Forty Years Ago

Claude Walker Jr., son of Ye Olde Editor, came up with the idea in the mid-’60s – pool our good intentions as a village and send monthly “care package” gifts to Delta Company slugging it out in Vietnam. Junior ran the drive, and this newspaper sponsored the ongoing effort. The following letter was just one from the boys at “D.”

“Dear Forest Park Friends:

My name is Edwin B. Siltors. I am a machine gunner with Delta Company.

The reason that no one writes is because the company is just about all new men, and they don’t know about Forest Park. I have been over here for 18 months and will be going home in June. I want you to know that your packages are really appreciated, at least the old guys really like them. I really don’t know how all these new men feel or anything.

Well I guess I’ll close for now. May God bless all of you for your good work.

Sincerely Yours, Edwin”

From the May 9, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

Whence the name, Forest Park? Perhaps an answer lies in “The Village Scrapbook, 1856-1978,” a continuing feature chronicled on these pages by Dr. Frank Orland of the village’s historical society. Many of us know that we once went by the name Harlem until the early 1900s.

But there was another hamlet called Harlem in Winnebago County in Illinois. Mail between the two kept getting mixed up and rerouted until a 1907 petition was drawn here to change the name of our village. Suggestions were solicited, and our new name became – unimaginatively enough – Forest Park. “Forest” came from River Forest, and “Park” from Oak Park. (Bill Clinton almost came from Forest Park, but that was covered two week’s ago.)

I liked our name better not knowing all this. Harlem Avenue seems right enough, though. Calling it Forest Park Avenue would be a bit unnerving, like making a wrong turn on the Via Veneto.

From the May 10, 1978, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

Pick a night … any night at all … O.K., how about May 25, 1988? You’re asnooze, safe in bed, hours away from having to get up at seven and go to work. Others work other hours and keep different times. Police people come to mind when the village is dark and quiet. But should the village get dark and noisy – or a shadowy figure behave suspiciously – they shift into high.

At 1:26 a.m. the manager of the Sizzler Steak House on S. Harlem Avenue, locked up after the last of the work crew left. After their departure two figures materialized out of the dark, surprising him. What may have been a gun was pressed to the back of his neck. Money was demanded from the office safe. They demonstrated their basic decency by assuring the manager that they weren’t interested in any money he was carrying – only the $500 in the till. (The warmth of this sentiment was tempered by the cool knife edge held against the victim’s throat.) The safe clicked open and our heroes scooped out the cash. They bound the manager’s wrists and ankles and fled into the night.

Where were the police? Doing their job. On patrol. But as short on clairvoyance as you or I. There’s a hidden point here: any such incident could erupt into a repeat of the 1993 Palatine Brown’s Chicken massacre. You know this, the victim knows this and every law enforcement officer knows it when he or she steps into the arena of danger. How do you and I sleep most nights? Probably a lot better than if protection were not there.

From the May 25, 1988, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

Editors usually have a comeback when asked, “What’s new?” Not so at the Review the week of April 10. Sample headlines: Rummage Sale at Filipino Presbyterian … Exhibitors Sought for Arts, Crafts Show … Registration Begins for Summer Clubhouse.

But 10 weeks ago a neighbor, John Chenicek on the 1500 block of Circle Avenue, found a dead possum on the floor of his garage and went to get his burial shovel. When he came back the possum was gone.

From the April 10, 1998, Forest Park Review and the heartbeat of a south side neighborhood

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.