, 49 lb. bag, $2.10.
The Star-Observer of Aug. 25, 1922, contained three classified advertisements of houses or flats for rent by H.H. Harding and Mrs. R.E. Hodgins. In the same issue E.A. Sutherland, the car dealer, was selling "second hand Fords in good condition."
One of the largest gatherings ever assembled in the Hudson Armory took place Aug. 17, 1922, when U.S. Sen. Robert Marion LaFollette gave an address "on political topics of the day in the interest of his candidacy for re-election."
Ministers at the local churches back in 1922 include Msgr. J.A. Barney of St. Patrick's Catholic Church; the Rev. John Fisher, Methodist; the Rev. N.P. Tuleen, Zion Lutheran; the Rev. E.A. Standberg, Scandinavian Mission; the Rev. Vernon N. Robbins, Baptist; the Rev. T.C. Eglin, Episcopal; the Rev. Edward H. Joesting, Trinity Lutheran; the Rev. N.L. Bloomholm, Ebenezer Lutheran; and the Rev. J.S. Wilson, Presbyterian.
Some random local news items of November 1922:
--Baby (E. Fred) Kermott, grandson of Mr. and Mrs. F.O. Crary, who is seriously ill with pneumonia, is reportedly somewhat better though still very sick.
--Mr. and Mrs. Hans Hanson drove to Northfield, Minn., with Haakon S. Offerdahl and visited Miss Edith Hanson at St. Olaf College.
--Miss Pearl Mayer is teaching this year at Aurora, Ill.
--Mrs. Carrie M. Goss observed her 88th birthday on Wednesday at her Second Street home where she has lived for 50 years.
--A son, Frederick Emil, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Emil Nagel, Nov. 7.
--Mr. and Mrs. William H. Phipps left for their winter home in Valrico, Fla.
--Mrs. Harry Hellweg entertained the members of the GAR yesterday at a 5 o’clock dinner to honor J.H. Hellweg of Hayward.
--Ernest Starr and Dr. Arnold S. Lademan are among the deer hunters at Gordon.
--Jasper Cronk and son Richard returned from Spring Brook where they had been trying to get their quota of deer.
That was the Hudson of 82 years ago. Changed? Yes. It was a simpler time, a slower pace, when the whole world was a little more innocent and idealistic.