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. .

Relatives who drift in and out no longer can break her heart

  • Written by Claudia Parker


What happens to a family when one party hurts another so deeply that the offense seems unforgivable and the damage irreversible?

In recent news, two young boys from a middle class family in Atlanta allegedly tried to kill their parents. The puzzled voice of the mother could be heard on the 911 recording saying, “I have no idea why they would do this? Maybe for the insurance money…?”

She and her husband are expected to recover from their physical wounds but one has to wonder if their hearts will ever heal?

One thing is certain, that 911 call spared their lives.

Some might credit me for saving a life with a call. Well, it was more like “resurrecting” a life, by a missed call -- to be specific!

I had a family member resurface after decades. In former years, this person had unrestricted access to my heart and would break it, repeatedly. But, after much time and a little wisdom, I was able to free myself from the expectation that they would change. That allowed me the bravery to separate myself from our toxic bond. Then, like a quiet storm, they emerged.

I answered the phone to hear, “I’ve had your number for quite some time. It’s taken a lot of courage for me to use it. How are you,” the voice asked?

     Have you ever known someone to be so ashamed of something they’ve done that they just disappear? Now imagine that person resurfacing to apologize. It had been nearly three decades! Call me a softy but I felt for them. I’d moved past the pain and settled forgiveness in my heart ages ago. Yet, they’d been carrying that burden around. Rather than responding with, “Well, well, well”, my response was, “Heeeey, how’s it going? I’m good. And you?”

Honestly, I was thinking, “How long do you have left to live? I noodled around the subject with questions like, “Everything alright with your health?”

Once I was reassured that ‘all was well’, I engaged the conversation as if we’d spoken frequently. This sparked a renewal in our relationship and we began to talk on a regular basis. I was always polite, yet cautious. I kept waiting for the “real reason” to surface for our reunion. After a few months, it came.

This individual is from a generation resistant to technology. Texting, email and even voicemail are perceived as frustrations and not practiced. However, on this occasion, an exception was made after several of our telephone connections were missed. I’d left a voicemail explaining why I had been unreachable but they hadn’t received it because they weren’t checking voice mail. I presume out of frustration or worry, a decision was made to retrieve messages.

My hypothesis had been correct all along. It was all on their voicemail. A missed call from their health clinic expressed that the mass found on their colon was benign. I was the first person to know, “If I wasn’t trying to get your message off my voicemail, I would’ve been still walking around thinking I was sick,” the person shared.

I celebrated with them and had a few chuckles at their expense. But, I couldn’t help but wonder, “Now that your demise is no longer looming, will you remain present in my life?”

Nope! Our relationship went dormant shortly after. I wasn’t surprised, it was typical. It’s been nearly five years since that reunion.

No matter how much we love our family, some of them will still hurt us and leave us disappointed; most of the time -- for no good reason. We have to protect ourselves and guard our hearts from being misused. We have to be careful not to enable their behavior by making excuses for them. I believe in separating myself from energy that is toxic to my personal, emotional and spiritual growth.

As people, we all need to own the space we occupy on this earth. It’s a personal call as to whether you share that space with family, who either add to or subtract from your life experience. For me, it’s not set in stone. Just because we’re related doesn’t give one a license to treat me “however” they see fit. To keep my life in balance and in relationships that are healthy, I make adjustments as needed.

A son shares a message to his mother from his grave

  • Written by Claudia Parker

A son shares a message to his mother from his grave

Oct. 17 will mark the eighth anniversary of the tragic murder of Arthur Jones, whom his mother, Rita Perez, of Evergreen Park, affectionately referred to as AJ.

“He died right before my eyes on a Wednesday afternoon,” said Perez. AJ was struck in the neck by the crossfire of two rival gangs. The incident took place in the 800 block of West Garfield Boulevard, in Chicago.

“He’d taken school pictures just four hours before his murder,” said Perez. “Looking at that picture is still difficult. It’s like seeing him in transition because I know it was taken right before he’s about to leave me.” He was her youngest of nine children at the time. She’s given birth to 11, who range in age from 4 to 24.

Perez said AJ slipped out to get candy from a nearby corner store with his best friend. His death marked a literal awakening in her life. “I wasn’t feeling well that day, I’d fallen asleep. I awoke to the screams of my older son rushing me to AJ’s side a block away.”

She said being at the scene haunted her.

“Had it been any other day, I wouldn’t have been home. I would’ve been off somewhere high on crack or drunk.”

Perez said it was the deep wounds of sexual molestation that began at the age of 5 by the hands of a family member that caused her to self-medicate with narcotics. AJ was taken by gun violence but five of her daughters were taken by the state as a result of that dependence.

“I didn’t see a way out of my addiction,” said Perez. “I was planning my funeral. I told people exactly how I wanted to be buried. I couldn’t stay sober for four minutes but after losing AJ, I went to rehab. I’ve been clean five years and four months. I’m a walking miracle!”

Now that she's clean, Perez said she’s dedicated her life to her faith. She worships at Maranatha Chapel at 9731 S Pulaski. She also takes part in a support group called Compassionate Friends, through Little Company of Mary Hospital, and volunteers for various organizations. “I do a lot of charity work that involves photography,” said Perez.

That’s how I crossed paths with Perez. She approached me after recognizing we have the same camera brand, Nikon.

“That’s a nice camera, I have one almost identical” she said.

I smiled. “Thanks. I enjoy it,” I replied. I thought that was the end of our chitchat but she closed a gap between us. “Mine was stolen recently. Do you mind helping me,” she asked?

I had no idea how I could possibly help but I listened further. As she began sharing her story, it became more and more intense.

“A little boy stole my camera. I saw him take it and run off,” explained Perez. She said she canvased the neighborhood until she found where he lived.”

“You did your own door-to-door investigation,” I asked?

“I was determined to get my camera back. it took me six hours but I found him,” said Perez.

She found HIM, but not the camera!

“I knew he took my camera, I saw him. But he wouldn’t admit that to me or his mother so I filed a police report.” Perez said the officer who took her information displayed little confidence of her camera ever being recovered. He also told her she would need the serial number, which she wasn’t sure how to find.

“Do you still have the box your camera came in,” she asked?

I did.

“I have my box but I’m unsure which number is the serial number. Will you please take my information and let me know which number on your box matches the number on your camera,” she begged?

“Sure,” I said. I was not optimistic she’d get her camera back but I didn’t let on. She had an immoveable faith.

“These are hard times for people. Someone is going to pawn my camera,” she said audaciously.

I admired her spunk. I called her that evening with the information, wished her the best and hung up the phone. Within 24 hours she came calling back. “This is Mrs. Perez, you won’t believe what’s happened. I gave the detective my serial number and she found my camera at a pawn shop on 47th and King Drive.”  

I was floored.

On the surface, our paths crossed for me to assist in the retrieval of her camera. But, I felt there was more so I pressed until I found it.

I discovered several news stories about AJ. “There are at least 14,” said Perez. In many, Perez told reporters, just as she told me, AJ wanted to be a pastor. Well, he has a message alright and it seems he orchestrated a way to share it from the grave.

The little boy that allegedly took Rita Perez’s camera is 10 years old and also referred to as AJ! That AJ put a series of events in motion that would lead Mrs. Perez to me, on the cusp of the eighth anniversary about the murder of her AJ.


I believe Arthur Jones wants people to know his story. Through his death, his mother reclaimed her life. He died but now she lives a life she says is dedicated to Christ.

From the lyrics of Big Daddy Weave’s song, “My Story”, he sings, “If I told you my story, you would hear hope that wouldn’t let go. And if I told you my story, you would hear love that never gave up. And if I told you my story, you would hear life, but it wasn’t mine. If I should speak then let it be of the grace that is greater than all my sin, of when justice was served and where mercy wins. Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in, oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him.”

Well done AJ, well done!

Mistress is left waiting and time was on her side

  • Written by Claudia Parker


Peephole curiosity isn’t what brought my relative to her apartment door at 3 a.m. It was the vibrations of a pounding fist on the door across the hall. Squinting to get a better assessment she recalls one hostile female (who apparently lived there) accompanied by three girls with major attitude.

From the four-letter-word threats bouncing from their mouths like basketballs, it became obvious the lease holder’s boyfriend was in her apartment entertaining another female.

The five-story building seemed to provide no way of escape for this woman. The quartet in the hall played a confident tune of patience knowing eventually she’d come out, unless they busted the door down first. It remained on the hinges but not for lack of their attempts to kick it off. The ding of the elevator opening put the commotion on pause as the ready-to-rumble crew turned to see who was coming. One of the “two” sneaker wearing women, big boned, with bloodshot eyes asked, “I’m looking for unit 504?”

“Oh? Well you must be lost ‘cause I live at 504 and I don’t know you,” the lease holder replied.

An "I’ll tear your head off and eat it for breakfast" look came over this woman, whom I'll refer to as Ms. Hennessy, as she stared down all four girls and quietly stated, “I’m fin-na knock on this door, call fa my sista and when it opens…me, her and Big Shay right here, are out! Understood!?”

Overhearing the conversation from the other side, the “other woman” slowly opened the door and they did just that. The woman presumed a goner, walked out the door without a scratch. The details of her guilt or innocence are unknown. Nonetheless, she escaped like Daniel in the lions’ den.

Her saving grace was waiting!

All of us aren’t fortunate enough to have four prowling lions standing outside the door to signify ‘maybe this isn’t the best time’ to… buy a bigger house or start a business or take that exotic vacation. So, we make our plans, put forth our efforts, and we take our seat on the plane only to find we’re not clear for takeoff.

Isn’t it only natural to have a sense of urgency for your dreams and desires to manifest? I mean, dreaming is great and all but I personally would like to wake up and experience them. I’ve had a few conversations with the clouds a time or two, “Hey God, what’s the hold up?” I ask.

But, I once heard a minister by the name of Dr. Nicholas Pearce say, “Delay doesn’t equate to denial. Time can be used to strengthen us for the difficulties that lie ahead. Some of us will need shoes of iron and brass to fulfill our true destiny. Time allows God to clear our path. Time can bring about divine intervention and supernatural connections. Waiting can be our advocate in the face of our adversary.”

Oh how true. I belted out an, “Amen!”

Dr. Pearce then led an old congregational hymn, “Father I Stretch My Hands to Thee, no other help I know…”

With that, I felt inclined to stop entertaining the seductress thoughts of impatience. To avoid my dream turning into my worst nightmare, I decided to remain faithful to waiting on God’s timing.