40 years ago
How to view our village in a new light after dark – ride a squad. See the back alleys, side streets and tampered-with rear doors of businesses from a police cruiser at 4 a.m. when all is quiet, dark and still. Maybe too much so. A few editors and reporters have done it, including Editor Larry Kaercher.
In April, 1970, he got permission to ride shotgun with a couple of officers pulling the graveyard shift. There were long, dull stretches interrupted by real and imaginary moves.
Four o’clock darkness is darker, and even the quiet is muted. One’s awareness is more likely to kick into high and the passenger, not the driver, is more likely to be startled. Habit and police training have taught the driver the difference between a harmless stirring – a cat, raccoon or the wind – and a figure that just doesn’t belong there. Kaercher described his night out with “the boys in blue” seated up front and himself, a pale civilian, in the back. An adrenalin rush comes when there’s a sudden chase, he said. “The siren screams, lights flash- and you don’t really know what’s going on ’til you get there.”
Toward daybreak he was left off at home. He didn’t get to sleep right away.
From the May 6, 1970 Forest Park Review
30 years ago
Richard Miranda was the 13-year-old middle school youngster who perished in a midnight fire when he ran back into his burning house to rescue his dog. He never made it out. His mother, who worked nearby as a waitress, had an arrangement with a neighbor to check Richard and his 12-year-old sister, Tania, at home on working nights. The neighbor had done so earlier that evening.
Details revealed that a light bulb had burned out in an upstairs bedroom. When he lighted a match in search of a replacement bulb, the flame caught a coverlet and started a small fire that the two thought they extinguished. After they had gone to bed, a smoldering ember had apparently broken into flame.
The only good news was that Richard’s sister, though suffering burns, was in good condition at Oak Park Hospital. A few days after the tragedy, contributions arrived from neighbors, other residents and local businesses, including this newspaper. They were a needy family. Now they were horribly reduced.
From the April 30. 1980 Forest Park Review
10 years ago
The 39-year-old woman was vacuuming her minivan at the Amoco station on Harlem and Washington. Then she felt cold steel on her back. Her visitor was a 19-year-old man who demanded the keys to her vehicle. Her scream was effective; nice and natural and loud. Several bodies in the immediate area heard her loud and clear. One of the bodies was quick to dial 911. The scream got the attention of the youth, too, who dropped the keys and bolted. He jumped a fence, ran through a mini-mall and sprinted toward Harlem. Police flushed him out from behind Brown’s Chicken.
The fellow was charged with vehicular invasion, attempted hi-jacking of a vehicle, aggravated robbery, burglary and battery. He faced six to 30 years. If he had just gone to a movie instead of visiting that van ….
From the May 17, 2000 Forest Park Review