It started with Lori-Cremins Bailey and ended with Brett Roseman. In between, 31 others took a minute out of their busy day to do it.
I turned 50 years old last week and 33 Facebook friends offered birthday wishes via the social networking site. I’m grateful for the good wishes, but, more importantly, I enjoyed the walk down memory lane the birthday intentions provided.
Take Roseman, for example. He’s a former SouthtownStar guy, a fine photographer whose career at the paper ended when Sun-Times Media let go of all its photographers. I got to know Brett over the years when he and I would show up at the same assignments. He’s like me—loves to chat, tell a story. I miss guys like Brett—good to know he landed on his feet and is still in the industry in Wisconsin, last I heard.
But Roseman was not the only former SouthtownStar photographer to wish me a great day. Mary Compton did so as well. I still see Mary from time to time. She’s still taking great photos and is a solid writer to boot. Mary’s the kind of person you can talk with about practically anything. She’s interesting and engaging.
Speaking of the SouthtownStar, former editor John O’Brien checked in with a “Happy Birthday.” JOB was a tough SOB but a good editor and a good guy. John assigned me plenty of stories over the years when I freelanced at the SouthtownStar.
He worked out a deal whereby I took on the night reporter duties after the full-time guy moved on and there were no plans to replace him. “I got a business proposition for you,” O’Brien told me one afternoon in 2009. The timing was perfect and it was good gig, getting to cover breaking news or the most controversial municipal or school board meetings each night. Yeah, I had to drive to Crete a few times, but John’s not the kind of guy who wants to hear you whine and complain.
Not all the birthday wishes were sent from former SouthtownStar folks. Indeed, Donna Vickroy, a current writer and columnist at the paper, was nice enough to send some birthday wishes my way. Genuine is as good a way as I know to describe Donna. No ego, no pretense.
I remember standing with Donna in the freezing cold outside Christ Medical Center the night Chicago Fire Capt. Herbie Johnson died in a house fire. We both were covering the story, and reporters are not allowed to wait inside the hospital emergency room. Damn cold, but a good memory.
Jim Hook asked me where the time has gone. Hook, who handles communications for North Palos School District 117, also is former Southtowner and once worked at the Regional News, the Reporter’s sister paper.
Now I do feel old. We’ve long compared notes on the journalism biz as well as our families. Few people like to brag about their kids more than Hook. He’s a genuine guy, and his birthday wishes reminded that I really should touch base with him more often. Maybe we will. I saw Jim last week and agreed to have lunch. We have to follow through with those plans one of these times.
Kim Patton chimed in. Kim’s a St. Thomas More girl, who years later used Facebook to bring members of the Class of 1978 together. She also one of the toughest people I know, having beaten breast cancer a few years ago. My daughter and I walked with Patton’s Army in the Beverly Breast Cancer Walk to support Kim and her family.
Bob Gath wished me happy birthday. I wrote last week about being a big Notre Dame fan. I am stoic spectator compared to him. The former Simmons Middle School English teacher is a crazed fan. He’s the guy who took me to my first game and introduced me to all the traditions of game day. He’s also a fellow Cubs fan and a good friend. He’s the first person I texted last week when a terrible call robbed Notre Dame of a victory over Florida State.
Patricia Kosar checked in. Pat sat next me to me when we worked for Press Publications in the Bloomingdale office. I covered Bloomingdale, she covered Glendale Heights. That was 20-plus years ago. Time flies. A lot of good people worked in that office, including sports reporter Linc Wonham, who also took a moment to offer birthday wishes.
William Wagner was the lone happy birthday voice from my first newspaper gig at Des Plaines Publishing. I think of Wagner and I think of the 1989 Cubs. He’s a huge fan and during our weekly productions days that year, we’d listen to the games on the radio. The Cubs won 93 games that year. Mitch “Wild Thing” Williams, Greg Maddux, Jerome Walton. What a time. Until they lost to the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs. Still, Wagner, who later wrote a book about the Cubs, was the most passionate fan I knew.
I could mention others, but space does not allow. My SouthtownStar competition, Steve Metsch, telephoned me with his best regards. And, our sales rep, Val Draus, brought cupcakes into the office. Thanks, Val.
From time to time, I’ll hear someone say that birthdays are for kids. Once you become an adult, you should treat it like any other day. Nonsense. It’s a day worth celebrating. Thanks to those helped me do that.