Madison County’s youngest incorporated town, the city of Ila, turned 100 on Thursday, July 28, and celebrated the fact July 30 with a reception at city hall featuring guest speakers, a cake and some punch, along with a lot of reminiscing about days gone by.
About 60 people, including a number of local officials, attended the event to hear Clyde Fitzpatrick, a former principal and teacher at the old Ila High School, share some of his memories of the town, which boasted the first school lunchroom in the county and the first gymnasium.
There was also a sewing plant for many years, as well as car dealership and a cannery, to name a few of the businesses that have made Ila home over the years.
Fitzpatrick also shared some funny antedotes, including the town’s first name – Opossum.
Another scheduled speaker, former state representative Louie Clark, was unable to attend.
William Smith, a former mayor, told of growing up in Ila, spending summer days playing ball in cow pastures (they had to be careful where they stepped) and listening to gossip on winter evenings around a pot belly stove in McGinnis Store.
“My wife and I have traveled all over this country and not found a place we love better than Ila,” Smith said. “I want to finish my life here and be buried somewhere around here.”
Ila is a “family affair” in many ways – the current mayor, Mike Coile, has held the position for eight years. His dad, Darrell Coile, who was also at the celebration, is also a former mayor. Smith’s dad also served as mayor. Mayor Coile said he remembers going out with his dad to work on the water system when he was just a teen. “Somebody told me, ‘you need to learn this water system,’” he said smiling. “I guess they figured my time was coming.”
William (WJ) Smith
08/09/10 at 06:20 PM
Thanks Margie for the story. We are proud of our little town and proud we have survived for 100 years. Somewhere down the line there ought to be some way of preserving the stories told by people like Mr Clyde. Old older citizens are our treasures and too often we lose them before we realize how valuable they are.