Forty Years Ago

One reason for the popularity of artificial Christmas trees was plain old fire. Don Stover, his wife and their two children were home when their natural tree “exploded” into flame. The heat of the flash was so intense and the spread of flames so rapid that the family barely escaped their second-floor flat.

Severe damage was done to four of their five rooms, and Fire Chief Del Marousek voiced a repeated concern that people not follow the tendency to buy the natural trees they see in public places, like malls, churches and civic buildings. “Artificial trees have proven to be much more practical and safe,” he said.

From the Jan. 18, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

This space was to cover a Review article on winter car care. Too instructional and cheerless. How about something more reflective?

From the depths and drifts of any brutal Chicago winter, it’s chancy to write about weather; especially after this February’s monotonous succession of bleak, unending, gray days with leaden skies, few birds and nary a crocus. Someone reported that as of mid February, we had about a dozen hours of sunshine. So, for comfort, read or re-read Frost’s “Stopping by Woods.” If you’re in an antic mood, sing it to the tune of “Hernando’s Hideaway.” (It works.) Yet, watching the flakes come softly down can be peaceful, quiet and serene. Looking from your front window, all secure and warm, you’re inside your own cozy little snow globe. You see a thousand points of lights on the surface twinkle, blink out and reappear. Reflected street or sunlight? You’re free to think of the evanescence as nanoglitter from Heaven. Miles on miles of this blanketed beauty stretches before us. And being from Chicago, you know in a day or two it will be soon be covered with axle grease. Ah, winter. Ah, Chicago.

Why not petition your congressman, representative and the head honcho of the National Weather Bureau to declare a one-week moratorium on all weather-zero precip for a seven day period beginning every Presidents’ Day. Don’t even talk about the weather; you’ll only encourage it. Besides, you’re entitled to better subject matter. If someone regales you with a clever quip like, “Cold enough for ya?” or “When you’re through shoveling yours …” you can counter with Victorian essayist Max Beerbohm’s line, “There is nothing you can say about the weather that isn’t already observable.” Atta boy, Max.

Yet, creatures of habit that we are, come the vernal equinox and enough of us will heave a sigh of relief and say something like, “Oh boy, now we can start complaining about how hot it is.”

From the Dec. 28, 1977, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Now that our computer problem is nearly fixed and sufficient quantities of our old newspapers are available, we (and you?) are pleased to come to the end of our list of Strange Names of Real People: Kathy Grizzard Schmook … Santana Ootman … Cynthia Plaster Caster …Golden Meadow … Shiloh Eck … Obba Babatunde … Onke Onken … Echo Wulfe Atwell … Quep Livermilk … Hortense Powdermilk.

From the missing pages of 1987

Ten Years Ago

Give yourself one good reason why you shouldn’t read a perfectly good book that’s 10 years old. What difference the year it came out? Is it a book you want to wrap your mind around? Columnist Jackie Schulz took her own informal survey of the Forest Park library staff. The question was, “What book would you be most likely to recommend? Here are some of the answers she gleaned from staffers Deb Harris, Sandy Heitzman and June Isselhard:

“My Secret Places,” by James Elroy … “Talking to the Dead,” by Helen Dunmore … “Indian Killer,” by Sherman Alexie … “Into Thin Air,” by Jon Krakauer … “The Weight of Water”, by Anita Shreve … “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” by Jean “Dominique Bauby” … “Journey Into Darkness,” by John Douglas … “Spider in the Sink,” by Celestine Sibley.

From the Jan. 14, 1998, Forest Park Review