Submitted photo Almost 1,000 people have joined the Facebook group “If you grew up in Niles/SW Michigan then you remember what…” Users upload old photos and reminisce about life growing up in a town that looked like this in 1967.

Archived Story

Facebook ignites Niles memories

Published 9:13pm Saturday, March 31, 2012

Niles native John Quirk did something different for his 60th birthday.

He and his wife were sitting in their home in West Dundee, Ill., on an August day last year, reminiscing about days gone bye.

Quirk had trouble remembering something from his youth so he turned to the internet for an answer.

He got on Facebook and created a new group called “If you grew up in Niles/SW Michigan then you remember what…”

“I can’t remember what question I asked, or who I asked, but I got a reply,” Quirk said. “Soon, more and more people were reminiscing about growing up in Niles.”

Today, the Facebook group has almost 1,000 members and more than 600 photos.

Quirk never imagined it would grow this big, this fast.

“It just shows you what you can do with social media,” he said.

People, such as Niles native Caryn Adler, use the site as a way to revisit their memories of  Niles. They post old pictures and ask questions about old favorite restaurants or hangouts. The group also acts as a way for people to reconnect with friends and family not seen or heard from for many years.

“It is not only an outlet for all our individual memories we carry from growing up, but it also helps people to recognize what their city was about,” said Adler, who graduated from Niles High in 1976. “It is a chance to open up the recesses of your mind to things you have forgotten about, and that is fun.”
Adler, 53, said the majority of people using the group are 50 years of age or older.

“I think our attachments to our past get stronger or more appreciated with age,” Adler said. “Most of us are at a point in our lives where we have built careers and families and we realize there are things in life more important than money, status and material things.”

Anita Frucci-Rodgers, 76, of Elkhart, joined the group in October. She was born and raised in Niles, living there from 1935-65.

She recalled using the group to reminisce about visiting in her youth Franky’s Restaurant, which used to be located on Lake Street but has since been torn down.

“It was famous for shaved ham sandwiches that were about three and a half inches high,” Rodgers said. “They were great.”

Sixty-four-year-old David Morse joined the group when there were a little more than 200 members. He graduated from Niles High in 1965 and worked for the city’s water department for 38 years.

“It is fun to reminisce and it’s important to know where we came from and how we evolved,” Morse said. “It is amazing how someone will mention something and it will all of a sudden spark a memory.”

Recently, group members have been meeting once a month at a local restaurant. Adler said she would post meeting dates on the Facebook page.

To access the Facebook group, visit Facebook and search for “if you grew up in Niles/SW Michigan then you remember what…”

For questions, email Adler at adlerpack@gmail.com.

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