My turn

Celebrate Lansing’s history with us today

2013-03-03T00:00:00Z Celebrate Lansing’s history with us todayCarrie Steinweg Times columnist
March 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

I’ve been looking forward to this afternoon’s festivities for a few weeks now. Monday is the date the vote took place to incorporate Lansing and the nearby communities of Bernice and Oak Glen into the village of Lansing in 1893. Can you imagine what life must have been like back then?

Think of the conveniences and luxuries of modern life that we would not have had living here then – cars, indoor plumbing, electricity, paved roads, fast-food restaurants, microwave ovens, plastic of any kind, computers, telephones, iPods, shopping malls and much, much more.

It kind of makes you wonder what folks did with their time back then. A lot of it was spent working and doing chores and spending time together with family. Time was spent building things rather than buying things. If there was music, it probably came from a family member playing an instrument. Communication was done by pulling out a piece of stationery and handwriting a letter. And transportation was either by horse or train.

Today’s events begin with a historical tour of Lansing by Paul Schultz. Paul has been leading his walking tour down Ridge Road every June for about 30 years. Today, the tour will be by bus and will extend west to Torrence Avenue. If you want to get in on Paul’s tour, meet at noon behind Gayety’s, 3306 Ridge Road.

At 2 p.m. inside the American Legion Hall, the Lansing Veterans Ceremonial Honor Guard and the Lansing Fire Department Honor Guard will present colors and a reading of the original incorporation papers by Village Trustee Mikal Stole.

There will be cake, children’s activities and a historical display to give a glimpse at what Lansing was like in the early days. I’m also planning to play dress up on that day in a cool Victorian-style dress I purchased online. I couldn’t convince anyone else to dress up with me, but some other historical society members helped get that outfit ready to go. Patty Eidam did alternations on the dress and Jen Saia made a headpiece for me. Since as a young girl I was idolizing Laura Ingalls Wilder much more than Barbie, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to wear something from that era.

I hope you’ll also stop by the Lansing Historical Society on March 9 when we’ll be holding an open house from 10 a.m. until noon with displays of clothing and housewares and other items from the late 1800s and a player piano will play tunes of the time.

Last Tuesday, the Lansing Historical Society held their February meeting at T.F. South High School in conjunction with the T.F. South History Club with guest speaker Ken Rapier, of the DODO Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen. Rapier talked about the history of the all-black air squadrons during World War II and showed a video titled “Who Says Black Men Can’t Fly?” about the original Tuskegee Airmen, the DODO Chapter and the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles Program. Rapier is a volunteer pilot with the program and gives free flights to youngsters one day each month at the Gary Airport in his plane, which is painted to resemble a World War II Red Tail plane. To make a reservation for a free flight, call (773) 602-2880.

We were excited to have a huge turnout. More than 200 guests of all ages attended the meeting and we owe many thanks to Chris Roberts and Jake Gourley for accommodating the historical society and allowing us to hold the meeting at the school. Following Rapier’s talk, T.F. South senior Mitchell Seymour spoke about a book he’s written about World War II from the perspective of a rifle. He also prepared a display of military items. Best of luck to him as he finishes school this spring and then heads off to boot camp with the U.S. Marine Corps.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at

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