How many people can claim they know a person with a long list of interests, all of which are more – much more – than just minor?
Such a person is Allen Goodcase, of Brookfield. He does not merely flirt with the idea of doing something, he goes ahead and does it, and sometimes he doesn’t have to travel far from home to do it, either.
Where most people think they have high-tech, ultra-modern living rooms, Goodcase has gone beyond that. Concealed push bars on the upper backs of his couches turn on and off shiny brass swing lamps. What? Reach for a switch to turn on a light? How 20th century.
If he’s listening to the radio or watching TV, and the phone rings, answering it automatically mutes the sound.
Set up in the corner of his kitchen is a small TV monitor. A small camera points at the entrance to his outside bird house.
“I haven’t seen any birds in it, yet,” said Goodcase, shrugging.
How many people can say that they have mechanical drapes? He has constructed an automatic system to cause the living room drapes to slowly slide open at daybreak, and to slowly slide shut at sunset.
“I like the automation,” he laughs. “I work hard at being lazy, so I don’t have to turn on the lights and open the drapes.”
Very much into electronics, he is a contractor/designer/installer for Future Electronic Systems. Some of his best local work has been at the Riverside Township Hall, and also at the Riverside Library, which until fairly recently did not have any sound system. Goodcase designed and installed several unobtrusive speakers that blended into the library architecture.
“For the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, when they were at the Cultural Center, I designed the electronics for the 1940s kitchen automatic exhibit, the 1930s living room, and I did the new, more compact sound system for Fibber McGee’s closet.”
Until gas prices spiked, he was also an avid traveler.
“I like to take the side roads and check out local places of interest,” Goodcase said. “I’ve petted horses, eaten at local restaurants, and it takes me a long while to get home.”
This leads into his “natural” side, where, as a member of the Sierra Club, he romps and roams in the great outdoors – exploring, hiking, camping, backpacking and horseback riding.
But he also loves “nature’s indoors.” As a member of the Windy City Grotto and the National Speleological Society, he became a “cave man.”
“A friend of mine, now in Lyons, talked with me about going caving as an adventure, so we each gathered information on how to do it,” Goodcase said. “We went to Buckner’s Cave in Indiana, and spent 11 hours underground. We finally got out by following the Windy City Grotto cavers.”
As fond as he is of exploring under the earth, he also enjoys exploring the skies, as a meteor shower enthusiast.
“One night me and a friend drove down LaGrange Road, and then halfway to Kankakee, then we set out some lounge chairs, and just looked up,” Goodcase said. “It was beautiful, watching the meteors streak across the clear black sky.”
Goodcase added that the Perseids Meteor Shower, on Aug. 12, 2011, may be viewable from Brookfield after midnight.
“There may be as many as 70 per hour,” he said. “But you’ll have to look straight up to see any, because of all the manmade light pollution.”
Back home, he still finds time to do aerial photography (he has found photos dating back to the 1930s), map collecting (going back even further), amateur ham shortwave radio, attending classic auto shows, watching classic science fiction movies and pinball games.
Locally, he is the second vice president of the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce (“I do the website, and get to meet a lot of people in town,” he says), and has been an Ehlert Park Adopt-a-Spot volunteer for seven years.
Goodcase came to Brookfield in 1990, by way of Niles and LaGrange.
“Almost all my friends were from Brookfield, and I found this house for sale, where I’m still living,” Goodcase said. “I love the fact that there’s a park across the street.”
But his greatest interest is always just hours away.
“I can’t wait ’til tomorrow to see what happens.”