One of our regular contributors, Bob Sullivan, is an inveterate, incorrigible word-lover. You might have seen Bob if you patronize the Oak Park Public Library. He shelves books part-time and is well worth engaging in conversation.

Bob writes a column in our Forest Park paper, so he’s around the office some, looking through back issues (it’s a local history column). An active reader, he loves to scribble in the margins of whatever he’s reading (not library books presumably), and most of the writers around here look forward to receiving his reactions, which are, literally, noteworthy.

He also tips me off when Milt Rosenberg has an intriguing topic or guest on his WGN talk show or when PBS has something watchworthy on Channel 11. He’s in his 70s, but has a more active mind than most people half his age.

The other day he put a sticky note on my desk, pointing out the similarity between the word “columnist” (one who writes columns) and “calumnist” (one who commits slander). Some people might think they’re synonymous (depending on the columnist or their biases), but Bob made a distinction between myself (columnist) and Rush Limbaugh (calumnist), which I admit seems right on target (of course, I’m biased). He also said I might want to make use of this two-fer for a little wordplay at some point.

I just did. Thanks, Bob.

By the way, Bob’s latest recommendation was a good one — re-reading Matthew Arnold’s “Dover Beach.” I haven’t read it since my English major days in Victorian Lit at Loyola in 1974, but I recall being impressed. When Bob Sullivan suggests something, I find it’s usually worth checking out.

Meanwhile, I’m still on the hunt for a new barber. My first one was John Grabowski on Madison. When he retired, I took up with Frank Limentato just a couple doors up the street from Wednesday Journal on Oak Park Avenue. Then the village, showing remarkable rigidity, turned down Frank’s attempt to rent a storefront on Madison, so he moved to Elmwood Park instead (thanks, village hall).

Recently, I listed all the “barber shops” in the Yellow Pages and expressed some skepticism about those that mentioned “salon” in the name. Can you be both a barber shop and a salon, I wondered? Emil’s, in the Oak Park Arms, was one of those. Shortly after, I received a gift certificate for a free haircut and a note from Jill Wagner, the communications specialist at the Arms.

“Don’t be so skeptical,” she wrote. “Emil was born a barber. He has been cutting hair since he was a boy. He cut hair for the MPs in Italy during WWII. They would trade with him for a trim.”

Well, I can hardly pass that invitation up. The good news is Emil sounds like a character with good stories. The bad news is he must be along in years, which means I could get attached just in time for yet another barber to retire on me. Alas.

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