The so-called ‘meanest man in pro football’ dies

  • Written by Tim Hadac

Former Bear and Chicago Ridge bowling

alley owner Ed Sprinkle passes at age 90

Ed Sprinkle, a longtime resident of Palos Park and recently of Palos Heights who once owned a bowling alley in Chicago Ridge and widely acclaimed as one of the greatest football players in Chicago Bears history, died July 28. He was 90.
Mr. Sprinkle played as a right defensive end for the Bears from 1944 to 1955, earning the nickname “The Claw” for his ability to use his strong left arm against blockers and quarterbacks. He was named all-pro seven times and played in four Pro Bowls — in 1951, 1952, 1953 and 1955.
In a hardscrabble era of NFL football, he was known as a tough guy among tough guys, even getting tagged with a “meanest man in football” nickname by some—a designation Mr. Sprinkle and others close to him disputed.
“I don’t know where it started. I hit guys. I never stood around. Sometimes they interpreted that as being mean instead of being tough,” Mr. Sprinkle said in a 2012 interview with The Regional News. “Halas tried to defend me. He said I wasn’t a dirty player. I was mean as everyone out there.”
“His name is legendary. I’ve heard all the stories of the Monsters of the Midway, but I knew him as such a nice guy, such a gentleman. Hard to equate the legend with the man I know,” said Brian McCaskey, senior director of business development of the Chicago Bears and son of owner Virginia McCaskey, in 2012
In that same Regional News article, Mr. Sprinkle admitted to some run-ins with other players, including future Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula.
“I came around and hit him pretty good,” he said. “He said something, so I said, ‘If you want to stand around and watch the game why don’t you buy a ticket and sit in the stands?’”
Outside of football, he was a local businessman who owned a tile business on Southwest Highway, as well as a small bowling alley in Chicago Ridge on 111th Street and Oxford Avenue.
He was active in local affairs. He was a member of the Palos Lions Club and coached youth football and baseball, according to his daughter, Susan Withers, a banking executive and past president of the Palos Area Chamber of Commerce.
“My dad was tough on the field, because he had to be,” she recalled. “Everywhere else, he was kind and understanding. He wouldn’t just give orders, he would talk to you, explain things.”
“He was far more than a wonderful father,” Withers added. “He was a good friend. He was good with kids.”

She's history

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Her broken down car leads to curator’s love of Worth history

Colleen McElroy had never heard of Pag1-1-3-col-Coleen-for-Aug-14Colleen McElroy, shown at an outdoor board meeting earlier this summer in which board members dressed up in period pieces, has been synonymous with Worth history for years. Photo by Jeff Vorva.Worth until her car broke down in the Friendly Village 14 years ago.

“My ‘check engine’ light’ went,” recalls McElroy, who was returning home to Chicago from Orland Park, where she and her husband, Mike, had visited relatives.
McElroy and her young family lived on the Southwest Side of Chicago at the time, but less than a year after her car broke down, they bought a home in Worth.
The rest, as they say, is history.
“Things happen for a reason,” said McElroy, a member of the village board and the curator of the Worth Park District Historical Museum.
McElroy immediately got involved in her new community by joining the library board. She volunteered at the Worth Park District, where she oversaw programming. She moved to the museum when the curator position opened up five years ago.
McElroy, the mother of four, has a degree in history from Northern Illinois University and a passion for small town history, she said.
Overseeing the Worth Historical Museum fits the bill.
“I am very proud of where the museum is at today,” said McElroy, who spends about 22 hours week at the facility, which is located inside the Terrace Centre, 11500 S. Beloit Ave.

Hashing it over

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Area towns listen to medical marijuana pitches

A medical marijuana clinic may never open its doors in Chicago Ridge or Oak Lawn, but officials in both communities are hashing out their thoughts on the possibility.


One week after Chicago Ridge officials heard a presentation from an attorney whose investment group wants to locate a marijuana dispensary in the village, Oak Lawn village board members on Tuesday discussed the issue at a committee meeting.
“We need to get some sense of direction on where we’re going with this,” Mayor Sandra Bury said. “Just about every district has one little pocket that would qualify.”
The dispensaries will be heavily regulated by the state. For example, they cannot be located within 1,000 feet of a school or daycare center or located in a residential area. State law allows communities to enact reasonable zoning ordinances further regulating the location of dispensaries.
Chicago Ridge approved regulations that would prohibit a dispensary from locating within 1,000 feet of a park or a recreational facility.
Oak Lawn Village Attorney Pat Connelly said the village would be able to rely on its zoning regulations to restrict the location of dispensaries.
“There are numerous zoning tools at your disposal,” Connelly said.
Oak Lawn officials did not make any decisions regarding zoning, deciding instead to let the planning and development commission take up the decision at its Aug. 18 meeting.
Last week, Chicago Ridge officials heard a presentation from Steve Weisman, who heads an investment group interested in two potential locations in the village.
The locations—one on Southwest Highway, the other on Harlem Avenue—both meet state and village zoning restrictions. Weisman’s group must choose a location before submitting an application with the state, he said.
Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar pointed out that communities cannot prevent a dispensary from setting up shop, and trustees expressed few reservations about one locating in Chicago Ridge.
But Trustee Bruce Quintos on Tuesday said the village should not consider a dispensary without first gauging residents’ opinions on the proposal. He’s also is miffed that he was not informed of Weisman’s proposal before the board meeting.
Weisman told Chicago Ridge trustees that his group would not seek locations in towns “where we’re not wanted.”
Other communities in the area made it clear they were not interested in adding a medical marijuana dispensary to their business community, Weisman said.
Quintos, a former undercover narcotics officer, said he has other concerns about a dispensary clinic in the village including patients selling some their marijuana.
Oak Lawn Police Chief Mike Murray also expressed security concerns; especially because the dispensaries only accept cash and patients could be robbed.
“The amount they are allowing for sale is considerable,” Murray said.
“I think there’s going to be a problem with the clientele other than the sick people,” Oak Lawn Trustee Terry Vorderer said.
Weisman addressed some of the security concerns at last week’s meeting in Chicago Ridge.
He stressed that the clinics would be heavily regulated by the state, including implementation of a security plan and dispensing medical marijuana only to approved clients.
“The state’s requirements are incredibility rigorous,” he told trustees. “This is truly medicine. This is a business.”
The state’s medical cannabis act took effect on January 1. The law allows the used of marijuana by individuals who have a medical need and a permit. Qualifying patients must be diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition. A qualifying patient can obtain up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks.
Illinois is expected to begin taking applications for 60 medical marijuana businesses in September. Those who want to want to apply must have “an application pinned down,” said Weisman, an attorney for Kirkland and Ellis.
Weisman’s group plans to submit five applications. They decided to include Chicago Ridge as a potential location when they learned village officials were not opposed to the idea, he said.

Not Blowing Smoke

  • Written by Bob Rakow

Attorney serious about bringing marijuana dispensary to Ridge

Steve Weisman has a map of Chicago Ridge with lots of circles drawn on it.
The circles represent the geographic areas in the village where Weisman and his investment group cannot locate the medical marijuana dispensary they hope to locate in the village.
That’s because somewhere within all of the circles is a school, daycare center, park or recreation facility. State law and village zoning ordinances prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries from being located within 1,000 feet of those facilities.
That leaves Weisman with few options, but he remains optimistic and is considering two locations—one on Harlem Avenue, the other in a strip mall on Southwest Highway, he told trustees at Tuesday’s village board meeting.
Illinois is expected to begin taking applications for 60 medical marijuana businesses in September. Those who want to apply must have “an application pinned down,” said Weisman, an attorney for Kirkland and Ellis.
Weisman’s group plans to submit five applications. They decided to include Chicago Ridge as a potential location when they learned village officials were not opposed to the idea, he said.
Other communities in the area made it clear they were not interested in adding a medical marijuana dispensary to their business community, he said.
“We don’t want to go where we’re not wanted,” he said. “We want to be very active in the community in positive ways.”
Village officials on Tuesday expressed few reservations about having a dispensary in town.
“We couldn’t say ‘no’ because we don’t like the idea,” Mayor Chuck Tokar said.
“I think we’re going to have to nail down what is our incentive,” Trustee John Lind said.
Weisman stressed that the clinics would be heavily regulated by the state, including implementation of a security plan and dispensing medical marijuana only to approved clients.
Clients must possess a state ID card to purchase marijuana and can only obtain 2.5 ounces every two weeks, Weisman said.
“The state’s requirements are incredibility rigorous,” he said. “This is truly medicine. This is a business.”
In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, firefighters Bob Eggert and Jim Calomino were promoted to lieutenant.
The promotions come a few weeks after the board rejected a proposal to eliminate the two lieutenant positions from the village budget.
Eggert and Calomino were sworn in by Village Clerk George Schleyer before having their badges pinned on their uniforms by their wives. Both Eggert and Calomino are 20-year veterans of the department.
Additionally, Tokar appointed Rich Blackwell as the village’s new licensing officer.
“It’s something that we need,” Tokar said, adding that the position is needed to make sure businesses are complying with licensing regulations. “I think he’s got the right personality to deal with businesses.”
Blackwell is a long-time village resident who is active in the Chamber of Commerce and other village initiatives.

Jeff Vorva's Im-PRESS-ions: Geez, I even make Penn look skinny

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Jeffs Col Impressions

LAS VEGAS -- Yeah, I know.
What goes on in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas.
And I am not sure if people really care what I did on my trip out of town, but when I see in the archives people such as
former publisher Charles Richards writing miles of copy on his fishing trips in the past, I know I am in great company, and I am keeping the Regional Publishing tradition alive.
So bear with me as I delve into tales of goofiness from a city that never sleeps written by a guy who always has Jeff-lag and always wants to sleep.

Pencil-thin Penn
For years, I have joked to people that if they want to look skinnier, just take a photo with me. My height and weight make people look petite. I feel that providesPAGE-3-2-col-with-JVCOL2It’s magic! Look at the pounds disappear! Penn of Penn & Teller (right) is the latest person to look slim when standing next to Reporter editor Jeff Vorva. Photo by T.J. Vorva. a good service – doing God’s work if you will – in making people feel batter so give me that last slice of pizza, please.

Well, I was in Vegas with my son, T.J., for his basketball tournament and the first night we were able to catch irreverent magicians Penn & Teller at the Rio. They are usually more funny than amazing but on this night they were more amazing than funny, but it was still a great show.
Penn Jillette is this big boisterous 6-foot-7 dude who wears glasses and wears his long hair in a ponytail. And, like me, he has the frame of a guy who wants that last slice of pizza. Teller is an older, smaller guy who rarely talks on stage.
Penn looked the same on stage on this night.
After the show, the two hung out in the lobby and posed for pictures.
Being the old and jaded writer that I am, I have met a lot of celebrities in my time and posing for a picture with them is not high on my fun list. Besides, there were thousands of people gathered around in the lobby so I wasn’t figuring on any photo ops with the fellas, anyway.
But for some reason, there was this whole group of people standing to Penn’s left and no one to his right. I went toward his right to gawk because he let his hair down. Literally. His hair was out of the ponytail.
One of the security guys motioned me to come take a photo. Penn said “Come on, boss.’’ The last celebrity to call me “boss’’ was Todd Hundley when he was with the Cubs and we know that didn’t turn out so hot for him.
So my son snapped the photo and I thanked Penn and Penn said “Thanks boss” to me and we went on our way.

Then I saw the photo.
“Boss” was big. Penn looked skinny.
Maybe Penn lost weight. Maybe during the show, all of the props and stuff he needed under his jacket made him bigger than he really is.
Or maybe through the magic of the great Vorva-dini, I can make pounds disappear just by posing with me.
If that’s the case, it was the best trick of the night.

Speaking of larger than life…
I saw a young girl barf on the side of the MGM Grand hotel and then walk away like it was no big deal.
That was the second grossest thing I had seen during the trip.
The first was in a swimming pool.
Three plus-, plus-, plus-sized women got on the shoulders of three other big gals. One sang loudly “Giddyup horsey,” which nearly made me barf in the pool. So these six bigs had a race.

There is no truth to the rumor that first prize for the winning jockey and horsey was to get their picture taken with me.

Feeling hot, hot, hot
The temperature, according to my rent-a-car thermometer, was up to 118 degrees on the day that you folks enjoyed a 70-degree day.
And no, it wasn’t a dry heat. There were traces of humidity enough to keep us sweating for most of the trip.

And anyone who says there is not much difference once the temperature reaches 100, I can assure you that you can feel a difference between 118 and 100.
And a bigger difference once you get home and it is 70.

Sign of the (ouch) times
There were plenty of bums and panhandlers with signs begging for money. But on the Strip, my son found a guy with a sign that said “For $20, you can kick me in the [privates].’’
He must have once been a newspaper editor.