The last time I saw Libertyville with green grass and leaves on the trees was over three years ago. During that visit, my father was undergoing surgery to have his prostate removed when the beginning stages of cancer appeared. The springtime buds and shoots were starting to show, but the event I came home for was the priority.
Since then, I’ve battled home through the last two Christmas seasons when the midwest is washed in white and gray and angry with snow storms.
July 4th offered the chance to get home for the summer green again. And the midwest heat greeted us with smothering, humid arms. Liz and I spent a few days in Chicago playing tourists and falling in love with that city all over again. Chicago is, stated with an overflow of bias, the best city in this country. If scientists could just knock ten degrees of the summer temperatures and add those ten degrees to the winter temperatures, we’d be in business. Wrigley Field, The Art Institute, Millennium Park and I could keep going. You can challenge that another city might be better, but just know you’ll lose that debate.
The remainder of the weekend was spent catching up with the heart of the Sliozis clan back in Libertyville. Brats were grilled. Gluten-free beers were shared. And as always, we all made fun of each other. Liz had taken photos of her childhood home, which inspired me to do the same (although mine aren’t nearly as good, and she gets credit for some of the photos below). While the house I mostly grew up in has changed the way it looks, inside and out, the memories deep in the walls will always make that house home.
The night ended with the way many July 4th evenings did when I was growing up. A five minute walk to spread our lawn chairs across the outfield of Libertyville High School.
There is no cure for homesickness.
Growing up, Bill’s Pizza & Pub served the pizza that would be burned into my childhood memories. While I may have over-hyped it on several occasions by declaring it “the best pizza ever,” this is place wrapped in the smells and memories from growing up in Libertyville…even though it’s in Mundelein.
Decades later, the pizza tastes exactly the same and the four tiny corners of the pizza are the most sought after edible real estate. The decorum has changed just as little as the delicious taste. After muscling open a massive wooden door adorned with iron chains as a handle, you enter and struggle to adjust your eyes into the dark dining room. The interior reflects the feel of a classic wood cabin and pieces of taxidermy line the walls. Giant bears, deer heads, fish, birds, and the occasional small woodland creature perched on a miniature toilet. Each table offers a small basket of peanuts as an appetizer. Broken shells are disposed of on the floor.
There’s still a small collection of arcade games which has updated a little over the years. Notable ghosts of the collection included nerd-appreciated titles like Pole Position, X-Men and The Simpsons years after other arcades had forsaken them.
Bill’s Pub expanded to include a “North” restaurant, which I refuse to acknowledge after eating there only once. South is the mecca.