40 years ago

Never mind death; first figure out what life is about. Life was represented in the face of Father Richard Prescott, 38, who as a schoolboy probably kicked a tin can or two on his way to St. Bernardine School during the depression. His face was a smile – bright, cheerful, giving and full of promise and potential. Graduating DePaul Academy and DePaul University, he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1961 and assigned missionary duty in Lima, Peru, in 1968.

Not for long. He contracted acute blood poisoning and died within a year. Meanwhile, half a world away in Vietnam, too many American troops a generation younger than Prescott were to die. (They probably kicked cans to school before ever learning of Vietnam.) One life or 58,000 lives, the words of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay had given such commonplace destinies fit expression in her poem, “Dirge without Music”:

Down, down, down into the darkness of
the grave

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender,
the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

From the Nov. 19, 1969, Forest Park Review

30 years ago

It must have been a sight to behold, but witnesses reported hearing it first. What else could you expect when an empty CTA car topples 20 feet from its elevated track onto six parked automobiles. When Miss Hap hits, she can hit with devastating effect. No serious injuries, but five of the six vehicles on ground zero became instant scrap, including a factory-new 1980 Cadillac Eldorado.

The accident took place late on a Thursday morning in the switchyard of the Green Line, west of Harlem and Elgin on Circle Avenue. The cause was thought to be a misdirection in switching tracks. (Miss Direction was believed to be a first cousin of Miss Hap.)

From the Dec. 12, 1979, Forest Park Review

20 years ago

The arson-homicide case that shouldn’t go away didn’t go away, according to Detective Steve Knack, one of two officers assigned to follow up on this crime. The suspect was Michael Clarke, husband to Cheryl, 35, and their daughter Kala, 9, each of whom died of smoke inhalation when their Washington Street apartment was set afire the evening of June 15, 1989. After interviewing Clarke, Knack asked the suspect’s attorney if the defendant would submit to a lie detector test which he had thus far refused. “His lawyer thought it would be a good idea,” said Knack. “But until he takes one, he’ll remain a suspect.”

Police declined to comment on whether there were other suspects, yet disclosed that the fatal fire was the fourth one attempted at that address in a month.

From the Oct. 18, 1989, Forest Park Review

10 years ago

Walkers and streetwalkers, unite! Four people got themselves arrested in on-the-road incidents. William Kanak, 40, of Berwyn was collared for repeatedly stepping onto the roadway in the 700 block of S. Harlem, displaying a sign reading, “Could use a hot meal.” Later in the day, in the same block, Ray Lee Alexander, 31, of Chicago, was apprehended at curbside for making appeals on behalf of “battered women” – with no license. Two days later, Jesse Archer, 48, of Maywood was booked on Roosevelt Road for taking a page from the William Kanak book.

One wrinkle in all this was provided by a 34-year-old Addison woman who was taken in after being observed walking west on Madison (near Park Avenue in River Forest). Police said she was “interacting” with traffic, waving down vehicles that seemed to be driven by men, and stepping onto the street with any slowdowns. When asked by arresting officers what she was doing, she replied, “Not working.” She was charged with soliciting. Rides? Girl Scout cookies?

From the Oct. 13 and 27, 1999, Forest Park Review