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Forty Years Ago

Language changes, but not fast enough. Editor Claude Walker Jr. reminded us back in 1967 that we all get in a rut with words. Ex: “How about that” or “You better believe it.” Some words and phrases have the staying power of an unwanted in-law. Others bob up at dawn and are gone before nightfall.

“Among things you can do when a bad set of words stick around too long,” said Walker, “is reply literally.”

Take the unimaginative, all-offending oldie, “How are you?” If the person asking is not already four offices down the hall, you might cut short the exchange with, “I’m fine, but my tapeworm is even better.”

This one may be from pre-Civil War days: “Have a nice day.” Lordy. As tiresome, insincere and repetitive as an unending commercial. This command stopped having meaning decades ago. Why not smoke the user with a snappy rejoinder like, “Thanks, but I’ve got other plans.” It’ll go right through ’em, but you’ll get max inner satisfaction. If feeling less snarky you still have options: “Hey, thanks for reminding me;

I was on my way to forgetting.” Or, if you’re of a religious bent, you could even respond with, “Have a God-pleasing day.” Anything but the same old thing. The human ear longs to hear new words, new sounds, new songs. Only human beings can supply them.

From the June 15, 1967, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

Did the Forest Park Police Department once have a clairvoyant cop? It seems so. A Review story told of apparent psychic gifts possessed by police officer George Webber that sometimes led to the solving of local crimes. After holding a number of jobs from selling insurance to driving a semi, Webber came down with an illness that included a period of prolonged fever that may have contributed to his unusual ability.

He experienced a “foreboding” the day fellow officer Richard Archambault was shot in the hand by a suspect in Forest Home Cemetery. A second bullet had amazingly ricocheted off his badge preventing more serious injury. “I just knew something was going to happen,” said Webber, adding that he was having coffee with reserve officer Pat White when he experienced a feeling that a policeman might be shot by three white youths. “Just then, Arch called over the radio, and we heard three shots. I couldn’t believe it but I know I knew it.”

Others on the force believed the officer could feel trouble coming, and cited several armed robberies before they took place. “He’d just picture the area, we’d dispatch a car to the location, and-there it was,” one of them said. Still others, a minority, considered Webber some kind of “weirdo.”

From the June 1, 1977, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

A Clairvoyant cop and a mystery man doling out free cash to passersby. What kind of town is this? A man in a black overcoat (this happened in April), a checkered hat a curly gray wig and a white scarf covering his face entered Golden Drugs on Harlem and Madison and offered a $10 bill to an elderly woman. Taken by surprise, she said “No thanks.” (You might, too, if a guy in a get-up like that offered you free money.) Two men in Horan’s Snug were similarly offered, but refused. Later, a different stripe of person gladly accepted the sawbuck, and-get this-the mystery man thanked him for coming to Madison Street.

From the April 15, 1987, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

She had those “Repo by the Depot Blues.”A Forest Park woman with a strong sense of ownership, possession, injustice or whatever, dealt firmly with adversity. Two employees of a repossession company had come for her car. She was of another mind. When they tried to take the car she got a gun and fired a couple of errant shots, then dialed 911. Result? Unlawful use of weapon, not having an ID, and reckless conduct.

From the May 7, 1997, Forest Park Review