For all you bookworm ichthyologists out there, our public library has made known that its aquarium is at least one fish more populated.
It seems that Ed O'Brien, library assistant, was passing by the 400-gallon tank on the west wall of the chidren's section early in July. "What ho!" wondered Ed (he really doesn't talk that way). He noticed that an electric-blue, male fish was cozying up to a female resplendent in silver and gold, and thought, "Could this be a sign of a coming generation?"
Indeed, on or about Aug. 1 his hawklike eye espied an elusive, dark, darting form (possibly two forms) against the bottom gravel. Hovering close by was the small fry's ever-vigilant mother who ushered her progeny back into a recessed crevice in the faux coral.
"A new and sentient being!" marveled Ed to himself (Ed doesn't talk like this, either) and later to a few staff co-workers. Though out of his element?#34;Ed's an avid birder?#34;he was first to discover both the cause and effect of the fish tank's rising population.
What we're talking about is a school of 10 or 11 fish, known collectively as African Cichlids (nobody can get them together for a group photo) who spawned their way out of Lake Victoria. They and the aquarium were installed when the library opened.
The mother is a trim and lovely lady of silver with delicate gold fins and trailings that can be seen ever-protecting her charge(s). The suspect father, Sciaenochromis ahli, a.k.a. Electric blue haplochomis, is still around (where can he go?). He is not without his faults.
His kind routinely "court females very forcefully, even harrassing them after spawning." He also has a dark-side reputation as a piscavore?#34;meaning if he were to dine at Philander's, he would choose from the finny side of the menu. His kind is "violently intolerant" of other Cichlids, and as a balanced nature would have it, he not only has a taste for fish eggs, but for whole batches of the embryonic swimmers who grow unevenly and are prone to sibling cannibalism. Talk about the disfunctional family down the block!
So stop by and sample your library's wares. While you're at it, check out this whole family on the first floor. You may learn why Ed O'Brien, during his first pass early in July, was pretty sure there was something fishy going on.
No cause for panic, but ...
Oak Parker Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin wrote the lead story in last Sunday's Chicago Tribune Magazine, which carried the disconcerting title, "Is Lyme Disease as close as your back yard?"
As a matter of fact, it was exactly that close for Bloyd-Peshkin, who contracted the disease after a tick bite. Experts are saying that the number of cases in Illinois is growing, and Bloyd-Peshkin, who formerly edited Wednesday Journal Inc.'s Chicago Parent Magazine, is proof positive.
Her harrowing account is quite detailed about the disease, its cause and the treatment, but Bloyd-Peshkin was lucky. They caught it early, so chances are she won't suffer some of the more serious complications that attend this difficult-to-diagnose disease.
As for how the deer tick got in her yard, the main suspects are her immediate loved ones, who had just returned from a boat trip on the Vermillion River near Starved Rock. But it could also have come from one of the deer who more and more frequently find their way into Oak Park. Either way, it was a longshot. As Bloyd-Peshkin put it, "Had I just won the infectious-disease equivalent of the lottery?"
A day at the Dum-Dum
If you heard a high-pitched, hard-edged, extended yodeling in Oak Park the weekend before last, it was probably (though we can't be certain) the Burroughs' Bibliophiles, a group of some 75 Tarzan aficionados who held their annual "Dum-Dum" in Oak Park. Dum-Dum refers to the "gathering of Great Apes" from the Tarzan books, penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs, who lived in Oak Park from 1914-1919. While he lived here (in several houses and one downtown office), he wrote 17 stories, had seven books and 14 stories published and three movies produced. Then he moved to Tarzana, Calif. and became one of the best-selling authors of the 20th century. Hemingway was the other.
The Aug. 11-14 Dum-Dum included a visit to the more-or-less-permanent Burroughs exhibit at the Historical Society, a "swap meet" of Burroughs (meaning mostly Tarzan) memorabilia at the First Baptist Church gym, and dinner at the Avenue Ale House with a talk by Max Allan Collins, who formerly drew the Dicky Tracy comic strip and produced graphic novels such as "The Road to Perdition."
To honor the occasion, the village declared Aug. 7-14 "Edgar Rice Burroughs Week."
Frank Lipo, director of the Historical Society, says the Dum-Dum moves around the country from year to year, but he wonders if Oak Park couldn't host a Tarzan festival on an annual basis.
Now there's an idea worth yodeling about.
Cheney not to be sold
At the park board meeting Thursday, a group of neighbors arrived to voice opposition to a spreading rumor that the park district was planning to sell off Cheney Mansion. The rumor, which proved false, elicited a call from a Chicago Tribune reporter.
The query ultimately resulted in a Tribune story Monday on the district mulling plans to allow the Oak Park-River Forest Infant Welfare Society to use Cheney as an ASID showcase house.
According to the report, regular programming at Cheney would be canceled for two months. During that time, some repairs may be made to the building.
The issue will be further discussed at a district committee of the whole meeting on Sept. 8 at the Oak Park Conservatory.
A neighbor said Thursday residents in the area are planning to organize a "Friends of Cheney Mansion" group anyway.