Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

“Stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow
Not in each other’s shadow.”
Kahil Gibran

Wednesday Jeff Hagelberg and May May got married at the First Unitarian Universalist Church in Hobart. At the last minute I was asked to do a reading after Jeff’s Uncle Mark declined. The 12-line advice began and ended with the words “Love one another, but make not a bond of love.” In other words, give each other space. The reception was at The Patio in Merrillville, and I had delicious filet mignon, something not normally found on a wedding menu. Dick and Cheryl’s dance instructor worked with the married couple the night before, and they did great box stepping through the traditional first dance. Sitting next to George McGuan, a big Notre Dame fan, I mentioned that I’d be in South Bend over Thanksgiving and that host Fritz, was an officer with the navy ROTC program. He told me that Notre Dame might have been forced to close during WW II had not the navy instituted the ROTC program that trained 16,000 officers. That’s why Notre Dame still plays Navy in football every year, as a show of gratitude, he said.

Spent Thanksgiving at niece Lisa’s in Granger (near South Bend) with my family of 12 plus another 20 of Toni’s relatives and four dogs. My culinary contribution was cooking more than a dozen batches of potato latkes on Saturday morning from leftover mashed potatoes. Twenty-four hours later Toni cooked up ten pounds of potatoes that were quickly devoured . She boiled them for six minutes, cut them into chunks, and then fried them in oil. Got in a half-dozen games of pinochle (Sonny and I dominated) and two Texas hold-’em tournaments (winning $25 by finishing third out of 13). I sang “I Wanna Be Sedated” on a karaoke machine while Lisa’s husband Fritz played drums and Phil and Josh were on guitars. Everyone got along, and the various cousins enjoyed each other enormously.

Thanksgiving week-end group activities included kick ball and ice-skating at a Notre Dame rink. Fritz showed me some Brian Regan comedy bits on his IPad and I introduced him to Frank Caliendo doing George W. Bush and John Madden. He also put on a “South Park” commentary about the song “Tom Sawyer” that Rush used as an intro on a recent tour. Setting up his DVR for the Notre Dame-Stanford game, he mentioned that he had recorded 44 episodes of the Steve Colbert show.

Bears and Eagles were on at the same time Sunday – both lost. Afterwards I mellowed out and put on the 1992 CD “Copper Blue” by Bob Mould’s band Sugar featuring one of my favorite songs “If I Can’t Change Your Mind (Then no one will).”

Jeff Manes asked for suggestions for interviewees for his Post-Trib SALTS column and I suggested Chesterton Tribune editor David Canright, who was active in the anti-nuke Bailly Alliance and whose family has owned the daily newspaper for over a century. He thought his boss would nix giving a competitor space.

Sheriff Roy Dominguez is happy over the cover IU Press has selected for his book “Valor.” Merrillville History Book Club secretary Joy Anderson penciled me in to discuss the book next September.

For “Thank a teacher Day” Sam Barnett wrote on Facebook: “I say everyone in Gary and The Region should thank James Lane, who is truly a People's Historian. His method hugely influences my techniques, so as an imitator I am of course thankful!” How nice. I responded: “Thanks pal. I’m still sorry you weren’t my replacement when I retired.”

Vietnam vet Bruce Weigl was born in Lorain, Ohio, but could have been writing about Gary, Indiana, in his poem “Meditation at Pearl Street,” which refers to steelworkers “hunched in the predawn cold, caught in light from mill towers like search lights.” He writes of “gas flaming up blue and white from the open hearth” and slag heaps resembling “black desert by the lake.” He describes the “small company houses painted in pastels against the fly ash that came down on us like dogwood dust” and the “rough love” that bound families together despite the “chronic anger” such an injurious environment bred.

I set up an interview with State Rep Vernon Smith for tomorrow. His mother was one of the African-American students transferred to Emerson in 1927 so she could take college prep courses and then kicked out in the wake of a white student boycott of classes. Sixty years later she and others received diplomas as a belated recognition of the injustice.

I got my revenge against Clark Metz at Cressmoor Lanes, averaging 150+ for three games despite missing several easy spares while he struggled before finally finishing with a double. Last time when I paid the $12 he went out and bought a steak for dinner. Looks like hot dogs for you tonight, I told him.

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