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Songs and Stories
     October 3, 2019      #59-276 SsK
 

Jack Klasey: Buttons and more buttons

Jack Klasey: botones y más botones

By Jack Klasey

In an old-time childhood game, players asked "Button, button...who's got the button?"

One answer to that question, in the early 1870s, would have been "Kankakee," which was home to the Crescent Button Co. In the days before zippers and Velcro, buttons were the primary means of fastening items of clothing from shoes to sweaters, and the Kankakee firm turned out the tiny discs in vast quantities. The Crescent plant, located on West Avenue just north of River Street, was one of only a half-dozen "vegetable ivory" button plants in the country, and the only one west of Pennsylvania.

In appearance and durability, "vegetable ivory" ...

Beginning in the 1870s, West Avenue north of River Street was lined with stone industrial buildings. In this view from the 1940s, the two buildings in the center were the former National Linseed Oil factory. In the 1870s, the Crescent Button Co. had been located in the vacant area to the left . The large brick building in the background is the Bear Brand Hosiery Co. factory, which occupied a full block between West and Washington Avenues. Kankakee County Museum Photo Archive
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