On his days off, Stan Avorywoskie sits out in his backyard or on his front porch, and surveys the scene. It's a busy one.
Avorywoskie lives just steps away from Jefferson Park, and down the block from the big transit center, where Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains meet Metra trains and PACE suburban buses.
“I see a variety of all types of people. A real diversity of people here. And they’re all pretty much hardworking people in this area. And this is like a hub for the area, for people going in and out from the city and everything.”
Avorywoskie doesn’t work in the city; he works just west of here in suburban Norridge.
“Right now I’m working for Dollar General. I was working for a piping contractor for about 23 years and things got slow, so I’m looking at…whatever I can get.”
Avorywoskie and I are talking across the street from his house, in the park. We walked over there to get away from the impressive barking of his daughter’s dog. As you can hear in the background of this audio, Capri is no fan of visitors.
He's spent more than 20 of his 60 years in the Jefferson Park neighborhood. Avorywoskie says it's a nice place to live.
“Jefferson Park is up and coming. They’re trying to make it better," he says.
But as Avorywoskie's comments show, neighborhood improvement is not always linear.
“It seems like there’s a lot more gang-bangers coming into the neighborhood,” Avorywoskie says. “The police have their hands full and they’re limited to what they can do. They’re understaffed, that’s basically what I don’t like about it.”
“We’ve had thefts here. They’ve stole the gutters off our buildings,” he says. “We have copper. It’s an old house, it was built in 1900, 1916, and everything on there is copper, so once in a while people will come and steal stuff out of the yard. But, generally, our neighbors, we look out for each other.”
When Avorywoskie and I talk politics, he knows the players. He met the area’s alderman the other day, and was impressed. He also seems cautiously approving of the new mayor.
“I think [Rahm Emanuel] has his hands full. Right now he seems to be doing well, but I don’t know if everybody’s going to work with him. I just hope they don’t sell everything off in this city.”
Ah, the always-present Chicago privatization debate. I motion over to a metered stretch of parking alongside Avorywoskie’s house. The spots were metered before former Mayor Richard Daley and the city council okayed a 75-year lease to a private company, but the prices haven’t stopped jumping since.
“I have no parking outside my house. Because this area right here is…metered,” Avorywoskie says. “When I have visitors they have to pay. And they can’t park in the front because it’s a bus stop.”
Well, I’m glad I stopped on this block, even with the meters.