Many times in the past I’d think, “why didn’t someone take pictures of common things 30-40 years ago?” I would have loved to see pictures of my town in the 1960s and 1970s, especially the new and used car dealerships! (NOTE: This was before Facebook and all manner of ‘retro’ photo groups popped up.) Things can change so gradually that we don’t notice it until we’re confronted with scenes of normal life from 1991, 1982 or 1965.
Kewanee IL, 2/19/86
But wait! My first job in high school was microfilming closed files at my dad’s office. Today you can simply put a pile of paper into a scanner and it will be imaged into your computer in seconds, but back in the 1990s you used a microfilm camera. I would put a stack of paper on the tray, push the button, remove the sheet just photographed, then repeat. Over, and over.
Yep, it was a repetitive job, but it was still a nice place to work, plus I had a radio! Reading depositions on some of the bar fights, crash reports, etc. was pretty interesting too.
Manteno IL, 7/13/93
As you might guess, the paper copies of the files were retained for a while, just to be safe. At some point in the early 2000s, I was tasked with getting rid of all the paper files. As I went through each file, I noticed there usually was a photo of the bar or restaurant in each file. Once I noticed this, I paid more attention and saw that some were some pretty old photos from the 80s and even the 70s, and most of them had neat (to me, anyway) cars in the background. No one minded if I kept some of the pictures, so I saved quite a few from the landfill. Probably at least a hundred; likely more. That’s where these came from.
Naperville IL, 1/27/93
Most of these photos are circa 1985-97, and were taken all over Illinois. There’s something for everyone, whether you like ornate, boxy Town Cars or Liftback Corollas.
Peoria IL, 3/3/86
You can tell that GM had quite a lot more market share than they do now, and that Japanese cars, while seen, were not in near the concentrations they would be in in another 15-20 years.
Galesburg, IL, 2/21/86
After all, this is the heartland, and us Midwesterners still liked GM a whole bunch, even in the ’80s. And most of them were CARS, not the rolling, tippy toed, drunk stupid combovers we’re plagued with in The Year Of Our Lord, 2021.
Rockford IL, 8/17/94
Another interesting thing in these pictures is all the unique eating establishments. They were very diverse, unlike the usual chain restaurants seen today in any fair-to-middling town. After cars, my second obsession is restaurants, so these are doubly interesting to your author.
South Beloit IL, 12/18/85
Woudn’t you like to pull into Frank and Mike’s in your Country Squire and have a burger basket and a beer? Maybe before going to the Showcase Cinemas to see Ghostbusters or Back To The Future…
Sublette IL, 1/30/86
I can’t help but wonder if any of these establishments are still around. Maybe some of them, but time marches on and everything changes once enough years pass. Just look at that rust free K5 Blazer. Hubba hubba!
Wapella IL, 3/3/86