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Good Reads: Tsunami Survival, Love Gone Bad, a Bullet for Reagan and Campaign Drug Bust News

In this week's edition of "A Good Read on the Southland," we see the best of people and the worst, heroism and homelessness.

Tragedy strikes far away and close to home. A political twist. And two love stories unlike any other — one that ends with criminal charges and the other in song. These were the best Patch stories in the Southland last week.

The Good Reads

1. : When the devastating wave struck Japan, Nick Nowak thought he was a goner. "My Dad thought I was dead," Nowak told Patch editor Lauren Traut. And for a while, no one knew. Then he found a way to call home. "My mom was relieved to know I was alive."

2. : On her Facebook page, Jamie Katro says she's "a very loyal and honest person." say she attacked her ex-lover while standing over the bed the woman shared with her new husband. Katro told Patch editor Joe Hosey that the two women still love each other and she's the real victim.

3. : Patch editor Lorraine Swanson spent some time with folks at a Shelter and met Jasmine, a woman who spends her days with her friends and her evenings at the shelter. But her friends don't know. And that's the way for many homeless folks in the south suburbs — they try to hide the fact that they've fallen on hard times. “I come here to sleep and have dinner,” she told Patch. “Most of the PADS dinners are really good, although I don’t care for some of them, like meatloaf.”

4. : A bombshell dropped in the Mokena school board race that has nothing to do with education or school finances. Patch editor Caroline Evans reported on candidate Patrick Markham's misdemeanor conviction for buying human growth hormone over the Internet from China, a sale that triggered the interest of Will County drug cops who searched his home. Originally charged with intent to distribute, the charges were knocked down when authorities concluded Markham had bought the drugs to treat his own diabetes.

5. : Singer Chris Medina opened up to Patch editor Lauren Traut on video with how much the Idol exposure changed his life and helped his fiancee, Juliana Ramos. "When this happened, it created the opportunity, as a man ... to be able to financially take care of her, because all of the money that we raise goes to her, and no one can touch it,” Medina said. “Mentally, it gave me peace of mind."

A Hot Link

30 Years Ago He Took a Bullet for the President: The story has been told often over the last three decades. As a young man, Tim McCarthy took a bullet aimed at President Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981, and he lived to tell. On Sunday, his story was told yet again in the pages of the Chicago Tribune:

... on that day, McCarthy became the most famous Secret Service agent alive.

At 2:27 p.m., as Reagan walked to his limo outside the Hilton, John Hinckley Jr. stepped out from a crowd less than 20 feet from the president and raised a cheap .22-caliber pistol.

Press Secretary James Brady was felled by the first shot, Washington, D.C., police Officer Tom Delahanty by the second. Other police and bystanders fell away as McCarthy spun to face the gunman.

The third shot was on a line to hit Reagan, a vector on which McCarthy had immediately crouched in a linebacker stance. The bullet struck McCarthy in the chest, spinning him in a half-pirouette and knocking him to the ground.

The fourth bullet slammed into the limo door as Secret Service agent Jerry Parr lunged inside with the president. The fifth glanced off the frame of the limo, striking Reagan under the arm on the ricochet. The sixth glanced off the pavement.

After the shooting, folks said he should return to Illinois and run for Congress as a hero. A South Sider, McCarthy eventually left the Secret Service as the agent in charge in Chicago. Now Orland Park's police chief, he ran unsuccessfully for Secretary of State, and folks still say he should seek office.

"I have a resume as an administrator, that I could hold almost any office," McCarthy told reporter Andy Grimm. "If (getting shot) is all you have going for you, that's not a lot."

Watch This

: Patch editor Renita Young kicked off a new feature last week. On her first video show, she features the possessions of Evergreen Park icon Anna May "Babe" Ahern of Evergreen Park Country Club fame, who died at 103. Her collection, up for sale, includes hundreds of Oriental glass figures, antique furniture and other items that range in cost from $1 to $12,000.

Dennis Robaugh is editor of Patch's south suburban region. You can reach him at dennisr@patch.com. Follow Southland Savvy on Twitter and Facebook.

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