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40 years ago

Recipe for drama: Take three 12-year-old boys, set them down by the icy Des Plaines River just north of the Roosevelt Road bridge, sprinkle with an adolescent taste for adventure, salt with a trace of dumbness, add a lot of ice, then top with a dash of foolhardy derring-do.

It served three youths, all from Oak Park, Gary Dobbs, Kurt Werzek and John Hill. They were “messing around” at river’s edge when the notion that walking on frozen water to reach the other side might be a novel idea. Not a good idea, mind you; a novel one. At first crack, all three went in. Werzek and Hill were able to wade back through the knee-deep wet. Not so for Dobbs who foundered in six feet of water. He grabbed hold of an ice floe while Hill scrambled up the banks to hail a passing motorist who called for help.

Police and firemen tossed several lines without success. A fireman crawled a ladder to reach him only to have the ladder give way. By now several hundred people were witnessing the drama. Detective Robert Conklin noticed the victim was turning blue and losing his struggle. A former lifeguard, he threw off his coat, tied a rope around his waist and dove in. He swam to the boy, and with an experienced arm, seized Dobbs and brought him to shore. Before going home for a bath and change of clothes, Conklin remarked that the look on the youngster’s face was reward enough.

From the Feb. 13, 1969, Forest Park Review

30 years ago

Who wants to read two fiction grabbers that were written 30 years ago? To those who read only current novels, what has “when” got to do with what’s “what” in a compelling piece of writing? The Amityville Horror was made into a mind-chilling movie in 1979 and reviewed in the Review. (Then there’s The Exorcist, a first-cousin novel and film to Amity.) Both are presumably based on fact; both were acclaimed as splendid reads and gripping motion pictures.

Of the two, The Amityville Horror might have an edge. In 1975, a family moves into a new home in Amityville, Long Island. After a few fearful months they are sufficiently terrorized by spirits to abandon the place, even most of their belongings. There’s more, a lot more … and if told too much, you may not read or view it properly in the context of what happens. The book(s) and movie(s) disturb, terrify and entertain.

From the Jan. 10, 1979, Forest Park Review

20 years ago

Dark tragedy was to follow Forest Parkers Walter and Joan Biesterfeld, both 27. The couple had three children, one each from previous marriages and a three week old born to them. While making a left turn at 1:22 a.m. in Bloomingdale, their car was broadsided by another vehicle. Neither survived.

As though mocked after death, a car in their funeral cortege was broadsided at Roosevelt and Desplaines on its way to Glen Oak Cemetery. A slightly injured passenger was a relative of Mrs. Biesterfeld. Ironically, fate was not quite finished because another driver caused a second interruption with a fender bender to a funeral car at Roosevelt and 9th.

From the Feb. l, 1989, Forest Park Review

10 years ago

The 7 year-old might as well have had a “Shopper in Training” flag mounted to the cart as the child wheeled a couple of VCRs past the Wal-Mart registers with security watching. They followed the child outside and across the lot almost to Taco Bell, when they asked the child its business. The youngster allegedly said it was to wait for its mother by their car. Nothing to do but wait.

When the mother showed, she admitted to having told the child to take the VCRs. She was charged with retail theft, child endangerment and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. There was no mention in her record that she was competing for any Mother of the Year award.

From the Dec. 9, 1998, Forest Park Review