Miss Maze's grave marker?

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Who knew all these years that Adele Maze was buried right there in the front lawn of the little library that carries her name? Now I've got older siblings who remember Adele Maze, working at the desk of what was previously called the South Branch Library back in the 1950s. Beloved? Yep, I'd say so.

And then Ms. Maze up and died, right there at the circulation desk of a heart attack. Instant legend. The library board properly renamed the South Branch in her honor when it opened in 1936 in its present E.E. Roberts' incarnation, and generations now simply refer to it as the Maze Branch without giving a thought to who or what a Maze is or was.

That will change now that the library folks have finally put a grave marker over her remains on the lawn at the southeast corner of the property. Seems to have gone up recently. A very handsome granite headstone in the midst of what has become, over the past couple of summers, one of Oak Park's most lovely public gardens.

Maybe it was part of the honor that officials allowed her to be buried on the grounds or maybe it was just convenient that they didn't have to tote her very far. But it does seem a little disrespectful that for the past 60 years, kids and pups have been running over her unmarked gravesite.

Wait, this just in — Ms. Maze is not buried on the library lawn. And the new grave marker? Why that's just a new sign identifying the library for passersby. Don't know why the new sign looks exactly like a headstone. But I'm really glad that I got the accurate information before I started a major rumor.

Now let me tell you a little bit about the Doles. Those are the folks the north branch of the library is named for. Seems that Mr. and Mrs. Dole, and all the little Doles … What? I'm already out of space. OK, I'll come back to that story another time.

It is oddly disconcerting to see a dump truck rumble up the lovely low hill in Scoville Park. But that was the scene behind the chain link on Tuesday morning as the demolition continues in Oak Park's most visible public square over at Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue.

Right now the park is just the interesting outcroppings of demolition — piles of concrete piled at odd angles, dirt where there used to be tennis courts. And there, under tarpaulins, looking sort of mummified at the top of the hill, the World War I monument waiting for this late summer, autumn, winter and spring of construction to pass before a refreshed Scoville Park is revealed in 2013.

I know this effort makes some nervous. They'd have to mainly be people who haven't paid attention to the loving and attentive redos the Park District of Oak Park has already completed at neighborhood parks.

The park district continues its steady progress in spending the bounty of the tax referendum a few years back on renewing our parks. After decades when the park district was scratching in the dirt for revenue, our parks got tougher and rougher looking. Now, with updating that is simple, elegant, practical and fun, the parks are again neighborhood focal points.

Here's a small contrast I've been watching lately. At the foot of the modest hill at Taylor Park, there is the newly crafted wetlands area. Since this area flooded and pooled every time it rained, the landscape architects working for the park district had the notion of creating a little tiny wetland. So far, very cool and I now like to get caught at that infernal light at Ridgeland and Division just so I can follow the progress of the grasses and look at the small footbridge.

But my view is disrupted when I'm on Division looking at the park from the east by the always ugly, and now uglier, little traffic island. Anyone at village hall have a weed whacker? It's the little things, folks.

Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

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Posted: August 30th, 2012 12:50 PM

It was my understanding that the 'little library' you refer to was originally Miss Maze's private residence and was eventually donated to Oak Park for use as a library. She conducted the original story hours for neighborhood children and, of course, worked the circulation desk. This charming story was conveyed to me by a long-time resident of Gunderson Avenue, so I accepted it as gospel. I can accept if it is local lore, though. Would love to know for sure!

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