Francis Pharcellus Church is a name that doesn't ring many bells these days. It didn't even make the Macy's windows rendition of "Yes, Virginia," this year's holiday display. Everyone remembers Virginia O'Hanlon, the 8-year-old who wrote the New York Sun in September of 1897 to verify the existence of Santa Claus.
A strong case can be made that It's a Wonderful Life is the Great American Movie. It may not be the best American film ever made, but it captures best what Americans most want to believe about themselves.
These are dark times, and it's easy to find cause for concern. Listening to the news on NPR lately is enough to send a person spiraling into depression. People are suffering. We know this, even when we aren't faced with evidence.
My 16-year-old car keeps coming up with creative ways to go haywire. A small motor in the back, which once upon a time raised and lowered the car antenna (before the antenna, Viagara-like, remained stuck in the you-know-what position), could be heard whirring briefly whenever I turned off the car, thinking it was doing its appointed duty.
At 4.5 square miles, Oak Park is eminently walkable. Jean Sullivan has lived here since 1940, when her family moved from Our Lady of Sorrows Parish on the West Side, and before that, Michigan. When she was a kid, she palled around with Bob Newhart's sister, Mary Jo.
My Thanksgiving list each year, thankfully, is lengthy, but this year I'm looking back — to Thanksgiving 1990. We'd just moved back to Oak Park after a long sojourn out of state — first Colorado, then Michigan.
When your country commits a collective insanity, it helps to be far from home in a foreign land. Ten years ago this month, I was in Cuba with the local Hemingway Foundation when Al Gore won the 2000 presidential election, and George W. Bush appeared to win the electoral vote (though not really).