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David McGrath

David McGrath is an emeritus English professor at the College of DuPage
and author of “South Siders.”

David McGrath image edit.jpg

A paperback novel tossed in the alley behind a hamburger joint was what finally got me interested in reading.

The Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which has made previous stops in Hoffman Estates and other suburbs, will return this spring for a display at College of DuPage May 29 to June 3.

The great thing about romance is you get to be the star of your own love story, as columnist David McGrath can attest. The woman in black velvet — Marianne — would go on to become his wife.

I have been worrying about a lot of things, like the recent blood test showing a jump in my glucose levels. The 1099 tax form that arrived too late. The loud ticking sound when my car is idling. 

James Doppke ’57 taught literature, but really, he was a spellbinding magician who guided students through the depths of the works he treasured.

On Jan. 1, 1968, I made a New Year’s resolution to quit cigarettes.

If teaching were baseball, I would have been sent back to the minors after my first year at Chicago Vocational High School.

Is anyone surprised that at least one poll this year, by statistics database Statista, found that Americans’ favorite holiday is Thanksgiving? Expressing thanks, after all, makes everyone feel good.

Halloween originated with the ancient Celts of western Europe as a celebration of ghosts and spirits in acknowledgment of and hope for an afterlife. 

But what if, suddenly, Kansas City fans were asked to stop by Taylor Swift, their newly crowned Princess of the Gridiron?

When a relative, friend or colleague dies, you regret that you canceled a lunch date with them or never made the phone call you had intended but kept putting off.

Like a lot of teachers, I began as a substitute for Chicago Public Schools, making $40 a day filling in for faculty members who called in sick. As a 22-year-old English major, however, I was seldom placed in classes for which I was qualified.

It was a summer evening in Evergreen Park, so I could stay out till dark, which didn’t fully descend till 10 p.m. A month shy of my 13th birthday in 1962, I had already tasted freedom.

But why do I find it so hard to say to them, “I love you”? Why does the English language’s tiniest pronoun weigh 2,000 pounds when I try to insert it in that sentence? My difficulty likely astounds readers in the year 2023 for whom intimacy and declarations thereof are commonplace, which I envy.

Gertrude McGrath succeeded as a mother in spite of gender restrictions, and as a role model and leader ahead of her time, thanks to her strength, ingenuity and tough love.

Published: Chicago Tribune May 13, 2023

Embracing hope can be costly, and I’m sure there are readers who would rather hedge their bets with skepticism. But the godliness in our collective human heart abounds and historically triumphs, with good reason for a happy Easter.

Published: Chicago Tribune, Sunday April 9, 2023

Though it has taken nearly a year, a resolution is finally within reach after last year’s shocking news that my birth family is not Irish.

Published: Chicago Tribune March 16, 2023

An awkward moment in time, a memory forever and a mystery of what might have been.

Published: Notre Dame Magazine, February 14, 2023

This Valentine's Day, I plan to re-create the most romantic thing I have ever done for my wife. It happened at my cousin's wake.

Published: Chicago Tribune Tuesday, February 14, 2023

If you're a student beware 9 out of 10 who cheat with ChatGPT would likely be caught, earning an F for their trouble or outright expulsion.

Published: Chicago Tribune January 28, 2023

Unlike many of my boomer brethren, I do not yearn for the good old days.

Instead, I embrace change and shed no tears for the disappearance of manual typewriters, four-barrel carburetors or Meister Brau beer. But there have been some extinctions for which there was no rhyme or reason, and whose losses, I believe, have diminished us in some way.

So, in the spirit of optimism and hope for the new year, I advocate a comeback of the following worthy staples of American life for 2023.

Published: Chicago Tribune December 31, 2022

This is a memory of a bit of trouble that happened around the end of daylight saving time in 1962 after I made the cut for St. Bernadette’s eighth grade basketball team in Evergreen Park.

Published: Chicago Tribune  Saturday, November 12, 2022

My conclusion is not that of a detached observer but as a survivor of Hurricane Ian, among the most violent storms in Florida’s history. Published: Chicago Tribune Thursday, October 6, 2022

After reading the invitation to my Evergreen Park High School reunion, I forwarded it to my wife for laughs, just before deleting it. The prospect of attending a gathering of senior citizens whose faces evoke only unpleasant flashbacks from the 1960s seemed like torture to me.

Published: Chicago Tribune Saturday, September 10, 2022

When my wife and I got married in August 1972, I was a substitute teacher for Chicago Public Schools earning $40 a day. Marianne had a permanent gig as a fourth grade teacher at St. Barnabas Elementary for $5,000 a year.

Published: Chicago Tribune Saturday, August 20, 2022

David teaches his granddaughter Summer how to cast a fishing rod.

Published: suntimes.com Sunday, June 12, 2022

In Florida, if you’re lucky to be the first who wakes up, you are treated to a private welcoming by the still salt air, the plum-colored light.

Published: Notre Dame Magazine Summer 2021

Summertime: Like that brief moment in the morning when you first open your eyes, arch your back and stretch. You hold it. You purr luxuriously. You try to prolong the delicious feeling. But it never lasts. I learned the truth when I turned 12. 

Published: Notre Dame Magazine August 17, 2021

A teacher for 35 years, I learned a crucial lesson about the profession when I was still in high school. It happened when I was 15 and addicted to Lucky Strikes. In the 1960s, Luckies were a man’s cigarette, because they were unfiltered and had a strong tobacco flavor. In Rebel Without a Cause, one was clenched between the lips of James Dean, the coolest male actor who ever lived.

Published: Notre Dame Magazine Spring, 2022

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