Friday, April 28, 2017

Years of Service

“The end of all knowledge should be service to others.” United Farm Workers leader Cesar Chavez
 Clarence Green in 2011 with Bill Lowe and wife Suzanne


At IUN’s annual service banquet Clarence Green of Physical Plant was honored for his 40 years with the university.  Six years ago, Green was deployed to Baghdad and assigned to the army’s 801st Combat Supply Hospital.   Not far behind was archivist Steve McShane, hired by Ron Cohen and me 35 years ago. Among the attendees gathered beforehand in the library/conference center lobby was Jonathyne Briggs, a ten-year veteran, who showed me photos from a recent trip to Iceland and Great Britain.  Chancellor Lowe gave me a hearty greeting.  As I was leaving, Anne Balay’s old nemesis showed up; minutes before, I’d run into him on the Hawthorn Hall elevator.  I attempted to make small talk, and he cussed me out, employing the word a—hole, if I’m not mistaken, both as a noun and an adjective. It doesn’t seem as if his conscience is bothering him.  Or is it?
Responding to a Jerry Davich sand and steel photo, Anne Balay wrote: “I miss this. Thanks, Jerry, and special thanks to James Lane, who reminded me of his advocacy and sense of humor.”
 Joan Baez introduced by Jackson Browne

At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction concert folksinger Joan Baez sang Woody Guthrie’s “Deportee,” which contains these moving and relevant lyrics: 
The crops are all in
And the peaches are rotting
The oranges piled up
In their creosote dumps
You're flying 'em back
To the Mexican border
To spend all their money
To wade back again

Good bye to my Juan
Goodbye Rosalita
Adios mis amigos Jesus why Maria
You won't have a name
When you ride the big airplane
All they will call you
Will be "deportees"

Some of us are illegal
And others not wanted
Our work contract's up
And we have to move on
Six hundred miles to that Mexican border
They chase us like outlaws
Like rustlers, like thieves

The skyplane caught fire
Over Los Gatos Canyon
A fireball of lightning
Shook all our hills
Who are all these friends
Who are scattered like dried leaves
The radio said 
They were just "deportees"


At duplicate bridge, everyone I talked to is willing to be interviewed by an IUN student, the oral histories to go into the Calumet Regional Archives Unit 154 Northwest Indiana Bridge collection that I’ve started.  Playing with Dottie Hart, we set a sacrifice 4-Heart bid 3 doubled, vulnerable, for 800 points.  Had we made 5-Diamonds, it would only have been worth 400 points. When Dottie announced that her eighty-sixth birthday was coming up, I told her that I look for cool people ten years my senior as role models and now have found one in her.

The room at the Chesterton Y was very hot, and Dottie, recovering from a mild heart attack, started feeling weak, so director Alan Yngve filled in for her.  When he opened one Spade, I had a singleton Spade and just seven high card points, with seven Clubs, Queen, Jack, and the Ace of Hearts.  Normally that would have been too weak a hand to change suits, but I bid 2 Clubs.  Alan bid two Spades, and, with much trepidation, I rebid Clubs.  He bid 3 No Trump and made the contract; my hand was good for seven of the tricks since the Club King fell to Alan’s Ace. In another hand, I had 11 high card points with no five-card suit, and the first three players passed (I hate when that happens).  I bid a short club with the Ace and two others.  Alan bid two Clubs, and I responded two Diamonds with Ace, Queen, Jack, spot.  He went to three Clubs, indicating six in that suit, so I passed and made it on the nose for high board.  At the end of the night my partners and I finished first, ahead of nine other pairs, including runners-up Charlie Halberstadt and Naomi Goodman.
 Intern Patrick Riley in 1992 with  Sen. Carol Moseley Braun

Riley on left


Scholar Patrick C. Riley called from New York City seeking information about the symbolic importance of the 1972 National Black Political Convention at Gary’s West Side High School. I told the UIC grad about a recent commemorative banquet attended by black elected officials who were part of it, as well as Ras J. Baraka, who presently is mayor of Newark, New Jersey and is the son of poet Amiri Baraka.  I mailed Riley my Seventies Steel Shavings (volume 29, 1999), which contains oral testimony from participants.  For example, Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., recalled:
  When we first saw the signs saying “Welcome to Gary” and got to downtown Gary, we thought we were in a different country.  Given the backdrop of all the Nixon repression going on, to see red, black, and green streamers welcoming the National Black Political Convention was a fulfillment of what a lot of our dreams were.
Amiri Baraka remembered:
   It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been to in my life. There were black delegates there from all 50 states, just like it was a convention for the Democratic or Republican party.  We were going to create this black agenda so that every politician would have to take this into consideration if they wanted to run - the things the African-American people wanted, nationally.
Mayor Richard Gordon Hatcher told me:
  It was one of the most glorious moments of my life when I walked out and saw all these black people of every hue, every shade – the colorful dashikis and other African garb mixing with three-piece suits.  It was just an incredible sight to behold.
 from left, Hatcher, Baraka, speaker Jesse Jackson

In his welcome speech to delegates Hatcher said:
  All Black people are welcome.  Thousands strong, we warmly embrace Angela Davis and Bobby Seale. And as we deliberate, as we plan, as we work, the banner waving over our head must proclaim “Unity.” Without that unity all is lost.
  Yes, we support marches and demonstrations. Yes, we support sit-ins.  Yes, we support a cultural renaissance. Yes, we support radical action. Yes, we support all avenues of liberation.  We know full well that political action is not the whole answer.  But political action is an essential part of our ultimate liberation.  It is the political questions we shall pursue at this historic convention.


At the Mel Guth Seniors League bowling banquet my string of being first in line ended when the first-place Pin Heads were invited to do the honors.  Duke Caminsky passed by me, winked knowingly, and said, “No cuts.”  When I asked Sheryl Burrell if her dad, who came with her last week, had been a bowler, Duke quipped, “Some people thought that was your husband.”   A former steelworker, the elder Burrell had bowled in a Youngstown Sheet and Tube league.   I went back for more Cole slaw, which I’d brought, and found it had hardly been touched.  Ditto for the veggie tray.  There was a wretched excess of dessert items. After teammate Dick Maloney noticed me preparing a small plate of fudge and brownies for Toni, he did the same thing.  Larry Ramirez was wearing a White Sox shirt with no. 10 and the name Ramirez for Cuban Alexei Ramirez, White Sox shortstop for nine years beginning in 2007.
below, Larry Ramirez
Visiting Chicago, Jim Spicer took a photo of tulips (above) and remarked: “Obviously (unlike Miller) there are no deer in Millennium Park.”  He added this witticism:
John O'Reilly hoisted his beer and said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life, between the legs of me wife!" That won him the top prize at the pub for the best toast of the night. He went home and told his wife, Mary, "I won the prize for the best toast of the night."
        She said, "Aye, did ye now. And what was your toast?" 
        John said, "Here's to spending the rest of me life, sitting in church beside me wife." 
        "Oh, that is very nice indeed, John!" Mary said. The next day, Mary ran into one of John's drinking buddies on the street corner. The man chuckled leeringly and said, "John won the prize the other night at the pub with a toast about you, Mary." 
        She said, "Aye, he told me, and I was a bit surprised myself. You know, he's only been in there twice in the last four years. "Once I had to pull him by the ears to make him come, and the other time he fell asleep.”
above, "Full Disclosure" scene; below, James as Uncle Fester

Seeing “Addams Family Musical” for the second time, I was able to anticipate the scenes with James as Uncle Fester, appreciate the actions of the zombies (especially the cowboy and the bride), and pick up more of the dialogue.  I laughed out loud when Lucas said, “I can be impulsive, I just need to think about it first.” And, when grandma, who smokes weed in the attic told Wednesday’s kid brother Pugsley: “Stay out of my shit or I’ll rip your leg off and bury it in the backyard.”  Afterwards, everyone agreed it was the strongest performance yet.  I didn’t recognize Mr. Bodnar, who, since I saw him in the fall had been diagnosed with lung cancer has undergone radiation that has left him without hair.  He seemed as upbeat as ever and said he can now play Kojak or Yul Brynner as the King of Siam or Telly Savalas as Detective Kojak – or Uncle Fester, I added.

Here is Ray Smock’s take on Trump’s tax-cut plan:
Ben Franklin said nothing is certain but death and taxes. Well under the Trump plan, which is not really a plan yet as much as it is a roll out of a big scheme, even the taxes are uncertain. And here is the thing to keep in mind that comes straight from Secretary of the Treasury Stephen Mnunchin: this is a massive tax cut is strictly for businesses. It is for the billionaires mostly, with some relief for smaller businesses. Mnunchin said that he could not guarantee that the middle class would get any kind of tax cut in the Trump plan. It is for business. It is supposed to get businesses to bring back their offshore money, pay a one-time small tax on it, and then, being grateful for the cut, the billionaires would turn around and invest all this new money, trillions of dollars worth, in creating American jobs in America. How many years to we have to hear about how nice American businesses will be to the average American if only we cut their taxes? Mnuchin said that this would make American business the most competitive in the world. As if American business is not already leading the world. What I think he really means is that this tax cut will make American businesses more PROFITABLE, not necessarily more competitive. This is a raid on the U.S. Treasury. It is a big money grab by the people who already have most of the money. This is theft disguised as a tax cut. And our new president, and his family, will make billions off this tax cut. Donald Trump is about to serve himself at our expense. But hasn't this been what he has done his entire career? Trump first. Not America first.
After James Ten Eyck argued that Trump needed to disclose his tax returns before Congress considers any tax cut, Smock responded:

       Trump is a walking ethical disaster area with his many conflicts of interests. We have never had a president who used the office of the president to enrich himself and his family in such a direct and blatant manner while he is still in office. In the meantime, daughter Ivanka continues to pay sweatshop wages of a $1 an hour to her offshore workers.