A look at
Minonk's past

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A Tale from the Palm Trees

by Albin Johnson

I shall begin by telling you about "Mynunk". I was born in1930 and grew up in the 40's which historians consider "the greatest generation". I can feel a part of this era because I had an older sister who married a soldier and she also had many classmates who served in WW II. Most of these veterans came home to Minonk to help create a new life. I witnessed this while trying to find my nitch among all these heroes. My dream was to attend Annapolis, but alas my poor grades forsook me! I concentrated on high school "activities", ruefully not academics. I had some artistic talent and a fond desire to play basketball, albeit not as good as I would have liked. I was popular, but considering my graduating class had only about 35 seniors, who wasn't? I had a car, a tattoo, a white letter sweater, Penny loafers, white Tee shirt and rolled up Levis. My friends were Don, Merle, Dave, John, Mike, Gene, Stan, Willie, Mac, and Jim to name a few. I was also fortunate that my father would take us most summers to his birth home in Lake City, Minnesota. I considered it my second home. Here and elsewhere I would be asked where I lived and I would answer proudly "Minonk". They would say "where?" and "what kind of name is that?" I replied it's Indian, as that was what I was told when our school changed its nickname from "Miners" to " Mohawks" [that's not politically correct now]

A few years ago while on vacation, my wife and I stopped in Galesburg for a Civil War reenactment and Indian Powwow. We chatted with several Native Americans who knew where Minonk was and believed it was once occupied by nomadic Indians. I also found it surprising that so many Civil War soldiers there were much younger than I. [umm!]

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Names of towns are important to me. My wife is from Monticello, Illinois. We all know who lived in the Virginia one. Then there is El Paso, Toluca, Metamora, Towanda, Pontiac; all interesting names. Eureka! I found it! There is sanity finally with Benson, Washington, Lexington, Dana, Flanagan, and Germantown.

Minonk is unusual to say the least. How about Normal? I was just slightly above that when I went there and my wife was way above normal as she graduated there in just 3 years.

In 1951, I tried traveling the oceans where I read about Horace Greeley, so eventually I "went West" as he suggested and graduated from Colorado State U. and then continued West to the Coast. Keep in mind I am now 27 with 2 kids and had not spent any time back in my hometown nor did I have any expectations of moving there. Why would I? Unlike the returning GIs who saw "Paree" and still returned home, I had seen Casablanca and found it interesting enough to wish I could explore the world.

By now we were both teaching and had summers off and could start family camping across Canada, the U.S. and bus trips to Mexico. As the children, now 4 of them grew older and married, I still did not travel to Minonk but took on the world. There were names like Sarajevo, Nanjing, Kowloon, Quebec, Bangalore, Ocho Rios, Sri Lanka, Varanasi, Aswan, Khania, Skiros, Bologna, Brasov, Leningrad, Haarlem, Nablus, Carcassonne, Perpignan and many others that made the name Minonk seem humble.

I may not remember what we did in those places, but I do know what I did in Minonk. I lived the best young years of my life in this tiny small central Illinois town once noted for its coal mines, clay, opera house and two railroads and stations; then later for hemp, hybrid corn fields, soy beans, and a unified school system called "Fieldcrest".

Now at 72, I've found time to relive my "Chocolate Shop" years by discovering a web site called Minonktalk and a new friend called Dave. He has done more to stimulate interest in this town in only one year than anyone I have known including Babe Smith.

As the current High School Seniors graduate, most will flap their wings and travel to "Far away place with strange sounding names" [can you hum it?] but they can be sure that Mynunk and Theirnunk can be found on the internet. Thanks Dave