On Aug. 13, the sounds emanating from the Village Commons on Desplaines Avenue in North Riverside were reminiscent of another time in the town’s history. The site was once home to Melody Mill Ballroom and the music was courtesy of the Steve Cooper Orchestra, who were playing for the North Riverside Historical Society’s annual gala and fundraiser.
The event was a throwback to a time when ballroom dancing was the thing and couples would dress in their finest to trip the light fantastic. Couples on this particular day looked as if they were all graduates of the Arthur Murray Dance Studios as they took to the dance floor. It made you think about the heyday of the big bands and their dancing followers.
The historical society held the gala to continue raising funds to restore the original Melody Mill Ballroom sign, which was prominently seen from Desplaines Avenue. Donated by the Lejcar family, owners of the ballroom, funding for restoration is also coming from a state grant, which unfortunately is on hold.
Historical society President Bryant Rouleau says although they have had success with their galas, they are looking forward to doing something different next year and welcome any suggestions.
Anyone wishing to donate funds can do so through a GoFundMe campaign at www.gofundme.com/2gkv7bhd. You can also learn more by contacting Rouleau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Residents or former residents of North Riverside may be interested that the village will be celebrating its centennial in seven years (2023) and is interested in gathering information or pictures about early North Riverside.
Many of you may have your own Melody Mill stories or how far you could hit a golf ball at Fred Wilson’s Golf Range or as we used to call it “stop and sock,” which was located where the Fire Department is now located.
How about the early library? Remember any early or longtime residents? Did you know the North Riverside-Riverside Little League was started by Fred Wilson and Joe Kosey (my father-in-law)?
Did you attend Mass at “St. Komarek” before Mater Christi was built? Search your memory and share what you know. Don’t be surprised if as you drive passed the North Riverside Commons that you don’t hear the strains of the songs from another time and the tap of feet on a wood dance floor.