Tidings of comfort

Now under construction not far from my house is the Oakwood Beach Comfort Station. Not a train station, gas station, way station or any other kind of station. Comfort. Picture a long veranda with rocking chairs, comfy pillows and cool shade on a hot day.

The Oakwood Beach Comfort Station

Wrong. It’s bathrooms. And a snack stand, too — when I found the renderings online I could see that, along with the family changing room (the what?). But basically bathrooms. An important form of comfort, no doubt about it, and welcome at the beach, the newest in the city. But why not just call it bathrooms? Was it named by the people who gave us “Off-Track Wagering Facility” signs?

OK, enough mockery. It’s a good thing, and I can see from the growing number of people using the beach that it’ll be busy.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it opens this weekend: There’s a grand opening banner for Lunchbox (the snack stand), workmen are putting down sod, the outdoow shower head is working and the fencing around the place has been taken down.

Another beach is also getting a new comfort station, Osterman Beach, on the North Side. Since the same company is doing both places, and got the contract at the same time, I rode up there the other day to see how they compare.

The Osterman Beach Comfort Station

I think Oakwood is slightly closer to opening than Osterman (which still has the fencing surrounding it), but not by much. Aside from what looks like a larger patio next to the snack stand, Osterman is a twin of Oakwood.

Which reminds me…

Tune that name

Earlier this year when I checked the Park District’s Web site to see what was going on with “my” beach, it didn’t have a name. The Park District said it “hadn’t gone through the naming process” yet. You might think that’s the Chicago Way of saying “how much ya got?” That’s what I thought. But maybe not.

Now, the naming process has produced the name Oakwood Beach — because the nearest street is Oakwood (39th Street). That’s the process that has given us beaches with such majestic names as 31st Street, 12th Street, North Avenue and Foster. They’ve been named after streets since time began (Chicago time, that is) — 31 of them.

Except: Rainbow, Hartigan, Lane, Osterman and Leone. Rainbow was named after “the U.S. Army’s 42nd Rainbow Division that fought gallantly in World War I.” But the others were onetime Street Beaches renamed after politicians (Hartigan, Lane and Osterman) or Park District employees (Leone). Chicago Way again? Well, if that were the case, they’d all be named after politicians. No more Street Beaches.

So if politicians have the edge in any new name contest, I suppose I could lobby for Oakwood to be renamed Douglas Beach, after Stephen A. Douglas, whose tomb lies about five blocks north. Even the name Oakwood is taken from Douglas’ estate, Oakenwald. But the Little Giant was also a real estate developer, and don’t we already have enough stuff around town named after developers?

Instead, how about Leon Despres? He was a Hyde Park alderman who stood up to former Mayor Daley (the current Daley’s dad). He may have been a white Jewish guy, but he was called “the lone Negro on the City Council” for his advocacy of civil rights. He was a decent man and the beach is pretty much in his old neighborhood (though 57th Street Beach might have a better claim on his name, since it’s actually in Hyde Park). Why not?

One Response to “Tidings of comfort”

  1. Interesting…and I agree pretty much with everything. Keep up the excellent work…I will certainly be back shortly

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