Friday, May 15, 2009

Two Ways to See It

In Lake Forest there is, natch, a Lake Forest Preservation Foundation "committed to preserving the historic visual character" of the town. There are, without doubt, some architecturally interesting buildings scattered around town as well as some elegant homes and beautiful mansions. In recent days, plastic placards have been placed in front of a number of these edifices declaring them to be "historic award recipients." While I think it is fine to acknowledge the architectural merits of these places, the placards themselves are tacky.

Contrary to some notions, Lake Forest is not comprised exclusively of impressive, stately homes. Although a few big estates do exist, and there are some "McMansions" in the newer developments, they are outnumbered by "ordinary" houses. There are even some very modest dwellings here, some of which are in poor repair. One such place is not far from my house, and Woki and I often pass it while on our walks. It sits low and squat on a tiny scrap of land. The paint is mildewed and peeling, the roof is half tarpaper, half corrugated metal, and there are only a couple of small windows. The scrubby yard is littered with plastic toys, bikes and an old snow shovel. Definitely not a realtor's dream.

The other day as we walked past, I saw that some wag had swiped an "award recipient" sign from a more prosperous neighbor and put it in the front yard of this place. Amusing, at first glance, especially as a flip-off to the self-congratulatory Preservation Foundation. But if it was meant as a slap at the less fortunate in a land of plenty, then it's another story entirely.

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