Despite a bout with polio, Roosevelt was able to walk the walk as president

  • Written by Don C. White


Editor’s note: Last week, Palos Hills historian Don C. White looked at Abraham Lincoln, whose death occurred 150 years ago this month. This week, he looks at Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died 70 years ago this month.

Let’s turn now to our 32nd president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He came from a much different back ground than Abraham Lincoln our 16th president.
Roosevelt graduated from Harvard,then studied law at Columbia University. He did not finish his studies at Columbia, but did pass the bar and worked for a while at a law firm in New York City.
He became interested in politics and ran for the state senate in upstate New York and won.
In 1912, FDR won re-election to the state senate, but did not serve out his term. He was asked to serve as assistant secretary of the Navy in the Wilson administration and accepted.
Then in 1920 the Democratic Party tapped him to run as a vice presidential candidate with James Cox. They lost to Republican Warren Harding. FDR then took a job in the private sector as vice president of Fidelity and Deposit Company. During the summer of 1921 while on a family vacation at Campobello Island, Roosevelt came down with poliomyelitis – polio -- which in the 1920’s was a terrifying and rampant disease.
Roosevelt never fully recovered the full use of his legs and spent much of the rest of his life in a wheelchair. He never gave up hope and through years of painful rehabilitation he did regain some of his lost mobility. He learned to walk by using his hips to swing his atrophied legs forward. For the remaining 24 years of his life he would need the assistance of canes, leg braces, wheelchairs, his family and aides.
Throughout the rest of his life he never lost his zest for life or his confidence. He was back in politics by 1922 aiding fellow Democrat Alfred Smith, first with his campaign for governor of New York, then in his bid for president in 1924 and 1928. With Smith’s encouragement, Roosevelt ran for governor of New York and was elected in 1928 and again in 1930.

These are true POST-er children for bravery

  • Written by Claudia Parker


Claudia Mug Shot-ColorI believe our lives are most useful when used to serve others. My heart’s intention is to seek opportunities where my strengths are welcome and utilized.
Advocate Children’s Hospital-Oak Lawn fed that hungry desire, by inviting me and 28 other avid runners, to mentor 29 cancer survivors from their Pediatric Oncology Survivorship Transition (POST) clinic.
The goal is to mentor children who have battled pediatric cancer and to participate in the Eighth Annual Running for Hope 5K run/walk on June 7. Each Tuesday evening, training sessions will include: warm-up, walk and/or run, cool down, stretching, and a “running homework” assignment.
Linda Rivard is an ACH Registered Nurse for Pediatric Hematology and Oncology. She’s the POST clinic coordinator.
“Our adolescents and young DR-Page-12-with-claudias-columnOrland Park’s Billy Rivard who was diagnosed with Leukemia at age five, poses with his mother Linda. Submitted photo.adults who’ve been through chemotherapy and radiation can have late effects,’’ Rivard said. “The POST Clinic began in 2004 to help detect and minimize possible negative effects that arise from treatment.”
Rivard has professional and personal experience with pediatric cancer. Her son, Billy, was diagnosed with Leukemia at age five. After receiving treatment, he went into remission but relapsed at age eight, warranting a full bone marrow transplant by age nine.
“Billy had total body radiation,” Rivard said. “The treatment saved his life, but it was hard on his body. He’s had a kidney transplant, multiple skin cancers and his thyroid removed. He also has a suppressed immune system. Billy’s complications aren’t typical; he’s more of an exception. However post care is critical, it can prevent loss of life and increase a survivor’s quality of life.”
Billy persevered and is now 24 years old. On May 2, he will graduate from Western Michigan University with a degree in secondary education with an emphasis in biology.
Bring on the Kleenex -- those who know Billy’s backstory probably won’t have a dry eye come graduation day.
It could be boo-hoo in Kalamazoo. But that’s a good thing.
Rivard partnered with ACH Manager of Child Life Services Lisa Boland, in starting the POST Challenge back in 2008, one year after Boland and three other co-founders began the Running for Hope 5K Race/Walk.
“I was running with a friend one day and we were reflecting on everything families affected by cancer go through. We wanted to find a way to help so we decided to organize a race to see if we could raise any money to support them,” said Boland. “Our first race was in 2007 and we raised 50,000.”

A look at Lincoln – but don’t call him Abe

  • Written by Don C. White

 History-Don-White-logoIn years past, I have written about the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s death. 

Wednesday was the 150th anniversary of that sad occasion. Sunday was the 70th anniversary of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death. In May, I am doing a display at the Green Hills Library in Palos Hills to honor these two fine presidents.
Let’s start with Lincoln. The first thing to tell you is that Mr. Lincoln did not like to be called Abe, so I won’t do that again. Most people who knew him in Illinois just called him Lincoln or Mr. Lincoln. His wife always called him Mr. Lincoln. While at the White House his secretaries called him the “Tycoon.”
Most of us know about Lincoln’s early years in Kentucky and Indiana.
He and his family moved to Illinois just as he reached his majority age of 21. His education was limited to a total of one year spread out over a few years. By the age of 28, he had already been elected to his second term in the Illinois State legislature. The year of 1837 would also see him be licensed to practice law in Illinois. By this time he had lived one half of his life.
Fast forward to 1860, and we find Mr. Lincoln traveling to New York in February to give a speech at the Cooper Union. Many historians have said this was the most important speech of his life so far. And I would agree. By November of 1860, he would be elected our 16th president and reelected in November 1864.

Chicago mayoral election was never close

  • Written by Ray Hanania

 Hanania-GrapevineThe nice thing about living in the suburbs, is that we’re laid back and we are armchair quarterbacks. 

We don’t want to live in Chicago, but we love to talk about it. And explain what’s wrong with it, too. We love to talk about Chicago elections because for the most part, suburban elections are so boring.
That’s why voter turnout last week in Chicago was about 40 percent, while the turn in the suburbs hovered around 11 percent in many races.
So, if you don’t care about suburban races, why should I waste my time writing about them?
Last week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel easily won re-election, even though for most of the past eight months, everyone was saying he was in trouble and that Cook County Commissioner Jesus Chuy Garcia was a potential threat to unseat him.
But in the end, Mayor Emanuel won a landslide victory over Garcia, and it’s worth looking at why. Emanuel received 55 percent of the vote and Garcia got 45 percent. Where I come from (40 years of covering Chicago elections) that’s an enormous landslide in a hotly contested race
Emanuel had more money. Garcia raised a whopping $5 million, in a large part because he had some heavyweights on his side, like the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the Service Employees International Union.
But Emanuel raised $30 million and he didn’t spend it all.
The campaign ads went back and forth bashing each other and like Emanuel, Garcia never really said what he would do any different. But while an incumbent can blah, blah, blah his (or her) way through an election, a challenger can’t. They need to say specifically what they would do differently to justify why voters should oust an incumbent.
The only real message that came out of the election is that Emanuel was “humbled,” and he promised to “change.”
Yeah, right. Like any mayor of a major American city will change anything.
The real problem is that Chuy was just not that popular. He claimed to have the mantle of the old Harold Washington coalition, but the fact is many if not most African Americans voted for Emanuel. Why? Because Chuy was more about perception and less about substance.
The two worst problems are interrelated. Schools and crime. Chicago’s schools are sending more students to street gang careers than college, and so far no one has come up with a real idea on how to change it. I’ve suggested the only solution, forcing homeowners and residents to roll up their sleeves and become more involved in their neighborhoods, but neither Emanuel nor Garcia thought that was worth exploring.
It works in many suburbs where gang crimes have dropped significantly.
Chuy is hero among his supporters, but that won’t win many elections. I doubt seriously if he can run and win the office of Cook County Board President, if President Toni Preckwinkle decides not to run for re-election. He certainly can’t beat her.
But the interesting casualty of this election may be Garcia’s “close pal,” Congressman Luis Gutierrez.
Congressman Gutierrez’s district is 18 percent Puerto Rican, and more than 70 percent Mexican American. The fact that Gutierrez wouldn’t support his Mexican American ally might prompt Mexican American voters to abandon Gutierrez.
Now that would be an election worth seeing.
Ray Hanania is a former Chicago City Hall reporter and President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media consulting. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


It’s been fun, but I have to say Audi-os

  • Written by Bob Rakow


Bobs Column - The B SideAudi 5000.
The name of the 1980s luxury car morphed into a slang phrase to describe leaving a particular place after the car was plagued with a problem characterized by unintended acceleration.
Drivers complained that the car would lurch forward while their foot was on the brake. It turned out that the accelerator and brake pedals were unusually close together. But the slang stuck. “This party is boring. I’m Audi 5000.”
You don’t hear the term much anymore. Today, people “bounce” when they depart.
Times change and so does the lingo. But I’m writing this column—one of my favorite tasks each week—to tell you that I am Audi 5000.
About 18 months after joining the Reporter, I’ve decided to take another position in the publishing industry. This is my last issue. I have no doubt I’ll miss the work because nothing is quite like community journalism.
Want proof? I’ve come back to it twice after my full-time first stint in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I’ve also free-lanced for local newspapers throughout much of my career, and I’m likely to do it again. Don’t be surprised if you see my byline in this newspaper now and again—I figure to be available to pinch hit here and there if needed.
And, my agent and editor Jeff Vorva are negotiating a deal to keep the B-Side going in some form or fashion. So look for more of my thoughts and musings in this publication down the road.
I thought I’d use this column to thank or recognize several folks who made the job easier and more fun. Many of them I’ve known long before I started at the Reporter in August 2013, but I wasn’t lucky enough to have a column at other points in my career.
So, since I mentioned Vorva first, why not start with him.
I’m a better writer and reporter because him. I say that about few other people in this business. Jeff had an influence not only on me but on the paper as well. We started at the Reporter at about the same time, and I’m proud of our body of work.