Answer Book: always thorough, mostly accurate


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Ken Trainor

Answer Book arrived in your paper a few weeks back. If you're not familiar with our annual community guide, it's a handy little compendium of information that can help you navigate the bewildering whitewater hyperculture that is Oak Park and River Forest these days.

Combing through the listings each year is a good reminder of just how active these towns are. How many Montessori schools, for instance, can two communities support? The answer appears to be six.

I say "appears" because I've learned the hard way just how fallible we are, especially when you're trying to shovel a mountain of details into one slender volume.

When the book comes out each April (this is my 13th year as editor), I always brace myself for the phone calls and e-mails pointing out factual errors, omissions, or aggravations.

This year the first e-mail arrived before 10:30 a.m. Someone at village hall took us to task for not having enough diversity in our cover image. It's true, there's not a single male in our photo of the OPRF Huskies Girls Softball team?#34;but that, of course, is not what was meant. No softball players of color was the implication.

True, the girl in the upper right corner appears to be African-American, but whether she is or isn't is irrelevant. Race wasn't on our minds at all when we chose the image.

The question is whether people of color should always be featured on the Answer Book cover. My answer would be "no" but that they should "sometimes" be featured, bordering on "often."

I really didn't mind the reminder though. We're all family here, and that inevitably involves a modicum of nagging.

Even before that e-mail arrived, however, one of our eagle-eyed staff members noted a strange anomaly on the map of Oak Park (page 10). Inexplicably, the red line for the Eisenhower Expressway now runs directly through Irving School. In the process Barrie Park also seems to have been bumped a block south?#34;as if the park hadn't already suffered enough indignity.

We got the map from Cook County, which more than likely explains the glitch. Next year, maybe we'll overlay a tiny Ike Cap across the canyon?#34;just for fun.

In the Education section (page 47), we managed to reduce the percentage of male students at Fenwick High School to 5 percent as opposed to 44 percent female, which would be a great deal for the guys, but it would also mean 51 percent of students would have to be categorized as "other," and we don't even want to think about what that might mean. It seems far more likely that 56 percent of the Fenwick student population is male (which Fenwick confirmed for us). We apologize for the error and any bizarre inferences that might have been drawn by the wisenheimers at OPRF or Trinity.

And finally, one of the ministers in town (not connected with Calvary) thought we were unfair to Calvary by including a photo (page 113) of gay and lesbian protesters in front of that church. He thought we should only include positive images and features in what is, admittedly, a largely positive publication. I would answer that criticism roughly the same way I answered the cover critique (substituting "often," bordering on "mostly"), but I'm not sure Calvary wouldn't be delighted to publicize the fact that gays and lesbians disagree with them on crucial issues.

Pastor Ray Pritchard, who, fortunately, has a good sense of humor and has been extremely tolerant with us, may have felt more uneasy having his headshot attached to a small feature (page 111) on "What do ministers think of worshipers in shorts?"

You just can't please everybody, I guess.

But please do correct your Answer Books, and let us know if you find any other discrepancies.

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