Forty Years Ago

When a 17-year-old California boy wins his rank of Eagle Scout, is this news in Forest Park? It is when the boy was born and raised here and had spent a sightless life, not overcoming handicaps so much as accomplishing his life responsibilities.

Gil Pries’ whole life has been eventful if you define news as “unusual happenings.” In 1965 he was 17 years old, living in N. Hollywood and about to enter Loyola University. He lived his first five years at 844 Circle Ave. and benefitted from the Forest Lions Club who provided funds for him to attend a special nursery school until his family moved to California. He later busied himself in a range of activities from ham radio operation to playing three musical instruments. He also earned 21 badges during his scouting days. For over a decade his close companion, friend and helpmate was Barney, his female Lab guide dog.

There’s been much awareness lately of the blind, due a lot to Ray Charles and the hit biopic, Ray. Sighted people have become aware that understanding is far more appropriate than sympathy when dealing with blind persons; and the blind and sight-impaired are far more resourceful than they may have been given credit for.

The connection with Gil Pries apparently ended some years ago. Yet, one can’t help wishing a worthwhile person well. When last heard from, he was planning to enter the priesthood.

From the June 3, 1965 issue of the Forest Park Review.

Thirty Years Ago

This column is all about going back for another look. In the May 7, 1975 issue of the Review a copy of an article from a far west suburban paper was reprinted. The subject was Forest Park. Excerpted here, it goes back nearly 150 years when we were but a leafy, rustic hamlet.

“At the turn of century* (20th) our suburb was a tight little island of neighborly self-containment with no commute to the Loop. Forest Park was first settled in 1856 as the community of Harlem and incorporated on August 12, 1907 under its present name. Nearly everyone had a business on his home lot. Gus Gorke had a saloon in front and a barber shop in the rear. [Get buzzed, then get a buzz.] When you went to Martin Damman’s grocery store, he’d give you a free hot dog while you got your order of pork chops”six for 20 cents.” [Eat your heart out, Calcagno’s.]

*”Was the turn of the century made by a woman?”

From the May 7, 1975 issue of the Forest Park Review.

Twenty Years Ago

Bob Haeger reported on a more than disturbing incident: “There is a disturbing story this week about a 14-year-old girl who was assaulted by a man last Saturday afternoon at Elgin and Madison. It is even more disturbing when one learns more about the information. A reader has filled us in with additional details. He tells us “The offender held the young girl down on a bus bench for the better part of 20 minutes, pawing at her and kissing her”and nobody along busy Madison Street paid any attention. No second look, no call to the police, no help of any kind.”

This reader found it difficult to understand how such a thing could happen in a small community like ours”and in broad daylight. “So do I,” said Haeger, “but official police reports confirm that that is essentially what happened.” [Finally,] said the reader, “The memory of that incident will always remain in this child’s mind. I hope that all the people who walked by realize they could have done something to prevent it.” (Like you, maybe, I wonder what else this reader did besides observe.)

From the May/June 1985 issues of the Forest Park Review.

Ten Years Ago

Anyone who lived here in 1995 will recall the demise of a business sometimes known as the “green monster,” a.k.a., Xzotiks and, finally, the Bermuda Triangle. It was located on the south side of Madison, east of the tracks. The place had a raucous, not-quite-illegal reputation. Its sides were boarded with painted palms, its waitresses bedecked in stiletto heels, fishnet stockings and cleavage enhancing tops, its violations of gambling ordinances were repetitive, its overall milieu was one of sleaze and its owners, as well as some clientele, were suspect. Xzotica, Exitica.

A troublemaker or two, or three, apparently having nothing useful to do had poured a liquid solution into a brand new soda vending machine at The Park, destroying parts of its inner mechanics. When the machine serviceman arrived, he said it was a familiar scenario, probably lifted from from the “Macgyver” TV series in which the hero employs a variety of sabotage tactics, including this one.

From the June 1995 issues of the Forest Park Review.