A Message From Bill June 2019

My son Alex was over at my parent’s house with his kids a couple of weeks ago. He happened to be looking through a box of old letters that had been in the attic for many years and came across one that was very interesting. It was dated May 18, 1938, and was sent from Oswald’s 2nd generation owner Louis Oswald to his granddaughter (my Mom), Jean Kester (who was six years old at the time).

What made the letter so noteworthy was the fact that it was included in the first airmail delivery service to our small farm town of Naperville on May 19th, 1938. The envelope had a six-cent airmail stamp and a sticker commemorating the first statewide airmail service in Illinois on that date. It was also signed by the pilot, Harold A. McGrath.

The First Air Mail To Naperville in 1938

An envelope from the first Air Mail delivery to Naperville, IL on May 18, 1938. Addressed from Louis Oswald to his granddaughter Jean Kester.
The envelope we found the letter in. Look at those stamps!

I was particularly taken by Grandpa Oswald’s description of the first airmail delivery and how he used it as an opportunity to educate and inform his young granddaughter. He wanted his grandchild to understand the momentous nature of this event in a historical perspective. When he was a child growing up in South Dakota they only received mail twice a week – by stagecoach!

He goes on to talk about the history of airplanes, the airmail service, and the wonder of the modern world that his granddaughter was growing up in. I wonder what he would think of where we are today; jet air travel, television, electronic banking, satellites, GPS, the internet, virtual shopping and Naperville with a population of almost 150,000.

Letter From A Grandfather To His Granddaughter

The letter from Louis Oswald to Jean Kester.
The 1938 letter from Louis Oswald to Jean Kester.

Being a grandfather now myself gave me an interesting perspective on this eighty-year-old letter. Each generation strives to leave the world a better place for the next. I like to think that over the last five or six generations that we have left our city, nation, and the world a little better. We certainly have challenges to face, many that did not even exist 50 years ago.

I like to think, as Grandpa Oswald did, that the world is an amazing place and we want our children and grandchildren to see it not only as it is, but what it can be. History and education from previous family generations help kids understand where they came from and, one hopes, all they can accomplish in their lives.

The Impact We All Have On Naperville

The letter also got me thinking how Oswald’s has impacted the Naperville community over the past 144 years. As the town has grown many small businesses have disappeared in favor of chains and big box stores. Large chains offer convenience, but at what cost to the communities they dominate? Our family has been involved with the Naperville community for as long as we’ve lived here. Our business has evolved over the years, not just by serving the community, but by catering to all our customers—old and new.

Over the years our pharmacy has kept pace with technology and trends in order to serve our customers as efficiently as any chain. Our pharmacists know our patients and provide personalized care and information at any time.  If you are getting your prescriptions filled with us, I thank you. If not, why not give Naperville’s premier pharmacy a try the next time you need a prescription? We can also transfer your current prescriptions to Oswald’s. It’s easy!

To bring this article full circle, particularly with Father’s Day here in a few weeks, I’d like to mention our Post Office. Unlike the infrequent air mail deliveries of my mom’s childhood, however, we send air mail out every day! Oswald’s Post Office has gotten busier and busier every year and it’s for a good reason—we know how to serve our customers. Our Post Office team members work efficiently and have great advice on the best way to send packages, delivery time frames, address issues and much more. We even added a second post station last Fall to keep up with our customer’s needs.

Grandpa Oswald would be proud. Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads!

Written by Bill Anderson

Bill is the current owner of Oswald's Pharmacy. A 5th generation member of the Wickel-Oswald-Kester-Anderson family, Bill became general manager in 1979 and bought the business from his father in 1991. In 2004 Bill orchestrated Oswald's move from Downtown Naperville to Naperville Plaza. Bill graduated from Knox College in 1978 with a BA in Art, minoring in History. A graduate of Naperville Central High School in 1974, Bill is a lifelong Naperville resident. Over the years Bill has served as a current member and past president of the Naperville Rotary Club, current member and past chairman of the Downtown Naperville Alliance, and as former Naperville Riverwalk commissioner. Bill lives in Naperville with his wife, just a few blocks away from their grandchildren (the 7th Oswald's generation!).