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Joan Knows: The telephone blues

It is time to throw the telephone out the window, even at the risk of getting a burst of cold air.

Dumping it into the river can be an alternative. Too much aggravation.

For example, I called a local health-care facility; talked to four different people; and got put on hold twice before accomplishing my business.

I also called the out-of-town nursing home where a relative has been a longtime resident – it was his birthday.

 When I asked for him by name, the reply was, “Who?”

 After spelling the name twice, I was transferred to the desk on the first floor.

“Not here,” she said.

So, the operator rang the second floor. After a dozen rings, there was no answer.  The operator agreed to page him. No response.

So, she rang the second floor again. The voice on the line asked me to identify the person and, after doing so, the voice said: “He’s right here. Do you want to speak to him?” 

After an admittedly sassy response, he declared, “You have a bad attitude, lady.”

Clearly the telephone itself gets a  reprieve. Here’s a “go jump in the river” to my protagonists.

On another note, the four corners of West Main Street and Second Street, the center of my world in those good old days of the ’50s, have been completely transformed.

To me, that intersection was the gateway to all that any mall would provide – Gartner’s Bakery, the National Bank, Bagge Drugs and Larson and Johnson’s Men’s Clothes. In a shorter walk than the mall, there was a movie theater, super market and mom-and-pop grocery stores, more banks, drug stores, a couple of hardware stores, candy stores, jewelry stores and a cab stand with a monkey.

Familiar name such as Colson’s, Kroger’s, A&P, Broman’s, Essig’s, Rehm’s, Klick and Worthley, Block’s, Niemen’s, Mack Brother’s. Jerry Fisher and George Simon migrated up and down the street.

There were several taverns, but – for the most part – the patrons behaved themselves and made use of the indoor toilets. 

Recall Palable Lounge, the Walnut Room, Three Deuces, Roman’s, Martin Johnson Roman’s, and around the corner, there was Triest’s, Frohlings, Carlson’s and my favorite – The Oasis.

Must not forget the record store and the original Blue Goose. Thinking back – it WAS a mall. We just called it “downtown.”

 Finally, a farewell to our neighbor and friend, Elsie Risch. 

She was the descendant of another friend, widely – and affectionately – known as Harriet the Belgian Queen.

My best memory of Elsie is the daily walk passed our house with her dog. More than once she brought over her spare perennial plants to share.

I shall look forward to the appearance of her Black-Eyed Susans in the spring and think of her smiles and generous heart.

 Have to go now, the phone is ringing. Don’t ask me who is calling. The caller ID is likely to say “number unavailable,” “private caller,” “out of area” or a name I don’t recognize. 

The caller, with no prior greeting or identification will ask for my spouse. 

Open that window. Here comes the phone!

• Joan Arteberry is a longtime resident of St. Charles. Her columns are featured in the Kane County Chronicle’s Neighbors section every other Friday. Write to her at

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