The Forest Park Review was struggling in 1937, attempting to recover, like most other businesses, from the Great Depression. Unemployment was still at 14%, while the Review shrunk down to a two-pager. Its masthead, though, proudly proclaimed that it was, “A newspaper rendering a community service,” which was “Reaching Every Home in Forest Park.” The paper was published on Fridays and boasted a circulation of 4,171.
The Review and the people of Forest Park may have been struggling financially but they showed they had big hearts for others who were hurting. There was a front-page proclamation by Mayor Charles R. Hussey, “Calling upon citizens to support the 270,000 families flooded by the Ohio River,” for which $1,500 was raised. Kiwanis and St. Peter’s Church also collected donations for the flood victims.
This kind of compassion extended to the citizens of Forest Park as well. Kiwanis transported 200 children to Brookfield Zoo. They also planned outings to Municipal Airport and to watch the Cubs battle the Phillies. The Associated Charities of Forest Park collected clothing for the needy at the fire station. Betsy Ross School kids received free admission to the Forest Theater to watch Shirley Temple in Wee Winnie Winkle.
The Forest Theater had to compete with a new movie house in January 1937 when the “Lil Theater” opened its doors at 7347 Madison St. (now Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor). Admission was 10 cents for kids, 15 cents for adults. The new movie house screened such classics as Mutiny on the Bounty, Libeled Lady and Duck Soup, the latter starring the four Marx Brothers. The theater also showed a movie that must have struck a chord with the police department. It was called The Devil Is Driving.
Police Chief Fred Licht, in fact, wrote several front-page stories about the dangers of driving. The articles bore headlines like, “Speed vs. Death,” “How Much Is a Life Worth?” and “15 Rules for Automotive Safety” (Rule 10: “Be careful of other people’s fingers when closing car doors”). In one article, he described daredevils driving through Forest Park while wearing blindfolds.
In other automotive news, columnist Albert Hall complained, “The parking situation in the Lake-Marion [Oak Park shopping] district has become as serious as parking in the Loop.” Still is.
In 1937, churches played a major role in the lives of Forest Parkers. One held a “Benefit for Local Relief Work,” featuring “a vaudeville program of real merit.” St. Bernardine’s got in on the act with a minstrel show called the “Dusky Follies.”
St. Paul Lutheran conducted services in German and English, as did St. Peter’s, which held four services on Easter Sunday. St. John Lutheran went a step further by holding an open air service at the “New Park,” located at Desplaines and Harrison. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was still working on The Park, completing four new playgrounds in 1937. However, work had to be stopped when the WPA exhausted its federal funds. The WPA wasn’t just involved in construction, WPA teachers were conducting classes at Forest Park Village Hall.
During these hard times, the Review offered diversions to its readers. The front page had a feature called “Future Headliners” with photos of infants and toddlers. Their names and addresses were also listed. “Parichy Puzzles” debuted. These anagrams were the brainchild of Emery Parichy and were called “Roof-A-Grams” in honor of his company, Parichy Roofing and Shingle Co.”
Parichy was also a sponsor of the All-American Girls’ Softball League, which was very popular during the Depression. Teams played at Parichy Stadium, at Harlem and Harrison (now part of I-290) and the Review promoted a game between the Detroit Rayls and Forest Park’s team, the Vogel Brothers Bloomer Girls.
In other entertainment news, the “Bird Girl” whistled for the Women’s Club and Pat Paterson danced the “52nd Street Hula.” The “Shamrock Frolic” was held at St. Bernardine’s on St. Patrick’s Day. Lewis Stevens was the marble champ of Forest Park, while the Forest Park Women’s Scrap Book Club took 2nd Prize at the state meet. Forest Park also had a horseback riding club that met at the West Suburban Riding Academy.
“Tired women” were urged to buy the new Easy Ironer. And they could take Nervine, which promised to “Soothe irritated nerves and helps you to get hold of yourself.” An ad for another remedy, cod liver oil, featured photos of the Dionne Quintuplets: “Still healthy, still growing, still talking.”
In other ads, homes for sale in Forest Park ranged in price from $2,450 to $7,250. A cheesecake at the Forest Park Food Shop cost 20 cents.
Forest Park Shoe Repairing offered head-to-toe service: “Hats cleaned and blocked. Skates Sharpened.” Rabe-Blough Co. sold refrigerators and Grunow Radios. (The company’s founder, William Grunow, now occupies a magnificent mausoleum in Forest Home Cemetery.) The Pines Restaurant was a popular eatery at 7412 Harrison, while Trage Brothers operated an automotive business down the street, at 7400 Harrison.
Finally, in crime news, “Police Arrest Dog who Resents It.” The cops collared a spaniel they found wandering in the north end, without owner, or identification.