Quite often Tracking History becomes curious as to what people mentioned in the column a long time ago are doing today. We recently discovered that two former star Silver Streaks athletes are enjoying an avocation that most of us can only dream about.
In the mid-1950s brothers Al “Nochie” and Chuck Williams were teenage students at Galesburg High School, then located in the downtown where City Hall now stands. Chuck played football for the Silver Streaks at the old Lombard Field and Nochie patrolled the basketball court at the former Steele Gym next to the high school.
Nochie was a member of coach John Thiel’s first GHS basketball team during the 1955-56 season and was known for his jumping ability while being listed as only 6 feet tall. Nochie will long be remembered as being part of the illustrious 1956-57 Silver Streaks who upset Rock Island 23-21 in the famous “Stall Game” to win the Sectional championship. Rocky was the favorite to win the state championship.
Chuck Williams departed from Galesburg High School and served four years as a member of the United States Air Force. Upon returning to his hometown Chuck was hired by the local Postal Service and served for over 45-years, the later years as building maintenance supervisor. Nochie Williams turned down a multitude of offers to play college basketball and retired from the Maytag Corporation following 43 years of service.
Al Williams has been kind enough to clear up how he was tagged with the lifetime nickname of “Nochie,” which has been a puzzle to many. The nickname Nochie was bestowed on Al when he was a baby by and aunt. Apparently he too often remained awake all night and would sleep during the day. Nochie means night in Spanish.
In the mid 1970s Chuck and Nochie acquired the desire to earn pilot licenses and fly their own airplanes. They gave credit to Harrel Timmons locally for training and testing them to reach their goal. After flying hundreds of hours between them the brothers they continue to enjoy the desire and thrills of soaring into the sky.
Over the years the Williams brothers have enjoyed attending a multitude of fly-in breakfasts and a variety of air shows. They have met many celebrity pilots including the late Sam Walton who founded Wal-Mart.
Nochie resides in Las Vegas and is an active member of the Desert Flying Club. At one time the Williams brothers owned three airplanes and flew often to other states such as Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. Nochie pointed out that flying in the Nevada area is apt to be dangerous because of the mountain range, military bases and numerous local airports within a 50-mile radius.
Bursie Williams Park on the south side of Lake Storey is names after the brothers’ father, the late Rev. Bursie Williams Sr.
A little bit of this and that…
• In mid-May 1965, rising Mississippi waters threatened several small towns west of Monmouth. Towns from St. Paul, Minnesota to St. Louis were affected. At Oquawka, street and water commissioner Richard Anderson reported that volunteers had built a 4-foot-high sand dike that extended 2½ blocks adjacent to the riverfront.
Anderson estimated that 450 loads of sand averaging 8 tons each had been brought in by at least a dozen trucks. Water surrounded the a lumber yard in neighboring Keithsburg to the north. Keithsburg’s situation was described by one long time resident as a complete mess. Three blocks of the highway going north out of town to New Boston was covered by 8 inches of water. A driver who dared driving through the flooded byway asked a bystander what would happen if the water rose higher. The reply was to put water wings on his car.