This coming March is the 30th anniversary of the OPRF boys basketball team’s third place finish in the state tournament (according to one alum here with a long memory, they wuz robbed). But it’s not the first time OPRF finished third in the state. As a matter of fact (and public record), they finished third at the very first Illinois high school basketball championship in 1908, held, believe it or not, right here in Oak Park at the YMCA.
No, not the embattled, ready-to-bolt-for-Forest-Park YMCA on Marion Street. For the first half of the 20th century, the Y was located in the stately, 4-columned brick building at 156 N. Oak Park Ave., now known as the Scoville Park Residences. After the Y left, the building was used by the Emmaus Bible Institute until it went condo.
The gym was located in the basement. It’s hard to imagine a packed house of crazed hoops fans down there in 1908, but that’s what it says at www.ihsa.org/activity/bkb/records/team1-2.htm, according to sharp-eyed Internet surfer Bill Greffin, who drew our attention to the long-forgotten but fascinating factoid. Why he was surfing there, we have no idea.
By the way, Peoria routed Rock Island, 48-29 in the championship game.
One plan submitted, one to go
Park District of Oak Park Executive Director Gary Balling said last Wednesday’s meeting with Forest Preserve Commissioner Mike Quigley and his staff went well, though Quigley was non-committal.
“They were very good listeners,” said Balling. “They encouraged us to put forth a plan.”
Balling had met with Quigley in hopes of convincing him to get the county’s head of Animal Control, Dr. Dan Parmer, to be more flexible on rules for use of the village’s park space by off-leash dogs.
Any park district proposal on such use is still forth coming. However the park district did submit a plan to Cook County last Friday for enclosing a portion of Ridgeland Common for use as a dedicated dog run. He said Dr. Parmer had not received the package in the mail as of Monday morning, but that he hoped to discuss details of the proposal with Parmer soon.
No word on in-hall interest
Could the new village manager be hired from within? Oak Park President David Pope said he’s not ruling anything out, but it will be a decision of the whole board.
Deputy Manager Ray Wiggins, said it’s too early to ask whether he will throw his name into the hat. The board hasn’t announced its process for selecting candidates, and even if it had, it wouldn’t be appropriate to reveal the identities of any candidates, Wiggins said.
“The only thing I can tell you is that I am committed to continuing in city management, and that I am committed to serving the citizens of Oak Park as I have the 11 years I’ve been here,” Wiggins said.
Wiggins is the heir apparent, having previously served as assistant manager. At that time, now fellow deputy managers Pete Dame and Lisa Shelley served as “assistants to the manager.”
It’s not even Thanksgiving, but it’s already beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. In addition to the enormous evergreen that has sprouted where Lake meets Marion, and the Salvation Army kettle and bellringer by Starbucks, and the annoying recordings of such classics as “Did You Ever Spend Christmas on Christmas Island?” inside Starbucks, and the snowman and candy canes paintings on the Cozy Corner windows, there was the guy on the motorcycle with the inflated, life-size reindeer in his sidecar, who sped down Lake Street at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. No, we’re not kidding.
Rocky road leads to Rhodes
Dominican University wins bragging rights this week with the news that one of their own was selected as a Rhodes Scholar. Jeremy Robinson, a grad student in the School of Education, is one of 32 Americans to receive the highly prized scholarship. He’s been teaching ninth grade English at Harper High School on the South Side with the Teach for America program, but next October, he’ll be heading to Oxford University in England. When he was 5, he lived in a Salvation Army shelter with his single mom and four siblings. Robinson, 23, credits his mother for providing inspiration.
Quote of the Week
“My opinion is that Oak Park is Oak Park not because of but in spite of downtown Oak Park.” Dennis Murphy, owner of Poor Phil’s