Where everyone knows your name....
Try eating a full stack of pancakes...I dare you.
It's a town unnoticeably absent from some maps, victim of what
demographists define as
rural flight, although the level of population
exodus has been tempered by the simple fact that there weren't many
people there to begin with. In its best days, Stockland was a thriving
agricultural hamlet in Eastern Illinois, about 100 miles south of Chicago
near the Indiana border. When the Baby Boomer generation swelled the
50-square-mile township's population to nearly 750 inhabitants in the
mid-1950's, the town was capable of supplying most of a person's daily
needs. Its grain elevator supported the local economy and its schools
educated its children. Positioned just below the geographical center of
the township, Stockland was the social hub of the farm families
surrounding it.

Today the farm operators are fewer, the schools are gone and the
Chicago & Eastern Illinois railroad, once the outline of the southern
boundary of the town, had its tracks pulled up so long ago that only a
keen eye could find any evidence of its prior existence. Stockland's status
as the township's social epicenter was on a serious decline in the initial
years of the U.S. farm crisis of the early 1980's until Ed Bertram, owner of
the town's lumber yard and hardware store, took an old trailer home,
turned it into a coffee shop and put his wife in charge of running it. "The
Restaurant", as it was (and still is) known in my family, quickly became
the primary gathering place for exchange of information, country gossip
and good food.

After the Bertram's retired, local residents Jim and Donna Mowrey took
over, operating the coffee shop through the end of 1997. The article
below appeared in the Kankakee Daily Journal on March 26, 1998, shortly
after The Restaurant re-opened under new ownership - 25 members of
the Stockland community, each a stockholder of Stockland Cafe, Inc.
All newspaper articles
and photos reprinted
with no permission