Neighbors: Meet Mary Ann Pettigrew
The first story in our Neighbors series focuses on Mary Ann Pettigrew, a long-time resident of Danville, Illinois. See below for the transcription of her interview, which includes voice overs from WILL's Celeste Quinn.
"My name is Mary Ann Pettigrew, and I have lived at this address since 1962 when I bought this house."
The neighborhood is known as Rabbittown. The name goes back to the 19th century - inspired by the large number of wild rabbits living in the area. Most of the neighborhood's homes -including Mary Ann's- were built prior to the 1920s. Mary Ann grew up in a house her parents, John and Sarah Pettigrew, rented. There were nine children - six girls and three boys. Her father worked three jobs.
"I grew up within about five blocks of the present location and went to school at St. Pat's Catholic Church, which is a few blocks away. We always walked to school. They were wonderful neighbors. Established neighborhood. A close-knit neighborhood. Everybody watched out for the kids. If we did something wrong, we found out that our parents knew it before we got home."
For a number of years, the house she and younger sister Pat Pettigrew call home today housed her parents and some siblings. Mary Ann spent a number of years working as a Registered Nurse for the Santa Fe Railroad, for an oil company in the Middle East and St. Francis Hospital in Peoria. She came back to Danville in the early 1970s and has lived at the house on Buchanan Street ever since. She's seen many changes overtime - most recently the recession and slump in real estate. They have taken a toll on the neighborhood.
"We've had some young people move in. But I think the biggest issue is that some of the homes that have not sold are standing empty and others that the larger homes that have been turned into apartments. And I think that's one issue that has been a problem with the apartments. People are there for maybe a few months, and they're gone. And then somebody else comes in. They're there for a while and then they're gone, too. So there's really no sense of ownership as such. The issues that concern us as a whole are probably not unique to any city. These times are hard on everybody."
Neighbors, the neighborhood and Danville have always been important to Mary Ann Pettigrew. She is active in her Neighborhood Association and encourages young families to join and bring their children when they can. She knows there are many demands on families, but she says being a good neighbor is rewarding.
"In my opinion, a good neighbor is one who you know is there for you. They're friendly. They know that you can help them whenever they need it. And you know, without being intrusive. We had a neighbor lady. Her name was Margaret. We always called her Bunny. She used to drive a station wagon. And she was great. She taught Catechism at school. And she told us after church one day, she said, "Now when I give up my car," she said, "would you take me to church?" We said, "Sure, Bunny. We'll take you to church." So she finally had to give it up, and she said, "Okay." She said, "I had to take my driver's license three times last year." She said, "I'm not even going to try this year." So, she was in her 90's then."
Mary Ann Pettigrew of Danville, Illinois. I'm Celeste Quinn.