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On June 1, my sister and I were standing near the Maple Avenue parking lot across from the main entrance of Rush Oak Park Hospital. Two petite ladies approached us from the south. It was a mother-daughter pair who were pulling an extremely large piece of luggage behind them.

 “May I use phone?” the younger lady asked in broken English as she pointed to her own mobile phone. I immediately went into defense mode, but my sister noticed a guidebook in the mom’s hand and was responding differently. I finally caught on when they pointed to the Green Line in their guidebook and asked how to get there.

 The two were visiting from France and were trying to experience as many things listed in their tourist booklet as they could. They weren’t really interested in the Green Line but the Earnest Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright sites listed nearby. Interestingly, they thought they were in a Chicago neighborhood called Oak Park (similar to Wicker Park or Lincoln Park, they said). They arrived in Oak Park via the Blue Line, which stops at Austin Boulevard, and Harlem Avenue as does the Green Line.

 It helped that I spoke enough French (and they enough English) to have a good laugh and make the most of the situation. Suddenly, I was an unofficial tour guide as I drove the ladies east along Lake Street to the Hemingway Museum. The two happy tourists asked many questions and revealed their new fondness for deep-dish pizza. I am sure they took many good memories back with them.

 Life in Oak Park is like a box of chocolates. You never know what interesting encounters you will have from one day to the next! Here’s hoping you will enjoy your time when inevitably called to be an impromptu ambassador for the village of Oak Park.

Ken Woods

Oak Park

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