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Look back: unpaid subscriptions, Santa letters and air-traffic controls

New poster designed by Neal Ormond IV for 175th anniversary (2012) Aurora. | AurorHistorical Society

New poster designed by Neal Ormond IV for the 175th anniversary (2012) of Aurora. | Aurora Historical Society

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Updated: January 4, 2013 6:01AM

Aurora is celebrating its 175th birthday this year. More information is available at To commemorate the anniversary, The Beacon-News is revisiting stories from 50, 100 and 150 years ago. Here’s what Aurorans were talking about this week ...

…in 1862.

In a lengthy note from the editors, the Beacon staff chastised readers who were not up-to-date with their subscription payments. In the 16 years the Beacon had been published, some people still had yet to pay for the paper.

“Every article of material that is used in a printing office has to be paid for when purchased, and he who fails to pay the ‘laborer for hire’ is justly considered an object of reproach,” the editors wrote. “There is not a farmer in the land that can afford to sell this grain, a bushel here and another there, and wait one, two and three years for his pay. ...The Printer is surrounded by the same necessities.”

The Beacon announced that it would now begin asking people to pay for their subscription in advance. The Beacon promised that if people started paying for their paper, more time could be put toward building a better a community paper. True, the Beacon would never compete with the metropolitan dailies, but it was unmatched in local coverage, the editors noted.

“In the transmission of local intelligence and home news, we can make our paper a welcome visitor to every household in the community,” the editors concluded. “In the matter of our county and neighborhood, our county fairs and courts, the correspondence of our boys in the army, and the thousand other items of local intelligence, we can give and have given an adequate return for the small compensation we charge.”

… in 1912.

Letters addressed to “Santa Claus” were beginning to arrive at the Aurora post office. In the past, people in town had helped Santa answer these letters and distribute gifts to the children who wrote them. However, under new guidelines put in place by the Postmaster General, all such mail to be sent to the dead letter office and ignored.

… in 1962.

After three years of preparations, control over 70,000 square miles of airplane traffic was switched from Midway Airport to the new airport facility on the outskirts of Aurora.

The new concrete-block Aurora facility cost $1.6 million to build, plus $4 million for the electronic equipment inside. Midway had once had 300 controllers working out of its control center, but lost most of the air traffic to O’Hare, which had longer runways. Aurora’s new facility was considerably larger than Midway’s.

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