It often surprises me when I read another publication and I come across something of local interest, at least to me and hopefully to many of you readers. 

So when I began reading the latest copy of the Fra Noi, the Italian periodical for the Chicago area – and, yes, it is in English, although it has some pages in Italian that I don’t read because I can’t – a couple of articles caught my eye. One was about the naming of the Columbus Day queen and the other about a book written by an author whose roots are in our area.

The name of Robert Benedetti got my attention in a story about a book he has written titled The Long Italian Goodbye, which takes place on Chicago’s West Side around Oakley Avenue, which just happens to be where my Mother and her family settled after coming from Italy.

Benedetti, now a resident of Santa Monica, Calif., was a 1956 graduate of Riverside-Brookfield High School who went on to earn a Ph.D. from Northwestern. His career has taken him all over the world.

His list of accomplishments includes acting, teaching acting and directing for more than 45 years. Fifteen years in the film industry found him in front of and behind the camera. His work has earned him many honors and awards, including three Emmys. In 2004, the Alumni Achievement Medal Committee of Riverside-Brookfield High School selected him as one of its recipients.

As for the other story, Bianca Scola has been named Chicago’s 2011 Columbus Day queen. Though not a local resident, her proud father is Lou Scola of Carstar Scola’s Collision Center in Brookfield. She is a sophomore attending Columbia College.

Queen Bianca will be presiding over Columbus Day festivities in the city, predominately the parade and various other events during the year. Chosen from 15 entrants of Italian-American heritage, she will also receive numerous gifts to go along with her title. Yes, it is good to be queen!