When the tornado whisked Dorothy away from her small town and landed her in Oz, she had more than a few issues. Although some were more distressing than others, she could not escape the continual annoyance of describing where she came from. After a few Land of Oz introductions, she quickly realized that the closest recognizable place to her hometown was Chicago. Which, honestly, wasn’t really a lie — Chicago is only a few hours from Kansas (Kansas, IL, that is). It wasn’t really important which Kansas she was really from.
I’m sure Dorothy didn’t realize what a tremendous impact her choice would have on future generations, especially those on the Notre Dame campus. Anyone from a small town or suburb can follow in her footsteps and claim Chicago to be their own. By simply repeating the words “There’s no place like Chicago” three times and looking up at the dome, a crowd of self-declared Chicagoans will suddenly appear. While the members may originate from a radius greater than the state of Illinois, their hearts are all in Chi-town.
Those of us that have chosen not to emulate Dorothy (although, I could, Pennsylvania isn’t so far) have a few questions that remain unanswered. First and foremost, why Chicago? The frame of reference could easily be shifted elsewhere; personally, I think we should coin the term “Midwest Coast” to give Lake Michigan a little more credit.
Second, is there a hierarchy within the Chicago crowd? I found a list of 33 suburbs online, and I want to know whose inhabitants are considered to be more from Chicago than others. By this train of thought, is there such a thing as a wannabe suburbian? I feel like there are some internal dynamics of this group that go unnoticed.
Last but not least, where are all the people from Springfield? I’m curious whether there’s really no one that hails from the capital or if they try to fly under the radar. In my opinion, it’s about time Springfield starts establishing an identity and putting Chicago back in its place, starting with Springfield-style pizza. In the end, it is only fitting that the Chicagoans return to the Windy City (or Kansas, if we’re being particular) — home is where the heart wants to be, after all — even if that home is a 3-hour drive from the Bean.