larvalbug bytes archives / Main Index / previous / next

LARVALBUG LENS, August, 2014

John (1926-2004), Val's father, and Rusty relax by a stream in IL, 1955. When asked about the photo, Evelyn, Val's mother, offered the following:

"That is one of my favorite pictures. You know all about Rusty - the Wonder Dog*.

The picture was taken on the Island at Wilmington, in the Kankakee River. They are sitting and fishing on the bank of Mill Run - the channel that bypasses the big wide dam above the old US 66A highway (south Chicago Street out of Joliet) that passes through Wilmington. The highway goes past both units of the Ordnance Ammunition Plant - the Kankakee Unit near Elwood and the Elwood Unit on the other side of the highway toward Manhattan and Kankakee, which were misnamed when the locations got mixed up.

Fishing in the Mill Run was usually very productive - the big fish, Black Bass and Catfish, used to hang out in this narrow deep channel. The Island also includes the public park at the upper end where the dam is located. The businesses on the lower island were an auto repair shop and I think a tavern or restaurant. There was also a baseball field there. Of course, the whole island was subject to flooding in the spring when the ice was breaking up.

There was a time when the Mill Run dam broke and the river below the wide concrete dam was almost dry. All the water was rushing through the breached dam before they repaired it."

*The comment about Rusty refers to his abilities as a fishing companion, taking bait or beer to anglers, whether they were on either shore of the river or standing in the middle. The dog understood a large number of commands and was always eager to help out.