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updated: 6/17/2014 9:56 AM

The evolution of Illinois' image

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I have been lucky enough, well luck and effort, to have the same job for over 30 years. The job includes occasional travel, and sometimes the travel is overseas.

When in England or Germany, for example, and you are discussing business eventually the question comes up of "Where in America are you from?" I tend not to get real specific and answer with the suburb of where my home is or where the office is located; I will generally answer with "the Chicago area."

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This answer almost always produces a response. In the early to mid-1980s when I started, I can recall a response of a guy pretending to shoot a Tommy gun as he says "gangsters," to which I would nod and say "yeah, that's the place." Then came the '90s and the gangster with a machine gun was replaced by a guy pretending to shoot a basketball while saying "Michael Jordan," which produced a more positive response from me of "you bet, that's the place."

But now, for the last several years, the normal response to "Chicago area" has become "Ah, Chicago, corrupt politicians" to which I again answer "yeah, that's the place." Then they will add, "Isn't that where Obama is from?" To which I reply, "It is where he got his political training, but he claims to be from Hawaii."

Marc Thomsen

Elk Grove Village

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