Editorials, brief articles written by the editor or publisher, give a snapshot of the village of the past and can help frame the present. I thought it might be interesting to take a vacation in time and uncover a few editorials from the Review from past third weeks of July.
Going back to read editorials from Claude A. Walker, Claude A. Walker Jr., Larry Kaercher and Bob Haeger is never disappointing; the pages of the Review always have plenty of historical gems to take away.
The July 18, 1957, “Personal Observation” by Claude A. Walker opens with, “Ordinarily I usually ponder over the typewriter keys several minutes before I can sail into the lead story (which should be most important, I hear) of the column. Many times I’ll peck away a half a page, read it and then toss it into the waste basket.
“Not so this week, for there is only one important subject on the minds of all Forest Parkers, and that is, ‘How much water did you get in your basement?’ Since Saturday morning, when the mopping-up period started, and well into the week, local folks were discussing the worst flood that has ever hit Forest Park and, of course, the surrounding communities.”
He is talking about the deluge of 1957 when it poured and flooded and, after expressing neighbors’ frustrations, he concluded, “All in all, the local citizenry took the deluge, and what went with it, in good spirits,” which is the attitude he wanted history to remember.
Also a state legislator, Walker would often use his editorial to share updates from Springfield and on July 16, 1964, he shared insight as to why he limited “fun” for teens and voted to ban fireworks in Illinois. On July 16, 1969, feeling the pressure of the building boom in Forest Park, Walker expounds, “Woe is me, since I started harping on the effect of large apartment and condominium buildings here, and the influx of residents, in our community… and the impact of the new residents.” He refers to people in condominiums and apartments as “Cliff Dwellers” who do not invest in the community compared to residents who talk over fences or “koffee klatch.”
Two of three weeks of July 1967, include the voice of Claude A. Walker Jr., as he filled in for his father editorializing and inciting a bit of controversy by suggesting the Forest Park Public Library and the park district combine buildings and level the library to create a parking lot.
The following week’s editorial page includes a letter from Forest Parker J.P. Connolly, who defends the library and Josephine Austin, and accuses Claude Jr. of taking L.S.D. or smoking too much pot. His father’s return, the third week of the month, brought the editorial spat to a close with Claude Sr. offering some advice on traveling.
By 1970, Larry Kaercher was the editor, and “Your Editor Says” morphed into “Your Editor Sez” the following year with commentary on locking doors and feeling unsafe; the amendment to the Military Draft Extension Bill which keeps doctors in communities; and in 1973 he expounds on the current disposition of people and the general sentiment, “What’s in it for me?”
There was a break from editorials in July until Bob Haeger came into the fold. His column, “Once Over Lightly,” covers village council meetings in 1985 and 1986.
Haeger’s editorial of a Monday night meeting, published July 17, 1985, reported that Set Back Inn North and Goldyburgers asked the village council for permission for patrons to dine “like Oak Park where you put some table and chairs out on the sidewalk, and presto, you have an outdoor café.”
He goes on to say, “Some people are comparing the council’s position on outdoor cafes to the attitude about electronic games in the taverns and lounges.” Also in this editorial, he shares the council vote, led by Jerry Jacknow, to name the municipal lot at Madison and Thomas, “Madison Court,” which we now know as “Constitution Court.”
Once Over Lightly in 1986 highlights an unusual exchange at the council meeting about a Graverly tractor used for plowing snow off the sidewalks and the determination of the group of artists who started Circle Theatre.
If you’re looking to join this “mental meandering” through time, or just take a local historical vacation of sorts, feel free to read the full transcriptions of these editorials by visiting the Forest Park Review website in the Forest Park History blog or view the originals through the Forest Park Library archives.