The Chamber of Commerce is planning to offer tours of Forest Park to lure visitors to our shops and restaurants. So, let’s board the bus at the Community Center and take a dry run.

O.K., traveling north on Des Plaines ” driver I know it’s not on the tour but could you stop at the library? As you can see, Forest Park has a modern library, thanks to the generosity of one of our former teachers. A private home previously occupied the site, where Charles Lindbergh slept between mail flights from Checkerboard Field at 1st and Roosevelt. I’ll be right back.

Sorry, folks, it takes me forever to pick out a book. O.K. next is the post office, where I need to pick up my mail. What the heck, why doesn’t everyone come in? On the south wall is a beautifully restored mural: it shows the White Fawn an excursion boat that used to ply the tranquil waters of the Des Plaines River. It was a popular attraction at the recreation park, where Forest Home Cemetery is now located.

We’ll turn right on Madison Street. It’s not on the tour but I wanted to show you people the drive-through at the Forest Park National Bank, where I need to make a deposit. If you look to your right and left as we travel Madison, you’ll see saloons. Keep in mind, though, that many new businesses are flocking to Forest Park. At the end of the guided tour, one of our restaurants will serve you a fine meal and you can browse Madison Street.

As an added attraction, several of our shops will provide demonstrations of their craft. You can watch stained glass being made, gourmet cooking, jewelry being created ” you can even learn how to knit. Not to mention all the antique stores: one of them houses Forest Park’s first movie theater ” which we hope will be restored one day.

All right, my deposit went through, let’s head west on Madison. I have to make a quick stop at Forest Park Liquors. Sure, you can all come in. The back section of this store used to be a speakeasy. You know, I just learned they called them speakeasies because liquor loosens the tongue. Hey, let’s keep it to one six-pack per person; we still have a lot to see.

We’ll turn north on Des Plaines ” on your left is the former German Pilgrim Mission. Forest Park used to be predominantly German-American. The members of this mission built a magnificent three-story apartment building from paving bricks. It’s still standing on Circle Avenue.

Here’s another historic building. Forest Park Montessori occupies a former tavern that used to host pigeon races. If anyone knows what pigeon racing is, could you contact the Review, because I can’t quite picture it?

All right, we’re going to briefly enter Oak Park, because I have to stop at my office. But the best is yet to come: Sam Giancana’s old headquarters; the former torpedo plant; ice sculpting; Woodlawn Cemetery with its circus elephants; the Haymarket Martyr’s Monument in Forest Home. What’s that? Yeah, go ahead and pop a beer.

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball...