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Frank Mahony: River Grove – Where It All Started…


Frank Mahony

Frank Mahony

River Grove – Where It All Started…

5/8/2009   Comment on This

O'Connor Drive in River Grove, IL
Identical Rows: building blocks of mischief

When I heard we are doing a LIVIN LARGE remote broadcast on May 17th from River Grove, I thought I heard wrong. I was expecting a super-mega sports bar with 500 plasma screens in some high rent suburban town.

Instead, I’m going home.

River Grove is where I grew up (where it all started):

As kids in River Grove…

  • We accidentally lit the back of a grocery store on fire playing with matches
  • We found Playboy magazines in the trash behind the Men’s store
  • We jumped the fence and ran around in the cemetery while the caretaker chased us
  • We played football at “the pumps” (some kind of water pumping building at Belmont and Thatcher)
  • Uncle Dennis treated me to hot dogs and tamales at “Little Jacks Corner” – the beginning of my fast food addiction.
  • We rode our bikes up and down alleys until the wheels came off
  • We collected carts at Dominick’s for the guy who was supposed to be collecting carts and he paid us 1¢ per cart

The Pumps at the corner of Belmont and Thatcher
Security Fences have ended football at "The Pumps"

Elmwood Cemetary
Acres of land to explore in the cemetary

It was our little square of The Earth and we knew every inch of our turf. We knew every rock, every line of yellow parking lot paint and every good hiding place. Every day, we would freshly travel around the streets, alleys and gangways. We knew just how far we could go, in any direction, before we were beyond some mysterious "boundary of safety" that should not be crossed.

When you go back, it’s never the same. Everything looks a little smaller and a little different than you remember at the intersection of passing time and childhood fascination. Either way, I’ll feel a little bit like the Mayor that day.

I expect a banner across Thatcher that says “Former local street urchin ‘does us proud’ and returns for a visit”

Do you think there will be a parade?

Me Neither.

Above all, I hope the cemetery guy doesn’t spot me – I can’t run as fast as I used to.



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