“Downstate definitely is the road less traveled,” writes Glenn Coleman in Chicago Enterprise (August 1988). “Cook County alone generates nearly 70 percent of the state’s estimated $8.6 billion in travel-related income.” These numbers don’t have much effect on state lawmakers, however, who require the Illinois Office of Tourism to spend half its $10 million advertising budget and two-thirds of its development grants downstate–“marketing pig races, flea markets, and other quaint but relatively minor-league attractions outside the Chicago metropolitan area.”

“To me, Chicago sometimes seems created not by architects, but by set designers, canny manipulators of mood and imagination,” writes James Morgan in Chicago Times (September/October 1988). “Bold backdrops, coupled with the city’s energy, give the town a certain dramatic presence; as a result, the place becomes a virtual sound stage for any kind of movie you want to live in. . . . A friend of mine puts it this way: In some towns, if you find yourself standing in a parking lot in the middle of the night, you’re simply standing in a parking lot. In Chicago, on the other hand, you stand in that parking lot and you can be in West Side Story, and the Jets and the Sharks might round the corner at any second.” Oh goody.

Not all Vietnam vets are Americans. “The Agent Orange chemicals that proved so dangerous to U.S. soldiers, have in Vietnam destroyed forests, contaminated the food chain, and devastated the health of the Vietnamese,” writes Dr. John Hammock in Oxfam America News (Summer 1988). “Dioxin levels in the breast milk of south Vietnamese mothers are by far the highest in the world.”

Gosh, I just can’t find a thing to buy. “Young home buyers in the $200,000 range can’t find a nice three bedroom home on the north side in Lincoln Park, West DePaul, Lakeview or Wrigleyville,” laments Charlene Williamson in Real Estate Profile (August 12-25). “I have several buyers willing to spend up to $300,000 for a single family home, and there is barely anything to show them.”

“Great Lakes surfing is sometimes known as ‘storm surfing,’ because the fall and winter storm seasons provide the best waves,” writes Paul Botts in the Great Lakes Reporter (June/July 1988). The annual Great Lakes Surfing Championship will be held at Grand Haven, Michigan, this Saturday. “Good wave days here . . . mean on-shore winds of 15 to 25 mph, which most often occur in low-pressure weather systems. . . . Some hardcore enthusiasts can be found in full wetsuits, clambering over ice to jump into the middle of raging winter storms clutching their boards, if not their sanity.”

Pets OK. No kids. “If it’s a single woman looking for housing, there’s usually no problem,” Veronica Robinson, shelter coordinator for Rainbow House Shelter, tells the Chicago Reporter’s Jean Franczyk (August 1988). “When you start with one kid, it gets difficult, two is even harder and with three it’s almost impossible” even though it is illegal in Illinois to discriminate against children under 14.

“The prairie is genetically programmed to withstand and survive drought,” writes Susanne Masi in Prairie Projections (August 1988), newsletter of the North Branch Prairie Project. “The prairie has endured 10,000 years of weather, often quite severe, and has adapted to see a difficult season through and spring back essentially unharmed. . . . The root systems of prairie grasses and forbs, sometimes extending 15 feet underground, tap into water sources well below the surface. . . . Alien plants [weeds] with shallow roots, not equipped to withstand lack of water, are stressed and offer less competition for what water there is.”

“I think people give the media too much power,” writes Mary O’Connell in Salt (September 1988). “People allow the TV cameras and the newspaper reporters to tell them what’s happening–even in situations where they can see for themselves. At Comiskey Park . . . they’ve installed small TV monitors in the grandstands and a large screen on the scoreboard. And all around you can see people watching the instant replay on the TV–instead of the game in front of them.”

It was a long wait, but it was worth it. From the Illinois Department on Aging’s Senior News (August 1988): “If you are 80 or older or married for more than 50 years, you can receive a card from the President.”

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Carl Kock.