Author Pauline Gambill recently donated a copy of her new biography on two Fox Valley environmentalists to Oswego’s Little White School Museum.
“The Fox Feats and Shark Tales of Pollution fighter James F. Phillips & Animal Rights Warrior Steven O. Hindi” was released by Who Chains You Books on April 2. It is available from Amazon.com in softcover and Kindle editions, and from Barnes & Noble in both print and ebook versions.
Phillips lived virtually his entire life in the Montgomery area of Kendall County and became a world-famous environmental crusader under his alias, “The Fox.” Hindi, a former Plano resident, was been an animal rights and anti-hunting crusader for decades.
Phillips, who died in 2001, taught junior high school science before joining the Kane County Environmental Protection Agency. Starting in the early 1970s, he began a series of guerrilla protests, usually involving humor, to point up the need for environmental regulations. At the time, there simply weren’t any regulations that could be enforced to stop polluters from dumping poison into the nation’s air and streams. As “The Fox,” the mild-mannered Phillips gained international attention as his exploits that shined a light on pollution received extensive attention in the local, regional and international press.
Stories in National Geographic magazine and columns by legendary Chicago newspaper columnist Mike Royko provided the publicity about pollution that Phillips sought. Many gave him credit for helping raise support for passage of federal environmental laws and the formation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
After his death, a coalition of local environmental groups, interested individuals and local governmental agencies combined to erect a memorial to Phillips, touting his credentials as an environmentalist, historian and speaker, at the Oswegoland Park District’s Violet Patch Park on Route 25 in Oswego.
Hindi’s crusades against pigeon shoots and other animal rights abuses, also gained international attention, a crusade he continues to the present day.
“We’ve always considered Jim Phillips as one of Oswego’s own,” museum director Roger Matile said. “He was a 1948 grad of Oswego High School, and his family’s asparagus farm up on Baseline Road was well-known locally. When we revamped the Little White School Museum’s gallery back in 2018, we made sure to add an exhibit explaining Jim’s contributions to the nation’s environmental history.”
The Little White School Museum is a joint project of the nonprofit Oswegoland Heritage Association and the Oswegoland Park District. Museum hours are 1 to 5:30 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and 4 to 9 p.m. Mondays. The museum is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission is free, but donations are gratefully accepted.
For information, call 630-554-2999, email email@example.com or visit the museum website at littlewhiteschoolmuseum.org.