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Home Town Stories

Everyone likes a good story, don’t they? Especially if those stories have some down home appeal or some memories attached to it. That is what I am hoping to do in this new column. Touching base with neighbors throughout the county, learning about the lives that mirror our own, or just remembering the people and places that have gone before us.

I have lived my whole life within this county and I am older than I care to admit in this publication, but lets just say- I have been around. I grew up in Lake Villa, Millburn and eventually Waukegan. I raised my children in the Gurnee area and continue to work and play within these borders in Lake County. Now, my children are making their own lives. Most of you are doing the same.

I have a great memory, which allows me to remember the simplest bits of information or some long convoluted story that most people tend to forget. However, I think taking the time to look at the past, catch-up with what is currently going on in the community, or investigate what is going on in our own backyard is the stuff that makes life interesting.

Does anyone remember when Waukegan had a major retail outlet down Genesee Street, the Rustic Manor thrived in Gurnee, or when there wasn’t a Vernon Hills let alone, Hawthorn Mall? The businesses, restaurants, or stores of the past were not just buildings long forgotten; they are woven into the fabric of our lives. As we get older, our memories are fonder, but new generations have no idea what was before. We start to lose who we are.

Not just the facts, a photo of an event, or the when, what, and where that the basic news gives us. I want to ask why, how did that happen, and who was involved? The background and the details hook us and we get involved. Discovering people from the past doing the same things we do without any of the technology we have grown dependent on, gives us reason to pause. How did they survive?

Learning about the people who live in this county and what they are doing now helps to create connections that last forever. Hearing about families and their traditions, new cultures blending within old neighborhoods, and seeing how present generations are making their way with new experiences yet similar ways allows us to take notice of the people we pass everyday. Real and important individuals, not two-dimensional figures. What makes them tick?

People, who have lived through good times and bad, gone on to fame and fortune, reinvented and created new chapters to unfold, or are struggling with kids, bills, and schedules. These really are the stories of our lives. It makes us vested in our town, schools, and neighbors, while developing an understanding of others’ circumstances.

This column will not be, Life According to Odie, I want to hear from you too. Let me know what you are thinking and I will tell your story, as well. Home Town Stories…something to relate to. Write me at:

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