Yogi Berra grew up on "the Hill" in St. Louis, across the street from Joe Garagiola. Before they became two of the most successful catchers in baseball history, Yogi and Joe worked as waiters together at one of the more popular restaurants in their Italian neighborhood.
Ruggieri's was the place that later inspired one of Yogi's most famous nonsequiturs:
"Nobody goes there anymore," he said of his old haunt. "It's too crowded."
Yogi's logic was sound enough. It was the elliptical nature of his speech that made it seem illogical. When Yogi said "nobody," he didn't mean no one at all. He meant nobody he knew, or none of his friends and acquaintances.
Even though we might express it differently, most of us can identify with Yogi's sentiment.
We've all stopped going to favorite places when they became too crowded and popular.
At some point, locals ceased to be part of the cognoscenti, the original small group that first discovered such a little gem of a restaurant. The word got out and the joint caught on and became an "in" place – then a tourist destination. It got crowded, the prices went up, the quality of the food and service declined, and locals reluctantly stopped going there.
Something similar may be happening with our St. Clair County Courthouse. Not that anyone looks forward to going to court. But it is our special place for settling local legal disputes. We'd like to keep it that way and not have to share it with an overload of out-of-towners.
Just last week we learned that 90 more plaintiffs have filed Levaquin suits in St. Clair County, bringing the grand total, so far, to 624 – the vast majority of whom hail from states other than Illinois.
When our courthouse is so overrun with outsiders that it cannot serve the residents of St. Clair County, we may find ourselves echoing Yogi's famous phrase.
It'll be dejà vu all over again.