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Heyer family worries over park changes


July 23, 2013 | 01:59 PM
WALWORTH — “It’s kind of what small towns are all about.”

Shirley Heyer, the daughter-in-law of the park’s namesake, isn’t too happy about potential changes to the highway cutting into her family’s park.

Heyer Park sits in the middle of the village of Walworth and in the middle of her family’s heart.

“It amazes me how many people stop at that park now,” she said. “We won’t have as many stopping if they cut up the park (with the highway). They’ve been talking about changing the highways for a long time. I don’t know if they’re ever going to.”

Jack Heyer, Shirley’s husband and son of Edwin Heyer, said it would “ruin the town” if the park was changed too much.

“As far as the highway going through it, that would destroy it,” he said. “I think that’s terrible. We don’t have many parks anymore.”

Edwin Heyer, whose hardware store sat on the north side of the square, was honored to have his name attached to the park. Jack said he was “about 50,” or 33 years ago, when the name changed.

“I think it was very nice they named it after my father,” Jack said. “We had the hardware store in the square, and he took care of that park. He just kind of made it his duty to make sure the park looked nice.”

Supplies from the hardware store went to making sure the park stayed nice.

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“My dad would always fertilize the park,” Jack said. “He’d take bags from the store, and he’d tell me that he had found broken bags so he put (the fertilizer) in the park. We knew he didn’t find a broken bag. He just wanted to make sure the park looked good. That was his thing.”

Jack said Edwin could be found at the park digging up dandelions or talking to tourists.

“He talked to anyone who would stop, and they’d carry on for a while in the park,” Jack said.

Shirley said Edwin would share the story of the park to anyone who would listen.

“He’d give them the history of everything,” she said. “He enjoyed it. He lived in an apartment above the store, so he didn’t have a lawn of his own. He just took over the park. He did everything. He complained to the village if he didn’t like what they were doing.”

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The family joked that Edwin thought he owned the park.

“Before they named it after him, it was just called the village park,” Jack said. “They didn’t really have a name for it. There are a lot of things that have changed since then, in and out of the park.”

Jack no longer works at the hardware store, now located on Highway 67 on the east end of the village.

“I gave up working about 10 years ago,” he said.

He gave up seeing the park as often as he used to, as well.

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“When the hardware store was there, we always faced the park,” Jack said. “We could see it all year ‘round. We saw the color changes and everything. In the fall, we’d see these birds fly south for the winter. They’d always stop in Walworth and fill the trees in that park.”

Jack said the birds got drunk off something they ate and would stumble around in the park grass.

“They would actually be wobbling around on the ground,” he said. “This would happen once a year. I don’t even know what kind of bird it was. We were just used to seeing it because it happened every fall.”

He doesn’t know if the birds still visit Heyer Park, but he and his wife do, though the family doesn’t live on the square anymore.

“We only live a block from it,” Shirley said. “We still go there.”

Mary Heyer, Jack and Shirley’s daughter, declined to comment on her family’s history regarding the park. Mary, Walworth School Board Clerk, said she didn’t want decisions about the park to affect decisions she makes on the school board.


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