Tag Archives: aurora


Fifty years ago, subdivisions were sprouting in the cornfields and bean fields in Illinois. The 1960’s and 1970’s were a time of rapid growth in the housing stock at the edges of major metropolitan areas such as Aurora, Rockford, and Bloomington-Normal.

Ranch houses, tri-levels, and two-story homes were popular styles. Most had attached garages, and the backyards were often enclosed with chain link fences. The homeowners planted shade trees on the boulevard and in the backyard. They spent time and money mowing, watering, and fertilizing the grass. They took pride in ownership of a beautiful new home.

Margaret, her husband, and their four children lived in one of these new houses. She was a stay-at-home mom, and her children were allowed to be free range children. That meant they roller skated on the sidewalks, shot basketballs into hoops mounted on rooftops above the garages, and played baseball on the diamond at the elementary school. The boys on the street made a go-cart out of wood and an old lawnmower chassis and gave rides to the younger boys.

AND THERE WERE THE DIRT HILLS. Since this was a new subdivision, the last row of houses backed up to a large piece of vacant land. The builder had dug a retention pond, installed concrete sewer pipes, and piled up a huge mound of dirt next to the retention pond. Many a young boy rode his dirt bike down from the top of the mound of dirt. In fact, some became so skilled that they could ride at full speed down the dirt hill and land on a raft in the lake.

The children grew up, got married, and moved away. Margaret and her husband continued to live in the house. When Margaret was in her late seventies, her health began to fail. She could no longer climb the steps into the house so her husband built a ramp in the garage.

As Margaret’s illness progressed, she needed 24/7 care from CNAs who came to her home. This was a tremendous help to Margaret and to her husband. It allowed her to continue to stay in her own home for a period of time. Later, she was admitted to a hospital and died there at age eighty-one.

If you have a family member who needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses and (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

To hear the Beatles, the English rock band, sing “With A Little Help From My Friends” from their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, go to With A Little Help From My Friends—You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C58ttB2-Qg.

—By Karen Centowski



What fun and creative things can an American Home Health pediatric private duty nurse do with a child? Think about it. A whole world exists outside the walls of the house or apartment. With the permission of a parent, a nurse can take a child outside for a walk or to the neighborhood playground or even to a movie theater.

Almost every child old enough to walk loves to be outside. This provides not only a chance to take a break from the indoor routine but also to explore the sights and sounds of nature. Take a walk in the neighborhood. Explore the outdoors.

Encourage a young child to listen for animal sounds. If you say, “I hear puppy barking. What does puppy say?” The child will answer, “Woof, woof.” If you say, “I hear birds singing. What do the birds say?” The child will answer, “Tweet, tweet.” Any child who has a Fisher-Price See ‘n Say The Farmer Says Toy will already know the recorded sounds of many farm animals. Now’s an opportunity to hear the sounds of animals in the neighborhood.

Encourage the child to look for animals in the yards and trees. It is easy to find dogs and cats. With a little luck, you will find rabbits and squirrels. Stop to watch the animals. It is amazing to see a squirrel’s nest high up in the trees or to watch a squirrel come scampering down the trunk of a tree. Cottontail rabbits are common in yards and gardens in Illinois. You might even come upon a rabbit’s nest with baby bunnies. Look for nests in safe, sheltered places such as under a bush or in a crevice between rocks or even in a hollow log.

Young children are fascinated by things they find on these walks. Pinecones of various sizes, leaves, flowers, insects, and worms interest them. You’ll probably have to have a standard rule of “Look, but don’t touch.”

Make an exception for leaves from trees. Collecting leaves can be fun and educational. An older child can even press colorful leaves between pages of a book or catalog. Then the child can learn to identify the type of tree by studying its leaf.

When you were a child, did you ever use colored chalk to draw pictures on sidewalks? Do you remember playing hopscotch on the sidewalk? Perhaps you remember sitting on the steps of the front porch blowing bubbles. These old-fashioned pastimes still delight children today.

Have you ever laid on the grass on a sunny day and watched the clouds? You and the child can do this, too. The two of you can talk about what you see. Do the clouds look like mashed potatoes? Are they moving across the sky? You might even try having the child draw a picture of the clouds in the sky.

If you have a grand old movie theater within walking distance, you might be able to take an older child to an afternoon matinee. Whether you are a child or an adult, there’s nothing like seeing a Walt Disney classic on a big screen.

Outdoor activities will give your client a change of scenery and enrich his life. Try it. I guarantee that a few days later the child will ask you, “Can we go outside?”

By Karen Centowski



During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the formation of the Civil Works Administration in 1933. The federal government hired unemployed men to build parks, repair schools, construct athletic fields and swimming pools. Others tutored the illiterate. At its inception, the program employed 2.5 million in a month’s time. At its peak, it employed 4 million. CWA workers earned $15 a week.

One of the projects was the Phillips Park Lake Excavation Project in Aurora, Illinois. During the digging in a boggy area in 1934, the work crew discovered mastodon bones. On March 7, 1934, the work crew uncovered a massive mastodon skull buried in the swampland. The skull weighed 188 pounds.

Other mastodon bones were also recovered. These include a 92-pound lower jaw, a 6-foot-long tusk, ribs, and vertebrae. The bones are estimated to be 10,000 to 20,000 years old. The mastodon bones are currently on display at the Mastodon Gallery at the Phillips Park Visitors Center.

Since the first discovery of mastodon bones in New York in 1705, mastodon bones have been found across the United States. In 1739 bones were found in Kentucky by French soldiers. Some time later, bones were found in South Carolina. Soon after that, bones and tusks were discovered in Ohio. According to https://en.wikipedia.org, fossils range from Alaska and New England in the north, to Florida, southern California, and as far south as Honduras.

The name “mastodon” comes from two Greek words and means “breast tooth.” The French naturalist George Cuvier assigned that name in 1817 because of the nipple-like projections on the crowns of its molars.

Mastodons, which are now extinct, are distantly related to elephants. They lived in herds and ate a mixed diet obtained by browsing and grazing. What is the difference between browsing and grazing? Browsing means the animal feeds on leaves, soft shoots, or fruits of high growing, generally woody, plants such as shrubs. Grazing means the animal feeds on grass or other low vegetation.

In the article “Mastodon” on https://en.wikipedia.org, the author describes the appearance of the mastodon: “The American mastodon resembled a woolly mammoth in appearance, with a thick cost of shaggy hair. It had tusks that sometimes exceeded 5 meters (16 ft.) in length; they curved upwards, but less dramatically than those of the woolly mammoth.” The average body size of a mastodon was around 7 ft. 7 in. in height at the shoulders. However, large males could grow up to 9 ft. 2 in. in height. One mastodon fossil was 10.7 ft. tall.

What caused the mastodon to become extinct between 10,000 and 11,000 years ago? Scientists are not exactly sure why this happened. Paleo-Indians entered the Americas in relatively large numbers 13,000 years ago. Their hunting may have caused a gradual reduction in the numbers of mastodons. Another factor may have been the loss of the mastodon’s habitat due to changing climates.

—By Karen Centowski


Sears Honor Bilt

Almost a hundred years ago, several geological surveys commissioned by Standard Oil revealed a seven-foot tall seam of coal in the ground at Schoper, Illinois, located about eight miles from Carlinville. As an added bonus, this seam of coal was near the Chicago and Alton rail line which ran between the refineries in Wood River (near St. Louis) and Whiting, Indiana (near Chicago). Since coal was used to refine crude oil and turn it into gasoline, Standard Oil moved full speed ahead to purchase a 500-acre farm in Schoper and sunk a 300-feet deep coal mine.

To provide housing for the mineworkers, Standard Oil placed a $1 million order for 192 Honor-Bilt houses from Sears Roebuck and Company. This was the largest order ever placed in the history of the Sears “kit” homes. One hundred and fifty-six homes were built in Carlinville. Twelve were built in Schoper. Twenty-four were built in Wood River.

The twelve houses in Schoper were built for the supervisors of the mine. Boarding houses and dorms were also built for the miners.

The houses in Carlinville were built in a twelve-block area and came to be known as the Standard Addition. Pictures of the Standard Addition homes, some of which were not completely finished, appeared in the 1919 and 1920 Sears Modern Homes catalog. The completed homes appeared in the 1921 Sears Modern Homes catalog.

By the mid-1920s, the price of coal had dropped. According to http://www.searshomes.org, “Standard Oil could now buy their coal cheaper from mines in Kentucky (which did not have unions) than they could mine it in Macoupin County. In July 1925, a small column on the bottom page of the Macoupin County Enquirer sadly announced the mine was closed for good.”

What happened to the houses? Nine of the Sears homes in Schoper were taken apart, loaded onto boxcars, and sent to new locations. Two of the Sears homes were moved to sites just outside of Standard Addition. One hundred and fifty-two of the Sears homes in Carlinville still stand today.

To see a video about the Sears homes in Carlinville, go to Illinois Adventure # 1206 “Carlinville” – You Tube at href=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6ynNGCtFUw.

To see a video about the Magnolia, the most expensive model, go to The Modern Sears House: The Magnolia at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b8nn0ek0qyQ.


Nursing Talk

Dear Cassandra:

Sometimes I think about the awesome duty of being responsible for the life of my client. So many things can go wrong. Private duty nurses face ventilators which malfunction, gang members in the neighborhood, the danger of carbon monoxide build-up in the home, gas leaks, rotting floors, runaway wheelchairs, school bus accidents, and the danger of fire or flame near oxygen. How can I be sure I can keep my client safe?

Worried in Waukegan


Dear Worried,

First, let me say that your fears are perfectly normal. What parent responsible for a baby has not gone in to look at the child just to be sure that he is breathing? In fact, studies have shown that the most important factor in the survival of a child to age three is the loving care of a parent/adult.

Although your client is not your child, you feel the same responsibility to care for the child and keep him safe. Your job is complicated by the fact that you take care of a medically fragile child.

Human beings have an amazing ability to react to emergency when survival is at stake. Exhibiting superhuman physical strength, men are able to lift cars off of accident victims pinned underneath. Others work for days to rescue a child who has fallen down a well. Firefighters dash into a burning building to rescue the inhabitants.

Sometimes having a clever idea is the key to survival. My favorite example of an unusual survival skill is the true story of an attorney who went hunting with his buddies in the swamps of the Deep South. Somehow, he and his dog got separated from the rest of the group. Trying to find the way out, the hunter waded for hours through the murky water filled with snakes, turtles, and alligators. When he was exhausted, he would sit on a fallen log. His dog would swim over to the log and climb out of the water to rest, too. Night came. Still no rescue.

The next morning the hunter heard the sound of a small plane flying over the area, apparently searching for them. The plane even passed overhead, but, since the hunter was dressed in camouflage, the rescuers did not see him. Then he had an idea! He ripped off his white Jockey briefs and tied the underwear to the barrel of his gun. When the plane flew over again, the hunter waved the gun with the white cloth tied to the barrel, and the rescuers saw it. Saved by “tighty whities!”

The honest truth is that you cannot be sure that you can keep your client safe. You can only do your best. Review safety procedures. Try to anticipate dangers. Try to prevent accidents. Have a plan of action in place in case of emergency. Should those fail, keep calm, use your wits, and remember the story of the hunter saved by his underwear.


Note: First published on American Home Health's news, May 2011.