Forty Years Ago

There used to be a pharmacist, and a pharmacy, at Madison and Beloit. Fred Pearce, proprietor, was a person more like you than unlike. He went to his job, came home after eight or nine hours, probably tired, like you. Sometimes he felt fulfilled, other times, like you, he felt a little empty. One day, he went to his job and never came home to his wife and five children. He was felled by a stroke, taken to the Oak Park Hospital and that evening he died. He was 44.

There used to be a young doctor who graduated from Field Stevenson and Proviso high school. He took a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State in 1953 and his masters and doctors degrees from Purdue. His name was Ervin Barnes, and he “interned” in Vietnam for two years. He married Theresa DeVreis of Lafayette, Ind. and they had a daughter, Kristine, and settled in East Lansing, Mich. One day he died. Maybe, like Fred Pearce, he arose and went about his rounds when he was stricken. No details about his death, just his age–35. Maybe he was stricken and died in a day. Maybe there was slow illness and decline.

We leave at different times, and in different ways, in silence or agony … regret or fears … some in peace. It’s the end of life as we knew it, some say. Others say it’s an unimaginable New Beginning. Many, at different times, hold both thoughts. None of us knows.

From the Nov. 9 and 16, 1967, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

Every Halloween for two or three years in the late ’70s the park administration building was partly converted into a Spook House Supreme. Included was a very effective Chamber of Horrors room with dramatic re-enacted characters glimpsed in scary strobe light and backlighting (see photo). Like “Evil Incarnate” in a top hat (a cross between Rich Vitton and Mike Myers?), a poor, innocent bride before her noose, and between them a bare torso under a sword of Damocles. On the left are a true Scar Face and a damsel hung by her wrists. The three-night run exploited the macabre so well the crowd wondered how the next year’s Spook House could come off scarier.

From the Nov. 2, 1977, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Two of the following are jokes. The other is either real or surreal. 1. Two sandwiches walk into a bar. Bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve sandwiches here.” (Remember the Civil Rights movement and Montgomery in ’55?) 2. Horse walks into bar and pulls up a stool. Bartender asks, “How come the long face?” 3. Man walks down Madison Street around midnight. He’s carrying a VCR. Cop, Officer John Scott, stops him. Questioned, the man says he found it on the sidewalk near the Brass Bowl Lounge. Scott warns the man that his actions could constitute the theft or loss of mislaid property.

Next day, a resident from the 7200 block of Madison Street reported that a VCR had been taken from her apartment between 11:45 p.m. and 12:45 a.m.

From the July 15,1987, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

John Rice was writing about homework on Oct. 1, 1997. Sullivan badly needed something for his column just last week. Solution: steal Rice.

The worse part of homework, wrote Rice, was having to complain, “I need help with my homework.” (All bad things would follow, and John’s mother would go away.) His father’s gruff reply: “You sure you want to finish grade school? We can get you a job in Asia mending shoes.” The old man would grip the math book, scrutinize the title page, examine the table of contents. “Dad, the problem is on page 169,” chanced young John. “What’s this?” asked his father, “the Associative Principle?” John was quick to answer. “I don’t know; that’s where I need help.” By 10:30 John’s old man would say, “You better get to bed, son.” “OK, thanks, Dad.” (It goes on, and so does John Rice’s column every copy of the Review.

From the Oct. l, l997, Forest Park Review