Forty Years Ago

Mutual decency, kindness and love glowed in this exchange of letters between Teresa McKenzie and a U.S. soldier she wrote to during the Vietnam War. It was part of a voluntary assignment given to third graders at St. Bernardine in 1965. Teresa was the daughter of Village Clerk Bill McKenzie and his wife, Marilyn. The soldier was stationed in Plieku, and happened to be from Berwyn.

Excerpts from his kind reply: “Dear Teresa”How are you, young lady? I appreciate hearing from you, and so do my buddies. I want to thank all of you in Room 108 and the Sisters for writing. I can’t tell you now nice it is to hear from you … Keep praying for all the guys over here, because prayers sure do help us. Your letter was very well written and your candle drawing was very pretty. I’ll write back if you’ll be my little girlfriend, OK? Would you write a letter to my big girlfriend and send a drawing. Her name is Judy and her address is ____________. Take care of yourself and be a good girl.

-Your Boyfriend and Soldier, Sp/4 Joseph LaPorte XOXOX

Some things don’t change. One of them is war. Another are the spirits that confront it.

From the Jan 6, 1966 issue of the Forest Park Review.

Thirty Years Ago

Continuing the country’s Bicentennial Celebration, the Heritage Committee of Forest Park notes further historical milestones as they affected our village:

 Shades of New Orleans: In the aftermath of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire many “refugees” came to this area to build new homes. However, the financial panic of 1873 slowed progress considerably.

 Seven Lutheran churches from Chicago purchased land and established Concordia Cemetery in 1872. A spate of church-cemetery development took place in the 1870s when Waldheim Cemetery was organized by a group of German Masonic Lodges and when the Onward Mission became the Wesley United Methodist Church.

At 6:30 on a Friday evening, Donald Gurka, 23, of Rolling Meadows entered The Ending tavern, 7409 Madison St. Within ten minutes he had “cased the joint.” He went to the rear of the place where two men were shooting pool and several other customers were seated. Gurka then closed a fire door separating front from back, announcing, “This is a robbery. Put all your money on the bar.” (A patron managed to slip out the back door and notify police.)

Officer Martin Terry was spotted by the gunman, who grabbed Nancy Coppage and used her as a shield. Gurka fired on Terry who took cover. Officers Joe Byrnes and Robert Kutak arrived and were fired upon. The gunman then demanded a car and a gun. Police from River Forest and Oak Park had arrived and surrounded the building to effectively prevent escape. Police pleaded with the loser to give up since there was no way out. After having fired five shots in about a half-hour, Gurka accidentally dropped his gun. Three officers rushed to get possession of the weapon while subduing the gunman”without firing a shot.

From the Dec. 1975 issues of the Forest Park Review.

Twenty Years Ago

If your faith in the human race isn’t already sufficiently shaken, get a load of some new innovations in Child-rearing 101. Answering the door buzzer, a couple in their apartment stood facing a young man and (presumably ) his 2 year-old daughter. The man told the couple that he had a package for their neighbor and wondered if the little girl could use the bathroom. Once inside, this candidate for Parent-of-the-Year distracted his prey by asking for a drink of water, then wrote a note to his “friend” about the package. The resident’s wallet; with cash and a Visa card, was stolen during the distractions. The man was described as being about 30 and over six feet tall. But in reality he was pretty small.

From the Dec. 1985 issues of the Forest Park Review.

Ten Years Ago

The two White Hen Pantries in town offered free New Year’s coffee from midnight until 6 a.m. January 1 in an effort to encourage safe driving. There are those who say give black coffee to someone who’s gooned up and what have you got? A wide awake drunk.

From the Dec. 1995 issues of the Forest Park Review.