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Lagomarcino's

This is Roald Tweet on Rock Island.

You'll have to forgive Angelo Lagomarcino for never completely understanding the American dream when he arrived in Moline from Italy in 1908 to open a confectionary shop. No one told him that in America, one always left plenty of room for a product to be advertised as "new and improved," or "modern," or "larger size" every few years in order to attract customers.

Angelo's chocolates and candies were the best he could make from the beginning.

And apparently no one explained to the new immigrant that customers were to be handled efficiently. To Angelo, they were guests, and that took extra time, cutting into profits.

Then, there was the shop itself. After Lagomarcino's moved to its present location in 1921, it never modernized the way American dreams say to do. The high tin roof is still there, along with narrow, dark mahogany booths with marble tables, and an antique soda fountain that still dispenses lemon phosphates and black cows.

Worst of all, Angelo apparently did not understand that in America, one's children are supposed to be new and improved, too, and become doctors and lawyers. Instead, his children and grandchildren have come back to keep Lagomarcino's going as it has always been.

The outside world of downtown Moline has passed Lagomarcino's by—tin ceilings replaced by suspended tiles, mahogany replaced by chrome and Formica, phosphates replaced by herbal smoothies.

The trolley cars are gone, as are seven theaters, department stores, and two dance halls. The Great Depression has come and gone. There have been wars and rumors of wars. Banks have been swallowed up by conglomerates.

Only the hundreds of loyal customers are still there for lunch each noon or standing at the candy counter trying to decide on the sponge candy, the chocolate covered cherries, or the candied orange peel.

And they are there for another reason as well: they have come for a therapy session inside the good old days, weary of bigger and better, new and improved.

Rock Island Lines is supported by grants from the Illinois Humanities Council, the Illinois Arts Council—a state agency—and by Augustana College, Rock Island.

Community
Beginning 1995, historian and folklorist Dr. Roald Tweet spun his stories of the Mississippi Valley to a devoted audience on WVIK. Dr. Tweet published three books as well as numerous literary articles and recorded segments of "Rock Island Lines." His inspiration was that "kidney-shaped limestone island plunked down in the middle of the Mississippi River," a logical site for a storyteller like Dr. Tweet.