Friday, May 27, 2016

Roads to Travel

-->
However many roads you travel, I hope that you choose no to be a lady.  I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there.  And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women,” Nora Ephron at Wellesley, 1996
 Becca and Sadie, photo by Tamiya Towns
At Rebecca’s Discovery Charter School eighth grade graduation outdoors the weather cooperated despite the threat of rain.  Many graduates had New Age names like Savannah, Dakota or Paige, and there were no Elizabeths, Marys or Susans – nor Williams, Roberts or Davids.  One of Becca’s friends had the refreshingly old-fashioned name of Sadie, which, according to BabyCenter’s list of popular girl’s names of 2016 was listed at number 61, right behind Bella and ahead of Julia.  Rebecca way down on the list at number 293, behind Rylie and Skye but ahead of Amanda and Margaret.  Several grads aspired to be architects or computer designers.  Two girls stated that their career goal was to be an exotic animal trainer (when I heard “exotic” I wondered if the next word would be “dancer”).  One guy said policeman, another body builder, a third rock star.  Nobody expressed a desire to be a lawyer or newspaper reporter, and only one expected to go into teaching.
 Anthropologist Margaret Meade
Upon receiving her certificate Becca stated that she wanted to become an anthropologist.  I told her afterwards that I didn’t even know what an anthropologist was at her age.  My second semester at Bucknell, I took a Sociology course with an instructor who identified himself as an anthropologist.  He taught about Franz Boas and his theory of cultural relativism and critique of theories of racial superiority.  I also learned about Margaret Meade, a student of Boas who did field research in the South Pacific and published “Coming of Age in Samoa” (1928) and “Growing Up in New Guinea” (1930).  Meade once asserted: “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

At the ceremony for the second year in a row were former mayor Richard Hatcher.  Dave introduced me to Steve Miller (not the “Fly Like an Eagle” guy), a soccer teammate of his 30-plus years ago at Woodland Park.  Steve’s dad was the coach, and his goal was to have everyone on the team score at least one goal.  During the final game the only guy without one tapped one in on a pass from Dave, bringing tears to Mr. Miller’s eyes.
 Post-Tribune photo by Keith Patterson
In the Post-Trib Jerry Davich wrote about Scott and Viki Williams hosting RailCat baseball players Rene Solis, Kevin Osaki, and Alex Gunn, the Osaki and Gunn’s case for the second season in a row.  All host families receive are home game tickets and parking passes.  Scott and Viki have been hosting since 2006.  Gunn told Davich: “Kevin and I really got lucky when we were set up with the Williamses.  Viki is just like a mom to us.  She cooks delicious meals when we are home.  She even does our laundry, but that’s because some former player almost blew up her clothes dryer, so she doesn’t let anyone else do it.”  Viki said, “[Last year] Alex helped me build two of my gardens, and Kevin helped my husband open our pool and put together the filter.”

Baylor University ousted scumbag Ken Starr as its president following a sex-assault scandal involving football players. Evidently the 69 year-old will continue pulling in a million-dollar salary despite having turned a blind eye to accusations against Baylor football players, two of whom were later convicted of sexual assault. Football coach Art Briles is gone and Athletic Director Ian McCaw will soon follow, having been placed on probation.  Six months ago, the Baptist University’s Board of Regents hired the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton (where I worked two summers in the mail room and Toni as a secretary).  Board President Richard Willis stated:
This investigation revealed the University’s mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students.  The depth to which these acts occurred shocked and outraged us.  Our students and their families deserve more.
During the 1990s Starr (above, with Coach Briles) as a special prosecutor conducted a witch-hunt  into President Bill Clinton sex life that disgusted a majority of Americans and had nothing to do with the Whitewater land deal that he was charged with investigating.  His office also spent three years looking into the 1993 suicide of White House deputy counsel Vince Foster and waited until after the 1996 election to release a finding that indeed Foster took his own life.  Foster’s sister Sheila called the politically motivated delay “unconscionable” in allowing “the American people to entertain any thought that the President of the United States somehow had complicity in Vince’s death.”  Not surprisingly, Donald Trump is dredging up the repudiated conspiracy theory, claiming there’s something fishy about what happened.

Mike Olszanski posted this sobering thought:
  Having lived through the era of Reagan, I have come to understand that, while the election of such a reactionary extremist is a reflection of existing trends in society, empowering such a Troglodyte encourages and amplifies selfishness, mean-spiritedness and lack of empathy, so that it feeds upon itself. The era of Reagan was ugly. The era of Trump could potentially be catastrophic.

Chancellor Lowe announced that Mark McPhail is resigning after just one year as Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and is taking a year’s leave of absence prior to joining the Communication Department.  He apparently purchased a house in Miller a short time ago, so I assumed all was well.  One can only speculate about this shocking development, reminiscent of the revolving-door fate of predecessors during the Bruce Bergland regime.  I admire McPhail greatly and hope he was not a victim of an old-boy network that in the recent past has depleted the university of several talented academicians, including Anne Balay, who recently spent a weekend in Miller.  Perhaps he tired of attending so many stupefying meetings or simply had an opportunity too good to turn down.  There’s a certain amount of wanderlust in his make-up.
Anne Balay and Emma Dei

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bathroom Battles


“Gender identity is our internal response to a social construction that attempts to make a connection between a person’s biological makeup and their eventual role in society.”  Sam Killermann, “The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender


At one time a bathroom battle likely involved whether to leave a toilet seat up or down.  The latest red herring used by religious nuts to oppose ordinances offering equal rights based on gender identity is to conjure up the specter of m to f transgenders with penises showering with impressionable girls. Ten Republican governors, including Hoosier blockhead Mike Pence, want to take the federal government to court for releasing guidelines protecting the rights of transgender students.  In California and elsewhere gender-neutral bathrooms have been functioning smoothly for years. The last thing most transgenders want is to be the center of attention.  In Osaka, Japan, men’s bathrooms have no urinals and walls that separate the toilet stalls from floor to ceiling.  The first time I used one, a woman was inside, assisting an elderly man.
 Heath Carter with mic, Post-Trib photo by Kyle Telechan; below, Tom Cotton, NWI Times photo by Rob Earnshaw 

Valparaiso City Council voted 5-2 to approve a civil rights ordinance that includes gender identity.  Two Republican opponents sought an exemption for businesses with fewer than ten employees.  Supporting the proposal was Councilman Robert Cotton, 11 years old in 1969 when his family became the first African Americans to reside in Valpo.  Cotton has visited the Archives to research the liberal group that facilitated the family’s relocation from a Chicago housing project.  History professor Heath Carter, who chaired the Advisory Human Relations Council, said: “I am extremely proud of our city.  It has been remarkable throughout this process to see neighbors of many different persuasions treat one another with such respect and care.”  Echoing those sentiments, Mayor Jon Costas, a Gary native, stated: “Members of the LGBT community are our neighbors, our co-workers, our family members and family citizens and why would we want to deny them basic civil protections?”
 Transgender flag designed by Monica Helms
Twitter response to a Time multi-colored toilet paper cover was all over the map, from “this is a gay pride flag, not a trans pride flag” to “who the fuck thought it was a good idea to imply we should wipe our ass on a pride flag?”  Mirah Image pointed out that the toilet paper is hanging the wrong way.  And those were just from LGBT supporters.  Showing more perspective, Chokladboll noted: “No one is dying from this cover.”

Chesterton library is giving away Indy 500-related items.  I spun a wheel and won a red “Big Finger” inscribed “Go Graham.”  Son of 19876 Indy winner Bobby Rahal, Graham races for David Letterman’s team.  My favorite late night host, letterman now sports a Santa Claus beard.   The only years I’ve taken more than a passing interest in “The Race” was when Danica Patrick was at the wheel.  Bowling teammate Melvin Nelson has attended the spectacle for the past 30 years.  Kirsten Bayer-Petras and friends go every year; three days ago Kirsten even took her mom and kids to time trials.
The first line in John Irving’s “The World According to Garp” (1976) goes: “Garp’s mother, Jenny Fields, was arrested in Boston in 1942 for wounding a man in a movie theater.”   A soldier’s kept sitting next to her despite her changing seats four times.  In other words, he deserved what he got.  On the twentieth anniversary of “Garp’s” publication Irving wrote: “The principal point about Garp’s mother is stated in the first chapter: ‘Jenny Fields discovered that you got more respect from shocking other people than you got from trying to live your own life with a little privacy.’”

A New York Times crossword puzzle clue asked which longtime Indiana Senator was defeated in 2012.  Answer: Richard Lugar in the Republican primary by a Tea Party jerk who claimed nonconsensual rape victims couldn’t get pregnant.  After a talk with Robert Blaszkiewicz, I crossed over and voted for Lugar, who worked for many years on nuclear disarmament.

In Arusha, Tanzania came photos and this post from granddaughter Alissa: “Scored a lefty goal on the Tanzanian team.”  Earlier, she reported from the Serengeti that nine year-old bushman kids in sandals had slaughtered her group. Meanwhile, back in Gary, Indiana, Samuel Love explored the Calumet Lagoon near Gary Works.

Monday, May 23, 2016

In the Field


“My first day in the field in South Vietnam I’m leaning on one of these pipes when I notice writing inscribed on it: ‘U.S. Steel, Gary Sheet and Tin.’ I exclaimed, ‘Look, I worked there.’  But nobody gave a shit.”  Omar Farag
 Omar Farag (2nd from left) skinny-dipping in water probably contaminated by Agent Orange
Omar Farag got sent to Nam in the fall of 1970, by which time the war was basically lost.  On patrol, he told me:
  My squad members liked me walking point because I altered our mission to search and avoid.  My attitude was, “Fuck, we’re going slow.”  After all, the purpose was to survive.  If I thought the enemy went one way, I went the opposite.  We all agreed; we didn’t even have to vocalize it.
President Obama with Vietnamese leader Tran Dai Quang

Barack Obama became the first sitting President to visit Vietnam, some 42 years after the end of America’s most disastrous war, and announced the end of the American embargo on selling arms to the Communist regime.  One reason for closer ties with the Hanoi regime is alarming Chinese aggression in the South China Sea.

In “Operation Homecoming,” edited by Andrew Carroll, is an article by First Lieutenant Dawn Halfaker, who in 2004, after playing varsity basketball for West Point, led her platoon on security missions and trained Iraqi police.  After three months in the field, her four-truck convoy came under attack.  She recalled:
  An RPG smashed through my truck’s engine block. Ripped my right arm from its socket, splintered my torso with shrapnel, broke eight of my ribs, and severely burned my lungs. With God on his shoulders, our driver Specialist Hill averted the kill zone and raced our mangled truck back to the police station.
 

In an induced coma for two weeks, Halfaker awoke to find herself at Walter Reed Hospital, where she’d remain for nine months.  She overcame self-pity at losing her arm by observing the grit of comrades with more grievous wounds and by remembering Omar, a prisoner who once facilitated the birth of a child by a pregnant detainee who would not let a U.S. doctor touch her.  Halfaker wrote:
  The local religious and nationalist authorities didn’t appreciate Omar’s brazenly pro-Western attitude, so they framed him for selling hashish to juveniles and had him arrested.  With no due process to depend on, Omar was convicted of nothing but remained incarcerated for over a year.
  One of Omar’s favorite pastimes was watching us soldiers play basketball on a small makeshift court we threw together outside the jail.  He would stand in his cell and peer through the bars of his window, shouting enthusiastically as though it were game seven of the World Series.  He always cheered the most for my team, mocking my opponents, claiming that no one could stop me.  The more he rooted for me, the more I wanted to prove the pride of his smack talk.
  As I recovered at Walter Reed, I learned that Omar took my injury extremely hard.  One day he became so angry and frustrated that he tore down the makeshift basketball hoop he helped us build and wrote, “No LT, no Play” on the backboard in big bold letters.  When the soldiers tried to put it back up, Omar wrestled it away from them and insisted that if I were not going to be part of the game, no one would be.
Halfaker’s description of Omar reminded me that Portage grad John Migoski, assigned by the army to Mogadishu Somalia in 1993, gave the name Omar to his son because a man by that name saved his life.  It also caused me to remember Mehmet, a helpful and sociable student at Bogazici (Bosporus) University in Istanbul when in the summer of 2000 I attended an oral history conference there.  A devout Kurd who hoped to study in Boston after meeting a girl from there the previous summer, Mehmet took me sightseeing one day to the Grand Bazaar, Suleyman’s burial mosque, and Istanbul University.  We had yummy pita bread filled with cuttings from a huge revolving piece of veal.  I’d seen them all over but hadn’t gotten up the nerve to order one.

NWI Times marketing columnist Larry Galler compared managing a business to running a farm.  A good harvest depends on plowing, planting, nurturing, protecting, and cultivating the field.  Similarly, Galler wrote, “The businessman uses other tools to cultivate, plant seeds of interest, nourish and protect the relationship with great service and ultimately produce a harvest.  The businessperson also knows that there is no harvest, or a very thin one, without cultivating the relationship.”

After a torrid start, the Cubs have cooled off, losing their last three series.  In the field Jason Haywood ran face first into a wall in the process of making a spectacular catch.  Their latest loss was on a two-out, walk-off home run by Cardinal Randal Grichuk.

Chesterton Tribune reporter Kevin Nevers encapsulated three generations of downtown entrepreneurship in “Framing Concepts to Close.”  Nevers began:
  For more than three-quarters of a century, a Baur has been doing business in downtown Chesterton and once every generation reinventing it.
  Walt Baur, Sr, the original entrepreneur, in 1938 opened the Ben Franklin five-and-dime at 133 S. Calumet Road.  In 1959 Walt, Jr. bought out his father and, looking to expand, moved the store into the 10,000-square foot space of what had been the Aron Theater at 219 Broadway.
  There Walt, later joined by his son ken, continued selling the usual stock-in-trade of a five and dime – toiletries, shoes, stationary, household items – until, by the early 1980s, the rise of the big-box discount retailers had shifted the commercial center of gravity from the downtown to the frontage road, from storefronts to strip malls.  Mom-and-pop operations had no hope of competing against such aggressive economies of scale.
  The Baurs responded boldly with a sidestep and counterthrust.  They became a specialty store, liquidating much of their traditional line and replacing it with arts and crafts supplies.  Ken completed the transition in 1989 when he bought out his father, outfitting, with wife Pat, serious artists and crafters as well as kids (and parents) grappling with social projects, birthday parties, and rainy afternoons.
  By the 21st century, however, Hobby Lobby and Michael’s were doing to Ken’s Ben Franklin what Kmart and Target had done to his father’s.  So Ken doubled down on specialization and opened Framing Concepts gallery, where for 15 years they’ve been providing high-end customized framing and display solutions for art work, family heirlooms, and personal mementos.
  Now though, Ken and Pat (above) are retiring.  The time is right, Ken says. They have had a good run in the niche business in a small town.  The decision hasn’t been forced on them by circumstance.  “We’re lucky,” Ken says.  “It’s never become a daily grind.  And we can pick and choose.”
  Not that it’s been easy though.  It took sweat and imagination.  “You build up layers in a frame shop,” Ken says.  “It’s not just residential jobs.  It’s also commercial and interior decoration.”
Nevers reported that last year Chesterton lost Smith Motors, a family-owned dealership for over 50 years, and that the Port Drive-In owners are soon retiring.

In 1996, hearing from high school teacher Susan Abbadusky, reprimanded in Monmouth, Illinois, for assigning “Slaughterhouse Five,” Kurt Vonnegut wrote:
  The first story of mine to arouse censors was about time-travelers who go back to the Holy Land at the time of the Crucifixion.  It turns out that the Bible had it right, the 3 crosses, the crown of thorns, and so on.  As long as they’re back there, they decide to measure Jesus.  He is five feet and three inches tall, the same height, incidentally, as Richard the Lion hearted.  Outrage!  Pandemonium!
 “Mistress America” (2015) is about Tracy (Lola Kirke), a lonely Barnard College freshman bonding with stepsister-to-be Brooke (Greta Gerwig), a vivacious 30 year-old veteran New Yorker.  Their parents met on an Internet dating service.  Richard Brody in The New Yorker described Brooke as “a brilliant talker and aphorist, a fast-walking, fast-talking fount of gossip and insights, cutting wit and grandiose dreams, wild impulses and crazy projects, incisive observations and boundless audacity.”  Brody added:
  As soon as Tracy lays eyes on Brooke, who sashays down the red staircase at the TKTS stand in Duffy Square with a wild shriek ("Tracy! Welcome to the Great White Way!”) and a theatrically ironic eye roll, Tracy recognizes that Brooke is a character, in both senses of the word – an idiosyncratic, overflowing, even overwhelming personality, and someone made to be represented in fiction. The next day, after a night of adventures with Brooke, Tracy writes a story, “Mistress America,” about a woman named Meadow who says and does what Brooke said and did when they were together.
Tracy labels Meadow “all romance and failure.  The world was changing, and her kind didn’t have anywhere to go.  Being a beacon of hope for lesser people is a lonely business.”  That was selling the resilient Brooke short, as Tracy later realized.
Our bridge group dined at Ivy’s Bohemia House and came back to the condo for cards and cheesecake.  Sunday at Memorial Opera House we attended “The Bobo Show,” a fundraiser for Porter County Animal Shelter.  Becca and James sang “PETS” with Anne Carmichael to the tune of “YMCA.”  Afterwards we celebrated Tamiya’s turning 21 at Applebee’s, followed by Angie’s homemade chocolate cake at the condo. 

Good buddy David Malham passed away, wife Shelley informed us, two years after contracting ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  A master storyteller with a warm heart, he was my first A+ student.  Once for Rhiman Rotz’s class project he decided to cook a medieval meal (mainly onions and potatoes) and asked Toni and me to be on hand for moral support.  We had a hilarious time playing a dictionary game later marketed as Balderdash.  David described my demeanor in front of the classroom in the early 1970s thusly:
  Lane needed a plumed hat and rapier like D’Artagnan in “The Three Musketeers.”  He had a goatee, mustache, long hair, and a habit of making circular hand motions.  When he wanted to make a big point, the gesture would take on a particular flourish.
 
Malham earned an MA at IU before becoming a grief counselor for MADD.  In a class with pompous historian Robert H. Ferrell, he pronounced Valparaiso, Chile, like the city in Northwest Indiana, emphasizing the long “a” in the third syllable rather than the “i,” drawing Ferrell’s ridicule.  In 2000, after Dave, Angie, and I were victims of a home invasion, David held a cathartic debriefing session.  Often deliberately the butt of his own stories, he once described an appearance on the Jerry Springer show as an expert on troubled teens.  Right before airtime he noticed that his pin-stripe jacket didn’t match the pants.  His first chance to speak, he wasn’t succinct enough, so Springer cut him off.  An attractive black girl was getting the most camera time.  David broke in but got her name wrong.  I think of David whenever I sneak candy into the movie theater, which embarrassed son Michael.  His Assyrian mother for many years refused to give up her house in Gary behind Sears despite her children’s urging.  David took her along on a business trip to Washington, DC. 

Years ago at a gas station a reckless driver ran Malham down and severely injured hom.  Depressed and feeling like a burden, he divorced Shelley, his soul mate, but later they remarried.  Though unfailingly good-humored in correspondence, the emails tailed off.  I was not surprised that he declined heroic measures to keep him alive.  I’m grieving but cherish many humorous memories we shared.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Coming of Age


“We’re all pretty bizarre.  Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”  Andrew in “The Breakfast Club”


I spoke to Steve McShane’s class about their assignment to interview someone from the Calumet Region who was a teenager during the 1990s, then had them read excerpts from memoirs published in Steel Shavings (volume 31, 2001) by such memorable students as Highland skateboarder Craig McLain, West Side basketball player Rashon Davis, North Newton “wigger” Elizabeth Grzych, and Boone Grove graduate Marshall Lines, who talked a friend out of committing suicide and, like “nerdy Andrew in “The breakfast Club,” was a late bloomer.  Erin Hawkins had her tongue pierced on her eighteenth birthday, and Merrillville grad Anne Marie Laurel got jailed for underage drinking at a Portage trailer park.  I referenced Donny Hollandsworth, still a fanatical IU and Bears fan and presently in a poker group with Dave, and Samuel A. Love (then Sam Barnett, singer with the punk band Fuzz Factor), a Gary community organizer and close friend. The Nineties Shavings, titled “Shards and Midden Heaps” from a Jean Shepherd quote, contains William Buckley’s “Night Shift” about downtown Crown Point:
  Our sudden coolings in August
              When boys come flying
              on their rollerblades
              their arms stretched like wings
  Streets are empty, except for hard legs
              walking into Pete’s Irish Pub, and the movies
              are doing business with families, for “Die Hard.”
  Our boys lean for the wind, circle
              round the gingerbread courthouse on wheels
              like birds around the lawn, and cop cars
              cool their engines by the Triple Play Saloon.
  There’d been a street dance, before the rains.
              And the jail where John Dillinger carved his wood
              into a gun, has been saved for renovation.


 “Shards and Midden Heaps” examines coming-of-age” teen experiences of so-called Generation Xers or their younger siblings, sometimes nicknamed Generation Nexters or Generation Why? Volume 31’s chief merit, I still believe, may well be its anecdotal glimpses into the contemporary history of adolescence, at present a virtually virgin field.  Contributors recalled wild parties and car rides, body piercings and visits to tattoo parlors, color guard highlights and gridiron thrills, skateboarding feats and deaths coming too soon.  Adolescence was truly a period of danger.  Young people succumbed on the highway, at unprotected railway crossings, from drug overdoses, at the hands of predators, and from insidious diseases such as AIDS and asthma. The latter affected a disproportionately large number of residents living in the shadow of the mills.

One critic called Dan Wakefield’s coming-of-age novel “Going All the Way” (1970) the Midwest “Catcher in the Rye.” Kurt Vonnegut wrote that it “is really about a society so drab that sex seems to the young to be the only adventure with any magic to it.”  In the chapter on Sonny and Gunner’s 1954 visit to Calumet City, just across the Illinois state line, Wakefield wrote:
  There was this main street lit up like a carnival with flashing neon signs and barkers trying to get you in the strip joints, all of them saying the main attraction was just coming on no matter what was actually happening.  It was just a little country-town except that it was nothing but bars and strip joints and all that mothering neon glaring and blinking in the night, and behind it, in the sky, the reddish-orange glow from the steel mills, like the skyline of hell.

Driving through Gary, renown photographer Camilo Vergara, a frequent visitor to the “Steel City,” spotted a billboard at Fifteenth and Monroe soliciting  blood plasma donations and indicating that one could buy a motorcycle or snowmobile with the money.  It reminded me that right after Alaskans received oil-generated money from the state’s Permanent Fund (in 2015 the payout was $2,072), ads touting trips to Hawaii and other enticements began appearing for the exact amount allocated.
 Jessica Nieman with Pally and Jean
Jessica Nieman interviewed 90 year-old Alberta “Jean” Ellis in a house in Chesterton just down the street from where she grew up.  Jessica wrote:
Jean Shultz’s family farmed 27 acres.  When she was 11, her dad was struck dead by a truck while mowing grass. Jean’s mother Edith took over the farm with help from her children. Jean said, “We were all farmers, because that’s all that was around at that time here!”  The youngest of six, Jean gathered eggs, fed the chickens, and brought in the cows.  She said, “My mother was a great seamstress and made all my clothes. People would give her heavy overcoats, and she would tear them apart and make clothes for us.  My first store-bought coat was right after my father had passed.”  They traded farm produce for clothing.
  When Jean was 14, she had her eyebrows done for school picture day, and they swelled up.  “My mom was pissed,” she recalled.  Jean was first in her family to graduate high school.   She said, “At 16 you could stop going.  My older sister would buy me clothes to keep me in school. She wanted me to succeed.”  She was one of 28 graduates in Chesterton’s class of 1943.  Jean had started waitressing at Edward’s Barbecue when just 14.   She learned to drive in her mother’s 1934 Ford.   A Chesterton movie theater had midweek dime shows, which made for an affordable evening out. Jean also loved roller-skating.
At age 20 Jean married Earl Ellis. They had four children, Mark, David, Gwen, and Danny. In 1978 Earl passed away. Fifteen years later, at Moose Lodge on Thanksgiving, Jean ran into an old friend, recently widowed Lou “Pally” Gordon, and they have been inseparable ever since.  The October day I met with Jean she had just gone to Chesterton Farmers Market, as she does every Saturday, for cheese curds and coffee, and we sat and talked for two hours, with 94 year-old Pally sometimes joining in.

Joseph Mastej wrote about Elaine Brezovich Jamrose, who was born on February 28, 1937, at St. Katherine’s and grew up in Whiting.  Her parents, Tom and Ann Brezovich, were from Czechoslovakia.  Tom worked at Amoco (BP) refinery.  Mastej wrote:
              Elaine’s grandma owned a tavern and several adjacent apartments.  Elaine recalled, “On Fridays she’d have fish fries, and all these guys would come for her dinners. And all of her kids had to pitch in to help: fry the fish, make the coleslaw, and all of that.  My dad used to plop me on the barstool. I was like five or six. I’d sing in Polish or Croatian.  Guys got a big kick seeing this little girl sing and would tip me a dime or a quarter.”
Elaine’s older sister Carol ended up marrying, in Elaine’s words, “a big shot at Ford.”  Elaine’s favorite memory at St. Adalbert’s was wearing a beautiful dress in an ethnic pageant.  In fourth grade a nun locked her in “the dark closet,” as kids used to call it, for talking, and she came home crying.  Her dad went crazy and put her in public school.  In high school Elaine played the piano for the chorus and the viola in orchestra.  She was a cheerleader, on the yearbook committee, and participated in plays.  She lived near Lake George and played volleyball at the beach and ice-skated in winter. A favorite uncle often took her to Whiting beach.   Elaine recalled: “I used to go to a hamburger place after school, where there was a juke box.”
Elaine attended dances after basketball and football games and at Madura’s Danceland and St. John Panel Room.  After one game, she recalled: “I was waiting for my boyfriend to come and this boy from Tolleston asked me to dance.  His name was Paul Krysitch. I really liked him. He said why don’t you come visit me sometime, I work at this shoe store in Gary.  That Saturday I did, but he was off that day. I never went back but wish I had.  I only met him one night.”
  Elaine graduated in 1954 and intended to become an X-ray technician, but her boyfriend proposed to her so she got a job at American Trust and Savings until she got pregnant with son Danny.  She and her husband were married on October 13, 1956.  The reception was at St. John Panel Room, where she’d go for dances. The shower was at the Slovak Dome.  The couple moved to a part of Whiting called Goose Island.  She often took a bus to downtown Hammond and shopped at Goldblatt's.  A dozen cookies cost just a dollar.
Elaine’s marriage ended in 1969 when she caught her husband having an affair.  She summed up their 13 years of marriage, “The first ten were really happy.  My mother-in-law lived upstairs and was a good cook. She took my kids under her wing. Then the last three years I had a little bit of a suspicion and those weren’t good years.“  Elaine moved above her grandma’s tavern with Danny and Laura.  It was noisy, and drunks would stumble upstairs looking for the bathroom. She found work at Inland Steel and after five years moved to a nicer apartment.  She joined a bowling league with co-workers and said: “All the guys I worked with were married but tried to hit on the divorced women. They were tired of their old lady so figured, ‘Let’s try this one out.’”  She and her girlfriends traveled to Hawaii.  She recalled: “That was my first trip on an air plane. It was this great big 747 with all these people and their luggage, and we are going over the ocean. I was sitting there petrified, praying the rosary, as the plane bounced around.”
   
White Sox hurler Chris Sale won his ninth consecutive start, 2-1, with former Philly Jimmy Rollins scoring on a sacrifice fly after stealing second and advancing to third on a grounder.  Sale and Jake Arrieta of the Cubs are the best pitchers in their respective leagues.
Five days ago, on safari in Tanzania, Alissa wrote: “Josh and I are in the Serengeti (literally)! It's been the most amazing 48 hours! We watched a herd of elephants snacking on grass, ended up in the center of a circle of stampeding wildebeest, and a full-grown male lion came to visit us during our picnic lunch. We survived and are living in style in this crazy Serengeti paradise of a hotel.”  Today came this update:
Josh and I are back in Arusha! The safari was such an adventure! Our group spent a day with the Hadzabe tribe - they are Bushmen who have extremely little contact with the outside world. There are about 1,000 members of this tribe left in Tanzania. They live entirely off the land. In order to reach them, our guides had to call two local guys to find where they were that day. They are nomadic and move around every few weeks (depending on the hunting). Every day, the women gather, cook and take care of the children while the men go hunt. We drove deep into the remote bush of Tanzania (had to drive through a small river) and hiked to find them in a hollowed out bush. They speak in a language with a lot of clicking noises, which can't be written down so it's very hard to learn). They taught us to play their instruments and we danced. They taught us how to make fire (Josh was by far the best at it - he has been bragging ever since) and we got to go hunting with them! I was nervous about it at first because their favorite meat is baboon. Luckily, with 25+ loud Americans behind them, all they were able to catch were small birds and rats (which they shot with arrows!!!!) They also found us fresh honey in a huge tree and how to find fruit. To hunt, they run with a pack of pretty wild looking dogs that help them track animals; we had to sprint to keep up with them at times. It was one of the most exhausting, exciting, and mind-bogglingly awesome experiences of my life.