District #74 Reunion
From the Lincolnwood, IL School District #74 comes an email announcing an October 2010 reunion at Przybylo’s White Eagle Restaurant and a luncheon at Monastero’s Ristorante on Devon Avenue.
I know for certain that I will not attend.
Lincolnwood has now, and had back then, no warmth or feeling of community for me, despite the fact that it was uniformly safe, scrupulously clean, dotted with parks, good schools, and economically well-off.
It had been a small, rural area, west of the Sanitary Canal and called Tessville. It was owned by a few German farmers, and filled with taverns that were beyond the reach of Chicago’s police. In the 1930s, flush with Federal recovery money, the community renamed itself Lincolnwood, after Illinois’s most illustrious citizen, and they planted 10,000 elms. Land was sold to developers and streets laid out.
We lived on the 6600 block of Kilpatrick. There were twenty houses. Ours was a two-story, red-brick Georgian built in 1940, with three bedrooms and a small “back room” that was really a windowed porch.
In 1970, by my count and memory, there must have been five Jewish families on our block, including us. But Lincolnwood was always characterized as 90% Jewish, a statistical prejudice that fascinates me. Because if you have a room of 100 people, and 20 are Jews, someone will always say, “It is 90% Jewish”.
Lincolnwood always lived in fear of disorder and thus there were strict guidelines about buildings, fences, curfews, and traffic. For instance, you could not build a fence higher than 4 feet. Your house had to be constructed of brick. The speed limit was 35 miles per hour on Pratt and you obeyed it. I don’t remember loud dogs barking at night, but I know our neighbors sometimes called the police if we played Frisbee in the street.
I most likely won’t be going back for a reunion.
I won’t see old friends who grew up in houses where the drapes were always closed, and brisket baked in the oven.
I won’t pass those yellow-brick, steel-windowed, awning-protected ranch houses with the geometrically embellished two-car garages that led into suffocating houses where dogs, TV, vodka, cigarettes and humans mingled without interacting.
Those houses all had black or pink-tiled, flowered-wallpaper bathrooms with a green glass jar of Airwick liquid air freshener and porcelain-poodle hand towel holders.
Low taxes, twenty minutes from downtown, excellent schools.
Lincolnwood, like Chicago, always proudly and loudly extolled its civic virtues. It is part of the Middle Western character to extol and fervently believe in its goodness and to take such odious behavior as segregation and rename it “good schools”.
I was happy when I left there in 1979 and I happily will not go back, even though all the bullies are now fat and gray-haired, and 34 new graduating classes have since passed through Lincoln Hall.
I can’t go home again. Thank God.