As far as October Playmate Jill De Vries is concerned, big cities are strictly for the birds. A country girl born and raised in the hinterlands of Illinois, she has no use for crowds and skyscrapers, smog and subways. "Cities are just too busy, too hectic," she says. "People are so involved in their own little worlds. And cityfolk always look so darn sullen and unhappy. Who needs it?"
Not Jill, who has carved out an idyllic life for herself in a tiny farm community ten miles or so outside Bloomington, Illinois. Though she lives in a farmhouse, surrounded by 14 acres of hay and no visible neighbors, she spends most of her days either working in Bloomington as manager of her boyfriend's shop, The Joint General Store, which deals mainly in water beds, boots and American Indian jewelry, or just lazily swimming in a nearby lake with her guy's Labrador retriever, whose name, incidentally, is Karl Marx ("My boyfriend is a political-science major," Jill explains).
Once in a great while, she will go to Chicago on a shopping trip to buy merchandise for the store, but the experience always leaves her somewhat frazzled and jumpy. "I just can't handle big-city life," she says. "Not even for one afternoon." And it's no wonder. Of Dutch stock, Jill grew up in Wichert, Illinois ("a little-bitty Dutch community"), and spent much of her early youth helping her father grow tulips and gladioli. In fourth grade, she became a cheerleader, an extracurricular activity that lasted eight years, and took piano lessons, which lasted 11. Today, although somewhat out of practice, she can still play a Chopin nocturne with admirable proficiency. "For a long time," she recalls, "I wanted to be a concert pianist - I was really quite serious about it, in fact. But my music teacher convinced me that it was really a rough life, and by the time college rolled around, I'd given up the idea." By then, she'd also given up cheerleading, because, as she says, "I realized how dumb it really was."
Starting out at Illinois State, she wandered into the field of education, eventually majored in the subject and decided to teach kindergarten. Why kindergarten? "Because little children are so much fun to be with," she says. With college more or less behind her (she still needs a few student-teaching credits) and teaching positions being scarce, her future is in limbo. But Jill isn't worried - she's too easygoing for that. In the meantime, she's been doing some modeling (our June layout on Dads and Grads featured her as one of the girls popping out of a gift-wrapped box) and growing gladioli in her back yard. Jill says "I try to live for the moment and not worry about the future." We're not worried about your future, either, Jill.
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