Relax and enjoy Thanksgiving Day

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Thanksgiving is just one week away. That means this weekend we will be cleaning up the house because will be hosting the event.

This is also a time of the year when you realize that the holiday season collides with each other. At least it seems that way. When you are a kid, you can’t wait for the next big event, which is Christmas. Time sort of stands still for youngsters who can’t wait to open those presents under the tree.

Kids also enjoy Thanksgiving because of the large meal with all the trimmings and desserts. They also get a chance to see other relatives or friends. That may also mean watching football games or other specials. Essentially, kids show up and take part in a special meal.

They have been taught what Thanksgiving means and why it is special. I knew at an early age the origin of Thanksgiving and that it is a day of giving thanks for what we have. It is also a day to enjoy with family and friends. We want to celebrate their presence, while remembering those who are no longer with us.

Thanksgiving is a special day. It is truly an American holiday. Everyone can celebrate Thanksgiving no matter what religion you practice or your ethnicity. Thanksgiving Day is for all Americans.

So, while we are cleaning up the house and raking some more leaves outside, we will go shopping Sunday for a turkey over 20 pounds. That becomes necessary when you have guests who are usually hungry when dinner is served.

The preparation of the meal involves some work. When you host these Thanksgiving dinners long enough, you get the routine down pretty well. The turkey is in the oven before 10 a.m. as the Macy Thanksgiving Parade in New York can be heard in the background. Now it is just a matter of preparing the side dishes so they are ready when the turkey is done. Sometimes that is no small accomplishment.

Trying to time this for when guests arrive is another trick. But it all works out. Once the meal is served, the desserts are brought out and the coffee is poured. Then it is time to relax. That’s when hosting Thanksgiving has its advantages. This the time to converse, reminisce and catch up on what is going on in everyone’s lives.

Thanksgiving should be a great time for conversation and some laughs as well. It should be great day, a relaxing day.

I guess you can say Thanksgiving is the calm before the storm. Christmas shopping will begin in earnest, if it has not already. This is where I should remind everyone to enjoy Thanksgiving and don’t let it just speed by.

I guess that’s the appeal to me regarding Thanksgiving. It is does not come with bows or wrapping paper. We don’t approach Thanksgiving with great expectations. We don’t celebrate the arrival of Thanksgiving for a month. We probably don’t think about special Thanksgivings from the past.

But what I like about Thanksgiving is that it is essentially simple and has not changed. We are surrounded by more technology but the basis of Thanksgiving remains. It is old fashioned in a way that is appealing.

However, holidays before and after Thanksgiving has been screaming for more attention. Decorations for Halloween are on store displays about the time kids are going to school in September. Adults have a hand in this. They went trick-or-treating as kids and now they have grown up. They are now attending parties where they can wear costumes. I guess it makes us feel like kids.

Thanksgiving falls in between Halloween and Christmas. Some people think that Thanksgiving gets overlooked. I don’t know if that is really true. But I understand some frustration when people are leaving to go shopping on Thanksgiving night, which I guess is the eve of Black Friday.

The way I look at it is if people think it’s necessary to run out and shop on Thanksgiving night, I’m not going to stop them. I’m just not going to join them. The pressure on retailers to turn a profit over the holidays is enormous. It sometimes can mean turning a profit or going out of business.

I can’t blame some of these retailers from opening their doors on Thanksgiving. But I have more respect for those employers who at least hold off to the next morning. The fact is there will be a lot of sales right up until Christmas.

So, I’m going to enjoy Thanksgiving Day with family. Pass the turkey and the trimmings. Some apple pie would be nice with that cup of coffee.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

A man's dark side is painfully revealed

  • Written by Joe Boyle


   I recall going to the show when I was a kid to see the western “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” starring John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. The film dates back to 1910 when Stewart’s character, Ransom Stoddard, is a lawyer who arrives in a western territory that is still run by corrupt influences who hire gunman Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin) to enforce their will.

   Stoddard’s idealism eventually brings him into a gun duel with Valance even though he is a novice shooting. Everyone is stunned when the greenhorn lawyer shoots Valance to death. Or did he?

   This is where I guess I should write, spoiler alert. Stoddard is dismayed that he is known more for killing Valance than for his call for law and order. Tom Doniphon (Wayne) talks to Stoddard alone. Doniphon is in love with Hallie, but she has fallen for Stoddard. It was Hallie that contacted Doniphon when Stoddard went to duel Valance. The rough but decent Doniphon explains to Stoddard that he shot and killed Valance.

   Doniphon represents the Old West and Stoddard represents progress. Doniphon realized that despite the fact the girl he loves adores Stoddard. Twenty-five years have passed and Stoddard has become an accomplished legislator while Doniphon has faded into obscurity. Stoddard and his wife, Hallie, come back to the town where he began his career because Doniphon has died.

   Local leaders and the town newspaper wonder why Stoddard has come back to pay respects to someone who lived most of his life in anonymity. Stoddard relents to the newspaper and tells them about Doniphon and that he was the one that killed Valance.

   The newspaper editor, Maxwell Scott, would have nothing of that and told Stoddard he was not going to print the story. Stoddard asked why. “This is the West,” said Scott. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

   Well, I doubt that editor would do that today. A story of that magnitude would be hard to pass up. I was thinking about that great 1962 western after reading about the twisted life of Fox Lake Police Lt. Joe Gliniewicz. The 52-year-old veteran officer was believed to be shot and killed on Sept. 1 along a deserted area of Fox Lake. He mentioned three men – two white and one black – that he was going to check on. He called for assistance. Police found his dead body along a deserted path. An expansive manhunt for the suspects followed.

   The initial reports we heard on Gliniewicz was that he was a good cop who was revered in the community. He was noted for creating the Explorers program that taught young men and women about preparing for work as a police officer.

A cautionary tale for holiday shoppers about pickpockets

  • Written by Claudia Parker


   Shoppers, be on alert this holiday season. Don’t be a target. I was recently pickpocketed!

     Yep, it happened just like in the movies. I was a distracted shopper and a man bumped into me while thumbing through merchandise. When it happened, I was trying to narrow down a pile of items I’d collected to the “one” I could afford.

    The pathetic part about this is…it was a thrift store!

Don’t judge me. My husband, Don, and I are two payments away from paying off his student loan. Let me tell you -- that educational doctoral degree didn’t come with a secondhand price tag.

    As I was saying, the person I presume stole from me worked at the establishment. He was pushing a big, industrial broom through the store. I noticed him watching me but figured it was because I was in the path he wanted to sweep. As I lifted my selected item for final examination, he bumped me. “Excuse me,” he said, continuing down the aisle shuffling debris.

   I sensed something wasn’t right about him and immediately felt for my wallet, which was inside my front jacket pocket. It was there. Relief set in, but briefly. He didn’t get my wallet, it was my cellphone. I’d made a call to Don just minutes earlier. It was clipped to my hip.

I felt a rush of panic. The store was about to close. The store manager kept repeating, “15 minutes, the store will be closing in 15 minutes!” She broadcasted every remaining minute down to the last one. I know because I refused to leave the store until they started locking the doors.

And yes, I confronted the man but I didn’t overtly accuse him. I had no proof. I was subtle. “Sir, did you happen to see my phone fall when you bumped me a moment ago,” I asked?

   He looked at me as though he didn’t comprehend. I stared back. It was as if we were sizing each other up, trying to gauge how much the other “really” knew.

“No. I didn’t see your phone,” he said after what seemed like five minutes. “Trace your steps. Want me to call your number,” he asked?

It just so happened my phone was on vibrate with only a sliver of battery life. Trying to call it served no purpose.

“It’s an old, beat up, Blackberry and the face is cracked,” I said to the alleged thief. “It has no resale value. It isn’t useful to anyone but me.”

Don had been riding me to replace that phone. “Babe. Seriously? Don’t pull that thing out in front of anybody! It’s an embarrassment to your profession,” he’d tell me.

Completely undeterred by his disapproval, “Who would actually care,” I wondered? Yes, it was old, cracked, with minimal functionality but it served its purpose.

After not being able to reason with “the swiping sweeper,” I urged help from the store manager. She was of little assistance. “Leave your name and number. If it turns up, we’ll call you,” she said.

She barely even looked at me. She was busy trying to balance the register while barking orders to the staff. I was the only customer left.

“How? This is my only source of communication. Just call my husband,” I replied, while writing Don’s number on the paper.

One of the workers noticed my pitiful demeanor.

   “People lose their phones in here a lot. We clean good at night, we’ll find it,” she assured me. “A lady called the police on us the other night. She swore our guy who sweeps the floor stole her phone. She ended up apologizing because he’s the one who helped her find it. It was on a shelf near where she’d been shopping.”

   That little tidbit of information didn’t put me at ease, it solidified my suspicion. I went back over to him, “Please help me find my phone,” I begged.

He did that glazed eye stare again. “Tomorrow, maybe tomorrow we’ll find it. Come back then,” he suggested.

   Tomorrow came and went. I revisited and called the store and was told it hadn’t been found. I had my brand new phone all of three hours when Don announced, “I just got a call from a lady who has your phone.”

   It was retrieved from a private residence who claimed they weren’t affiliated with the thrift store. The interesting thing here is that I’d already ceased the service to that line. Only someone who worked there would’ve known to call Don. However, I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. I had the best scenario of a bad situation -- a new, modern phone without having to grieve the loss of the information stored in my dusty, cracked, old phone.

A few tips to consider:

   *   Back pockets leave you most vulnerable, which is where my phone was clipped. Store valuables in front pockets.

*         Don’t fiddle where your belongings are, it can tip off the perpetrator.

*       Don’t count cash in public.

*         Avoid pulling your wallet out in front of panhandlers.

*         Shorten straps on purses or bags and keep them closest to your person, near the front.

*         Leave nothing unattended.

Newspapers remain readers' best choice

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Social media has changed the landscape of the information age in this new century. No one has to tell me about declining circulation figures of daily and community newspapers. However, that does not make us much different than a lot of industries.

You learn to adapt. When televisions were beginning to be bought at a rapid rate by the mid-1950s, predictions that radio would disappear were predicted. But radio flourished in the 1960s and 1970s because it changed. Listeners did not turn on the radio to listen to episodes of “Little Orphan Annie” anymore. People began listening to the radio to hear the top hits as rock ‘n roll was in its early stages.

Talk shows and news programs began to saturate the air waves. Now, sports talks shows are all over the dial.

Newspapers will also survive because they have changed out of necessity. I am biased. I believe people should pick up newspapers at least once in a while so they get a more balanced and comprehensive take on a story.

I have nothing against online material. Bloggers can be interesting to read but these are mostly opinion pieces. It seems anyone can call themselves a journalist these days if they purchase a laptop or tablet and rant about anything.

To be honest, I don’t always look at these online publications. My week is filled working on material for The Reporter.

But I will start paying more attention when I was told that my name was used in what appears to be a news story. An article with no byline appeared online in the Oak Lawn Leaf, which posts a variety of material that seems to be consistently opposed to the policies of Mayor Sandra Bury. The online publication is often critical of anyone who gets along with Bury or has a solid working relationship with her.

In this instance, Oak Lawn Trustee Alex Olejniczak (2nd) was the target. The Oak Lawn Leaf takes Olejniczak on following comments he made at a recent Oak Lawn Village Board meeting and a story I wrote that crime in the village is no greater or worse over the past few years. Olejniczak informed me in a story I wrote that there are certain spikes during the year in which local crime escalates, and at other times during a year that they decrease.

The online article, which actually reads more like a column, takes Olejniczak to task and disputes those figures. I’m not going to get into all that here due to space. But there was some inaccurate information that appeared in the story. Olejniczak, for instance, did not call me. I actually called him.

I contacted him because I saw a series of police cars on an Oak Lawn block. The first reports indicated that there was a burglary. I thought maybe he would know something about it. He was unaware of it and the conversation naturally led to overall crime in the village.

Getting back to the incident, it turns out a resident of the home accidentally triggered the burglary alarm of his residence. I know this because the police got back to me later that day. The delay in responding to me was because there was no police report.

The Oak Lawn Leaf contends that somehow the Bury administration and the police are hiding some information. I have seen no proof of that. Some crimes are still being investigated and police may not provide information because they do not want to jeopardize a case, especially when perpetrators are still at large. Naturally, I will always still try to get the information. Police eventually do get back to me or a reporter when they have information to provide.

But I don’t see that is hiding or fudging on crime statistics. But if I find out otherwise, we will look into it. The Oak Lawn Leaf is entitled to its opinion. If you attend Oak Lawn Village Board meetings, the Oak Lawn Leaf has come under criticism by Bury and other trustees that they claim is under the direction of Trustee Bob Streit (3rd), who is quoted in the item. Streit has always denied that he has any influence with the Oak Lawn Leaf.

At this point, I’m not really sure who is affiliated with the Oak Lawn Leaf. All that I ask is in the future is that if they have any questions about a story or a column I wrote, contact me. My email address appears at the end of the column. They can always call the office.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



Recalling past Halloweens in rain and snowsnow r

  • Written by Joe Boyle

A call for some rain has been forecast by our local meteorologists for Saturday, just in time for Halloween. Since we live in the Chicago area, the weather can always change, of course.

But if the ghosts, goblins, princesses and witches have to dodge a few raindrops, that won’t be so bad. Las year, trick-or-treaters were initially met with frigid weather. By the end of the afternoon, mothers walking with young children were met with snowflakes.

One mother informed me after dealing with the snow for one block that she was done. She did not seem to get any argument from her son.

This was not the worst weather I have seen on Halloween, but it had to be in the top two. I recall one year near the end of the 1990s, a heavy downpour of rain lasted until at least 8:30 p.m. Since my days in Chicago when I went trick-or-treating, kids with parents and teens went door-to-door up until about 9 p.m. or so.

Many suburban communities now impose curfews for trick-or-treaters. But the year of that heavy rainfall more or less changed that deadline. I did not mind. Growing up in Chicago, there was no curfew. Kids would begin trick-or-treating sometime after school. Often they would come home to take a break and check out their stash.

Maybe they would go out with older siblings later. That allowed for us younger ghouls to go a little further and stay out later. In some ways, Halloween has not changed.

Kids still like to dress up in a variety of costumes with a bag in hand to collect those treats. I do recall either being dressed as a ghost, a devil or a cowboy. But in many cases, the parents of homes we visit were not always certain who we were. That’s because the weather was often in the 40’s with a little rain. Our coats covered our costumes.

But I do recall those nice days as well. However, there were not enough of them.

My mother would warn us not to open any of the candy until we came home. She would not allow us to open balls of popcorn. Of course, we would inevitably hear about the razors that could be inside some of these homemade bags of treats. I can’t say that ever happened to us or anyone we knew. But I kind of liked hearing those stories. I mean this was supposed to be a spooky night.

I recall going to some parties when I was in grade school. Food and candy was fine for me. But parents in those days did not rent inflatables or hired magicians. We would play a variety of games and maybe even bob for apples. I don’t know if kids even bob for apples anymore.

When I was young, I would take my younger sister out first and we would travel a few blocks in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood, roughly from 100th and Michigan to near 103rd and Michigan and back. Then we would return and pour out our stuff. My mom would check it out as well. Then after some dinner, I would go out with my older sister. Our path was a little farther and more plentiful. When I got back with my second bag, I had a huge haul for the evening. I was content. Time to watch some horror movies.

After we moved to Chicago’s Washington Heights neighborhood, I was going out with my friends more. Occasionally, I would like to see my younger brothers go down the block, especially when it was their first time. I guess as I was approaching my teens, I began enjoying watching my younger brothers getting their candy and their reactions when the candy dropped in their bags.

I think the last couple of years of trick-or-treating for me I was dressed in my football gear from practice. It made it easier and it was convenient.

Like most of us, I began attending parties in high school and in college for Halloween. The parties were often wild and a lot of fun. They also involved a lot of crazy costumes. After all, it is Halloween.

Halloween is different in other ways than when I was a kid.I suppose it is because a generation grew up with it and now large parties are held. People decorate the outside of their homes for Halloween. The celebration seems to start at the beginning of October.

As for me, I will be waiting for the trick-or-treaters on Saturday, whether it rains or snows.

Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .