I just came back from my annual journey to Forest Park’s “Island.” Last year, a block party beckoned me to the land south of Roosevelt – this time it was breaking news. An islander named Joe Braun had been profiled in a national publication.
To reach the Island, I navigated around giant puddles on Greenberg Road and came ashore on the 1500 block of Marengo. Braun was there to greet me with a copy of “Pest Management Professional” magazine, featuring an article about his work at the Trump Tower. Braun is such a renowned pest control specialist that he received the call when unwelcome guests plagued Trump’s project. Braun secured the $48,000 contract for his employer, Rose Pest Solutions, to get rid of the critters.
If you’re not familiar with pesticide history, you may not recognize the name Rose. Solomon Rose, the company’s founder, single-handedly started the pest control industry in 1860. When Rose sold rat poison to the Union Army the soldiers didn’t want to handle arsenic. So, Rose placed the poison himself – thus a profession was born.
In this proud tradition, Braun tackled the Trump project with black box bait stations and snap traps. Braun achieved a “quick knockdown” of the problem and now only makes monthly visits to the massive construction site to check traps and replace bait.
As for Forest Park, Braun doesn’t see a rat problem. Of course, he and his wife Sandy moved to the Island only a few years ago and weren’t around when rats from a garbage transfer station on Circle Avenue were scurrying through the neighborhood.
After I covered Braun’s story, it was time for a human-interest feature. I interviewed Ed and Esther Huebner, who have lived on the Island since 1962. Ed, a retired real estate agent, told me about the origins of the Island’s only park at 16th and Circle.
He said a woman had owned the empty parcel and didn’t know what to do with it. Forest Park real estate agent George Olson suggested she donate it to the village for a park. Thus, the village became the owner of a park that received heavy year-round use from Island offspring.
While Ed was relating Island history, Esther interjected to tell me their daughter Julie taught at Field-Stevenson Elementary School for 10 years. I remembered her daughter fondly and told Esther that she had inspired my daughter Nicole to start her first teaching job this fall. As Esther said, you can always find connections in Forest Park.
Speaking of connections, Ed said that Greenberg Road, which connects the Island to Desplaines Avenue, is owned by a cemetery but maintained by the village. If this is true, we have another breaking story – Islanders are being cut off from the mainland by puddles and potholes. Greenberg Road must be fixed!
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.