Hundreds of children ages twelve and under gathered for Hammond’s Annual Easter egg hunt on Saturday morning, April 4th. Joining in the fun were Rusty the Railcat, John Basile, Jr., Melissa Volkman, Elmo, Ashley Miles, the Easter bunny, and John Basile, Sr. The hunt, held on Morton Senior High School’s new football filed, was made possible courtesy of Mayor Thomas M. McDermott, Jr., Hammond Parks and Recreation, and the Hammond Parks Foundation. Those participants in each age group who were lucky enough to find golden eggs received beautiful Easter baskets.
On April 21st the City of Hammond will be celebrating its 125th birthday! Just being associated with this committee has taught me so much about Hammond. Something as simple as learning about how some of the streets got their names and the people they were named after is interesting. I know that today young people feel that they need a fresh, new community to start their families in. I can understand that. When I was growing up here, all I ever wanted to do was leave, not giving one second of thought to the benefits of living in an established community and actually contributing to its history. But being a part of Hammond’s rich history, learning about our city’s ancestry and architecture has been inspiring and humbling. I cannot imagine how hard life must have been for Caroline and Ernst Hohman when they came to Hammond from Chicago as Hammond’s first settlers to escape a cholera outbreak. In the 1850s, how foreign Hammond must have looked! The settlers back then had the same types of feelings about trying to improve their lives and community as many of us do today. The Hammond Public Library has found excerpts from Mrs. Hohman’s diary where she talks about how lonely she is while her husband is off working in the fields. She’s happy when she learns that her sister and brother-in-law, Louisa and William Sohl are going to “settle” near them. It’s amazing to read her comments of June, 1870: “The old days are gone. We are getting to be quite a town now.” It sounds just like something that can be said today.
My beloved in-laws often tell stories about how the homes they grew up in were only heated with wood burning stoves and the refrigerator was literally an “ice box” where huge blocks of ice were delivered each day to keep the food cold. The women of the house had to go to the market every day for supplies to prepare the daily menu, and sometimes bring home live chickens to prepare for the family later. Have your kids sit down and talk with their grandparents. They will learn so much about history.
I want to invite you to join me at the Hammond Public Library on Tuesday, April 21 at noon to remember a little piece of Hammond’s history and celebrate its birthday. We will have a special proclamation by Mayor McDermott, a short historic presentation and wrap it up with cake and coffee. Hammond has been through everything a city can possibly go through, and during its plight, has gained much wisdom. It is an honor to be a part of a modern city that strives to rebuild and improve while recognizing and preserving its past. Hammond will be here long after we all are gone, continuing to add to its history. It is my hope that the younger residents realize what a precious piece of history Hammond really is and chose to stay and carry on the legacy.