Odd Childhood Memories
I was born in Brookfield, Illinois, and called it my home for 28 years before I moved to here, there, and everywhere. Brookfield is a quiet Chicago suburb where there isn’t much to brag about – except maybe for the zoo. Technically, I think it might be in Riverside, either all, or in part. Nevertheless, it was indeed the main attraction in our little town.
It seemed most everybody either worked there at one time or another, or knew somebody who did. But my memories of the zoo were not through employment, but of my Mom taking me there when something bad was going to happen. I had numerous eye surgeries as a child and whenever I had to have another, Mom would take me to the zoo the day before. She’d buy me soda, hot dogs and ice cream, it probably was her way of taking my mind off the hospital scare, or maybe hers, who knows. The day before I had my tonsils out – again, the zoo! That’s probably when I got to ride the little train, which is now a fancy tram.
Tuesday was free admission day, but to the local kids it was free everyday, at least it was if you knew about the inadequate fencing around the zoo woods. Of course that little perk is long gone, today the zoo looks like even a fruit fly would need a ticket to access.
The zoo was an all day affair, it was huge, so huge that you could never see everything in just one afternoon. Even if you could, the exhibits changed all the time so no matter how many times you went it was a whole new experience. However, there was usually one thing that didn’t change, my burnt to a crisp annual sunburn.
I have special memories of the lions and tigers, not for the obvious reasons, but because they remind me of school, which I hated by the way. As a teenager, my high school was right next store to the zoo, and during English class the lions would roar. Like I said, the zoo meant something bad was going to happen, and I flunked English… twice.
Time passed, and somehow I ended up dating the lion keeper. Again, I should have known better to think something good would come from that… it didn’t, and he dumped me.
This was my high school, Riverside-Brookfield. Still there, still next to the zoo, and still stands on the upper crust turf of Riverside, Illinois. I lived on the other side of the tracks, Brookfield, a quaint, ordinary, middle class neighborhood that kept all us kids from there in a group of our own at school.
Today, Riverside-Brookfield High School has been renovated, expanded, and as you can see, has a brand new modern appeal.
A lot has changed since way back then, including me! But one thing hasn’t, thirty some years later…. a familiar face I’ve long forgotten.
amy elizabeth, TBN RanchPhotos Courtesy of:
Chicago Zoological Society
Lagrange – Restaurants.com