Mommy’s Piggy Tales: Country Mouse in the City

In the summer of ’81, when I was 12, we moved from a small rural town of about 800 people to a suburb of Chicago. It amazed my mom that as we were driving into the suburbs, we still had 40 miles before we would reach our suburb.

Life was going to be very different.

Many people who live within the Chicago city limits are very irritated when people like me say I’m from Chicago. But when I rode my bike a few blocks east, I was in the city of Chicago. If I walked a few blocks south, I was in the city of Chicago. Technically, we lived in the suburbs. But it seemed very much like the city to me.

We lived on a main artery into the city, so I wasn’t allowed to cross the street on my own. The freedom of riding my bike all over town was gone. The parsonage in my old town had been built right before we moved there; it had central air, a dishwasher, and four bedrooms. The parsonage we moved into had only three bedrooms, so we had to convert the office into a bedroom for my brother. No air conditioning, no dishwasher, and faded pink paint on the wall of the bedroom my sister and I were to share. Not only was there noise from the busy street to get used to, but we lived very close to O’Hare. Jets took off and landed right over our heads. And the commuter train was just across the way. Lights were everywhere; it was never completely dark at night.

Life was going to be very different.

On the positive side, we were excited that we could walk to the public library. Our little town didn’t have a library. We lived at the edge of a large park, and at the other side was a playground and pool. We couldn’t swim very well, but we used the pool when we could.

Then school started. I made friends with some members of my class, but being the pastor’s kid in seventh grade was very difficult. Since I attended the parochial school that our church ran, many of the kids in my class had been together since pre-Kindergarten. I was definitely the newcomer; the outsider.

I resented this move, but some very good things happened because we were in this place. It would take me years to discover the reasons God called my father to serve at this church in the suburbs.


Janna of Mommy’s Piggy Tales began a project to share our youth with our children. Every Thursday, I will tell a story about my childhood as if I were telling it to my children. At the end of this project, I’ll have a collection of stories about my childhood for my children to keep, and hopefully treasure.

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11 Responses to Mommy’s Piggy Tales: Country Mouse in the City

  1. I feel your pain. I grew up 15 miles east of Saint Louis… in Illinois. So I always say I'm from STL but folks from MO get all up in arms about it. What? Your subarb is 30 miles from the city but you're still a St. Louisan bc its within MO?

  2. So, which suburb did you live in? I grew up right by Midway airport and people were often amazed that I was actually from Chicago, not the suburbs. Of course, if I went a few miles west and several miles south I would be in different suburbs…Now that I live in a smaller town, I really can't imagine living in a big city again, which is shocking. I have always thought of myself as a big city girl.

  3. I can't imagine moving at 12. 10 was bad enough. You were a trooper and it's cool that there was so much good to help balance the tough stuff! Do you think it would have been better to be a pastor's kid in a public school? Who knows, huh?

  4. Wow, I've grown up in reasonably large towns (well, according to Dutch standards anyway) and always felt twenty minutes to the town centre on my bike was a lot. I would have been awed along with your mother about having to go another forty minutes by car to get to the right suburb!

  5. I enjoy reading your story also. At this time I had been married for a year. My Aunt and Uncle had moved to Chicago…living in one of those huge buildings downtown over looking the river. We visited Chicago in 1996 with a baby on my hip.It is amazing to hear each person's story and how the child sees what happened.What a change? Yet, what excitement!!!

  6. I think 7th grade is rough enough, and it's even harder to be the newcomer. That's one reason I liked teaching at a larger school – everyone got "mixed-up" every year.

  7. I wouldn't like moving to the city either. A town is big enough for me and moving here from the country was a big enough cultural shock!

  8. I was lucky growing up because we never moved. We moved to a bigger house in the same community of North Riverside but I was only around 5 when that happened. I can only imagine how hard it is to move at that age. We did that to our own children when we moved them out to California when they were 7 & 9. I still tell people I am from Chicago just because I know people will recognize the name rather then saying Illinois.We were West of Chicago by about 40 miles.

  9. What a crazy time to move, such a tough age with so many changes happening naturally already!I would've said I was from Chicago too if I lived that close. Even now when I refer to where I am from (which was a small town), I just say the nearest most well known to where I actually lived unless whoever I am talking to is familiar with that specific area.Thanks for sharing!

  10. Moving is a big deal. I'm glad I only had to move once as a kid. Being new in 7th grade is not easy either but I'm excited to see what God had in store for you:)

  11. Hi Ginny Sweetie…Oh I am so enjoying your story telling. You truly have a nack for this. I can see this change of yours. No air conditioning, lights and noice all the time. (Yes that is much like what it was for me moving from a 2 lane road to 6-8 lanes here in Phoenix. The helicopter search at night had me terrified the first time I heard it.) It is a very big change.I can't wait to read your next story sweet friend. What a blessing you are to me. I hope you have a beautiful Thursday. Many hugs and much love, Sherry

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