My New Favorite Town
Kankakee rocks! Way down south of Sweet Home Chicago, on the Kankakee River, is a town that has seen hard days. One of those towns they said could never come back from its troubles. Well, this week, I was invited down to the Kankakee library to talk about my books. Cinderella and I drove down there and got off the freeway and went out for endless country miles. They had warned us to watch out for deer and wild turkeys.

We expected the usual 25 nice retired ladies and some cookies in a creaky room with a banging heater.

When we got there, we found over 300 people in the shiny new library. And the mayor came out an gave me the key to the city! Now wait a minute--I have gone home to San Diego about 100 times, and nobody ever gave me the key to a washroom, much less the city! Nobody here in Naperville gave me a key! Nobody ever gave me a key! (The mayor of Austin once declared "Ray Gonzalez and Luis Urrea Day"...though Ray and I lost the certificates they gave us.)

Kankakee--I was overwhelmed by the kindness and the spirit of the town. I have my key right here. My kids think it's either A) like, totally awesome, or B) hilarious. They can't figure out which. I told the audience I was going to put it on a chain and wear it like some bling.

No matter what happens in life, it's nice to know that the good people of Kankakee, with their excellent library, their eternal river, their Frank Lloyd Wright houses, their surprisingly strong Mexican population, will take me in. I can always live in Kankakee!

Next time you're in Chi, go there and spend some money. Help them continue to work civic miracles. Tell 'em I sent you.


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