Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park are three communities joined at the hip but I detect some differences.

River Forest has a country club. Oak Park has a country club. Forest Park has Circle Lanes.

Every third storefront in Oak Park is a coffee shop. Every third storefront in Forest Park serves the antidote to coffee.

In Oak Park, homeowners strip paint off the woodwork. In Forest Park, they paint over the paneling.

Oak Park and River Forest have several health food establishments. Forest Park has none. (But it does have the Golden Steer serving charbroiled steaks). 

Forest Park has Mohr Oil. Oak Park has Mohr’s Redi-Mix plant. Forest Park has an industrial park. Oak Park has Mohr’s Redi-Mix plant. 

Oak Park is a nuclear weapons-free community. Forest Park hasn’t been the same since they stopped making torpedoes. 

Forest Park has a public pool. Oak Park has two public pools. The pools in River Forest are just as large but they’re not public. 

Oak Park has a village manager. Forest Park has a mayor. Oak Park has a liquor commissioner. Forest Park has a mayor.

River Forest has forest preserves. Forest Park also has nature preserves but they are covered by large stones. River Forest transformed open land into beautiful playing fields. Forest Park had open land and used it to create a wilderness called Walmart.

Oak Park has the Lake Theater. Forest Park tried to have a movie theater but it didn’t work out. River Forest didn’t even try.

In Oak Park, you might hear your next door neighbor argue. In Forest Park, you can join in the conversation. 

Many mobsters reputedly lived in River Forest. They held their meetings in Forest Park and met their maker in Oak Park. 

Forest Park has a shopping mall anchored by a discount grocer, Ultra Foods. River Forest has a mall anchored by Whole Foods, where you can buy tomatoes on the layaway plan. 

Oak Park has historic districts. Forest Park also has historic districts but all the residents there are dead. 

Lawnmower is to Forest Park as lawn service is to River Forest. 

Oak Park has the Oak Leaves and the Wednesday Journal. Forest Park has the Review and the Post. River Forest has three newspapers, if you count the Wall Street Journal. 

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.


John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.

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