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Columnist
Elgin area headlines from January 1909
By Jerry Turnquist | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 1/4/2009 12:01 AM

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"I don't believe Elgin Mayor Arwin Price is really giving up drinking?"

"It's about time the high school basketball coach is getting tough with players who smoke."

"That woman race car driver from Elgin is really putting the city on the map."

These are some of the comments people might have made after reading the newspapers of January 1909. Here's a look at those and other stories that made Elgin area headlines in January 1909.

• Known for his weakness for the bottle, Elgin Mayor Arwin Price, who had recently been elected to the state legislature, announced at a local political gathering that he was giving up drinking. It was due to the influence of wife and not any group who had been praying for him, Price explained.

"No longer will it be necessary for reporters to travel their beats heavily armed or real estate agents to duck when they behold the mayor's appearance," said a reporter in reference to two of Price's drunken escapades of the past year.

• Anyone caught smoking would be dropped from the basketball team, the Elgin High School basketball coach announced. Among those recently removed was the team captain, as well a guard who was labeled "a good man." The coach said he would have no trouble in finding five young men on the school body if those currently on the team could not follow his rules.

• With thousands of paid admissions at the nickel theaters, there was little doubt that Elginites were embracing this new form of entertainment. Scarcely a year old, the city's four entertainment venues were attracting those wishing to see short comedies or sights from around the world. Some even planned "progressive theater parties" going from location to location for the one hour shows.

• Should women be allowed to vote? When that question was posed to a number of area men in this era in which women were only allowed to cast ballots for college trustees, most showed very little support for a change.

"Most decidedly not," said a local lumber dealer. "I believe women should be kept out of politics and remain in the home."

"This is a free country and if women want suffrage let them use their influence to get it," said the city clerk.

"Whatever the women do is all right with me," added a city councilman.

• After gaining fame as the first woman to drive from Chicago to New York and back again in a car, Elginite Alice Byrd Potter was set to return to the spotlight in another national setting - Mardi Gras. Organizers of the popular annual event said they planned to make automobile racing a prominent part of the festivities and feature a race between Potter and a rival woman driver from New York. Potter was set to face her opponent in a race in Chicago two years earlier, but the contest was called off when her competitor's car developed mechanical difficulties. Potter drove the course anyway as the only vehicle on the track.

• Would South Elgin get its own high school? That's what residents were wondering after village officials discussed the merits of a high school at one of their meetings.

"Many people in the village have long felt the need," newspapers reported.

South Elgin, which had two elementary schools at the time, was expected to vote on the question of a senior high school at the next election. It would take nearly a century, however, until the dream became a reality with the opening of South Elgin High School in 2005.

• Finally, at least $1,000 was needed to properly complete Elgin's Wing Park Golf course, a subcommittee told the full city council. This is money well spent, they added, saying thousands of dollars more was expended for Chicago's recently completed Garfield Park course, yet the Elgin course will still be "better." A June 1 opening was planned for the 2,300 yard west links which would come with a "bogey" of 41 - a score earned by a player shooting one stroke over par on each hole.