LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Posted August 8, 2020
Mother once said it all depends on where you stand. In 60-plus years, I’ve stood in almost equal parts Chicagoland and rural Illinois. That’s long enough to understand a little about people in each region.
A lot of what we know about each other is what we’ve heard. When I visited my Grandmother in Harrisburg, IL in summer 1962, and residents heard that I was from Chicago (actually south suburban Hazel Crest), I’d hear quips like “Aha, Gangsters”, and some mention of Al Capone as if he and I were blood relatives. I was nine.
To a Southern Illinoisan in 1962, Chicago was everything down to Kankakee, and qualified as city slicker territory. Southern Illinois residents had other thoughts about Chicago, its politics and fabled windy-ness.
No one, however, mentioned one part of the state seceding from the other. Apparently, that’s changed since there’s talk about Chicago becoming its own state. Hardly Brexit level stuff, but notable.
My thirty-plus years in rural Illinois included stops in Robinson, Lawrenceville, and Paris where I sold advertising for the local radio station. This meant visiting merchants in a 40-mile radius of Paris. In two years, I learned rural routes 130, 49, 133 and 36 better than I ever knew streets like Harlem, Pulaski, and Kedzie in 23 years of growing up in Hazel Crest.
I also learned what made country folk different from Chicagoans: not much. There were some rural idioms, e.g., referring to travel in terms of miles instead of minutes as we do in rush hour Chicago, or calling Coca Cola “soda” instead of “pop” as most of us did up north. Otherwise both sides just wanted to work hard and be told the truth.
The occasional secession chatter, I think, is due to one side not holding up their end of the “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” deal. Who’s to blame depends on where you stand.
Chicago and Illinois becoming separate states is uncharted water in our lifetime. Someone could end up with secessionist’s remorse.
Maybe enough level heads will decide to be careful what they wish for. What we have might not be so bad after all.
Itasca, Illinois 60143