The Toulon Story
In 1966, when Toulon and the First United Methodist Church celebrated their 125th Anniversary, all the men had to grow beards and the ladies wear long dresses or, otherwise, wear a pin purchased from the city. Without the appropriate pin, Sheriff Ellswroth would arrest you. Toulon was gearing up for the 125th Pageant in mid-August at Old Settlers. Edna McClenahan was the Honoree. She was a petite, soft-spoken lady, with strawberry blonde hair.
Miss McClennahan lived in an imposing two-story white frame house on the northwest corner of Henderson and Main. Her corner bay window diagonally faced the intersection. Inside the front hall was the beautiful, huge, oak-carved staircase. One of her brothers had been the pharmacist at McClenahan’s Pharmacy on Main Street, facing the courthouse. Another brother, Dr. Frank McClenahan, had been the dentist for many years. Dr. Frank and Blanche McClenahan’s grand-daughter, Linda Ublauer, was in my class year.
We were 16. My friend, Dave Cover, (his grandmother, Bertha Cover, had the biggest, pink Olds 98 with chrome all over), invited me with Steve Hatfield, Linda Ublauer and Linda Blank to the Toulon Township High School “Tolo” Dance, celebrating their yearbook. It was in the park behind McClenahan’s Pharmacy and was announced on WKEI Radio “from atop Hotel Kewanee” by Joyce Hatfield, Steve’s mother. Mrs. Hatfield would go on the air at 8:45 a.m., giving local news, including visitors to Toulon.
Fifty years ago (yikes!) the pageant, “The Toulon Story,” took place in August 1966 at the school Athletic Field. It seemed that almost everybody in the town had a part. To this day, I can hear the announcement of Pottowatomi Chief Shab-bo-nee and Blackhawk. The end was unforgettable. The lights went out and members from the Methodist Church came out with candles, forming a big Cross.