Tempo run today, I was thinking about I-Oka Ave.
After Monroe Street and Fairview Avenue, I grew up on a street called I-Oka Avenue. The streets around my house were named for American Indian words, tribes, chiefs and elders. I-Oka is said to have meant many things but beautiful and welcoming place is a common theme. I-Oka Avenue is in Mt. Prospect “Where Friendliness is a Way of Life”. It was always a source of pride to say that we lived on I-Oka but the main reason that we moved there was that the house was right across the street from a K-8 elementary school. St. Raymond de Penafort School. At the peak, there were seven Dolans enrolled in this school. They even installed a “Children Crossing” sign at the end of our driveway. I remember when we moved into the house in 1967, a four bedroom colonial, it took the neighbors about three hours to construct fences to keep us out of their yards. Good fences make good neighbors but I don’t think they fully grasped the Quebec Indians’ definition of I-Oka. There were plenty of reasons to keep us out but the fences served as better hurdles than they did barriers. The back fence was the whiffle ball homer, the gaps in all of the side fences were escape routes that were highly porous. The reason for a yard fence was completely lost on us and we soon realized that there were other families as large as ours that had lived in the neighborhood longer than us. Why all the fences went up when we moved in was a mystery I had no interest in solving. I just knew that the shortest route to the football field, baseball diamond or basketball hoop was through someone’s yard. I-Oka means welcome, the arrival of the Dolans on this street may have redefined this word to mean “get off my lawn”.
Maureen and Jimmy training for a run. Favorite song today: Down to the River to Pray performed by Allison Krause.