If I Were In Skokie, Illinois

“Hi. I’m in Skokie.”

If I was in Skokie, Illinois, I would walk around the city streets all day long saying this wonderful little phrase to people. Of course, most of the people I’d say “Hi, I’m in Skokie” to would probably shoot back in their trademark awesome Skokie accent something to the effect of, “Yeah, I’m in Skokie too.” Of course, when it got old telling people IN Skokie that I was also IN Skokie, I would pick up the cell phone and call my friends outside of Skokie and let them know just exactly where I was.

I might also ask them if they knew that on Halloween, in Skokie, trick or treating hours are only from 3 to 7 pm.

Being in Skokie, of course, would never have the kind of exciting ring to it like being in Hawaii or being in Paris. And because of that, if I was to rattle the buzz-machine across the country by my being in Skokie, I would have to make Skokie sound like it was more exciting than those other high-watermark cities of culture. I would probably start out by reminding people that Skokie isn’t “a city” and it isn’t “a town” — it is a village.

If I were in Skokie this very minute I would probably change the title of this post to something like “I Am In Skokie, Illinois” instead of the current “If I Were In Skokie, Illinois” — which technically only represents a difference of removing the word “If”, using the “I” and then adding the “Am” after the “I” and voila, new title. If I had just been informed that the town of Skokie prefers to be referred to as a village, and I was told this by a passionate local, I may actually have titled this post something like, “I Am In The Village of Skokie, Illinois” which would represent adding a bunch more letters which in the long run would have an almost imperceptible effect on my carpal-tunnel syndrome — and so I would happily add the extra letters to make sure my newfound friends in Skokie felt that what I was writing was as accurate to the reality of Skokie as possible.

Did you know that you need a permit to have a garage sale in the wonderful village of Skokie?

If I were in Skokie right this minute and I wasn’t just a visitor but I had rented out a house or apartment of some kind right nearby Skokie Boulevard and the Evanston Golf Club — you’d better believe this entire post would probably be me complaining about needing a permit to have a garage sale. I mean, please. I get that everyone in the village of Skokie likes to treat things in the most organized of ways, but garage sale permits? I would head right down to Downtown Skokie off of Oakton Street and find those responsible for making such laws a reality and then give them a piece of my mind…

That is, if I was in Skokie, Illinois.

Sometimes when it’s late at night and the questions run so deep for such a simple man as myself, I go to the window at the edge of my bedroom and I look up into the night sky. Usually I can’t see stars or anything because I live in Los Angeles where the smog has pretty much blanketed the sky in a nice grey hue that blocks out the majesty of the Universe… But what I do see is the potential of a clear night sky in the village of Skokie and I can often be heard, just murmuring in a low whispery voice something that’s awfully reminiscent of the Jodie Foster whispery lull-voice she used in Nell wherest I find myself saying over and over again something like, “If I Was in Skokie, Illinois…” over and over again.

Some people consider Hawaii a paradise. Others consider Paris the artistic wonder of the world. But why does Skokie always get left out in the cold? Just because the Southeast Industrial Area is less paradise and more parking lot… And just because the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie is more “Artie” (who is a ticket taker) than “Artistic” is no reason to shove it aside like a half-eaten chicken McNugget.

Skokie is a village just like most villages are villages and I’m here to support the villageness it has. That is, I would…if I was in Skokie, Illinois.

“Hi. I’m in Skokie.”

I suspect it would get tiring saying that day in and day out to the people of Skokie and my friends via cell phone, and the postcard thing (where I would write “Hi, I’m in Skokie”) would also get tiresome if not simply for the fact that it’s really hard to get stamps specifically manufactured for postcards cause the Post Office is always out of them… But despite that fact, I think that being in Skokie would provide me with a life that, here in Los Angeles, I can only hope to have.

A life filled with fantasy, wonder and the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park — free of charge for you and your entire family.

If only I was in Skokie.

36 comments on “If I Were In Skokie, Illinois

  1. Neil - October 31, 2005 at 9:41 am -

    Ah, Skokie. So beautiful, Nazi groups always want to parade down their lovely streets. (look it up in Google if you don’t get the reference)

  2. Flower Girl - October 31, 2005 at 9:42 am -

    Based on this post, if I weren’t headed for Vegas in a couple days, I’d go to Skokie…

  3. Pauly D - October 31, 2005 at 9:46 am -

    Neil, did you ever notice that the letters “N” and “I” from Nazi are also in YOUR NAME?


  4. Keith - October 31, 2005 at 9:54 am -

    Would you ever be in a barbershop quartet in Skokie, Illinois?

  5. Pauly D - October 31, 2005 at 10:23 am -

    If you must know, I was in a barbershop quartet once.


  6. nic - October 31, 2005 at 10:49 am -

    “Hi, I’m in Hickory.”

    I’m not sure how I got here, but it seems alot like a village, and I think I may be the token Idiot. This post hit home, “fer sher”.

    Oktoberfest had one (ONE!) beer tent. And the bands featured were gospel, which was okay … but NOT! I almost fell asleep at the Poker Run party. The only way to amuse myself is to get drunk and run around the neighborhood at night with my dog, who happens to be the coolest one around.


  7. esg's ho - October 31, 2005 at 1:01 pm -

    I grew up in Skokie and, after a while, you can really say “Skokie” with a straight face — unless you’re on drugs and then, “Hi, I’m skoking dope in Smokie, Illinois,” or something like that, is like to come out of your high face.

    Did you know, though: If you attend Skokie School, you’d be in Winnetka, Illinois.

  8. Pauly D - October 31, 2005 at 1:08 pm -

    Man, I was hoping someone who grew up in Skokie would comment here today. And now that my dream has come true, I must just ask that esg’s ho leaves another comment about the whole “Skokie as a Village” scenario.

    Ruh Roh!

  9. Amber - October 31, 2005 at 2:49 pm -

    I’ve never been in Skokie, but I have said (about 18 billion times) “Hi, I’m in Peoria.” Or “Hi, I’m in Bartonville,” which is the other town I’ve spent a lot of time in. You haven’t spent a romantic summer evening unless you’ve sat under the stars at the airport and watched the lights along the runway. Just the one runway. And I never did see any planes. And I was with my cousin, so it was decidedly unromantic. Although in Skokie/Peoria/Bartonville, maybe that’s how they roll. I’m glad I live in Denver.

  10. Barney - October 31, 2005 at 4:57 pm -

    I would like to hear from “esg’s ho” as well and ask him/her if knowing that Skokie was a village made any difference in their competitive edge with area teams in sports?

  11. Lola - October 31, 2005 at 5:43 pm -

    Okie Dokie, I’m from Skokie!!”

    Actually, I grew up in a south suburb of Chicago…but I’ve always wanted to say that. Woot!

  12. francey - October 31, 2005 at 8:05 pm -

    Skokie! Alright, not from there but have been there. It’s a pretty boring ‘burb – next to Evanston (which is both filthy rich and contains Northwestern University), and Niles North high school has a good chess team.

  13. benny - October 31, 2005 at 11:04 pm -

    I like that on the official Skokie webpage, you can pay them with e-pay, but its not really all that clear what you are paying them for. They will gladly take ACH payments from your account though.

  14. Kristi - November 1, 2005 at 12:12 pm -

    Paulie, I’m just a stone’s throw away (3 miles, tops) from Skokie and go through that pleasant little village at least 4 times a week. Heck, I even have real live friends living in Skokie! If you’d like, I could create a photo montage for you and your readers of all the beauty in and around the greater Skokie area- I’m up for a silly assignment like that!

    Really, how can you go wrong with a city that has a strip mall with Bed, Bath and Beyond, Best Buy and a Michael’s craft store, not to mention a Bennigan’s and a Chili’s? Skokie has it all!

    PS- you also need a permit to have a garage sale in the city of Chicago. My neighbors got busted by the cops trying to have a garage sale and they didn’t have the proper “paperwork”. Hella lame if you ask me.

  15. esg's ho - November 1, 2005 at 1:28 pm -


    I have a not abandoned you. I am just looking for the right combination of words and time. I mean, would you rather have a careful, thought out response….or Harriet Miers?

    More soon,

    esg’s ho

  16. Marie Soloman - November 1, 2005 at 2:43 pm -

    Skokie is always a stop for the Nazi’s. Doesn’t make sense. I donb’t know why they want to march in Skokie! I don’t kjnow why the ACLU fought to let them, even though the lawyer fighting for the Nazi’s was Jewish.

    The ACLU are dumbasses…

  17. Amy - November 1, 2005 at 4:27 pm -

    Pauly, have you ever been to Skokie? Just curious.

  18. Scottiedog - November 1, 2005 at 7:13 pm -

    I thought I’d see a lot of people commenting, giving the names of the odd-named towns they live in.

    I was wrong.

    That won’t stop me name-dropping though. OH no, no.
    To save myself the typing, I’ll just suggest looking over a map of the British Isles. I don’t think any conjure the same thoughts as ‘Skokie’, but a few make you wonder: what must it be like to accept this town’s name as normal and everyday? The residents of Hucknall-under-Huthwaite don’t feel a constant weight on their shoulders. Those of Egham don’t have greasy, fried breakfasts and people in Much Hadham probably don’t feel used in any subversive way.

    There’s not usually strong winds in Hale, not that many idiots in Dorking and only the normal amount of bathtubs in, erm, Bath.

    It would be more interesting if the town’s name did represent the population. I’d quite happily move to Richmond.

  19. Pauly D - November 1, 2005 at 8:32 pm -

    Never been to Skokie, Amy. But I’ve been to Illinois. Greatest deep dish pizza EVER.

  20. Kevin - November 2, 2005 at 9:37 am -

    “If you must know, I was in a barbershop quartet once.

    Once. ”

    Ah, Joe Piscopo lives!

    I like telling people that I live in Geneva. So long as I don’t have to follow that with “Illinois.” I find that, despite my strong American grasp on English and the fact that I’m physically walking down streets in Illinois, people still make the assumption that I’m talking about Switzerland. Fine by me. I’d hate to ruin the illusion.

  21. Pauly D - November 2, 2005 at 9:45 am -

    It’s nice to see people recognizing lines from such classic movies as Johnny Dangerously.

    Good work, Kevin.

  22. Kevin - November 4, 2005 at 8:04 am -

    And a classic it truly is. I’ve loved that movie since it came out when I was a kid in the 80s and I’ve been quoting it religiously ever since. The only movie I quote more is Real Genius.

  23. Jonathan - November 4, 2005 at 1:37 pm -

    Yet, you missed Keith’s reference to “The Usual Suspects” in asking about the “the barbershop quartet in Skokie, IL”.

  24. Pauly D - November 4, 2005 at 1:42 pm -

    Yes, I did, Jonathan.

    Yes. I. Did.

  25. Skokie Girl - November 7, 2005 at 1:16 pm -

    I grew up in Skokie, right off Skokie Blvd. I was a camper at Camp Maskokie, in the nature preserve at the swamps of Skokie. (I think Skokie means “swamp” in some Native American language.) The sculpture park you mention is right by the sewage treatment plant on a branch of the Chicago River, and you get lots of good whiffs. It is also near the area’s other natural wonder, Mount Trashmore, a hill made of trash and covered by grass. Periodically the hill belches natural gases from the garbage. I used to enjoy a picnic lunch by it often.

    Growing up there, you do get adjusted to the word “Skokie”, but thanks for reminding me what a fundamentally absurd word it is and making me laugh.

    Don’t visit Skokie. Let it remain a platonic Village in your mind’s eye. The reality will not live up to your dream.

  26. Gail Reiter - November 10, 2005 at 7:20 am -

    I lived in Skokie during my high school years and 1 year beyond. If I had stayed much longer I would have lost my mind. Of course if Mount Trashmore was in Skokie I might have stayed, but it’s in Evanston. Then again if they really did have a barber shop quartet I would have quit school and hitch hiked to the nearest town just in case I accidently walked into a place where it was being performed. We had a neighbor who had a heart attack and died on the Skokie Swift on his way home from work. I always thought that was a great metaphor for living in Skokie.

  27. Situ - November 17, 2005 at 11:20 am -

    I was born in Skokie but left when I was 2. I think I must needs visit again to immerse myself in its joys!

    check out http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/002524.html for another only in Skokie landmark event.

  28. Hello - December 10, 2005 at 12:50 pm -

    heyyyyyyyyyy I was born in skokie!
    but i moved when i was 14

  29. neil f - February 7, 2006 at 9:15 pm -

    I spent my first 18 years in Skokie. Hey — they could have left the name “Niles Center” and thenyou all could have been walking around saying “Hi, I’m in Niles Center.”

  30. Don - February 21, 2006 at 10:19 am -

    For me, Skokie had many great memories. Although I was born and raised next door in Evanston, most of my friends (in my teen years during the mid and late 1970’s) were from Skokie. I remember filling my gas tank at the Capri gas station (26 cents per gallon) on Dempster Street and hanging out at the Old Orchard Twin Bowl on Skokie Boulevard. Those were very carefree and innocent good times.

  31. kornolio - May 11, 2006 at 1:30 am -

    I used to live in Skokie when I was an H1-B visa holder in the US back in the late 90s. It was fun eating at this Greek restaurant near Dempster. I miss the snow and the cool spring weather.

  32. Shannon Leahy - June 4, 2006 at 2:29 am -

    I guess I`m the lamest guy on earth. I`ve spent my entire 34 years of life in Skokie. I was born and raised in Skokie (southeast side), and I am now raising two sons of my own in Skokie. It`s 4:30 A.M. on a Sunday morning, and I came across this web site looking up just how lame Skokie is. Truth is I`m desperate to get out of Skokie because 50% of the town in now foriegn born, and where we once had Pop Warner football and Skokie Youth baseball, now we have soccer and more soccer. Not that there is anything wrong with soccer, other then it sucks…but I cant raise my boys in a town without any organized American sports.

    Skokie is still a place where you dont have to lock your doors at night, as there is no crime. But as an American you sure feel like a foriegner. It`s human nature to want to live around your own people, and that is what makes Skokie a haven for foriegn born people.

    Skokie was a cool place to grow up, but it has changed.

  33. Paulo Villabona - January 9, 2007 at 6:47 pm -

    Shannon Leahy, shame on you!!! I was one of those foreigners that moved to skokie in 1979! Whats wrong, skokie not staying boring enough by having everyone look the same, speak the same language, and have the same culture. Sorry to dissappoint you!!! A little reminder Shannon, that the majority of skokies residents are jewish immigrants escaping the holocaust. another fun fact for you skokie enthusiasts. Skokie had the largest migration of misplaced jews escaping the holocaust. Which is the reason it is with viewed with so much affection by the nazi’s. Now Shannon, Im sure skokie was a much different place when before they arrived. Any regrets?
    by the way the word skokie is named after an indian chief. which is why that summer camp was called maskokie, which i believe was his origional name. and yes it was once a swamp, just like the rest of the chicago area.
    skokie is still a great place to raise kids, as it is safe and has a great education system. However, it is begining to look like a large plastic mall. So I believe raising kids there will probably eventually get very expensive.
    it is definately boring, however it is only a ten min drive to downtown chicago, if there is no traffic.
    I am appalled to hear there is no skokie youth baseball anymore!!! I played my whole childhood. shannon you got to get on that, and I hope your not sharing your disgruntelness with foriegners with your kids. Skokie is known for its progressive education.
    Im out!!!

  34. Michael - May 28, 2007 at 10:24 am -

    Skokie is not a Native American word for swamp. Skokie is a Native American word that means “endless road work ahead, expect delays”. It’s a close cognate to Chicago, which is a Native American word meaning “magnificent lack of water pressure in the shower” – as anyone living on the top floor of a three- or six-flat will tell you.

  35. […] you’ll hear about his “supposed adventures” in Viet Nam, the Burmuda Triangle and Skokie, Illinois. If you get caught or trapped in a particularly shoddy couch fort, he’ll be there to pull you […]

  36. […] “If I were in Skokie, Illinois…” […]

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