Monday, February 8, 2016

Vanguards

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“You need a vanguard organization in order to overcome the dangerous potential brought about by the uneven development of class militancy and class consciousness,” Marxist theorist Ernest Mandel  (1923-1995)

Mandel’s point is still true: when workers lack class consciousness, political torpor sets in unless exploited people are stirred into action by vanguard leaders.  When I wrote about the United Steelworkers of America District 31 Women’s Caucus that arose during the 1970s as a result of discrimination against women entering the steel work force after the 1974 Consent Decree, I characterized it as a vanguard movement organized by veterans of leftist groups who had joined the labor force because they believed the path to fundamental change lay in strengthening rank-and-file militancy within industrial unions.  The Women’s Caucus not only succeeded in obtaining more palatable job conditions for women but also played a prominent role in other fights, including the Bailly Alliance, which prevented the building of a nuclear plant on the shore of Lake Michigan.
 James Oliphant
An exhibit at Gary’s Gardner Center, entitled “Vanguards: Moving ‘out here’ to Miller,” featured portraits by Chicagoan James Oliphant of African Americans who, beginning in 1964, moved to the previously all-white Miller district.  Accompanying the photos were brief excerpts from oral interviews covering where the subjects previously lived, reasons for their move, and reaction by both their old and new neighbors.  Marianita Porterfield said she sought better educational opportunities for her children; others wanted a safer environment.  One woman, disparaged as uppity by people from her old neighborhood, wished that more whites would have given integration a chance before they moved away.  Some white realtors resisted showing houses to black clients, but several “pioneers” praised Bruce Ayers for helping them.

There was a large crowd at the exhibit and good food (especially welcome were the deviled eggs), and I chatted with Nancy Cohen (about the Bulls), George Rogge (about a SALT column Jeff Manes wrote about him), and Cindy Frederick (about some of the vanguard pioneers we both knew).  I told Judy Ayers that I enjoyed her Newsletter column about living in Hawaii around the same time Toni and I did; we shared similar experiences, including listening to Hawaiian music coming from nightclubs while on the beach and seeing Don Ho (whose hit song “Tiny Bubbles” came out in 1966) at Duke Kahanamoku’s, named for an Olympic medalist and father of modern surfing. I arrived early and didn’t stay long because James was spending the night.  With Dave and Toni in Oklahoma, I had gladly volunteered to take him bowling. After he rolled a 455 series (above my average) we ate at Culver’s, joined by Becca and Angie.
 Don Ho and Duke Kahanamoku
Gloria Steinem, 81 years young, appeared on the Bill Maher Show to plug her new book, My Life on the Road,” dedicated to a British abortionist who, after the procedure, told her to go out and have a productive life.  Asked why most young women were supporting Bernie Sanders rather than Hillary Clinton, Steinem answered that women, unlike men, get more liberal as they age.  Then she added that it was also because that’s where the young men are.  Maher blurted out, “Had I said that, you’d have slapped me.”  Steinem replied something like, “Are you kidding?  I thought you knew me better than that.”

In “Andrew Jackson” Sean Wilentz makes the point that “Old Hickory” was very controversial in his own time, then accepted for many years as one of our best presidents, but recently has become a subject of controversy as a slaveowner and ruthless champion of Indian removal.  There’s even a movement afoot to remove his image from 20-dollar bills, perhaps in favor of a black woman or Native American.  Wilentz asks readers to judge Jackson by the standards of his time, not ours.  It is interesting how little, historians know about exactly where Jackson was born (probably in frontier South Carolina but perhaps in nearby North Carolina) or about Jackson’s father, who died when Andrew was two years old, perhaps due to a fatal accident while clearing trees.  By all accounts “Young Hickory” was a drunken rake who’d fight or duel at the drop of the hat and loved cards, horse racing, loose women.

I decided to see in “The Revenant” despite knowing I’d be closing my eyes during the bear-mauling scene I’d heard about.  As it turned out, that was just one of several gory spots.  Leonardo DiCaprio plays 1820s frontiersman Hugh Glass whose Indian son disregards his advice to be invisible and keep his mouth shut because white people, “don’t hear your voice.  They just see the color of your face.”  It was nonetheless an awe-inspiring film that portrayed Native Americans in a positive light, more in harmony with nature than the rapacious interlopers.  Tom Hardy as the villainous John Fitzgerald deserves an Oscar, as does Leonardo on this his sixth try, most recently for “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Kawaan Short; NWI Times photo by John Luke
In the NWI Times Al Hamnik wrote about Carolina Panther all-star defensive lineman Kawaan Short and Chicago Bulls guard E’Traun Moore as goodwill ambassadors for their hometown East Chicago.  The article stated:
   Many outsiders think of East Chicago, once a proud, productive city of oil and steel, as crime-ridden and politically corrupt.
They're dead wrong.
Yes, there are problems, just like any other diverse city today. And here is where the torch is passed. East Chicago's youth will have a big say in its future by building a positive image.

Both Short and Moore starred on East Chicago Central’s 2007 state championship basketball team.  Friends since childhood, they often sopped at Columbus Drive Gyros after school for something to eat.  Owner John Troupis told them if they won state, he’d treat them to all they could eat.  Hamnik wrote: “E. C. Central prevailed, 87-83, against Indianapolis North Central, featuring high school phenom Eric Gordon.  It wasn’t long after when Moore and Short, holding the trophy, led the Cardinals into Columbus Drive Gyros and said: ‘We’re really hungry!”

I watched the rather boring Superbowl at a party hosted by Marianne Brush.  I was rooting for Carolina but wanted Peyton Manning to do well.  He didn’t, but Denver’s defense overwhelmed Carolina’s QB Cam Newton.  The halftime show was spectacular but the commercials over-hyped and frankly pretty terrible, considering all the time and money wasted on them.  One sports jock claimed the highlight of the day was Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem.  He had a point.
Missy Brush arrived at the party with vinyl record albums purchased from a record store in Chicago by Lou Reed, Styx, Sex Pistols, and the Velvet Underground (with Andy Warhol’s banana on the cover).  I told Missy I had some albums in our garage that she could look through and take what she wanted, and she eagerly took me up on the offer.  Our musical tastes are similar and in both cases, eclectic.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Masculine Studies

  “The ways of a superior man are threefold: virtuous, he is free from anxieties; wise, he is free from perplexities; bold, he is free from fear.”  Confucius

My review of Molly Geidel’s “Peace Corps Fantasies: How Development Shaped the Global Sixties” appeared in the February 2016 issue of Choice.  I wrote:
            This provocative, well-researched, theory-driven cultural history is on solid ground in asserting that Peace Corps volunteers were agents of a Cold War strategy designed to keep underdeveloped countries within the global capitalistic orbit but on shakier footing in attributing a motivation of US policy makers to gender anxieties and fantasies of masculine heroes achieving “homosocial intimacy” with indigenous protégés.  Exposing the impossibility of true brotherhood among unequals, Geidel quotes from Moritz Thomsen’s memoir “Living Poor” (1969).  When an Ecuadorian chicken farmer told Thomsen he should have more respect for local practices, the Peace Corps volunteer replied, “But that’s why I’m here.  To destroy your crazy customs.”  Disillusioned by the folly of the US imperialist venture in Vietnam, Peace Corps veterans belonging to the Committee of Returned Volunteers advocated abolishing the agency they once served.  In Bolivia, population control methods of sterilizing men and inserting IUDs in women led to the expulsion in 1971 of Peace Corps workers.  Though, in the eyes of many, exemplars of selfless US altruism, Peace Corps volunteers were mobilized, the author claims, under the rubric of a modernization agenda whose side effect was cultural eradication.  Recommended: for students of foreign policy, modernization theory, and masculine studies.

Geidel’s monograph is part of a growing genre of historic inquiry called Masculine Studies.  As Helena Gurfinkel has written:
            Masculinity Studies (or, as it is also often called, Men’s Studies) is many things, but one thing it is not: a rejoinder to, or repudiation of feminism. It owes to feminism an enormous intellectual and political debt. In fact, it would not have existed without feminism and its courage to question patriarchal power and privilege. Men’s Studies scholars do not say, as many expect them to, “Enough of those feminists; let’s say only good things about men from now on!” Instead, they collaborate with feminists and scholars of race, class, and sexuality in asking complex questions about the ways in which society constructs and controls us as sexed and gendered individuals.
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On the Internet are numerous syllabi for courses on Masculinity.  Books frequently appearing on reading lists include R.W. Connell’s “Masculinities” (1995), C.J. Pascoe’s “Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School” (2007), and Sociologist Michael Kimmel’s “Guyland: The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men” (2008).  Kimmel has also co-edited with Michael A. Messner a reader entitled “Men’s Lives” (Eighth edition, 2010).  In his classes Kimmel often asks students to describe a “good man” and then a “real man.”  The contrasting responses are telling.  One wonders whether IUN’s Women’s Studies program evolves into Women and Men’s Studies like Black Studies became Minority Studies.  I hope not.

 Many universities offer classes dealing with masculinity in literature, film, television, and other aspects of popular culture as well as theoretical courses in the social sciences covering, among other things, changing perceptions of masculinity over time in various societies.  I’ve even come across one on "Gay Masculinities."  One of my favorite authors, bell hooks, has written “We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity’ (2003), “The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love” (2004), and many other provocative volumes on race and gender.
Gwendolyn Brooks
The original “We Real Cool” was a 1959 Gwendolyn Brooks poem reminiscent of Langston Hughes in its simplicity and rhyming couplets, about seven dropouts at a pool hall rather than in school:

We real cool. We   
            Left school. We

            Lurk late. We
            Strike straight. We

            Sing sin. We   
            Thin gin. We

            Jazz June. We   
            Die soon.
Dave Lane and Tamiya Towns
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Toni, Dave and fellow East Chicago Central grad Denzel Smith flew to Lawton, Oklahoma, for Tamiya Towns’ graduation from Basic Training at Fort Sill.  Years ago, her presence might have been threatening to male cohorts, but, hopefully, no more.  A Fort Sill “Graduation Dress Code and Etiquette” website warned family and friends not to come with noise-makers, confetti, firearms, fireworks, alcohol or cigarettes and recommended bringing binoculars, sunscreen, a hat and, finally, “respect, support, and love for your soldier and his or her big accomplishment.”

The first episode of FX network’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson” opens with footage of L.A. cops beating Rodney King in 1991 and rioting a year later after an all-white jury acquitted the officers who assaulted him.  It is director Ryan Murphy’s way of demonstrating how Americans, for the most part, viewed the “Trial of the Century” through the prism of race.  I still vividly recall watching the O.J. verdict announced on a TV in IUN’s student union, where black people cheered while most whites seemed visibly shaken.  Not me – I suspected a cocaine dealer.  Actors John Travolta and David Schwimmer assuming the roles of attorneys Robert Shapiro and Robert Kardashian reminded me of the “Bizarro Jerry” Seinfeld episode where Elaine starts hanging out with guys with an eerie resemblance to Jerry, George, Kramer, and Newman.  The two most interesting characters so far are defense attorney Johnnie Cochran (Courtney R. Vance) and prosecutor Marcia Clark (Sarah Paulson).
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Slimy Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz finished first in the Iowa caucus by employing several dirty tricks, including spreading the rumor that Ben Carson was about to pull out of the race and sending out a mailer with the headline “VOTING VIOLATION,” claiming that people’s voting history is public record.  When Donald Trump cried Fraud, Cruz retorted: “We’re liable to wake up one morning and Donald, if he were President, would have nuked Denmark.”  Meanwhile Trump continues on a self-destructive path, employing the F word and the phrase “Don’t give a shit” in his latest rant and ridiculing Jeb Bush for dragging his 90 year-old mom out in the snow.

Mike Olszanski passed along this Indianapolis Star editorial:

   The General Assembly and Gov. Mike Pence’s refusal to extend the state’s civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity continues to tarnish Indiana’s image and jeopardize long-term economic prosperity.
Last spring, after a firestorm from passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act blew up in their faces, lawmakers pledged to address legal protections for LGBT citizens in the next legislative session.
    But after meeting privately Tuesday, Senate Republican leaders decided to kill legislation that would have protected gay Hoosiers from discrimination. In doing so, they not only failed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Hoosiers but also their families, friends, coworkers and anyone else in our state who values equality.
    Polls show that Indiana’s elected leaders don’t accurately represent the will of 70 percent of Hoosiers, who support adding sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the civil rights law. Lawmakers’ stubborn refusal to listen to the will of the people could come at a high cost in an election year.
    Indiana must be seen as a state that spurns intolerance and bigotry. Yet the failure of legislation this session means LGBT citizens can still be legally discriminated against in most of the state. Sexual orientation or gender identity can be the basis for a landlord to block housing, an employer to deny a job, or a business owner to refuse service. All of that is permissible under current law.

From California Paul Kern reported: “After a couple of mornings staring at our iPad and laptop at breakfast, we, old fossils that we are, decided we couldn’t get along without a newspaper and so we have taken out a two-month subscription to the Sacramento Bee.”
Learning that Assistant Director of Physical Plant Kevin Elmore (above) was leaving, Hollis Donald got several dozen IUN staff members to sign a card that wished him well and included this advice:
          Remember
Life is a multitude of travels,
Arrows that point in many directions,
Starts and stops taking in many lessons.
 
The Engineers took all seven points from a team named We’re Here, and I had a 668 series despite fading to 134 in the final game.  Bob Robinson, back from a ten-day Caribbean cruise, barely broke 100 in game one but finished with a 178.  Opponent Jaime Rodriguez wore a t-shirt with “Amistad” on the front – the name of his former team as well as a two-masted schooner on which slaves led by Joseph Cinqué in 1839 successfully revolted against a Spanish crew.
La Amistad

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Concussed


  “We can’t last forever on the football field.  You get your head knocked a bit.  They’ve got to fix the helmets so your brains don’t get rattled like they do,” Ted Karras to Al Hamnik (2011)

The word concussed is now in common usage both as an adjective (suffering from a concussion) and a verb (to injure by means of a concussion).  Though the subject comes up most often in regards to football, recent research has shown it to be a problem in wrestling, soccer, and other youth sports.  The fear is that repeated hits to the head will result in long-term brain damage.  I recall a time when euphemisms like “he got his bell rung” and “he got dinged” were used to describe head hits glorified in highlight films.

Columnist John Doherty reported that, according to a recent report in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, college athletes who suffered concussions are more than twice as likely to experience a non-contact leg injury within three months of returning to action.  The report concluded:
Given the demanding environment in which athletes are required to execute complex maneuvers, it is possible that mild neurocognitive deficit may result on judgment errors and loss of coordination.
 above, Ted Karras in 2013; below, Ted and Anna
Ted Karras, starting left guard on the Chicago Bears NFL 1963 championship team, died at age 81.  Five years ago he told NWI Times correspondent Al Hamnik: “You lose your memory and everything else.  That’s my problem right now.  I got knocked around and I can’t remember things.  But I’m glad I’m alive.  I’m 77.  What the hell.”  Hamnik pointed out that the most Karras ever made for a season was $25,000, and his monthly NFL pension was just $975.  I had the honor of visiting Ted and wife Anna at their Miller home  on Shelby a couple years while working on an article about brother Alex Karras for Traces magazine.  Looking a old photos, Ted joked about his memory loss, but I could tell how frustrating it must have been.  He'd say each time that we needed to finish by 11 a.m. when reruns of Webster, an Eighties sitcom starring brother Alex, came on.
 Coach Ryan Shelton and IUN's Lady Redhawks
Friday in a NAIA contest, the 23rd-ranked IUN Lady Redhawks played the College of the Ozarks.  Up 34-32 at the half, IUN stretched the lead to 10 before the fourth-ranked Lady Bobcats rallied.  The turning point: two straight treys by opponent Cass Johnson to put her team up four.  IUN tied the score with two minutes to go, thanks to buckets by Nicki Monahan and Jayne Roach, but lost 80-76, first time this season on their home court to fall to 15-6.  A scary moment occurred when an opponent set an illegal moving pick, and an IUN player fell to the floor, hit her head, and remained down for several anxious minutes.

I paid my respects to the Karras family at Burns Funeral Home in Hobart.  In the crowded room were two photos of Ted in his Bears uniform, taken in 1963 and 2013, and several floral wreaths, including one for “papou” from his six grandchildren.  Anna told me Ted died surrounded by family and just weeks ago was singing  - as the obit noted, he had a beautiful voice and had appeared in numerous musical productions.  I said hello to sister Helene, whom I had visited while seeking information on parents Emmiline and George Karras, a Gary doctor, who ministered to working-class immigrant families, often gratis or for products in trade.  Helene said her brothers got their size from their dad and athletic ability from their mother.

Dave was announcing wrestling Sectionals at East Chicago Central, so I took James to bowling at Inman’s.  Teammate Josh Froman had a chance for a 279 game going into the tenth frame but left a seven-pin on an apparent perfect hit.  Bowling ended early, but we were pleased to discover that Culver’s opened at ten and had lunch.
 "Straight Outta Compton" cast
Of all the black actors snubbed by the Academy, Will Smith, who plays Dr. Bennet Omalu in “Concussion” is the most obvious.  Another travesty is that lightweight (in ability) Sylvester Stallone got nominated for again playing Rocky Balboa, now a trainer, in Creed, while Michael B. Jordon as Adonis Johnson was slighted.  African American F. Gary Gray directed the acclaimed “Straight Outta Compton,” but the film’s only nomination went to two white guys who wrote the screenplay.  Some want Oscar host Chris Rock to boycott the event, but I look forward to hearing his take on the subject.
 Party Animals, Trivia Night winners
I competed on Fred and Diane Chary’s team, “Presidents Gone Wild,” at Temple Israel’s eighth annual Trivia Night.  Diane had a white wig for me as well as a John Adams mask.  On our team were the Blooms (Jack as Abraham Lincoln) and Fred’s son Michael.   The Post-Tribune had won the past several years, and a big cheer went up when Party Animals beat them out.  Our table finished about eighth out of 24 entries.  I wasn’t much help: most questions I knew were pretty obvious – for example, “Hair” and Pete Seeger in the music category. I did know the song “Get Together,” and Jack Bloom came up with the name of the group, the Youngbloods, after I speculated that it was Young Rascals.  My best contribution was recognizing a glass art piece by Dale Chihuly.  I erred on what company produced the first plastic credit card. Diners Club issued credit cards starting in 1950, but the answer, to my dismay, was American Express, whose card made of plastic dated from 1959.

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Trivia Night was a chance to see many old Miller friends.  Greeting me when I arrived at Temple Israel was Bobbi Galler, whose son Andy got Phil interested in working at the IU campus TV station.  Bobbi and Larry Galler used to host New Year’s Day chili and beer parties; that’s where I watched the 1979 Cotton Bowl where Joe Montana led Notre Dame, down 34-12 late in the third quarter, to a 35-34 victory over Houston.  Saying hi were Linc Cohen, who had been at Woodstock in the summer of 1969, and Jack Weinberg, a leader of the 1964 Berkeley Free Speech Movement and, closer to home, the Bailly anti-nuclear fight. Weinberg’s team last year was the Marxists; this year they were dressed as cyclists and went by the Cranks (there is a Calumet Crank Club in Northwest Indiana for bikers).  Gene Ayers and I commiserated over the passing of Ted Karras.  In a recent Ayers Realtors Newsletter Gene had written about working at Jack Spratt’s ice cream shop when Ted came in with two Bears teammates, tight end Mike Ditka and defensive end Ed O’Bradovich. 

Gaming with Tom Wade and Dave, I went one for four, winning St. Petersburg thanks to getting the Warehouse, which allowed me to keep four cards in my hand.  For lunch we made ham sandwiches on marbled rye bread, which reminded Dave of the Seinfeld episode where George’s parents take a loaf of marble rye to girlfriend Susan’s house and then his dad sneaks away with it when the hosts don’t serve it.  George then attempts to replace it with another loaf while they leave their apartment.  When Jerry goes to buy one, a woman in front of him purchases the last loaf.  After she refuses to sell it, he snatches it and calls her an “old bag.”  Of course, George gets caught trying to retrieve it from Jerry with a fishing pole.
 rye snatching scene from Seinfeld
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Rereading “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout, I’d forgotten some of the minor characters that weren’t in the brilliant HBO mini-series, such as hardware store owner Harmon, whose wife Bonnie one day announced that she was done having sex.  At the marina diner Harmon sat next to a young couple smelling like pot (he didn’t mind) and talking loudly about a friend being a bitch lately, upset because she found out her boyfriend had a “fuck buddy” – a sex partner to whom she had no emotional attachment.  Harmon heard the girl say, “I mean, who cares.  That’s the point of a fuck buddy.”  Later on the phone, Harmon asked his son if he’d heard of fuck buddies and was told, “That’s the thing these days.  Just what it says.  People who get together to get laid.  No strings attached.”  At the time Harmon was having sex with Daisy Foster on a weekly basis, courting her with donuts, but found himself falling in love and (to quote Strout) “waiting for the day, and he knew it would come, when he left Bonnie or when she kicked him out.”

The protagonist in Young Adult author John Green’s “Looking for Alaska” (2006) was fascinated with the final words of famous people, such as Frank Sinatra saying, “I’m losing it.”  The last words of benevolent Henry Kitteridge as he got out of the car at Shop ‘n’ Save to buy milk, orange juice and jam were “Anything else?”  The final line in “Olive Kitteridge” has Olive thinking: “It baffled her, the world.  She did not want to leave it yet.” 

Paul Kern posted several emails regarding his and Julie’s “California or Bust” trip:
  January 30: In Texas and New Mexico the Border Patrol was much in evidence. We passed through two check points with dogs sniffing our car, saw many Border Patrol squad cars as well as helicopters that we suspect were Border Patrol. I felt like we were in East Germany or Franco's Spain instead of the United States.
  January 31: Crossing the Mojave Desert, we were buffeted by high winds and then were blinded by a torrential downpour. Finally we were hit by a blizzard. We're holed up in a motel in Tehachapi, CA waiting out the storm.
  February 1 (a.m.): We're stuck in Tehachapi [in Kern County]. Highway 58 to Bakersfield closed because of icy conditions. May open later today, but may not.
  February 1 (p.m.): Highway 58 opened late this morning under police escort and we were able to escape Tehachapi. Made it to West Sacramento around six, ending a three thousand mile road trip. Colin brought us a Chinese dinner and now we are settling into the condo we are renting for the next two months.

Charley Halberstadt and I had our ups and downs in duplicate bridge, but, more often than not, how we did was out of our hands and dependent on how our opponents bid and played.  My worst hand: Charley over-called Chuck Tomes (above) with a good spade suit but nothing else.  With ten points and five spades I jumped from one to four spades, and Charley went down three, doubled.  My best moment: Charley opened light with an Ace, King, Queen of Hearts and little else.  I had just two little Hearts but 17 points and bid Two No-Trump.  Very reluctantly, Charley raised me to Three No-Trump.  We each had four Clubs, with me holding the Ace, King.  I made it on the nose for high board when Clubs split 3-2, allowing me to cash in a low Club.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

At the Archives

“Archives are the pay dirt of history.  Everything else is opinion,” Germaine Greer

above, Dick Meister, below, Gary Nabhan
Dick and Joan Meister visited IUN’s Calumet Regional Archives seeking information on Save the Dunes pioneers Dorothy Buell and Ed Osan for an upcoming program of the Ogden Dunes Historical Society.  At the previous meeting the topic was Diana of the Dunes.  Dick and I talked about Carson Cunningham, now coaching at Carroll College in Montana, who taught history courses both at IUN and DePaul, where Dick was Vice President of Academic Affairs.  Both of us tried to get him hired at our respective schools.  Dick and Joan told me about Gary Nabhan, a 63 year-old University of Arizona professor who grew up in Gary (his father Theodore was a city councilman) and is an expert on ethnobotany and seed saving (preserving indigenous plants).  Among Nabhan’s many books are “Cross-Pollinations: The Marriage of Science and Poetry” (2004) and “Food, Genes, and Culture: Eating Right for Your Origins” (2013).  In 1977 Nabhan wrote a poem about Diana of the Dunes for Great Lakes Review (Winter 1977) in which he refers to Diana’s home as “the Land of Sacred Reeds and Sand,” which J. Ronald Engel refers to in “Sacred Sands: The Struggle for Community in the Indiana Dunes” (1983). The poem contains these lines, imagining Diana swimming in Lake Michigan:

stroking the water
your breath pulsing    pulled on
by some aquaspheric force
too strong to be called current.
 Scott Williams
Vicki and Scott Williams visited the Archives in search of a copy of my Portage Steel Shavings.  Last November Scott was elected to the Portage city council and wants to know more about the city’s history.  Vicki and Scott were neighbors of mutual friends Peg and Corky Horvath.  Son Tom went to high school with Phil and Dave and drops in to see us whenever he’s visiting from Germany.  Vicki, whose maiden name was Wisneski, was attending IUN when I started teaching in 1970.  Interviewed by Nancy Ferro for a Shavings issue on the history of IUN (“Educating the Calumet Region,” volume 35, 2004), she recalled her hippie English Composition professor and first meeting Scott.
     Morrie Scheckman was out there on the edge.  He had shoulder-length hair and wore jeans.  After I missed an exam, he gave me his address in Chicago so I could come make it up.  After black students pressured the university into offering Black Literature, they didn’t have anybody to teach it.  I took both L101 and L102 with Scheckman, who was Jewish and very sympathetic to civil rights.  Most students in the class were white.
     I met my future husband in an evening Geography class.  I was retaking it because I flunked the first time.  I needed a map, but the bookstore had closed early for inventory.  Scott was in the hall and saw how upset I was.  He had an extra map and offered it to me.  He said, “I figured I’d screw up, so I brought an extra one.”  We enjoyed the Tuesday and Friday dances.  About three months later we were married.  We tracked down the professor, who also taught at Valparaiso, and invited him to the reception.  He said, “Well, if anything goes wrong, don’t blame me.”


On the same page as Nancy Ferro’s interview with Vicki Williams is an article Emily Schuetz wrote about T.J. Stoops, who was a freshman in 1968 and is presently IUN’s Director of Sponsored Research.  Schuetz wrote: “Her real name was Tedgena, but a young man in English class called her Tomato Juice because of her red hair.  Later he shortened it to T.J., and soon everyone started calling her that, even family members.”
Julie and Paul Kern in 2011
Paul and Julie Kern having embarked on a trip from Florida to California, he reported: “On a cold, rainy miserable day we are in the Texas Hill Country.  At least we were able to enjoy a nice dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Guadalupe River.”  Forty years ago, Paul took our family to a cabin in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.  During the drive we played tapes of Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Band on the Run” and the Eagles’ “On the Border.”  A recent blog of mine entitled “Already Gone” that mentions Eagle Glenn Frey’s death has (for me) gone viral, with well over 200 hits, four times the normal amount and easily surpassing the previous most popular one, on the legacy of Region radio and television personality Tom Higgins.

The Archives has been a beehive of activity these past few days, in addition to the presence of our numerous volunteers.  John DeGan brought nephew Mike to see family letters in the Carl Krueger Collection, a treasure trove of correspondence by several family members that Toni discovered in a foot locker at a house within the National Lakeshore about to be demolished.  Another visitor was looking at our yearbook collection.  Student Devin Dove, interested in Gary history, was checking out my Eighties Shavings.

An East Chicago Central student needed information about IUN scholarships, so I met with Director of Admissions Dorothy Frink.  She was very pleasant and extremely helpful, even providing suggestions about matters that I didn’t think to ask about.  She hasn’t met former Admissions director Bill Lee, whom I occasionally run into at the credit union, so I might try to arrange it.

Student organizations manned tables in Savannah Center.  The Muslim group gave away cookies and had a sign reading, “Meet a Muslim.”  No sign of the History Club, defunct since popular professor Jerry Pierce left unwillingly, or the LGBT group Connectionz, whose former faculty adviser Anne Balay will be speaking at Valparaiso University next month.  She was also given the boot.
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Toni and I enjoyed “Brooklyn,” about an Irish immigrant set in the early 1950s.  The scenes on board the ship that brings her to New York City, the boarding house where she rooms, and of the department store where she works are very realistic.  At Christmas Eilis (Saoirse Ronan) volunteers to serve dinner to homeless men, and a priest tells her that these people built America’s, roads, railroads and bridges.  Very moving.  As the New Republic’s Will Leitch put it, “I could have hung out with everyone in Brooklyn for hours: it’s a world you won’t want to leave.”  Near the end of the film Eilis tells a newcomer to America, You'll feel so homesick that you'll want to die, and there's nothing you can do about it apart from endure it. But you will, and it won't kill you... and one day the sun will come out and you'll realize that this is where your life is.”  Brooklyn is one of eight films nominated for best picture, and Ronan is nominated for best actress.

I wore a favorite shirt for one final time.  It has a frayed collar, and the left sleeve ripped.  I often wore it on airplane trips because of its pockets and warmth.  Archives volunteer Dave Mergl gave me a nearly identical one, but, of course, I doesn’t feel as comfortable.  When I look at old photos, I often notice what I’m wearing, so I won’t forget it.

Dick Maloney bowled despite a sore thumb (with a black nail) that was the result of catching it in a door.  I rolled two 149s and would have had a third if I’d converted a 6-10 at the end of the second game and then struck.  With five strikes in a row opponent Doris Guth bowled a 235.  Twice pins fell after she’d turned away, just before the rack came down.  I should be so lucky.  My final frame I needed a strike to win my second quarter pot (paid out every tenth strike).  I left the 6-10, spared, and as my next ball curved into the pocket, jumped up as all the pins fell.  Collecting the quarters, I told Mel Guth, “I only do that on my last ball.”  My back ached later.