Company and Aurora Recollections of West High Class of 1961

My dad sold business forms to all the Aurora manufacturers, which is how I got familiar with them. My grandfather was an executive of Stephens-Adamson, about the time they built the equipment that built the Panama Canal.

Some of what transpired since the Sixties includes the migration of retail to the perimeters of the city, the shift of company leadership to out-of-area and sometimes out-of-country owners who are pretty much anonymous. In addition were introduction of many Asian owned organizations with much smaller workforces up to 150-250, a growing use of computers and automation, and the attraction of warehouse and office operations.

The downtown is being transformed into entertainment (Paramount and Hollywood Casino, festivals) and services (city government, banking, attorneys, accountants, etc.). Today's largest employers are the hospitals, school districts, city government, Hollywood, and Caterpillar. Locally owned large employers are probably wholesaler Eby Brown, Amurol, and maybe Farmer's Insurance…

What a great celebration! Freeman School's 75th anniversary open house was yesterday afternoon. Marnie and Frannie were there, as well as about 400-500 others from many different classes spanning the decades, such as Neal Ormond, Barb Hipp, Ann Barber Kaltofen, Mike Oxie, John McKee, my brother, Tom, Barb Anfinson, etc. Of course, Pat Ruffalo Swanson teaches there today and is about to receive a master's degree, as does Susan Solfisburg Davis. Sue was our son Tommy’s 3rd or 4th grade teacher. Both Miss Zidell and Miss Hungar were present, 90 and 98 years old respectively. They made a DVD of all the photos submitted, and most of you are in one or more shots. I believe the school is selling copies… There were all kinds of memorabilia on display, and a former principal, Rick Johnson, did an impersonation of J.H. Freeman. I walked over from Western as if I were on a pilgrimage. It was super to see Linn Ostberg's name in the program as a contributor. Marnie had a couple of Freeman yearbooks with her. Joyce was standing in line with the Junior Misses. Remember the Wolf twins? Robert Rea? John Cofield? All were featured somewhere. Unfortunately, the loudspeaker announced at 4 p.m. that it was time to go - so, I proudly but reluctantly walked home again.

Nancy Smith Hopp

My father, Robert B. Taggart, Sr. was plant manager/ general manager of the New York Airbrake Company in Watertown, New York. He joined NY Airbrake in 1953 and we moved to Watertown from northern New Jersey. We lived in Watertown for two and a half years. During this time Dad managed the operations in Watertown, as well as an acquisition in Kalamazoo, MI, and some work at Aurora Pump. In February 1956, we moved to Aurora when he became general manager.

NY Airbrake had accede Aurora Pump from Frank Main and Lionel Claypool for $3,000,000. It was my understanding that Main and Claypool were founders of the company. I remember thinking what a huge sum of money that was in the 50's. Frank and Rosalie Main lived only a half a block away from us on Highland, so we saw them often.

I worked for Aurora Pump during the summers of 1958 and 1959 taking inventory and painting chain link fences. The plant was located at Louckes and Dearborn St. in east Aurora. Aurora pumps were known for quality and reliability, and "never" failed. Aurora Pump was a pioneer in completely submersible pumps and were the industry standard in the pump business. This was my first job and I learned a lot about manufacturing.

Robert Taggart

Shopping in Aurora in the very old days was Leitz & Grometer, Block & Kuhl, Senenbaughs. I remember Ginsberg's with the pneumatic tubes that shot your money around the store and of course The Book Shop, Marge Henry and more. We had such a vibrant downtown! Today, in Phoenix, the developers are trying to recreate this feeling with "main street" outdoor shopping centers where you can live above the store. They call them lofts but it's the same principal that my grandmother & grandfather called home before they moved to La Grande.

Pam Kohn Hait

I hadn't realized you were looking for responses, which give the whole project such a personal I have to rummage through my fond memories.....I'm coming up with the Isle, Paramount & Tivioli Theaters; Fox Valley SnackShop, which featured Tummy Buster Sundaes; City Hall Pharmacy, cherry cokes at Shafer Drug & Boys Shoe Store...not to mention Cook's Hi Fi, where I nearly bankrupted my parents

Joyce Clark ArtmanSmith

As you know, our industrial base has changed greatly. We are much more a service-oriented community. Toyota (regional headquarters), Kraft (distribution), Farmers Insurance, Met Life, General Foods (distribution) a wholesale lumber yard in the buildings that Barber Green left… These is also Dynaweld trailer production originally for army during Dessert Storm now trailers for private industry, Hyundai’s Midwest distribution center, Card Factory Outlet distribution center, Pet Smart distribution center, Wrigley distribution and more. There must be 20 companies out near Fox Valley…

Donna Floit Olsen

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