What a treat to read about my grandfather — Claude Walker Sr. — in the Review’s review of 1957 [“When Forest Park was all shook up,” May 3]. Thanks for sharing the story of the 60 local businessmen who trekked to Springfield for his swearing-in as state rep; I never knew about that.
“Pop” was a colorful fellow. A semi-pro footballer, he once KO’d a guy in the Capitol who called him a “dumb Polack;” Pop was not dumb.
You note he served in the Illinois House with another newspaperman, Paul Simon. The duo co-sponsored bills (remember bipartisanship?) to strengthen freedom of the press. One of my earliest recollections is being in the House chambers with Pop, spinning around in his big blue chair until I got dizzy. That’s when I decided to be a politician. I also inherited his chin and love of baseball.
Pop fostered my budding political addiction, toting me to lawmakers’ conferences around the U.S., introducing me to such legislative lions as Everett McKinley Dirksen and Chuck Percy, and getting me hired as a “page” at the 1968 GOP National Convention (Yes, I met Spiro Agnew). Just weeks later, my dad — Claude Jr., who was then editor of the Forest Park Review — died suddenly, and our worlds were turned upside-down.
Anyhow, it is so gratifying to see the Review flourishing when most newspapers are struggling. As kids, my sisters and I would hang out at the old Review office on Madison Street to pester my grandfather, dad and uncles (except on Tuesdays … deadline day). Or we would enjoy the ear-shattering presses at Forest Printing, play with lead linotype “slugs,” and inhale the ink (it truly was in our veins!)
So John Rice’s article spurred some nice memories for me, my sister Lisa, and all of Claude Sr.’s grandchildren. Thanks much!
Claude Walker III
P.S. I have an essay on my website about Claude, Sr., campaigning with Chuck Percy: http://claudiowalker.com/percy-pop-and-our-polara_519.html