When the old St. Clair County Courthouse in Belleville was razed, a fellow named Tayon got the columns. Whatever happened to those columns? -- Tim Tucker, of Belleville
Perhaps by the time Belleville celebrates its 200th birthday in 2014, you'll see pieces of those grand columns welcoming you to Bicentennial Park on South 21st Street.
At least, that's one plan of Debbie Belleville, the manager of operations at the Department of Parks and Recreation. As you know, those columns wound up in huge chunks. Well, about two dozen of them currently are stored at the new park that's under development.
Now Belleville is looking for a bright idea about how best to display them.
"At the time when we were designing the park, we were kicking around what the entranceway would look like," Belleville said. "Nobody came up with a design, but we keep saying, 'Well, we still have those columns. If we can use them ...' So if someone came up with an ingenious idea, I'm sure we would love to hear it."
The last time most people saw them was when they were a fixture outside Bill Tayon Realty at 1823 North Belt East. When the courthouse was demolished in 1972, Tayon, who also was famous for driving a bright yellow Volkswagen with two front ends, bought the columns for $3,000.
"He's the guy who stepped up and made sure they went somewhere," said Belleville historian Jack Le Chien in 1998, crediting Tayon for saving a distinctive piece of the much-beloved courthouse
After Tayon died, much of his giant cache of unique Belleville memorabilia was auctioned off, but the columns had no takers, columnist Wally Spiers reported in 1998. So the property's new owners gave the Belleville Historical Preservation Committee permission to remove the 23 disks that weighed up to a ton and a half each. (The committee grew out of a group that fought to save the courthouse in 1972.)
At first, the committee planned to display them at a proposed park that was planned near the Scheel Street MetroLink station. But those plans fell through, and the columns eventually made their way to Bicentennial Park.
That's still not the entire story. If Larry Betz has his way, a couple of chunks will wind up on the current county building grounds as a salute to the old courthouse.
Betz is president of the Belleville Historical Society, which has acquired a couple of column pieces from the city. It was Betz's dream to use them as a memorial to the old structure, but so far plans have stalled so they're collecting dust at the city's old sewer plant near the Belle-Clair Fairgrounds.
"The powers-that-be have been a little reluctant, so we've just kind of shelved that project for a while," said Doug Gain, the society's treasurer.
In the meantime, Belleville residents are encouraged to attend a meeting Wednesday night to offer their time and ideas for the city's bicentennial celebration in 2014. The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the Belleville High School District board room on the Lindenwood University campus.
We were at a family gathering for Thanksgiving, a few of us developed stomach flu Friday night. By Sunday we were feeling better and were thinking about attending other family get-togethers, but we were afraid we might still be contagious. Were we? -- H.M., of Fairview Heights
In this case, it was best to err on the side of caution, according to the Mayo Clinic (www.mayoclinic.com).
With norovirus -- the most common type of adult gastric flu -- symptoms usually start one to three days after you're exposed to the virus, and you're contagious from the moment you feel ill. What's worse is that even though you may feel better in a day or two, you remain contagious for at least three days -- and, in some cases, up to two weeks -- after you've recovered. Children usually carry the virus around longer.
One other thought: Some types of food poisoning -- salmonella, for example -- may take a day or more to develop. So you might want to see if there was something those who fell ill ate that others didn't.
Where did the famous 10-9-8 ... rocket countdown originate?
Answer to Sunday's trivia: Don't you hate it when you buy your kids an expensive toy and they wind up having more fun with the box it comes in? Apparently it happens so often that in 2005 the cardboard box was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, N.Y. So before you dump a lot of money on Christmas gifts this year, you might be interested in this: A schoolteacher in Wellington, Ohio, replaced all of his class's toys with cardboard boxes. Not one of the kids missed the toys as they used the boxes to build pirate ships, igloos and whatever else their imaginations could dream up, he said recently on the NBC Nightly News.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org