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Marlene Cook

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Marlene Cook is a Lansing resident who loves learning and writing about local history. A member of the Illinois Women's Press Association since 1973, she has won multiple IWPA awards. Her 2020 awards in the Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest included first place for columns and second place for nonfiction book in the history category.

Lansing history: The murder of Bohemian Joe

1914 homicide still unsolved By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (November 13, 2022) - Many Lansing residents remember the restaurant Bohemian Joe's, which opened in 2016 and sold to Dixie Kitchen in 2018. (See Bohemian Joe's says goodbye, published April 2018.) Bohemian Joe's was located at the northwest corner of Torrence and...

Lansing history: The Lansing Fire Department

Serving Lansing for 100 years By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (October 9, 2022) - This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Lansing Fire Department, which was organized into an official fire-fighting unit on July 13, 1922. October 9–15 is Fire Prevention Week this year, and that gives us an opportunity...

Lansing history: The Lans Theater building

From movie theater to pizza parlor, a unique venue has overcome difficulties to serve the community By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (September 13, 2022) - It was in September 1945 that The Times first reported, “Plans and specifications have been completed for a $100,000 movie theater in Lansing. The land has...

Lansing history: Stories of Lansing street names

Fred, Ada, William, Henry, and others were people before they were streets By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (August 13, 2022) - Have you ever wondered how a street got its name? There are approximately 125 street names in Lansing — not counting the numbered streets — and more than seven square...

Lansing history: Rispens Seeds, a growing family business

By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (July 2, 2022) - The year was 1918. A young and restless Martin Rispens, who would reach his 18th birthday on December 3, was dreaming of what opportunities he might have in America, “the land of milk and honey.” So he left his moder Antje, his...

Lansing history: Lan-Oak Park – 20 acres of community spirit

By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (June 2, 2022) - Lansing families owe a debt of gratitude to Dorothy Olas and all who joined her in 1947 in a mission to create a place for children to play. Their work led to the development of Lansing’s first park — Lan-Oak Park. From...

Lansing history: Collected facts about the Lansing News Agency

By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (April 22, 2022) - In days of yore, the newspaper business required a lot more than publishers, journalists, and editors. There were proofreaders, page layout crews, headline writers, typesetters, printers, distributors, truck drivers, and let’s not forget the young carriers, who at that time were...

Lansing history: From a single typewriter, to rolls of newsprint, to a team of laptops

The Lansing Journal's story is one of necessity and community By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (April 22, 2022) - The original Lansing Journal newspaper was born out of necessity and survival. The year was 1931, and the Great Depression was changing lives. There were no jobs. Banks were closing. Families were...

Lansing history: How Lansing got its own museum

By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (April 4, 2022) - “Oh look at this — what is it? How does it work?” We hear a lot of those kinds of questions from youth who visit the Lansing Historical Museum. The museum houses a lot of hands-on items from days of yore...

Women’s History in Lansing: Agnes Smithgall and Rilla Zabel – They created a clothing store for kids

By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (March 28, 2022) – Agnes Smithgall worked in the business office of Illinois Bell Telephone Company in Hammond. Rilla Zabel worked as a buyer and clerk in a Hammond department store. They didn’t know each other until one day Smithgall approached the counter as a...