Today I got mad enough to sit down and write about it. I've been leaving my footprints on the southeast corner of the Oak Street Beach for decades. My beloved piece of the beach was a refuge where I could read, do crossword puzzles or just veg out. In April and May it was pretty much me and the seagulls. After that is was me and my beach friends or my kids. In September and October it was back to blessed solitude. It has gradually been getting more populated, probably a result of a combination of the economy, the lack of crazed volleyball players and, sadly, the violence at North Avenue. More and more young families are now Oak Street beachers. We welcomed them and their $1000. strollers and their crazy excess of beach toys.
It was okay when Bruce the "massage guy" set up shop at the head of the boardwalk. He's a good guy and his clients quietly enjoy their therapy under his awning. It really wasn't okay when Anthony put up the restaurant, but we learned to live with it because it was classy and actually had good food. We made fun of his prices, but we liked him and his staff. Also, he was so kind to the elderly Gold Coast grandmas who loved his Sunday buffet. The city did not renew Anthony's lease and instead gave it to a well connected restaurant group who has turned it into a gaudy, cheesy overpriced concession stand. Then came the vendor with the outrageously priced rentals of lounge chairs and beach umbrellas. Taking up good beach space and practicing sporadic hours - that's good business?
Today was the last straw. I got there before my friend, Marcia. I settled in, opened my crossword puzzle, oiled myself up and sank into my chair. I got about 30 minutes of solitude. Then they came..... the tourists including the foreign ones with no clue about protocol or courtesy, the locals with their abundance of pricey toys, and about a million 20 somethings who belong many beaches north of here. They set up too many volleyball courts, tossed around too many footballs in high traffic areas and displayed way too much skin (and flab).
The so called restaurant started some amplified "music" that interfered with my brain - was trying to complete a crossword puzzle and read a book. Then I finally got it. 36 years of sacred space down the drain. It happened gradually, but today it hit me smack in the face. Oak Street is turning into North Avenue - or even worse - Coney Island
I'm a 70ish grandmother, ex- banker and professional beach bum. Currently enjoying retirement to the fullest while trying to discover what the next phase of my life might be. Loving having the time to write and rant about life, people and this fair city of Chicago.