A TOWN WITHOUT PITY
The City of Lake Geneva is inextricably linked to the City of Chicago. Lake Geneva has about seven thousand (7000) full-time residents. The City of Chicago, with all its ancillary population centers surrounding it, comes in at about nine million-eight-hundred thousand (9,800,000). There is no comparison in either geographic size (Chicago – 234 square miles and Lake Geneva – 6.87 miles) population size, or any of another twenty or thirty comparative areas that could be considered. The distance between Chicago and Lake Geneva is anywhere between 43 miles to 90 miles, depending upon where in the Chicagoland area one might be measuring from. Lake Geneva’s relationship with Chicago is an old one. Wealthy people have been leaving Chicago to visit Lake Geneva during the summer months for generations. Great homes have been erected around the lake, built by the wealthy, mostly from Chicago.
Natives living in the Lake Geneva area know the names of these lakeside chateau owners by heart; from Pritzker, Wrigley, Murphy, Driehaus, to new additions like Dicky Smothers and Matthew McConaughey. There are way too many of the nation’s wealthy to list them all in an article so short. The relationship between Lake Geneva and Chicago has always been problematic, many times because of the difference in laws between the states.
Today, at this time and date, the laws governing conduct in Lake Geneva, pertaining to the containment and eradication of the coronavirus, could not be more different. Illinois is still “locked down,” and will not undergo loosening of that lockdown fully for some time (apparently, according to the Illinois governor’s office). Lake Geneva labors under no social distancing, mask-wearing, testing, tracing, or any of the tough regulations Chicago residents and visitors must endure.
This last weekend, particularly on Saturday, as the weather was so wonderfully nice and accommodating, demonstrated just how nearly brutal can be Chicago’s reaction to this difference in applicable law. They came in huge numbers, driving up from the big city to “take a break,” or “enjoy real freedom,” as some put it, and to gather together without obeying any of the suggested protections that distancing and masks appear to afford. Businesses of all kinds re-opened throughout Lake Geneva, with little respect for either distancing or the wearing of masks. It wasn’t because those businesses didn’t try, however. The huge, although not unruly, crowds simply ignored most instructions, mandates, or even positioning of tables, chairs, or other barriers. The city was packed from end to end, north and south, east and west, for most of the day. Traffic coming in and out of Lake Geneva extended east, west, and from the south for over a mile in each direction. The Chicago visitors are particularly sensitive to any criticism of their coming, or of their conduct while visiting the area. Residents are worried about infection from the size of the influx, but also very worried about the lack of protections being taken.
Chicago residents coming to Lake Geneva pay a good share of all the bills, not only for the city but also for the downtown vital businesses that make up the heart and soul of the city’s very center. There is no way to criticize a city the size of Chicago, nor to encounter its citizens of great wealth, who mostly don’t communicate at all with locals. They pay a great amount of the bills in Lake Geneva, and that seems to convince many, if not all of the visitors from down south, that they have been granted automatic ownership of the area. They have not, although they remain welcome, with reservations. Chicago is not known for its small-town charm nor for the warmth of its citizenry. Lake Geneva wears those two qualities as twin breasts of armor and honor. Chicago and Illinois visitors are welcomed as just that, and no more. If you want to live here then stay here.
If you want to stay here then be here. Otherwise, accept the small-town charm and warmth for what it is, and do so with respect and good manners, before you return to where you really live.