Thursday, September 21, 2017

Mud, blood and thud: new book relives gritty glory of St. Rita football champs

‘3 Yards and a Cloud of Dust’ now available

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

            In an era when multi-millionaire athletes sit out games for reasons like “unspecified soreness” and “stiff neck,” Chicago-area sports personality Tim Maher has written a true tale about some of the most rugged young men anywhere: the City champion 1970 St. Rita Mustangs football team.
            Maher, a co-captain of that legendary squad, has
penned and self-published “3 Yards and a Cloud of Dust,” a 200-plus page book newly available in paperback for $14.95 at chicagocatholicleaguefootball.com.
“I’ve been thinking about writing this book for years, and I finally did it. Hey, I’m a guy who can’t spell ‘cat’ and yet now I’m a published author,” Maher joked during a recent book signing at Bookie’s New and Used Books, 10324 S. Western. “Seriously, though, this book is a perfect Christmas gift for the thousands of men who—as teenagers—played football in the Chicago Catholic League, as well as thousands more who watched from the stands.”
            While some fans of Chicago Catholic League football history know of the storied squad—which amazingly went from 0-9 in 1968 to 9-2-1 in 1970—few, other than the players themselves, recall the details.
            But Maher, along with a handful of his teammates who are all now 64-year-olds scattered across the Southwest Side, the southwest suburbs and beyond, brings it all back: from the brutal summer practice sessions in Michigan to three November victories at Soldier Field over tough CCL opponents (Fenwick, Loyola and Leo) to a December Prep Bowl triumph over Lane Tech before a Soldier Field crowd of 65,745.
            St. Rita alumni—and other Catholic high school graduates--will smile as they read descriptions of the mud, blood and thuds in the brick-walled tight space at St. Rita’s home field near 64th and Claremont—typically a path to glory for Mustang teams, usually a dead-end to defeat for opposing squads.
            The book brings back recollections of grit, of trials by fire, of coaches being tough on players as they turned boys into men—teaching them how to overcome adversity, how to be hard but fair, and more.
“We didn’t have what [high school] football players have today. After a double-session practice in 100-degree heat, we’d get two salt tablets. Not like today--not bathed in water, not chugging down Gatorade. We had papaya juice—and it was great because it had grass, blood, snots, everything in it. You drank it, it had ice in it,” Maher chuckled.
And so it goes in the book, less of a warm and fuzzy stroll down memory lane and more of a gritty grind down an alley.
In chronological fashion, Maher and others relive each game of the 1970 season. Included are hand-written game notes and black-and-white photos that offer a glimpse into a time when football was often more fight than finesse, when the sport was part bare-knuckled brawl.
As he has been for years—as a sports promoter, radio
personality and more--Maher is an unabashed fan of Chicago Catholic League football. In “3 Yards” he tips his cap to the states of Texas, Ohio, California and Florida—long known for their powerhouse prep football teams. But he adds that if any schools from those states want to play “a real game of football,” they should contact the CCL.
“We will play you at your stadium, in your parking lot, in an alley, in a cornfield, at a beach,” Maher wrote. “Makes no difference to us. We will show up.”
Maher is a South Side native who grew up at 5417 S. Racine, across the street from Sherman Park, where as a boy he wore the uniform of the Visitation Ramblers—butting heads with such Southwest Side grid powers as Queen of the Universe and St. Mary Star of the Sea
Maher dedicated the book to his mother, Mary Jean, and his father, John, a 1944 St. Rita graduate and football player who joined the Marines and earned a Purple Heart fighting on Okinawa.
            One of the well-wishers at the book signing was Bob Wojtalewicz, co-captain of the 1970 St. Rita championship team.
“We ain’t seen each other in 35 years, but I love him to this day,” Maher said. “That’s one great thing about the Catholic League—you hate each other when you’re there on the field; but after that you discover that you’ve forged a bond, a kind of brotherhood, in a way, that lasts for years. You shake hands with a man from the Catholic League, you know you’ve shaken the hand of a man of honor—a man whose word is his bond.”
Tim Maher (right) and Bob Wojtalewicz.


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More Reasons Why Archer Heights Is One of Chicago's Most Beautiful Places

Our friends at the Archer Heights Civic Association
presented their biannual House Beautiful Awards at their
September meeting.

A handful of homeowners--and two business owners--were saluted for doing their part to keep Archer Heights what it has been for decades---one of Chicago's best and most beautiful neighborhoods.

Click on the image below and see the winners for yourself.



Our congratulations to those who won awards this year, and our thanks to the good people of the Archer Heights Civic Association, one of Chicago's most active and effective neighborhood advocacy organizations. The AHCA does an excellent job of speaking truth to power and rattling the right cages to get things done, but they also understand the importance of celebrating all that is good about the neighborhood, and they do that with pride.

If you live in Archer Heights or own a business there, the AHCA is the group to join!


To learn more about the AHCA, call 773-843-2232 or attend the next meeting. AHCA meetings are always the second Wednesday of the month, with the exception of July and August, at UNO Veterans Memorial Campus, 47th and Kildare, and always start at 7:30 p.m. All Archer Heights residents are encouraged to attend.

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Update on Arturo Correa

Update: At about 1:45 a.m., Arturo's mother posted that he has been found. No other details to share at this point. Thank you to everyone who kept eyes and ears open, who shared information about Arturo with family, friends and neighbors, and who offered prayers.

At 9:23 p.m. Thursday, September 7, CPD issued a "missing
Arturo Correa
person" alert relating to 13-year-old Arturo Correa, who was last seen on the 4800 block of South Leamington at 7:45 a.m. Thursday, September 7.


Arturo is 5-foot-6 and 125 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair.

If you see him, please call 911 immediately. If you have other useful information to share, please call CPD Area Central detectives at (312) 747-8380 and refer to case JA 422654.

As the Southwest Chicago Post always does when a child of our community is missing, we urge everyone to keep eyes and ears open--and work together to see to it that Arturo is found and returned safely to his family.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Ald. Burke Vows Action After Aviation Commissioner Ginger Evans a No-Show

More homeowners report defective, possibly toxic, windows from Aviation Department program

By Tim Hadac
Southwest Chicago Post
Managing Editor

The dean of the Chicago City Council has vowed to take action to address the failure of Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Ginger S. Evans to abide by a Council order to appear at a public hearing at Hale Park.

Speaking at a joint hearing of the City Council Committees
on Finance and Aviation on August 23, a visibly perturbed 14th Ward Ald. Edward M. Burke (chairman of the Committee on Finance) began his remarks by walking directly in front of Evans’ representative, CDA Deputy Commissioner Aaron Frame, and asking him to read from the final section of a measure passed several weeks ago by the City Council:

“Be it ordered by the City Council of the City of Chicago: that the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation appear before the City Council Joint Committee on Aviation and Finance to address the issue concerning windows installed pursuant to the Residential Sound Insulation Program at Midway Airport, including testing locations, findings, and plans to abate and prevent any potential risk.”

The hearing, attended by about 100 Southwest Side homeowners and others, was held to address concerns about defective windows—which are emitting fumes that may possibly by poisonous--supplied to homeowners in recent years through the Department of Aviation’s Residential Sound Improvement Program.

Some of the homeowners have been diagnosed with cancer in the years after their windows were installed. They continue to wonder if the odors coming from their windows are toxic or simply an aesthetic annoyance.

Burke noted that Frame read from a statement that said that CDA considers the matter “a very important issue,” and followed it up by saying, “Apparently, it’s not important enough for the Department of Aviation to have its commissioner comply with an order of the City Council to be present. Is that correct?”
Commissioner Ginger S. Evans

Frame responded that it was his understanding that Evans had a prior commitment that took her out of state.

Burke shot back, “Does she think her prior commitments are more important than the safety and the security of the good people who live out here and worry about the air that their children and their parents and their spouses are breathing?”

Burke was not specific about what consequences Evans might face, but vowed that her failure to appear would be “taken up by the Council” in the near future.

The absent Evans also was criticized by some of the seven other aldermen in attendance, most notably 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn, 23rd Ward Ald. Michael R. Zalewski (chairman of the Committee on Aviation) and 15th Ward Ald. Raymond Lopez, who said he found it amazing that Evans, the highest paid official in all of city government at $400,000 a year—according to a published report—could not make time to be at a hearing she was ordered to attend.

The hearing, which normally would have been held at City Hall, was held in the neighborhood to better accommodate Southwest Side homeowners, Burke’s press secretary said.

Many in the audience greeted Burke’s comments with applause and similarly expressed incredulity about Evans.

“She makes more than a thousand dollars a day—a thousand dollars a day—of our money, our tax dollars, and she can’t be bothered to show up and see us face to face,” said Clearing resident Sam D’Amato. “What kind of arrogance is that?”

Garfield Ridge resident Jennifer Gorszewski said she hopes Evans is held accountable for her absence.

“I find it interesting that [Frame] did not say where she was or what she was doing,” she said. “I don’t live in Burke’s ward, but I know that if you publicly play games with him, if you embarass him in front of the people he represents, you do so at your own risk. You have to be quite powerful or quite foolish to cross Alderman Burke.”

Department of Aviation spokespersons declined to say where Evans was or if her out-of-state trip was personal or city business. But a day after she was absent from the City Council hearing at Hale Park, Evans publicly posted a glowing review of the $1,750-a-week Legends Townhome in the resort community of Bozeman, Montana.



Two days before the Aug. 23 City Council hearing, Evans tweeted about a photo she posted to Instagram. The photo was of dawn over the Grand Tetons mountains, in Wyoming. The tweet appears to indicate that Evans is there to view the solar eclipse.



A Southwest Chicago Post request for clarification after the meeting was responded to by a Department of Aviation spokesperson asking about the "focus" of the story. That was provided, and CDA did not respond after that.


The anger over Evans’ absence almost overshadowed the ongoing concerns over RSIP windows. After the elected officials vented, a string of homeowners offered testimony about the windows in their homes.

The number of homeowners reporting problems continues to grow. Since the issue was first reported exclusively by the Southwest News-Herald in early June, the number has grown from four homeowners in the Chrysler Village section of Clearing to more than 80—in Clearing, Garfield Ridge, West Elsdon and West Lawn.

According to the CDA website, homeowners with questions about the sound-insulation windows and doors they had installed through the program should call (773) 838-5632.


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Friday, August 25, 2017

History Walking Tour Set for Sept. 2 at Chicago Portage Site at 48th and Harlem

All are invited to a free "nature walk" through the Chicago Portage National Historic Site, 4800 South Harlem, set for 10:00 a.m. Saturday, September 2.

Statue depicting early explorers at the Chicago Portage.
Tour guide John Langer will lead the walk. Attendees will learn about the “birth story of Chicago,” from the geological beginnings of the Portage to how it is still functioning in Chicago today.
 

The tour is approximately a half mile in length on a gravel path through the woods. It will take about two hours. Those taking part are advised to wear long pants and walking shoes or boots. The tour will be held rain or shine.

One of only two national historic sites in Illinois, the Chicago Portage National Historic site is said to be the only place where people today can stand on the same ground walked by all the early explorers, early settlers and creators of Chicago.

The late Chicago Tribune columnist John Husar, after touring the site, called it “Our sacred ground."

For more information call Gary Mechanic at 773-590-0710 or visit  www.chicagoportage.org.

Friends of the Chicago Portage promotes the historic interpretation, ecological restoration and appropriate development of the Chicago Portage National Historic Site through volunteer advocacy, public events and other projects that raise public awareness of the site’s history and significance.


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