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City, suburbs stood still during blizzard of '67

  • Written by Joe Boyle

It appears we are experiencing another mild January, just like last year. We have had several days in the 50s this month. They resemble cold, spring days but nothing like winter.

But when this is mentioned to a person of a certain age, a look of trepidation crosses their faces. Invariably they will mention: “Remember when it was in the 60s and a couple of days later we had the great snowstorm?”

Yes, the blizzard of 1967. Anyone who was a youngster in those days remembers the snowstorm. This is a case where those of us who lived through those couple of days are not exaggerating.

Today is the 50th anniversary of that blizzard. We have had some major blasts since then. The snowstorm of 1979 helped elevate Jane Byrne, who had little cash to campaign, to defeat the Machine candidate Michael Bilandic for mayor of Chicago. Bilandic was supposed just keep the seat warm after Richard J. Daley died for his son, Richard M. Daley, to eventually take his place. The rest is history as the snow came and Bilandic and the city were caught off guard. Byrne seized the opportunity.

We had a major snowstorm from Feb. 1 to Feb. 2, 2011. No one saw the groundhog’s shadow that day. Heck, no one could find the groundhog.

But the blizzard that ripped through Chicago and the suburbs in 1967 was different. And it is true that two days before the blizzard – Tuesday, Jan. 24, 1967 – the temperature had reached 65 degrees. The temperatures were mostly mild that whole month.

In those days, we did not have Doppler radar. Each TV station now has five or six weather forecasters. The majority of them are meteorologists. The forecasts are quite accurate today as opposed to 50 years ago. The original forecast the day before called for it to be cloudy on that fateful Thursday with a chance of snow, especially in the afternoon. The high was supposed to be near 30 with a 50 percent chance of precipitation.

The weather forecast changed very little that day before the blizzard. Later in the day, one forecast said there would be a 90 percent chance of snow but was not calling for anything major.

The first warning sign came at 3:45 a.m. Thursday, Jan 26. It was calling for a “heavy snow warning.” But even that report was calling for accumulations of four inches of snow or more by the afternoon. Noting in that report suggested what was actually going to happen.

I don’t recall anything out of the ordinary that morning. It was snowing but we had heard that it finally was going to just that. I believe we had a full day to school. And I do recall mentioning to friends on the way home that it is snowing hard.

Of course, I had never seen anything quite like it later that day. It just kept coming and coming. According to weather reports, the heaviest snow fell in the morning and early afternoon with the maximum rate of accumulation of two inches per hour during the late morning.

What was amazing to me was that the following day, the staff at St. Margaret of Scotland School at 99th and Throop Street in Chicago called off school. In those days, that was unheard of. But no one could move. Cars were buried on side streets along the city blocks. Our neighborhood store at 97th and Vincennes Avenue was called Holiday Foods. It seemed like a holiday when we walked in. The lights were dim and many of the shelves were empty.

I later went to the store with my mom. We used a sled to help carry the groceries. No vehicular traffic could be found anywhere. We just pulled that sled down the middle of the street. I helped shovel our walk when it finally stopped the following day. We helped push drivers whose cars were stuck in snowdrifts. My younger brother, Terry, and some neighborhood kids were jumping off our garage roof into the snow.

And to top it off that weekend, my father, along with my brothers and sisters, had to walk to St. Margaret’s Church so my brother, Bobby, could be baptized that Sunday. My brother was born in December under milder temperatures.

The following week, school began at 10 a.m. to provide more time for lay teachers to arrive at school. When the snow finally stopped, 23 inches had fallen on the city. In an 11-day period through Feb. 5, a grand total of 35 inches of snow was on the ground.

So, when the temperatures become mild in January, I know some adults get a little nervous. But those memories of that snowstorm are still fresh in my mind. We survived the blizzard of 1967. Let’s hope we don’t have a repeat.

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. .

Circus takes final bows, becomes part of our history

  • Written by Joe Boyle

“The Greatest Show on Earth” has left the building for the final time. The Ringling Bros and Barnum Bailey Circus have decided to close forever in May. That means spectators that attended the shows in Chicago and Rosemont will no longer see this circus since they made their last trip here this past fall.

I heard about the news on Sunday while visiting some relatives. While I was surprised I was definitely not stunned. Times are changing rapidly. It was once big news when the circus came to town. Now news of the circus does not draw that much attention.

Of course, a lot has happened in the last couple of years. When Ringling Bros. decided to no longer have elephants as part of the show last year, a dramatic drop in attendance took place. Owners admitted that the elephants had been a large draw over the years because of their dance routine. However, animal rights activists have stated that these animals have been abused over the years.

Other factors played a role in the demise of Ringling Bros. Rising costs have become a burden, along with the fact that younger audiences who are wired to computer games and YouTube are no longer drawn to the circus.

Ringling Bros. employees were informed on Saturday night after shows in Orlando and Miami. Ringling Bros. have been holding two different shows this year – “Circus Extreme” and “Out of This World.” The final Circus Extreme show will be May 7 in Providence, Rhode Island. The final Out of This World performance will be held May 21 in Uniondale, N.Y.

After 146 years, the lights will go out on the big top at Ringling Bros.

I never attended a circus as a youngster. Like most Chicago neighborhoods, the carnivals would come in with assorted rides and a cast of peculiar characters. Our family would go to a Kiddieland that was located somewhere on Chicago’s Southeast Side. Family trips to the Museum of Science and Industry was always a big deal. I always liked walking down the Old Main Street and getting our picture taken on the old car.

Trips to Riverview were fun during the summer. I remember it was a long drive from our home in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood. But I still remember the bumper cars and other assorted rides.

But Riverview closed abruptly with little fanfare in the mid-1960s. It had its time and I’m glad I can still recall some of those images. We will have those memories of the circus as well. It was a popular facet of American history that would travel by train and stop in small towns across America and large cities as well.

My first time attending a circus was in the mid-1980s. My wife and I worked for different newspapers but it was common in those days to receive passes from management to attend the Ringling Bros. shows and the Ice Capades. The tickets were part of an exchange that took place between Ringling Bros. representatives and the newspapers for free advertising. Some employees would receive passes to attend the shows as part of the exchange.

When we had children, we brought them to the shows and they were entertained. We were able to walk on the circus floor before the show and got an opportunity to meet some of the performers. We had a chance to meet clowns of all shapes and sizes and someone who was described as the world’s tallest man. He was over eight feet and could hardly walk.

But now that I have learned that Ringling Bros. will close, I don’t know if I will miss it. I’m not sure my kids will be sad. It is part of American history and is linked to another age. The complaints of animal activists have merit. Apparently, when the elephants were removed, that was the beginning of the end.

Heck, older residents talk nostalgically about Bozo’s Circus, but the once popular program has been off the air on WGN-TV Channel 9 since 2002. At the end of its run, the show was only on early Sunday mornings, replaced during the week by morning news that is cheaper to produce and more lucrative.

The circus will no longer come to town. They will be part of our past. But I still have memories of the produce man who would yell “strawberries” as he walked down 100th and Michigan Avenue when I was a kid. The Good Humor Man used to drive down our block at night. The knife man would sharpen knives for moms who would greet him as he strolled through the neighborhood.

Those days are long gone, but I remember them fondly.

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. .

Plenty of time to make (and break) resolutions for 2017

  • Written by Janet Boudreau

I've been thinking a lot about New Year's resolutions. Since we are well into the third week of 2017, you might say I'm a little behind on this, or perhaps, early for next year. I've noticed that a lot of folks claim they don't make resolutions anymore. These might be the same people who have given up eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. Personally, I feel that's playing with fire.

I have, however, recently noticed new discussions on the whole idea of starting off the new year as if it were a clean slate. Resolutions are now called anything from aspirations to intentions but they mean the same thing. Whatever word we choose, people are focusing on making changes for the better. The new is old again.

Yes, the same people who touted the benefits of kale chips are now back to chocolate chips. Those who vowed never to have an iPhone are playing Rolling Sky in the grocery checkout line. The “new is old” is comforting and during these tumultuous times, we want hope and focus and success and above all, imaginary characters and games.

I'd like to help with some ideas for 2017. I did a little research into top resolutions and the success/failure factors. These can make or break your decision, so you can read on or just make a big pan of brownies.

The top three resolutions for 2017 are lose weight/eat healthier, work on self- improvement, and make better financial decisions. I think it’s pretty clear that if you have decided you need to work on any of these issues, then you just might just have a long history of sitting on the couch in your pajamas in the middle of the day, eating potato chips and calling in orders to QVC. Let's just change that in one swoop. It's not a path to success.

First off, research shows we can better attain our goals with specifics such as aiming to eliminate sugar and fried foods for six weeks, or setting aside $20 a week for the next six months. Now that sounds better, but I tend to make periodic withdrawals from my savings account in proportion with deposits.  

Before you start cleaning out the fridge, counting loose change, or signing up for hot yoga, here are some cold, hard facts that might make you rethink things. Research shows that 72.6 percent of Americans maintain their resolutions through the first week. Jump ahead to six months and we are down to 44.8 percent.

But let's not be hasty in throwing in the towel. There are so many variables. Your goals are your own and very personal. For some it may be as simple as cutting out the skydiving. For others, that means learning another language in spite of flunking English. Aiming for something personal is not only a challenge, it can open doors to new endeavors, like parasailing, knitting, growing beets or taking a vacation to Northeast India.

Eliminating bad behaviors is not only good on its own, it leaves time to try all of these new and crazy adventures. And then it's almost a cumulative effect...running a mile a day turns into training for a 10K. Many lose 115 pounds in 31 days, color their hair blonde, and open their own fitness center. True success stories.

I happily made my resolutions for 2017 after a lot of deep thought. I really do think of my health so I've vowed to stop drinking pickle juice from the jar. I have a huge fear of needles but I'll consent to getting the flu shot every leap year.

And I'd really like to become a better person so I am no longer going to push my grocery cart into the back of the person lallygagging in front of me in stores.

Money issues are difficult. I guess you need to have money first and foremost. But I'm not really worried. I have 349 days to think about it.

Janet Boudreau is a longtime resident of Evergreen Park. She is a writer, blogger and enthusiast of inappropriate behavior. You can reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We come up empty looking for logic after violent acts

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

I recall a few lines from “The Dark Knight,” the second installment of the Batman movie trilogy that seems somewhat pertinent this past week.

Michael Caine, who portrays the loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth, listens as Bruce Wayne, portrayed by Christian Bale, complains about The Joker. Wayne angrily question what his motives are as the demonic figures terrorizes Gotham City. The older Alfred listens and then has this to say about The Joker, portrayed by the late Heath Ledger.

“With respect Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man you don't fully understand, either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of the tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.”

Wayne, who is also Batman, looks puzzled and asks, “So why steal them?

Alfred’s response was that “he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with.

“Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

The dialogue summed up Ledger’s Joker, a maniacal, evil character whose main purpose was to create chaos. The film was almost representative of the times we are living in. We try to find some sort of reason why random acts of violence take place. But just as frightening is people who shoot and kill for no apparent reason. We have seen accounts in newspapers or online. We have seen some partial footage on TV.

Esteban Santiago was deployed in 2010 as part of the Puerto Rico National Guard. He spent a year with an engineering battalion, according to published reports. He has been living the past couple of years in Anchorage, Alaska. This past November, Santiago told FBI agents in Alaska that the government was trying to control his mind and forcing him to watch Islamic State group videos. The FBI agents notified the police after the interview with Santiago, 26, who took him for a mental health evaluation.

What happened after that is not clear. His brother said he was aware of his treatments until just recently.

But we all know what happened since. Santiago is accused of pulling out a gun in baggage area at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Friday and just started randomly shooting. Five people were killed and eight were injured. He was taken into custody peacefully.

This is just another reminder that people need to remain vigilant. On the other hand, you can’t live your life in fear. And these random acts of violence take place more often. It kind of leaves us numb. According to published reports, the offender took a flight from Anchorage to Minneapolis last Thursday night. He then flew into Fort Lauderdale Friday morning.

One witness told to a TV station that the offender just kept coming forward and randomly shooting. He added that he was “shooting at people, no rhyme or reason to it.”

For the relatives and friends of the deceased, they must still be in shock. The families and friends of the eight injured as well. Anyone who was near the scene must be in a state of shock. And the reason for this man’s actions is not clear. One report states that Santiago planned this route. No reasons are given. We only have more questions.

I suppose there will be questions of how the alleged gunman Santiago was able to check his gun in a bag and was able to retrieve it and stroll through the baggage area and begin randomly shooting people.

Some changes at airports could be made to tighten security. Perhaps some laws will be passed. I’m not so sure about that.

But it is hard to defend against random acts of violence. We can live our lives as best we can and be careful. And then there are people who revert to violence. And there is no rhyme or reason for it. Logic has no place when someone or a group just wants to watch the world burn.

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. .

 

Getting rid of clutter and making life decisions in new year

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Claudia-NEW

My 2017 is starting off clean!

I’ve spent the previous two weeks hauling donations to various charitable organizations. A huge bin of books went to the Evergreen Park Public Library. A trunk full of household items went to the Thrift Store on 91st and Western, and two carloads of toys went to the Salvation Army on 87th and Cicero. Yes, I’m aware of several charities that would’ve scooped these donations right from my doorstep, but I had zero desire to schedule a pickup, I wanted everything gone -- straightaway!

I’ve since found myself migrating about my house, admiring its tidiness. “Thank you Lord for my home!” I’ve repeatedly whispered that in prayer accompanied by deep inhalations of the refreshing fragrance coupled with having a clean house. I didn’t just get rid of stuff, I emptied every drawer, cabinet, tote, and bin; only choosing to put back what I’d take ‘if’ I were hypothetically going to move. That was the only way I could rationalize whether I truly wanted to keep what I kept.

I’d ask myself, “Claudia, if you were moving into your dream house, would you take this?” I only wanted to retain items that were useful and needed regardless of their value. The things that weren’t being used had become clutter, mounting in areas I found myself too busy to address, until now.

“Enough is enough!” I told myself. “It’s ALL got to go!”

I’m not limiting this purging to household items. I’m looking to shed those extra holiday pounds I’ve packed on as well. So, I went back to Weight Watchers. I’m a lifetime member, but I haven’t been in eons. To qualify as a lifetime member, you must hit your goal weight and maintain it by weighing no more than two pounds over that goal for six weeks. At the end of that maintenance period you become a lifetime member. I only want to lose 10 pounds and guess what? Weight Watchers has a special through Jan. 16 where if you lose 10 pounds within your first two months, those two months are free! It’s a double reward. Lose the weight within a reasonable period of time and you don’t have to pay. That’s a no brainer!

I exercise regularly and it’s given me a false sense of security. I haven’t been monitoring my food choices. My school of thought has been, “I exercise so I can eat/drink whatever I want.” I’ve been so naïve. When I learned a 12-ounce can of soda was equivalent to a Weight Watchers entree I was bewildered. My workouts could’ve been far more effective had I not been self-sabotaging with poor choices.

Unfortunately, there’s more than fat to trim from my life. There are relationships I’m cutting loose. The dream killers are being eliminated. I find it exhaustive trying to maintain interactions with people who lack any ambition to move beyond the status quo. I’m sure some of you have a person in mind that lacks initiative to improve their own life, so they despise you for the progression you’re experiencing in yours.

Out. Out. OUT!

It doesn’t even need to be stated, no argument or confrontation necessary. Just make yourself less and less available until the communication and relationship has dissipated. We’ll have a better chance of reconvening with these people in a different life season if we recognize when a hibernation period is warranted.

I’ve found clearing the clutter in my life brings about new opportunities, fresh ideas and creativity. I desire to be my best self so that I can be a better wife, mother and citizen in my community. I dare not diminish my successes of 2016. There was much to be grateful for. Yet, there were also areas noted “room for improvement.” Let the dawn of a new day cast a ray of light on the areas you need to declutter. Don’t allow any area of your life to remain in disarray. Join me and confess your life clean in 2017!

Claudia Parker is an author, photographer and a reporter. Her columns appear every second and fourth Thursday of each month. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .