Thursday, June 14, 2018

Think Haiku

Too dark to read the page
Too cold”
         Jack Kerouac
Jimbo, Izzy Young, and Toni in Stockholm, Sweden, June 1996 

When Toni and I went to Sweden in 1996 for an oral history conference, we spent several days with folklorist and, like Jack Kerouac, former Beat poet Izzy Young, who took us on a walking tour of Stockholm that included frequent stops at coffeehouses.  He and Toni bonded, and before we parted, Izzy read a Haiku that he had composed especially for her.  From a Japanese tradition consisting of three short lines, haikus generally contain colorful imagery and capture insightfully a moment in time.  Several years later, while Izzy was Ron Cohen’s houseguest, we took him to dinner at The Spa in Porter and afterwards he noted that his steak was the best he had eaten in years.

In the epilogue to “Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History” (2010), Yunte Huang described visiting legendary detective Chang Apana’s gravesite during a visit to Honolulu, and he reprinted a poem of his that employs poetic diction modeled after Charlie Chan’s pidgin English.  Entitled “Think Haiku, Act Locu: An Experiment in Back-Translation,” it includes references to ping pong, hot and sour soup, and being shanghaied and contains these lines:
take it
with a grain of MSG

what’s the memory size
of your abacus?

in a chopsticked tongue

another day
another yen

the yin-yang
of base and superstructure

On December 8, 1933, the day Chang Apana died from a severe case of diabetic gangrene, Mauna Loa volcano erupted.  Historian Gilbert Martines wrote: “The molten lava was Madame Pele’s way of shedding black tears of anguish over the passing of Apana.”  Huang added, “In Chinese it is called tian ren gan ying – the sympathy between heaven and human.”  Earl Derr Biggers, author of the Charlie Chan series, had died just eight months earlier.  Huang concluded: 
The most unlikely of comrades, they together had given birth to an unforgettable character who is strangely American apple pie and Chinese chop suey.  Despite their sudden and untimely deaths, the American folk hero Charlie Chan would live on, immortalized as a symbol of both racial bias and cultural fantasy.

Bridge partner Dee Van Bebber revealed that her Florida duplicate club used to meet at a biker bar that featured live entertainment later in the evening, including occasional male striptease performances by Chippendales. Tom Rea wondered if Dee stayed around for the show.  I mentioned a time when our family was having lunch at the Golden Coin in Miller, Phil’s favorite restaurant due to the ribs when women participating in a private lingerie party came sashaying past.
 Eddie Sadlowski and Studs Terkel, 1977

Union activist Ed “Oilcan Eddie” Sadlowski passed away on June 10 at age 79, and NWI Timesreporter Joseph Pete asked for a comment. Elected in 1975 as Director of District 31, encompassing Chicago and Northwest Indiana and representing 130,000 steelworkers,  Eddie was very charismatic, militant, and principled.  I enjoyed his company at a Labor History conference in Youngstown, Ohio.  The featured speaker was oral historian Alessandro Portelli, and after Eddie asked him a pointed question and identified himself, Portelli insisted on doing a taped interview with him.  Fifteen years ago, I sat with Eddie at a Stand Up for Steel Rally at RailCats Stadium (officially U.S. Steel Yard).  I recall him being cynical about US Steel management (those sons of bitches, he called them) wanting union help when normally they’d do everything possible to screw the working man.  Mike Olszanski wrote:
Eddie was an environmentalist. As District 31 Director, he set up the first Environmental Committee in a USWA District, Paul Kaczocha and I were members. And he debunked U.S. Steel's Environmental Blackmail, when they falsely asserted the shutdown of their Open Hearths was due to EPA regulations. Actually, as Eddie told the newspaper, they shut down the Open Hearths because they could make more steel faster WITH FEWER WORKERS, with the (then) new Basic Oxygen Process BOP shop.
During a dull moment during a Cubs telecast, Len Kasper and Jim Deshaises started talking about crossword puzzles.  One of them was stumped by the clue, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch,”calling for a six-letter answer.  Recalling a series of drawings Toni did called “Old Saws,” I knew the answer before they said it.
 Portage students protest termination of Kevin Giese; Times photo by Joyce Russell

Dave, Angie, and the kids attended a Portage School Meeting, joining more than 50 others, to protest the termination of popular auditorium director Kevin Giese, a wonderful role model who developed the talents of James and countless others and whose plays were always polished and enjoyable.  Having held the position for nine years, Giese received no reason for his dismissal, only a vague letter stating that the district had decided to go in a different direction for the position.  Angie wrote afterwards:
Why would they fire such a dedicated, hard-working and highly respected man who has been the backbone of Portage High School's theater department when he has done nothing wrong?!  Then when the community shows up to voice their discontent at this injustice at the public school board meeting they refuse to allow anyone there to address the board about the theater department! Unbelievable! These cowardice board members need to go!
NWI Timesreporter Joyce Russell wrote that eventually 2018 graduate Andrea Vance managed to speak briefly and received a standing ovation after saying, “You are taking away a person who makes a difference in our lives. You take his job, we are taking yours.”  Superintendent Amanda Alaniz admitted, “Mr. Giese has done a phenomenal job”but claimed that the school is seeking a certified teacher to fill the position.
As part of a fund-raising effort, IUN’s Office of Development shared this letter from Business Administration student and Strack Family Scholarship recipient LaKisha Vance:
When I graduated from high school, the odds were against me.
I grew up in the housing projects and had a baby at 16.
While my life was a struggle at times, I am now proud to say I have a thriving son and a great job.  I knew in order to make a better life for my family and
to advance in my career, I needed a college degree.
That’s why I decided to attend IU Northwest. And, thanks to the generosity of others, like YOU,  I am achieving my goals and fulfilling my dreams. I am proof that your support can make a huge difference…it can change someone’s life.

As part of a fund-raising effort, IUN’s Office of Development shared this letter from Business Administration student and Strack Family Scholarship recipient LaKisha Vance:
When I graduated from high school, the odds were against me.
I grew up in the housing projects and had a baby at 16.
While my life was a struggle at times, I am now proud to say I have a thriving son and a great job.  I knew in order to make a better life for my family and
to advance in my career, I needed a college degree.
That’s why I decided to attend IU Northwest. And, thanks to the generosity of others, like YOU,  I am achieving my goals and fulfilling my dreams. I am proof that your support can make a huge difference…it can change someone’s life.

Monday, June 11, 2018


“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu

Yunte Huang, author of “Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History” (2010), came from a village near Canton, as did the fictional detective and real-life Honolulu police officer on whom the character is based.  While at Peking University in 1989, Huang participated in student protests that culminated in demonstrations at Tiananmen Square. Emigrating to the United States soon afterwards, Huang was a graduate student at SUNY Buffalo when at an estate sale he bought for a dollar apiece two hard-bound reprint volumes titled “Charlie Chan’s Caravan” and “Charlie Chan Omnibus,” each containing five Earl Derr Biggers novels.  Thus, his fascination with Charlie Chan commenced.  He subsequently learned that Biggers grew up in Warren, Ohio, near Canton, named after the Chinese city as a memorial to an early China trader.  Canton was also the residence of President William McKinley and home to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Huang discovered that more than 30 other American towns bore the name Canton, as well as an equal number of others named Peking, China or a variant thereof.
above, Yunte Huang; below, Biggers and Charlie Chan
In 2008 Huang visited Indiana University’s Lilly Library to make use of its Earl Derr Biggers Collection.  Beforehand, he embarked on a road trip to Canton, Ohio and nearby Akron, where he had discovered, consulting the 1900 census, that a Chinaman named Charlie Chan operated a laundry beginning in the 1890s.  Huang found the site to be a deserted lot, covered with litter and weeds, but near railroad tracks, indicating Biggers would have seem Mr. Chan’s laundry sign from a passing train.  Huang’s final stop was Warren, where the local librarian had not heard of the hometown novelist (“my mention of Chan made her look at me as if I were a Chinese orphan looking for my long-lost father”)and whose holdings were limited to a single 1970s paperback reprint. Before returning to Bloomington, Huang enjoyed a Chinese buffet at the Golden Dragon Restaurant, located in a shopping plaza.  Eying a red Chinese paper lantern hanging by the door, inscribed with a Chinese character meaning “Fortune,” a scene in Sinclair Lewis’ “Main Street” came to mind,where Mrs. Marbury, an insurance salesman’s wife, is showing off a Chinese lantern her husband bought during a business trip to San Francisco. Huang wrote:
Looking at that lantern, I had an epiphany.  I realized, sitting in that aromatic dining room of the Golden Dragon, that Charlie Chan to Biggers’s Ohio was the Chinese lantern to Lewis’s Main Street America. He was a whiff of Oriental mystique blown into the insular flatland.

In 1994 I visited Guangzhou, formerly Canton, arriving by catamaran from Hong Kong and returning by train after a memorable 6-day China Travel Agency tour during which time I fell in love with China.  Although familiar with the city’s 200-year legacy as the sole port of entry for foreigners, having read Walter LaFeber’s “History of American Foreign Relations,” Guangzhou seemed more western than I had imagined, with even a hamburger joint similar to McDonald’s where I purchased a palatable cup of coffee and used its bathroom facility free of charge.  The blend of Oriental mystique and cultural modernism was fascinating. 
 Ronaldo score 1998 gaol against Germany
James celebrated his eighteenth birthday with both bowling and Thespian Club friends. The groups intermingled doing karaoke and playing video games.  James was born while I attended an International Oral History Association (IOHA) conference in Istanbul. In for Kaela Horn’s high school graduation party, Phil reminisced about us being Rio 20 years ago at a previous IOHA conference and attending an exuberant neighborhood block party with a Brazilian historian for a World Cup soccer match. While Finland is not competing this year, both Sweden and Russia are, and I’m sure interest will be high when Dave and I are in Helsinki.  Phil’s daughter Alissa is in Spain and Miranda in London on the final leg of a European vacation.
above, Miranda at Harry Potter Universal Studios London
The suicide deaths of fashion purse icon Kate Spade and celebrity chef and travel documentarian Anthony Boudain were shockers. I knew little of Spade but was introduced to Bourdain’s innovative CNN travelogue “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” while waiting for an airport bus at O’Hare.  His life epitomized a zest for adventure; he famously said, “Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.”  WXRT morning host Lin Brehmer eulogized Bourdain as one who decried hypocrisy and prejudice, “a rock and roller in a smooth jazz world.”  He concluded: “We all admired his wanderlust.”

For several days, I had all sorts of pain in my legs and butt.  I treated the symptoms with muscle rub, but it was hard to locate the source. At bridge Brian Barnes diagnosed the problem as my sciatic nerve, something that he suffered from, and recommended treating it with magnesium oil.  As soon as I realized what had caused the discomfort, the pain went away.  I plan to buy what he recommended at a health food store because I sometimes get symptoms after bowling.  Also Health line suggests lifting the left leg while on your back and then placing your right ankle on top of the left knee. Doubt my body bends that way.

Northwestern grad student Emiliano Aguilar Is researching labor activism among Region Latinos.  I recommended “Maria’s Journey” by Ray and Trish Arredondo for information about son Jesse, who became President of Local 1010, as well as his father Miguel, an early labor stalwart.  Aguilar, an East Chicago native, utilized the Archives papers of Roberto “Bob” Flores, a Local 1010 union officer who served at various times as safety representative, steward, and financial secretary.  Born in 1925 into a steel working family, Flores was a buddy of Louis Vasquez (author of “Weasal”) and helped form the Latin American Vets. Flores appears frequently in “Steelworkers Fight Back: Inland’s Local Union 1010 and the Ed Sadlowski/Jim Balanoff Campaigns”Steel Shavings (volume 30, 2000) subtitled “Rank and File Insurgency in the Calumet Region during the 1970s.”  In an interview, Flores told of hiring in at Inland Steel while attending East Chicago Washington High School:
Inland executives recruited about a hundred of us at an assembly to work from 4:30 to 8:30. Those under 18 had to wear a red badge, which meant you couldn’t handle mobile equipment.  It was hard work in the open hearth. If we stayed until 11:30, they paid us for 8 hours. Many times we stayed.  It was difficult to get up for school, but a lot of families needed the money.  On weekends we worked 8 hours.
Local 1010 participation in Bailly Alliance Rally, c. 1981; Flores third from left next to Mike Olszanski 
statue in Oahu of leper priest Father Damien

In a chapter describing Chang Apana’s apprehension of two Japanese lepers who resisted being exiled to a quarantined colony on the island of Molokai, Yunte Huang mentioned that Hawaiians named the contagious and incurable disease mai pake (the Chinese sickness) because its appearance coincided with the arrival of Asian immigrants. Huang wrote: “The dreaded journey was Hawaii’s Bridge of Sighs, a hopeless one-way trip.”  I was familiar with the Italian Bridge of Sighs due to a Richard Russo novel of that name, where the protagonist visits Venice, whose Bridge of Sighs (Ponte dei Sospiri),made famous by Lord Byron, was convicts’ last taste of freedom. In “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” (1812) the English Romantic poet wrote: “I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs, A palace and a prison on each hand.”

Leaving IUN’s library, I ran into History colleague David Parnell and a South African candidate for an Anthropology position. I mentioned having been in Pietermaritzburg for an oral history conference; he brought up an ultramarathon held every June in KwaZulu-Natal Province covering the 55 miles between Pietermaritzburg and Durbin. I told him about being impressed that trucks in South Africa had to remain in a single lane on highways. I’m pleased that the university has authorized a tenure-track position in Anthropology, which has fallen on hard times since Bob Mucci’s retirement.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Behind That Curtain

“Mind, like parachute, only function when open,” Charlie Chan
Ron Cohen loaned me Yunte Huang’s “Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History” (2010).  Charlie Chan was an American original, a film stereotype both demeaning and admirable. Huang concluded: “Charlie Chan, America’s most identifiable Chinaman, epitomizes both the racist heritage and the creative genius of this nation’s culture.”  He continued:
Anyone who believes that Chan is Chinese would also probably believe that the fortune cookie is a Chinese invention.  He may have slanted eyes, a chubby and inscrutable face, and a dark goatee, but he prefers Western suits and wears a Panama hat.  Chan is voluble and enjoys spouting fortune-cookie witticisms that are alternatively befuddling and enlightening.  This is the strength of his character: his beguiling charm, his Confucian analects turned into singsong Chinatown blues.
In an Appendix are a list of, in Huang’s words, “Charlie Chanisms,”some profound, others enigmatic, often uttered in films (there were 44 in all, the most starring Swede Warner Oland) in pidgin English like heard in Hawaii.  Here's a sample:
* Biggest mistake in history made by people who didn’t think.
* Caution is good life insurance.
* No poison deadlier than ink.
* The wise elephant does not seek to ape the butterfly.
* Wrong pew perhaps, but maybe correct church.
* Death is the black camel that kneels at every gate.
What I found particularly fascinating in "Charlie Chan" was learning about real-life Honolulu detective Chang Apana, on whom the novels of Earl Derr Biggers were based, including “Behind That Curtain” (1928).  Apana’s father arrived in Hawaii as a coolie contract-laborer destined for a sugarcane plantation.  It was Chinese sugar masters  (tong see) who first harvested sugar from Hawaiian canes, which rescued the island kingdom’s economy after the collapse of the sandalwood trade and led to the importation of tens of thousands of Asian laborers. The talented Apana rose to become a paniola (cowboy) on the Parker Ranch on Hawaii’s “Big Island” and around the age of 20 was hired as a stableman for the Samuel Wilder estate in Honolulu.  Wilder’s daughter Helen founded a chapter of the Humane Society and hired Chang Apana to investigate cases of cruelty toward animals.  Thus his legendary career as a bullwhip-toting law enforcement officer commenced.
 Chang Apana

“In the hierarchical world of late-nineteenth-century Hawaii,” Huang concluded, “an uneducated yellow man like Chang Apana would not have stood a ‘Chinaman’s chance’ without luck or help.” Apana benefitted from his relationship to feudal barons (the Parkers and Wilders), a group that dominated Hawaii’s politics and economy. In colonial societies, Huang asserted, bonds between servant and master were often more reciprocal than in under capitalism. Thus, in his words, “the feisty and compassionate Helen Wilder gave Apana, a humble coolie’s son and an illiterate Chinaman who spoke broken English, a chance to show what he was truly made of.”

Through Jack London’s colorful character Koolau the Leper in “The House of Pride and Other Tales of Hawaii” (1912) Huang conveys how haole(white) ministers and traders and their predatory ancestors gained an iron grip on power in the Pacific paradise, often through intermarriage with King Kamehameha’s progeny:
They came like lambs, speaking softly. Well might they speak softly, for we were many and strong, and all the islands were ours.  As I say, they spoke softly.  They were of two kinds.  The one kind asked our permission, our gracious permission, to preach to us the word of God.  The other kind asked our permission, our gracious permission, to trade with us. That was the beginning.  Today all the islands are theirs, all the land, all the cattle – everything is theirs.
 Miranda at La Rambla, Barcelona, and in Valencia with Carly, Alissa and Josh
Miranda and Carly stopped in Barcelona after visiting Alissa and Josh in Valencia.  Toni and I were there ten years ago with the Migoskis and Hagelbergs for a Mediterranean cruise. In a room adjacent to the hotel lobby on our final day someone snatched Toni’s purse that contained our passports, but she shouted an alarm and followed in quick pursuit.  The thief tossed it away to avoid capture, and a passerby told Toni where to retrieve it. Close call!  We had been warned of pickpockets hanging out at La Rambla, Barcelona’s colorful promenade, but these thieves were brazen indeed.
 Quinn Buckner
Former IU basketball star Quinn Buckner, who led the Hoosiers to an undefeated season and the 1976 NCAA championship, is on the Board of Trustees and will attend a reception on our campus.  It’s on the day before Dave and I fly to Finland, but I need to print out our boarding passes that evening anyway.  Trustee Philip Eskew, a former football and track star at DePauw University and distinguished physician, responded to receivingSteel Shavings,volume 47, with this note: You continue to amaze me, what a terrific collection of thoughts and observations.  Capturing the history of the Region is invaluable and I salute you for your effort.” 
The final question on Jeopardy was confusing.  The category was U.S. Quotes, and the clue stated: In a 1789 letter, Benjamin Franklin relates the durability of the new Constitution to these 2 things.”  I guessed checks and balances, but the answer was death and taxes.  Franklin’s 1789 statement to French scientist Jean-Baptiste Le Roy reads, Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Hardly a case of cause and effect.  No wonder nobody knew the answer.
Hearing about Ron Cohen and my new edition of “Gary: A Pictorial History,” Naomi Millender made a pitch to include a photo by Korey Caroll depicting a Gary historic tour that took place on June 19, 2017.  The brainchild of VISTA workers Sam Salvesen and Alex Koerner and sponsored by the Gary Redevelopment Department,  what some nicknamed the Gary Ruins tour commenced at the original Gary Land Company Building.  The goal is to turn City Methodist Church and other vacant properties into tourist sites and urban gardens.  Members of the Gary Historical and Cultural Society, including Naomi Millender, greeted participants. I was nearby at an IUN booth manned by Diversity director James Wallace giving away Steel Shavings.  Dolly Millender (Naomi’s mother), founder of the Gary Historical and Cultural Society, was on the cover.

Kirsten Bayer-Petras wondered why “Whiter Shade of Pale” isn’t on other band’s cover lists. Matthew Petras responded : “The old Hammond organs are too large and expensive.”  Jessica Black Smith quipped: “Because too many of us would be in bed by the time it ends.” I wrote: “Nice to see it honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony - one of my favorite songs. Heard Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher sing it at a Ringo Starr Revue at the Holiday Star.”
 Alison Fiori with llama on "Let's Make a Deal"

The phrase “Behind that curtain” brings to mind the popular game show “Let’s Make a Deal” with host Monty Hall that aired continuously for 14 years beginning in 1963.  Contestants could choose one of three curtains and receive whatever was behind it.  At least one was a gag gift, such as a live llama.  Studio audience members dressed in outlandish costumes hoping to be chosen as contestants.  Prize winners commonly broke into ecstatic expressions of joy, often hugging, humping, and kissing Monty full on the mouth, sometimes with tongue.
cartoon from Jim Spicer
Paul Kern called from Florida to talk about IUN doings and said that wife Julie was stressing out over bridge.  Her club plays the same pre-dealt hands as hundreds of others, enabling comparisons with large samples rather than just those played face-to-face.  I’m happy we don’t do it that way at Chesterton.  According to Bridge Bulletin,I have accumulated 12.27 master points and am a Junior Master; I need 7.73 more to become a Club Master and 487.73 to be a Life Master. The magazine printed this pompous remark by Theo Lichtenstein of Tallahassee: “In order for a person to earn the title of LIfe Master, a player should have to earn at least one platinum point.  If that is too hard, then maybe these players don’t deserve to be called Life Masters.”Competing just once a week and only locally, I have no desire to join that exalted rank, rest assured Mr. Lichtenstein. Some people take the game too seriously.

When I arriving at Chesterton YMCA for bridge, I noticed that a crowd had gathered inside the front door.  My partner Dee had fainted.  Chuck Tomes was on the phone to her daughter and YMCA officials had called 911.  With extremely low blood pressure, Dee is subject to fainting spells.  Revived with the help of a wet towel, she insisted on staying.  A half-dozen EMTs thoroughly checked her vital signs and then left.  With five full tables, we proceeded to play nine rounds.  Marcia Carson mentioned fainting right after a youth baseball game that Jim was coaching, and he admitted to completing his postgame speech while a friend in the stands tended to Marcia.  One time Toni got numerous planters warts on her hand removed and insisted that she was fine when the doctor wanted suggesting leaving some for a future visit.  When he finished freezing all of them, she would have fallen to the floor had someone not caught her.

Former Math teacher Chuck Tomes provided some interesting facts to Barb Walczyk for her bridge Newsletter that compared playing cards to a calendar:
*There are 52 weeks in the year and so are there 52 playing cards in a deck. 
*There are 13 weeks in each season, and thus there are 13 cards in each suit. 
*There are 4 seasons in a year and 4 suits in the deck. 
 *There are 12 months in a year, so there are 12 court cards — those with   faces, namely jack, queen, king in each suit — 3 cards each in 4 suits. 
          *The red cards represent the day, while the black cards represent the night. 
 *The spades indicate plowing/working. 
 *The hearts indicate loving thy crops. 
 *The clubs indicate flourishing and growth. 

 *The diamonds indicate reaping the wealth. 
 Mayor Jim Kenney and Eagle Jason Kelce dressed like mummer at Super Bowl celebration

Trump abruptly cancelled a White House visit by the Superbowl champion Philadelphia Eagles after getting wind that a dwindling number of players planned to show up.  He accused them of disrespecting the American flag even though not a single Eagle took a knee nor remained in the locker room during the National Anthem all season.  Fox network showed Eagles kneeling without revealing that they were praying and it not during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney stated that disinviting the players “only proves that our President is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.” Referencing Samuel Johnson’s 1775 assertion that “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” Ray Smock wrote: Trump is the latest in a long line of “pretended patriots” who uses patriotism not for pride of country and time-honored tradition that unites the American people, but as a weapon to smite his enemies.”
 Max Blaszkiewicz at RFK gravesite

Margaret Gallagher

Bobby Kennedy passed away 50 years ago.  I was asleep when an assassin shot him in California after he won the primary that would have assured him the Democratic Presidential nomination.  How different America’s destiny would have been but for that senseless murder.  Robert Blaszkiewicz posted photos from a 2016 family visit to Kennedy’s gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery.  His mother, Margaret “Maggie” Gallagher, commented: On this day 50 years ago, I was very pregnant and waiting the birth of my first child, my husband was in the service, so we agreed that if we had a son he would be named after RFK . So that is how Robert got his name.”  Dave, Phil, and Robert became good friends in high school. After the 2000 home invasion Maggie, a hair stylist, cut Dave and my hair, Dave’s by necessity and mine to match.  In my “Survival Journal” published in Steel Shavings,volume 33 (2002) I wrote:
    Got a brush cut from Maggie, who did wonders with Dave after one of the home invaders idiotically chopped off chunks of his hair.  The shorter hair brushed back is my first new look in more than 20 years.  Lots of gray hair came off.  My head felt cleansed. In high school Phil, Dave, and Robert went on a class trip to Mexico accompanied by Robert’s cool grandmother. who was born there.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Over the Rainbow

“Someday I'll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where trouble melts like lemon drops,
High above the chimney top,
That's where you'll find me.”
         “Over the Rainbow,” E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen
Vera (left) and family at Linda birthday celebration, circa 2010
At the wake for their Granma Linda Teague, James and Becca sang “Over the Rainbow” and Linda’s favorite lullaby with Dave accompanying on guitar.  It was very moving.  Linda’s mother Vera Kalberer, 93, who lost husband Tom not long ago, was especially touched.  Sung by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” (1939), “Over the Rainbow” was nearly deleted from the film because MGM mogul Louis B. Mayer thought it slowed down the action.  The American Film Institute has ranked it the greatest movie song of all time.
Arlene J. Heward
Michael Katz, son of former Gary mayor A. Martin Katz (1964-1967), donated to the Calumet Regional Archives a framed picture of Horace Mann School that had been in the possession of Arlene J. “Sue” Heward, who recently passed away, showing swans swimming in the nearby man-made lagoon that was ultimately filled in. A 1956 Mann graduate, Heward graduated from IU and went on to a 35-year teaching and coaching career at her high school alma mater.   
A. Martin Katz and Mahalia Jackson in 1963; Katz signs 1965 Civil Rights Ordinance as Cleo Wesson, Jessie Mitchell, Richard Hatcher and Bishop Andrew Grutka look on
Michael Katz reminisced about getting to know the city’s leading political lights.  Due to his relative youth, he was, in his words, a “fly on the wall” when Mayor George Chacharis visited the Katz home on the eve of serving a prison sentence on corruption charges dating to when “ChaCha” was city controller.  Chacharis allegedly told Katz he’d be throwing his support to John Visclosky in the 1963 mayoralty election because he doubted Gary voters would accept a Jewish mayor.  Katz prevailed, but his brave support of a 1965 Civil Rights Ordinance alienated many white residents.  When he ran for re-election against Richard Hatcher, supporters of spoiler Bernard Konrady circulated anti-Semitic flyers in all-white Glen Park neighborhoods.  Michael asserted that his dad never burned political bridges, unlike Mayor Hatcher, whose principles and pride prevented him from being more flexible and forgiving of those who crossed him.  I invited Katz to our next book club meeting since he knows presenter Rich Maroc and World War II buff Lee Christakis.
The series finale of “The Americans,” after six seasons was totally awesome.  An excruciating parking garage confrontation between FBI agent Stan Beeman and Philip, Elizabeth, and Paige Jennings lasted a full 11 minutes; reason prevailed although the entire time Elizabeth was looking for an opening to kill Stan.  One memorable line from Philip to Stan: “I wish you’d have stayed in est.”  Then there was hardly any dialogue during the final segments, as “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits, U-2’s “With or Without You,” and Tchaikovsky’s “None But the Lonely Heart” provided background music. At a McDonald’s for carry-out, Philip notices a family of four in a booth enjoying their meal. In a shocking and heatbreaking scene, Philip and Elizabeth are about to cross into Canada only to see Paige on the train platform, having made up her mind to stay behind.  In Moscow, Elizabeth, whose real name was Nadezhda, delivers the final line, “We’ll get uses to it,”in Russian. Variety’s Caroline Framke wrote:
  The finale’s subversion of expectations is representative of its sly brilliance. It takes everything we came to know about these characters — their wants, their dreams, their red lines, their darkest shames — and finds a way to make their fates completely wrenching without spilling a single drop of blood.
Mike Hale of the New York Timesput it this way:
The show’sending was happy only in the sense that everyone survived. Death took a holiday, but sadness was everywhere, hanging in the air like the Moscow fog in the final shot. As Elizabeth and Philip fled America, their story felt very Russian.  In scene after scene, we saw characters — often for the last time — sitting down, shell-shocked and silent. Henry in the hockey bleachers, abandoned by his parents. Paige at Claudia’s table, totally alone. Oleg on the floor of his cell and Elina in their apartment, not knowing if they’d ever see each other again. Stan in a chair beside his bed, staring at the wife he’d never be able to trust. Most unbearably, Igor Burov on a bench in a Moscow park, slapping his knees in his helplessness, bereft of a second son.
Son Henry cut short a final parental phone call on the excuse that he needed to get back to a ping pong tournament at his school. When Philip told him he loved him, the 17-year-old thought the Old Man had been drinking.  The scene reminded me of getting a phone call from Vic from the Baltimore airport while I was at Maryland, wondering if I wanted to meet him during a layover.  I told him I was busy, never imagining he’d soon drop dead at age 50 from a heart attack.
In New York Review of Books Garry Wills titled an article on oral historian and fellow Chicagoan Studs Terkel “The Art of the Schmooze,” a perfect description of the consummate conversationalist.  Wills wrote: “I considered him a saint, by the only definition that makes sense to me: a man or woman whose company you leave feeling that you should become a better person.”  Although an agnostic, the broad-minded Terkel appreciated ritual and would encourage religious dinner guests to say grace.

Pat McKinlay sent me a Thank You note for sending her a copy of a recent Steel Shavings that praised her late husband Arch, a Region historian and expert on early Hammond and East Chicago.  She wrote: “Arch appreciated your work and your friendship.”  Perhaps because he was a Republican whose interests were different from mine (he had little use for recent history), I did not embrace him as much as I should have. Studs Terkel would have been more tolerant, realizing he could learn much from Arch.  While living in Miller, he entertained Ron Cohen and me and our wives. Then 20 years later when he and Pat moved from their Miller cottage, he threw a party and invited everyone to leave with a bottle of expensive wine.  Toni was in Michigan but Beth went with me, first insisting I change my socks, which didn’t go with my shorts and shirt.