Village of wide lawns, well-watered sidewalks

The drought continues for everyone except the White Sox, and in Oak Park that means a return of one of the grandest old village traditions: watering the sidewalk. As one walks about town, it is impossible not to notice that almost every manually-placed sprinkler has been perfectly positioned so the spray overshoots the grass and hits the sidewalk (or street). How much water actually makes it to root systems is, at best, questionable. Pedestrians are forced to actually walk on the grass, adding insult to injury, in order to avoid the wayward spray.

Not that watering grass is worth the time, effort, and precious natural resource. Most experts say the grass will come back once it starts raining again. Target the trees instead, they say. For one thing, they’re bigger, so Oak Park homeowners have a much better chance of actually hitting their target.

Meanwhile, over on the Marion Street mall, the sodded square where once the Sawyer business college squatted, which had served as a kind of “village green” while the property awaits development, has now become the “village brown.”

If it doesn’t rain soon, things could get out of hand. One day recently, while walking on Forest Avenue across from Community Bank, we smelled the aromatic bouquet of what appeared to be incense.

On closer inspection, we discovered that the dried wood mulch chips surrounding one of the parkway trees was actually on fire! Not a big fire, mind you, but it took a fair amounting of stamping to put out.

Oak Park’s the charm?

Getting back to the White Sox, their recent 8-game win streak, broken only by two generous giveaways to the Cubs, started on June 15, which just happened to coincide with the annual Oak Park Youth Baseball/Softball night at U.S. Cellular Field. Hundreds of tiny local ballplayers circled the enormous field, then settled in to watch the Sox score 10 runs in the 6th inning to turn the game around. We like to think Oak Park was the good luck charm, and if by some cosmic miracle the Sox go to the World Series this year, the village should claim full credit.

By the way, the OPYBS representative chosen to throw out the game’s honorary first pitch was Mike Marchetti, who has coached at the Bronco level for 22 years. He’s retiring at the end of this season.

Garage top ‘closed’

The village planned to keep the top of the OPRF parking garage free of fireworks watchers Monday night, but spectators found their way up anyway.

Village spokesman David Powers said police and fire officials determined the garage top to be a “fire safety hazard,” and banned it as a watching site for the second year in a row.

Powers pointed to stadium seating, blocked off streets surrounding the high school field, and South Field turf as possible viewing spots.

“There’s plenty of places to watch other than the garage,” he said.

But when the fireworks went off at 9:15 p.m. July 4, the top floor of the garage was lined with gawkers.

Too bad. There were plenty of seats in the stands.

The Taylors of Taylor Ave.

Recently we looked up the number for a family named Taylor and noticed that they lived, appropriately enough, on Taylor Avenue. Perusing further, we discovered there are no less than four listings for Taylors on Taylor Avenue. Taylor, as it happens, is a much more common name than people might think. In fact, there are no less than 63 listings for Taylors in the local phone book.

We wondered if this coincidence applied to any other streets, but discovered there are no Humphreys listed on Humphrey, no Harveys on Harvey (last name anyway), no Austins on Austin (though there is one on Humphrey, a block away), no Wesleys on Wesley, no Scovilles on Scoville, and no Clintons on either Clinton (River Forest has one too). There is, however, one Washington on Washington Boulevard.

You’re right. We don’t have enough to do.

You say ‘bump,’ we say ‘truncated dome’

Don’t be alarmed if the corners of some Oak Park sidewalks are looking red and strangely bumpy lately. According to Village Engineer Jim Budrick, these sidewalks with “truncated domes” (aka “bumps”) are designed to meet the newest state standards for handicapped accessibility. The domes serve as a “tactile warning system,” Budrick said, that alerts people with impaired vision to an intersection ahead.

The domed corners have been installed on intersections along Oak Park Avenue and Madison Street, but the village is only replacing corners where construction is being done anyway. “We replace the corners as [we] get to them,” Budrick said.

Gold Willow Diadem Brocade shells?

Even if you are a seasoned attendee of Oak Park’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display, one thing you probably don’t know is the names of your favorite fireworks.

So, for future reference, here’s a list of the fireworks included in this year’s grand finale: Golden Kamuro Rainfall; Red, White, and Blue Angle Barrage; Salutes with Silver Tails; Multi-Colored Peonies; Mix Chrysanthemums; Special Effect Patterns (specifically, Tourbillions, Serpents, Whistles, Tiger Tails); Coconut Palms with Tails; Color-Changing Dahlias; Titanium Salutes with tails. Also featured were a “special selection of ‘canopy shells,'” including: Red, White, and Blue Peony; Silver to Blue to Red Peony; Silver Coconut Palm Tree; Crackling Golden Kamuro; Gold Willow Diadem Brocade; and Brilliant Green to Gold Chrysanthemums.

There will be a quiz next year.

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