Monday, September 26, 2016

Into the Woods

“I was raised to be charming, not sincere.” Prince Charming, in “Into the Woods”
Lisa Woodruff Hedin, Michael Glorioso and Colleen Peluso
Dick and Cheryl Hagelberg, back from a Baltic Sea cruise, drove us to Memorial Opera House in Valpo for the presentation of “Into the Woods.”  Last year I saw James and Becca (playing the Baker and the Witch) in a one-act version of the Stephen Sondheim musical, which had a happy ending that suited me just fine.  In Act II we learn that the characters are not what they seem.  Prince Charming, for instance, seduces the Baker’s wife (played by Colleen Peluso, whose real-life husband was Prince Charming).  The beanstalk giant’s wife kills several main characters.  The main point, I gathered, was be careful what you wish for.  My favorite character was Little Red Riding Hood, played by Danielle Scampini-Linn as a tough cookie who liked her independence and wore a cape made from the wolf’s skin.  At one point she sang, Do not put your faith in a cape and a hood, they will not protect you the way that they should. And take extra care with strangers, even flowers have their dangers, and though scary is exciting, nice is different than good.”  Sitting in the third row, I saw from time to time the baton of Maestro Troy Webdell, conducting a 14-piece orchestra below.  As I gradually lost interest in what the characters were saying, I came to enjoy the music more and more.
At West Beach over the weekend a 2016 Dunes Blowout celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the centennial of the National Park Service.  Among the performers were singer Patti Shaffner, the Emerson Jazz Tornadoes, and the South Shore Dance Alliance.  When we lived near West Beach I liked to go into the woods to collect firewood. The plentiful sassafras trees would fall over after a few years and when cut into logs gave off a pleasant aroma as well as little sparks.  Unfortunately, poison ivy was also plentiful, and one had to be careful to avoid it.  I’ve been slightly wary of woods since attacked by yellow jackets and bitten several times as a kid stumbling across their hive. When Toni and I were in the woods in the Poconos years ago, she enjoyed being temporarily lost while I was extremely uncomfortable.
Granddaughter Becca went to Chesterton’s Friday homecoming game (a loss to Portage) and then on Saturday to the dance.  Her date’s mother arranged for photos on the beach in Odgen Dunes beforehand.  When I was a high school senior, my job was to announce the homecoming court during halftime of Upper Dublin’s football game.  I was told in advance that Wendy Henry had been elected queen and would be riding in the final convertible in the entourage.  I couldn’t see very well and probably got the timing wrong although nobody complained.
 Door Prairie Barn

Kaske House

Sunday’s Post-Trib came with a glossy magazine on Chicagoland suburban landmarks, including a half-dozen located in Northwest Indiana: The old lighthouse in Michigan City, Lake County Courthouse in Crown Point, Heritage Hall on Valparaiso University’s campus, Door Prairie Barn in LaPorte, Collier Lodge in Kouts (the only one that has not been refurbished), and Kaske House in Munster, originally built in 1845 as a tavern and now a museum.  Philip Potempa wrote of the Munster landmark, located on 1005 Ridge Road and acquired in 1986 by the Munster Park Board:
  The inn originally had six bedrooms, the tap room, a dining room and a sitting room.
  In 1864 the property, called the Brass Tavern, was sold by Allan and Julia Watkins Brass to Johann an Wilhelmina Stallbohm and renamed Stallbohm’s Inn, which featured the addition of a wire telegraph service.  The first news of the assassination of president Abraham Lincoln was delivered to residents of the area after it was sent by wire to Stallbohm’s Inn.
  In the 1890s, when the business, and the health of the owners, declined, the inn closed.  Johann died in 1899 and Wilhelmina in 1901.  Their daughter, Wilhelmina Kaske, moved in to the former inn with her husband and converted it into the family home.  In 1909, much of the original structure was destroyed by fire and had to be rebuilt.

On Sunday I learned that golf legend Arnold Palmer died at age 87 as did star pitcher José Fernandez for Miami from a boating accident.  The Cubsbeat the Cardinals for win number 99 on a David Ross home run after Wrigley Field fans had given him an ovation on his final regular season home game.  The Eagles surprisingly are 3-0 after trouncing the Steelers, while the Bears not surprisingly are 0-3.  I won my Fantasy Football game despite zero points from tight end Rob Gronkowski while my backup, Zach Miller, totaling 19.  In fact, my bench outscored the Jimbo Jammer starters 110 to 89 despite being without an extra kicker or defense.

Rolling Stone ranked the top 100 TV shows of all time.  Number 2, behind “The Sopranos,” was “The Wire,” which I had never seen until yesterday.  The next four were “Breaking Bad,” “Mad Men,” “Seinfeld,” and “The Simpsons.”  “Curb Your Enthusiasm” made the list but not “Friends” or “The Big Bang Theory.”  I’d have put “Saturday Night Live” in the top five rather than ninth, as well as “Sesame Street,” just 31st on the list. “The Wire” deals with the flawed law enforcement system in Baltimore, where almost everyone is out to protect his ass, and the drug trade infects inner city ghetto life. The most interesting character is a lesbian cop.  In the first two episodes I heard “Way Down in the Hole” by Tom Waits and “Love Is Strange’ by Mickey and Sylvia.
 Louis VII, Conrad III, and Baldwin III at Jerusalem Council

Last week David Parnell discussed the Crusades from the Byzantine perspective, and this week from the Muslim point of view, using the twelfth century “Book of Contemplation” by Usama ibn Munqidh.  Whereas the fragmentation of Muslims had enabled the First Crusade to be a success in winning control of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Edessa, it led to the rise of Imad ad-Din Zengi, who recaptured Edessa, which caused Pope Eugenius to call for another Crusade.  This time two monarchs, Louis VII and Holy Roman Emperor Conrad III became involved.  Louis took his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine with him, whose uncle was Prince Raymond of Antioch. Conrad’s army was annihilated at Dorylaeum in 1147 and the French king’s army a year later at Damascus.  While in Antioch, Queen Eleanor evidently became overly intimate with Raymond, and her marriage with Louis later was annulled. She went on to wed the future English King Henry II and bore him eight children.  Imprisoned for 16 for plotting against her husband, Eleanor was the mother of Richard I and regent while he went off on the Third Crusade.

Robert Arnaud of Swiss radio interviewed me for an hour about the history of Gary.  He’d come from meeting with Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Chuck Hughes.  He told me that they’d dub my voice in French for the program he’s planning on Gary.

Friday, September 23, 2016


“When you see me in misery
Come on baby see about me.”
         “What’d I Say,” Ray Charles
Ray Charles in 1968
Becca spent the night because she had an English paper due at midnight, and power went out at her house.  For the topic “I Believe” she wrote 600 words on equality   I drove her to Chesterton High School and then turned on WXRT.  Lin Brehmer talked with Len Kasper about the Cubs getting into the 1908 World Series thanks to NY Giant Fred Merkle’s bonehead play, not advancing to second base on an apparent game-winning single.   Featured artists were members of Rock and Roll’s royalty Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen, both born on September 23.  Ray would have been 86, while “The Boss” turned 67.  Ray Charles was my favorite performer in high school and “Drown in my Own Tears” my favorite song.  Over the course of the morning WXRT played “Lonely Avenue,” “The Right Time,” and “What’d I Say,” which some prudes at the time thought contained dirty words.  My favorite line: “See the girl with the red dress on, she can do the Birdland all night long.” What fantasies to put in the mind of this impressionable teenager.  In “We Like Birdland” by Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns the final line goes, “Ah, Safire, momma, we’re really gonna do that now.”
Bill Carey captured on camera monarch butterflies fueling up on the wildflower golden rod at Marquette Park in Gary.   Spencer Cortwright wrote:
About this time of year our monarch butterflies are getting ready for their annual migration to Mexico.  Our monarchs have to fuel up on as much nectar as possible to ensure they can make it to each refueling spot along their way!  They have a long way to go.  When they return in spring, they don't go all the way, they stop in southern states and lay eggs and die.  Their young then continue on the migration in a stepping-stone like fashion.

The Frankish kingdom of Jerusalem existed from 1099 until 1187, when overrun by the forces of Saladin (An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub), a Sunni Kurd.  During the 88 years numerous disputes occurred over the issue of succession, due to the lack of male heirs in the case of both Baldwin I and Baldwin II, his distant cousin, whose four children were, alas, girls.  The eldest, Melisende, married Count Fulk of Anjou, who died in 1143 in a fall from a horse.  Melisende’s son Baldwin III (whose real father may have been Hugh of Jaffa) ascended the throne but died childless, provoking yet another crisis that ultimately led to the child of Baldwin’s brother, the leper Baldwin IV, assuming the throne.  He was unable to have children, died at age 24, and his sickly nephew Baldwin V died just two years after he did, leading to yet another conflict that Saladin exploited, soundly defeating a Crusader force at the Battle of Hattin, located in present-day Israel.  In the aftermath he ordered hundreds of Knights Templar executed.  Learning of the disaster, Pope Gregory VIII put out a call for another crusade that enlisted three foolhardy monarchs, King Richard the Lion-Heart, Philip II of France, and Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I.
Good friend Alice Bush bowled in my place because we need her to sub next week while I am in New York and Robbie is on a Mississippi River cruise.  Several people commented on her black Flamingo’s Pizza shirt with pink lettering, including two relatives of the current owner.  George Villarreal recalled when Flamingo’s was located on Fifth Avenue downtown. When Gregg Halliburt expressed the hope that she’d do well, Alice responded, “Keep Hope Alive,” a Jesse Jackson quote.  An SEIU organizer, she was an ardent Bernie Sanders supporter.  She hadn’t bowled in over 30 years and had to use a house ball but improved with each game and plans to be back next week. 
Post-Trib reporter Nancy Webster requested information on the Union Espanola’s social center, Spanish Castle, built in 1931 and still standing on West Eleventh Avenue, home to a church congregation.  Archivist Steve McShane referred her to Ernie Hernandez’s “Ethnics in Northwest Indiana” (1983), and I recommended the chapter on Hispanics in “Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience” (1996). In Ron Cohen and my pictorial history of Gary is a photo provided by Angie Prado Komenich of Union Espanola members attending a 1926 picnic, accompanied by this caption:
  Founded in 1913 to provide beneficiary, educational, and recreational activities for its two dozen charter members, the Union Espanola grew rapidly during the 1920s.  Between January 1, 1922, and July 1, 1923, membership rose from 50 to 400 under the leadership of Antonio Garcia (president), Daniel Vega (secretary), Francisco Chamorro (treasurer), and Hipolito Fernandez (vice-president).
I was able to put Webster in touch with Angie Komenich, now in her mid-80s and living in Portage.

In a 2013 article entitled “Hidden City”         about homeless New Yorkers, estimated to be in excess of 50,000, Ian Frazier referred to Jacob A. Riis’s pioneering exposé “How the Other Half Lives” (1890.  He wrote:
Fiorello LaGuardia, by general consensus the greatest mayor the city ever had, loved “How the Other Half Lives” so much that he put a copy of it in the cornerstone of one of the nation’s original low-cost public-housing projects, part of a series he built downtown and in Brooklyn.