Wednesday, July 30, 2014 || By Michael Romain
BROADVIEW — Last Saturday, residents of Broadview leaned on balconies, sat on lawn chairs in their front yards and stood along the sidewalk to see a festive procession of convertible cars, trucks and marchers that included Ronald McDonald; Homer, the Home Depot mascot; pageant winners; and the Proviso East Marching Band. The parade kicked off the 100th anniversary celebration of Broadview’s incorporation. It ran from the Village’s 25th Avenue municipal building, east on Roosevelt Road and south on 17th Avenue, terminating in the parking lot of Broadview Village Square, where people from around the Proviso Township area enjoyed food, live entertainment and fireworks.
“This was the first opportunity in a long time to get the community gathered in one location to mingle and have a good time,” said Broadview Mayor Sherman Jones, for which the occasion was also a chance to exhibit the Village’s progress since he first took office in 2009.
“Progress has been tremendous,” Jones said. “We’ve turned the financial situation [of the Village] around, built up the police and fire departments, lowered crime rates–we’re all good.”
The centennial celebration also, if inadvertently, highlighted the striking affinities between Broadview and its older neighbor to the north–Maywood. Maywood Trustee Audrey Jaycox said that Maywood’s overwhelming representation at the event, relative to Broadview’s other neighbors, isn’t accidental. She cited the two towns’ comparable income levels, ethnic demographics, and the fact that they both share two school districts (89 and 209) and multiple borders (13th Avenue and Roosevelt Road, mainly) as key factors contributing to their unique bond.
“We also share a lot of relatives and there are a lot of Maywood employees who live in Broadview,” she said.
To reinforce her point, Mayor Perkins praised the efforts of Broadview resident Sue Henry, who was instrumental in planning the celebrations. Henry has deep ties to Maywood through her family and her extensive involvement with the John C. Vaughn Scholarship Foundation, among other factors. Even Mayor Jones is a Proviso East alumnus and former Maywood Postmaster.The connection between the two towns would resonate even more as attendees reminisced.
Cynthia Capitani-Saunders embodies the Maywood-Broadview symbiosis. She grew up in Broadview from 1949 until 1966 and remembers when the parking lot that’s encircled by a Home Depot, Super Target, a McDonald’s and an Ashley Furniture Home Store, among other national and multinational establishments, was the site of International Harvester.
“This was a heaven,” she recalled of her hometown. “Everybody knew their neighbors. It was like the TV show ‘Leave it to Beaver.’ In 1949, when I was here, most of the people were military veterans from World War II. A lot of them were professionals. There was strong a Jewish contingent. Lindop school was just great. I really miss it,” said Capitani-Saunders, whose sister, longtime Broadview resident Jorene Gordon, was on the centennial planning committee.
The Capitani family lived on the 2500 block of 15th Avenue in Broadview, right down the street from what she called a kid’s paradise. She said that she remembers only one police officer back in those days and residents called him “Indian Joe.”
“He would ride around in a motorcycle,” Capitani-Saunders, said. “Where the park is there used to be a prairie with tall grasses,” she said. “We had a dugout and tree houses and a pond full of cray fish and frogs.”
She said that her family and other Broadview residents would swarm into nearby Maywood for entertainment, shopping and medical care.
“It used to be a big treat to go to Maywood,” Capitani-Saunders said. “We’d go to the Lido Theater–they played two shows, cartoons and news reels. That’s how we got our news back then. You could really stay all day in the theater. All the doctors and dentist offices were there, the pharmacy was there, the shops, an ice cream parlor, bookstores. Maywood was a happening place. The only setback to living in Broadview, though, was the transportation. We went to Proviso East and we’d have to wait for this blue bus to go to school. If you missed it, that was it.”
After graduating college, Capitani-Saunders settled in Maywood, where she stayed with her husband and children for 38 years. Her husband operated an independent newspaper in Maywood. Her daughter, Stacy Saunders, works for the West Cook YMCA and frequents both Villages. Ten years ago, Capitani-Saunders and her husband moved to Oak Park, where they now reside.
“I still love Broadview,” said Capitani-Saunders. She still owns houses in Maywood and Broadview. “It’s a great community. It’s sort of like a hidden treasure. We’ve got a great police and fire department now.”
Gov. Quinn used to work in Broadview and still feels a strong connection to the place. “I grew up in the West Suburbs and the West Suburbs are the best suburbs,” he said.
The Governor, who only hours earlier had attended the funeral of 11 year-old Shamiya Adams, the West Side girl who was fatally shot in the head by a stray bullet, emphasized the need for more positive alternatives for the state’s youth.
“We’ve got to have good things for our kids to get involved in,” he said, after announcing that Broadview would receive $1.2 million to renovate the Beverly Center on Cermak Avenue. The money would go toward upgrading the gymnasium, multipurpose rooms and play equipment, among other purposes.
The money is part of the Park and Recreational Facility Construction (PARC) Grant Program, which provides “grants to eligible local governments for acquisition, development, construction, rehabilitation or other capital improvements to park and recreation facilities in Illinois,” according to the Department of Natural Resources. The PARC funding was made possible through Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program. Enacted in 2009, the program is considered the largest construction program in the state’s history and one of the largest in America.
State Senator Kimberly Lightford (D-4th) co-sponsored the PARC Grant Program and worked on its passage for three years. She said that she and former Broadview Park District Executive Director Katrina Thompson laid the groundwork for the $1.2 million check that the Governor presented to the Village Lightford considers her second home.
“The best is yet to come,” said likely Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin, who also emphasized the upcoming November election in what was a prime political opportunity both for the Governor, who faces an uphill battle with Republican challenger Bruce Rauner, and for a range of ballot initiatives. Even though he has yet to be sworn-in, Boykin advocated for a non-binding election referendum that would gauge whether or not Illinois residents think the General Assembly should allocate more funding for necessary mental health services. It’s a question whose answer hinges a lot on which candidate wins the governorship–something that wasn’t lost on most elected officials who spoke in the shadow of Home Depot and momentarily turned a family fair into a political rally.
“Gov. Quinn is the best choice,” said Cook County Recorder of Deeds Karen Yarbrough. “He stands for the things we care about the most,” she said, before promising that the Proviso Township Democratic Organization, of which she’s committeewoman, would work to double the Governor’s democratic primary vote tally.
State Rep. Chris Welch (D-7th), a native of Maywood, said that Mayor Jones “is constantly in my office talking about what they have planned,” before apparently improvising the day’s catchiest slogan–“We win with Quinn!” Welch also did some lobbying on behalf of the municipality he represents in Springfield, requesting another $1 million to help Broadview build another police station.
“They say the first 100 years is the toughest,” said Gov. Quinn. Judging by the day’s collective optimism, one would certainly think so. VFP