By Ophelia Dodds | Community Contributor
Having recently moved back to England after a very happy four years in the New Eastside, my editor asked me to describe what I missed most about our wonderful neighborhood. My first thought was the easy access to wonderful theatres and restaurants. My second was Mariano’s, Millennium Park, the Crown Fountain, and the beautiful Lakeshore East Park.
However, when I paused to think, I realized that what really miss are the people of Lakeshore East. There is a well-known saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” believed to be an old African proverb. Nowhere is this more obvious than in New Eastside.
I trusted our doormen to look after my daughter while I was collecting a bike or bringing a car round or hailing a cab. I trusted the other mothers in the park to make sure she was behaving and to hug her if she was hurt. We knew the people (and dogs) in the elevator that we met each day, and these meetings taught my daughter how to interact politely with adults. This village of ours has educated and nurtured my daughter, and for that I will be forever grateful.
Much of Chicago doesn’t even know that the New Eastside exists as a neighborhood as we know it. For those who choose to live here, there are a variety of reasons for that choice such as the convenient downtown location with access to restaurants, theaters and shopping in addition to its proximity to Lake Michigan and all its beauty. But why do we stay? All of those reasons still count, but we stay for the people and the community.
We were all outraged at the theft of the pumpkins from the pumpkin patch. We all come together to bemoan drag racing around the park, noise pollution from parties and other community issues. We stick together and we care about where we live.
So what do I miss most? I miss the glint of sun on the lake in the morning. I miss chatting to my doormen. I miss Mariano’s grocery store and their amazing selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. I miss the fireworks over the lake. I miss chatting to my neighbors in the elevator. I miss petting dogs in the park. I miss the beautiful sunsets. I miss Sunday movie morning at the AMC River East with friends. I miss our community.
I miss the extraordinary things about Lakeshore East. But most of all… I miss the ordinary things.