Forty Years Ago

Father Richard Theisen, a Berwyn priest, took the I-290 Desplaines Avenue off-ramp then waited for the light to turn green. George Pappas, also from Berwyn, pulled abreast of the clergyman, then angled in front to block his way. Pappas emerged from his car carrying a hammer. Without a word, he smashed the driver’s window, returned to his vehicle and sped away.

Stunned, Father Theisen was able to jot the offender’s license plate number and give it to Forest Park police who paid a visit to Pappas’ home just as he was making a penitent phone call to them. He was angry because the priest had cut him off on the Eisenhower, and now wanted to pay the damages. The good Father forgave the sinner and refused to press charges.

This reminds me of a bumper sticker: “Lord, grant me patience – and I want it NOW!”

From the July 18, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

Two men entered the A&P store, 215 S. Harlem Ave. (present-day site of Bed, Bath and Beyond) at 9:30 p.m. By 9:32 the customer service woman was confronted by a gun and a command to turn over “all the cash.”

A store security guard spotted the commotion, identified himself and ordered the robbers to halt. When they didn’t, he fired a shot that struck one of the men – 32-year-old Charles Valenti – in the neck. Valenti dropped, immediately paralyzed from the waist down. His accomplice, Kevin Hickey, 26, eluded capture only to be tracked down two hours later. Valenti was rushed to Loyola Hospital where he was listed in critical condition. No dollar amount was given in the robbery attempt, but from Valenti’s viewpoint, the game certainly wasn’t worth the candle.

From the June 21, 1978, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

There was a lady shrouded in beauty and mystery who seemed to pop up every now and again in Forest Park. Known as Cleopatra, she’s an Italian marble statue sculpted by another woman, Edonia Lewis, who was something of an enigma herself. The date of the sculpture is uncertain, yet it won honors at Philadelphia’s 1876 Centennial Exposition.

Not knowing how the statue came to the Chicago area, the Forest Park Historical Society traced it to the old Harlem Race Track were it served as a monument to a favorite racehorse of the same name. Then came more loops and gaps in Cleopatra’s checkered career. In 1942, while the Amertorp Torpedo plant was being built here, on the site of the racetrack, the lady was unceremoniously uncovered amid rubble and trucked to a Cicero excavation plant. She lay buried amid junkyard debris until 1972 when she was rediscovered, traced back to Forest Park and reclaimed by former village historian, Dr. Frank Orland. In 1986 painstaking restoration got underway.

A call to present historian, Rich Vitton, revealed that Cleopatra indeed was restored to her original shining beauty and now enjoys a proper, permanent home in the Lost Art Wing of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

From the June 22, 1988, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

Doug Bartlett’s letter to the editor concerned an ongoing and annoying problem: “Punks, taggers and gang members delight in spray painting other people’s property. Don’t give me the graffiti-is-art argument … it’s a costly problem! When all else fails, keep painting over.”

From the April 22, 1998, Forest Park Review

Bob was born 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.