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Shore Patrol

While scouring the long stretch from Jackson Park up to Hollywood Beach, we discovered some of the lakefront’s native dwellers. Meet the characters, photographed last year, who make our shore more than just a pretty place

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All the Right Moves

“This is where you come if you’re any good,” says Ron Washington about the lakeside chess pavilion just south of the North Avenue beach house. Considering he has spent every summer day there for the past 20 years-from 11 a.m. until dark, when he gets kicked out-he’s better than good. “Every now and then I get beat-not too often, but it happens,” Washington says. “I’m a hustler. I’m not a fun guy.” Washington, who learned to play chess from his barber when he was 14, drives a cab all winter to support his hobby.
Claim to fame: Washington once owned a chess club on State and Division called Chess Shop.

 
Sun King

Dubbed the Mayor of Oak Street Beach by Mayor Bilandic, 75-year-old Paul Meador is one of the most recognizable fixtures on the lakefront, and surely the tannest. Slathered in oil, he holds court every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at his post just south of the chess pavilion, passing most of the time relaxing and socializing. “This guy knows everyone,” says his sunbathing pal, David Oliva.
Staying in shape: It’s not uncommon to see Meador-a former Mr. Chicago, Mr. Illinois, and runner-up Mr. America-jumping into the lake for a swim or going tubing before lifeguard hours with Oliva.

 
Sticking Together

(From left) Lisa Meyers, 28, Michelle Snyder, 26, and Annie Camins, 33, all grew up playing competitive ice hockey in the Chicago area. Their collective résumé reads like something out of Sports Illustrated, with blades sharpened on the Yale University women’s team, a professional team in Switzerland, and Team USA. Initially reluctant to take their game in-line, these hockey pros finally gave in.
On the North Avenue Beach outdoor rink: “I never thought I’d be a convert, but when I realized I could work on my tan while playing hockey, I was sold,” Meyers says.

 
Good Vibrations

On a grassy patch next to the Montrose Beach parking lot, where “the sound really resonates,” Moroccan conga drummer Ramon Roman, 51, sets up his five-piece steel conga drum ensemble, various other instruments, and a high-tech sound system, while his fiancée and two-year-old daughter relax on a blanket.
His repertoire: He plays everything from orisha (African drumbeats said to soothe the spirit) to American R&B, but one of his favorites is a South American version of “Danny Boy.”
He likes the lakefront because: “It’s a serene setting outdoors-a place where people can come enjoy the music. I look at it as giving back to the community.”

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