Well, this weekend was it! The Des Plaines River Anthology (DRA) came out Thursday and has been a Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore bestseller for the past two weeks (No surprise!) But on Saturday were two of the best live performances I have ever seen. We had over 40 people at each performance with the audience weeping, frightened, angered, worried, laughing and smiling. Everyone came away feeling better for the experience.

Also, I say this with all due modesty because, while I may have thought of it, pitched it to the right people, pushed and prodded to get it done: I didn’t write the soliloquies, I didn’t edit them almost to “perfection”; I didn’t make things appear when and where they were needed, I didn’t turn it from a book to a fantastic drama and live performance. I didn’t direct, I didn’t corral the actors, or act in it. It was just such a miracle of cooperation that I don’t know if anything like it’ll ever happen again in my lifetime. I’ll just have to think of something new. In the words of Michael Todd, as in the book and in the play, “It was a SHOW!”

I want to thank the Board of the Historical Society of Forest Park for giving me a free hand in creating and then developing this “scheme.” Also, I want to thank the Society’s Director Diane Hansen Grah who was there to coordinate and meet with people involved. On the Board I want to thank Ken Knack for writing the soliloquy for Dr. Hemingway, and Jean Lotus for being so willing become part of both editing, printing, publicity and artistic design (John Lotus, her son, drew the cover page). Thanks to Emily Victorson, without whose help this book could not have come out as professionally as it did. Emily accepted the position as “chief editor” although she didn’t know that when she agreed to work with us.

Thanks to the third leg of the “Triumvirate”: Amy Binns-Calvey. Thanks to her husband Geoff, for getting involved through her belief in the concept, went over the text and consented to working on the next of my dreams for DRA. I thought wouldn’t it be great as a performance as I’ve seen done of E. L. Master’s work. Amy read the text, spoke with Emily, Jean and myself and said it could be done. Then I asked would she do it? She said “yes, but what do you think of having a musical background? I know another Forest Parker, Kathryn Atwood and her husband John who perform and write folk music…” This was beyond even my original dream. I knew Kathy as an author, but not, specifically, as a musician and composer. I said “Amy, could you ask her for us?” Kathy and John accepted. We were now making serious headway.

The actual catalyst to this endeavor was the 13-plus authors who answered my petition for the soliloquies for those buried in Forest Park. Ninety-nine percent of those asked said yes, even after I told them the society could pay them “$0.00” for their work. Not one of the authors who appear in the book hesitated at that stipulation. They all seemed to love the whole idea and what I was trying to do for the society and Forest Park.

Now, the next bounty is that Amy Binns-Calvey found 13 actors who would perform in the play she adapted for the same salary I offered the author/writers. They not only accepted those “terms”, but put on, as I said above, one of the best live performances I’ve seen. Those who didn’t see the play, well “Life is too short.” If you’d been at the play you’d know what I’m saying.

Michael Thompson, a volunteer with Park District of Forest Park, said he’d talk to the Park District about hosting the show. As he did with the Forest Parkopoly Board, Larry Piekarz, Director of the Park District, said “fine. When do you need it?” So with the help of his administrative assistant, Rachell Entler, and Diane Grah, our venue was secured and set up for a rehearsal and two performances with no hassles and no expense.

So, as you can see, The Historical Society of Forest Park is indebted to many for the success of the Des Plaines River Anthology, but I wanted all to know why.

We were a little disappointed only one village commissioner, Chris Harris, attended a performance. Don Offermann came from Forest National Bank.

I hope in conclusion, that those who did attend the performances and have purchased and read the Des Plaines River Anthology, will let others know what the Historical Society of Forest Park has done in the past two years and can do for this community. We need financial support, we need not only a place to store and record our collections, but a handicapped accessible place for all to carry on research, view displays and carry on performances like this past Saturday. If you want consistent quality like this you have to commit time and money. Although all these people, authors, writers, editors, actors, playwright and other organizers did this because of their belief in the project, the society is not going to the trough again to get these wonderful “volunteers” to perform DRA again for free. We need residents to support us, but we also need some large (tax deductible) contributions from business, finance, affluent donors, and maybe government, to make this society not only continue, but GROW! We are in good hands with our new president, Robert Cox.

August Aleksy


Vice President of
the Historical Society,

Board Member of the
Chamber of Commerce,

Owner Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore