Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others: Ken continues: So, what’s the protocol for a semi-retirement? Last week at Wednesday Journal we had to invent one as Ken Trainor hit 65 and down-shifted into a part-time role in our company. 

Love him or hate him (and hate is such a harsh word), be assured that among his part-time duties, Ken will be writing his weekly column. He promises me somewhat less Trump and more “Here’s what I saw when I was walking around the village in my semi-retired state.” And that’s good with me. The less Trump the better.

Ken will also continue to edit our Viewpoints section as he has for many years. It really is the heart of the paper and Ken gets credit. In his spare time during his two-days in the office, he will also continue to add and subtract omitted or committed apostrophes in my copy. In this duty, Ken has become my later-in-life Mrs. Cannon, the junior high English teacher we both had back at Ascension. Mrs. Cannon signed me up for remedial grammar summer school at OPRF following my graduation from Ascension. Some of it even took. But still, thanks, Ken.

Our conclusion on protocol was that semi-retirement meant pizza and cake but no beer. I know, a dubious judgment. At the lunch, I said a few words, noting that Ken was one of the most consequential colleagues over our 37 years, that he truly understood what community means in neighborhood journalism, and remembering that I hired him in desperation in December of 1990 when the editor of the Forest Park Review quit without notice and Ken happened to be standing there crabbing at me because I cut his 10,000-word family memoir down to 600 words — and really they were the 600 best words. We have slightly different recollections of what I said to him when I offered him the job, but we both agree I wasn’t overly encouraging about the long-term prospects. Shows what I know about hiring.

Then with the staff eager for pizza I turned to Ken, offered him the chance to say a few words, or not if he felt unprepared. Of course, he pulled the completed text out of his pocket and shared with us a thoughtful and wise take on having found and made a career in community journalism.

My thanks to Ken for all of his work at building our community, fostering its voices and sharing his.

And welcome, Thomas Vogel: Ken’s stepping back has also allowed us to rearrange some money and hire a new reporter who will split time between Wednesday Journal and our Forest Park Review. Thomas Vogel has been a Journal freelancer for some time and he joins us full-time after recently earning his master’s at Medill. He is a local fellow and an OPRF grad.

Wright and those power lines: It may go little noticed in our TIF and high-rise-obsessed community, but Monday night at Oak Park’s village board meeting, there was to be a vote on spending money, a mere $19,000, to bury some sort of utility line that runs through the Wright Home & Studio up on Chicago Avenue.

First caught my attention that the village was entering an agreement with the Illinois Bell Telephone Co. d/b/a AT&T. Illinois Bell? Wow. 

And it reminded me of a story I heard years ago when I was a tourist in Arizona and visited Wright’s Taliesen West. Seems this guy Wright built a cool house out in the Sonoran Desert and faced the expanse of glass looking out toward the McDowell Mountains. A while later the feds come along, back when we invested in infrastructure, and constructed a whole string of those huge, ugly Tinker Toy electrical towers between Taliesen and the mountains.

The Master was not amused and somehow got on the phone to a surprised Harry Truman. After several moments of ranting about his spoiled optics, the president is reported to have said, “Do you have any idea who you are talking to?!” and hung up.

Wright then reoriented the entry to the house in a different direction. 

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Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...