Keepsakes: Items from the Historical Society's collection commemorate the Huskies' 1956 state tourney run. (Courtesy of OP-RF Historical Society)

It looks more like a silver chip ‘n’ dip than a sports trophy.

But this silver-plated, clamshell-shaped keepsake, purchased at a yard sale and donated to the Historical Society of Oak Park and River Forest, tells a story about a basketball team that made an unexpected run at the Illinois state title. While Oak Park and River Forest High School ranks third in the state in total number of statewide sports championships, the 1956 chapter of March Madness showed that even falling short of the ultimate prize can be inspirational. 

The trophy shown here was given to coach Harry Kinert by his players after the season. When it was donated to the Historical Society, it brought other items out of storage to more fully tell the story. It prompted the donation of a pennant, programs, and a scrapbook that recount in detail the March march from a fourth place conference finish all the way downstate by an undersized, overlooked team (see accompanying story). 

These artifacts are just a few of the tens of thousands of photos, documents, artifacts, and other materials donated to the Historical Society since it opened its museum on the second and third floors of Pleasant Home in 1970. They all offer insights into the many people, places, and stories that make our villages a great place to live and work. The Historical Society is the repository of these materials on behalf of its community and makes them available for research and through exhibits and programs.

As the Historical Society prepares to begin a renovation later this year of its new home at 129 Lake St. in Oak Park, at the southeast corner of Lake Street and Lombard Avenue, watch for more stories of Hometown Treasures here in the pages of Wednesday Journal each week. Or check out 

Open houses of the new facility are planned this Saturday, April 5 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday April 24.

—Frank Lipo

Executive director of Op-RF Historical Society

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