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MARX: The pile of rubble in Rock Island warmed my heart

MARX: The pile of rubble in Rock Island warmed my heart

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It is 11:17 a.m. on a sun-kissed, mid-week morning in the heart of my favorite Quad-City.

Before me — at the corner of Rock Island's 17th Street and 1st Ave — is a sight for my allergy-riddled sore eyes.

I am but a hop, skip and a stumble from the most gorgeous pile of rubble I've witnessed. Even if they took Wrigley Field apart, one annoying brick by annoying brick, I wouldn't be this happy to see any structure resting on the ground.

Save for a healthy dose of metal yet to be hauled to the scrap yard, the old First National Bank building, a longtime hemorrhoid in my world, is no longer. If I stand to the lot's South, I can see Modern Woodmen Park and the often-flooded Davenport levee.

Truth-be-told, I cannot see the ground level of the Davenport levee, because of the smartly placed flood wall built by a town knocked to it its knees once by the 100-year flood. That was 50 years and a dozen 100-year floods ago for Davenport's riverfront.

The area before me, owned by Modern Woodmen, is soon to be blank, which is aces in my book. As soon as someone realizes the eyesores that are the old Rock island County Courthouse and the city parking garage a block south should be leveled, Rock Island's downtown will regain some of its shine. My kingdom to be at the wrecking-ball controls at either site.

But I digress.

Bidding a not-so-fond farewell to a building — one many in my family liked — is the theme of today's sermonette.

They liked it, I did not. They worked there, I didn't. 

They saw no fault with the world's most rickety elevator that often paused before reaching it's required destination and had a knack for stopping on my wife's secretary, stranding her in mid-ride numerous times.

No, my wife, father-in-law and brother-in-law loved that building, one of them for 45 years and the others for more than a quarter-century.

Not me, I saw it as cold, with poor plumbing, stairs with doors that never unlocked to the floor you needed and a colossal monthly drain on the company checkbook. Colossal, I tell you. 

I also saw it as a slap in the face from a billion-dollar company telling a senior partner in a law firm and a great tenant for five decades, we're tearing this place down and you have to vacate.

"Here's your 90 days notice, Dude,'' take your decades of being a perfect occupant and we'll see you on down the road. But, hey, thanks for the bazillion dollars you paid us in rent for over 45 years.''

No thank yous for being loyal — when the heat would go out or the elevator would act a fool among other issues — for paying that outrageous sum every month.


I am aware of the bank's luster in the 1960s, '70s and maybe into the 1980s. It's cool front and and the large, glass-window touch it featured, were extraordinary for its time. I'm also aware how it was breaking down in the last two decades.

One of the group I was lunching with mentioned it was a shame it had to come down.

"But it will be easier to see fireworks in Davenport this Fourth of July,'' he said.

Now that's the spirit. One down, two to go.

Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309-757-8388 or


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