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The Rockford Files

Not Fade Away

At first glance, the area around Anthony Rudis’s 614-acre farm outside Monee, Illinois, seems closer to my hometown in Michigan than it does to Chronicles’ hometown of Rockford, Illinois.  (As the crow flies, the distance between Monee and Spring Lake is almost the same as the distance between Monee and Rockford.)  Having traveled the 290/294 loop through the overbuilt Chicago suburbs to arrive here only makes the contrast between these two Illinois locations all the greater.  Twenty miles south of Chicago proper, this section of rural Will County seems like the land that time forgot.

The gently rolling landscape alternates between woods and farmland, and wildlife—especially deer, geese, even a hawk—is surprisingly abundant on this cold, gray, early February day.  A small stream runs under the bridge where the road narrows to one lane from (barely) two.  The road that we’re on is paved, but it shows signs of benign neglect.  Other roads in the area are still dirt and gravel.

What strikes me immediately about the landscape, though, and brings to mind the thoughts of my hometown in Michigan, is not simply its rural quality—after all, outside of Rockford, Winnebago County is still largely rural—but its humane nature.  Houses dot the landscape, spread far apart by city standards but relatively close together for a section of the Midwest...

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