Thirteen years ago Rich Gloor Sr. took me aside, into the empty living room of the rambling old house at 327 S. Humphrey Ave., and told me, “Dan, you’ve got to find a way to buy this house. Mary wants it.”

Well, Mary wasn’t the only one who wanted it; maybe Rich used that same line on every husband on a house tour. But my old friend, and for a decade one of my partners in staging the annual May Madness street fest on Oak Park Avenue, was right. When you find the perfect house, you need to make a leap.

In 2002, the leap was financial. Could we afford this lovely old Victorian? Would the gracious seller accept our low-end bid? She did and we happily leapt, moving into a house we had only dreamed of, on a lovely block of wonderful neighbors. Pretty much nirvana.

Now it is 2015 and for the past couple of years we have contemplated the logic and the need to downsize. The house was too big, too costly to maintain and we’re slowly getting older. And, let’s be honest, I work in a business in the midst of astounding and radical change and opportunity. Keeping the cost structure in check both at the office and at home is essential as we celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Journal this month and plan for its extended future.

And with that as the exposition, here’s the point of this column. Last Friday the Haley family moved out of Oak Park. Yep, I can hardly believe it myself. But it is true. We slipped right out of the bottom of town and landed in a home we love, about, say, 1,000 feet south of Roosevelt Road in Berwyn.

This wasn’t the plan. Our expectation was that we could downsize and downprice in Oak Park. We tried. And we failed. 

We looked hard in Oak Park where we found small houses either upgraded out of our price range or pretty much in the sad sack realm of “Really? This costs $300,000? Really?”

So we expanded the horizons to other places where we have newspapers or a sense of affinity. We came very close in Maywood and I would tell you that North Maywood was a revelation to me. What a lovely community. We looked in Forest Park, in Galewood, in Austin, a little in Elmwood Park. But in a real estate market that is still very slim on available inventory, the community with the most choices and the greatest value kept coming back to Berwyn.

I know. Ber-wyyyn. I grew up making fun of Berwyn. My lifelong love of Oak Park with its often attendant snootiness, led me to look down on Berwyn. Not admirable on my part, I admit.

But just as in 2002, we walked in the door of the frame house on Clinton Avenue and knew we had found our home. Built in 1905, it has somehow survived the decades, including a recent tangle with foreclosure, with its remarkable grace intact. Leaded windows, an abundance of natural woodwork coupled with the great benefits of having been recently flipped — new plumbing, electric and central air. For a guy who can plant flowers but not find the pilot light, this is a new kind of nirvana.

We’re happy, if weary, after the long weekend of moving. But let me be honest. There is some awkwardness here. The editor and publisher of the local paper just moved to the next town over. In two years when District 97 goes to referendum and I write a column pushing its passage, we’ll all know I’m not paying that freight. When I’m critical in the column of some action by the village board, we’ll both know I’m not voting in the next election. Like I said, a little awkward.

But I’ve got 60 years in Oak Park. My heart is here, my business is here. And, as my former neighbor Marc Blesoff told us, “Things change. And that is good.”

We’re embracing the change, embracing our new home and all that is ahead of us.

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...

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