As a former Oak Parker, I have to take issue with John Hubbuch’s Aug. 10 column [Not everyone loves Oak Park, Viewpoints]. In typical elitist Oak Park fashion, he has branded those who have left the village, and essentially everyone else on the planet, as lesser human beings because they don’t live in Oak Park.
I was born in Oak Park and lived in the village for more than 30 years. I enjoyed growing up here, but as I got older I started to sour on the Oak Park experience, due to a number of personal experiences.
About five years ago, my wife and I moved to Countryside. When looking at houses, Oak Park was definitely an option, but even then we felt the limited number of houses we could afford were just not worth the asking price. And then there were the taxes which seemed ridiculous and only look to get worse. At least our new community doesn’t seem to spend its tax money on stupid things like heated sidewalks and municipal buildings that are crumbling within three years of opening either.
Yes, crime in Oak Park was a factor. When we lived in the Harrison Street district, there was enough crime to give us cause for concern. In high school I was physically assaulted by some charming groups of Oak Park public school students on a number of occasions, simply because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and went to the wrong school. Talk about your lasting Oak Park memories. Definitely not something I would want my kid to go through.
Is Countryside as “diverse” as Oak Park? Probably not. There are definitely fewer black students in our son’s school than there were at Irving. On the flip side, there are probably more Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European kids in our neighborhood. Is there more than one definition of diversity, or just the one that suits Oak Park? The statistical diversity Oak Parkers often boast about doesn’t mean a whole lot in the real world.
Has changing to a non-Oak Park school “damaged” our son? Absolutely not. Has moving away made my wife and I lesser people? I don’t think so at all.
Guilt? Not in the slightest. Get off your high horse, Mr. Hubbuch. I will admit to some resentment toward your remark that when someone moves out of Oak Park, you raise your brow because, deep down, you suspect the real reasons why they are leaving. How dare you cast aspersions on the character of the people who choose to leave Oak Park because you think they can’t hack living here, walking the same righteous path that you do?
Perhaps the village should try tackling its classism problem at some point.
You love Oak Park? Wonderful! You wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world? You’re welcome to it. But don’t assume you know why people choose to leave. Don’t think, for even a split second, that simply living in Oak Park makes you “better” than anyone who doesn’t, whether it’s their dream to live here or if they simply don’t care. Don’t suggest that others are flawed human beings, that they lack ethos, because they don’t have an Oak Park address.
That’s beyond insulting.
Name withheld on request