Life in Montgomery during the Great Depression
By way of introduction, I'm Gene Michaels, lifelong resident of Montgomery. I havespent my entire life living and working in the Village. I would like to share mymemories along with stories told to me by my father and others of his generation.Montgomery of the 1930's was a typical small, rural community caught in the throesof the "Great Depression." The original Village was situated between the Fox River onthe east, the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad on the west, the Kane Countyline on the south and Riverside Cemetery to the north.
With a population of 550 people, the population sign on Route 31 never changed until after World War II. Montgomery was a satellite community with direct access to downtown Aurora. Transporation was provided by, first, the street cars, and later the buses of the Aurora city lines. Upon mentioning the fact that you were from Montgomery, you were viewed as being from a faraway rural community, when in reality, you were closer to downtown Aurora than a goodly part of that city itself. I mention downtown Aurora because in the 30's it was the hub of the lower Fox River Valley.
Town meetings of the 30's were as much a smoker as a business meeting. When the you consider the fact that one man, Ed Keasler, was both the Police Department and road maintenance man, budgeting was much, much simpler. Refuse removal was the backyard rubbish burner and the town dump at the south end of Main Street, available at your convenience.
It was in this setting I grew up and was left with many fond memories. If I had to make one comment about Montgomery of the 30's, it would be that nothing seemed organized, but everything got done. We always had a baseball team, but early signup was not required. Just bring your mitt and be ready to play. The hardships of the 30's brought about by the Depression created a bond amongst people that led to a strong spirit of community. This spirit of community made these times a lot more enjoyable.
I plan to touch on other yarns about early Montgomery in future entries. If you have memories or pictures of early Montgomery to share with everyone, please feel free to call me at 897-3164. -- Gene Michaels