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Date & Time

Wednesday, October 11, 2017
6:00 PM


Other Location


Free and open to the public


Seminary Co-op Bookstore
(773) 752-4381


Ted Gregory will discuss "Mary Jane's Ghost: The Legacy of a Murder in Small Town America." He will be joined in conversation by Mary Schmich.

At 57th Street Books

About the book: Summer 1948. In the scenic, remote river town of Oregon, Illinois, a young couple visiting the local lovers’ lane is murdered. The shocking crime garners headlines from Portland, Maine, to Long Beach, California. But after a sweeping manhunt, no one is arrested and the violent deaths of Mary Jane Reed and Stanley Skridla fade into time’s indifference. Fast forward fifty years. Eccentric entrepreneur Michael Arians moves to Oregon, opens a roadhouse, gets elected mayor, and becomes obsessed with the crime. He comes up with a scandalous conspiracy theory and starts to believe that Mary Jane’s ghost is haunting his establishment. He also reaches out to the Chicago Tribune for help. Arians’s letter falls on the desk of general assignment reporter Ted Gregory. For the next thirteen years, while he ricochets from story to story and his newspaper is deconstructed around him, Gregory remains beguiled by the case of the teenaged telephone operator Mary Jane and twenty-eight-year-old Navy vet Stanley—and equally fascinated by Arians’s seemingly hopeless pursuit of whoever murdered them. "Mary Jane’s Ghost" is the story of these two odysseys.

About the author: Ted Gregory is a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter at the Chicago Tribune and co-author of three books: "The Leadership Code" (November 2017), "To Chase A Dream" (2014), and "Our Black Year" (2012). His first solo effort, "Mary Jane’s Ghost," is an offbeat, true-crime saga that centers on one man’s obsession to solve a lovers lane double murder that occurred back in 1948 in scenic Oregon, Ill. To paraphrase one reviewer, the book is part detective story, part road trip and part rumination on newspapers and our need for stories. Gregory lives near Chicago with his family.

About the interlocutor: Mary Theresa Schmich was born in Savannah, Ga., the oldest of eight children, and spent her childhood in Georgia. She attended high school in Phoenix then earned a B.A. at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif. After working in the Pomona admissions office for three years then spending a year in France, she attended journalism school at Stanford. She has worked as a reporter at the Peninsula Times Tribune in Palo Alto, Calif., at the Orlando Sentinel and, since 1985, at the Chicago Tribune. In 1992, after five years a Tribune national correspondent based in Atlanta, she began writing a column, which she has written ever since, except for the year she spent at Harvard on a Nieman fellowship for journalists. She wrote the "Brenda Starr" comic strip for 25 years, until 2010. One of her columns, loosely known as “Wear Sunscreen,” has been a bestselling book and CD. She won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. A collection of her columns has been released as a book, "Even the Terrible Things Seem Beautiful to Me Now."