Call, email prompt wonderful memories this week
Last updated 8/3/2022 at 3:09pm | View PDF
Typing up obituaries was part of my very first reporting gig in 1989.
The way things were structured at the time, the new reporter in The Doings newsroom inherited the responsibility — and kept it until the next new reporter was hired.
The person who preceded me, if I remember correctly, had to type up obits for about a month. I did it for a full year and was oh so happy to let the assignment go.
But life in so many ways is circular, and when Jim Slonoff and I started The Hinsdalean in 2006, obituaries returned to my list of weekly responsibilities.
Typing up obituaries is often sad, especially when a person has died too young. It’s hard when I know the person who has passed away and it was surreal typing up my own father’s obituary. (I handled it better when my mom died 18 years later.)
But typing up obituaries also can prompt the recollection of some wonderful memories, as I was reminded of this week.
Barb Sakala Hill submitted an obituary for her mom, Jane Dahl Sakala, who died last month. I sent Barb and email to let her know we had received the notice, and here is what she sent in response.
“I grew up on Clay Street, next door to Pete and Mary Teschner,” she wrote. “I remember all The Doings floats they built in their yard for the parades! I went to Madison School. Our kids went to Monroe. Now they are hoping to move back one day soon, too.”
I too remember The Doings floats — more than one of which I helped build — and the parties that would take place at the Teschners’ backyard pool after we were all hot and sweaty from marching in the parade. The Teschners owned The Doings from 1960 to 1999.
Barb said they used to throw Barbie dolls into the pool so the GI Joe action figures could rescue them.
What I remember most is the time a co-worker pushed me in the pool and I was able to use my lifesaving skills (hard scissor kick) to keep my head — and the hand holding my red Solo cup — out of the water.
I had a lot of good times in that backyard, just like Barb.
I received another obituary this week for Marilyn Millar, who used to run Millar’s with her husband, Bill. The small deli/grocery store on Hinsdale Avenue was an institution in town when I first started working here, and when it closed, we heard from dozens of people who shared their memories of eating there.
One mom told me her daughter would only eat Mrs. Millar’s hot dogs and begged her to get the recipe before the store closed. That remains one of my favorite articles.
Marilyn’s daughter, Annie, called to make sure there was still time to submit the notice and I told her we were just talking about Millar’s the other day. She was so pleased to hear that we remember it — and her mom and her dad, who passed away in 1997. Of course we do.
My friend Sandy (now our freelance writer) and I used to joke in our early days at The Doings that if we were still working at the paper in 1995, when it celebrated its centennial, something had gone seriously wrong with our careers. We had ambitions, of course, to work at a daily paper.
We both discovered along the way, however, that we had a love for community journalism. For me, that love has grown even stronger over the past three decades.
I like knowing that I’ve eaten one (many, actually) of Mrs. Millar’s favorite sandwiches and that Barb Hill and I both had many laughs in the Teschners’ pool.
I like feeling connected to our readers and to this town in a very special way. I am sorry for the women who are grieving the loss of their moms this week, but I am oh so grateful for this wonderful reminder they provided of why I do what I do.
— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected]