Friday, February 16, 2018

Tsunami

Tsunami: a giant wave that destroys everything in its path.”  Ray Smock
The word tsunami is Japanese in origin and refers to a seismic tidal wave caused by underwater volcanic eruptions, earthquakes or other explosions.  The 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan triggered waves of well over 100 feet that left nearly 20,000 people dead and caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex.

Tsunamis, to the best of my knowledge, do not occur on Lake Michigan, but there are occasional seiches, sudden changes in water levels, such as the water receding and then returning, often in the form of a wave.  In my “Tales of Lake Michigan” Shavings (volume 28, 1998) I quoted Tom Spychalski’s description of seeing one that resembled a miniature tidal wave.  He wrote:
    The boats in the basis and along Trail Creek rose and sank down very quickly.  It was almost like a whiplash effect.  Several of the boats were damaged, particularly those tied to fixed piers rather than floating piers. It was rather frightening.  The waves were only four to six feet in actual height but really violent.
Kass Stone, one of my best students whom I kept in touch with for several years and who currently lives in London, England, interviewed his mother Kathy, who described seeing one on a spring day:
  The entire lake started to just evaporate or shrink up.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was like someone pulled the plug on a bath tub.  All of a sudden the lake went “Shoop!.”  It all just started to go away, maybe 30 feet but probably more.  It wasn’t as if it was a slow change; it suddenly started to grow small.  It lasted 15 or 20 minutes.  Everyone was staring; it was creepy, like a thing from the movies.  It made all the TV newscasts from Chicago.  It had to do with the barometric pressure or currents.

Tsunami can also refer to the occurrence of something overwhelming, such as the arrival of a plague or, in the case of Native American tribes in Washington’s Puget Sound, white settlers, whose rapacious desire for land and brutality toward those disinclined to surrender to American might signified the sudden end a rich culture dating back thousands of years.  David M. Buerge’s biography of Chief Seattle contains this description of an atrocity that took place in 1855:
  In December, volunteers in the Walla Walla valley took the Walla Walla chief Yellow Bird and others prisoner during a parley under a flag of truce.  A running battle ensued, and during the evening of December 6, the volunteers killed their hostages, scalping and skinning the chief’s body and pickling his ears in alcohol.  Later they dug up his corpse to collect more souvenirs.
above, Princess Angeline; below, Cecile Hansen
Chief Seattle’s daughter Angeline (1820-1896) lived out her days in a small waterfront cabin near where Pike Place Market now stands.  A devout Catholic, she took in laundry and sold handwoven baskets to eke out an existence.  Buerge dedicated his book to Duwamish tribal chairwoman Cecile Hansen, who for decades has been attempting to gain federal recognition for her people, and included this poem of hers:
Holy Seattle, thrice born and
Always among your people;
Visit these words well meant,
And greet us again, birds
Homing under the eaves
In the house of your name
Buerge concluded:
  Having grown rich on Duwamish land, the city of Seattle has consistently made sure that not one square inch of it would be reserved for the people who nurtured and protected settlers in their hour of greatest need.  That is the city’s original sin.  Chief Seattle’s request that his people be treated with justice and kindness falls on deaf ears.  The hand of friendship offered by the Duwamish is met with blank stares and double-talk.  Seattle is indeed a worthy eponym for the city, but is it worthy of its eponym?  Chief Seattle’s claim upon our better nature has yet to be vindicated.

Ray Smock’s “Trump Tsunami: A Historian’s Diary of the Trump Campaign and His First Year in Office” just arrived in the mail.  Ray signed it, “For Jimbo and Toni, our long friendship will endure even if the Republic falls!  But let’s do what we can to save this country from itself.  With love, Ray.”  It opens with a George Orwell quote from “1984” (1949): “It was a bright, cold day in April, and the clocks were striking 13.” I appear in “Trump Tsunami” in reference to calling Ray on the eve of the 2016 election desperately hoping for a landslide victory by Hillary Clinton to demonstrate that Americans rejected what Trump stood for.  Alas, it was not to be.  Ray still posts commentary about Trump’s latest egregious antics and rancid policies.   In an essay entitled “Don’t Turn Away from Watching Trump Just because it’s Painful, Embarrassing, or Agonizing,” Ray wrote:
      We must pay close attention to Trump whether we can stand it or not. This is no time to go soft because we don't like what we see, or think we need a break from it. We must stay informed and on top of his daily actions and keep letting our members of Congress know how we feel about him and the policies of his administration.  Someone asked me recently if I was “biased” in my opinion about Trump. I said, no I am not biased. Bias means to prejudge, to be prejudiced. Bias is a word often used to stop conversation. It is one of those ON/OFF words. We dismiss people by saying, "Oh, he's biased."  While I am not biased. I am, however, highly critical of Trump. I have not prejudged him; I have JUDGED him, based on his words, his conduct, and his policies. I am not against Trump for something silly like his label as a Republican, when I am a Democrat. My critique rests on almost 60 years of political study, most of it in nonpartisan professional positions.  Trump is a disaster for this country, not because he is a Republican, not because he is a billionaire, not because he is a TV celebrity, but because he is totally incapable of governing this nation and uniting us. All else flows from this objective fact.
      I will continue to watch this administration unfold. I will not turn away because my blood pressure goes up, or because I get disgusted with the latest outrage. I will continue to place my critique in as much historical context as I can muster. I do, however, reserve the right to just throw up my hands on occasion and scream out loud. Sometimes this is very good for the soul.
I have become more partisan than at any other time in my 77 years on the planet. I am not used to being partisan, except in the voting booth. Partisan means to be a dedicated supporter of a particular party or a particular cause. What I am partisan about is not simple party affiliation. I believe in a strong two-party system. I want Republicans and Democrats to debate again and work together again.  I am a partisan who is in favor of maintaining the U.S. Constitution and three co-equal branches of government and seeing that this president and the other amateurs he has selected to run the country do not undermine the Constitution or the rule of law.
 Samuel and Brenda Ann Love
Brenda Ann Love often shares sardonic posts while on the South Shore to and from work.  Her latest: A guy who just went into the bathroom on the train looked like he regretted that decision as soon as he opened the door,” Natasha Burkett commented: “There's another guy who's been in the bathroom since Hammond...the conductors have informed him there's people waiting and they have been watching to see if he comes out.” Benda replied: “Do they really want to go in there after he’s been in there so long?”  Natasha responded: “Pretty sure he was in there trying to avoid paying for his fare... probably succeeded too!”  Paul Capriglione agreed, adding: “It’s a common trick, they can wait long enough in there to get a free ride. They don’t want to stop the train for $7 and wait for the cops.”
 Jimbo and Penelope Love; photo by Steve McShane

Cundiff's Boarding House in Aetna (circa 1890)

In the Archives, I spoke with Aetna Manor resident Penelope (Penney) Love about her group’s efforts to revitalize her Gary neighborhood.  I told her about the area’s early history when the Aetna Powder Company operated there.  During the postwar decade, many families who have since moved to the suburbs had starter homes there. Penney was particularly interested in former businesses along Aetna Street, so I showed her how to use Gary city directories.  In the 1960 edition, for example, listed on the 900 block of Aetna Street are Nowak’s Dancing School, Fifield Real Estate, Aetna Lounge, Aetna Coin-O-Wash Laundry, Mike’s Barber Shop, and Aetna Snack Bar.  On the next block were a Walgreen’s, a Phillips gas station, a grocery, a radio and TV repair shop, and a hardware store. In the mid-70s, there was an outlet where I got my driver’s license renewed.

Because it was a position round, for the second straight week we bowled the Pin Heads, who were out for revenge.  We prevailed in the first game by 11 pins, rolling an amazing 115 pins above our average (I had a 191 for the second week in a row). Then they crushed us, winning the third game, for instance, by 160 pins.  That evening I hosted a condo board meeting; Dave’s family showed up due to having lost electricity; and Miranda and Sean drove through the fog from Michigan for Toni’s birthday. 
 Betty Dominguez files for sheriff


Former Lake County sheriff Roy Dominguez returned my called.  I’m hoping to interview him on videotape for IU’s Bicentennial project.  A few days ago, his wife Betty, a retired probation officer, filed to run for sheriff in the upcoming Democratic primary.  Some claimed she was just acting as a spoiler to take votes away from Sheriff Oscar Martinez and perhaps help Schererville Police Chief David Dowling, but Roy assured me that she was in the race to win.  Veteran political columnist Rich James wrote: Betty Dominguez, who is almost as recognizable as her husband, would be expected to pull a substantial vote.”
 Dan Simon and Salina Tejeda in James B. Lane Room of Calumet Regional Archives
For her oral history assignment Salina Tejeda interviewed Dan Simon, who taught in IUN’s Business Division (mainly Accounting) until 1989 before going to Loyola briefly and then Notre Dame. Dan’s main bridge partners are wife Donna and former IUN Business professor Ed d’Ouville.  Here are excerpts from their correspondence:
October 3:  Dan: “Hi Salina, Jim Lane agrees it would be a good idea if I started to keep you up to date on bridge games, successes and failures, starting with a lucky success. On September 20 Donna and I won an event in Gary with teammates Chuck and Dave. This form of bridge differs from regular duplicate, where you and partner compete against all other partnerships.  In a team game you compete with other teams of four.  The method of scoring also differs. Looking forward to our meeting Tuesday.  Good luck in your studies.” I emailed Mr. Simon back and thanked him for the information.
food break during Gary game; photo by Dan Simon
          October 6: Dan: Hi Salina, In my last email I could report success at the game in Gary.  Now I must report a failure.  Donna and I played Wednesday and Thursday in the Fort Wayne regional tournament.  Our teammates were Ed d’Ouville and David Abraham from Canada.  There are not too many large tournaments in Canada, so David often comes to Indiana, Michigan or Ohio to play.  All four of us played poorly and we deserved our poor results. A regional tournament is a seven-day event with up to three sessions a day, which if you played all three would amount to twelve hours of bridge a day!  Only a few fanatics will play in every session.  They were held in a big room with as many as 50 tables (200 players) each session. The next time I will play will be in a pairs game (regular duplicate) on Monday in Michigan City with Ed d’Ouville as my partner.  A normal club session of this type consists of about 25-28 hands and anywhere from 6 to 12 pairs of players.”
October 10 (Salina): Dan and I met in the library on the third floor, in our classroom across from the Calumet Regional Archives. We first started talking about his personal life. He grew up in East Chicago. We could relate because my parents and grandparents are from there. He met Donna in college and got married in 1964. She had played bridge as a little girl and taught him the game. We talked about his education. Dan was drafted in 1966, went to the army, and came back to the region to get a degree.  They didn’t play much bridge at first because he was in school and they had a child. He did his undergraduate classes at IUN and received a scholarship from Northwestern to get his PhD. In the 1990s they started to take bridge fairly seriously, traveling all over the country, including Florida, Colorado, California, and elsewhere. His favorite place was New Mexico because of the fascinating things to see.  We joked about teaching high school, which is my ambition, and how teenagers are stressful and not nice to teach. His wife was a high school teacher, he said, and it took a big toll on her. He informed that he played bridge against Bill Gates, got his autograph, and was really surprised because there was virtually no security there.  Dan told me most people take these games seriously and people get into altercations.  Local games are more pleasant.
October 10:  Dan: “Hi Salina, Enjoyed our meeting today. It also was good to meet someone with connections to Indiana Harbor.  Let me know if there is anything I can do to make your report easier or better.  Donna would be glad to answer any questions you might have. 
          October 16: Dan: “On Saturday, we played in a team game in Gary with Ed d’Ouville and Barbara Walczak.  Results were fair, winning 3 of 6 matches. In Northwest Indiana, there are games in Gary, Highland, Chesterton, Portage, Valparaiso, Michigan City, and Long Beach. All of these duplicate games last about four hours.  Each location has one game per week except Gary which has two.
          November 4 (Salina): I received information I had requested from Donna Simon about growing up in Gary. She wrote: My main memories of the fifties and sixties in Gary concern living in Tolleston.  My friends and I got great pleasure from Tolleston Park, where we would often play tennis for many hours.  We also enjoyed going downtown on the bus, where there were many stores, such as Sears, Gordon's, and Goldblatts, as well as movies theatres on Broadway.  Unfortunately, all stores and movies have left downtown areas for malls. As far as bridge is concerned, my father taught me when I was nine.  My husband had never played, but learned quickly.  We learned how to bid from a book by Howard Schenken called Better Bidding in 15 Minutes. Schenken was considered the best player of his time and the Scenken system was popular in the sixties.  We played very little duplicate in the seventies and eighties; but when we started again in the nineties, we continued to use the old Schenken system even though few players still used it. We continue to use the system, which starts the bidding on all strong hands with one club even if you have no clubs!!  Duplicate games in the sixties were held at Temple Israel in Miller and at a hotel on US 20 which is now abandoned.  There was also a game at a Catholic school in Hobart.”
November 16: Dan: “Hi Salina!  Very little bridge to report.  Played the last two Mondays with Ed d’Ouville, doing very well once and so-so once.  Donna and I haven't played recently and probably won't for a while due to a variety of family commitments and (alas) medical appointments. Take heart. The semester is almost over and then you can relax for a couple of weeks! Let us hear from you. Good luck on your finals!”
        November 20: Dan: Hi Salina, After I was drafted in September 1966 we played little bridge of any kind until the mid 1990s. A few things I remember from the sixties.  There were several good players.  One of the best was Dave Andrews, one of the few African American duplicate players in the area. Dave was much in demand as a partner because not only was he good, unlike many good players he was not critical of his partners mistakes.  Another good player whose name I don't remember was often referred to as the Jays Potato Chip man.  His job was delivering potato chips to stores and he usually had on a Jays Potato chip uniform when he played.  Donna mentioned in her email to you the games in Gary and Hobart.  There was also strangely an evening duplicate game played in the Michigan City South Shore station!”
        November 27: (Salina) I thanked Dan and Donna for helping me with this paper and how wonderful they were to me. They went beyond and above the call for me. Many classmates were having many complications with their interviewee. I was very fortunate to get kind-hearted people who were willing to really help me out.
 above, Kyleigh and Leah; below, Lori Rea with Jimbo and Dee Van Bebber
Kyleigh McCoy and Leah Tsiongas interviewed bridge players Lori and Tom Rea for their Indiana History assignment.  Here are excerpts of their first week correspondence:
October 13: First Interview (Kyleigh):  We are meeting Lori and Tom at Portillo’s in Merrillville at 11am. Leah and I arrived at 10:30 a.m. to save a booth. Also, we sent them a selfie to let them know what we look like; we had an idea of placing a balloon where we sat but thought that might be too much.  Sitting in the diner, Tom and Lori explained that they met in college.  Lori was studying to be a teacher. Tom was in the Air Force and loved working with planes. Lori became an elementary teacher in Gary; she loved working with students in kindergarten, first grade, third grade and fifth grade. Learning about her teaching methods helped Leah and I see how we’d like to teach.  Lori left us with some great advice: “Do something that makes you feel like your actions leave an impression.” We learned that Lori and Tom’s son-in-law was still working the Gary community schools. “A lot has changed,” Tom spoke, “we definitely don’t see the same city we grew up in anymore.”
            October 17: Bridge Game (Kyleigh): Tom and Lori sent pictures of their bridge game that we could not attend due to both being in class at the time of the games. They were an amazing way to see how the games are being done. We loved how some people looked so intense!
    October 18: Favorite Childhood Book: Kyleigh asked Lori and Tom about childhood memories and favorite books.  Tom liked Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain because it was a great adventure. Lori mentioned Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, writing, “I loved all the characters. I was probably 11 or 12 when I first read the book.” 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Home on the Range

“Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.”
   "Home on the Range"                                              
  
Initially an 1872 poem by Brewster M. Higley entitled “My Western Home,” “Home on the Range” has been called the unofficial anthem of the American West and is the state song of Kansas.  Base-baritone Bing Crosby first popularized it in 1933 and subsequent versions have been recorded by crooner Frank Sinatra, Gene Autry (“The Singing Cowboy”), folkie Pete Seeger, pop singer Connie Francis, mezzo-soprano Tori Amos, and many others – even Disney characters Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig.  Neil Young’s version is on the soundtrack of “Where the Buffalo Roam” (1980), and Willie Nelson’s on “The Messenger” (2009).  “Home on the Range” was a favorite at Boy Scout camp.  I still know the chorus by heart.  One of its seven verses references when Native Americans roamed the range:
The Red man was pressed from this part of the west,
He's likely no more to return,
To the banks of the Red River where seldom if ever
Their flickering campfires burn.
 Chief Seattle in 1864
Chief Seattle statue erected in 1908 in Seattle's Tilikum Place

Chief Seattle (1786-1866) headed the Suquamish and Duwamsih tribes located in what became the state of Washington.  Due in part to the longtime East Coast bias of history textbooks, I had never heard of him until I came upon David M. Buerge’s new book “Chief Seattle and the Town That Took His Name.”  Known as an excellent warrior and orator, he was nearly six feet tall and given the nickname “Le Gros (the big man) by Hudson’s Bay Company traders. During the late 1840s, the Chief converted to Christianity.  When white settlers flowed into Puget Sound in the territory of Washington, Chief Seattle established friendly relations with pioneer leader David “Doc” Maynard, who proposed that the settlement of Duwamps be renamed Seattle.  During the Yakima War of the mid-1850s, when several other tribes opposed onerous treaty terms imposed upon them, the Suquamish and Duwamsih remained at peace due to Chief Seattle’s efforts.  According to legend, he made an eloquent plea to Maynard and other white leaders to respect nature and the rights of Native Americans that included these sentiment:
         Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.  All things share the same breath - the beast, the tree, the man... the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.
Gene and Judy Ayers
In the Winter 2018 Ayers Realtors Newsletter, Judy Ayers’ “Home on the Range” column is about her at age eight and a half inadvertently pilfering the back seat of the Ayers family Woodie:
            It was a perfect summer morning. I attached my wagon to my red Schwinn bike, loaded up my sister Jane and we were off for whatever adventure might occur. One trip around the block and we found just what we didn’t even know we were looking to find – a couch for our playhouse. Leaned up against the back of a garage was an automobile car seat.  We wrestled it onto the wagon and made our way down the alley and back home. My mother could hear the commotion outside and inquired from the kitchen as to what we were up to. I told her we were cleaning the playhouse.  We emptied it of all our worldly goods – child sized table and chairs, kid sized stove and refrigerator, dolls, their furniture and clothing. Then we dusted and swept the place clean. We had to be selective as to what went back so our new couch would fit just perfectly.
          We hadn’t enjoyed five minutes of rest and relaxation when we heard voices and the sound of our back gate opening. Positioning myself in the window, I saw it was Mr. Ayers and his son, Gene, walking toward the playhouse. Gene and I were the same age, same grade, but not in the same class so I really didn’t know him. Besides, he had two sisters so he really didn’t want to know any more girls at the stage of his life.
          Mr. Ayers explained that he and his family had gone to the beach that morning and had taken the third seat out of their station wagon and left it behind their garage. When they got home, they found it missing and wondered if I knew anything. I shook my head to indicate I knew nothing. I was so emphatic, I nearly knocked myself out with my braids.  Having never said a word, I didn’t think I could be accused of lying. Mr. Ayers asked if I would keep an eye open for his car seat and he turned to Gene and suggested they head for home. I thought I was able to breathe again when Gene, apparently reading Hardy Boy books that summer, divulged the clue that led them to my back yard. Gene looked me in the eye with hands on hips and informed me that wagon tracks behind his garage led right to my back gate. We just stared at each other through the screened window of my playhouse. I wasn’t about to budge. He knew their car seat was inside and he knew I was hiding it and he wanted me to open the door. Mr. Ayers calmly assured Gene that he knew I would do all I could to help and they should go home.
      Meanwhile, I was in a fine mess and my sister was catatonic in a corner of the playhouse. Before I had much time to plan my defense, my mother, the woman with radar receivers for ears, said she wanted to know what was going on.  I told her about our great find in the alley – where people put things they didn’t want anymore. I reminded her about the box of clothes Mrs. Olson put out for the Salvation Army and in it we found two silk slips we used as evening gowns when I played the piano and Jane was the singer in our imaginary cocktail lounge. And what about that old glass chandelier I found in the alley behind Elman’s house and how happy it made my dad when I gave it to him for Father’s Day for his garage? She explained that the car seat was different and that when things seem too good to be true you have to use common sense.
        It was pretty tough to have to load the car seat on the wagon and drag it back down the alley along the same tracks little Sherlock had detected earlier. When I got to the Ayers’ house, I knocked on the door and asked to speak to Mr. Ayers. Gene came to the door with his father and listened to my explanation about me making a wrong assumption about the car seat being in the alley and my apology for not admitting to the car seat being in my playhouse. By now Gene was in Hardy Boys’ heaven.  Mr. Ayers kindly thanked me for being honest and knowing the right thing to do. He wasn’t angry. He thought I was a nice little kid and he liked my pigtails.
          Back home we had some furniture arranging to do in the playhouse and coming back down the alley, I picked up the empty box in which Mrs. Rosegarden’s refrigerator was delivered. I planned to use it for fortune telling. I would wear a costume with a veil and use my mom’s round glass flower vase upside down as a crystal ball and charge the neighborhood kids 5 cents. Back then I didn’t see in my crystal ball that I would one day marry the cute kid with the blond hair from down the block, that Jane would actually become an interior designer and I would one day be able to go into our garage any time I felt like it and sit on the same car seat in the back of the same old Woodie Station wagon.
Knowing her love of travel as well as cookery, I’ll have to ask Judy Ayers whether she meant the word “range” in the title of her column to stand for a stove and oven for cooking (recipes accompany her columns) or (also maybe) open land for roaming and exploring.  Of course, it could mean driving range, but, so far as I know, Judy does not play golf. I’m quite sure it does not mean firing range.
Paige Maki and Joe Mihalov; bridge players Marge Harvey, Fred Green, Hank Cecil, Phil Brockinton at Banta Center
Paige Maki wrote about bridge player Joe Mihalov for an assignment in her Indiana History class:  Here are excerpts of their 2017 email correspondence:
September 7 (Paige): Dear Joe, my first question for you is where are you living now? Have you always lived there? I am really excited for this project and hope you are as eager as I am. Have a great day!
September 8 (Joe): Dear Paige, it is very nice to hear from you and I am looking forward to introducing you to my life as well as the game of bridge.  We’ve lived in Aberdeen for the past 15 years. Prior to that, we lived in Shorewood for 10 years.  I retired from my CPA firm in Valparaiso 3 years ago and took up bridge, which I did play a little bit when younger, to continue to exercise my mental faculties.  
September 9 (Paige): Joe, that sounds awesome. You own the CPA firm? When did you open it? Aberdeen is such a beautiful neighborhood, and a really great place to live. I am actually very familiar with the area. Looking forward to hearing more about you.
September 9 (Joe): I bought the practice in 1992 and owned it until 2013 when I retired.  Yes, Aberdeen is a wonderful community. 
September 14 (Paige): Where do you play bridge and how often? What's your favorite part about the game?
September 20 (Joe): I play at the Banta Senior Center on Beech St. in Valparaiso, Tuesday and Thursday party bridge, Wednesday duplicate.  Banta Center was originally an elementary school.
September 26 (Paige): I would love to meet you there and interview you in person, as well as observe some games if that would be okay.
September 27 (Joe): I suggest we meet at Banta say 10:30 a.m. on a Tuesday or Thursday.  Select the date and let me know.  
September 30 (Paige): I may have to wait until my Thanksgiving break but until then we can keep corresponding through emails.  Did you live in Indiana as a child? If so where? What school did you go to? Where did you go to college?
October 18 (Joe): I was born and raised in the Robertsdale section of Hammond, where I attended parochial schools and George Rogers Clark High School.  I earned my BS in accounting from St. Joseph College Rensselaer, which sadly closed this year, ending its 125-year history.  As a kid, to me Hammond was a large city with stores like Goldblatts, Edward C. Minas, Woolworths, Millikins.  There were two big movie theaters: Paramount and Parthenon.  Hammond Civic Center also played an important part of my life, hosting high school basketball games, especially the sectionals, professional wrestling and boxing, and “the greatest show on earth” - the Circus! Today all that is left of the Hammond I knew as a kid is the Civic Center.
October 24 (Paige): Do you think that Hammond has changed in a positive or negative way?  Where did you hang out in your free time? 
October 28 (Joe): Hammond has changed in a negative way, in my opinion.  Downtown, for example, “ain’t what it used to be.”  Hammond, like most American cities of any size, is nowhere near as safe like when I grew up.   Back then we did not have gangs or gang bangers.  You could walk at night and not be afraid of being playing kick the can and baseball in the alleys with a softball and your fist as a bat.  In the evening, when the lights came on, we would play hide-and-seek.  Afterwards, we boys would go to Wolf Lake and “skinny dip” to cool off.  As teens, we’d head to the Chatterbox and have a soda, sundae, hamburger and fries and just hang out after school and basketball and football games
November 2 (Paige): Did you play cards growing up? What got you interested in bridge?
November 6 (Joe): We played “hit and spread” (a form of gin rummy) and pinochle.  I was introduced to bridge when I worked for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Chicago.  Ours was a closely tight group and specialized in international taxation.  We played at lunch time and progressed to duplicate bridge when we gathered at each other’s home, taking turns hosting.  Sometime we’d rent a hotel room in Chicago and play late into the evening. Leaving the IRS after six years, I no longer played until a few years ago when I took it up again while vacationing in Florida.
November 21 (Paige): I met with Joe and interviewed him at the Banta Center. I got a lot of great information from him and watched Joe’s friends play party bridge. It was interesting to watch how they’d switch tables when one pair lost. The losers moved to the back table while the winners stayed at the front. Ed Hollander was Joe’s partner; he met him at Banta when Ed moved here from St. Louis. I asked Joe how living in Aberdeen was different from city living. He said that a car is necessary, that they live on a golf course, that it is very peaceful, and he has formed many friendships with neighbors. Joe told me they do not take party bridge too seriously and are able to talk during the game, while on Wednesdays during duplicate bridge things are much more serious.

At Chesterton YMCA, director Alan Yngve’s bridge lesson focused on a hand from last week where East-West pairs kept bidding up to four Hearts and North-South couples countered with Spades.  While those in four Spades made their contract, Alan explained that good defense would have set the hand had opening lead been a heart rather than from a doubleton Club.  Yngve explained that in situations where and your partner were both bidding a suit, it’s almost always best to make that the opening lead in order to minimize declarer’s ability to set up a side suit.  Yngve’s partner was Joel Carpentier; both were celebrating birthdays on what turned out to be Fat Tuesday.
 Alan Yngve in Feb., 2017; photo by Jeff Manes
Kyle Schwartz titled his paper on Alan Yngve “More Culture, Less Shock.”  Here is an edited version:
Alan Yngve is a tall, soft-spoken man who has traveled widely.  Among his many interests is a willingness to learn about and experience many different world cultures.  He grew up in Concord, Massachusetts where he spent 11 years practicing his engineering skills by damming the creek.  He also enjoyed biking in the woods and exploring the countryside.  His father conducted research in Woods Hole located on Cape Cod during the summers.  While visiting there, Alan learned how to sail.  The family rented a beach house on an inlet known for sailing. Alan was put to the test when his father told him to capsize and then “right the boat,” or flip the sailboat back on top the water by himself.  That was to ensure Alan’s safety if the situation ever called for it, out in the open water. Alan would continue to sail later in life.
Alan’s family moved to Dune Acres because his parents could not find any suitable place to live within the city of Chicago.  The Dunes would be his new platform for adventure.  His parents built a deck house from pre-assembled wood, shipped from New England on two 40-foot semi-trailers.  The house was constructed by a local contractor in which all the interior design was hand-crafted.  There are still fingerprints on the ceilings because the workers did not wear gloves and the oil from their hands can still be seen through the wood varnish. Alan competed in sailboat races and said, “I honed my small boat skills on Lake Michigan.”
Growing up, Alan learned chess and bridge.  His parents purchased an assortment of bridge books, which he was obligated to read, in order to become the fourth player needed for family games.  By high school, he had learned how to communicate through bidding in order to predict the outcomes of specific situations, also a valuable life lesson.  He took to the game of chess in high school and was in the chess club.  This is where he discovered the psychological component to analyzing opponents and anticipating their moves. He learned the importance of tactics and strategy. 
Alan attended Indiana University and the University of Chicago, where he continued to play bridge and chess and took a part-time job as a recreational soccer referee.  When he and wife Katherine moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, he coached his son’s soccer team.  In his studies he concentrated on history, mathematics, and Japanese, which led to his participating in a study abroad program in Japan. Alan said, “I had a Japanese-American friend in high school, and he was the trigger that made me want to discover another culture and I was fascinated by it.”  Alan taught English to Japanese students for five to ten hours a week in Tokyo.  He was paid very well, as if he worked a full-time position.  He said that Japanese curriculum mandated that students learn English in the fourth grade.  When I asked Alan how it was communicating with young adult Japanese students he said, “It was like talking to an intelligent 5th grader.” He lived on a family’s farm performing an array of duties including milking cows.
I met with Alan Yngve at the Highland Lincoln Community Center Weekend Bridge Tournament.  The room was filled with square tables and bridge game boards and cards on each.  Most participants appeared to be over fifty and seemed to know one another.  Many women wore festive fall leaf patterns and Halloween jewelry.  Alan, his bridge partner Mike, and I sat down to converse.  Mike said that he was introduced to bridge in the Navy.  Alan and Mike were stationary, meaning they stayed at their table, whereas opponents changed after each round. There was a long table with food and drink for the players, and a director’s table with laptops and speakers connected to a microphone. Overall, I received a warm welcome; some women would say, “Of course, you can observe.  It’s good to have you,” or “We need more players.”  Some would laugh when I’d say, “Don’t worry, I don’t know how to play.”  One woman looked at her partner and joked, “We wouldn’t know anyway, isn’t that right?”  There was a professor from Trine University in Angola who coaches bridge for students who compete against other universities. and will be competing in a 2017 tournament in Toronto. 
Each round was different depending on players’ attitudes and style of play.  Some games were quiet, and seemed very secretive as if money was on the line in a serious poker game; others had players smiling and engaging in small talk, jokes, and jabs at one another.  In one of the quiet games, the tension seemed intense.  Mike jokingly (I think) asked his opponent on the left how many points she had, and she stared straight ahead and at her cards.  Alan chimed in to tell Mike, “She doesn’t have to answer.”  Mike had laughed during play, and the woman said, “Is that funny?”  At a nearby table someone called for the director.  Alan’s table continued to play, as apparently it did not affect them.  On another occasion, two players disputed who was supposed to change tables and who was not.  One gentleman stayed seated as he smiled at the man looking down on him with a stern face.  The director settled the dispute by saying that the seated gentleman was correct.  As his accuser walked away without saying a word, the one seated said, “See you later.” As one round was about to start, opponents called Alan and Mike, “the notorious players.”    
Alan described the use of an Alert card to clarify a move considered “unusual,” as Alan put it.  He said, “Alert means to inform all players that there is an unusual tweak to the normal standard of the game.”  It allows opponents to understand that something unusual is going on. Alan and Mike called “Alert” more than anyone else and then explained why to make sure that the opponents were clear as to the meaning. There was never a director called over to their table.  I noted the wording etched on Alan’s pen, “More culture, less shock.”  Alan shared his experiences playing in tournaments in Reno and New Orleans hosted in big casino rooms.  Caddies would come by to serve any needs before or after rounds, sometimes on rollerblades.  He and his wife did not make it out of the first round in either tournament but loved exploring such sites as Yosemite National Park.  A hiker, Alan said, “It is more fun outside the bridge rooms than inside.”
Alan’s family has lived in Spain and Lebanon.  Alan has visited and, in most cases, played bridge in France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Croatia, Lichtenstein, Denmark, Sweden, Turkey, Jordan, Morocco, Canada, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthelme. He added that a player only needs to know a few terms in other languages when playing Bridge since the game can be played mostly in silence.  Alan has played online bridge with players from China, Poland, and Turkey. 
Alan described living in Lebanon with wife Katherine, who worked at the American University from 2010 to 2013.  He could not obtain a work visa and had plenty of time to explore the city and its markets, which had more fresh and flavorful produce as compared to the grocery stores. While in Lebanon he visited the Roman ruins and described the experience as a turning point in his idea of the past engineering projects of man, and what people are capable of doing.  In Lebanon, he said, you could “ski in the morning and swim in the afternoon,” because the temperature changed so dramatically.  Their apartment overlooked the bay from the edge of the risen landscape.  It was one of the most beautiful places that he has ever seen. 
Alan said, “In Beirut [Lebanon] they play the French system, and most people can speak either English, French, Arabic or all three.  A woman that we were playing with spoke the “Alert” in French instead of Arabic and everyone paused and looked around because we agreed on using Arabic at the start of the game.  We all just laughed.” 

Alan believes his travel experiences molded his character into being more tolerant and respectful of civilizations both past and present. Alan’s life has motivated me into wanting to visit other countries and try new things as well as to practice, practice, and practice until you can get the hang of it. Alan continues to try new things and to help pass along his wisdom and expertise in cultural travels with others.  The game of bridge has been along for the journey with Alan as it has taught him a valuable lesson, “Keep it social, it’s an important aspect of Bridge.”