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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: 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...

Women’s History in Lansing: Julia Gault – She sued against a mandatory retirement age for teachers

TF South teacher Julia Gault didn't think a mandatory retirement at 65 was right — and a federal appeals court agreed By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (March 21, 2022) – TF South biology teacher Julia Gault made national history when she filed a lawsuit against mandatory retirement at age 65. Julia Gault:...

Women’s History in Lansing: Winifred Edwards Gaetze – She led the library through changes and growth

From flashlights and coal, to storm doors and oil, Winnie Edwards ensured the library could meet the needs of a growing community Above: Winifred Edwards Gaetze served as head librarian for 20 years. This photo and a plaque hang in the lower level of the current library building at 2750...

Women’s History in Lansing: Opal Dewalt – She imprinted a generation of Lansing students

Yet little is known about the woman who led two of Lansing's schools Above: Opal Dewalt was the first principal of Lester Crawl School, which opened in 1951. The building, located at 18300 Greenbay Avenue, is now in the process of expanding the primary school services available to School District...

Women’s History in Lansing: Dorothy Wernicke – She brought administrative excellence to municipal service

Efficiency, honesty, organization, communication — Wernicke used her skills and experience to serve her community Above: During the time that Dorothy Wernicke served as Village Clerk, the Lansing municipal offices were located at 3404 Lake Street. That building is now home to Visible Music College. By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (March 11,...

Women’s History in Lansing: May Anderson Walker – She taught pilots to fly

Norwegian immigrant, Navy trainer, doll maker, and mom — Walker didn't consider herself special By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (March 9, 2022) – A tiny Norwegian girl, age 4, stepped onto American soil not understanding English. She and her mother joined their father who had come to America from Norway earlier....

Lansing history: Uncovering Lansing women’s stories

By Marlene Cook LANSING, Ill. (March 8, 2022) - “The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world.” That proverb was written by William Ross Wallace in 1865 under the title, "What Rules the World.” The main role of a woman in the 1800s was to stay home and take care...