“We associate the ritual with a major life passage, the crossing of a critical threshold, or in other words, with transformation.” Abraham Verghese
The “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin, is dead, felled by pancreatic cancer. Former Star Plaza Theater CEO Charlie Blum recalled Franklin’s many performances to packed audiences in Merrillville. Because she hated to fly, Blum sometimes arranged for a limo driver to transport her from Detroit. Her demands included no air conditioning in the dressing room (it being bad for her vocal cords) and to be paid in advance in cash. Blum would deliver the considerable sum of money to her dressing room; she’d carefully count it and stuff into her purse, which she’d take with her on stage and place on the piano. Declining Blum’s offer to keep the purse in a safe, Franklin would say that having it within sight was motivation for putting on a good show. “The King of Rock and Roll,” Elvis Presley, and the “Sultan of Swat,” Babe Ruth also died on August 16.
On September 16, 1909, President William Howard Taft attended a Chicago Cubs home game at West Side Park. When he stood up to stretch in the middle of the seventh inning, the fans joined him. He did this again the following year in Washington, DC, and a ritual was born, the seventh inning stretch, celebrated at Wrigley Field to the tune of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” The Cubs won 10 games in 1909 but lost the pennant to the Pirates. They won 104 games again in 1910; this time it was good enough to get them into the World Series. Unfortunately as the regular season was coming to an end, second baseman Johnny Evers broke an ankle and missed the World Series, won by the Philadelphia Athletics in six games, as 31-game winner Jack Coombs pitched three complete games in six days. It was the “Last Hurrah” for the Cubs dynasty featuring the double play combination of Tinker, Evers, and Chance.
For a journal assignment Alison Cruz wrote about a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, and spending Easter at her aunt’s:
Background:When I was just 3, my Mom decided to take me and leave my Dad, who was from Mexico and had very strong traditions which often caused issues with my Mom. They wanted different roles in the marriage and also had with financial issues. We moved in with my Grandparents in Chesterton until my Mom graduated and got a job. In the middle of my third grade year, my we moved into a house in Valparaiso with a man I call my Stepdad, but my Mom never married him. They subsequently had three children together. I started becoming best friends with a girl named Emily who wore plaid high top Converse sneakers and had crazy curly hair. We’d have sleepovers, and she still to this day is my best friend. She still has the piece of paper with my name and phone number that I gave to her in third grade. Throughout high school I got good grades, played volleyball, spent time with friends, worked, went to proms and homecomings, and was involved in student council and general clubs. I spent a year at IU and then moved back home and went to IUN to pursue an Education degree. A year ago, I moved into a townhouse with 2 other girls I work with at Ricochet Tacos in downtown Valparaiso. I’ve been there for 3 years. I’ve met most of my friends, my roommates, and my boyfriend there.
March 23, 2018:Today I took my Mom, my brother Ryan, and sister Kamryn to Gulf Shores, Alabama. It’s their spring break so I took a week off from school. This is the 4th year they’ve gone but only my second time. My stepdad and brother chose not to go. We left Valparaiso at 5 a.m. My Mom drove us through Indiana and I drove the rest of the way even though I didn’t get much sleep the night before. We arrived at our rented condo around 11 p.m. It was on the beach, and I could hear waves from right outside our door. As we were walking up the stairs, Ryan tripped and scraped his face up. It looked painful, but he laughed so then we all lightened up. We unpacked the car and then I got some much needed sleep.
March 24:Mom ran to the grocery and I threw my bikini on and took my sister outside. We laid our towels out on the sand and put tanning lotion on but, in my case, not enough. I have really dark complexion but this winter lost it all and was really pale. I went in the water periodically to cool off; even though it was only in the mid-70s, the sun was hot. I fell asleep and an hour or so later took my brother for a walk along the shore. Afterwards, we went in to shower and get ready for dinner. I. WAS BURNT. I have never ever been so sunburnt before. At the restaurant my legs seemed on fire. I ordered shrimp, oysters, and crab legs and later bought aloe infused lotio
March 27:It was too cold for the beach, so we went to a brand new amusement park. Everything smelled like fresh paint, and the handful of rides were mostly for little kids. My burn is pretty much gone.
March 29:We had beach days yesterday and today, but the riptide was crazy so I had to be close to my brother and sister while they were boogie boarding. Afterwards at an outlet mall I bought a nice leather bag and wallet but otherwise just browsed around.
March 31:I drove for 13 hours straight with only four stops, itching to get home, having missed my friends, my boyfriend, and my own bed. Everyone was ready to get home. We were home around 8. I couldn’t wait to crash . Right after my boyfriend arrived, a roommate came home and filled me in on all the drama from work. I can’t wait to sleep tonight.
Alison (above, right) and friends, Jan. 2, 2018
April 1: My boyfriend and I woke up and watched a few hours of Broad City,my favorite show, about two girls in New York who are really funny and kind of vulgar. Then we went to my Aunt’s for Easter. Each year we have an outdoor egg hunt for the kids. The lucky ones find the gold and silver eggs filled with money. I was always the one to find the golden egg, so now I am the one who hides it. I put it inside of a bird feeder. It stumped them until someone gave my sister a big clue. Since it was April Fool’s Day, my Mom had put rice and beans in the gold and silver egg. My sister found both but gave the silver egg to my brother. When they discovered what was inside, my sister was shocked, and my brother threw the rice at us. My Mom ended up giving them the money and explaining that it was only a joke.
Harvard Square Hookah
Ivory Jones’s journal mentioned hanging out at a hookah bar. There are several such lounges in Northwest Indiana, where patrons share a water pipe for vaporizing and smoking flavored tobacco. The ritual started in India, spread to the Middle East, and has become popular in American college towns and multicultural areas. They are generally exempt from smoking bans.
March 15:I had McDonalds for breakfast on break. My shift there is from 5 am till about 11 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. My usual task is to make drinks and take orders on the headset for the drive thru. Today the line was literally all the way to our entrance.
March 16:Friends and I decided to go to the hookah bar and play some Uno. We had a really nice time but I didn’t get home around 1 am and have to be at work at 5.
March 17: My feet hurt and I smell like French fries. After being pretty hung over, I worked about 10 hours because the new people don’t know how to do anything and my manager begged me to stay. I feel like I am going to pass out.
March 18:I hung out with my dad watching football. We had a couple beers and talked. It was a chill day. It’s been so cold; I can’t wait for it to warm up out, so that I can finally show some skin and wear shorts.
March 19:My boyfriend and I had a sleepover at his place. My parents are strict and do not want my sister and me to smoke, go out too late, or have sex. I’m over 18 and pretty much do all of the above, but I do respect them and don’t come home smelling like smoke. I also usually lie about where I’m going when I spend the night with my boyfriend.
March 20: My workout routine is to walk about a mile on the treadmill and then work on my abs and arms. It helps to relieve stress and get my body ready for summer.
March 21:I had a bad break-up, so that sucks really bad but I’m not going to let it get me down. I lost about 5 pounds in a few days, but I know I’ll bounce back and will be eating again soon. It’s hard to feel independent after being with someone for 6 months.
March 22:I’m definitely still depressed. I’ve been catching up on The Walking Deadand trying to eat. My mom told me to stay busy and just do things that I love and I will slowly become myself again. I have been talking to other guys to keep my mind off my ex. I am too young to be wasting my time upset over this.
March 24:I played a little Fortnite on my Xbox. I started back in August and within a month it seemed like everyone was playing it. You can play with friends online and it’s addictive but annoying.
March 25:Work was stressful; we had a couple buses show up full of travelers. People were throwing t trash on the floor and not cleaning up after themselves. I don't understand how people can be so rude. Anyway, I’m at a party right now in a hotel. It’s Girls Night, and we got three rooms to play drunk Uno and drink shots and coolers.
March 27:My head hurts from last night. We had so much fun and didn’t even leave our rooms. There was a pool, but we were just too drunk to go down there. Now I have the worst hangover and have been in bed all day. A couple days ago, I found out that my ex had a terrible accident and got thrown out of his truck. I texted him, and he responded but didn’t want to be with me. This feeling sucks. I have been doing everything possible to move on. It's hard to love someone who doesn't feel the same as you.
March 29:I’m having eggs and sausage that I cooked for me and my dad. My mom usually works mornings, so I cook for my dad. I need a hobby. I used to be in orchestra in high school but I haven’t played my cello in so long. It used to be my outlet to kept the stress down when I was dealing with school work.
March 30:I worked 8 hours and it actually wasn’t bad. I enjoyed pouring coffee for the older customers. It took my mind away from thinking about my personal life.
March 31:I worked another 8-hour shift. My managers love me because I’m pretty much the hardest work there and make few mistakes. I want to be a teacher, so I need to have patience and control my anger if somebody is rude or disrespectful.
April 1:Every Easter my dad and I watch the Ten Commandmentsand the story of Moses in Egypt. I love the movie even though it’s so long and the quality is horrible. I still love the message it sends out. I’m a youngest child and sometimes my dad feels like we’ve outgrown him. So I try to keep traditions, like watching this movie with him. He’s been wondering why I’ve been so depressed lately. I can talk to my mom about that but don’t want my dad to know.
April 3:I’m planning on going to Wisconsin Dells with my sister and some friends. I can’t wait to just get out of Indiana for a week and not work and just chill by a pool.
April 4:I haven't smoked in a few days and don’t miss it, so I don’t think it has a hold on me just yet. My parents think I have a blog because they see me typing on my laptop every day. When I explained about the journal, they started referring to it as my diary. Come to think of it, that is sort of what it is.
April 6:I feel like an old lady sometimes because I work so early in the morning. Most young people work at night. I don’t mind working with the older people because they are diligent and don’t play on their phones or stand around. The main drawback is getting up early after going out on Fridays or Saturdays.
April 7:My ex and I used to get sonic and watch a movie and cuddle all night and it’s hard to believe that it’s all over. I do wonder if he is thinking of me. I really miss him and it feels good to type it instead of keeping it in my mind. I would literally do everything to cheer him up when he was down and couldn’t find work. I would give him gas money when he had none, but men are users and don’t care obviously. I don’t want to dwell on this subject but that’s why I’ve been so depressed.
April 8:I have another ex-boyfriend that still talks about me and I don’t get why. I don’t understand men and why they treat women like toys. I just want someone that would love me the way the way I love them. My generation just wants have sex and think that’s love, and not just the boys anymore, girls too. I don’t want to have sex with a boy I just met. Our music is filled with songs about being mistresses and not having commitment.
April 9:I’m just in such a dark place that it’s scary. I feel so alone when I’m surrounded by those I love. I can’t allow friends and family to see me so torn down. I don’t even feel like myself. I’m thinking about how worthless I am. I know in a month or 2 I will be happy again, not fake happy either, really happy.
April 11:I love music by Adele and Sam Smith. It is so relaxing and I can listen all day without getting tired of them.
April 14:I decided to sleep in and got a friend to work my shift. I have to take my dog to Petco for a bath He’s like the smelliest dog ever, like I’ll wash him and then he’ll take a nap and wake up smelly all over again. I love my dog though, he is kind of a therapy dog to me. He always wants to be in my bed with me and cuddle. My dad used to hate dogs, so our whole family was shocked when he allowed us to get one. Now he loves him, too. My mom’s birthday is coming as well as Mother’s Day so I need to order her some things.
April 15:I like to drink Mike’s Hard Lemonade, I don’t like beer at all, it’s so gross. I just realized that I like never watch TV, only shows on like Netflix or Hulu. I don’t even turn on the TV unless I’m playing Xbox.
April 16:I got my mom shoes, a jean jacket, and a bracelet and earrings. My mom is super spoiled so hopefully she likes what I got her and she doesn't chew me out. My dad gets mad at me for ordering stuff online because he feels like it’s unnecessary.
April 21:I had work and, oh my God, was I tired. I only got about 3 hours of sleep because I had gone out with my friends.
On the cover of “Hurrah for Liberals” by James A. Haught (which the author’s sister-in-law Helen Booth lent me) are Frederick Douglass, Margaret Sanger, Martin Luther King, and five Presidents: Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, TR, FDR, and LBJ. The book contains a quote by former Minnesota senator Al Franken, pressured into resigning when a couple incidents of stupid behavior toward women surfaced dating back to his days on Saturday Night Live. Franken asked: “Does the mainstream [press] have a liberal bias? On a couple things, maybe. Compared to the American public at large, probably a slightly higher percentage of journalists, because of their enhanced power of discernment, realize they know a gay person or two, and are, therefore, less frightened of them.”
Helen Booth also lent me a December 1928 issue of National Geographic, which featured an article titled “Renascent Germany” and over 40 pages of advertisements for such products as Campbell’s Soup, Gillette razor blades, Prudential Life Insurance, and National City Bank. Holland-American Line touted luxury Mediterranean cruises starting at $955, and Chrysler offered roadsters starting at $1065, while Dodge countered with a touring car for just $995. A land company selling plots in Chandler, Arizona, near Phoenix made this pitch, leaving out that temperatures often exceeded 100º in summer:
Chandler, Arizona, where winter is one continuous June; max. temp., November to March 63º to 74º, favorite wintering place of leading Americans – statesmen, authors, capitalists, business men; all year crops; unusual opportunities for farmers, dairymen, orchardists, orange grovers, and men with capital; hotels and other lines needed. Come, make money, and add 10 to 20 years to your life.
Chandler had little more than a thousand residents in 1940 but the population has since ballooned to a quarter-million.
IOHA officers; photo by Donald A. Ritchie
The Oral History Association August Newslettercontained an article by fellow University of Maryland PhD Donald A. Ritchie about the IOHA conference in Jyväskylä, Finland, as well as a photo of its newly elected officers from Australia, Brazil, China, Finland, Iran, Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, and the United States. Ritchie wrote:
Under the theme of “Memory and Narrative,” sessions ranged broadly, dealing with subjects from immigration to pandemics, civil rights and gender identity. This year being the centennial of the Finnish civil war, speakers introduced the international audience to memories of events in the host country. Finnish history was represented in memories of wars in song, Finnish design and the circumstances of sharing a border with Russia. With more than 20 hours of sunlight a day at Midsummer, delegates enjoyed a leisurely boat ride on a Finnish lake, dinner on an island, music and a sauna followed by a plunge into the lake, for those who chose.The meeting was a testament to the spread of oral history internationally and to the vitality and versatility of its practice.
Ritchie will be chairing a session in Montreal that I’m participating in, put together by Anne Balay, who is about to embark of a book tour for “Semi Queer” that will include a talk at IU Northwest.