BY KATIE MATTESON
The innovators and community leaders who comprise Racine’s rich history intrigue Margo Drummond. She’s grateful for their contributions and enjoys sharing the stories she’s learned during the past 50 years.
Starting in August, Drummond will present tributes to these important people in a column called “Racinians to Remember.” The first article will feature Marshall M. Strong, Racine’s first attorney.
Drummond arrived in Racine with her husband, Jim in 1968. A native of Kansas, she didn’t know anything about the Belle City.
That didn’t last long, as her love of history got her engaged right away in her new surroundings.
When they first moved to town, the couple lived in an apartment in the 1100 block of Main Street. Across the street, the demolition of old homes was taking place to make way for the new East Park Towers apartments.
She became acquainted with her neighbors and met others who were interested in historic preservation. Soon the group started meeting regularly in each other’s homes.
As the group grew larger, Preservation Racine was born.
She dug deeper into local history as a teacher with Racine Unified School District. She initially taught at Washington Junior High for two years and spent the balance of her 31-year career teaching Social Studies at Case and Washington Park high schools.
To get her high school students more interested in history, she developed a Racine History class and took her classes on field trips to Mound Cemetery to see the gravesites of the local VIPs they had studied.
After developing a class called Death and Dying, Issues of Living and Life, Drummond found herself back at Mound Cemetery for field trips. This class was in response to the interest shown by students in the short segment on death and dying originally offered as a part of a Psychology course.
She taught these popular elective courses for many years, becoming very familiar with the cemetery and its residents.
This led to her authorship of “A Walking Tour Guide of Mound Cemetery,” published by Preservation Racine, Inc. in 1994. This booklet is still available at the cemetery office and gives short biographies of the people and historical information about their monuments.
Her writing didn’t stop there. After she retired from teaching, she wrote two books.
In 2001, she authored “Blessings of Being Mortal: How A Mature Understanding Of Death Can Free Us To Live Wisely and Well,” based on the curriculum of the Death and Dying course she taught for 20+ years at Park.
She summarized the book on the back cover:
“The meaning of our personal death is something each of us wants and needs to penetrate. Blessings of Being Mortal presents solid facts and wide-ranging perspectives regarding the choices we encounter as we consider the consequences of personal death. It examines the defense mechanisms, the illusions, the conventional propositions and the fears surrounding death, which hamper our ability to pursue the best uses of our talents and of our time.”
Those field trips to the cemetery inspired her to write her second book in 2006. “Here’s To Your Health” presents the history of brothers William and James Horlick and their company, Horlick’s Malted Milk, established in Racine in 1877.
As she walked her students through the cemetery, she noticed that there were fresh flowers placed at the Horlick mausoleum at least four times a year. She also became aware that there was not much written information about the Horlicks and their ground-breaking formulation and production of one of the world’s first processed foods.
She started gathering information and was not able to locate any living family members in the United States, except a distant cousin. He connected her with other relatives in England and Scotland.
While Drummond never did find out who was responsible for the flowers, she did record the findings of her 10 years of research and travels to England and Scotland.
The last paragraph in the Horlick book seems to summarize her philosophy about the importance of learning about and appreciating the contributions of our predecessors.
“Gratitude is too often a missing element in our lives. It’s hard to be grateful if we don’t understand to whom we owe that gratitude. Having ‘known’ James and William Horlick only through what I have heard, read and imagined, I nonetheless remain certain that they are deserving of our gratitude. Over the past months and years they have been, as Carl Sandburg said of Abraham Lincoln, ‘such good company, not to be forgotten.”
Drummond’s new column will share the stories of the Horlick brothers and other Racinians to Remember.