Sunday, June 10, 2018

New Ko-Op Cafe Opens - September 17, 1961

Coe, Nancy (Sept. 27, 1961). “Walt Warmoth Opens New Restaurant; Enters 21st Year of Business in the City.” Daily Eastern News, p.10.

A cigarette and a cup of coffee are the trademarks of a man who can usually be seen leaning against the cash register at Walt’s Cafe - Walt Warmoth.

Walt had been in business for some 20 years at two locations near the campus. His restaurants have been favorite gathering places for students and faculty alike.

Warmoth’s latest venture, the Ko-Op Cafe, opened Sept. 17, on the location previously occupied by the original Ko-Op.

The old Ko-Op, Walt’s first restaurant, was erected on Lincoln St., just east of Seventh, in March, 1940. It served students until 1959, when construction of Route 17 (State Hwy 16) resulted in the condemnation of the building.

Warmoth then started Walt’s Cafe, often called the “Open,” on the corner of Fourth and Lincoln. The new Ko-Op was open for business only six weeks after his August decision to re-build the cafe.

Things have started off real well at the Ko-Op,” said Walt. ”It’s a good traffic corner.”

Under the direction of Larry Mizener, who has been with Walt as manager since 1952, the Ko-Op will operate much the same as Walt’s. Both restaurants function entirely with student help consisting of some 30 men.

“Many of the guys who have worked for me in the past have tremendously good jobs now?, Walt said. “Some have even opened their own restaurants.”

Howard Skidmore, flight-service commander to the carrier that picked up astronaut Alan Shepard after his space flight, worked for Warmoth during his college career. “Skidmore is a good man,” Walt said. “Recently, he sent me pictures of the pick-up. It was really something.”

Walt commented that he never seemed to have many big problems with his businesses. “I suppose I could find some if I really looked, but I just enjoy the work,” he said.

A sports enthusiast and Panther fan, Walt attends most of Eastern’s games, as he said “according to season.”

Walt attended Eastern in 1935 and 1937. He then entered the University of Illinois medical school. When asked just why he left the university, he replied, “I decided that hamburgers smelled better than formaldehyde.”

Monday, March 26, 2018

Update on Dr. Edward Brown

March 2018
I recently revisited the church website for Skokie Valley Baptist Church (Wilmette, IL) and noticed that Ed was no longer listed as their Senior Pastor. He has retired.

In checking for information online, I discovered this article (Great story of his experiences):

Hurtado, Allison. The Skokie Story: The Bumpy, Rewarding Road to Diversity. Converge MidAmerica.

Visit an earlier posting: "Eddie" Brown, Today That's Dr. Edward & Pastor

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Walt Warmoth's Story - Part 2

This article contains some of the same or similar information with others posted before; however it also covers a little new ground.

(February 21, 1964). “Walt’s Boys Succeed . . . Eastern State News, p. 3.

As far as college “hangouts” Eastern takes a backseat to none. Many students find that Walt’s, the Ko-Op and Little Campus provide good places to while away their their leisure hours before, between and after classes. Evenings are no different. Many a coke date has been spent at one of these “hangouts.”

A history of Walt’s, the Ko-Op and Little Campus also consists of a history of Walter Warmoth, better known to Eastern students as Walt.

Walt came to Charleston 1935 on an inventory trip for Walgreen’s Drug Store. He returned in 1937 and opened the Little Campus where he had worked during his school days at Eastern. With increased enrollment, he soon found it necessary to build and additional room to accommodate his patrons.

In 1939, Walt further expand his business by buying the Ko-Op. The Ko-Op had been a grocery store, but it was not long before it was converted into a popular Eastern “hangout” serving sandwiches, fountain goods and hot meals.

When Lincoln and Douglas halls were built, Walt recognized the need for another “hangout.” In 1953 Walt’s expanded. For the 1st year the additional room in Walt’s was used for dancing, but the following year tables were placed in the room to accommodate more students.

Ivan “Ike” Kennard became the proprietor of Little Campus in 1948. “Ike” had worked for Walt in 1940 at the Ko-Op.

In 1952, Larry Mizener, an Eastern graduate became the proprietor of he Ko-Op. He had also worked for Walt at the Ko-Op during his college years.

According to Walt, students were most interested in buying complete meals that would “fill them up” when Little Campus first opened, instead of buying odds and ends as they do today. Complete meals then cost 25 to 30 cents.

Little Campus received its best competition from another Eastern “hangout,” when the Panther Lair, then located on the corner where Lincoln Hall now stands, opened.

Walt recalled that the Panther Lair, then directed by Hobart F. Heller, present vice president of instruction, always seemed to undersell him. The present Panther Lair in the University Union is operated by Tim Mitchell, also a former employee of Walt.

Other former employees of Walt manage and own restaurants, snack-bars and cafeterias. At the present time, Walt knows of seven former employees who are connected with university snack-bars and cafeterias.

Walt has a great interest in Eastern students and enjoys working with them. “They’ve always been easy to deal with,” he said.

Walt also said the he’s “in the most pleasant business. My greatest appreciation is that I am able to associate with Eastern students and faculty.”

Walt feels that students today are “smarter” than when he went to school. “Whether it’s due to television or what, I don’t know but I think they’ve learned much since my school days,” he said.

Eastern “hangouts” are always busy, but busiest hours seem to be noon, late evenings and float periods. Sunday evenings, especially in the winter, tend to bring additional business, according to Walt.

The “hangouts” used to be busy during the entire evening, but now it seems that students don’t begin to come in until later. Walt attributes this change to the increase in activities for couples in the evening and to the availability of transportation to other places.

“The total traffic count for a night is not very different though,” he said.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Walt Warmoth's Story - Part 1

To work at the Ko-Op for Larry Mizener made one a part of Walt Warmoth's business too. Walt's, The Ko-op, Ike's Little Campus and later the Short Stop were all connected. I first met Walt at a joint Walt's and Ko-Op Christmas party held at Walt's in Dec. 1964.

It was a great holiday bash with Walt's manager Mike Frazier leading and members of his crew delivering a huge feast with unlimited beverages. Walt was the center of attention. Learned that if you knew how to conduct oneself, you were welcome to visit Walt after closing hours. He held 'court' standing behind the counter with a lit cigarette, a drink in hand, and commanded everyone's attention. At that time, Walt's crew included Jim Mizener (Larry's younger brother), Alan York, Dick Wutche, Bob Bonarigo (Those are the one's that I remember).

Everyone kicked in to help; we had roast turkey, baked ham, and all the trimmings (Way more food than we could eat), and one of Walt's crew moved an organ into the back room to lead us in singing carols (The musical instrument may have been from Donna and Walt's family residence upstairs).

The following year was the Ko-Op's turn to host, but none ever equalled this first one. 
Party lasted into the wee morning hours - and was the best ever!

Left side: Alan York at the grill, unknown beside him, Jim Mizener in glasses,
and possibly Mike Frazier on the far end.
This article in the campus newspaper focused on Walt and his history in Charleston:
Howard, Juanita (Mar. 9, 1955). Walt’s Business Success Tags Title of ‘Mayor of South Charleston’. Eastern State News, p. 3.

Would you like to own a business? What is your chance in it? Well, listen to Walter Warmoth’s story.

A history of the Ko-Op, Little Campus, and the Open consists also of the history of Walter Warmoth, originally a Wabash County resident (Correction: Browns, IL in Edwards County) and former Eastern student.

‘Walt’ as the majority of Eastern students know him, started school here in the fall of 1935. The selection of Eastern to be his alma mater came after viewing the campus while visiting Charleston with the Walgreen’s Drugstore Exchange of Chicago, by whom he was then employed.

“The improvements which have been made in the college since that time are incomparable,” said ‘Walt’, as he thoughtfully lit another cigarette.

He bought the Little Campus in 1937, after having worked there during his school days. With his ready smile, plenty of hard work and ambition, ‘Walt’ soon had to add an additional room to accommodate its student patrons.

The converting of a grocery store to establish the Ko-Op soon followed, serving sandwiches, fountain goods and hot meals.

When Lincoln and Douglas halls were erected, ‘Walt’ saw the need for one more “hangout” for the Eastern students, so, in 1953, he built the Open which has since became another favorite spot for the coke crowd to assemble.

‘Walt’ has been in the restaurant business here for 18 years, with the exception of (Unreadable number) years spent in the armed services and studying medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

When asked about his intentions in this field, ‘Walt’ replied “Although my chief interest was in business, I liked to study.”

‘Walt’ is an active member of the Masons, Elks, American legion and numerous other organizations. He is also an honorary member of the Sigma Tau Gamma social fraternity.

He was married in 1944 to Donna Smith, also a former Eastern grad and has a boy (William) six years old and a girl (Linda) four years old.

Photo of Wallace Walter 'Cy' Warmoth, Walt Warmoth's Uncle.
Professional baseball player 1916-1923.
Pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Senators.
Click on Comments (Below right side) to read more . . .

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Radio and Television

Back in the undergrad days, most of us off-campus dwellers did not have a television. Some including myself did own a radio. I read the campus and local newspapers. Those times when I visited home, I did catch some of the television programs and news.

You may be interested in Doug Quick's "Central Illinois On Line Broadcast Museum." Doug has a long career in radio and television including stints working as a weatherman, newscaster, DJ, program director, promotions and sales manager as well as being the general manager (Station), and much more.

In 2013, Doug Quick received the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle Award based on his work in documenting mid-Illinois television history at his website:

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Mother's Bar Destroyed in Fire

Jarmon, Jarad (February 16, 2018). Mother’s Bar Destroyed in Fire: Officials Call It Worst in Years. Journal Gazette and Times Courier.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

What Charleston Was Like Way Back When . . . (Part 2)

Or at the very least, the way that I remember It?

Note: The first version of this article was originally posted March 4, 2015. However in the following few years, it was updated and improved several times. The size of the article increased significantly with the addition of several vintage advertisements; those changes exceeded limits for the Blogger host site. Therefore it was split into two parts. (Part 1 can be found at it's original space:

Few matchbook covers from decades back

"It has been fifty years since I began working at the Ko-Op in the fall (November 1964) near the end of my first quarter of EIU classes." This continues my memories of the years that I lived in Charleston.

Nearby on the SW corner of the Square was one of two Charleston locations for a Snappy Service Diner. Open twenty-four seven (A rarity in those days), Snappy's was home to a fifteen-cent hamburger (In earlier days, they were a dime), but Snappy's also served breakfast any time of day. Nothing like being up late and sending someone for a bag of ten burger sliders for a buck-fifty. It was also interesting to spend a short-time watching a one-person operation.

Think of a small shotgun building with a counter down the center and half-a-dozen or more stools (Usually full around or after midnight). A dozen or more patties on a smoking hot grill, right next to eggs cooking, and a pot of chile heating behind. Grease from the burgers threatened to float other eggs and patties right of the grill top, while steam and smoke saturated the air. One likely gained a hundred calories just by breathing for ten or fifteen minutes.

A second Snappy's location was near campus, a block west of Old Main, on the south side of Lincoln Avenue. These two locations were part of a small local chain (Believe there was one in Mattoon) with home store in Paris, IL. Those fifteen-cent burgers were relatively small-size (Ten per person was often the choice) and those 'belly-busters' were best eaten hot off the grill. Chase them down with two or three Tums, and they could get you through a late nite. And as I mentioned, Snappy's never closed.

While thinking about the downtown area, who has had a ‘Chinkburger’ from up on Whiskey Row (Block off the Square from the 1st. National Bank)? Chink and Kate’s Bar was on the south side of west Monroe St. You could order a braunschweiger with a big slice of onion and cheese on rye bread, even if you were not old enough to purchase a beer.

Closer to campus, Coffee Time was opened by 1967 and was open late at night and early in the morning.

Also on the southside of the Square was Snyder’s Donut Shop and early in the morning, they delivered a tray of fresh donuts and sometimes a freshly-baked cake roll to the Ko-Op. Fresh cake roll was a treat with ice cream (Choice of soft-served or hand dipped); Larry Mizener often wondered why so much ‘sold’ that first day - - might have been that workers knew when it was fresh, soft and scrumptious too.

advertisement for Snyder's Donut ShopBy Spring of 1965, Snyder’s Donuts was displaced at the Ko-Op by a new donut operation. This shop was operated by the Brooken’s family (Not positive on the name, but he was a former employee of Snyders). The night before Brooken’s Donuts opened, several of us Ko-Op workers accepted an invitation to help with a shake-down run - - making and taste-testing donuts until way after midnight - a hot glazed donut right out of the grease is hard to resist. Those were the days; I ate three to five meals a day and didn’t gain weight (Paying for that appetite development in these later decades).

For over a year, Lyle Mowery and I opened up the Ko-Op at 7 a.m. When we arrived at 6:30, the delivery of milk and ice cream from Mattoon’s Meadow Gold had already occurred. The delivery man had a key and stopped before we arrived on the scene.

Time’s, they kept a changing. Snappy’s and Coffee Time are long gone.

Until recently, it was often said that Charleston did not have and could not support a good restaurant. With very few exceptions; there were not many distinct choices, and I’m not sure if there ever was an outstanding meal in the town? What’s Cookin’ caused a little stir when it opened. Restaurants there trended toward providing low or moderately priced eats - - pub food, fast food, cheap food.

Today Trip Advisor rates Pagliai’s Pizza as number 1 of 44 restaurant in Charleston. As reported in the last censusColes County’s medium household income for a family was estimated to be $ 37,397; twenty-two percent, over 1 in 5 of the current population were rated as being officially poor. I would guess that some people save their dining experiences for a road trip made to Champaign, IL. The good news is that Dirty’s Bar and Grill (What was once the Ko-Op) is rated number three (Update - Dirty's has not held to that rating, Feb. 2018 finds it rated 10th).

Back in ’64, Charleston still had a few neighborhood grocery stores. Pearcy's Market was then open and their processing plant and delivery supplied all of the meats for both the Ko-Op and the Short Stop. There was Haddock’s Grocery up toward the the Square (Don’t remember which street). In the first block north of campus, also on Fourth Street there was Orndorf’s Market (Horney Ornies). Sometime in the Seventies, it was replaced with a dance club (Think spinning glitter ball hanging from the ceiling) and a restaurant named E.L. Crackers. Rumor had it that the owner / builder purchased a remodeling permit and kept one small wall section intact until the outer shell of the new building hid it from view. A permit for added construction on an existing building is much cheaper that one for new construction. Other night spots are / were Marty’s (What was Walt’s back in the day, named after Marty Pattin), Ted’s Warehouse (Live music on weekends, located in the north section of town next to the rail tracks), Stix'sMother’s (Also hosted disco dancing), the Uptowner, and Thirsty’s (Quarter beer nights).

Near the intersection of Fifth Street and Lincoln, the original / first Jimmy John’s was started in a garage (1983) by Jimmy John Liautaud. Jimmy John’s is now a national chain with over two thousand stores in thirty-four states.

The changes in business Enterprises were not limited to food and bar establishments. There were a handful of other stores and shops that I and other EIU students frequented. Finding a good barber in Charleston in those days was difficult. Aron’s Barber Shop was down in front of Old Main near Ike’s, getting a cut there was often the default choice. Cavins and Bayles Clothing had two locations: the Campus shop in the strip mall across Lincoln Avenue from Old Main and another on the inside NW corner of the Square. Jim Edgar (Interview transcript; college years begin about page 59), a President of the EIU student body and the last downstate governor of Illinois, worked there in 1965.

There was one independent book store, the Lincoln Book Shop owned and operated by Tanya Wood (Her husband was an EIU faculty member). Lincoln Books was housed across from Old Main on Lincoln Avenue. In 2004, Tanya and Dr. Leonard Wood died as a result of an auto accident east of Charleston.

Charleston’s town square began a decline in the early Sixties - - after the widening of Lincoln Avenue (Early Sixties), some businesses moved from the town square out near campus. But the Square was and still is vital and the heart of Charleston’s downtown. In the 1964-’68 era, there were still several businesses there. Along with Roc’s Lounge (The Black Front) and the Sportsman Lounge, there was Mack Moore Shoes, a five and dime (Ben Franklin’s? The basement had some restaurant glassware; I purchased some there for the Ko-Op), nearby was Jim Lanman’s Hardware store. The Will Rogers Theater (Opened in 1938) was and is still located on Monroe Street off the northeast side of the town square (Courthouse). Currently it is under restoration.

I’m sure that I left some important businesses off this summary listing; also probably have some errors in my memory. Add your entries and corrections to this posting.

* Joe Lucco coached three legendary basketball players who all played for the U of IL in the late Fifties: Govoner VaughnManny Jackson and Don Ohl. After 39 years as teacher, coach and administrator, Joe retired from Edwardsville School District and was elected to serve as an Illinois State Representative (Democrat, Dist. 56).

** Herb Brooks had worked at Walt’s with Larry Mizener, and in 1964 he was the grade school principal in Rardin. In those days, Herb often helped on Sunday mornings by taking orders and payments at the cash register. After church, customers lined up for our deep-fried chicken dinners. I recognized Herb's ‘Brooks look’ the first time, that first weekend that I worked at the Ko-Op.

Two Brooks brothers and their families lived in Findlay; their kids went to Findlay schools - - first cousins, Charlotte and David, graduated in my class. Herb had been born in Moweaqua and graduated from Lovington High. He had served in the Air Force during the Korean War, then returned to Charleston and EIU. He was a cousin of the Brooks families in Findlay. I later worked with Herb’s younger brother, Jim Brooks, who was a music and band teacher in Urbana Schools.

Herb left Charleston Schools and worked for the University as Assistant Director and later Director of the Student Union (1966-1978). He retired from EIU in 1987 as Director of Veterans Services. By then, Herb had purchased the DQs in Charleston. Herb Brooks, age 69, died in April 2001 at his rural Charleston home. His wife, Darlene, died in Feb. 2012.