I think I’m too young to have such a strong sense of nostalgia, but I can’t help it. Other than the advances in technology (I wouldn’t give up my iPod, high speed Internet, or cell phone), things seemed so much better during my teenage years in the early ’90s. Music was more authentic. You could still see music videos on MTV. The only reality TV show was the “Real World” and it actually had some social relevancy as opposed to being an all-out sleaze fest. Oh, and we had an Oxford-educated president instead of a warmongering moron. Yeah, good times.
You know what else was had its glory days in the early ’90s? The Spindle in Berwyn’s Cermak Plaza. It was making a cameo in “Wayne’s World,” not being disrespectfully dismantled under the cover of darkness for the sake of corporate greed. When I found out about this in May, I was just as upset as my mother had been about the covert destruction of Meigs Field.
The Spindle sculpture went up in 1989, a year after I moved to the area. My brother and I were 8 and 10 at the time and we adored the Spindle, especially the little, red VW Bug on top. We understood that the sculpture was kind of tacky and maybe this sort of thing was why Berwyn got mocked so badly by Svengoolie on the “Fox Kids Club.” But it was still a piece of art, an extremely unique piece. And art being destroyed so Walgreens can have a drive-through pharmacy sickens me.
A while back when the Save the Spindle effort began, I was talking to a Berwyn business owner about the development in Berwyn. He said, “Well, now that Forest Park is the new Oak Park, Berwyn wants to be the new Forest Park.”
Interesting. Not sure if that’s really true, but it got me thinking about the ways in which Forest Park has developed. Personally, I’m quite proud of it. We didn’t sell out and try to lure a bunch of corporate businesses; we’ve attracted a lot of amazing, unique, independently-owned businesses. We’ve got quite the reputation for dining now, as evidenced by our win in the Chicago Tribune’s “Best Neighborhood Dining” survey.
And I don’t think we’ve mimicked Oak Park. If so, wouldn’t all the bars be banished from Madison Street? Instead they just got classier, which admittedly I’m a little mixed about. I like the new Healy’s, but I preferred the ambience of the old Healy’s. I’m a fan of dives.
I still miss Ambrosia’s and don’t think those nicer places that attempted to replace it were all that great. But for the most part I feel like the only real landmark from my childhood that has been lost here was the Forest Park Mall. I know it wasn’t wonderful, but I liked it much better than the strip mall that replaced it. And now that I live two blocks away from it, I really wish that movie theater was still there.
Yep, I’m pretty nostalgic. I sound like the retired folks that made my afternoons bartending at the Beacon so delightful. I loved hearing their tales of what used to be located at such-and-such intersection, and I have no shame about becoming a curmudgeon before I turn 30. However, I will add an addendum to my “only technology is better now” statement. Forest Park is better and I look forward to seeing how it continues to evolve. Just don’t fault me for missing a few things.
Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.