Mary Brown – A life in Clarendon Hills "Talk of the Town"

  • Mike McCurry
  • 01/22/15
When the officer arrived on the scene at Ann Street, he didn’t see anything unusual. It was just another routine call. But as he neared a small house backing up to the railroad tracks, he did hear a sound: a scraping, rustling sound like a small raccoon would make. It seemed to be coming from the roof.
 
Walking closer, he was surprised to find that it wasn’t a raccoon at all. There were two children on top of the house, peering over the edge!
 
No, they weren’t burglarizing the house or making roof repairs. It was a simple game of hide and seek. Still, it was obvious that they were scared because they’d been found!
 
“Girls, what are you doing up there?” the officer called in a big, booming voice. “What are your names?” When he found out that one of the girls was a Church girl, he was even more surprised. “You mean to tell me that your dad is the village manager, Lloyd Church?”
 
The officer gave the children a stern warning and sent them on their way. The girls ran all the way home, never looking back. And they probably picked a better hiding spot for the next game.
 
One of the little girls on the roof, Mary Brown (Church), shared this story with me last week. Of course, it was an old story; it happened in the 1950s! Mary has many fond memories of growing up in the Village of Clarendon Hills back then … in a time when things were a little simpler.
 
As a young girl, Mary and her friends would walk into the village, shop and lose track of time. Nobody had iPhones to beep at them and tell them they were late for appointments. In fact, these were the days when you could count the number of color TVs in town on one finger!
 
And Mary knew exactly where that one TV was. Fascinated by the exciting technology, Mary and her friends would sometimes go to the beautiful house on Golf Road belonging to the President of the Bank of Clarendon Hills. There, they would sneak a quick look through the family’s picture window, just to see that color TV! While today’s kids pout if their YouTube videos are slow to load, Mary and her friends had no problem with walking across town to watch network TV with no sound.
 
Oftentimes when she wandered into town, Mary would stop over at her dad’s office at the old village hall and sit in his secretary’s chair. Her father, Lloyd Church, was Clarendon Hills’ first manager (back then the position was called “superintendent”), and she enjoyed seeing him play such a large role in shaping and growing the community.
 
Little did that young girl know that sitting in that chair would, years later, motivate her to earn one of her own! In adulthood, Mary became a secretary herself. Her first job was working for Pat Davis, a local Realtor. She said that the work connected her well to the community; it was nice to know people and for people to know you.
 
With over 60 years of life in our wonderful town, Mary has a lot of very happy memories. One of her favorites is the carnival that the village schools used to put on to raise money, where all the kids would gather and enjoy the summer nights. In the winter, she enjoyed ice skating on Hamill’s pond, where Frances Hamill would watch them out of her front window. They would sled down the hill on one of her neighbor’s properties, the Allen’s house. Sadly, both of these properties are now developed (Hamill Lane and Allen Court), so there are houses where the skating and sledding once took place. Also redeveloped are the two grocery stores that once existed downtown: Grocerland and Gingher’s. How nice it would be to have even one grocery store downtown today!
 
While she no longer sleds down that hill, today Mary can still be seen regularly around town pushing a stroller or walking with her grandchildren. She has 5: Cassidy, Gavin, Jackson, Tyler and Charlie. She and her husband, Don, are seen and engaged in almost all village functions. And after all these years, she still loves being a Clarendon Hills resident.
 
After all; it’s a wonderful place to live a life.
 
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princes; Indian Guide Dad; a Coach; an “old” football player and a real estate broker. Mike’s columns are usually crafted about the buzz in and around Clarendon Hills. It sometimes has a spin on real estate or cultural information, highlight a new business or announce school happenings. He might include a “get-to-know” about some of our interesting Clarendon Hills residents and even a little about Clarendon Hills history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.
 
#ClarendonHillsRocks
 
Hamill pond before Hamill was developed, now Hamill Lane
 
Mildred and Bill Allen sitting and talking at Mary and Don Brown’s new house on Oxford
 
Mary's Parents
 
Mary's best friend, Barb
 
Mary and Don Brown
 
Allen Drive – Before it was developed into Allen Court
 
Mary Brown’s Childhood House on Ann Street
 
 

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