Forty Years Ago

Contrary to appearances, this home on Forest Park’s north side was not a tornado casualty. It was another bulldozed victim of the vertical expansion that gradually but steadily transformed so much of our village from “small town charm [with] big city access” to “small town homes [clustered around] great big condos.”

Many village council meetings were peppered with “Yeas” and “Nays” on the subject. Yet times changed, as did needs, preferences, priorities and people. Once upon a time, about 150 years ago, a small community grew here with no backyard fences and plenty of space between neighbors – and homes. Countless details aside, that’s a nutshell account of Forest Park’s early growth. This 1968 photo accompanied a sidebar announcing the passage of ordinances to “legally annex property south of Greenburgh (Cemetery) Road and east of the Des Plaines River to allow use of an industrial park and making lots available for housing.”

As people change, get old and die, villages are founded, grow and transform. They either prosper or fail. Samuel Hofferstein, a voice from the ’40s, said, “The stars, like measles, fade away at last.” That’s why we have zoning, planning boards and disagreements.

From the June 27, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

Police Officer Joe Byrnes picked up the news of a pair of robbers over his radio. They had just pulled a couple of armed robberies here and in Oak Park. He spotted two men fitting their descriptions filling their gas tank at 949 S. Harlem Ave. Byrnes pulled in quickly and held them at gunpoint until back-up arrived.

Back up yourself and imagine that you’re the officer in face-to-face confrontation. Though their shotgun is inside their car and you’ve got your revolver trained on them – will they make a stupid move? (You think Police Academy training.) If they make that move, will you shoot them? If you shoot, will it be to warn, wound or kill? Where will you aim? Watch out for by-standers. And, by the way, where’s that back-up? Time can crawl.

The units arrive and, being human, you’re relieved. The subjects, 21 and 25, are taken to the lockup. The loot is retrieved and the initial report is made out. In a few more hours the workday is over. You’re free to go home, have a beer, maybe. Or catch the Cubs on TV and life is OK. But you’ve got an imagination, too. Anyway, it’s good to be home. Still, tomorrow’s another workday.

From the May 24, 1978, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

One of Frank Sinatra’s lesser known songs was a nostalgic piece about Ebbett’s Field, home park of the old Brooklyn Dodgers. Its title was “There used to be a Ballpark Here.” In Forest Park there’s a tot lot at the corner of Thomas and Adams streets. There used to be a church there – Wesley United Methodist, with Lana Sutton as its pastor. In 1988 it was devastated by a major fire. The building went up when a workman’s torch ignited a spark that led to flames, totally demolishing the roof and causing serious damage inside. Drives to fund repair work were held and Pastor Sutton made valiant efforts to save the church. Yet, after nearly two years and repeated attempts, restoration proved undoable. Not long after, the tot lot was born.

Like stars and measles, everything changes and transforms.

From the June 15, 1988, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

The letter carrier liked to chat as he made his deliveries. Completing his rounds, Harold Rice noticed the accumulation of mail on the front porch of the woman who lived there. He rang the doorbell twice with no answer. Continuing his route, he notified a parking meter attendant of his concern. Finished for the day, he returned and found that paramedics and police had the situation in hand. The woman, an unnamed senior, had been found unconscious on her floor, but was in good condition. Mailman Rice was justly praised. His supervisor called him a “real people person.”

From the April 5, 1998, Forest Park Review