Forty Years Ago

There was this major general – R.G. Fergusson – who attended grades K-12 in Forest Park, graduating from Proviso in 1929, then the Military Academy at West Point. Climbing in rank, he commanded in the European Theater during WWII and retired as commander-in-chief, Armed Force in Berlin, 1968.

There was his only son, 1st Lt. Robert C.L. Fergusson.

There was this war of intervention in Vietnam. Our involvement was from the mid-’50s to the inglorious escape from Saigon in 1975. Robert, 24, had died of his wounds on Nov. 8, 1967 – one of more than 58,000 American lives lost. He was decorated for “his exceptionally valorous actions and extraordinary heroism” as an infantry forward observer, 101st Airborne Division. Robert was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism and gallantry, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. He didn’t get to live the rest of his life … or live as long as his father … or most of us. He was buried at the Military Academy at West Point.

There was this photo of him from 40 years ago. Out of courtesy to him and those 58,000, you may want to look at it, think “never again,” and see more clearly the absolute evil of war.

From the March 21, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

The worst thing to do when a depression sets in is nothing. Absolutely. The less you do, the more you isolate yourself from happiness.

This was a major point of a talk given in March 1978 at our old public library. The speaker was Patrick Kennedy, director of the Berwyn School of Metaphysics. Excerpts from the seminar emphasized that “do” was the operative word, because it suggested activity over emotional preoccupation. Like talking back to unwanted thoughts – cognitive therapy. Like rejecting or replacing them with positive thoughts – our choice. “Takes effort,” the speaker said, “because we all carry some lifetime negative thinking. Yet, it’s doable.” To the faint of heart that may tend to give up, Kennedy reminds that it took each of us a lifetime to put us where we are.

Cognitive therapy is one effective way to get back on our mental track, he added. It offers us unsuspected choices. It can put us back in control; not our fearful feelings. It’s wise to distinguish between our thoughts and our feelings, he said – and it’s vital to do so. He compared thoughts to a pile of clay. Not very pretty, but pretty graphic. There they are, your thoughts – a greenish-blue-gray mass that can be formed, re-formed, shaped, changed, manipulated or tossed into the round file. Like clay, thoughts are solid, yet malleable. They have substance. Feelings? “Think of them as cotton,” advised Kennedy; “You can’t do much with fluff. If they’re good feelings, set them loose and share them. If they’re not, he said, leave them alone.”

Yet alone or with outside help – and the help of meaningful activity – while we can’t feel ourselves back to well-being, we can think ourselves back to being well.

From the March 15, 1978, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Most of the theater and arts reviews in this paper have been the product of talented writer and critic, Doug Deuchler. The man (still) writes gracefully, informatively and impartially, often acting as our cultural guide. In March 1988, he wrote so appreciatively, yet convincingly about the theater’s revival of “Godspell,” that re-reading it in a back issue today created a real desire to go see it again.

From the March 6, 1988, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

A Palm Desert (Calif.) man who advertised the sale of his new Nissan Maxima in the Chicago area arranged to meet with a prospective buyer at Harlem and North avenues. They test-drove the car to a Citibank branch so the prospect could get a cashier’s check, then to a friend of the buyer in Forest Park so he could look it over. No one home. Returning to the seller and the idling car, the prospect told the owner water was dripping water from the tail pipe. “California” got out to look and the conman sped away.

From the March 10, 1998, Forest Park Review