Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy New Year's – 2011

The Year of the City Worker

as published in the 03/22/11 issue of The Blue Island FORUM

by Jude Coyle

If you listen to the fat cats in Washington, you'll hear them refer to the fat cat union workers that saturate every part of government. They're making all this money and it's killing the American economy. It has to be stopped.

I've been searching my memory for a name I can blame as the cause of all of the discomfort America has felt of late, and frankly I can't come up with one. Instead I think of those individuals who patrol our streets, fight our fires and dig ditches in an effort to stop the flow of water main breaks. I think of the guys who fill the potholes, and the employees at City Hall who do the paperwork required in running a City the size of Blue Island. None of them are living in mansions, and if you read City Council News, you'll know that these are the same people who were asked to give up half their regular pay for the months of October and November because property tax bills went out late. They were to be repaid after Christmas.

Yet it was these people who on realizing that An Angel's Touch needed extra help this year because of the economy, dug deep to help us. For that reason, I am calling Christmas, 2010, the Year of the City Worker. To all of you, thank you so much.

An Angel's Touch is an organization that was created by friends to help other friends who ran into emergencies that threatened to wipe them out financially. We've grown from there, doing our best to help anywhere we can with emergencies of every kind. Over the nearly twenty years of operation, we've helped several hundred families with food, Christmas gifts, clothing and other necessities. This year alone we helped 43 families. What we do though, doesn't come from just us. It is because people like the City workers of Blue Island, the churches who have partnered with us, the Library, the Park District, Calumet Township Senior Center and other organizations, through their donations, allow us to help others.

This year it seemed that we would have to turn away families for the first time in our history as we just didn't have enough food. I begged at churches. I begged at City Hall. I begged on Facebook. I spoke to anyone who took the time to listen to me. At the last possible minute, Bernie Perryman donated huge stack of canned goods. So did Betty Nagle, Nancy Shultz, Raymond Guray, Charlene Finn, and John and Marsha Rauch. After that it seemed that I had to pick up canned goods every couple of days from City Hall. The very same people I referred to above, helped us out in spite of their own needs. I also picked up donations from the library, Calumet Senior Center, Lincoln, Oak Ridge and Beverly Cemeteries, Memorial Park and from various churches. Rose Rita, who has been ill, collected cereal for us. Tony from the Doubleplay Lounge, the Calumet Park Troublemakers and the Blue Island Professional Firefighters each provided five Christmas dinners. The Rickerson family made a huge donation. Again, thank you.

As I said, this year was harder than usual because of the economy, and a lot of our calls came from people living in odd situations. One woman called from a hotel room. She had two little boys, and had lost her home and her car. Could we help her? We did our best. We also helped a gentleman and his lady who were living in their car. There were too many others in similar situations. We did the best we could and we turned no one away. Better yet, we were able to pass on food to St. Benedict's Parish St. Vincent de Paul Society pantry and to the Salvation Army. As I've always said, donations end at Christmas. Hunger doesn't. We were also able to pass along coats to Reverend Rod Reinhart for veterans in need.

Our only disappointment was that we weren't able to pass along a full 240 gloves or mittens and hats to the CEDA preschool. We bought enough gloves to go around, but not hats. The boss saw mittens on sale right after Christmas this year, and purchased 200 pairs. So when next year comes along, I will be begging for 240 hats. A very big thank you to Jim Reihel who made that purchase possible because of the can shake he sponsors each year on our behalf.

Thank to the following. If I forgot your name or spelled it wrong, please accept my apology now, and know that you are in our prayers. Mayor Donald E. Peloquin, his office; City Clerk Pam Frasor and her office; City Council, particularly Aldermen Rose Rita, Leticia Vieyra, Jan Ostling, Marcia Stone; the Police and Fire Departments, and Professional Firefighters Union; the Building, Public Works and Water Departments; The 911 Center; the Chamber of Commerce; Metro South Hospital; the Blue Island Park District; the Public Library; the Calumet Township Senior Center; St. Rita High School, DDE Key and Leo Clubs; Veteran's Memorial Middle School; Paul Revere Intermediate and Primary Schools; Reverend Judy Jones, and Christ Memorial United Church of Christ; First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Grace United Methodist Church; Lori Campione and St. Walter's School; Accurate Perforating; the Kiwanis; the Calumet Park Troublemakers; Tony and the Doubleplay Lounge; The FORUM, Bob Jones and Beverly Bank, the Simborg Family, Temulac Boat Club and Windjammers Marina of Chicago, Beverly, Lincoln and Oak Ridge Cemeteries, Korbakis Liquors, T&G's, Iversen's Bakery, Blue Island Video, Carr Gardens, Harry's Long Bar, Gene's Dry Cleaners, A&R Security, Jim and Carol Reihel, American Legion Post #50, Charlene Finn, Bernie Perryman, Ron and Tracy Rickerson, John and Marsha Rauch, Betty Nagle, Nancy Schultz and Raymond Guray. Thank you to my sort crew who not only show up for me, but bring new people each year. Katherine Matthis, Chris Rondinella, Gloria Zaper, Ed and Grace Diaz, Matt Hess, Amber Sullivan, Stephen Gerez, Lisa Woodrich, Bob O'Connor, Ed, Jon and Becki Coyle. A special thank you to Bob, Roseanne and Kevin Moran and friend, Nicole. Every donor and every gift is very much appreciated, not only by the members of An Angel's Touch, but by the recipients of your love as well.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blue Island Ghost Stories

Blue Island Ghost Stories
As published in the October 21, 2009, Blue Island Forum
by Jude Coyle

Ursula Bielski has visited Blue Island several times as a guest of the Library. She is a writer and researcher of Chicago ghostlore. She has written Chicago Haunts: Ghostlore of the Windy City, More Chicago Haunts and Grave Yards of Chicago, all of which are available at the library. She
has been featured on A&E, the History Channel, The Learning Channel, The Travel Channel, PBS and on Chicago TV and radio shows. Her company, Chicago Hauntings, conducts tours and holds special events exploring Chicago’s haunted history.

On September 18th, Ursula, sponsored by the Blue Island Public Library and THE FORUM, visited Blue Island to meet with three Blue Island homeowners, and to hear of their experiences with ‘other worldly visitors.’ (For several months, THE FORUM advertised for residents willing to tell Ursula their story.) Greg Lochow of the Chamber of Commerce, Dan Carroll of the Library, sensitives Faith and Crystal, and myself followed a cameraman to each location.

Before I go any further, I need to point out a couple of things. First, this story in not about Ursula, but about the ‘sensitives’, their feelings and what happened behind the scenes. Keep in mind though, that this wouldn’t have happened if Ursula hadn’t visited us that day.

Now our sensitives, Faith and Crystal, not their real names, asked not to be identified. These women come from a long line of sensitives, and have known about their abilities since childhood. Neither have felt comfortable with them at first, and it wasn’t until the last twenty years that they have begun to use them. In casual conversation, the subject of Burr Oak Cemetery came up. Faith said she had driven by it a few years ago, when she saw images wandering about the fence. They looked displaced.

The first home we visited was a grand painted lady, complete with stained glass windows. We sat on a huge porch with the owner, who told us about an experience she shared with her granddaughter. Soon after her husband had passed, she and her grandchild were in the living room when they heard several notes sound from the piano. They were stunned as they stood within feet of it and neither had touched it. A moment later her daughter descended the stairs. She asked if her daughter had heard the notes. “Yes,” the daughter said. It was her father letting her know that he was doing well.

The on camera interview began soon after. The homeowner told of more experiences as Ursula, the homeowner and the cameraman moved about the house. Off camera, Faith and Crystal roamed about. We could see them, each traveling in a separate direction and neither conferring.
Faith calmed the dogs and Crystal took to the stairs. I came across Faith at one point. She told me that the interview should move towards the piano. I thought I would sneak in and direct them there, when they moved on their own. Faith said, “See, they’re being directed there now.”

After the interview I asked the ladies what they saw and felt. Both claimed to see activity on the stairs. They said that an older man resided there, as well as an older woman who was a family member of the owner. They also described a girl. Faith said that when she exited the car, she felt like running. That she was happy to be home, just like a young girl would feel. That let Faith know to expect the spirit of a child. In the living room Faith said she saw the girl playing the piano. She was dressed in white in the style of the ‘30’s. Not far away, visitors sat about the dining room table listening to the music. It was a Sunday afternoon, Faith said, and
the group members were enjoying themselves.

Inside the house, Faith saw a candy bowl and wanted a piece. She visited a room where she noticed the photo of a woman in a blue dress. The walls were painted the same color as the dress. She had a calming feeling. This particular room had a wicker chair where she saw the image of a woman taking comfort. In the side yard Faith came across a bench which sat next to a carved angel. The same lady also takes pleasure there.

The homeowner said that her mother preferred the type of candy in the candy dish, and it was her in the photo. After her Mom had passed, a neighbor gave the homeowner the bench that Faith described, as Mom had always admired it. Faith also described a spot in the yard where she saw the homeowner’s husband. The homeowner said that she had sprinkled some of his ashes right there.

I asked Crystal about her impressions. She said that she doesn’t see things the same way. Where Faith had feelings, like that of the girl glad to be home, or visions in her mind’s eye, Crystal saw energies, orbs, or flashes of light. She might hear a voice or come across a smell. It depended on how the entity wished her to experience it. Sometimes, she said, she might pick up a message. When she approached the first house she saw someone at an upper window watching her. She saw a great deal of energy in the home, more intensely on the stairs and the front portion of the living room, and again in the side yard. The homeowner confirmed that most of the activity occurs in those areas.

We moved on. The second house was not far from mine, so I parked at home and walked. When I met Faith next she was leaning against a tree outside the house. “There’s something wrong here,” she said. “Look. There’s no birds or squirrels. There’s something wrong with the entire block.” She was right. It was unnaturally quiet. There were no bird calls or chattering squirrels, nor was there anything in sight. Faith described how when she stepped out of the car, she felt that her legs would be knocked out from under her. Something didn’t want her there. She leaned against the tree, hoping to use it’s sturdiness as a way to ‘ground’ herself.

I didn’t hear the stories the second homeowner had to share, only that sometimes she sees an African American child in her bedroom, and she didn‘t understand why. He seemed out of place. I asked Faith later if what the homeowner saw in the house was related to what she described on the outside. “No,” Faith said. The house had a completely different set of issues.

We moved down the street to the third house. I walked with several others while others moved their vehicles. Faith and Crystal immediately reacted as they approached the property, and both in different ways. Faith asked to see the homeowner’s dog, who was barking in the background. She walked the dog during the interview, which took place outside. Crystal exited her car, and started walking towards the yard. Three or four steps later, she turned around and returned to the car where she stayed throughout the interview. Later, Crystal told me that something in the yard bothered her so much she couldn’t be there. I’ll leave this here. To find out what happened at the third house and to talk to Ursula, the homeowners and to hear stories, please call the library. Tickets to the airing of the interviews are available at no charge. It will take place at the Historical Society, 13018 Maple, at 7PM on October 27th. The film will be broadcast later on WDDE. Watch your listings for details.