This is the way we were

Told week by week, through front-page photos

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By Ken Trainor

Staff writer

Every week in this newspaper (and online), we tell stories. Every week, year in, year out, for 34 years now.

And all those stories tell a larger story — a tale of two villages. To paraphrase the Stage Manager from the Great American Play, Thornton Wilder's, Our Town: So — people a thousand years from now — this is the way we were in the heart of the heartland at the beginning of the 21st century. This is the way we were: in our growing up and in our marrying and in our living and in our dying.

Every week.

It also occurred to us that we tell a story with our front-page photos as well — the first thing most of you notice, probably, when you pick up the paper. Only you don't get the full effect of those photos. Who remembers last week's front page? Or the week before? We are a forward-thinking people. We don't dwell in the past. That's yesterday's news.

Well, let's dwell in the past — the recent past. We've just passed the halfway point of the year, so we asked our keen-eyed photographer, David Pierini, to select a sampling of front-page images, which we're running together  to give you a better sense of the story we tell ourselves, the mirror we hold up so we can see who we are.

It's been quite a half-year. So let's stop for a moment and look back. Time moves too fast as it is. Christmas, after all, is five months from Friday.

1) Freeze framed, Jan. 8: We won't soon forget one of the fiercest, most frigid, and snowiest winters in decades — but we'd like to.

2) Grace under pressure, Jan. 29: A warm, well-lit gym is a great antidote for the smothering dark of winter. So is winning, which Grace Lutheran coach William Thompson specializes in. His teams won for the 900th time this February.

3) Be mine, Feb. 19: Romance is another fine defroster, with Valentine's Day furthering the cause of connecting, which we proved — in February (at The Oaks) and again in June (at the newly reopened Ridgeland Common Recreational Complex, see #11) — is not limited to any age group.

4) Sheer silhouette, April 2: Creativity is the hallmark of the entire River Forest university system (no less than two institutions of higher learning, and three campuses, all on the same street within walking distance). In spring, the fashion students at Dominican U. demonstrated that  academics is neither cold, nor stuffy, nor confined to classrooms — and that a passion can be pursued without sacrificing flair.

5) Play ball! April 9: We love our dogs and cats, which may outnumber people. But of one thing we're sure: There are more tennis balls in our villages than all of the above, most of them secured by the canines of our canines.

6) Monday hop, April 23: A boy's reach should exceed his grasp, to paraphrase poet Robert Browning, else what is baseball for? In Oak Park and River Forest, it's about learning to put your whole heart, soul and body into the game we love to play — and watch.

7) Share the road, May 14: Anytime our kids and our police officers trade smiles, our communities are better off.

8) The trinity wave, May 28: We are also a flag-loving people. Long may they wave.

9) Grad and dad, June 4: Every May and June, our three high schools send off the best and brightest — and in this case, the coolest. Though the precociously famous Tavi Gevinson is best known for being cutting edge, that doesn't mean she and her dad, Steve, can't connect during a tender and very traditional moment.

10) From this day forward, June 11: It was a big June for weddings, as same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois, demonstrating once again that love always out…lasts prejudice.

11) Smooch 'n' skate, June 18: In fact, you could say our photos from the first six months of 2014 tell, first and foremost, the story of love. 


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