Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:
Remembering Nancy Staunton: There’s nothing much better than a well-turned line in an obituary. And this week, in the obit for Nancy Staunton, an Oak Park village trustee in the 1980s, her family described her as “a person who lived life without unnecessary drama.” They chalked that virtue up to having grown up in Depression years, losing her dad as a teen, and, in the Irish Catholic tradition of the time, having birthed six children in less than five years.
And in a mention that reminded me precisely of my own mom and her 20-minute naps after teaching school all day at St. Giles and before making dinner for the brood, her family wrote, “and, most importantly, a person who could ‘rest their eyes’ when sleep was not an option.”
Nancy Staunton moved into Oak Park’s civic life when her youngest was set to start school. She took the usual route for that era, joining the League of Women Voters, serving on boards at the Housing Center and what was then Family Service and Mental Health Center (now Thrive). With the backing of the still almost-all-powerful Village Manager Association, she was elected to the village board in 1985.
That’s when I came to know her and admire her and why the summation of Nancy Staunton as a “person who lived life without unnecessary drama” rings so true. There were tough issues being decided in those years. Oak Park passed its ban on handguns. Expanded its definitions of protected classes to include gays. And worked through one of those rare cases of actual corruption in the police department that was investigated by Scott Turow, the star novelist and lawyer.
But Nancy was pretty much unflappable. Focused on good government, listening well, and never needing to be the last person who spoke on an issue.
Quickly: Today’s page one headline – OPALGA+’s BIG GAY DECADES – is a nod to one of my favorite Wednesday Journal headlines ever. With strong pressure from OPALGA (the came more recently), the village board had approved a then-radical Domestic Partnership Registry. Conservative Christians in town pushed the matter to a non-binding referendum and on the night when it narrowly won approval from voters, we settled on the much larger than typical and ALL CAP headline “BIG GAY DAY.”
That front page is one of many, many artifacts in the strong new exhibit on the 30th anniversary of OPALGA at the Oak Park River Forest Museum.
Just after Christmas, Winberie’s is due to close its doors. This is a hard one for many locals who have marked family milestones, made a tradition of the Sunday brunch, or just basked in the warmth of a very steady staff, long headed by Gary Nebiola.
Why are they closing? Not fully sure. Our overabundance of too-similar restaurants? The coming disruption of the full remaking of Lake Street in 2020? Rent hikes tied to tax hikes? Likely some combination.