Menu

Marveling at the revolving door of life

  • Written by Joe Boyle

I met a group of friends from my grammar school days last Friday for lunch. We had a great meal and had a lot of laughs. It made for an enjoyable afternoon.

But it occurred to me how life is so cyclical. I graduated from St. Margaret of Scotland, which was located at 99th and Throop in Chicago’s Washington Heights neighborhood. Our family had moved to the community when I was in the fourth grade.

We moved to Washington Heights from Roseland. I was actually excited about the move. St. Margaret’s was only two blocks away. The previous school I went to -- St. John De La Salle -- was over a mile. That was a long walk.

The only awkward moment was that my first day of class at St. Margaret’s was in October. I was led in by my new teacher, Sister Sulpice, and I felt every eye on me. That was my introduction to St. Margaret’s. After being initially apprehensive and nervous, I began to get used to going to the school and made some friends. I made more friends over the next couple of years playing baseball and football.

When you are a kid, your world often revolves around you. I recall going to an open house for Mendel High School when I was in eighth grade. I noticed two familiar looking guys my age looking over some trophies. They then left the room and it occurred to me that one of them was named Mickey Mahlum. He lived a block away from me in Roseland, near 100th and Michigan.

I walked home from school often with Mickey Mahlum and would go to St. John’s for weekend activities, like watching movies. We weren’t close friends but we got along. We would laugh and tease each other, like most kids would.

But seeing him that day reminded me that life goes on beyond your neighborhood borders. We visited our Roseland block once after we moved but never returned after that. I now lived in Washington Heights and was entrenched in the neighborhood. It’s as if when I moved, life stopped in my Roseland neighborhood. After seeing Mickey Mahlum, I realized it didn’t.

I recall my graduation from St. Margaret’s. While I had fun there, it was time to move on. We were all little restless at that point. My job, along with many of my friends, was to drive the nuns crazy. We did a good job of that. But I also have some fond memories of the Sisters of Notre Dame. It was another time and a different era. At Catholic schools today, there are few if any nuns teaching or residing at the parishes.

Many of us went on to different high schools. I kept in contact with my close friends and we still hung out. But the neighborhoods surrounding St. Margaret’s was in transition. The once predominately Irish Catholic neighborhood became mostly African American. Many of my friends had moved and casual acquaintances left. I stayed in contact with many friends, but life begins to tug you in different directions.

Our family eventually moved but I did not spend much time at our new home. I went away to college and made some more friends. One day stood out in my mind. I was attending summer school during the summer of 1976 at Western Illinois University in Macomb. Walking through an area called the Union in the middle of the campus that featured fast food restaurants and offices, I saw a familiar face walking towards me. It was none other than Mickey Mahlum. I talked to him briefly wondering why he was there. He was visiting an old friend from the old Roseland neighborhood who was attending WIU.

After saying our goodbyes, I shook my head. What were the chances of seeing this person from my distant past walking through a student lounge in Macomb?

But I guess when you are around long enough, it’s like going through a revolving door. People from our distant past come back into your lives. I got married after college and we had two kids. Most of the mid-1990s into the mid-2000s was spent helping to coach my son’s baseball teams and my daughter’s basketball squad.

I kept up with some friends from St. Margaret’s but not everyone. A recent St. Margaret’s reunion brought a lot of us together again. We can’t bring back the past but it was fun looking at pictures from our lunch outing. And why not have fun at this stage. That’s what it is all about.

And who knows? Maybe I will see Mickey Mahlum again.

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. .

How a mother’s unfulfilling career led her through a new door

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Claudia-NEW

Learning how certain folks came to discover their occupation continues to intrigue me.

“How’d you get into this?” I’ve been known to ask.  

Frequent unintentional assemblies in my neighborhood park with an unknown mom and her sons has blossomed a friendship and enlightened me to learn about Feng Shui.

“I began studying Feng Shui about 10 years ago after stumbling upon the subject in a design book,” said Elizabeth “Liz” Camacho, of Evergreen Park.

She and Frank, her husband of 12 years, have lived in EP for six years with their two sons, Lucas, 6, and Levi, 3.

Feng Shui, in short, is a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing each person with the surrounding environment.

“I found it fascinating and the principles deeply resonated with me, yet I didn’t dream of making it a career until more than a decade later,” said Liz.

Prior to starting her family, Liz said she worked in corporate food service management as director of catering and special events for Boeing.

“I’d built a successful career in hospitality and was generously compensated,” Boeing is known to many as the world’s largest aerospace company,” said Liz. “Yet, as the years passed, I became increasingly dissatisfied and found myself totally stressed and often fatigued, wondering, ‘what am I doing? And why?’”

Starting a family provided her a way of escape.

“I took some much needed time off to enjoy being a wife and mother. It allowed me to take inventory of my life and figure out what really mattered,” she explained.

That proved to be a difficult decision for her.

Liz reflected back, “Leaving my career brought judgment of peers and family. I also faced fears of financial insecurity.”

I don’t believe following one’s true calling is easy for any of us. It requires grit and perseverance. But, oh what joy your life can experience once you’ve pushed passed the pain.  

Liz said the fuel she needed to keep driving came through a weekend Feng Shui retreat. “During that retreat I felt an awakening. I quickly realized the Feng Shui I was implementing in my own home was really changing my life. I was happier, healthier, and more inspired than ever. It was like unlocking a secret. I was driven to share the opportunity with anyone who would listen.”

From there Liz said she went on to immerse herself in the subject and began consulting for family and friends.

“It was through their positive experiences that I felt a sense of validation and knew I had to use the knowledge to help others.”

Liz became a certified consultant and started a business called, “Front Door Feng Shui.”

“I created Front Door Feng Shui to help people love their spaces and pursue their best life. Words cannot describe how truly grateful I feel to be on this path and how honored I am to share my passion with others.” She expounded, “I really enjoy creating living and work spaces that are happy, healthy and motivating.”

Liz said she feels called to do what she’s doing. “It’s led me to an active practice of meditation,” she said.

Another approach to her holistic health and wellness life is exercise. She’s also a Pilate’s instructor at Core on 95th and Francisco three days per week. “I practice living a centered life, strengthening the core of your body and practicing Feng Shui can bring about balance, harmony and flow.”

With a degree in hospitality and culinary management, Liz said she’s in her “other” element when she’s cooking.

I’d say that makes her a triple threat!

Liz is available for consultations and can be reached at http://frontdoorfengshui.com/

She specializes in space clearing, de-cluttering and organizing as well as design, art and décor.

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.

Darkness lurks beneath some clean-cut images

  • Written by Joe Boyle

Looking back at 2015, we know about the violence, random shootings, reports of excessive force by police and chaotic weather. But some of the stories from the past year are just bizarre.

Veteran actor and comedian Bill Cosby is one example. I heard about Cosby’s alleged indiscretions with women dating back to the 1980s. But you always heard these rumors about celebrities. Sometimes you hear rumors about a person that would not be associated with such behavior. Our first thought is to dismiss these rumors.

Cosby was a funny comedian whose star began to shine after appearances on variety shows in the early 1960s. He unique humor was not In jokes. He was funny because he told stories that many people could relate to. The stories were filled with humor based on his childhood growing up in Philadelphia.

He subsequently recorded well-received comedy albums and starred in the TV show I Spy and later the first version of the Bill Cosby Show in which he played a physical education teacher. The Bill Cosby Show of the 1980s is what most people remember. He played a doctor raising an affluent African-American family.

The show was successful because it did not depend on the typical stereotypes of blacks. The stories were about an American family who happened to be black. The humorous and poignant storylines anyone could relate to. Cosby was viewed as a role model for portraying blacks as more than thugs or junkies.

He continued to do standup with frequent appearances on David Letterman. Even when some women went public about Cosby allegedly assaulting them after he gave them drugs, most people did not want to believe it. Many blacks initially went to his defense, implying racism in that some people want to tear down the image of a black American icon.

While some reports about Cosby continued, it was not until a comedy routine by emerging comic Hannibal Buress in 2014 began appearing on YouTube and went viral. Buress essentially was satirizing the reports surrounding Cosby. Little did he know that it would create a movement. Women who did not know each other began speaking out about being drugged by Cosby and later assaulted. Some of them did not remember the alleged assault but knew something was wrong when they finally awakened. Other women said they remembered being assaulted but they could not physically prevent it due to the drugs.

Now Cosby has been charged with criminal sexual assault on Dec. 30 from a woman who worked with the Temple University men’s basketball team and looked at Cosby, who graduated from Temple, as a mentor. Andrea Constand said she was assaulted in 2004 at Cosby’s suburban Philadelphia home. Cosby was charged because time was almost up to arraign him for this particular alleged assault.

Cosby has been charged and will have his day in court. You want to give everyone the benefit of the doubt but when close to 60 women have reported similar incidents happening to them by Cosby, what other conclusion can you come up with? One thing is for certain is the career of Cosby, 78, is over.

Then we have the strange case of Joe Gliniewicz. This is the police officer from Fox Lake who was revered in the community. The 52-year-old officer called police after he said he saw three suspicious male individuals – two white and one black – and he was going to check on it. Minutes later after hearing gunshots, police found the body of Gliniewicz.

Recent reports have indicated that one of the police officers even suggested that it looked like Gliniewicz committed suicide. Another officer on the scene ruled that out immediately, stating there was no way Gliniewicz would commit suicide.

Giniewicz was buried with honors as first responders arrived from across the country for the funeral. The man known as “GI Joe” was later found to be looting his voyagers program that taught youngsters about police work. Gliniewicz reportedly knew that a new administrator was aware that he was taking cash from the program. Gliniewicz reportedly staged his own death to make it looked like he was murdered.

But the rumors began to start circulating a month after his death. The local police, after a long delay, finally admitted what we all know now. Gliniewicz was far from being a hero. He was also accused of sexual assault and drinking on duty.

The cases of Cosby and Gliniewicz highlighted a strange year. The lesson here is not to assume anything. The image we see on the surface may be covering up some dark secrets.

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. .

2015 leaves us with noise, selfies and drones

  • Written by Joe Boyle

 

Another year has passed and another one will arrive at midnight. The year 2015 will make way for 2016. And what does that really mean? Well, 12 months have passed and in that time a lot has happened.

But trying to recall all it can be difficult. Yes, I can remember the endless shootings that have resulted in needless deaths. That makes up most of the major headlines during the year. It was a year of storms, politically and due to the weather.

A lot of people seemed angry, or at least they gave the impression they were. With smartphones, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., we can be in constant communication with someone. That means a lot of people were sounding off about how Black Lives Matter, All Lives Matter and 16 shots. Of course, people also comment on Charlie Sheen, Steve Harvey and Adele.

Of course, there is also Kim Kardashian. Her contribution to society is to continue sending out photos of herself. Kardashian not only posted photos of her face but her backside as well. Welcome to 2015, where people can shout, tweet their indignations and also provide us with plenty of narcissism.

During the course of the year, strange occurrences happen. Let’s take the weather, for instance. For the past month up until Monday, we have not seen any snow. We did have a minor snowstorm before Thanksgiving that resulted in about six inches of the white stuff in the southwest suburbs. But that quickly melted and the temperatures have been in the 40’s and 50’s throughout December.

The mild temperatures were welcome but they were accompanied by dark clouds that seemingly would cross the sky at a rapid pace. That would result in some heavy rain or mist. It was not a White Christmas but the weather was eerie. The cold weather took a vacation in December, along with the sun.

Most of the East Coast has also had mild temperatures. Buffalo, which usually has snowstorms in November, just recently had their first snow. But the weather has played havoc in Texas and Oklahoma. Major tornadoes have ravaged parts of Texas near Dallas. I was flipping through my remote Saturday afternoon and paused for a few minutes to watch the Sun Bowl, which was played in El Paso, Texas. However, there was no sun to be found. Snow was falling heavily throughout the game. It was a strange sight.

However, if you turn back the clock to last January, we were dealing with a near record-breaking cold wave. Temperatures were below zero for most of the month. As far as spring, it never really arrived. The cold winter was followed by some spring snow, rain and more rain. And it was cold. Temperatures seemed to get better in July and the fall had warmer than usual temperatures.

Perhaps we will be jolted by more cold temperatures in January. The temperatures were mostly mild in December 2014. So, I guess we will just have to see.

In most of these years in reviews, there is always a story on noted obituaries. On one hand it seems a little morbid but we are interested to see some famous names that have left us. When the subject is brought up at the end of the year, I can’t really remember. The most recent names come to mind. I heard that Meadowlark Lemon, the clown prince for the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team for years, died Sunday. I haven’t followed the Harlem Globetrotters much lately but I knew that Lemon was long retired. Dave Henderson, a stylish slugging outfielder for the Oakland A’s and Boston Red Sox, died Sunday at age 57.

However, during the course of a year, the names escape me. I had to look them up. The list includes actors Omar Shariff, Marjorie Lord, Robert Loggia, Leonard Nimoy, Maureen O’Hara, Anne Meara, Rod Taylor and Donna Douglas, who played Elly May Clampett on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

Scott Weiland, frontman for the Stone Temple Pilots, also died in 2015. He was joined by country singer Lynn Anderson, who sang “Rose Garden.” ESPN anchor Stuart Scott succumbed to cancer. The woman once known as Cynthia Lennon also died. She was John Lennon’s first wife.

Besides Lemon and Henderson, Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks and White Sox legend Minnie Minoso also died in 2015. And we can’t forget New York Yankee great Yogi Berra.

As the year quickly comes to an end, we are apparently being invaded by drones. With little regulation over the use of them, these flying contraptions have been falling out of the sky of late, almost injuring a skier while dropping on a jogger. Two tourists were also being detained after flying a drone over the Vatican recently.

So, be careful out there. Have a safe and Happy New Year.

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. .

Christmas charity can be discovered in any home

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Claudia-NEW

(This column originally appeared in the Inside Oak Lawn Magazine in December of 2013)

Have you heard the cliche, go along, to get along? That’s exactly what I was doing back in 2002 when my then new husband, Don, told me he knew how to get where we were going.

He was right; sort of.

The street was lined with cars, Christmas decor lit the yard and the muzzled laughter followed by chatter cued us to believe we were at the right Christmas party. In hindsight, maybe we were, but it’s not where we were invited. I attempted to be discrete when I interrupted his conversation, whispering, “Let’s go! We’re at the wrong house!” but things went a little haywire when he yelled, “What? We’re in the wrong house?!”

My mother-in-law is notorious for being late. She’d invited us to accompany her to a Christmas party of an old colleague of hers. She gave us the address and told us she’d meet us there, momentarily, which meant, in an hour. I didn’t want to go in without her but Don insisted.

Upon our entrance of this extravagantly appointed home, we were greeted by a host who took our coats. I noticed him, noticing our empty hands. We explained we were guests of Ms. Parker, but she hadn’t arrived. He smiled as he gave us a tour of the main quarters. "I hope my mother-in-law has 'whatever' we were supposed to bring," I thought.

On our tour there were beautifully decorated Christmas trees in each room, holiday music playing softly and the scent of pumpkin pie, fresh yeast rolls and honey glazed ham. We were offered a plate and asked if we were hungry. “I think we should wait a bit.” I said. But not Don, “Oh yes, thank you!” he replied, as he began stacking it to resemble a small hill.

It wasn’t until he’d eaten his second plate that I finally agreed to eat. We were well into a competitive networking game when my mother-in-law called my cellphone. “Where are you?” she said. I rolled my eyes as I looked at my watch. “The second living room, near the back,” I told her. “I’m in the living room. They only have one,” she replied. “What address did you go to?”

The look on my face must have been telling. A nice gentlemen, who'd been very conversational since we arrived said, “What’s wrong dear?” I whisked passed him to get to Don. The man followed. We were totally exposed because after Don yelled, “What? …wrong house?” The man replied, “I figured this much.”

He was the owner. Polite and gracious he was, but never leaving us unattended for long. He began to explain the purpose behind the party. He and his wife were owners of an investment firm. Every year they put together a Christmas gala in their home. Guests are welcome to bring others but everyone must bring an unwrapped gift, for the Toys for Tots charity.

Now I realized why he looked disappointed after taking our coats. We didn’t bring a gift -- his only rule, broken! We apologized for the mix up, wrote him a nice check and ran for the door. The party we were invited to was at his neighbor’s, which was next door.

I believe even in mistakes, we’re perfectly placed. From that year forward, we made charitable giving a part of our lives. I learned the route you take to give isn’t what’s important, if when your gift is given, it comes from the heart. Merry Christmas!

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author and runner whose columns appear in The Reporter the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.