Got an email from Tim Jackomis thanking me for volume 38 of Steel Shavings dealing with the social history of the Calumet Region during the 1980s and entitled “The Uncertainty of Everyday Life.” He wrote: “ I read the entire book this weekend. It brought back many memories. A lot of people that I have not thought of or seen in many years! Thanks again!” The issue contains the third and final installment of my oral history of the Gary Mayor Richard G. Hatcher’s 20 year administration (1968-87) as well as student articles ranging from teen sports and partying to family activities and tragedies.
One of my favorite articles is by Charles Halberstadt dealing with annual Game Weekends at his house in which my family participated. Here it is: “The 1980s: what a decade. We had two failed assassination attempts, one on President Reagan and the other on Pope John Paul II. The steel industry was having a tough time. The Berlin wall came down finally ending the cold war. Episodes five and six in the Star Wars Trilogy came out, and I was born. One annual event of importance to my family was called Game Weekend, a three-day excursion where friends get together to play board games. Its creators were my parents, Jef and Robin Halberstadt. My dad described Game Weekend as “a weekend long open house for playing board games that starts Friday evening and ends Sunday night. The type of people that come to Game Weekend can be put into four categories. The ‘social’ gamers were friends and family who were there more to visit than to play games and who were more into group games like Taboo. The second group liked more serious games like Diplomacy or Rail Baron that were challenging and took a long time to play. The third group basically showed up just to play Backgammon for an extended amount of time. The final group consisted of those who just popped in to see what it was all about. So all sorts of people would be there, some for a few minutes and some for a few days.” Asked how Game Weekend changed during the 80s, Jef replied that at some point the date was moved to the weekend closest to New Year’s Eve. Also in 1985 after daughter Sheridan came along, the location was moved to the home of Tom Wade, who still is hosting it to this day.” One regular participant, Evan Davis, went on to create the popular board game Air Baron. Two Halberstadt offspring became World Board gaming champions. My brother Jordan became King Maker champ in 2005, and I am the current Mystery of the Abbey champ.”
My nephew Joe Robinson returned home to Seattle after a week with us and other relatives. His IPod contains over 4,000 tunes, mostly very hard metal rock ranging from Iron Maiden to Used but also a few show tunes and even Fats Waller’s rendition of “Ain’t Misbehavin’ (I’m savin’ all my love for you).” He had a college course on the history of pop music but had no interest in listening to my current favorite group Phoenix ("Litzomania"). At Best Buy I bought him the latest CD by the alternative rock band The Used called Artwork and enjoyed it myself. Last year he picked out CDs by Disturbed, Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode. Joe also loves the Mamma Mia! Soundtrack, and on the way to Indianapolis we listened to an ABBA Greatest hits CD. Joe pointed out when song lyrics had been slightly altered for the play and movie. Joe just may set a record for longest name; incorporating various Polish family names, it is Josef Anthony Siedleska Gasiewski Trojecki Okomski Robinson.