A quick history of the Forest Park Review

Opinion: Editorials

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By John Rice

Columnist / Staff reporter

In 2017, I had the pleasure of writing the 100-year history of the Review in monthly installments, decade by decade on the 7s. Here's a brief summary:

Albert Hall founded the Review, which first published on Oct. 20, 1917. He promised it would be a local paper in every sense of the word. The Review prospered but a terrible thing happened to Forest Park in 1917. Prohibition passed!

Prohibition was in full swing in 1927, with federal agents shutting down a still on Harlem. It's not known whether alcohol caused this problem but the village passed a new law: "No sleeping on the sidewalk without a good excuse." That year, Hall was hobnobbing with a young pilot named Charles Lindbergh, who would electrify the world with the first trans-Atlantic flight.

In 1937, the Review was struggling through the Great Depression and had shrunk to a two-pager. During these hard times, the paper diverted readers with a front page feature called "Future Headliners." It displayed photos of infants and toddlers, along with their names and addresses. The police were less concerned about kidnapping than motorists. Chief Licht listed "15 Rules for Automotive Safety." Rule 10: "Be careful of other people's fingers when closing car doors."

By 1947, the Review had a new publisher, Claude A. Walker. He somehow found time to serve as a state representative, run a printing company, publish a newspaper, and pen a weekly column. He railed against politicians, ill-behaved children, and Sunday drivers. The Review reflected the post-war boom, doubling in size to four pages.

Walker was still publisher in 1957 and the Review had exploded to 16 pages. He filled these pages with photos of local beauty queen, Blanche Kos. Apart from Blanche, 1957 was a banner year for Forest Park, with the completion of the Eisenhower Expressway and other mammoth projects.

During the turbulent year of 1967, Walker was still at the helm. American society was coming apart at the seams, but this wasn't reflected in the Review. An ad asked women if mini-skirts turned them off. The Review also opined that "Mod's outmoded" and men would soon return to Ivy League styles. The year's big story was the blizzard that dumped 23 inches of snow on Forest Park. Public Works was praised for the best snow removal effort in the western suburbs.

Robert Haeger was the publisher in 1977. He had a crack reporter named Judy Topinka (future state rep, senator, comptroller and gubernatorial candidate) and a young columnist named Jackie Schulz. Haeger also wrote a breezy column called "Once Over Lightly." He had no shortage of news to report. Mayor Howard Mohr died suddenly, Michael Todd's grave was robbed and a Lake Street L plunged to the pavement, killing two from Forest Park.

By 1987, Haeger had sold the Review to Wednesday Journal Inc. The newspaper was thriving, publishing its largest edition in 70 years! It was equally momentous when Forest Park elected its first female mayor, Lorraine Popelka. But the biggest story was the "Mystery Man" passing out $10 bills on Madison Street.

Dan Haley was the Review's general manager in 1997. The paper had grown to 40 pages. The village's school-age population had also grown, prompting District 91 to install mobile classrooms at three schools. A bigger story was the massive project to rebuild Madison Street.

Big construction projects continued in 2007, when the Residences at the Grove were built. Real estate prices were skyrocketing but, before the end of the year, the Review was publishing foreclosure notices. Anthony Calderone was elected mayor. The village also elected to celebrate its centennial for the third time. Oh, and a 53-year-old cub reporter named John Rice was now the weekly columnist. 

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. Jrice1038@aol.com

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Dianne Howard  

Posted: January 14th, 2018 1:40 PM

What a great article!!! My Mom was Claude Walker's right-hand gal for many years...what a feisty team!!! Brings back so many memories of growing up in Forest Park.....it'll always be home :)

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