Crystal’s corner of the world: Trip to Chicago

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            We just came back from a trip with Ron’s Dad to Chicago.  He wanted to go back to his neighborhood in Oak Lawn (Ron’s boyhood neighborhood) and see his neighbors and friends.  Ron drove all the way the first day.  This wore me out a lot on the second day.  It was getting colder the longer we were there but for the most part the days were sunny.  It can be really cold in November in Chicago.  I remember freezing while my sister and I went trick or treating on Oct. 31.  We had to either wear our costumes under our coats or try to decorate our coats.   We were the cutest little gypsies for years.  It was our favorite costume and we always had enough odds and ends to put it together.

            Being in Oak Lawn and the Chicago area brings back many memories. I lived in the Chicago area until I was 20 years old and went away to Bradley University.  My parents had moved from the Roseland area when I was ten and lived in the city of Dolton, which wasn’t too far away. A lot of things had changed while I was growing up in Dolton.  The large fields full of prairie grass and trees and critters gave way to new houses and businesses.  Especially more fast food restaurants moved in.  I met Ron when I was a Junior at Bradley and then learned about Oak Lawn and his family history. He had been living there since he was five years old and most of the neighbors were there the whole time.  Some of them are still in the same houses.  He showed me all of the good places to eat there like the Oak Lawn Restaurant (still there) and nearby forest preserves. 

            What was interesting to me on this trip was how I realized that the whole time we were living as a married couple in the Chicago area we were always going to the forest preserves and parks.  We wanted to live in the country.  He hated the traffic, didn’t want to go downtown very much to plays or concerts or shopping.  I like plays and concerts, but didn’t like the traffic, the cost and the parking problems.  We did go many times with his mom and dad, especially after we had the girls.  Since we moved away in 1987 we visited a lot and the girls have a real sense of Chicago.  I am very glad of that.  I always liked the Art Institute and the library downtown. 

            I had gotten a job downtown Chicago right after college.  I was so brave and naïve back then.  It was good I was both.  I did meet some interesting people as I worked at different office jobs in the Loop.  I did spend time at the Art Institute for lunch on free Thursdays and at the library.  I walked to the train station (sometimes it was 12 blocks).  I took the train and then Ron would pick me up at the station after his work.  His job was near wherever we lived.  We only had one car which saved us money and put us together a lot.  I think that was difficult in some ways, but good for our marriage too.

            I am glad we took this trip. I really enjoyed talking to his neighbors and friends and eating at good restaurants.  It did bring back memories from my childhood.  My parents were always close to people in the neighborhood and had many friends – most of whom became my friends and mentors as well.  The people in your life do make a difference in your life.  You are who you are because of all of those influences.  Can you hear Frank Sinatra singing about Chicago in your head?  I can.



Crystal and Dad in side yard of Oak Lawn, Illinois house just prior to moving to Ohio in 2012

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