Growing Up Glenview

Bravo, Arianna, for beginning your local expansion in Chicago! You couldn't have picked a finer city. Reading John Cusack's memories of the old Comiskey Park, or Fred Armisen's love of chocolate with bacon took me back to the Chicago of my childhood. It took me back to Covert.

Covert. One of my first ACT words--that's right, ACT, none of this SAT business. We were from the Midwest. We took the ACT's! Covert adj. 1. Done in a hidden or secret way. noun. 1. A sheltered place. Covert Road, the street I grew up on, was definitely a sheltered place. A place where you could be free to be a kid. Everyone took care of everyone else. We were a neighborhood. When the sun went down, that's when you went home. We respected everyone's space. However, if you needed help in any way, all you had to do was go outside and ask for it. Someone, somewhere, on Covert Road would come to the rescue.

Our family started out on Michael Manor, just one block away from Covert. I remember the moving men riding my parent's bikes over, instead of putting them on the moving truck. As soon as we arrived, kids were on the street asking us our names, how old we were, but most importantly, if we knew how to play kick the can. Now kick the can, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the game, consists of someone's old can placed in the middle of the street. We did not need video equipment that cost hundreds of dollars-an empty can in the middle of the street would give all the neighborhood kids hours of entertainment. Teams were made--it didn't matter if you were 6 or 16, you got put on a team. You would scatter around the yards and someone was 'It'. You would try to get to that can and kick it before the kid who was 'It' could tag you. It didn't matter if you won or lost--someone's mom or dad would put you in back of their Ltd Ford station wagon without any seatbelts to get ice cream at the DQ in downtown Glenview.

What I remember most about my street was how diverse it was. We had Irish, Italian, Greek, German, Jewish, Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Episcopalian families. You could go from house to house and taste some of the most amazing food. You could go from Feta cheese to cream cheese in no time flat, and anyone would feed you. If they were eating and you were playing, you were part of their family for that meal. Now our family was Jewish, so we did not celebrate Christmas, but you would not know it from our street. We were always invited to decorate a tree or bake some cookies. In return, potato latkes were offered in abundance at the Gertz household. Respect for someone else's beliefs was sacred. They came to our Bar and Bat Mitzvah's, and we went to their communions. It just worked. No judging, just accepting.

July 4th was pretty special on Covert Road. We would block off our street and have a block party. Every family would come up with a carnival game and we would decorate our bikes and have a bike parade. One of my most vivid memories of my father was when he would take out the American flag and he would line up all of us kids and we would march up and down the street singing, "She's a grand old flag". My mom would cook her 'prison spaghetti'. I don't think the recipe really came from prison, as I don't recall my mom doing any hard time. Then it was time for fireworks. The City of Glenview would put on quite a show. All you needed to do was sit in the back yard and look up. I haven't seen anything like it, until last week while watching the opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. I think Glenview has finally met its match.

I could go on and on about the great things that Glenview had to offer. The chocolate covered toffee at Cora Lee Candies, the fried onion block at Hackney's, the hot dogs at Hot Dog Island or the beef sandwiches at Boobies. Roller-skating at the Rink. Checking out books at The Glenview Public Library and then going across the street to put pennies on the railroad track and wait for the train to come. Now granted, I would never let my kids do some of this stuff now. We need seatbelts, and getting to close to a railroad track is a real no-no. But back then, everything just seemed much more simple. No one got hurt. We just played and we played hard. We took care of each other. We wished each other well.

Gosh I miss growing up Glenview.