The end of an era

Opinion: Columns

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By John Hubbuch

This year I have been thinking and writing about whether or not Oak Park is a special place to live. My son's family's decision to move out of Oak Park was the initial reason for my reflection.

My columns got a lot of interesting and varied responses. Some opined that Oak Park with its diversity, great transportation, good schools and history was the best place to live. Others thought the schools really weren't that good. That and the high taxes and relatively high crime rate made Oak Park the worst place to live.

Of course, both views are right. It all depends on the perspective of the individual. Although Plato's "The Good" posited a universal truth, that was a long time ago. The modern world, with its emphasis on individualism and personal freedom, makes truth a relative concept. Like arguing over whether vanilla, chocolate or strawberry is the superior flavor (obviously vanilla), you choose where you live based on a whole bunch of variables — including cost and income. Most people can't afford to live here.

So I'm done with that. Move into Oak Park. Move out of Oak Park.Whatever makes you happy.

Some people told me my perspective on this issue, and the always related issue of race was limited and influenced by the fact that I am a 62-year-old white guy who has lived here since 1976. Unwilling to undergo painful skin treatments or to search for the Fountain of Youth or to move, I must plead guilty to a limited perspective. But then everyone's perspective is limited by their experience.

I believe it is called life. So if I think Oak Park is a special place to live, then that is my truth.

Part of why I think Oak Park is special is its history. Not just the Wright and Hemingway connection but the enlightened way the village and its inhabitants addressed the block-busting of the 1960s. In any time of crisis, the best pull together and work together to find solutions. Oak Park did that.

Older residents appreciate this in a way that younger, newer residents do not and cannot. Inevitably the pride of historical glory fades. Race doesn't matter as much. Our country's president is black. Oak Park is no longer a place where you can get a house bargain because people are afraid to move here.

I know and appreciate what people like Raymond, Reid, Replogle, McClure, Cassin et al did. I dare say many newer, younger residents never heard of them.

So if at one time there was a consensus that Oak Park was a special place because of a shared, lived history, then as older residents die or move away, it is probably inevitable that that consensus ossifies and turns into a historical footnote.

So be it. Times change. Maybe it's time for me to let go of the past and be glad I lived in Oak Park when I have.

Maybe a place doesn't have to be special to be good.

Reader Comments

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Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 2:09 PM

I love how some posters say that the "chatter" here is not reflective of general sentiment. That hasn't been proven either way. We don't know if the majority of village residents are as giddy as silly or just waiting until their housing value raises enough so they can get out of dodge.


Posted: October 12th, 2011 2:33 PM

John, please don't make the mistake of thinking that the chatter on has anything to do with what people in this town actually believe.

OP Guy  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 1:25 AM

The problem is not that newer residents don't care about it's history, it's more about OP resting on it's reputation. Like the comment below, yes the young are aware of it's history, that's what attracts a certain type of the young here. BTW, the president isn't "black", he's half "black" and half "white"... I love how people commonly leave out the "white" part, usually because his "black" half serves as some sort of political weight.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 11:13 PM

John, I think that you underestimate the passion and love that younger people have for OP. They put up a lot of money to be part of the village and are committed to staying. They have lost money already on housing value which is part of their retirement stake. They have seen taxes impact the family's disposable income. Do the newer people know OP's history of the 60's and 70's - Yes. Do they respect it - Yes. Are they frustrated with the village's political culture - Yes.

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