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Forty Years Ago

Such a town! Such a past! Present-day readers would have such a reaction to Editor Claude Walker’s retrospective column four decades ago. He went back to the 19th century when the village answered to the name, Harlem. Back then, we were that “Race Horse Town” with a mix of horses, handicaps, hustlers and hoodlums. The track, at the south end of town, attracted drifters, swindlers and pick-pockets. Then, all in “bad” time, the track was gone, and a cheap-jack amusement park replaced it at about where the Blue Line terminal now sits.

The place nose-dived from a not-bad family place to an amusement park that too often failed to amuse. Come Prohibition and the tumultuous crash from the Roaring Twenties, to the can’t-spare-a-dime times of the Depression, a new generation of hoods infested Forest Park.

Then, after Dec. 7, 1941, everything was put on hold. War’s end in May (Europe) and September (Japan) of 1945 ushered the village into its modern era. The bad has been emphasized here more than the good. Still, it’s all Forest Park. What a town! Quite a town! Your and my town!

From the July 18, 1968, Forest Park Review

Thirty Years Ago

Art Jones, the force behind the 10-year revitalization of Main Street, wrote a letter to the editor. Read this abbreviated portion of what he said and how he said it: “In the June issue of the Forest Park Public Schools ‘Report Card,’ I endeavored to express appreciation to many who assisted in the planning and implementation of the annual Chamber of Commerce’s All Schools Picnic. Unfortunately, printing errors diluted this effort. The picnic could not be a success without the time and talents of …”

Jones then reinserted those whose names had been omitted. The point is that he didn’t blame; he cited the error rather than whoever committed it. That’s deft. It’s a small thing, yet most things are. Leaders know this and only quality leaders pull it off with relative ease and grace.

From the June 21, 1978, Forest Park Review

Twenty Years Ago

The woman’s ex-boyfriend had been making a lot of phone calls to her since the break-up. One night he showed up outside her apartment building with a sawed-off shotgun. Inexplicably, she invited him in to talk. Predictably, he threatened her with the weapon. Then a phone call from her girlfriend who, sensing something was amiss, said she would be coming over. At that point, the impulsive ex-boyfriend fled, leaving his loaded shotgun behind. His ex-girlfriend then called police and signed a complaint against the fellow.

From the June 22, 1988, Forest Park Review

Ten Years Ago

More about the Main Street Redevelopment Association. Within this body is a Main Street Design Committee. Its job essentially was to create the look or feel of our renovated and preserved downtown, from Harlem to Desplaines streets as we’ve known it the past 15 years. Commissioner Tim Gillian gathered the committee members for a deadline meeting to determine final consideration of virtually all decorative fixtures – from light poles to sidewalk benches, to fascia design of storefronts, rooms over businesses, bay windows and apartment exteriors. Landscaping decisions were still to be made, yet the overall complimentary coordinated “look” of today was taking shape.

For all its diversity, Main Street has taken on its own pleasingly planned character – one that seems to reflect well its motto, “Big City Access, Small Town Charm.”

From the May 6, 1998, Forest Park Review