Forty Years Ago

Terrible news out of Iraq seems never to go away. Nor should 40-year-old memories of the Vietnam War. Bob Toner, now 60 – then 20 – is one example. He lived in the 900 block of Hannah Avenue with his parents when he entered the Army and became a combat infantryman.

Bob Toner was home on leave recuperating from wounds suffered in ‘Nam. After eight months of combat he had been hit twice, hospitalized then granted a month home before reassignment. He was awarded the Presidential Citation, the Purple Heart with a cluster and recommended for the Silver and Bronze Stars for bravery in action.

This dogface wasn’t killed. He didn’t lose a limb. With luck, he mightn’t have been a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder. So why single him out? Why? Play it again, Sam, because we never learn the words. From before the Vietnams and beyond the Iraqs, we get oh-so-busy that our thinking gets muddled and we forget that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Only this time, can we pay more attention so that today’s children don’t die “far from the customary skies” in 2030.

From the March 21, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

There’s a stretch of real estate immediately west of Desplaines Avenue running from the old Amling’s Flower Shop (long since occupied by Jerry Gleason Chevrolet) on the south to the complex of five six-story condos to the north. There were reports that this property was being sought for federally funded, partially subsidized housing. The owner was former police chief Joseph Cortino, who said he was mystified by reports that the land had been sold. He admitted talking to possible buyers, but said none was planning to develop apartments. He added that he did give a 90-day purchase option two years before. “It expired with no activity,” he said, “and no money ever exchanged hands.”

From the March 1, 1978, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Drive Madison Street between Desplaines Avenue and 1st Avenue and you glimpse the Mighty, Muddy Desplaines River from the part of the roadway that is the bridge. In winter the bare branches are laced nicely against the snow, and with not a soul around, all is tranquil. Upstream, beyond sight of gawkers, a white tent might be seen.

Could someone be camping there? A 40-ish, bespectacled and bearded man who wanted only to be left alone, was apparently doing his “Thoreau thing.” He sits on the ground in his parka, nylon ski pants and camping boots. A plastic pop bottle holds drinking water and a small bundle of possessions lies nearby. Approached by the Review the man is full of answers, all pretty much the same – “no comment.” Public works and Concordia Cemetery workers report having first seen him there five months before. Forest Park Public Works foreman Bud Wilks reported him to local police, yet it wasn’t certain whose jurisdiction should handle things – Maywood, Cook County or the Forest Preserve. A local police officer said, “Everybody is concerned about him except himself. He’s happy out there, and all he wants is to be left alone.”

“I’m not breaking any laws,” said the happy camper. A Maywood official said, “The land belongs to the county and the man appears to be trespassing.” And there the story ends.

From the March 16, 1988, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

A man and his wife were mugged by four men. Wallets were taken. Period. End of story. Except when home, the husband leashed the dog to right the wrong. In his search, he thought he espied two of them near Harlem and Harvard streets. Then he lost them. Then he called 911. Then the police came. Then they got a description. Then they collared the two suspects. Turned out to be innocent and the only reason they wanted to lose the original victim was that he appeared to be chasing them with a dog.

From the March 4, 1998, Forest Park Review