40 years ago

In the main, life consists of everyday trivialities – the joy of watching a toddler take its first steps, the quotidian (look it up) frustration of every-week shopping at the supermarket, or even … what’s on television tonight.

Then we get slapped in the face – stunned – by the unforeseen, the dreaded or the inevitable. It happened here on the morning of March 26, 1969. At 8:30 a fire broke out in an apartment building at 7320 Madison. Smoke from a burning mattress was choking residents when firefighters arrived. Local firemen, assisted by units from Oak Park and River Forest, set up ladders and were bringing down frightened tenants. Captain Frank Schnurstein, 44, who had already saved a child on the third floor, heard and saw a woman at the same level pleading to be evacuated. Starting up the ladder again and nearing the woman, he either slipped on a rung or lost his grip, toppled back, then fell to his death on the sidewalk.

Chief Del Marousek estimated the damage to the building at $25,000. The loss to the Schnurstein family – his wife Viola, and children, Frank and Terri – was inestimable.

Next time you’re in the lobby of the village hall take time to look at four badges on display. They’re remembrances of Capt. Schnurstein and three others who sacrificed everything to perform their duty for us. Nothing quotidian about it.

From the April 2, 1969, Forest Park Review

30 years ago

Because we all need someone to talk to, this is a sort of universal Letter to the Editor:

“I am writing in prayer that you will publish my letter asking for correspondence. I am a prisoner, without family or friends, and loneliness is a permanent part of me. Since my incarceration, all my family and friends have forsaken me. I wish to correspond with real and sincere individuals. I am 26 years old.”

Leroi Davis – #143-204, Box 45699, Lucasville, Ohio, 45699,

I think I came upon this poignant letter before in the back issues. Like you, I wonder how many took time to write.

From the April 11, 1979, Forest Park Review

20 years ago

The place – the northwest corner of the Forest Park Mall parking lot. The time – a little past five of a Tuesday afternoon. The subject – a 35-year-old woman apparently attempting suicide. The scene:

A couple of mall employees notice the woman in the back seat of a locked, parked car. She seems distressed and agitated, so the employers call security who contact 911. The woman is pleaded with to unlock her car, to no avail. Finally, security noticed she was concerned enough (scared) and wanted to live bad enough to unlock her rear door. It was reported that her wrists were slashed and she was bleeding freely. A security guard applied direct pressure to her wounds to stanch the flow. A fire department ambulance dispatched her to Loyola.

Apparently, there are a lot of tortured souls in the big city. And surrounding suburbs.

From the April 29, 1989, Forest Park Review

10 years ago

Enough already about the 1999 Forest Park mayoral primary. Calderone collared 49 percent of the vote, Popelka 38 percent, Lichtenberg 7 percent and Greco 6 percent. Mini-comments by the candidates in order of finish, first to last: “I’m certainly pleased with the results, but that’s only the first phase.”… “It’s the end results that count. It was just a primary.” … “I’m thankful for the four people who put me ahead of Dr. Greco,”… and “What went on in this election was a disgrace to humanity. Some of these people conducted themselves like animals.”

With people and comments like these, Forest Park continues to be an interesting and colorful town.

From the March 3, 1999, Forest Park Review