For decades the Review had a front page slogan that read “The paper with the personal touch.” And it did. No paper edited and published by Bob Haeger could ever fall short in the realm of knowing and being known.
Bob’s back in the paper this week, this being the third week of May and that meaning it is time for the Bob Haeger All-School Picnic. If there is an event that says all good things about Forest Park it is this picnic with its inclusion of kids from every school, its charitable ways with so many local businesses providing the food, drinks, prizes and treats, the shared effort it represents between the schools, the park district, the village.
Until we were researching the picnic for an article this week we couldn’t have told you that the roots of the All-School Picnic go all the way back to 1899. That’s a long tradition even by Forest Park standards.
Bob got his name attached to the picnic a long time ago, though not so far back as the 1800s. We still remember his funeral at St. Bernardine’s. Now that was a time. And speaking of St. B’s this will be the last time its students take part in the picnic as the school closes its doors in just a few weeks. Sometimes change is not good.
Two of our terrific columnists – John Rice and Jackie Schulz – are on the Bob Crane retirement beat this issue. Mr. Crane is retiring after 40 years as the custodian at Garfield. John was in the bleachers at the gym as students, staff, family and many Garfield retirees saluted Mr. Crane, giving credence to the notion that it is the janitor not the principal who holds a school together. No disrespect to principals intended.
John also tells the story of Bob Crane starting work at Garfield as a teenager working summers there and how Ed Phillips, the long-time principal, hired him full time after the back-to-back deaths of his folks before he was 20. Forest Park sticks together.
We’ve got the letter from John Tricoci, president of the Little League, oh, and member of the school board, offering thanks to all who made Family Day a success. And there is a moving piece on what Memorial Day means to three local fellows who went off to war, one of our various wars from WWII to Vietnam, and then came home to Forest Park. Joe Byrnes did two tours in Vietnam and earned a Purple Heart then spent a career as a respected Forest Park cop and did his turn as an elected park board member. Lyle Bowden served in both WWII and Korea and recalls how his second time around the services were racially integrated. Al Bucholtz is 91 now. He served during WWII and remembers the changes 1943 brought to his gang of pals from Forest Park. Mr. Bucholtz came home and has served on the village’s zoning board, as a St. John’s volunteer and as a semi-regular Review letter writer.
And finally this week there is another thoughtful piece by our Tom Holmes who writes about the upsides of staying put. Tom talks about the time two decades back when he was ready to leave Forest Park. The town was in a rut, his work as a pastor was frustrating him and he’d just divorced. It was time for a major change, he thought, but then, like so many parents, he chose to stay a while longer to let his kid graduate from Fenwick.
Now it is 31 years he has been in Forest Park. Holmes has mastered the art of the human connection that is at the heart of what is good and strong about Forest Park.
Start on page one and read through this week’s Review. Now, as then, the paper with the personal touch.