Reflecting on a Year of Columns – "Talk of the Town"

Reflecting on a Year of Columns – "Talk of the Town"

  • Mike McCurry
  • 04/1/15
From Mike McCurry’s “Talk of the Town” column in The Clarendon Courier April 2, 2015

Looking Back

By now, many of you will be in full vacation mode, enjoying the warmth of the sun someplace down south while this paper is resting on the porch under a soft blanket of snow. Since it will be nice and soggy when you return (and likely find its way to the recycling bin), I thought it would be a great time to reflect on the past year of my “Talk of the Town” column.
I began writing this column just over a year ago, starting with the first issue of the paper on March 6, 2014. It was an exciting beginning for everyone. No one knew what to call the paper: “Courier,” or “Clarendon Hills Courier,” or just “That Paper”! A lot of people were surprised that anyone would start a new paper, especially since many larger organizations were folding or morphing into online versions. But the editor and owner, Mike Ellis (a young but very capable man) and I met and discussed some of the topics that our readers might find interesting. From that conversation, I composed a mission statement:
Mike is a Clarendon Hills resident; husband; Indian Princesses & Indian Guides 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. They sometimes have 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.”
So far, there have been 27 columns — over 16,000 words written! My columns usually begin with a story. My wife doesn’t always like my stories because she can’t tell exactly where they’re going. As a reader, she is afraid that she might be taken on a journey to somewhere unknown … both to her and to me!
One of the first columns I wrote was about a book I inherited for my office from my wife’s grandfather. It’s a plat book of DuPage county from 1900 that included a bibliography and pictorial of what were then famous buildings and people. It was fascinating to me that, historically, many of the street names in Clarendon Hills were changed. For example, Ridge was Bridge, and Western was where Bridge was supposed to be. A brief look back at our history shows that many of the original developers of the land now have streets named after them, which is a nice memorial to their pioneer efforts. I love a quote that was picked up about Clarendon Hills, paraphrased here: “Only men of steady habits must settle in this place, for the serpentine appearance of streets might prove too much for a head not evenly balanced.”
I enjoyed writing several holiday-themed columns, including a love letter to our town’s gorgeous Christmas luminarias and a history of Churchill Street’s famous Halloween themed events.
Some of the stories were just for fun. “Dog in the Hood,” for instance, was about all the dogs that are regulars in the downtown district, and I had a good time composing a little adventure about some boys on a sledding hill. There have also been some more serious pieces, like “When I think of Football,” a memorial piece about legendary Hinsdale Central icon Bill Huskisson. And “A Sacrifice You Will Never Know,” published for Veteran’s Day, shared a soldier’s intimate stories of the battlefield in Vietnam. It was also special to write personality profiles on Mary Brown and Krista Tally, two local luminaries everyone ought to know.
One of my favorite columns was actually written by my son Noah. Yes, that’s right — my 8-year-old son! One morning I noticed that he was writing fiction stories our new Mac. My interest piqued, I asked if he would like to put together a few topics to write about. He jumped on my lap and began plucking away at the keyboard. Before we knew it, he had an outline, then some content and then the final draft of a story about a day in the life of Noah. It was the most meaningful column that I had been a part of because Noah grew the confidence needed to write a story. His column was published!
All of my columns can be seen on my WordPress blog, where I often build out additional content and supporting pictures. (If you’d like to check it out, Google knows where it is!) It was exhilarating to see that my most recent piece, “Cyberbullying for Adults,” was read by over 3,500 visitors! Maybe you were one of them?
Life happens in small chunks of time, and one day you wake up and realize that you have grown. I have never been formally trained in writing, so it was likely noticeable to some of you that over time, I began to find my own voice and style. I learned to better communicate with my audience. There’s a comfort in telling stories to get my point across, and observing the goings-on in our town — meeting people, researching history, and walking alongside my fellow residents — has become one of my favorite parts of my week.
Thanks for letting me write about the Talk of the Town. I hope it has been as rewarding for you as it’s been for me!
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 the area.  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 residents and even a little about history. Whatever it is, it is sure to be about the “Talk of the Town”.
Atlas – Dupage County Illinois
Carol and Clancy
Bill Huskisson
Mary and Don Brown
David E. Antrim
Abby cutting her hair for Locks and Love
305 Ridge, Clarendon Hills
Cub House – Fun House!
Krista Talley
Noah McCurry plucking away his column with his dad two Saturday’s ago..

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