40 years ago

Irwin Ayers, 45, of 410 Desplaines, woke on a Friday not feeling well. At mid-morning he called Dr. Harry Swanstrom, a physician with offices at Madison and Marengo, for a noon appointment. Parking his car across from the doctor’s clinic, he slumped over the seat dead or dying. No one noticed until four hours later when Ayers’ distraught wife, in search of him, noticed the parked car. Ayers was pronounced dead by Dr. Swanstrom.

The great New York journalist and short-story writer, Damon Runyon, once wrote, “In all of life the odds are 6 to 5 – against.”

From the Oct. 22, 1969, Forest Park Review

30 years ago

A resident called 911 to report a sizeable snake sunning itself on his neighbor’s roof. On arrival, a trio of officers were confronted with the problem of corralling a 5-foot long Indian python. With the aid of some fire department pike poles, the slithery fellow was held down by the neck while one of the officers gingerly, yet firmly, grabbed its head and tail. Next stop, Brookfield Zoo, until an owner could be located.

Snake stories don’t often appear on these pages, yet one did that was remindful of the Guinness Book of World Records – longest fangs department. The venomous prize winner was the gaboon viper. It sports dental daggers 4 inches long! Retractable yet. Talk about overbite! If you’re unlucky, you’ll find this customer draped motionless over a tree limb to escape Africa’s torrid equatorial heat. His venom isn’t deadly but his bite is deep. So don’t let him bite you – especially not in your gaboon. No.

From the Oct. 17, 1979, Forest Park Review

20 years ago

Oliver Guy was quitting his job and giving himself an hour-long party at his workplace, the Blueberry Hill Tavern, 427 Desplaines Ave. A native of Paris, he also had lived in Normandy and the French Riviera. Guy claimed it was a “skirt” who was responsible for his move to the U.S. and a 27-year stay in Forest Park.

“Being a bartender here was a lot of fun,” he said.

So much, apparently, that he began his memoirs and has about 4,500 words written. “People come in an infinite variety,” he said, “I’ve seen and heard all kinds.” Oliver Guy – one colorful guy.

From the Sept. 13, 1989, Forest Park Review

10 years ago

Andrea Freidinger was the editor of this paper 10 years ago. She spent one evening from 9:30 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. “riding shotgun” with two Forest Park police officers – first Mike Murphy, then Lucius Baker – patrolling the village during the graveyard shift. Hoping for some form of danger or at least excitement, our intrepid editor settled for a routine Friday-into-Saturday canvassing of our sleepy town.

Until her midnight ride, Freidinger thought, “What a job, just driving around and looking at things.” After, she made a distinction between seeing and observing, hearing and listening. “After a patrol like this you know when certain things are in place or awry.” A trio of youths outside MacDonald’s got noticed in Officer Murphy’s rear view mirror. They passed muster. File under “Knowing your beat.” Murphy waved to a few of the regular night people he knew.

At about 11 p.m. his shift ended and Officer Baker’s began. Toward midnight he responded to the dispatcher to check out a woman asleep at Portillo’s while the staff was preparing to close. Baker escorted her from the hot dog emporium and radioed an assisting officer to give her a ride home. Cheaper than a cab. Freidinger’s relatively ordinary ride was over at 3:30 a.m. and she went home for some shuteye. She took with her the feeling that when all goes well with a cop on the nightshift there can still be a hitch. Last night’s officer just has to look at the next day’s report to see the crimes that were committed on his watch.

What was it that Damon Runyon said about odds?

From the Aug. 18, 1999, Forest Park Review