I’m not in a good place mentally today because of a death and injuries my mother sustained in a fall yesterday, so I’m going to jump right into one of my favorite short stories that I wrote back in the early 1970s, called “The Old Golf Road”:
There is a street that runs from Evanston [Illinois] to Elgin. This street goes by many names: Evanston-Elgin Rd., Golf Rd., Rt. 58, Emerson, Simpson–just to name a few. About ten years ago, this street was lined with farm houses and acres of land. Between Des Plaines and Schaumburg Golf Rd. was one lane. The condition of the road wasn’t the greatest, but it was a beautiful drive.
There wasn’t many stores or gas stations along the way, just fields upon fields of crops, as far as the eye could see. At one point there was a quaint farm house with an adorable little water well perched on top of the hill.
The well does not exist any longer. A few years ago it was torn down and now only the broken pieces of wood remain. Very little, if any, of that farm land is still undisturbed. So many changes have taken place along that one stretch of road that a visitor that hasn’t been here for ten or fifteen years wouldn’t even recognize it as being the same peaceful road.
First, they started moving houses. They moved one house about four miles down the road, for what purpose, who knows? Then little by little shopping centers started popping up. Golf Mill shopping center in Niles was the only shopping center in that whole area for many years. Now, within a one mile span there are approximately ten or eleven such shopping centers, four on one corner!
Further down the road they built the world’s largest shopping center under one roof, Woodfield. And of course, the addition of this huge new center means widening the roads to allow for the traffic that goes in and out each day. In that specific area now, Golf Rd. gets as wide as four lanes. The rest of the road, aside from the Woodfield area is now a two lane highway.
Woodfield wasn’t the only big addition. Since that was built, a number of other shopping centers have gone up around it, such as Woodfield Commons. And on one side of the road for a stretch of about six blocks is a row of car dealers, one right after the other. A little bit down the road from that there is another row of furniture dealers. The whole area is becoming commercialized beyond belief.
Aside from shopping centers, Golf Rd. has become populated with an abundance of apartment buildings and complexes. Restaurants have overdone their welcome, also.
Stoplights have taken over the streets. Where there used to be one stop light every couple miles, there is practically one every block. From Glenview to Des Plaines along Golf Rd. there are eleven stoplights. That is a five mile stretch! City driving can’t be much worse.
For the shopper, all these new developments are great. Anything he could think of wanting is not more than a couple miles away, much different than in years gone past. But for the naturalist or even someone that just enjoys beautiful things, good old Golf Rd. is a thing of the past.
I haven’t lived in the Glenview/Des Plaines area of Illinois for more than 30 years. I can only imagine what my teenage self would have thought of the developments along Golf Road today. I think I was nostalgic way before my time.