40 years ago

All quiet at 4 a.m. in an alley between the 200 and 300 blocks of Marengo and Elgin. Almost too quiet. Then, officers Archambault and Heider see three figurers looting the residents’ parked cars. The trio scatters as the cruiser pulls up. Pursuing on foot, the cops collar two of them.

At the station, their modus operandi is learned – take el from Chicago to Forest Park. Steal a car here. Adept at picking car locks, work noiselessly under cover of darkness. Place the loot in garbage cans, returning every so often to reclaim booty. Then call it a profitable night, drive back to Chicago, dispose of stolen car and divvy up goods.

The two arrested were each 18. It was learned that the third thief, the ring leader who eluded arrest, was 17 and had been apprehended a dozen times, leading police to theorize that he was either inept or unlucky.

From the July 16, 1969, Forest Park

30 years ago

This is a tough one. About as bad as it gets. A 16-month-old toddler lost his life when he stumbled and fell in the path of his father’s auto. According to police, the father had discharged all passengers, including his young son, and was backing the car into its parking spot. The child, not visible to the driver, apparently had run a short distance before falling.

What could be worse? To unendingly blame yourself for its cause.

From the Aug. 1, 1979, Forest Park Review

20 years ago

“We’ve been banned at the White Hen.” – So sayeth Review editor Claudia Lenert’s headline on page six. Her opening paragraph reads: “Forest Parkers can buy pornographic magazines at the Madison St. White Hen, but starting this week they can no longer buy ‘the paper with the personal touch.’ [The Forest Park Review.]”

It started when Ms. Lenert began a new column. By the end of Column Two she and the convenience store were at it like a couple of barnyard roosters, spurs and all. She thought she had a scoop when Joe Sansone tried but failed to deliver two dozen Reviews. He told Ms. Lenert that the doors were locked and a “Closed” notice posted, allegedly signed, “Drug Enforcement Agency.”

The whole episode was a poor-taste joke, the work of an (ex-?) employee of the store. No drug pushing at the White Hen … no closed store … no real expose at all – and no scoop. The “pornographic” allegation? After 20 years Ms. Lenert needn’t fear being tracked down, because the word is probably the most poorly defined in the English language.

From the June 21 and 28, 1989, Forest Park Review

10 years ago

Early in May 1999, it was reported that police chief Gary Leisten had retired after nearly 30 years with the Forest Park Police Department. Why? He didn’t have to. He wasn’t forced to. He chose to. His business. Yet we all know that if there’s even a wisp of a chance to pounce on the tiniest morsel of juicy gossip, human nature will take over. About the most controversial thing Leisten did as chief was to take part in a police department bowling party. Several people got their noses bent out of shape when it was found that he drove there in a police cruiser – a car assigned to him when on duty, which he wasn’t. When questioned, Leisten said he had a beer or two while socializing with his peers.

For a while, the “scandal” roared through town like a rattling, rollicking, Midwest thunderstorm massing over Forest Park with clashing thunderheads banging, rolling, pitching and tumbling overhead on both sides, complete with heat lightning, power outages and flooded basements.

Leisten was further quoted as saying, “I guess using the cruiser wasn’t the wisest thing I ever did.”

From the May 5, l999, Forest Park Review