Hometown Visit

Since trying to plan a trip might not be the best idea at the moment (although we are considering one at the end of October), I decided to take a look back at a special trip we made to Chicago, Illinois about four years ago.

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M. was born and raised in Hinsdale (about 25 miles from the city) and had not been back except for business trips in almost 20 years. He was anxious to revisit places that held some of his favorite memories. I especially loved hearing the stories he narrated as we drove from place to place. Hearing the excitement in his voice and at times talking at such a pace it was if his thoughts were outracing his words he had so much to share. Occasionally he would pause and silently reflect ~ I think he was hearing the voices of friends and loved ones from so long ago in the quiet of his mind ~ this memory still makes me smile.

We drove past where he went to elementary and high school, the church he attended, and then towards the ice skating pond where he once flirted and showed off for the girls back in his youthful, carefree days. We drove past the location of his childhood home (it is no longer there), found the place where his dad owned a restaurant many years ago (surprisingly the building is there and is still a restaurant) and past the house where his beloved grandmother had lived. We drove through a complex in Naperville where he worked for many years after graduating college. (Little did he know that this same company would transfer him to the area where he would randomly and unexpectedly meet this southern belle!) We drove past the location of the community garden on this same site where he first discovered his love of gardening. Sadly, the gardens are gone and all that remains is a field of weeds.

Our visit also included a drive to Downers Grove where he once lived as well.  We visited Ingram’s Busy Bee Bakery (isn’t that a cute name?), walked through the small town, and he showed me the first house he ever bought and I could see how proud of it he was ~ even to this day.

There were many foods he wanted me to sample (and we did) such as Italian Beef sandwiches, a Chicago style hotdog and of course, Chicago’s version of pizza.  The trip, however, would not have been complete without a stop at the Bohemian Crystal Restaurant. M. has raved about this place for years so it was a must do on our activities agenda. As we looked over the menu, I was a little amused when our choices to start with were either soup, or small salad, or tomato juice. Tomato juice???? M. was as happy as I have ever seen him when he ordered the dinner of roast pork, sauerkraut, and dumplings smothered in gravy (which we split – no way we could have eaten all of this food as two separate orders – in fact we didn’t finish what we were served with just one order – although M. tried his best). Yes, dessert was included and we could choose either a homemade Kolacky or Jello.  Jello????? I don’t think I have ever been in a restaurant that offered Jello as a dessert choice unless it was on the children’s menu or cafeteria style.  With a big smile, extremely full stomachs, and a vow to return again one day M and I drove back to our hotel.

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Over the next few days we were typical tourists seeing such things as Buckingham Fountain, Lake Michigan, and Pier Park and other popular places here and there both in downtown Chicago and the suburbs. We visited Millennium Park and took photos of our reflection by the Bean.  After lunch we walked through the park and stumbled upon some performers rehearsing for an evening concert at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion.

It was such a nice trip down memory lane for M.  Although some areas had changed, there was just enough remaining to rekindle fond memories of so long ago. I really enjoyed having the opportunity to actually see all of the places that mean so much to him.

Although I have lived as far west as Texas and as far north as Connecticut I was actually born and raised only a little over an hour from where I currently live. I haven’t been back in several years and hear that area is growing and changing like crazy. I am lonely for it and will return very soon.

How about you? Have you been back to your home town lately?

21 thoughts on “Hometown Visit

  1. My childhood town is only a half hour from where I live and my niece still lives there. I get to see the house I was raised in a few times a year. They have made a lot of changes to it, mostly good. My husband was raised about an hour from where we live and once in a while, we’ll take a trip there so he can reminisce. No one from his family lives in the area and a lot of places are gone but he enjoys it. On the last trip several years ago, his childhood home was overgrown with ill-placed, overgrown shrubs. That was sad. We did a school tour of his high school for one of his reunions. No food places though.

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  2. I love Chicago. We lived in Champaign, IL, for several years and one of my favorite things to do was to hop on Amtrak and have a weekend there.

    My hometown is a tiny town in Texas—Floydada. (Floyd married Ada, and voila!) I haven’t been there in at least a dozen years. None of my family live there anymore. We were supposed to have had our class reunion there this past summer, but 2020….

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    • I was surprised to see how clean the downtown area was in Chicago. Unlike the ATL. After I married we moved to Beaumont, TX (two of my three children were born there) and I loved every minute of my ten years of life there. The precious friendships I made while living there are still in my life, although they have moved on to places like Dallas and the Woodlands and another moved to Lake Zurich, IL. I don’t know anyone who lives there anymore.

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      • I have family in Beaumont, but only visited there once when I was very young. Most of my extended family live in Texas—mostly in the panhandle, but our son’s in Dallas. Our daughter lives in Illinois.

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  3. Thank you for taking us on this trip to visit your hometown. I greatly enjoyed tagging along!
    My hometown is a full province away (5 hours by airplane). Since no close relatives or friends currently live there, I doubt that I will be back. 😦

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    • Thanks for tagging along! Since my husband and I met later in life it is nice to learn about each other’s history we missed out on. Listening to him and watching his face as he shared his past was priceless. So blessed to be creating our own memories together for the past 14 years!

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  4. I still live in my hometown (how boring is that?) as do many of my friends. It’s hard to move away from a climate like we have so many of us stay… even though we all bemoan the excess traffic and over-development. We’ve changed from a sleepy Navy town to a tourist, beer-brewing, and biotech powerhouse. I’ve only been to Chicago once – and that was just a quick business trip – so I enjoyed your pictures and descriptions.

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    • I think it is great you still live in your hometown! I have visited the San Diego, La Jolla area a few times and the weather is absolutely perfect! I have a nephew who moved there about 7 years ago ~ he loves it and I doubt he will ever leave. You are blessed to be able to stay so close to your roots! Thanks for reading.😊

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  5. What a lovely post of your hubby’s walk down memory lane. It’s amazing how excited they get to share their past experience with us. We traveled to where my hubby spent time as a boy & he had me climbing a mountain where they went for Boy Scout camps! Lol! I was a lot healthier back then. 😀
    Blessings,
    Jennifer

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  6. This sounds like such a fun trip! You know that now my son is a police officer in my hometown, Nashville, even though it has nothing to do with my being from there. I loved taking him and his fiancee around and showing them, not only the places I grew up, but the family foundations that led to us all being who and what we are today. I wish my father had lived long enough to know that Brian is now a guardian of his city.

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  7. I like Chicago and it’s been way too long since we visited it. Your description of what you did made me wistful. As for my home town, it was a small one and I haven’t been there in probably 20 years. I’ve no relatives there and I hear that it’s a rundown mess now. Someday I may get back there, but really I’d just go to the cemetery to lay flowers on my parents’ graves… and then what? It’s a long drive to do just that.

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