Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Forest Park: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen

Since I first moved to Forest Park on February 27, 2010, I have gathered many memories of my beloved town. However, as of this Saturday, I will no longer be a resident.  By the end of that day, I will be a Bridgeviewian. While leaving Forest Park will be sad, the neighborhood and apartment to whence I am moving will be worth it. 

These are the things about Forest Park I will miss the most:

·         Walking to church on Sundays.
·         Strolling down Madison Street on a summer day.
·         The fountain at Constitution Court.
·         LOUIE'S GRILL!!!!!!!
·         St. Patrick's Day Parade. Eirinn go bragh!
·         Being able to Facebook message the mayor, and expecting a response.
·         What used to be Molly Malone's--when it was run by Sandra and Margaret.
·         BROWN COW!!!!!!!
·         FAT DUCK!!!!!!!
·         The serenity of Circle Avenue.
·         In-law houses.
·         The fries at Parky's
·         COUNTER COFFEE!!!!!!! (Even though Team Blonde never responded to my email about starting a Poetry Night)
·         Walking down the street and waving to people I know (mostly from my church)
·         Ethnic diversity--and many multi-ethnic families.
·         Viewing the St. John steeple from my living room.
·         FOREST PARK REVIEW!!!!!!!
·         The fact that it truly is a place with big city access, yet small-town charm.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, time to list the things about Forest Park I will NOT miss:

·         Litter on Des Plaines Avenue and sometimes on Madison Street.
·         The unsavory mudslinging of people like Marty S. when he was trying to cheapen our town by bringing machine gambling into it. (http://www.forestparkreview.com/News/Articles/3-28-2013/Forest-Park-bar-owners-ask-other-businesses-to-support-video-gambling/)
·         Uncivilized hoodrats from South Maywood and the West Side of Chicago ruining our town with their marijuana smoking, blasting music at midnight, and yelling at each other in their slurred, nasal, and often screeching voices, as if they need the entire world to know that Shaquata has a new weave or Marquell is not taking care of his responsibilities. Forest Park used to be a nicer, quieter town. But hey, no matter where good Black people go and place roots, the hoodrats always follow to ruin everything. Such people, I am sorry to say, justify White Flight. For these reasons, no matter how much I love Black people and enjoy being Black, I will no longer, if I can help it, live in a town or neighborhood that is more than 15% Black. That is because, the more Blacks live in an area, unless they are solidly middle or upper class, the more problems we will have with the ignorant ones without home training. Again, I love Black people to death, but I wish we could find a way to contain the hoodrats in the slums they have created for themselves until they can learn to behave. Booker  T. Washington was right. But I digress.
·         The declining ability of Forest Park police to keep the aforementioned hoodrats in line. Seriously, whatever happened to the iron fist? Case in point, where we live, there are two women who are associated with each other somehow. One person lives on the first floor, and the other one lives on the third floor, next to us. They have loud parties all the time, and they cannot use their inside voices. And at the middle of the night! I know hoodrats don't read, but can they at least read their leases?! The way they talk, it is as if they are trying to communicate between mountains. I have called the police a multitude of times.  They come out, they tell the individuals to be quiet, and then they leave. They are quiet for a while, but then they are loud again. They never learn! I went to file a report against my neighbor, but the officer suggested that it would be better if  I just kept calling the police when they disturb the police as this would force the property manager to take action or pay a fine. I kept doing this, but nothing changed. The closest thing they received to a reprimand was an officer saying, "Don't make me come back out here!" After all the complaints against them, they should have gotten tickets, but this never happened.  To make things worse, there was a particular officer who did not take me or his job seriously. If you want his name, send me a private message, but all I will say is that he looks like the late Paul Winnfield. The first time he came out, even though I have always tried to remain anonymous as hoodrats can be vindictive, he knocked on my door because "[he] could not hear anything." When the noise returned, he knocked on my noisy neighbor's door, and he asked her if he could come in. Soon, I heard them laughing. The second time, and the last time I called the police on anyone in the building, he knocked on my door again--for the same reason. Aren't the police supposed to get their hearing checked regularly? This time, the neighbor opened the door, and she finally knew that I had been reporting her. If anything happened to me or my property, it would have been this officer's fault. Perhaps he should take lessons on being discreet. After that, there were at least two other times when my neighbors have been loud, but I did not call the police. Why? Because I no longer trust Forest Park Police.
·         The town's inability to protect its residents from the unsavory practices of building owners. Two things have happened to prove this. First, there was a time when the building owner next to my Circle Avenue three-flat decided to redo the roof. He did not warn his neighbors of the work being done, and I had gotten a call from a neighbor, when I was getting ready for work, that the roofers were throwing damaged tile into the dumpster, but it was landing on my car. When I got out there, there was soot tile, and scratches all over my car! The workers did not even apologized; they just snickered. With the help of my landlord,  I was able to get the scratches out and my car cleaned. Then, in late October, my current property manager gave the residents of my complex only about 14 hours' notice to move our cars out of the spots that we pay for so that M&J Asphalt could pave new asphalt. He told me that they gave him the same amount of notice and that he would have to wait a month if he did not consent. Still, it was his duty to say, "This is unfair to my residents; we will take our business elsewhere." Instead, he just tells us that any cars left after 8AM the next day will be towed at owner's expense. But then at 7:25, I am told that these workers decided to start early, and I had 10 minutes to move my car. The work was supposed to take 2.5 days, but it ended up being a week because the workers did not come when they were supposed to and they did not, according to the property manager, answer their phones or return his messages. What kind of company is this? But getting back to the property manager, I could have been on vacation, only to find my car gone and needing to pay up to $1,000 to get it back--at no fault of my own. I complained to the mayor and village workers about this, and they told me that, while what happened was wrong, nothing could be done since there are no laws to force building owners to give sufficient notice to ascertain that the tenant's rights and property are protected. Why the heck not? I hate to say this, but we are in an age where we cannot depend on people to be civil and considerate. We need laws to protect the people. If there was a law on Forest Park's or Illinois' books, that building owner would have been required to warn me to move my car, with my landlord's permission, or pay a fine. My property manager would have been forced to either say no to M&J Asphalt or pay a fine. Laws that protect the people instill order and curb vigilantism.

If I have not lost you with all of my negative experiences, let me just say that my positive experiences outweigh them all. Leaving Forest Park has been and will be very hard for me, yet I will still be around on a regular basis as I intend to keep going to church at St. John.

In closing, my feelings about Forest Park are best summarized in what I hope will become the town song:

As I walk along old Madison Street
Or linger on the Grove
The beauty of this blessed town
Shines like a radiant trove

O Forest Park, O Forest Park
The place where I belong
Forever will you be my joy
Forever be my song

Your charming diners, cozy pubs
Boutiques and antique stores
But most of all, your friendly people
Fill my heart galore!

It matters not the winds of change
Nor whither I may roam
I’ll always love you, Forest Park
You’ll always be my home!

So long, Forest Park!

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Devin, I know how you feel. The big house on the corner of Jackson and Beloit will always be the home I brought my babies to from the hospital. It's where I raised three kids. And the hours I spent at St. John. Maybe not as many as you have but with three kids attending from pre-school to 8th grade, attending church and working there, I did spend quite a bit of time there. A piece of my heart will always be in Forest Park. Best of luck in Bridgeview. I have relatives there; it's a nice place.