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I've Been Thinking: A woman I’ll never forget

Much of the news featured on TV, reported online or in the newspapers is not good news. It’s about bad things that happen and the bad people involved.

I would sure like to hear some good news now and then.

There are good things that happen and good people doing these good things, but we rarely hear about them. That’s too bad, so I’m going to tell you about one very good person I will never forget. Although this incident happened many years ago, it is still as fresh in my mind, as if it happened yesterday. And I truly will never forget this empathetic, wonderful woman.

I was just 13 and about to enter high school come September. Meantime, the nuns at the school I had just graduated from, for some unknown reason, found me a job taking care of a nurse’s three children while she worked. The children’s ages were 3, 4 and 6.

Why anyone would hire me, at 13, to watch three little children, I had no idea. Besides being very young, I was an only child. I had no experience with children and didn’t realize how hard this job was going to be.

Luckily, the two younger children were no problem, but red-haired, freckled-faced, 6-year-old Terry was a little stinker. One day before their mother left for work, she suggested that I take the children in their little red wagon to Lincoln Park Zoo, which was just three blocks away. Going to the zoo was a great idea. Even Terry was no problem. The animals fascinated the children.

Eventually, however, it became time to leave the interesting animals and go home. The two younger children made faces and pouted. They weren’t happy, but they were obedient. Terry, on the other hand, was anything but obedient. He began screaming; he wouldn’t get in the wagon, while he grabbed on the back of it to stop me as I started moving toward an exit.

What should I do? I had no idea.

I wanted to give him a good swat on the butt, but there were lots of people all around and what would they think if I hit him? I kept moving and he kept hanging on and screaming. Everyone was looking at us. I could have died. Then came my savior.

A large, muscular, black woman walked up to the wagon, stopped, put her hands on her hips, and looked down at Terry with a malicious frown on her face. Then, in a loud authoritarian voice, she commanded him, “You stop screaming right now and get in this wagon or I’m going to take you home with me.”

The look in Terry’s eyes changed from totally angry determination to total fear. He stopped screaming and immediately jumped into the wagon in silent resignation. I looked at this magnificent woman and almost broke out crying in gratitude. She smiled, patted me on the back and walked away.

To this day, that woman holds a truly special place in my memory.

Carol Kloskowski is a resident of Elburn. Feedback on this column can be sent to

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