Artists descend upon Streator to paint town's history

STREATOR, Ill. (WLS) -- Hundreds of artists are descending upon Streator, Illinois, about 80 miles southwest of Chicago, where they will paint murals over the next few days.

These are the walldogs. Artists whose predecessors once dangled from ropes painting ads on the sides of buildings. The modern day walldog paints history.

"We step into a town and at first we don't know anything, and by the time we leave, we're explaining to the town things that they didn't remember which is fantastic," said walldog Doug Haffner.

Walldogs, 260 of them, from throughout the U.S. and at least half a dozen foreign countries are in Streator, population 14,000. The murals that they'll complete in four days will tell volumes about town's 150 years.

"There are so many great stories and these kids are gonna grow up in town learning things about their town that they probably never would've had the opportunity to hear about," said David Reed with the Streator Historical Society.

So here you go. One mural is for Clarence Mulford, the creator of Hop-a-long Cassidy and his Wild West adventures. He was born in Streator.

Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh's mural wins a spot on Main Street, and why not? He discovered Pluto. Tombaugh was born in Streator.

Streator has a rich baseball history that is personified in part by one Elmer Blasco.

Elmer went to work years ago for Rawlings, and came up with the idea for baseball's Gold Glove award which won him a spot in Cooperstown and now in his hometown.

Midget race car champion Bob Tattersall is a proud son of Streator. His widow Dee has been proudly watching the artists create.

"My heart is gonna fall. It's gonna fall. I've shed a lot of tears already. I go home at night and think how wonderful this has been," said Dee Tattersall, wife of Bob Tattersall.

"It's just been a great way for us to come together as a community and do something to celebrate ourselves and our town," said Streator City Council Member Tara Bedei.

Walldogs have been painting murals in towns now for 25 years. They paint for free. Their pay comes in food, lodging, and most importantly, the joy and pride they leave behind.
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