Viola finally made it!
I never thought I would see this day come. Well, that may be overstating it a bit. But it felt like forever.
Our front page story featuring 92-year-old Viola Strupeck and how she still exercises religiously at Curves in Hickory Hills was finished and actually placed on the front page of the Oct. 9 edition of the Reporter.
I liked the way Kelly White wrote the story. I don’t want to strain my arm from patting myself on the back but I also liked the way the photo turned out. And our designer, Kari Nelson completed the trifecta by cutting Viola out of the photo and placing her body into the body of the story.
And the headline about her still using her Curves still makes me snicker. By the way, for anyone who thinks it was in bad taste, I ran it by her and she laughed and approved it.
The story, photo and headline were all set to go and on the page on Oct. 3. We were ready to roll.
Unfortunately two days later, the traffic accident in Oak Lawn that killed three people including two nuns forced us to make a decision and rather than stuff Viola’s story inside, we decided to hold it for a week for out Oct. 16 edition.
That happens all the time. You have an idea and it gets completely turned around because bigger news is made. This is the exciting, unpredictable world of the news business.
So on Oct. 10, we put it on the front page again. It looked just as good as it did the week before. We couldn’t wait to run it.
Unfortunately, two days later, the plane crash in Palos Hills claimed the lives of three doctors from Kansas. It was another gut-wrenching tragedy that had one redeeming quality – more people weren’t hurt or killed.
Viola had to wait another week.
So it was with great trepidation on Friday that for the third time, we put Viola back on the front page and closed our eyes and crossed our fingers that nothing major was going to bump her off the page again.
We were especially worried about Sunday. We couldn’t have back-to-back-to-back Sunday tragedies in one of our six communities, could we?
I won’t pretend that these bad-news stories affect us as much as friends and family members of the deceased. I won’t pretend that these horrific incidents affect us as much as first responders who can smell the death and see the mangled bodies.
But they still affect us.
The first question we ask a lot is why? Why doctors? Why nuns? These seemed to be good people who were valuable members of our society having their lives ended in our region. The buzz around our office after the Oak Lawn tragedy questioned how God could allow this.
I’m not getting into a religious debate, here, but something like this was able to shake some faiths. And then to come back with three doctors dying on our soil – two of whom were married – also shook some people up.
Ironically, shortly before all of these sad stories a woman sent us a nice card about how much she loves the good-news stories we run in our paper. She was sick of all the bad-news stories and “diabolic behavior” that appear elsewhere. I was thinking about her letter when we first placed Viola on our front page.
So after all this time, it was nice to make the top story of the week of our newspaper a nice one.