Fighting for the Knights

  • Written by Claudia Parker


Oak Lawn author ruffles some feathers with

book about African-American pilots

J. Marcellus Burke, a 15 year resident of Oak Lawn, Page-1-3-col-color-authorJ. Marcellus Burke and his wife, Gloria, thumb through his controversial book “The Black Knights” before he spoke at a Tilden Tech alumni meeting last Wednesday at the Chicago Ridge American Legion hall. Photo by Jeff a World War II veteran and retired Chicago Police Detective, who can now add ‘author’ to his list of accolades. 

“The Black Knights,’’ published by Path Press, is a fictionalized account of four fighter pilots of African descent who served in the Luftwaffe German air force during WWII.
While the book is listed as fiction, Burke said it’s based on actual events. It was released two months ago and it’s said to be ruffling feathers among people of color.
“Some of my black critics are upset,’’ Bruke said. “They’re saying that African Americans, specifically the Tuskegee Airmen, were the first military aviators.”
He demonstrated a raised fist being pumped into the air to signify how passionate one of his critics became during their conversation.
Burke said his five years of research revealed that Germany had the first aviators of African descent, claiming they went into combat in 1939, while the United States Tuskegee Airmen didn’t see combat until April of 1943.
Some feel The Black Knights portrayal of history is an insult and is discrediting African American history many worked hard to have acknowledged.
Burke however disputes that claim.
“I wrote this book because of the scarcity of information about the role people of color played during WWII in and beyond the US,’’ Burke said. “My research proved we weren’t adequately credited for our contributions in Germany, Russia or even Great Britain.”
He said many of his first-hand experiences are indicators of accuracy in his findings.
His 70-year old military discharge papers are kept wrapped in a protective covering. A vibrant, 87-year-old, Burke, proudly showed off his proof of service.
But it’s bittersweet.

Jeff Vorva's imPRESSions: Warning! E-books screw up your sleep patterns

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Jeffs Col ImpressionsI have never met Ruth or Larry Kuhn but I feel a kinship with the couple who own the Oak Lawn-based Paperback Trading Co., Inc.
They are trying to save books just like people in my racket are trying to save newspapers.
The couple realizes there are merits to e-books but they don’t want to see real books disappear. These two will go to any lengths to convince you that real books are better than e-books including seeking out medical research to prove their point.
Not to turn this into a Dee Woods’ column, but here are some medical facts the Kuhns have come up with in a letter that they sent my way.
They quote a dude named Stephen Adams, who is a medical correspondent and has these words of wisdom:
“More and more people are taking their PAGE-3-3-col-with-jv-col-BlueSky UglyGarageWinnerPhoto1This is the ugly garage contest winner from Glen Ellyn but organizers of the contest didn’t release the winner’s name. Submitted photo.e-books to bed with them,” Adams wrote. “Researchers are warning the blue light their screens emit can stop users from getting a good night of sleep because this type of light mimics daylight, convincing the brain that it is still day time.
“Blue light suppresses production of a brain chemical called melatonin, which helps us fall asleep. This is because our brains have evolved to be wakeful during daylight hours. Neurologists have known for years staring at screens late in the evening can disrupt sleep. However, because e-books are portable – not to say addictive – more people are taking them into the bedroom.’’
I don’t know if all of this is true or not, but it sounds good. So the Kuhns add: “To prevent oneself from possibly having a restless night, try the traditional book with the night light attached.’’
Now I am off to find a research expert to prove that getting your news from Twitter – or anyone except the Reporter – will cause blindness and warts to grow on your unmentionable parts.

Ugly garage contest

I get a lot of e-mails from all over the world and few make me laugh.
But my favorite press release so far from September comes from the Downers Grove-based Blue Sky Builders, which sponsored the Ugliest Garage Contest.
”The Ugliest Garage Contest of 2014 sought to identify the ugliest garage in the Chicago region and nationwide, and is pleased to announce the winner,’’ the release breathlessly announced.
And the winner is?
“A homeowner from Glen Ellyn, Ill.’’
Wait. No name?
The only other reference to this person is “the winner will receive their choice of a 50-inch LCD Television or cash equivalent.’’
Aw, come on. I can see someone being embarrassed by having an ugly garage and may not want their name splashed around. But if you enter a contest like this – and win a cool prize – you might want to let them use your name. After all, the photo of the offending garage was provided and used.
And a proud honor it is. We’re not just talking about a Chicago area bad garage. We’re talking about some stiff competition here.
“The Ugliest Garage Contest received entries from across the United States, with the majority from northern Illinois and the Chicago region,’’ the press release said.
 “The Ugliest Garage Contest has been a fun way to engage with the community and our social media networks,” said Scott Wendell of Blue Sky Builders in the release. “When we saw the winning garage, we knew it was one of the ugliest we have encountered.’’
 As long as we’re cracking wise about this contest, why not offer a first prize of a garage makeover instead of a TV?

Up in smoke

The editor of the Desplaines Valley News, a paper that serves a bevy of communities including Bridgeview, Summit and Willow Springs, wrote a lead piece in a business notebook about the village of Worth potentially getting a medical marijuana dispensary.
This editor informed people “Cannabis clubs will not be the stuff of Cheech and Chong movies with stoners knocking on an alley door and saying a password to get a bag of reefer. There are enough of those already.’’
The editor also had a little fun talking about the economic impact this clinic may or may not have in Worth.
“There are already enough restaurants in that area to help any future customers get over the case of the munchies.’’
Oh, and the name of the editor who is writing all of this? His name is Bob Bong.
I can’t make this stuff up, folks.


Two Stagg alums die in motorcycle mishaps

  • Written by Jeff Vorva and Bob Rakow


Stagg math teacher John Daniels came to school Monday and found out the bad news that one of his former geometry students, Amy Reed, was killed in a motorcycle accident in Joliet the night before.

His day was about to get worse.
Daniels, who is also coach of the boys basketball team, found out that night that a former player of his, Giedrius Lisnicenka, was driving a motorcycle Monday night in Palos Hills and was killed in an accident.
“This is sad, man,” Daniels said on Tuesday. “These were two good kids. It’s crazy. Two Stagg kids in two days killed in motorcycle accidents. It’s tough being on a motorcycle.’’
The accidents capped off a six-day stretch of death, destruction and arrests affecting several people from the communities in the Reporter coverage area.
Lisnicenka’s accident happened in the late afternoon on Monday on La Grange Road near 111th Street. Police said he hit the back of a stopped vehicle on southbound La Grange Road at around 5 p.m. and was pronounced dead at Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn early Monday night.
The accident closed a portion of La Grange Road for approximately four hours, according to police.
Daniels said that Lisnicenka, 22, “lived at a different speed” than other students. He said his former player would always make him laugh. The coach also remembered having a heart-to-heart talk with Lisnicenka when the player opted to leave the basketball team in December, 2010 for family reasons.
“I offered to let him come back in a few weeks to get ready for the regionals,” Daniels said. “He said that he didn’t want to do that because it wouldn’t be fair to the other players. That’s the kind of kid he was.”
Less than 24 hours before that fatality, Reed was killed in Joliet on Sunday night when the motorcycle on which she was a passenger crashed through the brick wall of a building, Joliet police said.
Reed, 24, and Patrick Ortiz, 34, of Channahon, were killed when Ortiz’s Harley-Davidson jumped a curb and collided with the building, police said.
The motorcycle was traveling at a high-rate of speed on Barney Drive and jumped the curb at a T intersection at Glenwood Avenue.
Reed died in the emergency room at 9:27 p.m. and Ortiz died in the emergency room at 9:54 p.m. at Saint Joseph Medical Center, according to the Will County Coroner’s office.
Police do not believe Ortiz had been drinking.
In other news:
• Leah Wright of Palos Hills was found asleep while she was at the drive-thru of the Palos Hills Taco Bell, 7601 W. 111th Street last Thursday.

WHATIZIT? for 9-18-14

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

A lot of right answers. A lot of wrong answers.WHATIZIT-9-18b
It was kind of like watching a Bears game.
Last week’s guest photo taken by Oak Lawn’s Robin Fullarton was of Dippin’ Dots. A lot of folks got it right early, causing the weasels on the Board of Directors to fret if they would have to research to see if this would be a Whatizit? world record for correct guesses. But later in the game, we received a bevy of guesses for Pop Rocks candy (and one of Trix Cereal), which were incorrect. And the directors happily went back to their naps.
And who says that kids don’t read the newspaper? Chicago Ridge’s Casey Barker, 12, was the first to chomp up the right answer and added “Dippin Dots are one of my most favorite treats! Yum!’’
Other Dot dandies were Oak Lawn’s Steve Rosenbaum, Dan and Laura Heneghan and Cynthia Foulkes,Evergreen Park’s Amanda Callas and Henrietta Mysliwiec, plus Worth’s Mary Kurdziel, Theresa and George Rebersky and Sandy Joiner
Also dipping in with the right answer were Chicago Ridge’s Dana Oswald, Kathy Higgins and Patty Vandenberg, Orland Park’s Lisa Keysboe, Palos Heights’ Janet Lombard, the Friday Poker Ladies and Ice Cream Connoisseur Club from the O-Towns and Jim Cap from parts unknown.
The clue for this week is that this thing was mentioned in a Bruce Springsteen song.
Send those guesses by Monday night to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with WHATIZIT in the subject line. Don’t forget your name and hometown.