Local Man Eager to ‘Light Up the Neighborhood’ on Fourth of July

by Dave Noble, Your Neighbors and Your Neighborhoods 

NORTH ELMHURST – Carefully placing a box of Phantom Reloadable Mortar Kits and a half-dozen Crackling Octopus Rockets next to the furnace in the basement of his North Elmhurst home, a local man told reporters Wednesday upon returning from an authorized fireworks retailer in Hammond, Indiana, that he is ready to “light up the neighborhood” on the Fourth of July with his annual independently-sponsored fireworks show, scheduled to begin promptly at 9:00 p.m. on Monday night.

“I know they’re illegal in Illinois,” said the man, speaking on the condition of anonymity.   “But it’s the anniversary of when our founding fathers declared independence from the Native Americans, and I’m going to celebrate it the way I want to celebrate it.”

Because his split-level home is tucked deep into the subdivision east of York Road on the city’s north side, the husband and father of three said he’s not worried about the police coming around when he begins blowing off an array of mostly Category 2 and Category 3 fireworks from his driveway and on the street in front of his house.   “I haven’t been bothered by the cops in the past,” boasted the man.  “But then again, I’ve never launched 12 Silver Sonic Warheads from my garage roof in the past, either.”

Insisting that he keeps spectators “at least” 10 feet away from the discharge site of aerial spinners and canister smoke bombs and that he doesn’t allow children under the age of ten to light Roman candles he positions somewhat-vertically inside of old Sherwin-Williams paint cans from his garage, the man stressed that safety is one of his three or four greatest concerns when it comes to pyrotechnics and explosives.

“To be honest, there aren’t too many people around anyway when I put on my show,” said the man, noting that an increasing number of families on his block elect to go out of town each year for Independence Day or stay at a local hotel overnight.   “So it’s often up to me to decide if I think one of the neighborhood kids has what it takes to light the 1 ½ inch fuse of a 1600-count strip of Wolfpack Firecrackers.”

Based on previous years, the man estimates his fireworks show will end sometime after midnight.

City: Marketing Approach Vital to Zoning Firearm Sales in Elmhurst


by Dave Noble, City News Editor 
ELMHURST – On the heels of a sound City Council victory last November that shot down a proposal by evil forces attempting to lift the local ban on video gambling and taint the purity of its city, the Elmhurst Zoning and Planning Commission conceded defeat during a special public hearing on Thursday to Second Amendment “radicals” figuratively holding them at gunpoint for a decision on where permitted or conditional use zoning of firearm sales in Elmhurst will be allowed.  Currently, the city’s code does not address firearm sales.

AcknowledgIng their failure to protect Elmhurst from a clandestine cell of gun lobbyists threatening to bring lawsuits against the city if the code isn’t amended to allow firearm sales, the zoning commission vowed “to take lemons and make lemonade” and turn their attention to choosing the zoning district for firearms sales that will benefit Elmhurst the most.

“I believe we will have several opportunities to take advantage of this market niche with local gun sales,” said Zoning and Planning Chairman Darrell Whistler, addressing commission members and attendees at Thursday’s hearing.   “Maybe we could fill some of the empty storefronts on the ground level of the Addison Street parking garage.”

While some members of the zoning commission favored this location, others made a case for the more visible and eye-catching empty store front at the northwest corner of York and First Street.

“It’s like a block away from the Elmhurst Police Department,” said zoning commission member Lisa Nichols.  “No one would dare get a gun and shoot it when the police department is right there.”

Attendees at the hearing took time to bring up other issues to consider during the public comment portion of the hearing, like whether The Elmhurst Express Trolley should stop at the future gun shop before or after the tour of local bank robbery locations, the potential tax dollars for the city every time a Glock pistol is sold in town, and the effects to the Elmhurst economy once the national media finds out about permitted gun sales and removes Elmhurst from future consideration of favorable “Top Ten” list publications.

The Zoning and Planning Commission is continuing to gather more information and feedback from the public before writing a recommendation for zoning firearm sales.

Local Dad Submits ‘Father’s Day Agenda’ for Wife’s Approval


By Dave Noble, City News Editor 
ELMHURST – Visibly anxious as he yanked the cord of his Toro Recycler Variable Speed Lawnmower for the fifth time, local dad Mike Cohen told reporters gathered around the backyard shed of his Highland Avenue home moments ago that he’s hoping “at least half” of the items from his hand-written “Father’s Day Agenda” are approved by his wife.

“I’ve been trying to find the right time to give her this list of what I’d like to do today,” said Cohen, who admitted that he took a gamble about 15 minutes earlier by slipping a single sheet of yellow legal pad paper under the bathroom door during his wife’s morning ritual of locking herself in the bathroom with a cup of coffee.  “I found three empty K-cup pods on the kitchen counter, so I figured she should be in a good mood right about now.”

Noting that he spent hours over the course of two weeks carefully formulating about a dozen questions and providing hand-drawn boxes with “Yes”, “No” and “Maybe” answer options below each one, Cohen said he felt cautiously optimistic that strategically-placed questions like “Can I throw out that tattered Whitesnake ’89 Tour t-shirt that you hate?” and “Is it okay if I pull weeds for a half hour this morning?” will serve as enough misdirection to gain approval for more self-serving questions like “Can we take the kids to Hooters for lunch?”.

“The chances of watching the U.S. Open on TV all day are pretty slim,” continued Cohen.  “But if I get the lawn mowed and finish a couple other projects she’s been hounding me to do, she’ll probably give me the okay to buy some parts for my motorcycle.”

At press time, Cohen was seen running back into the house after his wife yelled for him to bring a phone charger to her in the bathroom.     

Residents Take Comfort in Evidence Suggesting Shooter ‘Can’t be’ from Elmhurst


by Dave Noble, City News Editor 
ELMHURST – With only 24 hours to process limited information about an attempted robbery and shooting in Elmhurst Thursday afternoon that sent a 27-year-old man to the hospital with a gun wound to the hip, local residents expressed relief and took solace as they went about their Friday morning routines, confident that the police description of four “Hispanic males” wanted in connection with the crimes is a clear indicator that the suspects “can’t be” from Elmhurst.

“I couldn’t even name four Hispanics who live in Elmhurst” said 38-year-old retired mortgage broker Trevor Cunningham earlier this morning, drinking coffee while accompanied by his 85-pound Alaskan Husky outside of the downtown Elmhurst Starbucks.  Cunningham was one of 20 random people interviewed by The Elmhurst Funion earlier today around town in order to gauge the community’s reaction to the shooting.

Over at Courts Plus, 63-year-old lifelong Elmhurst resident Gloria Weller took a break from using an elliptical machine and listening to NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” on her iPod to weigh in on the shooting and express her concern for the victim, who was reportedly taking out the trash when he was approached by the suspects.  “I heard he lives in Elmhurst,” said Weller of the shooting victim.  “But I’ll bet you $200 worth of Kohl’s Cash that he’s not from Elmhurst.”

While many residents noted an obvious correlation between taking out the trash and drug dealing, others were more concerned with how the incident will affect them personally. 

“I’ve been living in Elmhurst for seven years now,” said 44-year-old financial analyst Wendy Monroe, waiting for the 7:28 a.m. Union Pacific train at the Elmhurst Metra Station.  “The thing that bothers me the most about the shooting is that it reflects poorly upon me and my family.  How can I possibly post an Instagram photo of me and my husband having dinner at Café Amano without worrying about the reaction I’ll get from my followers who are aware of the shooting?”

Anyone with information or video of the immediate area is asked to contact the Elmhurst Police at 630-530-3050.

Ask an Elmhurst Historian

Lifelong resident and local historian Marge Beamer answers questions from readers about the history of Elmhurst.

 

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Q:  My grandfather told me that the cops in Elmhurst have been conducting “safety checks” for decades.  Is he right?
A:
  He sure is!  Elmhurst was one of the first police departments in the country to conduct safety checks as a waste of police resources.  This 1966 photo of York at Schiller Street in downtown Elmhurst shows a police officer looking for impaired drivers and jaywalkers on a Saturday morning.

 

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Q:  I read somewhere that Hamburger Heaven used to be called something else.  What was it called?
A:  
“Hamburger Purgatory” opened in May of 1948.  After dismal sales during the first two years of business, the name was changed in 1950 to “Hamburger Heaven”.  Out of spite, the owners repositioned the layout of the building, forcing customers to place food orders while standing just a few feet away from the curb of North Avenue.

 

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Q:  Was there ever a time when residents were pleased with the shopping choices in downtown Elmhurst?

A:
 Not really.  Back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, downtown Elmhurst was a thriving business area and had almost no empty storefronts.  A variety of clothing and department stores helped make Elmhurst a well-rounded shopping experience.  But as the median income of residents increased dramatically during the 1980’s, people demanded more banks to deposit all of their money and more dessert shops to spend their disposable income.

 

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Q:  It seems that Elmhurst schools are always facing budget problems.  Has this always been the case?
A:
  Yes!  Back in 1895, students from the Churchville Schoolhouse actually taught each other after budget cuts forced the district to eliminate 75% of the teachers in Elmhurst schools.

 

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Q:  I made a lot of new friends when I moved to Spring Road in Elmhurst back in 2006 by hosting a St. Patrick’s Day Parade viewing party in my front yard.  What can you tell me about the history of this awesome event?
A:
  The parade was never received well by the people of Elmhurst until the early 2000’s, when the city began turning a blind eye toward spectator alcohol consumption.  In fact, the parade was often held on the last Saturday in February in the 1990’s (as shown in this 1998 photo) just to get it out of the way.

 

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Q:  When did the York Theatre open?
A:
  The original York Theatre opened in 1924, and the price of an adult admission back then was only $6.00!

 

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Q:  Was Salt Creek always as scuzzy and disease-infested as it is today?
A
:  Indeed it was!  These cattle from a 1920 photograph of Salt Creek died just minutes after drinking the water from the creek.

Comparison Study: Elmhurst Farmers Market vs. Villa Park French Market

by Dave Noble, Your Business is Our Business Beat Writer
In many ways, they’re very similar:  The Elmhurst Farmers Market and the Villa Park French Market are both open only one day per week during the summer and sell fresh produce, meats and cheeses along with hand-made soaps and other locally grown and manufactured items.  And they both offer entertainment for shoppers.

In other ways, they’re very different:  The Elmhurst Farmers Market appeals to locals looking to create a table accent with a bowl full of carefully placed fruits that are for “display only” and will often never be eaten, while the Villa Park French Market is reminiscent of a European bazaar with locals in search of ready-to-eat Confit de Canard, Black Périgord Truffles, and livestock.  And the vendors speak little or no English.

So how do these two weekly summer shopping options stack up against each other?  The Elmhurst Funion has compiled a list of key variables that will help you decide which market is better:  The Elmhurst Farmers Market, or the Villa Park French Market.

Location of the market

Elmhurst Farmers Market
About a mile south of the skyscrapers and construction-riddled urban jungle of downtown Elmhurst.  The ease of swiftly moving in and out of this section of town without hassle has been documented by a history of successful bank robbery escapes.

Villa Park French Market
Just off The Illinois Prairie Path, shoppers often ride to the market in horse-drawn carriages.

Winner
Villa Park French Market, because Elmhurst parking regulations require Farmers Market shoppers to move their cars every 15 minutes.

Weekday vs. weekend market shopping

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Wednesday morning shopping is a virtual “who’s who” of Elmhurst seniors, stay-at-home moms, and unemployed dads who are eager to discuss the weather and local news.

Villa Park French Market
A typical Sunday draws more people than the Mexican Soccer League Finals at The Odeum Expo Center, making it difficult to maneuver around other shoppers.

Winner
Villa Park French Market, because you can only discuss parking garages, new condo buildings and empty storefronts with your neighbors for a certain length of time before your head explodes.

Noteworthy shopper at the market

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley, who has a reputation of haggling with vendors until he gets the deepest discount possible for jicama and black radishes.

Villa Park French Market
Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley, loosely disguised with a beret, sunglasses and a scarf.

Winner
Tie.

Creative display of merchandise

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Raw vegetable arrangement depicting the York High School football stadium.

Villa Park French Market
Foie gras shaped into a 5-ft. high replica of the Eiffel Tower.

Winner
Elmhurst Farmers Market, because foie gras is gross.

Live entertainment

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Acoustic guitarist performing covers of John Cougar Mellencamp songs.

Villa Park French Market
A mime.

Winner
NOT the mime.

How foreigners are treated

Elmhurst Farmers Market
Local residents have a keen eye for identifying outsiders, but will generally avoid eye contact and “play dead” if you get too close to them.

Villa Park French Market
Everyone knows the French hate Americans.

Winner
Tie.