Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grief Counselor

“I'm alive but I'm sinking in
If there's anyone at home at your place
Why don't you invite me in.”
Counting Crows, “Rain King”

Several quotes from old friend and former student David Malham, a grief counselor for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), appeared in a Times story about 21 year-old Dean Tillema, who in May was driving while intoxicated and involved in a crash that killed two of his teenage passengers. Scheduled to stand trial in three weeks, he posted a video on YouTube supposedly intended to curb others from driving drunk. David opined that the video is a self-serving plea for sympathy and would have more credibility had it been released after the trial. A victim’s mother called it “disgusting and disrespectful.” Among the numerous comments on the Times’ Online Discussion section was this indictment from calo482: “I live in the community where this tragedy occurred and I couldn't have said it any better than the grief counselor! He hit the nail right on the head! Dean made ANOTHER bad choice. He should stand up, take responsibility for his actions and accept his punishment like a man! Thanks to Mr. Malham for taking a stand on this issue. Most in our community find this pathetic ploy by the Tillema family sickening and very distasteful.” Malham visited the Archives last week and dined at Lucretia’s with Toni while I was at bowling. David not only deals with victims of drunk driving accidents but all kinds of disasters and even aftermaths of corporate downsizing.

I talked sports with Terry Jenkins and discussed plans for reunion weekend. He was a class behind me but might come to Saturday breakfast and then tour old Fort Washington haunts like we’ve done in the past. Toni and I also intend to visit his and Gayle shop, have steak sandwiches with them, and stay overnight at their house. I’m still working on his sister Judy to attend, but she probably will be in Maine trying to close a deal on selling her summer place there. Called Phil Arnold to see if he will be bringing tapes of Fifties music with him. Counting Crows “Rain King” came on the radio, so I turned up the volume and sang along.

Toni and I spent Tuesday looking for China closets, finally ordering one from The Room Place. Had a beef sub at Jimmy John’s, whose rolls are superior to Subway but their radio commercial is the pits – the premise is that they deliver so fast someone whose house is on fire calls several times and then asks the guys to help him out it out. Going into the new purchase are plates from great-great-great Uncle Jimmy Buchanan’s administration. Watered the transplanted hostas and ground cover, then watched a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode from season five. Larry accuses a nursing home bingo caller of cheating and causes a Japanese guy to attempt suicide after questioning how his father could have been a kamikaze pilot in WW II yet still be alive. Hilarious. Toni made a great rib dinner and then I struggled to stay up for “Dancing with the Stars.” Korean-American comedian and advocate for GLBT rights Margaret Cho got the axe (no surprise), and Michael Bolton proved he couldn’t sing any better than he danced.

Ogden Dunes Historical Society archivist Richard Meister thanked me for putting on an “effective interactive program” and giving away copies of “Age of Anxiety.” He added: “It reflects the wonderful work with and your mentoring of students. Saving the history of the people of Northwest Indiana is a great legacy that you are leaving for future generations. You have to be very proud of your students and your legacy.” Dick hopes to visit the Archives in the near future and passed on his phone number and address. Hope to see him when the Diana of the Dunes author speaks next month.

The Miller Bakery Café closed suddenly after 21 years of offering fine dining to patrons who came from far and wide, although not enough of them lately, I guess. Owner Gary Sanders was the original chef and bought it a couple years later from Dann and Robin Niven, according to the Post-Trib. Sanders also owns Bartlett’s in Beverly Shores and his wife owns Bistro 157 in Valparaiso. We’ve eaten at both places with the Hagelbergs. Councilwoman Marilyn Krusas told the paper, “It’s a tremendous loss to Lake Street.” If anything, that’s an understatement. Everyone we took there was impressed; I especially liked their rack of lamb, crab cakes, and desserts. The building is a local landmark. Before it was an eatery, Miller Bakery sold bread and pastries going back to before World War II.

Chris Sheid’s Marketing office put out a moving tribute to Jim Tolhuizen that states: “Dr. Tolhuizen was a Vietnam War veteran who served overseas in 1969-70. He recounted his wartime experiences for IU Northwest Professor Emeritus of History James Lane's 2008 periodical ‘Steel Shavings: Brothers in Arms,’ and he also discussed his war experiences periodically with Lane's history students. ‘I guess most guys in my unit had a difficult time figuring me out, especially the younger ones,’ Tolhuizen wrote in the ‘Steel Shavings’ essay ‘His Face.’ ‘I was a little older, I had a college degree, I was an actor and singer, and I had even, at times, voiced my opposition to the war.’ Tolhuizen came home from Vietnam in 1970 after suffering a serious leg injury, which he also recounted in his ‘Steel Shavings’ commentary. ‘After I got out of the hospital and returned home, nobody spoke about the war, which probably made a lot of sense because people tend not to talk about things that are conflict-producing,’ Tolhuizen remarked.”

Nicole Anslover invited me to talk about Vietnam on October 18 in her Diplomatic History course. I had told her to have Jim Tolhuizen speak, but, of course, it’s too late for that. I’ll give the students copies of “Brothers in Arms” and perhaps read “His Face,” Jim’s account of the death of comrade in arms Paul Step. Jim was in a bunker when he heard a “woosh” sound signaled rocket fire coming their way. He wrote, “The blast literally picked me up off the ground and slammed me into the wall of the bunker, and through the ear-splitting sound of the explosion, we all heard a single scream from Paul outside.” After pulling Paul’s broken body inside, the only way everyone could fit was for the others to sit on him. Jim wrote: “We sat on him for our own safety and for the protection of the bunker while his blood ran into the ground and his life ebbed away.” What a waste because of the timidity of our leaders, fearful of the political consequences of acknowledging that the situation was hopeless.

Anne Balay is organizing a campus event about gay suicides in the aftermath of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi jumping off the George Washington Bridge after roommate Dharun Ravi streamed a video of him and another man and then circulated it on Twitter along with this message: “Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay.” Ravi and Molly Wei are in a heap of legal trouble for their cruelty.

At a luncheon for emeritus faculty Fred Chary passed around information about his forthcoming history of Bulgaria. Several people expressed alarm that two students were struck by cars recently crossing Broadway on their way from parking lots to their classrooms. George Bodmer was badly hurt last winter, but it is a state road and efforts to get a stop light installed have failed. Ruth Needleman attended her first such luncheon since retiring although she is teaching Labor Studies courses at Calumet College. Chancellor Lowe answered questions for nearly an hour. By the end I was trying to stifle yawns. Ken Stabler, looking tanned and fit, mentioned being friends with condo neighbors Mary and Craig Henderson.

The Nation magazine’s cover story, entitled “The Fifty Most Influential Progressives of the twentieth Century,” excluded elected public officials (although Earl Warren made it); but the list, headed by Socialist Eugene Victor Debs, was impressive indeed. I had heard of all but two – Mattachine Society founder harry Hay and Friends of the Earth founder David Brower. I was surprised to find Jackie Robinson and Muhammad Ali on it. The other athlete listed was Billie Jean King. The final person on the list – composed chronologically, was filmmaker and author Michael Moore. It was great to see folk singer Pete Seeger’s smiling face grace the cover.

At Burns Funeral Home offered condolences to Jim Tolhuizen’s family. His brother thanked me for what I wrote in my blog – they must have Googled his name and found it that way. Jim’s son Hank seemed to be taking it especially hard. There was a large IU Northwest contingent on hand, including retirees (Mary Bertolucci and Peter Kesheimer) and lunch crowd regulars (among them Chuck Gallmeier, Bill Dorin, Alan Barr, and Jean Poulard). A card with Jim’s picture on the front had this quote from Robert M. Pirsig’s “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values” on the back: “You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.” Upon leaving I noticed a Pets Remembered sign indicating a crematory and cemetery.

Arrived at Cressmoor Lanes and watched the end of Ray Halladay’s no-hitter against the Reds. The final out was a little nubber in front of the plate that catcher Carlos Ruiz pounced on and threw to first while on his knees. The hug he gave the man fans call “Doctober” was reminiscent of Yogi Berra’s 1956 embrace of Don Larson, whose perfect games was the only previous no-hitter in postseason play. Go Phillies! We were a man short since Dick’s wife was in a car accident and like last week won the second game (I had a seven-ten split in the tenth frame or would have had a 200). Our opponents included personable Mike Burns (evidently no relation to the funeral home family) and James Cyprian (nephew to a once powerful steelworkers union official), whose ball broke to the right like a lefthander’s.

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