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Woodstock is a quaint little town (or maybe I should say "was when I was growing up") about 45 miles northwest of Chicago's loop. Probably it's three claims to fame are its town square, its opera house, and the Todd School for Boys.

First, the town square - when I was a little tyke, the streets making up the square were brick. They were not maintained very well, and were pretty rough to drive on, so everyone thought it was great progress when they were paved over with blacktop. Of course, blacktop is not "quaint", so when the town fathers decided to capitalize on "quaintness", the blacktop was taken up and the streets were redone in new brick! (The more things change . . .)

Second, the opera house. I'm not sure just when it opened, but its original hay day was in the thirties. After the introduction of movies, it became a relic, and was closed for many years. One of my friends in high school was largely responsible for getting it refurbished and reopened (partly with chairs from Chicago's Eighth Street Theater which conveniently closed its doors about the time my friend was working on reopening the Opera House). That was in the early sixties, and the Opera House is still going strong, drawing crowds from the greater Chicago area for mostly light theater productions and musicals. The back of the fire curtain had many famous signatures on it when the place first reopened. I wonder if that curtain is still in use.

Third, the Todd School for Boys. Probably its most famous graduate was Orson Welles. He had long since graduated when I was growing up, but my family's homestead was just across the street from the school. After the school closed, some of the buildings were converted to use as an orphanage. I still remember one morning when my Dad found our extension ladder missing from the garage. He quickly found it against a window in the girl's dorm across the street (where some enterprising young lad had obviously gained entrance to paradise the night before).

All in all, Woodstock was not a bad place to grow up.

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Date last modified: 4/12/96

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