Forty Years Ago

Chicago’s not Forest Park, but it’s close. That’s why Editor Claude A. Walker devoted his column to two “hideous happenings.” One was the world-shocking slayings of eight student nurses in their townhouse at E. 100th Street in south Chicago-by a piece of unfeeling flesh named Richard Speck, surely a misjudgment in the scheme of the Creator. It took place July, 14, 1966. Four or five years ago the Circle Theater presented an exceptionally sensitive drama on the subject, “The Crime of the Century.” But that’s not the point. The point is that this scum was caught and brought to justice within a week, by way of the positive identification of the one surviving nurse who heard and/or saw the whole, horrific ordeal from under a bed.

The other happening-a riot. A race riot during the same week. It took place when police forcibly shut off a fire hydrant that area residents were using to cool off. It spread from Ogden to Pulaski to Lake to Cermak. The people involved were largely Afro-American and Puerto Rican.

I may be putting myself in the cross-hairs but some of the words used by Editor Walker seem to reflect the stunted feeling of the time. “Agitators kept pouring oratorical gasoline on the emotional fires of the Negro colony…” Colony? “This is a sad commentary on the leadership of the various Negro groups…in the process of establishing themselves as first class citizens.” If treated as the first class citizens they already were (per the Constitution) they wouldn’t be rioting.Does everyone know how important right words are? How they can be bent? Ill-chosen or on the mark, it’s our words that shape our thoughts. We’d all like to think we’re a little wiser than we were 40 years ago. Still….

From the Jun-Jul 1966 issues of the Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

There’s nobody more gratified to get your phone call than the Police Department. Chances are, something unusual, suspicious or scary may be going on, and you may even hesitate to call. A tip from an alert you usually gives them a leg up on the problem-a bad guy, or a bad situation. Somebody out there calling in can be an immense help to them.

Note this from a letter to the editor: On July 17 at about 2 a.m. a thinking neighbor was roused by a noise, followed by the heated argument of a couple. Unsure of whether or not to call, he nevertheless dialed 9ll. Within minutes a squad arrived and two officers were admitted. Things calmed but one of the policeman reported that the situation was close to flashpoint, and that they had probably arrived none too early.

From the July 1976 issue of the Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Speaking of police getting their work done…Lt. Charles Whelpley and his investigating team of Sgt. Michael Thompson and Investigators William Pates and Steven Knack, acting on a tip, helped clear a brutal murder in Michigan. Whelpley became involved in the case when he was informed that a suburban Chicago woman had arranged for the killing of a Michigan woman.

He traced the incident to Battle Creek and notified authorities there. The suspect woman and her two brothers were arrested on a murder rap. Michigan police honored Whelpley here at a village council meeting, expressing their appreciation with a bronze plaque.

From the June 11, 1986 issue of the Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

Then there’s the novel, non-approach to calling the cops. A resident came home from work at 4:30 p.m. to find the house had been broken into. Jewelry and other items had been taken. The victim then called the authorities to report the loss. A neighbor noticed the responding squad and two officers taking information. He sauntered over and casually mentioned that, yes, he’d witnessed a man breaking a glass pane of the front door. Well that was chummy enough small talk, I guess, but he might’ve been more crime-preventive had he phoned earlier. Poor performance.

From the June 1996 issues of the Forest Park Review