Editorial: Puritanism and cry me a Kishwaukee

June 20, 2012

By Frank Schier
Editor & Publisher

Many people, when commenting about the complete alcohol ban at the launch points of Baumann Park and any Winnebago County Forest Preserve (WCFPD) access points on the Kishwaukee River, have made reference to the “Puritan” character of the Prohibition (which failed in 1933). It’s OLD, already!

My favorite quote concerning this sect is by a literary critic and newspaperman of the last century, H.L. Mencken: “Puritanism. The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

While some goons, Neanderthals and modern bezerkers have been loud (as most drunks are), careless (as trash-throwing slobs) and breast flashers (as on the Wisconsin Apple River) do threaten public safety, most of the voyagers on the Kishwaukee River are just trying to be happy.

Gloom, doom and control freaks might also ban any alcohol along streets because people drink, drive, trash and die. Obviously, not everyone does, so why is WCPFD outrageously searching — without a warrant — seizing — without a court order, the EVIL contents of Ma & Pa Kettle’s cooler! Tidy up that tube, you giddy slob, and don’t you dare hook together those airbeds because only the Devil knows what happens!

So, to address the reality of floating, on one of the Illinois “Class A” rivers, as they do on the Wisconsin River, levy a $500 fine for any littering (tipovers must be considered) with general refuse, bottles or cans. And for true morons about to drown, levy a $500 fine for lewd, belligerent and drunken public behavior. In all fairness, warning tickets should be issued for this season (barring obvious needs for arrest), and these fines should be enforced next year. Or do we want to chase away all eco-(God forbid it should be fun) tourism?

Local business people tell me, last weekend, most of the forest preserves on the Kish were empty. No sales; no sales taxes. So, what if you pay property taxes for the WCFPD. The word is Executive Director Tom Kalousek signed off on the ban with Cherry Valley, and the board didn’t even vote on the issue — your elected government and tax dollars righteously at work to make your fun miserable.

And to the humorless and thin-skinned, it is not my fault you chose the name: Friends of the Kishwaukee River. Yes, the acronym is FOTKR. It is funny. You pushed this ban with the Village of Cherry Valley and WCFPD, and now don’t want it to be known or own it as to who each of you are, after the huge disaster it has become. I understand. Some people do want to keep certain things, rivers, to themselves. I understand. Nonetheless, happily and sadly, the Fockers in the movies and FOTKR do share many traits. We’ll see how many come out at the WCFPD meeting, June 20.

Again, I’ll close with another gem by Mencken: “The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think.” Makes me wanna cry, again, or laugh. I’m not sure.

From the June 20-26, 2012, issue


  1. Mary C.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Oh my, you mean that you can’t enjoy the river without alcohol? “work to make your fun miserable” Pleeeessseeee! That is a ridiculous statement! or you need a lot of help! :-) What makes having the alcohol essential to you having fun on the river? Why not just pop or Gatorade? Alcohol dehydrates. Tax revenue? It isn’t enough to cover the cost of fishing a drunk out of the river. Why do you HAVE to have alcohol on the river?

  2. Jim

    June 20, 2012 at 11:39 am

    Good points, Frank. I tried making similar points on the WNTA interview a few weeks ago with Ken D and the rep from Friends of the Kish. I pointed out that similar things happen all day long on the Apple River during the summer and annually at FATFAR on the Chippewa River in Wisconsin without these problems. What was their solution: EDUCATION! Not a terribly hard thing to promote. FATFAR has thousands of participants and very few problems for law enforcement over 30 years this has been running.

    Another reason why the Chippewa Valley rocks!


  3. Mike

    June 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    I’ve wanted to use the terms “Puritan” and “Puritanism” so many times since moving to Rockford, I’m glad that someone finally did

  4. John

    June 25, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Mary C, what makes you think YOU aad decide for everyone else how to have fun?????

  5. Nan

    June 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Yes, I support the banning of alcoholic beverages at the Kishwaukee River access points.

    The term Puritan is not one that denotes wrong behavior, but very strict behavior. Our loose, ignoble morals, and undisciplined behaviors is costly and resulting in more crime, unwanted prenancies,divorce-the whole gamut of that which unravels society.

    Congratulations to the Rock River Times for their achievement of two-1st place awards.
    Well done.

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