Above / The red Landforms sculpture created by artist Jack Arnold was a gift to the Riverwalk from the Naperville Art League in 1984. Find the iconic work of art located in the heart of town near Eagle Street at Jackson Avenue. (PN Photo)
Thirty-one years ago this month, our family of five began our move from New Jersey to Naperville. First stop was Glen Ellyn where my younger brother and his family lived at the time. Our two sons stayed with their three cousins for a week before they began school here in School District 204. Our daughter and I stayed with my cousin, Candyce Krumwiede, and her family practically across the street from the house that would be ours in early March. Husband Jim stayed in Chatham to finish packing up for the movers who were expected to arrive here on March 2.
To borrow a few words from Charles Dickens, February 1993 presented some of “the best of times” and “the worst of times.”
While staying with my cousin, I met Debbie Shaughnessy and other neighbors who would become new friends. They introduced me to the Jefferson Hill Tea Room, Sweet Basil’s and The Landmark, then-popular places for lunch when folks still called downtown Naperville “quaint.” And population signs read “89,000.”
Sam Macrane was Mayor. Naper Settlement had been established in 1969 and its remake of the historic Pre-Emption House was under construction. The Riverwalk, barely 11 years old, led just past the Grand Pavilion. Dr. Hal Wilde was the 9th president of North Central College founded in 1861 where our kids were signed up to take piano lessons. And the Riverwalk Condominiums were brand new.
My passion for history, the arts and can-do initiatives soon would be satiated around every corner.
Then came the afternoon I went grocery shopping for my cousin at the Aurora Marketplace, located along Route 59 at 75th Street.
While preparing to turn left with the green arrow onto Route 59 from the shopping center, unknown to me was a vehicle barreling from the north. I was stunned when that car struck the driver’s side of our minivan and I learned the term “t-boning.”
My seat belt held. Several drivers in cars stopped at the intersection rushed over to assist. The woman in the compact car that hit me also came toward me. I was shocked when she blamed me for pulling in front of her. She ranted and raved that she needed to get home because her children would soon be dropped off from school.
I scooted across the front seat and got out of the minivan. No injuries here.
The Aurora police arrived within minutes. And several drivers told the police officers what they’d witnessed.
The vociferous driver continued to scream. I was speechless in the presence of disbelief.
The police officer assessed the crash and I’ll never forget his words.
“Ma’am,” he said to the other driver. “It’s a matter of physics. The way you say it happened couldn’t have happened.”
The officer wrote the other driver a ticket. He suggested I call our insurance company right away and told me to expect notice of her court date. And so it went.
As if that accident weren’t enough. A few days later at the end of February while standing at my cousin’s front door, I saw a huge moving van pull up in front of our new house three days before our closing.
The van just sat there. I finally walked over to the cab. I explained we didn’t yet own the home. To my surprise, he said something kind such as, “No problem. I’ll just go find a parking lot some place. I’ll be back.”
Where’s ‘Wayne’s World’?
And to think, our three children were so looking forward to our move when they discovered Naperville on a map, right next to Aurora, home of the 1992 hit movie, “Wayne’s World.”
All these years later, I’m mindful that most of the neighbors on our block and in the cul-de-sac across the street have moved. Some neighbors moved to Stonebridge. Another family moved to White Eagle. Most moved out of Illinois.
So far, my heart belongs in Naperville. And I’m reminded my parents were married on Feb. 14, 1947, in Battle Ground, Indiana, before they moved to Muncie where I spent my childhood.
Though I’m now considered an orphan, I’ll always recall the Valentine’s Day morning I watched my dad stomp a huge heart in the new fallen snow in the front yard.
My dad, who’d served as a Seabee in World War II, was an example of a compassionate humanitarian. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, he received an engineering degree from Purdue. And that’s where he met my mother. Dad’s wit and wisdom have been with me every day since he died at age 96 in August 2019, reminders of how his frugality and duty to others kept him happy.
Through all the ups and downs since February 2020, while continually sorting through contradictory information, this publication aims to meet the challenges that unite us with commonsense while previewing upcoming events.
My disposition would appreciate nothing more than for folks to embrace the Rule of Law with social norms to protect individual freedom, allowing all to pursue personal ends with reliable sources as well as desires of responsibility and peace.
One thing I know for certain. You just never know for sure what’s in somebody else’s heart.
– Stephanie Penick