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Articles written by Kevin Cook

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  • Mystery of the Italian bagpiper

    Kevin Cook|Updated Jan 31, 2024

    I enjoy a good mystery. I found one Christmas Eve. A small, beautiful figurine was strategically placed next to a creche at my sister's house. I was immediately drawn to it: an elderly man, seated on a rock structure, dressed in old-world European garb, playing a bagpipe-like instrument. The detail and craftsmanship were stunning, down to the minute wrinkles in his face and tiny fingers on the pipes. It reminded me of a Lladro in quality and artistic aesthetic but crafted from...

  • Dickens calls us all this holiday

    Kevin Cook|Updated Dec 13, 2023

    My sentimentality tends to spike during the holidays when I take comfort in Christmas music from Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Bing Crosby and the Ray Conniff Singers (anyone?). I bore my children with stories about some of the tree ornaments that belonged to my great-grandparents. I find time for my favorite holiday movie classics. I’m particularly fond of Charles Dickens’ timeless story, “A Christmas Carol.” Dickens’ inspiration was born out of the socio-economic...

  • A Shangri-la within our reach

    Kevin Cook|Updated Oct 25, 2023

    It was a benevolent stand-off. Me and my dog, Dakota, and a doe and her two fawns. We startled each other into a frozen sort of bewilderment. After what seemed to be a forever stare-down, mom and her babies faded away into a wooded camouflage. Return visits to the place of the stare-down have yielded more surprising and beautiful encounters with wildlife. Great egrets and great blue herons stand lifeless in a river waiting for bluegill to present an easy meal. Familiar ground...

  • Remembering my dad's Buncombe

    Kevin Cook|Updated Aug 30, 2023

    You'd be hard pressed to find Buncombe, Illinois, on a map. Buncombe is a five-hour drive straight south from Hinsdale as the crow flies, as my dad would say. I dreaded visiting Buncombe as a kid. In the early 1970s there was nothing there. Miles and miles of farmland interrupted by old farmhouses and grain silos. Maybe an occasional Stuckey's along the way. My paternal grandfather grew up near Buncombe before he made his way to Chicago in 1920. However, a few distant...

  • Dickensian moment with a movie ticket

    Kevin Cook|Updated May 17, 2023

    The oversized, fire engine red, old-style movie ticket hanging on the wall had my full attention. Whatever conversation was occurring around me melted away. I was fixated on the ticket. "One life. Limit (1) per person. Make it count." It was as if the ticket was saying, "Hey you, wake up! You're running out of time." I could feel my heart beat a bit faster like the after effect of that extra cup of coffee I really didn't need. The ticket was right. 100 percent right. It knew...

  • Hinsdaleans, we need to stop

    Kevin Cook|Updated Mar 22, 2023

    I closely eyeballed the stop sign at the intersection of Fourth and Lincoln streets. It appeared to be in good working order. "STOP" was spelled correctly, the red was the appropriate hue and all eight sides were visible. No branches, bushes, parked vehicles or other man-made shrouds blocked its view. I was perplexed. If the sign was in good working order, why were so many drivers not fully stopping? Or ignoring it altogether? I thought about calling the manufacturer to ask...

  • Holocaust survivor's story passed on

    Kevin Cook|Updated Nov 30, 2022

    David Dragon was 16 years old when he secretly traversed the sewers of the Warsaw Ghetto, defiantly risking capture by the Nazis, to scavenge scraps of food. He brought back whatever little he could find to feed his parents and siblings. Yet despite his courageous efforts, his mother and father died of starvation. He was 19 when the Nazis captured him and sent him to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Amid the death and human suffering, he toiled laying the bricks that formed...

  • Ode to a man I did not know

    Kevin Cook|Updated Sep 14, 2022

    I didn't know Craig Kruse. Craig passed away on Sept. 9 from brain cancer. He was 50 years old, six years younger than me. He left behind a wife and three children, many family members and an untold number of friends. Until recently, what I knew of Craig came from previous news articles and his obituary. A resident of Clarendon Hills, he served as a trainer and strength and conditioning coach at Hinsdale Central High School. His myriad personal and professional accomplishments...