Forty Years Ago

Your columnist, having fallen hopelessly behind, promised his editor that he’d do some prep work over the weekend for this week’s column. In doing so, he didn’t bring home enough bound copies of past Review issues from which to research. So, not enough material-and not much accomplished over the weekend.

And the big news from the little research? “Large Navel Oranges, 59 cents a dozen” at White Way.

From the Dec. 22, 1966, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

Richard Woodworth made an appearancebefore the village council for permission to raise chinchillas in his home. Though yielding soft, luxuriant fur, these critters can be notoriously rank and filthy. Woodworth was pelted down with denials. Commissioner Santo Rizzo: “These rodents make the dirtiest of businesses.” Commissioner Cathy Buckley: “They become a cute, furry health hazard.”

From the Dec. 29, 1976, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Nice, big, fat feature from editor-publisher Bob Haeger, and I’m lovin’ the headline: “This week’s column is extra fancy, fresh, golden ripe and USDA Prime.” He cites Joe Barilla, a former, local restaurateur with an aversion to over-the-top food advertising. “They’re called ‘golden-ripe’ bananas even though they’re the color of my front lawn in March,” complained Joe.

Haeger then takes up the cause: “In the land of advertising lettuce is forever crisp, and in spite of a journey of 2,000 miles in a box car, tomatoes stay fancy. How do they do that!” As for a steak house, say Bob and Joe, “the legend ‘USDA Prime’ adds a cachet that can’t be equaled in the world of meat” “Don’t forget Long Island Duck,” whispers Barilla. “They probably never crossed the Illinois-Wisconsin state line.” It went on. Fun article.

From the Dec. 17, 1986, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

The Hometown section of the Review (Nov. 13, 1996) carried a feature story by editor Paige Fumo. The subject was famous people who had visited li’l ol’ Forest Park over the years. Elizabeth Taylor comes to mind first. Her sad attendance at husband Mike Todd’s burial at Waldheim Cemetery was worldwide news in 1958. The showman died in a plane crash, and Taylor was to visit the gravesite (near Roosevelt and Desplaines) several times in years to come-always hounded by townspeople and local paparazzi.

According to Mayor Popelka and quite a few others, Gene Hackman, was one of the most gracious and accessible celebrities to come here. Filming a movie called “The Package” at the Altenheim Home in 1988, Hackman was friendly, available and courteous to fans whenever the cameras weren’t rolling. He promised-and kept the promise-that he and his bride-to-be (a former concert pianist) would revisit and she would perform a recital at the home.

For all you superannuated Q-Tips, a young pilot on the cusp of fame-named Lindbergh-rented an apartment in town for over a year during the mid ’20s.

Finally, one of the most beloved (yet forgotten) show business figures, Jimmy Durante, stopped by for a visit during the Italian Heritage Days-a portion of the village’s centennial celebration in 1956. Memories of Durante and his mythical “Mrs. Calabash” can only rest in the hearts of those old enough to have seen his television show of the 1970s, and heard his radio shows with Garry Moore and others. Hardly a soul is alive who saw this kind, gentle, self-effacing man during vaudeville when he played the piano, strutted the stage and came up with lines like, “I don’t want anybody to put me up on a pedesal” (sic) and “It’s my nose’s birthday.”

Once, in a serious vein, being interviewed during the Vietnam War, he had this to say: “Why doesn’t everybody … leave everybody else … the hell … alone.”

Jimmy, you had a million of ’em-and they were the audiences that loved you.

From the Nov. 13, 1996, Forest Park Review