Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mount Prospect Illinois: My "Old" Hometown, An Unlikely Cultural Mecca--"Idol", "Glee", and "Blues"

Town Motto:  "Where Friendliness is a Way of Life."

Mount Prospect, Illinois, is the town where I grew up; and now, it is my home town once again. 

My parents still reside in the little house they bought almost 50 years ago, and my roots here go deep. After many years of residence in Iowa and Arizona, years that seem like separate lifetimes, and having just moved from another Chicago 'burb, I have come full circle.

Almost 14 years ago, I met Mark, who purchased a similarly small house near the local High School, for the convenience of his two young sons.  Now that the boys are grown, Mark and I have the opportunity to share this home together.  It's cozy, welcoming, has a festive back patio and yard, and is filled with sentiment, art and music, film, and good memories. (It's the white one on the right, under the perilously large pine tree.)

My condominium sold after years of attempts. When the buyer said "Yes", at once I was in a rush to pack, arrange a time with movers and charity pickups, meet a closing deadline--and then wait some more, as the buyer, who requested a quick move, is now experiencing delays of his own.

Across the street from the house is a large field used for youth soccer, football, and baseball games, as well as band concerts and fireworks displays. It's an active location, but  far removed from the more sophisticated "gay meccas" of Boys Town and Andersonville in the city, where many of our peers reside.  Joggers love it.  Geese and seagulls flock there by the hundreds (truly!) at certain times of year.  Maggie (our basset hound) loved to romp there, or just sit quietly on the vast expanse of lawn with me.  Once, she escaped the fenced yard, and we were frantic...until we found her sitting next to a bench full of kids watching a soccer game.

Here's another angle on our "cottage", and regular readers would easily find it.   Maggie is still very present in what will always be "her" home.

* * * *


This nondescript suburb of just over 50,000 residents lately has come under the media spotlight, and is now the unlikely source of hugely popular culture.

Most recently the town has become known as the home of American Idol Finalist Lee DeWyze.  Signs and T-shirts uging everyone to "Vote 4 Lee", or "We Be-Lee-ve", are nearly everywhere, and there's little escape.  The town's obsession is humorous and harmless, and has produced a positive, if fanatical, energy. Lee's fortunate chance to sing on national television attests to television's lasting power to legitimize most everything.  Everything is more real if it's on TV...and now the the town feels touched by fame, and is basking in attention.

I don't know Lee, but he seems like a nice enough fellow. I do find some gentle irony watching a fanfare for him played by the marching band of the high school where he was once kicked out for fighting.  His is a nice story of discovered talent, redemption, and humility.  If he wins it all next Wednesday, it could be a first...Mt. Prospect townspeople holding a riot on Main Street.

* * * *

Mount Prospect is also home to Ian Brennan, one of the creators and writers of that modest little TV series called "Glee.  In a recent exclusive interview,  blogger Jackie Tithof Steere found Brennan to be gracious and open about his days as a member of the choir of Prospect High School, which served as the inspiration for the show.  You can read the interview here.

In response to the question if the success of the show now causes Brennan to be recognized on the street, he humorously replies that one of the best things about being a writer is that no one hassles you!

* * * *

Last year, no less respected a publication than Business Week selected Mt. Prospect as the best town in the country to raise children!

Mount Prospect, a suburb 25 miles northwest of Chicago, was not only the best place to raise your kids in Illinois, it topped our list nationally. It has low crime, great schools, and homes for a wide range of incomes. Children have access to ball fields, hiking trails, skating rinks, indoor swimming pools, recreational centers, stores, restaurants, and multiplex movie theaters.

And finally, Mt. Prospect is home to the Blues Brothers.  To anyone who remembers the 1980 Belushi-Aykroyd film based on their SNL characters, the "bluesmobile" driven by Jake and Elwood was a Mt. Prospect Police Car.  The actual car can be seen on the second floor of the Blues Bar on Elmhurst Road downtown.

So ends my tourism promotion of our average little town.  So come join us!  The train is always on time, I mowed the lawn today, and we love to have guests over for a barbecue.  My new life in "old" Mt. Prospect promises to provide an active and intersting summer (provided we can make frequent escapes to Downtown Chicago!)


  1. Elwood got it a Mount Prospect City Police auction. "They were practically giving it away." I wonder if these auctions exist in Mt. Prospect.

  2. Tom, congrats on the move! I hope you and Mark have many wonderful years there. Your town sounds like a very cool place, almost too good to be true! Must be nice to live in such a great hometown with such celebrated residents. Thank you for a wonderful glimpse into your hometown! Well done!

  3. This town seems to specialize in the musically gifted. My kind of place!

  4. Yes, this town, my town is strangely full of weird pop culture connections. Since you must be just a kid, you missed the Shadows of Knight our towns only one hit wonder band. "GLORIA"
    As a kid, my neighbor's daughter made it onto Housewives' of Orange County. Vicki Gustafson.

    One Hollywood comedy writer: Reinhold Weege
    Lived in Mt. Prospect
    (December 23, 1949 - December 1, 2012) was an American television writer, producer and director. He was born in Chicago, Illinois.[1]

    Weege wrote for several television series, including Barney Miller and M*A*S*H. In 1981, he created the series Park Place. In 1984, he created the hit sitcom Night Court which ran for nine seasons on the NBC broadcast television network.[1] Weege owned Starry Night Productions, which produced Night Court until 1989, when Weege left the series after six seasons. He also produced the short-lived sitcom Nikki and Alexander in 1989.[2] He was nominated for four Emmy Awards during his career, one for Barney Miller and three for Night Court.[3]

    My stories about the town paint a darker hue with humor of a town that can't keep up with the more affluent Arlington Hts.