|Baha'i Temple, Wilmette IL|
The hospital where I was born was in the Chicago city limits so technically I am from there, but I really did not grow up as a Chicagoan. As Chicago politicians continue to mug her, rape her and drag her into the political sewer and down the gurgler - with enthusiast Communist-embracing Chicago voters choosing their captors and their own ruin - I feel embarrassed and sad for Chicago. But I grew up in a priveleged home - outside of Chicago - in an upper middle class suburb with hard working parents who expected excellence from their kids. Do I have a right to complain about idiocy and apathy of many average Chicagoans? Maybe not... because I am definitely not one of them.
Most of my childhood was spent growing up in a northern suburb called Wilmette, Illinois. It is a beautiful area and I am very lucky to have lived there. It was my parents choice to move there when I was about 5 years old. When I was first born (adopted), they lived in an apartment in Rogers Park. (yes, technically in Chicago). Yet, when I was around 2, we escapted the city limits along with my newborn sister (also adopted) as we moved up to a farm in Woodstock, Illinois. Unfortunately, my mom calls this the loneliest time of her life. She grew up in Chicago in a huge family of 9 kids so she was basically a city kid. All her friends were from northern Chicago and north, northwest suburbs of Chicago.
For me, however, I have very happy and fun memories from age 3-5 and life on the farm. We had lifestyle farm with a couple of horses, a barn and some acreage which my dad must have rented out to let the neighbor grow corn. My dad commuted every day into Chicago and my mom watched us kids. My 2 1/2 year old sister and I (age 4) played in the lush green cornfields, a swingset play area and explored, frolicked in the trees and property close to our house. One of our horses (a pony?) was apparently very old. His name was Tom Thumb and he liked to poop near our swing set slide. I remember going down that slide jumping over a fresh manure pile at the end of the slide laughing all the way. I attended a country kindergarten just down the road for a couple months. A little school bus picked me up at the bottom of our long driveway. I remember my mom, or my Aunt Win, walking me up and down the long driveway which was alongside a graveyard. There were grapes growing on the fence which we could pick and eat. There was a big, scraggly looking tree at the top of our driveway and during thunderstorms, when lightening flashed, this big old tree looked very scary with no leaves. It looked like a huge scary man with long white arms waving, extended and screaming. There sure were lots of scary thunderstorms at that farm on the top of a hill in our cute little country house.
I remember our hard working Polish farming neighbors. The mother was older, like a grandmother and she was an excellent cook. I don't remember all the food just that it was all yummy. She would chop up potatoes into little tiny squares and fry them with minced onions until brown, crispy and tasty. I also remember she spoke with an accent, she was a larger sized lady with a loud laugh and a mole on her chin with wisps of hair coming out of it. I suppose she looked a bit like the evil witch in the snow white cartoons, but I remember she baby-sat for us sometimes and she was a lovely, kind and generous woman.
I loved the few years of childhood on a farm and later in life when I bought a home in Wonder Lake, Illinois I realized I was only about 2 miles from that little farm. I loved driving by the farm driveway when heading to the Woodstock morning train to commute into downtown Chicago. I think my dad really loved our little house in Wonder Lake, too. When I first bought that house, my dad drove up to check it out and we drove up that long driveway to visit our old farmhouse. Noone was home so we just took a quick look at the property from the top of the hill, turned around and went back down the driveway. I'm sure some other family is making some happy memories living there. I learned to be a country girl on the farm.
At age 5, my mother probably convinced my dad our kids education was important and my parents sought a suburban lifestyle with great schools. Wilmette was their choice.
I went to Harper Elementary School for 1/2 of kindergarten (age 5) and up to 5th grade (age 10). I went to Howard Junior High School for grades 6-8 then on to New Trier East High school for grades 9-12 (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior).
When I graduated NTE in 1981 there were some 800+ kids just my age. A huge school, New Trier is known for academic excellence where most kids go on to universities across America. We took skills tests like "SATs" and met with counsellors to gauge what type of college degree we wanted to pursue. I took all the pre-requisites like math, english, economics and science. I loved Phsyics, Chemistry and Biology. New Trier had all sorts of sports, music programs and after school clubs. My dad bought me a beautiful flute and I was in the school orchestra. There were spring and autumn formal school dances junior and senior year. I had all sorts of short term boyfriends and went to several dances sporting full length gowns my mom sewed for me. I had a long, black velvet for one dance and a long, brown velvet for another. She made me a full length white eyelet gown with lilac underneath for a spring dance and another full length shimmery pink, strapless one for a summer ball. What fun I had 1976-1981 at NTE. I attended the 5 year and 10 year NTE reunions and in October I hope to attend their 30 year reunion. (whoa, time has flown by...)
So why all this description? My parents were hard sucessful and working providing a beautiful, wonderous and safe life for me. Was I entitled to it? No. They gave me a great life because that was what they wanted for us. I did chores around the house and got an allowance. I learned the value of a buck. I started baby sitting at age 13 then at age 16 had my first big summer job as runner at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I worked for a company owned by the man I had baby sat his kids for at age 13. I learned I really loved working full time and getting a paycheck - money of my own! It was awesome... No, I didn't have to pay rent as a teenager but when I lived at home for a couple years 21-23 I did pay rent and bought my own car, insurance, phone line and food even though I still live at my parents house.
I finally left the home nest at age 23 - what a golden nest it was - but I still had to fly. I learned to live on my own, frugally paying rent all my own expenses while I worked full time. In this regard I suppose I am a bit like many Chicagoans who work hard to provide for their own families. My parents still helped me a bit while I was in my 20s but I became a self sufficient adult who worked full time and paid my own way in life. I made choices, made sure my credit was good, rented various apartments and finally saved up for 10 years before I had enough for a decent deposit for my own home.
So this is just a bit of my life story ... and how I was not a typical Chicagoan. I was a country, suburban girl who just happened to be born at a Chicago hospital and worked for 20 years in the Chicago loop. I am not entitled. I make my own life happen and I am responsible for my own happiness. I am not sitting around waiting for welfare or voting for communist policies like many in Chicago are still blindly doing. We left Illinois in 2007 and unless things get turned around by the next few Republican or T.E.A. party presidents... we won't live there again. Good luck Chicago... I am from Wilmette.
|Baha'i arial shot ... and the Wilmette Park District|