My highlights from 2014 included making a new friend in Florida. Dorothy Misleh, nee Nelson, sent an inquiry to the historical society asking if her childhood home at 419 Hannah was still standing. We mailed Dorothy photographs of the house and a list of its owners throughout the years. She, in turn, made a generous donation to the society. Dorothy is 92 but her voice on the phone sounds like she’s 32. She left town in her 20’s but still subscribes to the Review, bless her heart.
At the other end of the age spectrum, I received some valuable help from two 12 year-olds, Samantha Apraham and Keegan Brown, who teamed up to cover Little League games. The budding entrepreneurs also gave Power Point presentations to my French business students. (Sam’s daredevil brother, Curtis, provided me with a big story by getting stuck in a tree.)
It is one thing to get homegrown help but I also got an unexpected boost from Elodie Gomes. The Parisian wrote about her insights into American life for the Review and confessed an addiction to her cell phone, Tango.
I had two brushes with celebrities. I met actor Armand Assante at a banquet at Casa de Puros. I also got to shake the hand of comedy legend/activist Dick Gregory just before he took the stage.
It was even more of an honor to meet LaNyah Aldridge, an 11 year-old who wears a sparkling smile, despite the curse of Sickle Cell Anemia.
Rosa Chun, Laura Osterlund and Abby Hanrahan all shared their inspiring life stories. Anne Friedman also told me her remarkable account of getting a tattoo in Antarctica. But the most intriguing woman I met was Siri, who gave me directions and texted the person of my choice.
It was an honor to cover the induction of Chubbs Polfus into the 16″ Softball Hall of Fame. Chubbs set the all-time record for having supporters buy ads in the booklet. I was excited by the opening of the HOF Museum at the Park.
I wrote twenty-one 100 words articles in two days, earning my biggest payday as a journalist. I got my first two-week vacation from the column in 14 years. During this hiatus, I connected with 93 of the nicest students I’ve ever met and basked in their brilliance.
I dispelled private detective myths, chronicled the history of belly dancing, promoted the Amazing Helper Cane, discussed financial illiteracy and neighborliness, recounted the history of food, listed the benefits of having a polar vortex, provided a father-of-the-bride guide and made fun of the “Fighting Irish.”
Most memorably, I had the privilege of meeting William Callaghan, Sr., whose First Confession was heard by my great-uncle eighty-five years ago. He is one of the oldest alumni of St. Ignatius, where we shared the same teacher. War hero, successful builder, he danced at my daughter’s wedding a few months ago. I know he doesn’t live in Forest Park but “Grandpa” Callaghan is my “Man of the Year.”
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.