Forty Years Ago

Even back then, in 1968, the “Big McD” was the “Big McThing.” The hamburger server of all hamburger servers was marking the opening of its 1,000th restaurant nationwide. Appropriately, this landmark operation was taking place in Des Plaines, where the chain’s first-ever McDonald’s was born in April 1955. Our local place joined all the others by offering free drinks for the day with food orders, plus puppets and balloons for the kiddos. Today, there are about 30,000 such emporiums worldwide.

On a personal note, I was an advertising copywriter for Needham, Harper & Steers advertising agency when they won the hamburger account, though I didn’t work on McDonald’s. Next morning a banner had been strung announcing, “McDonald’s Is Ours!” Brunch was burgers and champagne. Good memory.

From the May 2, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

As opposed to a wafer-thin burger, a thick, meaty slice of American history awaits visitors to the Forest Home Cemetery. Turn west off Desplaines Avenue, lean a little left and you’re soon impressed by a singular monument depicting a female figure protecting a fallen worker.

Remember the phrase, “Eight-hour day?” It’s as quaint today as it seemed unattainable a century and a quarter ago. Back then workers, including children, labored sunup to sundown. Aside from the hours, this 19th century workforce was otherwise exploited – no union representation, no sick leave, few if any benefits, low wages, etc. Eventually, enough became enough. In Chicago, speeches and protest marches in 1886 led to riots, particularly the Haymarket. A bomb was tossed; four policemen and several protestors were killed. Hell had to be paid, and it was when eight so-called anarchists were arrested, tried, convicted and hanged.

The monument still honors the martyrs. Surrounding, lie the flat stones of socialists, communists and others remembered especially on Labor Day, including the gravesite of Emma Goldman. The inscription at the base of the monument reads, “The day will come when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you are throttling today.”

From the May 17, 1978, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

A 23-year-old Oak Park man was walking an alley between Harlem and Elgin avenues at 1:15 a.m. when a pair of hands pinned his arms to his sides. The fists of another goon pounded the man’s face. He was slashed twice with an unknown object. (How must that feel?) The cretins got away with $3. Police found the young man hysterical and bleeding heavily. Hey, maybe it’s not a Big, Wide, Wonderful World, after all.)

From the May 18, 1988, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

You may have heard of the mischance that might have let us claim that President Bill Clinton, yes, William Jefferson Clinton, was born and raised here in Forest Park But for tragic, long-shot circumstances, it nearly happened.

A recently discharged WWII soldier named William Blythe and his sweetheart, Virginia Kelley, were married during the war. In December of 1945 they were living at the Sherman Hotel in Chicago. Expecting a baby (the future president), the couple planned to move to a red, brick home in Forest Park. Trouble was, the older couple living there needed more time to move. They decided that Virginia’s parent’s place in Hope, Ark., would be a better place for her to stay temporarily while Blythe remained here at his job. By May, the owners of their home-to-be had moved out and Blythe left to pick up his pregnant wife. But he never made it to Hope. He was killed when his car blew a tire and crashed outside of Sykes, Mo. William Blythe III was born in August 1946 and became Bill Clinton at age 15 when his mother remarried. She never saw that little red brick home.

From the April 1, 1998, Forest Park Review

Bob wasn’t so much born, as harvested, in a dirt lot in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1932. His family encouraged him to join the Air Force (ours) during the Korean War. There, he fell into the clutches of Barbara Miles. They still have two world-class daughters, Jill and Cara. “Each of the four of us likes the other three of us,” says Bob.