Best wishes to you for a good year in 2006. As of this writing I am beginning a new experience as well as a new year. This is my first attempt at sending the column via e-mail. It may never reach 141 Oak Park Ave. Many people have told me there’s nothing to it. That’s because they already know how to do it. I was born in the early 20th century. And besides they probably don’t have a cat tiptoeing around the keyboard. Anyway, here goes.

We are ending the year 2005 with the passing of one of Forest Park’s and Saint John’s most beloved women, Marge Becker, wife of another venerable citizen,Gerhardt Becker. The Beckers were so much a part of life here for so many years. I remember seeing them riding their bicycles around town years ago. He was the music at Saint John’s forever, it seemed. When you hear the name Gerhardt Becker, you think of music.

Sympathy also to Marge Zwadlo and her family on the death of Richard Zwadlo, Marge’s brother.

The nationally (almost universally) infamousSaint Luke’s Bottle Band will perform at the January 15th concert of the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest. This highly esteemed group may call itself the St. Luke’s Bottle Band, but in reality it is the Forest Park Bottle Band, since our very own Paul Phillips originated the ensemble, conducts the music and in most cases arranges it as well. So don’t let the name fool you. These artists have appeared on national television more than once and are widely acclaimed. Kids will be admitted free, adults only $10 for this special concert featuring music from “Harry Potter” with dancing by the MOMENTA dancers. Concerto competition winners Masha Popova and Benjamin Lash will also perform. This free concert is always a big hit and is held at Oak Park River Forest High School, 201 North Scoville at 4 p.m. Remember, there’s free parking in the high school’s parking garage. Souvenirs will be sold in the lobby before, during intermission and after the concert. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the symphony.

I’m getting nervous about sending this and probably losing it altogether so let’s get on with the birthdays.

On December 28 happy birthday wishes to Janet Scheiwe,and Suzy Bjornson; on the 20th to Tom Ahern, Butch Jargstorf, Angie Spinelli, Mario Tricoci, Nick Horvath and happy anniversary to Barb and Bob Sullivan; on December 30 Hunter Trieber, Mark Rice and Brenda Riske Powers get a happy birthday wish; on the 31st it’s Lauren Tragecelebrating a birthday; Here we are in 2006 already and on January 1 it’s happy birthday time for Amy Hocheimer, Carol O’Donnell, Rich Gray, Caitliln Miler and Vic Bisluk happy anniversary to Mark and Amy Vaboraik; on January 2 birthday greetings to Jenni Jargstorf and Renee Rausch; January 3 is the happy birthday of the Mellin twins, Lara and Alice.

Mark your calendars for some interesting events at Centuries & Sleuths. Give Augie a break and let him just sell books or take it easy for a few weeks. But on February 11 the G.K. Chesterton Society will discuss Charles Dickens and on February 12 at 3 p.m. author Steve Hockensmith will discuss and sign copies of his book, Holmes on the Range set in 1893 in Montana with two cowboys, just having read Sherlock Holmes, trying to use Holmes’s methods to solve a Murder on the Range.

Wish me luck, here goes…

Jackie is a former Chicago and Elmwood Park schoolteacher with an undying love for music, friendly pets and a host of life's other treasures too numerous to list. She was born on the far southwest side...