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Gonia: May new homeowners enjoy Western Springs as I did

Viki Gonia
Viki Gonia

Even though I haven’t lived in my first house in Western Springs in a handful of years, it’s still kinda felt like mine all this time. Until now, as it’s been sold to a new family.

It feels like the passing of an era; more permanent than when I first moved from the house to my little out-of-the-way corner farther from town. Someone will change the landscaping. Someone might take down the shutters, or paint them a different color, or put in a new front walk, which I’d always intended to do.

I’ve been in this town for just shy of 19 years. That’s nearly half my life! It’s the entirety of my kids’ lives. These years have passed so quickly, but have stretched an eternity. Time is a funny thing, isn’t it?

I know I’ve written before about how much this town has changed since I moved here. I did so much of my shopping uptown — my kids’ shoes were always bought at Carousel Shoes, my son hopping on board the ancient pedal-powered merry-go-round in the middle of the store and driving it so fast it threw kids overboard (yes, we got kicked out of the store a couple of times). Used to be there would be a line out the door at Casey’s when the dinner hour neared, but that’s because it had not yet expanded into the two storefronts formerly occupied by the Pretty Penny, which was the place to go when you needed white gloves or support hose.

I feel such gratitude for having had the opportunity to spend most of my adult years here. When we moved to town, we were welcomed with open arms. Lovely, wonderful neighbors who became lifelong friends. Fellow parents from way down the block who helped to keep an eye on our kids, who hustled down the block after my speedy son who’d outrun me on his tricycle, or who would be making his way home with blood coming from one childhood wound or another, receiving amateur medical care all the way home. Neighbors who rerouted my wandering, daydreaming daughter. Groups of kids of all ages who played together at dusk

The ones who kept a stash of full-sized candy bars just for the trick-or-treaters from the neighborhood. The neighbors who organized campaigns for us to “adopt” families in need for the holidays, and who had everyone over to wrap presents and enjoy one another’s company.

The keepers of the block party tug-of-war ropes. The fillers of thousands of water balloons. The dads who pulled the elicit water-balloon sling-shots from the upper reaches of their front hall closets for water balloon wars.

The winter-time progressive dinners. The neighbor who gently broke the news that our cat had gotten out when we were out of town and had been hit by a car. The multiple neighbors who called to alert us that our dog had escaped, and who always helped us corral him.

Of all the stuff I love about Western Springs, it’s the people I love the most. I hope the next inhabitants of my first house find the same kind of love and welcome that I did.

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