OK. It’s October. The time for all the tricks and treats of Mother Nature, autumn is beginning to show its true colors and by mid-month the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot will have many of us looking up through increasingly empty branches to see a clear blue sky.
By the end of the month glowing faces of pumpkins on front porches will greet us. And I’m reminded of decades of weekly letters from my mother who never subscribed to email. Every October she showed a little creative touch when she added a happy face and a stem to every “O” she wrote to date every October correspondence.
I also remember the traditional “bill of fare” for our family dinner every Halloween at 5:30PM before heading out to trick or treat as soon as it was dark. Year after year, Mother’s menu on October 31 included her signature baked beans, corn bread and crisp lettuce salad with onions and sliced olives, tossed with creamy mayonnaise dressing. Oh, the fond childhood memories of October!
Many of the events of the last two years (as well as their lack of presence on our community calendar) have little precedent in our city’s history of can-do spirit, growth and business.
Just when the community prepares to move forward, another change cancels plans and makes it tough on supply chains, employers and small local businesses.
More than a few times we’ve mentioned to friends that the past 20 months have provided more time to rekindle the past, though our preference remains to preview the future. We’ll keep trying!
While thumbing through “vintage” copies of PN recently, we were struck by an October 2003 story about a 1971 graduate of Naperville Central High School who then was serving as U.S. Trade Representative on the President’s Cabinet. Robert Zoellick visited Naperville to talk with members of the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and high school students about trade policy and economics. We were happy to be invited to attend a special meeting around the conference table in the Mayor’s office. We even took photos.
Our commentary began with a quote from that Zoellick meeting. “Adapt to change,” he said. “Give people the tools to deal with change.”
Zoellick went on to express his opinion that providing youth with real-life experiences about change is the most important lesson you can teach them in our ever-evolving world. While providing a reflective, historical and “insider’s look” at the growth and development of international trade, Zoellick also noted that most things don’t change overnight. Has that view changed?
We wondered more about Zoellick. A search online found that a year ago his book titled America in the World, A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy was published. Promotion of his work states that Zoellick is now a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. We also found a very enlightening video online at the Council on Foreign Relations website, cfr.org, that features historian Zoellick telling about his growing up in a modest, middleclass family in Naperville and the American experience.
Connect with change
Even with rapid change, it seems we’re all connected if we just take a little time to talk.
Whether keeping track of former Naperville residents who move away to become notable, savoring family memories, or taking time to say hello to folks you encounter on the sidewalk, life is richer when we take the time in our busy schedules to make connections.
As this commentary wraps up, thoughts turn to another October memory of a leaf pile that ignited under a vehicle a number of years ago when it was parked on a side street while a mother attended her child’s Halloween parade at May Watts Elementary. I’m still haunted by the image of that charred and totaled van.
October is Fire Prevention Month. Some things don’t change. Be safe.
– Stephanie Penick, PN Publisher