Former mayor of Oak Park’s Oak Park Opoly pays tribute to the city.
About 30 years ago, the late Harriet Rich reached out to Jerry Naftaly, the former mayor of Oak Park, to help put together Oak Park’s very own Monopoly-like game, Oak Park Opoly.
At the time Naftaly loved the idea but said he couldn’t commit to the project. She continued to remind him about the game by sending him cards.
“I had a full-time job as a stockbroker, mayoral duties and was taking care of my mother who was in her late 70s at the time,” Naftaly said. “Skip forward 30 plus years later, I came across one of Harriet Rich’s cards and felt it was time to create Oak Park Opoly.”
Naftaly created Oak Park Opoly to pay tribute to businesses, people and activities he enjoyed while growing up, knowing he shared these experiences and memories of cool stores with thousands of others.
After a few phone calls and public calls on Facebook, Naftaly was able to compile everything he needed to fill the spaces on the board.
“I didn’t tell the community what I was doing at first. I asked everyone for their top three places and memories throughout Oak Park and in less than three weeks I filled the 40 spaces on the board.”
Naftaly was able to bring this game to life with the help of the community. Hagopian Cleaning Services in Oak Park was one of the first businesses to reach out and be part of the game.
“Another one of the places on the board is Primo’s Pizza. Family-owned for nearly a half-century from 1968, owner Mike Soave says he’s glad to be part of the great memories of the people and businesses in Oak Park and honored to be included in the game as a tribute to the Primo’s tradition of great food and service,” Naftaly said.
The game itself couldn’t be like the real Monopoly (trademarked) game so Naftaly got creative creating “Fate” and “Oak Park” cards instead of “chance” and “community chest” cards.
“I created the three Fate spaces as the Golden Bowl, Hoa-Kow and King Lim’s Garden restaurants, and placed little fortune cookies on their spaces,” Naftaly said.
Naftaly said he tried to include as many places as he could.
“I was able to pay tribute to more places and names on the main 40 spots on the board, plus 100 names in the middle section of the main board, including several former mayors, Dr. Maurice Sugar, the dentist, and Dr. Seymour Smelsey, the foot doctor. The 16 action cards and the seven denominations of money include places like the ice arena, swimming pool, library, community center, Detroit Bank and Trust, and American Savings.”
People throughout the community have been raving about the new game.
“Oak Park Opoly has opened a flood of fabulous memories from my childhood,” Sharon Landau Levine said. “Oak Park was a utopic place to have grown up and create a lifetime of friends and memories. A few Oak Park Opoly memories that jump out at me include the most famous Oak Park Lanes, the deli debate, Katz’s vs. Stage Deli families. And it wouldn’t be an Oak Park game without the most famous Sanders.”
Sharon Beigel Collins said, “I really appreciate that my mother’s and father’s store, Charlotte’s Knits, was included in the game. Oak Park was such a special place. My family moved there from out of state in 1963 and was welcomed with open arms. Having the store in the game shows that it was a great addition to a great city.”
To order the Oak Park Opoly game for the holiday season, email Jerry Naftaly at firstname.lastname@example.org or message him on Facebook. It costs $36 + postage. Proceeds collected benefit local charities in Oak Park.