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posted: 7/22/2014 5:01 AM

Editorial: Memories add strength to fabric of suburbs

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  • The Blues Mobile makes its way down Phil's Beach in Wauconda during filming of the "The Blues Brothers" 35 years ago.

    The Blues Mobile makes its way down Phil's Beach in Wauconda during filming of the "The Blues Brothers" 35 years ago.

The Daily Herald Editorial Board

The Northwest suburbs many of us remember are hardly recognizable these days.

Were you around when Woodfield Mall was a Schaumburg farm field?

Back then, the suburbs were a place where parcels of vacant land were big, office buildings were small and traffic was a lot less congested.

They have been replaced by bustling communities at the heart of a strong and vibrant place to live, work and play.

While much of that progress has been overwhelmingly good, it also has meant the loss of some places and events that have been paved over, knocked down or simply faded away.

But they have not been forgotten. Far from it.

Think of a landmark event or longtime business and you'll find plenty of residents ready to recall vivid details.

Do you remember when Arlington High School closed? Did you ever go to Novak and Parker in Mount Prospect to see Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull and get free autographs?

Memories. They are the mile markers of life, woven into our suburban fabric -- as durable as brick and mortar and more important.

It feels good to dust off remembrances of our local lore.

A few weeks ago, it was the 40th anniversary of the time when Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall became the national epicenter of 1970s pop culture by hosting the "Great Kiss Off" contest and an appearance by the theatrical rock 'n' roll band KISS.

This year is the 35th anniversary of the filming of the iconic movie "The Blues Brothers" . Most of the film was shot in Chicago, but several scenes are straight out of suburbia. It was 1979 when residents clamored for a glimpse of John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd. Many watch the film on TV and still see themselves on a sandy strip of beach along Wauconda's Bangs Lake where they appeared as movie extras.

This weekend, former employees of Poplar Creek Music Theater will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its final season with a reunion.

The outdoor music theater in Hoffman Estates hosted some of the greats in entertainment -- Bob Hope, Rodney Dangerfield, James Taylor, Jimmy Buffet, Bob Dylan. Hundreds more. Maybe you were there to see Sinatra.

The venue had 18,000 lawn seats and 7,000 pavilion seats. For about $10, you could sit on a blanket and see A-list acts.

Poplar Creek was bulldozed in 1995, and a Marriott hotel now sits on the site.

"There was just something special about the place. It touched a lot of people's lives," former employee Sue Syslo-Baran of Streamwood told the Daily Herald's Jamie Sotonoff.

No plaques commemorate these places and events, just old newspaper clippings in a hope chest and rich memories.

Gone, but not forgotten.

The Northwest suburbs are built on forward thinking, but the memories are important, too.

They are part of who we are.

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