Stories by Jay Shefsky

At Age 100, Heart Health Pioneer Still Doing Research

Dr. Jeremiah Stamler (WTTW News)

These days, we know that eating foods high in saturated fats, salt and cholesterol is unhealthy. But that wasn’t always the accepted wisdom. And the doctor whose research led to many of those discoveries just celebrated a milestone.

Farmer’s Love of Trees Leads to Lifelong Hunt for Heirloom Apples

Al Westerman with three of the 124 apple varieties growing in his orchard. (Jay Shefsky / Chicago Tonight)

When Al Westerman’s grandparents bought a farm in Northern Illinois in 1911, it came with a house, a barn and an apple orchard. Now, he collects heirloom apple trees and grows more than 100 varieties. 

Mickey Alice Kwapis Wants You to Love Taxidermy As Much As She Does

Mickey Alice Kwapis

Mickey Alice Kwapis knows that she doesn’t fit most people’s idea of what a taxidermist looks like. And she is trying to change that.

Joel Paterson, Master of Classic Guitar Styles, Takes on the Beatles

There are plenty of Beatles covers in the world. But when a talented local guitarist like Joel Paterson applies his artistry to the fab four, that gets our attention.

For First Time in 30 Years, Vinyl Records Being Made in Chicago

Smashed Plastic in Chicago. (WTTW News)

Ten years ago, less than 2 million records were purchased in the U.S. But last year, nearly 17 million were sold. And now there are records being made in Chicago for the first time in decades. We stop by to see how it’s done.

Local Nun Leads Chicago Marathon Team

Sister Stephanie Baliga runs past the Our Lady of the Angels church in Chicago. (Jay Shefsky / WTTW News)

In college, Stephanie Baliga was the sixth-fastest freshman in the nation. Now 31, the local nun is still running, but her goal isn’t the Olympics. It’s raising money for the religious community she serves.

As a Young Man, He Traveled with ‘Railroad Tramps’ and Documented Their Lives

Dale Wickum (Credit: Dale Wickum / followingthetracks.com)

More than 40 years ago, Chicagoan Dale Wickum traveled all over the country by freight train to meet and photograph men who called themselves “railroad tramps.” The photos have been in storage since the 1970s. Until now.

Brookfield Zoo Adopts 2 Stranded and Injured Sea Lions

Sabiena, one of Brookfield Zoo’s two newly adopted California sea lions, is examined by members of the zoo’s medical team on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Jay Shefsky / WTTW News)

The population at Brookfield Zoo is growing. Last week, the zoo adopted two California Sea Lions – both with health issues. We meet Carolyn and Sabiena as they get physical exams at the zoo.

Lifelong Dollhouse Maker Dreams of Creating a Museum

Pat Lohenry

Pat Lohenry has loved miniatures for as long as she can remember. And as a teenager, she went from playing with them to making them. Today, her basement is full of her creations.

Keya Trammell Was Bullied for Alopecia. Now She is Bald and Proud.

Keya Trammell

Sometimes, the very thing that brings a person the most trouble in life can become a source of joy and inspiration. Meet local singer – and mentor – Keya Trammell.

At 102, This Longtime Chicago Pianist Has Still Got the Chops

Dorothy Olson Pauletti

Dorothy Olson Pauletti came to Chicago at age 17 and played piano professionally for nearly eight decades. At 102, she’s still living musically.

Bob Fosse’s ‘Riff Brothers’ Dance Partner Gives Old Routine New Life

Dancers Bob Fosse, left, and Charlie Grass perform as The Riff Brothers. (Courtesy of Charlie Grass)

As a teen, Charlie Grass was Bob Fosse’s dance partner. Now at age 91, he’s teaching their old routines to young Chicago dancers.

Where and When to See the Best Chicago-Area Wildflowers

At Belmont Prairie in Downers Grove, June brings a profusion of pale purple coneflower to this rare remnant prairie. Copyright 2019 Mike MacDonald. All Rights Reserved.

If you want to see wildflowers in and around Chicago, photographer Mike MacDonald will tell you where to go – and when – for the most glorious blooms.

Lake Michigan Nears Historic Water Levels. What’s Happening, and Why

Lake Michigan water levels are expected to top the record for June, and there’s a chance they could surpass the all-time record set in 1986. We head to the lakefront, and speak with experts.

Cancer Diagnosis Leads to Donation of 400 Rare, Valuable Books

Bob Connors (Credit: University of Chicago)

In recent years, Bob Connors found a new passion and expertise. Now, he’s offering it to the world.

102-Year-Old Pianist Honored at Palmer House Empire Room

Pianist Dorothy Olson Pauletti reacts to receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Chicago Federation of Musicians.

Dorothy Olson Pauletti was a working pianist in Chicago for more than 75 years. On Thursday, the 102-year-old was honored for her achievements and performed for guests at her favorite room in which to play.

A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew

Sometimes the best thing for a forest or prairie is to burn it. We spend a day with a Cook County burn crew.  

Newly Discovered Photos Reveal Childhood of Groundbreaking Journalist

(Courtesy of Jimmy Nuter)

Dozens of old glass negatives found in the attic of a North Side home lead to a surprising discovery, just days before the house was scheduled to be torn down. 

National Park Photographer Completes His Portfolio with Visit to Indiana Dunes

Photographer QT Luong at Kings Canyon National Park in California. (Courtesy QT Luong)

QT Luong is renowned for his photos of all 60 national parks. Now he's come to photograph our newest national park: the Indiana Dunes. 

The Mystery of Nathan Leopold’s Bird Collection

Left: Nathan Leopold, soon after his arrest. (Chicago Daily News photo courtesy of the Chicago History Museum)

In all the attempts to dissect the Leopold and Loeb story, one mystery remains unsolved: What happened to the vast bird collection that Nathan Leopold had in his Chicago home when he went to prison?

A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew

Sometimes the best thing for a forest or prairie is to burn it. We spend a day with a Cook County burn crew.  

Bleacher Bum Turns Passion for Baseball into Art

A story from the Wrigley Field bleachers, where one fan’s love for a beer vendor turned her into a baseball artist. 

Remembering Another Historic Election: Jane Byrne’s 1979 Victory

Forty years ago, Chicago elected its first female mayor. We remember the historic victory of former Mayor Jane Byrne.

Chicago Wrestling Coach Pays it Forward While Building a Dynasty

Bowen High School wrestling coach Ron Wilson

In just a few years, Ron Wilson reintroduced Bowen High School’s wrestling program and turned it into a city and regional powerhouse. Now, Wilson, a special education teacher turned firefighter, continues to lead the Boilermakers. 

Newly Discovered Photos Reveal Childhood of Groundbreaking Journalist

(Courtesy of Jimmy Nuter)

Dozens of old glass negatives found in the attic of a North Side home lead to a surprising discovery, just days before the house was scheduled to be torn down.