40 years ago

A syndicated sports feature carried stories of some daffy ballplayers of the past. Here are two examples: There was a pitcher named Boom Boom Beck. Whence the appellation Boom Boom? When he uncorked his best fastball, more often than not the next sound you’d here was the Boom of bat striking ball; echoed by the Boom of ball breaking a wooden plank of fence 400 feet away.

Then there was Lewis “Hack” Wilson who often brought a hangover with him to the Cubs ballpark. Built like a fireplug, Hack would trot reluctantly out to right field on a blazing August afternoon and take up the familiar hands-on-knees outfielder position. Lord, how the sun beat down. Lord, how his headache throbbed. Bent over, he studied the grass top, then his heavy lids would close, open, then slowly close again. Perhaps a snore. He felt drowsy. He felt bad. Then, a commotion! A baseball had landed a few feet in front of him, caromed off his ankle (error one) and back off the wall and through his legs (error two). Graceful as an ox, he bounded after the baseball, picked it up and heaved it into the third base stands (error three.) Three errors on one play! How Cub-like. They don’t misplay ’em like that anymore. Or do they?

From the June 10, 1970 Forest Park Review

30 years ago

This newspaper was big on trivia 30 years ago. Here’s a filler from May 29, 1980. In 1811 Thomas Jefferson was elected third president of the United States. Twenty years earlier he was believed to be foolhardy enough to grow tomatoes. It took another citizen to disprove the majority belief that this vegetable/fruit was not deadly but edible and healthful. Col. Robert G. Johnson took the courthouse steps in Salem, New Jersey at noon, Sept. 26, 1820 to eat a half-dozen of the soft and seedy “redsters.” He was fine next day, and for a good long while after.

From the May 28, 1980 Forest Park Review

20 years ago

In George Orwell’s delightful, disturbing, political fable, Animal Farm, the leader pigs deceive their suspicious followers by telling them that all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Without double-speaking, we could say that all residents care about Forest Park, only some care more than the rest. We speak of Connie Robey.

For close to three decades this one-of-a-kind, dedicated and courageous woman has been fighting the good fight in trouble spots like her own 7400 block of Washington Blvd., and beyond. In almost any town or city people pick up and move on, or stay on and fight. Ms. Robey is a fighter. She bought a condominium here in 1983 for her and her grandson after being “fed up with moving from neighborhoods in Chicago and Bellwood that had become rundown.”

She’s taken part in local causes from opportunistic landlords to Chicago drug lords. She virtually put the “neighbor” in Neighborhood Watch. She’s done this – and much more – for 27 years. Before retirement, she also worked full time at Sears where she kept computers up and running. How else is she different from most of us? She acts on what she cares about without raising rabble. In 1987 Mayor Popelka nominated her for Volunteer of the Year. Maybe the powers that be will consider Connie Robey as Forest Park Person of the Year. No one deserves it more.

From the July 20, 1990 Forest Park Review

10 years ago

What’s the script for a centenarian? How do you sum up 100 years of life? “Ninety-nine years of pretty good health – and now This?” Hardly. Stella Kovarik lived in Chicago, Cicero and Forest Park, married, raised two children, worked at Western Electric, Brach Candies and the cosmetic counter at Marshall Field. She fell in love with Hawaii, visiting it a half dozen times, and summed up her 100 years with, “I’ve had a beautiful life with my husband, children and grandchildren.”

From the June 7, 2000 Forest Park Review