I’ve been researching for the Young Adult historical novel I’m writing and it’s amazing and a bit disheartening to find that I was surrounded by history when I lived in Cahokia, Illinois! Who would have guessed that so much of what I knew (and forgot) would now be so relevant. Here’s some examples of what I’ve rediscovered:
- George Rogers Clark set up a court in Cahokia and it acted as a United States territorial courthouse from 1778 – 1801.
- In 1801 William Henry Harrison named the Cahokia Court House the legal and governmental center of an area extending to the Canadian border.
I remember walking and later driving by these buildings: the Old Court House, Holy Family Church and even the Jarrot Mansion. We had learned about them in school, but I didn’t realize their significance at the time.
I can remember Dad growing mutton chops to celebrate Cahokia’s bicentennial. Mom hated those mutton chops, but Dad thought they were cool. Besides he and his Lodge buddies were celebrating Cahokia’s 200th Anniversary. It was January, 1978 when Dad and the other Emith Masonic Lodge members grew beards for the celebration. They decided to grow the beards until after the official celebration was over.
Dad began with a beard, but didn’t like all that hair on his face. It interfered with eating and Mom hated it. I can’t remember all the particulars — it was so long ago — but one day the beard had been replaced by gray mutton chops.
Mom hated those mutton chops. She thought they made Dad look old. You see all my family is blessed with “good genes.” We don’t show our ages, which is a blessing when you’re older, but a curse when young and trying to go bar hopping. I can remember going clubbing with my cousin, and I was the one who always got carded, but I digress.
Anyway Dad looked young for his 67 years. His hair was a light brown, but looked darker because of the hair cream he used. You see this was the ‘7o’s and men “slicked back” their hair. The only gray hair Dad had on his face was at his temples; that is until he grew those mutton chops! I think that’s the biggest reason Mom hated them so much because if Dad showed his age; then people could guess Mom’s age too, and let’s face it: Nobody wants people to know how old they are! I mean would you?
Anyway Mom spent the year looking forward to Cahokia’s official anniversary celebration when Dad would finally shave. That day came and passed and still Dad wouldn’t shave because he loved his mutton chops so much. So Mom did what any young looking wanna be would: she told him how old he looked with all that gray on his face, and that worked!
Now you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with Cahokia’s history and my research; so I’ll tell you: I wouldn’t have remembered this if I hadn’t seen the July 5, 1778 date! Onward…