40 years ago

Forest Park a river town? Well the Desplaines River runs through it, yet it’s navigable only by skiff, rowboat, canoe or raft. And for god’s sake, don’t swim in it. Life Scout Bill Heerdt of Troop108 gave words to this deplorable waterway in his letter to the editor. Take it, Mr. Heerdt:

“If Chicago’s water filtration plants suddenly shut down and Chicagoland had to drink from local rivers and wells, would you drink from the Desplaines River? You wouldn’t go near the place, right? Right. The river is muddy and polluted, right? Wrong. Much more pollution than mud. The pollution is so thick you can’t see through it. And the smell! If you cut yourself even near the river you’d most likely have to go to a hospital for a tetanus, or typhoid booster. Plants along the river’s edge have died off leaving exposed shores that erode during spring and fall overflows. These layers gather in the river and build to the low islands seen from the Madison St. bridge.”

From the Nov. 19, 1969, Forest Park Review

30 years ago

An ancient tale, author unknown, appeared at year’s end in the Review. It concerned that old codger, Father Time. He shows at the gig every year, trading his exit for the entrance of the plump, beribboned New Year babe’s arrival. Ever wonder where the baby went the next day? Here, somewhat edited, is where:

There was this gastronomically-challenged old geezer, Chronus – out of Greek mythology. Prophecy had it that he ate his beribboned children, every one. He was annoyed by the persistent fear that one of them would do him in. His wife, Rhea – the kids’ mother – was even more annoyed with the annual bill o’ fare than Chronus was about his impending, unsavory demise.

One New Year she hid Babykins (to be Christened Zeus) and presented her dyspeptic husband with a large stone instead. The duplicity paid off because Chronus – not the sharpest tack in the box – consumed and disgorged the stone (acid reflux and all) along with previously ingested kiddos who had been holing away in Limbo.

All went well, except a small pellet got stuck in his craw. The Upchuck Prophecy stood, but during a bad spell of projectile vomiting he rattled loose a vowel in his name and he has since been known as Chronos, the true Father Time. Given an hour glass and scythe from the Acme prop department, he’s since carved quite a career in the “time game.”

From the Dec. 19, 1979, Forest Park Review

20 years ago

Speaking of kids, in a real world interview, Editor Claudia Lenart did a piece on Dr. James Murray, former Review handwriting columnist and our past school district social psychologist. He gave a talk at the Grant-White School titled, “Disciplining in a Healthy Way.” The subject matter was largely the doctor’s responses to questions and comments from an audience of parents.

“The purpose of discipline,” he led off, “is to help children be better persons. Punishing is not the magic bullet; learning is. When disciplining, distinguish between what your child did and what your child is. Tell him you didn’t like what he did, but that you still love him. If your child thinks he’s a liar, thief or punk,” said the good doctor, “he’ll act like a liar, thief or punk. If you convince kids that they’re good kinds, they’ll act like good kids.”

Any more nuggets in this interview? Yes, give children attention and praise when they behave well. Too often, said Dr. Murray, their good behavior gets taken for granted and they misbehave in order to regain this attention. A good idea is to praise them while they’re doing their homework rather than making a ceremony out of good report cards.

From the Nov. 22, 1989, Forest Park Review

10 years ago

Sometimes, we just don’t deserve the excellence live theater can bestow. That’s how riveting our Circle Theatre’s presentation of The Crime of the Century was during the closing weeks of 1999. One challenge was to enact on stage the real-life horrific slaying of eight student nurses in their south side town house on a July evening in 1966. The human garbage that did the killing was a 24-year-old drug-addled, sicko-loner alcoholic named Richard Speck.

An even steeper challenge, perhaps, was to accurately portray the merciless monster in a credible way – without exploiting the lives, deaths and dignities of the young women. (A ninth miraculously survived by remaining silent and motionless under a bed for long hours.) Director Greg Kolack and playwright Rebecca Gilman wisely left the horrendous details where they already were – in the minds of the audience. Speck appeared as an unemotional, non-speaking observer revealed in three-quarter profile and seated almost aloof in a straight back chair, stage right. The eight victims were portrayed largely living their normal lives, concerned with their usual goings and, of course, unsuspecting of their tragic end.

A backdrop of eight enlarged black and white photos of the nurses to be was a mute witness to the telling of the tragedy. Yet it was quite a piece of theater.

From the Nov. 10, 1999, Forest Park Review