The Des Plaines River Anthology

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Art by John Lotus from the title page of The Des Plaines River Anthology.

Several Society of Midland Authors members wrote short narrative monologues for The Des Plaines River Anthology: Historic Voices From the Graveyards of Forest Park — which will be performed at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, at the Park District of Forest Park Administration Building, 7501 W. Harrison St. A book of the monologues is also available.

Inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’s classic 1915 work, Spoon River Anthology, Augie Aleksy of Forest Park’s Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, spearheaded this project as a fundraiser for the Historical Society of Forest Park. Forest Park has been the final resting place for both the famous and not-so-famous since the early 1870s, and is home to four major cemeteries. With a ratio of over 30 dead to every live resident, the village was once named by The Guinness Book of World Records as having more “dead than alive.”

The anthology includes:

Resting by the River — by Emily Victorson
James Justin and Mary Manthey — by Jay Bonansinga
Song of the Potawatomi — by Kathryn Atwood and Donald Perrot
Joseph and Betty Kettlestrings — by D. M. Pirrone
Caroline Hancock Hall — by Carol Hauswald
Grace Hemingway — by Carol Hauswald
Clarence Hemingway — by Kenneth J. Knack
Abraham Van Schoick — by John Rice
Philander Barclay — by Sheila Reynolds Trainor
Belle Gunness — by Richard Lindberg
Adolph Luetgert — by Robert Loerzel
Emma Goldman — by Stephanie Kuehnert
William Haywood — by Amy Binns-Calvey
Oscar Neebe — by Frances McNamara
Louis Lingg — by Frances McNamara
Albert Parsons — by Frances McNamara
Lucy Parsons — by Mark Rogovin
Merlin — by Frances McNamara
Louis Borodkin — by Arnie Bernstein
Maria, the Palm Reader — by Tracy Reynolds Aleksy
Eddie Balchowsky — by John Rice
Charles Burroughs — by Mark Rogovin
Frank Lumpkin — by Mark Rogovin
Joseph Corbin — by John Rice
Smiley — by Robert K. Elder
Billy Sunday — by Michael Conklin
Michael Todd — by Robert K. Elder
Clara Peller — by Amy Binns-Calvey
Michael Caulfield — by Michael A. Black
Paul and Barry Winder — by Amy Binns-Calvey
Allen Holst — by Kate Rufa

Earlier this week, Aleksy reported: “The actors and musicians had their rehearsal last night at the store. It was tremendous! The music blended so well with the lines. The actors really got into their characters down and so very well interpreted the authors sense of the characters. The music was so appropriate: Kathy Atwood has a beautiful voice and her husband’s (John’s) voice sounds like a balladeer’s, the violin, guitar, trombone, drums, it all made it an artistic feast. Amy Binns-Calvey has put much effort into making the performance come together with subtle connections with the music and among the characters.”

The print edition is being published by the Historical Society in association with the local small press Allium Press of Chicago. Copies will be available at the event or can be purchased through Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore.

According to the Historical Society’s website, “This project provides the Historical Society with a unique and enduring way to continue its mission of ‘Collecting, preserving, and displaying the unique heritage of the Forest Park community.'”

Tickets can be purchased by at Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore, 7419 Madison St., Forest Park or calling the store at 708-771-7243; through the Historical Society of Forest Park, 708-232-3747; or on Eventbrite.com. Tickets are $8 for members of the Historical Society, $10 for nonmembers, and $15 at the door.  Ample parking is available and the venue is ADA-accessible.