Off the Record

It’s been a difficult year for the Chicago Police Department as many officers lost their lives. Some of them were local residents.

Last week, the year turned even worse when two more officers, Conrad Gary, of Mt. Greenwood, and Eduardo Marmolejo, of Beverly, were killed on Dec. 17.

Driving by one of the fallen officer’s homes recently, where police cars were stationed, it was difficult not to feel a hard rock in my chest while contemplating the fact that, in the blink of an eye, two families’ lives were changed forever.

When I think back on 2018 many years from now, I will likely remember it as the year that too many first responders died.

With so much sadness in the air as The Beverly Review publishes it last issue of 2018, I’d like to take a personal look back at some other vivid memories of the year.

Best moment

I’m sure I joined just about all of West Beverly in knowing that Sr. Jean McGrath, on her final day as principal of St. John Fisher (SJF) Elementary School in early June, would arrive to work and be greeted by students and members of the school community who would be waiting outside—singing, waving and cheering.

Sr. Jean rode down 102nd Street and Fairfield Avenue—which is named “Honorary Sr. Jean McGrath Avenue”—in a convertible, and tears of joy flowed during her ride around the campus. She said afterward that she could look at each child and remember a story. I believe her.

It wasn’t easy to keep that secret for a couple weeks around a nephew who attends SJF and would presumably yap about it in school if I mentioned it. I admit feeling relieved when I arrived at the school that morning and awaited Sr. Jean’s arrival, knowing at that point that I couldn’t mess up any surprise.

I also knew that day that Sr. Jean’s farewell would be front and center in this Year in Review issue.

Best quote

“How hard is it to be kind for 20 minutes?”

I might be paraphrasing, but during her last shift before retiring in November, Chicago Fire Department Paramedic Joan Marquardt, who lives in Mt. Greenwood and worked at the firehouse near 111th and Troy streets, said that to me.

Someone called her “St. Joan” that day, and she did give heavenly advice: Nobody’s perfect, but being kind for an additional 20 minutes a day seems like a doable task.

Best sports moment

I’m an avid sports fan, and I like to get out to local games each year—whether it’s for work or pleasure.

The Br. Rice-Marist football matchup in a state semifinal game had me full of excitement. Br. Rice pulled away for a 14-3 win, and the best moment, I thought, came in the fourth quarter when Br. Rice defensive lineman Joe Fitzgerald knocked down a Marist pass near the line of scrimmage.

The emphatic “thump” from the knockdown reverberated 50 yards down the field to where I was standing in the north end zone. The sound was symbolic of a Crusaders defense that had knocked down opponents all season.

Good high school offenses seem to have players who beat defenses with their quickness and athleticism—not necessarily the team’s offensive scheme. Players can just run by most of their opponents.

However, the Br. Rice defense kept quarterbacks at bay, often surrounding them for punishing sacks—or, in this case, knocking down a pass milliseconds after it took flight.

Questions for 2019

Who in the world will be the next mayor of Chicago? Will someone with local ties emerge as the winner in the field of over 20 candidates?

Who is David Dewar, the local resident who filed petitions to run against 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea in his bid for a third term?

Can the Chicago Bears win a playoff game or two (or four)? Can the Morgan Park High School boys basketball team win its third straight state title?

What will the inside of the new annexes at Esmond and Mt. Greenwood elementary schools look like?

Thankfully, many of these questions will be answered early in 2019.

Have a Happy New Year!