I spent more time at 627 S. Ridgeland, the Gunderson home Marie Wackrow lived in for 62 years, than any house except my own. When I was growing up, I only knew her as the mother of my best friend, Jerry. From 1960 till 1965, especially in the summers, I spent most of my time in one house or the other, the alley that connected them, and Longfellow Park across the street.
Forty-four years ago today, like most days, Harriette Robinet, like most mothers of that era, was home with the kids. Her husband, McLouis, better known as Mac, was teaching at UIC. No different, really, from most other days. Except April 4, 1968 was no ordinary day. Several hundred miles to the south, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
Sunday morning, I headed to First United Church of Oak Park (Kenilworth and Lake) to visit the Tree of Hope. Or Tree of Life. Or Easter Tree. Take your pick. If you're looking for a Metaphor Tree, this would be it. If you're looking for something that captures the essence of this fast-tracked, hyperkinetic spring, look no further.
Next Tuesday is the Illinois primary, and I was sorely tempted to declare Republican so I could vote for Newt Gingrich, just to see how weird that would feel. But then I saw a public service announcement on the side of a bus that read, "Get the facts, then vote."
A troop of robins hunt for worms amid the softening soil and greening grass on the slope of Scoville Park, singing as they go. There is joy in spring's beginning, even as the flurries of winter's residue continue to fall.
Judging by general media coverage, we have a lot to worry about. Here's a partial list from the past: Bird flu, swine flu, Mediterranean fruit fly, the Asian carp, killer bees, AIDS and HIV, mad cow disease, Y2K, computer viruses, computer hackers, identity theft, microwave radiation, cellphones ...
It all started when someone left the imagination open. Magic Tree Bookstore, the dean of independent shops in Oak Park (27 years in business, 23 on Oak Park Avenue), displays a rotating array of seasonal children's books, pegged to the next holiday or visiting author. But their latest display is altogether different. A worn, multi-paned window frames the words, "It all started one day when someone left the window open."
Sunday is the annual Oscar extravaganza, an obligatory observation for hopeless film buffs like me. I'm no good at handicapping the awards, though I'm guessing either The Artist or Hugo will pull in Best Picture.