A to Z April Challenge

During the month of April I will be doing a different spin on my memoir posts. It starts with a song. Each song will be followed by a brief essay that is evoked or inspired by that song. You might want to click on the YouTube link to hear the song as you read the piece I've written. Or you can listen to the song lyrics first and then read. Whichever way you choose, I mostly hope you'll read and leave a comment with your thoughts about my post. Thank you for visiting and please follow the blog if you are not doing so already.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Illinois

Photograph of Abraham Lincoln's home in Spring...Photograph of Abraham Lincoln's home in Springfield, Illinois (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

         I had known of the existence of Illinois since second grade.  At least that's when Illinois as a specific geographical location became evident to me. We drove through it when we were moving from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to San Diego, California.  We stopped in Springfield and visited Abraham Lincoln's house and that was what I knew about Illinois at that time.

         Five years later we made another move--this time to Northwestern Indiana.  Once again we passed through Illinois.  Over the next few years my family would occasionally go perform our juggling act at various Illinois county fairs, but still the state somehow didn't register with me.  Illinois was a place that you either passed through or if you were there you didn't really notice that you were there.  To me at the time Illinois seemed like one big nondescript cornfield.

          The Chicagoland area didn't count.  We were there often, but I didn't think of Illinois when I was there.  Chicago was like its own state--a state without cornfields.  Chicago seemed real while the rest of the state seemed like a place that Chicagoans might dream about when they were asleep.  Then they would awaken, briefly puzzled, before rubbing their eyes and going about the business of living in an urban area.

          It was not until the mid-1970s when I woke up to the fact that Illinois was a real place that was actually interesting.  I had gone to work on the Ken Griffin Magic and Illusion Show.  They had ties to some people in Southern Illinois and the show gravitated toward that region for a while as we started doing promotional work and then performing the stage show.  We became immersed in towns like Mount Vernon, Salem,  Olney, and Effingham.

         There was something peaceful about the towns and down-to-earth about the people.  There were cornfields and farms like I had always seen before, but there were also small businesses, industries, and educational institutions.  Illinois was a real place with heart and value.  Illinois is a nice place to visit and probably not that bad of a place to live.

          When you think of Illinois what is the first thing that comes into your mind?   Do you think of rural areas as boring nondescript sorts of places?




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13 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

This was great to read Lee. I love to read about the different places in the US having gone to a few myself.

Yvonne.

Sally said...

I love the picture. I love the rural countryside although being in the UK we don't have such huge tracts of land as you do in the States.

Mary Aalgaard, Play off the Page said...

It's similar to Minnesota. We have the twin cities and the rural areas which are referred to as "outstate" by the city folk, a term that bugs me. Although, they are two different cultures.

Play off the Page

Bish Denham said...

I think of Chicago, a place I've never been. And I think of my hubby, the place where he was born.

Sherry Gloag said...

As I'm from the UK, I admit I don't see it any differently from most of the places I know little about, so enjoyed reading your post.

Arlee Bird said...

Yvonne -- There is so much to see and experience in the U.S. that most tourists never learn about--I guess that's the same for most countries.

Sally -- There are plenty of open spaces in the U.S.

Mary -- The whole Midwest of the U.S. pretty well fits this description.

Bish -- Your husband needs to take you to Chicago someday.

Sherry -- There are some places most of us only read about and never experience in person.

Lee

Nicole said...

I'm from Wisconsin...you might not want to know what comes to my mind. It involves sports teams and long-standing rivalries of the best kind. :)

Lynn Proctor said...

i always think of lincoln--nice post

Jenny said...

I posted about Illinois today, too, because that's where my husband is from. I've never been to Springfield. For me, Illinois is Wrigley Field, the Sears Tower, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and all the other fun tourist-y stuff in Chicago. We have driven through parts of rural Illinois, too, and I think it's beautiful. But flat :-)

YvonneS said...

When I think of Illinois I think about Interstate 80 and all the times I have used it to cross the state. My favorite place to stop in Illinois is at the rest area on the east side of the Mississippi River. It stands on a bluff looking over the bridge to Davenport Iowa. It is among the most beautiful places in the United States.

ediFanoB said...

I like to vist your blog in the evening after the stress of the day.
Your informative posts relax me.

Thank you for that.

Heather Spiva said...

I too thing of Chicago, and then immediately think of Obama ... not the most pleasant of thoughts, but oh well. I have yet to visit Illinois and would love all aspects of it, I'm sure. Even the one aspect I don't necessarily love. My father went to Optometry school there. So hey, that's a huge plus! Loved the post though. Thank you for it. Nice to meet you a fellow A to Zer too.

Ashley said...

I love the picture you posted. And incidentally, I have always thought of Kansas the way you thought of Illinois. I blogged about a place today too :).