Written by Jeff Vorva
Every Thursday, I print out what I call a cheat sheet for reporter Bob Rakow.
He calls them his marching orders.
Whatever the heck you want to call them, I can’t break the habit of writing them out.
Rakow’s last night as a full-timer at the Reporter was Tuesday – election night. He picked up a job providing content for trade journals in the big city of Chicago and graciously stayed with us through the hectic times of elections.
He joined the paper in September, 2013 and we were lucky to have him this long.
I’m not sure he liked the cheat sheet at first. I’m still not sure he likes it. But I have one more for him and, since he is not employed here anymore, he can mash it into a ball and flush it down the toilet if he wants to.
So, Bob, here are your marching orders for the week, with a couple of added comments to our readers from your ex-boss:
--Don’t worry about posting stories online.
Just think – Bob won’t be muttering swear words under his breath at our wonky website and he won’t have to listen to me scream out dark oaths when I am posting stories on the website.
--Don’t worry about getting me the B-Side column by the end of the day.
I like the B-Side a lot and as a note to our readers, it will be stopped for a while but we will try to figure out something in the future about bringing the Page 6 staple back on a limited basis depending on his work schedule.
--Don’t worry about getting photos for the Viewfinder.
Did you hear about the time Bob went to Lake Katherine to ask people questions and a woman almost had him arrested? He turned that into a hysterical column.
--Don’t go to the Evergreen Park Police Department out of habit.
Covering cops and police reports was a strength of Bob’s and once in a while he would turn a small but funny/unique item into a small story and challenge me to write a sick headline for it.
--Think about the inside humor we enjoyed at the office.
No matter what job I have held over the years, inside jokes are what keep us all going. Bob picked up on my tendencies to take almost anything spoken and turn it into a song.
For instance, if someone says “We’re in dire straits,” I would sing or hum “Sultans of Swing” and even if the word “summer” was used in a sentence, we would both break out into a Cars song, “Magic” in which they sing “Summer…it turns me upside down.” It’s a bad disease to pass onto him and methinks it may not go over all that well with his new pals in Chicago.
--Don’t go to the Oak Lawn station for reports out of habit.
I think this will be his first day on the new job and he might be taking the train in. So it will give him a chance to give him a final memory of some of the local people he covered and come back in the office to imitate. Bob was no Rich Little, but the spirit and humor he showed with his impressions had me laughing it up big time.
--Don’t worry about finishing obits or anything else that popped up over the weekend
This guy covered murders, serious auto crashes, fires and other sad stories and most of the time, the stories were several days to a week old when they hit the newsstand. Bob had a great knack for finding something that no one else had and started off his stories with something fresh.
My favorite was when all the newspapers and TV stations ran the terrible story about Alfreda Giedroic, who allegedly beat her infant granddaughter to death with a sledgehammer and cut her throat with a carving knife in her Oak Lawn home.
By Thursday, that story was old news but through an insightful interview with Oak Lawn Police Division Chief Mike Kauffman, Bob was able to put us in the house.
”Alfreda Giedrojc sat stoically in a chair Sunday morning, moments after allegedly beating her infant granddaughter to death in her Oak Lawn home, authorities said.’’
Later in the piece, he wrote,
“Kaufmann, a 28-year veteran of the Oak Lawn police department, said such crimes are typically driven by ‘plain evil or something with mental health.’ Giedrojc did not display any anger, denial or rage during interviews with police, he said.
“ ‘She professed love for the child,’ Kaufmann said.’’
Powerful stuff. Chilling. And stuff no one else had.
Oh, and his coverage of the death of Worth teen Brittany Wawrzyniak’s death and the family’s anger over the investigation was top-notch. Bob’s not a big guy on awards, but we entered his work in the Illinois Press Association contest this year and I would be shocked if it didn’t win anything.
--Don’t worry about finishing everything up and don’t go to an Oak Lawn or Chicago Ridge board meeting out of habit.
A candidate for an Oak Lawn trustee position called Oak Lawn meetings a “circus act’’ last week and Bob was able to capture the raw emotion and sometimes surreal and funny events that took place there. While Chicago Ridge was tamer, it had its moments of sparks regarding the fire department and Bob was all over it.
--This is the end of the line – my last matching order: Enjoy and prosper in your new career. We hope you miss us as much as we’re going to miss you.