Forty Years Ago
In the wake of the controversial hoo-ha over James Frey’s novel-gone-memoir- gone-berserk book, “A Million Little Pieces,” keep in mind that not much really happens in any of the approximately 25,000 days we live. Face it, folks”life is mainly dull. Except for death (possibly your own), or divorce (possibly your own) or the hope that da Bears and da Sox might again win it all, we might have blank calendars unless we enliven our existence with an occasional original thought or action. Still, the small stuff prevails, and there’s 99 per cent of it”hence, we shouldn’t sweat it (Life). Yet, we free-float in chaotic or serene waters almost to the point of dozing.
So what’s a writer (like Frey) to do? Punch things up, that’s what. Yet for godsake, do it judiciously. I say Frey is not only a bogus writer; he’s a bad writer. Faced with the prospect of everyday living, good writers need to embellish”not mislead”to retain reader interest. It’s called style. It shouldn’t have a place in reporting but it counts for a lot in fiction. Faced with recording ordinary life which can be dull as barley water, good writers add salt to the soup. And a bad writer embarrasses with lies as large as elephants. Frey fits the second category.
Here are just three full examples of unembellished prose from the January 6, 1966 Review:
• “Penny Janey, 1 ½, injured her finger when a door slammed on it. She was taken to the Oak Park Hospital by police ambulance.”
• “Lou Oswald sends regards from sunny California, where he is visiting friends and relatives in the Los Angeles area.”
• “Edna McHugh, 937 Thomas, twisted her back while bathing New Year’s Eve.”
From the Jan. 6, 1966 issue of the Forest Park Review.
Thirty Years Ago
Continuing the county’s Bicentennial Celebration, the Heritage Committee of Forest Park noted further historical landmarks as they affected our village:
• The excursion boat White Fawn took sightseers up and down the Des Plaines River in the late 1880s.
• The Dummy line local railway, built in 1881, connected Chicago’s west side to Harlem cemeteries. Dummy line?
• Three years later, Harlem had a village hall, a modest one-story building on the northeast corner of Circle and Randolph. It served the community for thirty years.
• Altenheim German Old People’s Home opened in 1885. The original Victorian building still stands.
From the Nov. 12, 1975 issue of the Forest Park Review.
Twenty Years Ago
Bob Haeger on Buffalo and snow”a comment on how much lake-effect white stuff came down there twenty years back: As kids we were told that if we dug down deep enough we’d reach China. In Buffalo they tell the kids that if they dig down deep enough they’ll reach Buffalo.
If you lived in town 20 years ago you might recall the death of Joe Cortino. The former Forest Park police chief was one of the most visible and colorful men to hold the position. He served as chief from 1950 until his retirement in 1963. He was preceded in death less than two months by his wife, Margorie, and died Jan. 27, 1986.
From the January 1986 issues of the Forest Park Review.
Ten Years Ago
Discussions got heated and gunshot wounds got treated. That’s a nutshell description of what took place between a 55 year-old uncle who lived in an apartment on Jackson Blvd. and his visiting 32 year-old nephew. When the argument escalated the uncle allegedly pulled out a 9 mm handgun and shot the nephew in the right thigh. Immediately after the shooting, the victim called police, who arrived at the same time the uncle was leaving. The arrest was made and the wounded man was rushed to the hospital overnight. The uncle was charged with armed violence to go with two prior felony convictions, both armed robberies.
Who Remembers? Telephone booths and telephone books”what with the Internet … gas stations that sold gasoline instead of groceries … pop singer and hair stylist Monte Rock III … Brazzaville … Al Raby … George Lincoln Rockwell …Talman Federal Savings … vacuum tubes.
From the Jan. 3, 1996 issue of the Forest Park Review.