Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Zoological Society

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.

Welcome to Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Zoological Society

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.

Brookfield Zoo Plaza

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.

Lions & Tigers, oh my!

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.

Riverside Brookfield High School

Today, Riverside-Brookfield High School has been renovated, expanded, and as you can see, has a brand new modern appeal.

Riverside-Brookfield High School after renovation

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.

R/B Bulldog

amy elizabeth, TBN Ranch

Photos Courtesy of:
Chicago Zoological Society
Lagrange –

About tbnranch

amy elizabeth, writer, author, antique dealer. Lives in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert on a small hobby farm.
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14 Responses to Brookfield Zoo, Chicago Zoological Society

  1. Anonymous says:

    Lions and Tigers and Tests, oh my! 🙂

  2. You write very well for having hated English. Internal motivation!! Great post!

  3. Bassas Blog says:

    Thank you for sharing this memory. I’m surprised that there is a school next to a zoo – all those dangerous young people so close to innocent animals! 🙂

  4. I wish they made schools with windows out here! 🙂

    Fun post!

  5. Rita A. says:

    I love how you weave the memories together. Hard to tell you flunked English twice. lol
    Love the photos too.

  6. tbnranch says:

    Ha ha, maybe you will share someday!

  7. It’s funny, each one of us has a “Brookfield Zoo” in our past… it’s just under a different name, place and venue.

  8. kford2007 says:

    Thanks for taking me down your memory lane today. It was nice. 🙂

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