Sympathy to the family and neighbors of our beloved, big, giant-of-a-dog, Bella. Bella was beautiful inside and out; there never was a more lovable creature on earth. She was an enormous Great Dane, gentle as a baby chick. All her neighbors are in mourning for this wonderful pet. There will never be another like her.

Speaking of pets, sympathy to the families involved with the attack at the dog park a few weeks ago. May Bill‘s daughter, Janet Fink, lives near Woodstock where they have three dog parks, one for big dogs, one for small and medium sized dogs, and one for old dogs. Of course, all that land was once farmland, so there’s lots more of it. But it’s an idea that could be given some thought. Maybe divide that big park into two smaller parks.

Speedy get well wishes to spunky little Minnie Maxwell, who at the age of 78 still goes to work every day.

Get well wishes to Geri Grant as well. Geri, though much younger than Minnie, had a painful old hip joint. Now she has a brand new ceramic one and it’s working out well. Geri will be up and about in time, but it does take time.

Congratulations to Helen and George Welsh, who were married at Saint Bernardine’s on Oct. 25 1958. They will celebrate their 50th anniversary at a Mass there with Father David Dowdle.

Sandy Byrnes has to keep busy these days. Three of her closest friends died this past year, Beverly Thompson being the most recent. So Sandy and her mother, June Doulder, took off for Minnesota to join Sandy’s quilting club where they spent the weekend quilting the hours away. They also went to Las Vegas to visit old friends Tim and Ruth Owens, and Bridget and Eddie Nutley, and Jenny and Ron Riske. The Owneses, Nutleys and Riskes all say hello to their friends and former neighbors in Forest Park.

Ruth Loyd has returned from Paris where she vacationed with her daughter, Patti Loyd Brown. She’s still too tired to hunt up a photo of herself at the Eiffel Tower.

The 34th annual holiday art and craft fair at Oak Park-River Forest High School will be held on Sunday, Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. This is an amazing craft fair. More than 140 artists from five states participate. There will be old favorites as well as some new discoveries in the show this year. Admission is only $3, and children under 12 are free. For more information call 708-848-4693. Don’t miss it.

On Oct. 15 we will observe the first manned free flight in 1783. It was in a hot air balloon somewhere over France, and took place some 84 feet off the ground and lasted four minutes. It’s also the day Mata Hari was executed in 1917. She blew a kiss to her executioner. One of my favorite authors, P.G. Wodehouse was born on this day in 1881. Lovers of the Jeeves stories will join me in honoring his memory. Marie Antoinette was also executed on Oct. 16. For another look at that tragedy you could read The Fatal Friendship. Playwright Eugene O’Neill was born in 1888.

Another favorite of mine, Oscar Wilde, was born on the 17th in 1854. Oct. 17 was also the date Yale University was founded. Women were not admitted until 1969. On the 18th of October the feast of Saint Luke is celebrated, he’s the patron saint of doctors. It’s also the birthday of jazz musician Winton Marsalis.

Meanwhile, back in Forest Park, Oct. 15 is the birthday of Review columnist Jim Murray and Chamber of Commerce Director Laurie Kokenes; on the 16th, Jillian Dorney, Rich Barger, Pat Mullen, Hannah Fink, and Phil and Nancy Blum celebrate an anniversary; on the 17th, happy birthday to Susan Blazek, Carl Bachner, Bridget Cote, Catherine Trieber; Oct. 18, Samantha Jilek, Shayna McIlquham, Fred Schildt, Terry Steinbach; Oct. 19, Diane Barron and Tim Bode have a birthday; on the 20th, happy birthday to Joe Byrnes, Caitlin Gillian, Phil Abruzzino, Peter Wojtas, Tierra Curry, John Peter Turek, and happy anniversary to Jill and Dave Smentel.

Jackie is a former Chicago and Elmwood Park schoolteacher with an undying love for music, friendly pets and a host of life’s other treasures too numerous to list. She was born on the far southwest side of Chicago in a great neighborhood when it was a great time to be young.