Pausing on Thanksgiving to give thanks for God's protection

  • Written by Claudia Parker


Have you ever seen terror in a pair of pupils? If I had, I couldn’t recall. But I recently acquired a firsthand account while watching my 8-year-old daughter, Donae, be targeted by a 6-year-old Border Collie/Eskimo Mix dog named Rocky.

Donae began an excited shuffle up the walkway of her friend Jordyn’s house for a playdate when their dog, Rocky, leaped out their front door laser-focused on my daughter. Just before she had gotten out of the car, we went over the “playdate rules.”

“Be kind, obey her parents and if they have a dog…,” I stated but was quickly interrupted. “Mom, I know. I’m allergic. I won’t go near the dog,” she retorted while getting out of our vehicle. She was anxious to get inside. She and Jordyn had been trying to have this playdate for weeks. Her mother, Michelle, was expecting us and came to the door to greet Donae when I pulled up. But Rocky got a head start with the greeting.

I felt like I was watching from my vehicle in slow motion. I remember hearing barking and Donae saying. “Yeah, I think they have a dog,” as she turned to wave goodbye. Then, it was like I blinked and the next thing I saw was Rocky coming at Donae with full velocity. She began to sprint back to the car in terror. I swear that kid jumped the sidewalk, hurdling the grass and curb into the car before I could even react.

Rocky, still barking frantically, had his nose peeking into the opened door. At this point I started screaming, thinking he was going to make us his dinner. My 5-year old, Rhonda-Rene, was strapped in her seat right next to Rocky’s and his perceived vicious teeth.

I was frozen with fear. My hands had not moved from the steering wheel at ten-and-two. I’m sure if he did get in, I would have begun to flail by arms into some sort of weaponry, like a morphed version of martial arts.

But while watching it unfold, I froze with panic and was unable to think of a rational way to intervene. Luckily, Michele came to relieve us of the mayhem.

“Sorry,” she said, cheerfully leading the dog back into the house. “Thank you, Jesus. Oh thank you, Lord,” exhaled Donae as she re-exited the car for her playdate.

I imagine there are many of us with similar concerns for our safety. The television barks viciously through news reports every day. “We can now confirm the Russian plane that went down on Oct. 31 killing 224 people over the Sinai desert was a result of terrorism,” reported CNN. As were the attacks on Nov. 13 that occurred in Paris where mass shootings, suicide bombings and the taking of hostages took place.

Hasn’t that sent many of us into a state of panic? Perhaps the aggressors are gaining on us. We may in fact become the target of their next malicious bite.

Many of us watch in horror, stricken with fear with our hands locked at ten-and-two. Some lobby for the heads of state to intervene while others make an attempt to flee. But, I don’t believe we can run from evil. Each day the sun rises, the innocent and unsuspecting are fed a fresh serving of hate. It is my belief that above all else, we must pray.

It was a revelation to me that Donae didn’t scream my name while she was running frantically. And once safe, she didn’t acknowledge me as her protector or rescuer. “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Lord,” she cried out.

I trust that while we remain present on this Earth there is a purpose for us to be here. We do not have to live with a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind. Let us be forever grateful for God’s love and protection. He is able to keep us safe from harm.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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. .