Forty Years Ago

With the war in Vietnam raging here’s how things looked on Independence Day, 1968 in Editor Walker’s column: “How proud we should be that we sprang from a small but determined group of rebels to the strongest nation in the world. But is the pendulum swinging the other way? Two hundred years ago the English Redcoats were in the position we’re in now, fighting a war thousands of miles from home. English General Cornwallis decided there was no future in losing men and material without gaining an objective.”

Walker wondered if we should borrow a page from history and pull out of Vietnam – a position he hadn’t taken before. He credited those early American rebels with setting an example to any people seeking independence, yet regretted our role in fighting the battle for others. Our nation is 238 years old. His column appeared July 4, 1968. Today is Aug. 6, 2008. The war in Iraq has dragged on for five and a half years.

From the July 4, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

The accompanying photo shows a couple of classy people. Orrin Thorsen, longtime caretaker/president of our old library, and a true gentleman of the old order – and Cleis Jensen, a lady of the not-so-old school. The occasion was her retirement after five years as library director. The reason for such complimentary adjectives in their descriptions? I had the privilege of serving on the board then.

From the May 3, 1978, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

After maintaining his innocence for nearly two years, Forest Park police officer John Breidenbach, 30, pleaded guilty to six felony counts of stolen automobiles. Judge Michael Toomin meted out a year’s probation. Chief Robert Conklin, disappointed with the sentence, called it “not much of a deterrent.”

Two years earlier police recovered a car stolen from Jerry Gleason Chevrolet allegedly brought there by the officer. Immediately after questioning, Breidenbach resigned for “personal reasons.” Months later, other evidence came to light hinting at a tie between Breidenbach and the theft of five other autos. Conklin’s final comment: “If I were Breidenbach, I’d be very pleased.”

From the June 15, 1988, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

Bill Lichtenberg authored his column in this paper for about 10 years. His effort in the April 22, 1998, issue concerned “small stuff” – what most of our lives, like it or not, consist of. How often do we divorce, watch someone die or win the lottery? I think the trick, according to Bill, is in how we deal with little things every day. Because that’s what days are made of; that it’s our attitude – thoughts, not feelings – that determines our happiness.

To cut to the chase, a couple weeks ago I was at the Ultra store when I saw an old guy like me sit heavily on a bench and let go a sigh of relief. “Feels good to sit down, doesn’t it?” I said. He nodded. “Sitting can be one of life’s pleasures,” I added. He agreed. Then, I thought, we probably sit down 20 times a day. That’s 20 pleasures. Maybe there are a hundred pleasures in a day. Life being what it is, there are probably a hundred annoyances, too. Then it hit me – which do we focus on more? I can probably out-whine and out-complain you, but my question – and I think Bill Lichtenberg’s question – is who does your focusing? Who does your thinking? Who does your reacting? Only one person.

From the April 22, 1998, Forest Park Review