Q. I recently took photos of a house at North 11th and West A streets in Belleville. I didn’t get close enough for a good shot of an old, painted sign at the rear, but the lettering says “Ticket Office” at the top and “Waiting Room” at the bottom.
In about 1870, the house across the street from the one that fascinated you became the area’s first combination train depot and saloon, according to local historian Bob Brunkow. Then, about 10 years later, operations moved to the home on which you saw the century-plus-old sign offering tickets. But even though the sign still can be easily read, this depot didn’t last long, either. In 1894, August Thebus built a depot on the west side of what was then North Gold Street. Although the old tracks are gone, that is likely the brick building you see still standing at 109 N. 12th St.
Keeping track of the name of the railroad running by it apparently was as complicated as keeping up with the depot’s location, too.
Many likely called it the Air Line, which had its beginnings in 1869 when Augustus Bradley, of New Albany, Ind., organized the New Albany and St. Louis Railway. Just 17 months later, Bradley extended his plans to nearby Louisville, Ky., and the company changed its name to the Louisville, New Albany and St. Louis Air Line Railway.
According to the folks at the New Albany, Ind., library, the term “Air Line” caught passengers’ fancy, possibly because it implied a smooth, fast ride. By the time full operations started, the company was known as the Louisville, Evansville and St. Louis (Air Line) Railroad. In 1889, it merged with the Belleville, Centralia and Eastern to become the Louisville, Evansville and St. Louis Consolidated Railroad. Finally in about 1900, the whole mess became part of the Southern Railway system.
By the way, Julius Heinemann converted that original depot at 102 N. 11th into a meat market, which eventually became so popular that in 1902 he had the two-story attachment at 100 N. 11th added on as the family home. After it fell into disrepair over the years, the city was considering condemnation proceedings, but the previous owner donated it to the Belleville Historical Society, which has since corrected all building code violations. To recoup its expenses, the society now is looking for a buyer who will preserve and maintain the historic structure. When the society began work to save the building about two years ago, society President Larry Betz hoped its rehabilitation might lead to a rejuvenation of the entire area.
“We call it a grand old lady,” he said of the old meat market at the time. “This neighborhood could be a gem.”
I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised. It’s called Caller ID spoofing, and if you buy the right equipment, which I’m told is both relatively inexpensive and easy to acquire, you can spoof any number you wish. My particular experience apparently is just one of the newest spoofs — listing the number that’s being called or another local number that’s a few digits away.
“This is just the latest tactic being used by illegal telemarketers,” Robert Sciliano, a fraud expert with BestIDTheftCompanys.com, told “The Today Show” last year. “They hope that if you see your own number displayed on the caller ID, your curiosity will get you to pick up the phone.”
It’s also a way for fraudsters to get around new services now used by millions of people to help them avoid unwanted calls. Some companies, such as Nomorobo and PrivacyStar, keep track of numbers used by telemarketers and robocallers — those who rely on machines to dial numbers in sequence. Before the call reaches your phone, the service may replace the caller’s number with “fraudulent caller” as a warning. For example, namethatnumber.net listed one number from area code 202 as a telemarketer from Istanbul, Turkey, whose Caller ID pops up as Fraud Caller.
Whether or not you are the benefactor of such a service, I don’t know, so I’ll offer another possibility. Like the party who spoofed my own number, the company who is calling may think you’ll be so curious about seeing “fraudulent call” on your phone that you’ll be tempted to answer. Or they may hope you think it’s a company that can help you block fraudulent calls.
Whatever the reason, the Better Business Bureau has the advice I always follow: If you don’t recognize the name or number, don’t answer. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message. If everybody would do this, perhaps scammers eventually would decide their annoying practices were a waste of time and money.
Postscript: Name the only top-ranked team in NCAA basketball tournament history to be eliminated by an opponent it had defeated by more than 40 points during the regular season.