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.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Appreciating the Zealotry of the #atozchallenge

      I found a blogfest over at Denise Covey's L'Aussie blog where she's asking us to repost our favorite blog post from the A to Z Challenge. Go to her site to find the Linky list to read more blogs or sign up with your own.  This was kind of difficult to say one was the favorite, but here's one that I liked.   



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:

Theresa Milstein said...

I have been to so few places in the United States, pretty much all on the east coast. I'll remedy this someday. Nice to know I should make an Illinois stop.

Have a happy weekend!

Charmaine Clancy said...

I've never been to the US - but I have lived in a little country town and they're anything but boring. The residents are such colorful characters, and everyone knows what everyone else is up to. That's why I love Agatha Christie, she captures the village life so well!

DeniseCovey _L_Aussie said...

Hi Arlee. Thanks for joining in this fun blogfest with such an interesting post. When I think of Illinois I think of Chicago. It must have been fun doing your magic shows. Do you still juggle?

Denise

Misha Gericke said...

I think of Chicago, but probably because I've never been to the US. :-D

Maurice Mitchell said...

I've never been there, but it sounds much more interesting than I think it is. Good choice
- Maurice Mitchell
The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
@thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Lee - glad you posted this one .. as it's one I hadn't read. I've seen a few posts about Illinois and the cornfields ..

I've never been to those central States and one day would love to visit .. interesting Lincoln came from Illinois - I see it was first settled in the early 1800s.

I don't much about the counties between here and Cornwall .. I just whip through to get back - perhaps in the next few years I can get to visit a few places - something I'd love to do; as well as get back over to the States.

Interesting .. thanks for reposting I enjoyed this .. cheers Hilary

Andy David said...

Dear Arlee,
Never been on this side of the USA. But I will admit the picture is very interesting. Never knew Lincoln had a home there. Thanks for sharing.

Scheherazade said...

Arlee,
I grew up in Illinois. It's in my bones. All my childhood memories are buried there. I have to tell you my father referred to Illinois as the asshole of the universe. Nevertheless, he remained there until his dying days. I don't know what it is about Illinois, but I was always running away from it. I finished college, got married, and it wasn't too long after that when we left Illinois for good. I was sad to leave my family behind, but chomping at the bit to experience something other than Illinois. Even when I returned for visits, my home town of Bloomington-Normal was disorienting. After a few days, I always wanted to flee back to my new-found reality, wherever that was. Yes, I have a strange relationship with Illinois. It is rooted in my heart and mind, yet I fight against it.

Donna Hole said...

Illinoise sounds like a good place to set an alien invasion :) I liked the concept of Chicagoians not realizing it is a bigger part of their world. I think Michael Di Gesu would agree with you, lol.

thanks for participating the RFWs version of A-Z Lee.

.........dhole

Botanist said...

I've never visited the USA so can't comment on Illinois. When I think of rural areas, I think of green countryside with quaint villages and pubs - lots of character, and not nondescript at all. I haven't had much contact with those wide open spaces where cornfields go on forever.

Arlee Bird said...

Theresa -- It's a part of America's Heartland. Maybe not a tourist mecca outside Chicago, but it's alright by me.

Charmaine -- You are so right. The big city excitement may not be there, but small towns can have many stories to tell.

Denise -- Now I only juggle if someone asks me to or if I just want to see if I still can.

Misha -- Very few people outside the U.S.A. would think much past Chicago.

Maurice -- It may not be for everybody, but I have a thing for rural areas and small towns so it's alright by me.

Hilary -- Lincoln was actually born in Kentucky and didn't move to Illinois until his adult years. I think you'd appreciate Illinois.

Andy -- The home is open for visits so you can go when you like.

Scheherazade -- I think many feel the way you do about the places where they came from. I think perhaps I'm attracted because I moved around so much and found something to appreciate about everyplace.

Donna -- Illinois would be a good science fiction setting. In fact my WIP is set in Chicago and includes a trek to the southern tip of Illinois.

Botanist -- In Illinois sometimes the cornfields do seem to go on forever. I'm sure there are no quaint villages like one would find in England, but they are still quaint at times nonetheless.

Lee

Susan Kane said...

I grew up in Illinois; I miss how green the spring is and how amazing fall can be. My favorite place? Along the Mississippi River around Quincy. The bluffs along the River are beautiful.

Arlee Bird said...

Susan -- It is nice to experience seasons, something we don't see much in the way of contrast in California. I've always been fascinated by river towns. The towns along the Mississippi are so historic.


Lee
Wrote By Rote