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Forty Years Ago

Editor Claude Walker cited other places with other problems: San Francisco, with its marijuana-LSD-heroin downward spiral … Chicago, with a water pollution scare …the Big Apple and its garbage crises … Santa Ana fires in L.A. … hurricanes in Florida and tornadoes in the Great Plaines. Walker wrote that Forest Park was coasting along with minimum problems. Good schools, good police force, minimal delinquency and good recreation programs. A bond issue to improve our public pool, he wrote, was the only dark cloud in our silver lining.

From the Feb. 15, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

Items like the following used to be news because … well, because they were slightly unusual: “A 19-year-old man was found dead in his apartment at 1005 Desplaines Ave. The man was found lying face down on the floor by his 32-year-old roommate, who called police.” Neither this newspaper nor this writer knows what caused this young man’s tragic death.

From the Feb. 22, 1978, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Two gunmen, apparently without regard for human life, ordered a pizza to go at Rosario’s, 8334 Grand Ave. in River Grove at about 1 a.m. They pulled guns and helped themselves to $800 from the cash register, plus the keys to a delivery van owned by Danny Ardini, 20, brother of the store manager. Then they led him and delivery man Charles Petersen, 19, to the restroom where the victims were told to kneel. They were then shot, execution style, in the back of the head. After the shooters escaped in the delivery van, Petersen somehow rose to his feet, struggled across the street to the police station and was able to give descriptions and the license plate number.

At 1:20 a.m. the incident was broadcast over the Police Emergency Network. Forest Park officer Michael Mayman, working tactical in an unmarked car, spotted the van and quietly tailed it. At 1:30 a.m. two backup units joined southbound on Desplaines Avenue. After the van stopped at the traffic light of the CTA entrance, Officer Richard Brhel’s squad curbed it. Other officers converged and had the pair so well covered that they surrendered quietly. Acting Chief Joe Byrnes praised the force for its fast response and precision teamwork. “The coordination was fantastic,” said Byrnes. “A perfect place was picked. They had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide … and no homes or innocent people were endangered. We caught ’em 10 minutes after the first call.”

At press time, Ardini, the stand-in night manager, was in critical condition on life support at Loyola. Petersen, incredibly, was in poor to fair condition,

From the Feb. 17, 1988, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

The Cats of Madison Street. Sounds like a title for a low budget indie film. By the mid ’90s maybe a half-dozen stores on “main street” harbored feline mascots frequently seen in storefront windows. They lent their air of impersonality to passersby, regarding the pedestrian traffic when not elongating themselves into leisurely naps. Proof that the Cats of Madison Street were at the height of their sleeping powers is that when interviewed 10 years ago, one of them said, “If I didn’t have to sleep 17 hours a day, I’d get a lot more done.”

Two examples of downtown Forest Park’s furry felines were: “Smokey,” who owned Review publisher Bob Haeger and later his daughter, Laurie Kokenes. So named because he survived a bad fire – origin unknown. (“Smokey’s” origin was also unknown, but that’s another story.) He would often hold court in the front window, sharing scraps and crumbs from Kokenes’ sandwiches. Last, as well as least, was a 27-pound behemoth named “Surplus” who ruled and received visitors from his window at the Military and Police Store. “Surplus” showed up in town, apparently after mixing it up with a dog. Once patched up, he settled into his sedate cat-hood.

From the Feb.11, 1998, Forest Park Review