Forty Years Ago

Mayor and Mrs. Earl Witt survived an ordeal when a fire raged through their home in the 200 block of Elgin Avenue. No one was injured; still it was a personal disaster because the beautifully decorated home was victim to severe water damage. “Our gold-colored rug became a filthy sponge,” said Mrs. Witt. Damage was estimated at $12,000. The fire started during a first-floor remodeling job when a workman’s blow torch ignited some clean-up papers. Ironically, the mayor had just signed a Fire Prevention Week proclamation.

The easy-going Petros. Elaine Petro of Melrose Park was walking west on Franklin. At Marengo, a man leaped out of the bushes and demanded her purse. She handed it over and he took out a couple of fivers and a $10 bill. Returning the purse, he demanded her rings. She complied. He ran toward Oak Park. Mrs. Petro got into her car nearby, went home, took a sleeping pill and she and her husband reported the robbery the next morning. All very casual it seemed; nice and easy does it.

Gina Prock, 16, was taken to Westlake Hospital after a field mouse bit her finger. She was given a tetanus shot. Nobody cares much anymore.

From the Oct. 19, 1967, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

Continuation of the very successful Forest Park Community Garden seemed uprooted with the announcement that the acre-size tract of land had been purchased for a planned factory warehouse. Commissioner Ed Lambke who, with his wife Barbara, came up with the idea of a community garden two years before, thought the chances of having a garden the following year was only 50-50.

For those who didn’t live here then, the idea was extremely popular from the start. Residents who put down a $10 deposit for a 20-foot by 20-foot plot could indulge themselves in a new hobby, get to know their neighbors and produce their own garden-fresh fruits, flowers and vegetables. By the way, if you (like me) were never sure of the size of an acre, use your baseball smarts-an acre is just about half the size of the playing field at Wrigley.

From the Oct. 12, 1977, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Holy colorful clergymen! Forest Park has had its share. Cliff DiMascio, pastor of First United Church of Forest Park, certainly qualifies. But limited space allows room for only one. Since I have a 1987 Review biographical feature on Rev. Charles (Chuck) Cairo on hand, let’s go with the man who began the Fire Escape Ministry.

Even if you’ve only heard him at the village’s annual Ecumenical Services, you’ll almost certainly remember him as a breed apart. He was–and is–short and stout, nearly always dressed in black, well-bearded and, in his early middle years, charged with vitality. There’s a lot to this man, who is a Bishop of the Evangelical Baptist Church. He holds three doctorates–in Theology, Divinity and East Asian Culture.

We are many things in our lives. Cairo was a drug user, an alcoholic and a brawler. A wrong look might have resulted in a knuckle sandwich.

“I was a bad person, and I didn’t really like myself. I wasn’t born a choir boy, and life never was real easy,” he says.

After Vietnam he studied Buddhism in Thailand where he tried to discredit the New Testament. Back home, he ran into a former drug supplier named Fuzzy, who had since found religion. He read the Bible for the first time, became a friend to Fuzzy and one day in a church in Sycamore, Ill., he “accepted the truth of the prophesies.”

From the July 15, 1987, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

We had some rainfall in mid August of 1997. Letter writer M. Browner reported a torrential 3.5 inches according to Browner’s rain gauge, which was emptied at midnight. Next morning another “good” inch was emptied, and later that night the gauge gathered another half-inch. The Review had reported 1.5. Browner wanted to resolve the difference. The Review checked with the National Weather Service, which stood by its l.5. Ten years later it’s all water over the dam.

From the Sept. 17, 1997, Forest Park Review