Lunch with Marjorie: Enjoying the simple life with an eye on the future

Last January, Tracy Allen moved her family to Rockton from Chicago. I was curious about her transition. We were at Jessica’s in Roscoe for a late breakfast. Tracy’s half order of biscuits and gravy and scrambled eggs looked like a double portion to me. I ordered my standby: potato pancakes with applesauce and sour cream.

Tracy was born and raised in Dyer, Ind., just over the Illinois border.

“I pictured you a city girl like me. So this wasn’t culture shock for you. You grew up in a small town. Do you miss Indiana?”

“No. I miss Tinley Park—the south suburbs of Chicago.”

“What do you miss?”

“I adapted to city girl life once I moved to Illinois. Everything was so different there.”

“Why Rockton?”

“Eventually we want to live in northern Wisconsin—own a little resort there.”

“Why not move there now?”

“Once we go to northern Wisconsin…we have to have a little bit of money. I don’t want to move my kids out to the middle of the woods where there’s absolutely no one. I want them to stay in a good school, get a good education.”

“Is Rockton country?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“What are advantages of city vs. country?”

“The country…less crime…fresh air. But in the city, everything’s very close and convenient.”

“This area is getting built up.”

“Actually, that was one of the things we liked here. When we bought our house in Bolingbrook, we…got in just before they started building …making things so convenient. They did have a very good plan…always a step ahead…always looked for the growth that was coming. The streets were expanded, the turning lanes were made prior to all the businesses coming. That was the nice thing about Bolingbrook. We got a very good deal on our house. When we sold it, everything was right there. It was one of the better subdivisions. People were dying to get into the subdivision because everything was so close and convenient. But it was still nice. What we’re hoping is that everything will move out this way and kind of surround us again.”

“Some here are angry about growth—some who’ve been here a long time.”

“I think with all the people moving here from Chicago, they’re going to be outnumbered.”

I was interested in her perspective; she’s a mortgage consultant.

“You have to have growth,” she continued. “Rockton…it’s…small. Yes, the new little businesses that move in there, they’re great. Definitely I will patronize them because I live there. But you need the big companies too, to create revenue. The town needs money. There’s so much room out here. You have this stuff on Route 173. Or you can go to Beloit. I would rather patronize my town than somebody else’s town. I don’t want to live in a depressed…recessed…poor community. I don’t want my kids to live in a poor town because there are no businesses here.”

“You chose Rockton because you see it as growing…as having potential to build equity?”


“Which helps you to your dream of the resort place.”


“Is moving here from Chicago a good deal?”

“Oh, yeah. We had a 2,400-square-foot home in Bolingbrook that we sold for $300,000. When we moved here…we lost a little bit of square footage, gained a bigger yard, a better subdivision, a way better school, and cut off $100,000 off our mortgage.”

“What would you say to those opposed to growth?”

“I don’t like to get into conflicts. If anybody wanted to listen to me talk about why I think it’s economically the right choice for this town, they would probably understand. But if they’re still old school…and they’ve been here since the town started…they’re never going to want it to change.”

“We didn’t plan for this much growth…the turn lanes, the plan to widen roads. You go down Hononegah Road and wonder what they’re going to do when traffic doubles again,” I said.

“There are so many new houses. It’s eventually going to pull people out here…from Chicago and Wisconsin. I mean, they’re going to be here.”

“Are you glad you moved here?”

“We do like it here. The people are very friendly, very nice.”

“You sound content with…I don’t want to call it…the simple life.”

“It is. It’s a simple life.”

We finished up our bountiful breakfasts.

“Will you be the cook at your resort?”

“My husband is a very good cook. We always try to think of new things that we would have there.”

“You’re already planning your menu?”

“Oh, yeah.”

Marjorie Stradinger is a free-lance writer residing in Roscoe. She has covered food, drama, entertainment, health, and business for publications in California and Illinois for the past 25 years.

From the July 13-19, 2005, issue

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