Naperville native Frank Osterland (1916-2009) was PN’s first contributing writer. Osterland had become my email buddy back in the late 1990s when I was a columnist for the Daily Herald. When PN was launched Labor Day weekend 2001, Frank and his wife, Gertrude, were volunteering with Audrey and Chuck Bueche in the Jaycees Last Fling Sponsors Tent. I knew the Bueches from Jaycees’ meetings, but I was unaware the two couples were longtime friends. I still recall they were rolling plastic tableware into napkins when I handed them our first complimentary issue. Shortly thereafter, Frank Osterland began submitting his memories from a collection he’d written in the 1990s.
Several times a week after PN was launched, Mayor George Pradel would call. “Hello. This is George,” he’d say. And he’d ask if anything special were on that day’s calendar. One morning after Last Fling 2002, Mayor Pradel called to ask if we could use a graphic designer to lay out our pages electronically for print production. After more than a year of “cut and paste” for our newspaper that steadily had grown from eight to 24 pages, the time-saving idea definitely was appealing. He suggested Lynette Klingbeil. And a longtime creative relationship began for which I’ll always be grateful.
Soon, Naper Nostalgia became a regular feature, inspired by Barbara Hogan Hile. She first provided 11 memories, including “Wheel-O-Meal, a hamburger drive-in with car hops, used to be on the corner of Columbia and Ogden. When they rang up your order, a wheel of lights went around and you could win a hamburger or a drink.”
Alva Jean Chastain sometimes sent vintage photos from her collection.
At first Naper Nostalgia was devoted to memories and photos from the 1900s. (Click here for “Vintage Little League.) Today Naper Nostalgia is more likely to feature memories since the turn of the new millennium.
Then came stories featuring contributing columnists beginning with Barb Dwyer, followed by Patti Koltes who now is our longest-running contributor. Over time, and with the advent of snippets on social media, we’ve built our pages with a plethora of different perspectives from local writers to provide a broad mix of community interests, aiming to set us apart as a hyperlocal news source.
Without question, “Ed’s Many Hats” attracted the most feedback during the decade Ed Channell wrote about the antics that enriched his life. He first called it quits after writing 108 columns, boasting that he’d written for 10 years. When his friends called him out, questioning his calculations, he wrote another 12 columns. And occasionally, he’ll submit another story just for fun.
In 1996, I first met my favorite Naperville Sun columnist at a luncheon and overtime we became friends. I welcomed his thoughtful insights and written commentary on public issues. And we often sat together at luncheon meetings. When Mayor Pradel announced he was preparing to run for his third term in 2003, even though unopposed, Tim West suggested PN was running too many photos of the Mayor at local events. In one issue, Tim said he’d counted five! Lesson learned.
“Greetings from Our Readers” included a quote attributed to Mark Twain who correctly had noted, “He was as shy as a newspaper is when referring to its own merits.” Twain’s thought is likely why it’s taken nearly 21 years for us to publish a quote by Mike Skarr in this month’s Naper Nostalgia, a thought in 2002 that truly made us blush.
“Gender Chuckles” found its space on “Hodge Podge” after a humorous suggestion from son Jeff Penick. “Worldly Words” was an idea from John Harvard. Original poetry first was submitted by Greg Asimakoupoulos and more recently by the Naperville Writers Group coordinated by Mike Albrow. “Lasting Impression,” featured bottom right on the next to last page, was inspired by graphic designer Tom Tortorich, who also created the logo for Kindness in Naperville.
Just recently, another feature was suggested called “Musings with Naperville Wil.” When space permits, we might give it a try.
Twenty-one years later, our stash of memories that started with our first publication on Sept. 1, 2001, is sacred to us. While many of those early contributors are no longer with us; they may be gone, but not forgotten.
And thanks to our network of faithful readers in print and online who appear to see the value of investing time in our free speech and ever wonders. We aim to push forward, mindful that the first time a subhead boldly stated that “PN is preview rather than review” was in September 2003.