Happy New Year! It should be a very good year for those of us on the 500 block of Beloit Avenue. The ugliest house in town has just been torn down, and unless it’s replaced by a prison, whatever goes up will be an improvement.

For 50 years it was the first thing I saw in the morning when I went out for the paper. The old house was not neglected; it was always well kept, just ugly. It looked like the houses little kids used to draw, a cracker box with a pointed top. Can’t wait to see what will replace it.

Congratulations to Jim and Desi Becker on the birth of daughter number three. Thalia Noel was born on Christmas Eve at 3:15 in the afternoon. Proud grandparents are Jan Stratis and Jack Becker. Baby Thalia’s nickname will most likely be Thea. Two big sisters, Georgia and Josie are so happy to have another sister.

Speedy get well wishes go to Laureen Thornton and Tony Calderone.

Roger and Geri Grant have been hosting a very distinguished guest from Benue State, Nigeria. He is Col. Monday Morgan of the Nigerian Air Force, former pilot, now a flight instructor. Col. Morgan, also known as “group captain” in Nigeria, has served in a peace-keeping capacity in Liberia, Angola, Kenya, Darfur and other trouble spots in Africa. His first flying lesson was at the tender age of 21 and that lesson was at the controls of a real airplane. This gives real meaning to John Dewey’s “we learn by doing” advice.

Col. Morgan’s wife is a practicing ophthalmologist in Africa and his son is here in the states with his father looking at universities for the fall. Monday and his wife are active in their church and have been instrumental in building a water system, schools, and even a hospital out in the bush. More than 100 acres of land have been donated by the colonel’s family for these enterprises.

On Jan. 4, happy birthday to Lou Moran, Tom Kloess and Marie Skorda; on the 5th to Christine Malone, Joan Huynh, Deb Harris, Lynn Karavitas, David Leehy, Mike Marcantonio, Ashley Breseman, Michael Huttner and April Kutak; on the 6th, Feast of the Epiphany (“Little Christmas”) and the birthday of Emily Garrity, Bernice Zellick and Brittany O’Donoghue; Jan. 7. it’s happy birthday time for Laureen Thornton and Fred Marunde along with Karen Skinner, David Thornton, Cecilia Consalve and Rosemary Coyle; Jan. 9, Danielle Riske, Phil Bohnert and 1-year-old Brianna Dodge; Jan. 10 is the birthday of Tyler Daniel, Kirsten Bjornson and Mary Gallea.

Has anyone found my guardian angel Denise?