Thursday, December 1, 2011


“So-so’s how I’m doing if you’re wondering
I’m in a fight with the world but I’m winning.”
Avril Lavigne

At Wednesday’s emeritus faculty luncheon Chancellor Lowe mentioned that he’s been reading my blog entries in the latest Shavings magazine “Calumet Region Connections” and was impressed with my knowledge of rock music. Volume 41 is in part a chronicle of IU Northwest during his first year at the helm, and he is listed in the index 14 times. Becoming very polished with ceremonial duties, he seems interested in supporting student activities and expanding the number of faculty. In attendance were three retirees who attended IUN as students – Angie Komenich, Mike Certa, and John Ban. Former acting chancellor Lloyd Rowe, who got smoking banned on campus and approved 9 new Arts and Sciences positions during his brief tenure, was on hand. When I first spotted him, I thought for a moment it was my old colleague Paul kern. All told the 15 guests probably represented over 400 years of teaching experience. Fred Chary invited me to watch the Flyers-Rangers outdoor hockey game on January 2 at his house. Had chicken, mashed potatoes, string beans, something resembling ravioli, and salad. During the Q and A Ron Cohen asked his annual question about residential housing, Mary Russell inquired again about pedestrian safety crossing Broadway, and Jack Gruenenfelder wondered about the fate of Tamarack, condemned after the 2008 flood. It’s scheduled to be torn down in a couple months. We’ll see.

I had hoped that Bob Lovely would attend the luncheon and if asked what I’ve been doing lately (a question often posed by the host), was prepared to mention the Roy Dominguez autobiography “Valor” and how important IU Northwest was to his intellectual growth (and happiness – he met wife Betty on campus). Roy is still very appreciative that counselor Elsa Rivera had faith in him, Chief Andy Lazar urged him to become a state trooper, and Sociology professor Lovely was especially nurturing. Roy would sometimes attend his interesting special study sessions even though he already understood the material. I was disappointed when Bob, the best teacher on campus, moved into an administrative position in Continuing Education, but I’m sure he was very supportive to adults anxious about going back to school after many years.

I’ve been transcribing my interview with State Rep Vernon Smith, an Education professor and former Gary principal. His mother’s side of the family helped start Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church while his dad’s side was more worldly. Vernon characterized himself as having been a “momma’s boy” but said his dad, a plumber, would brag on him went he’d need something and go to the back door of one of his many watering holes.

In trying to track down info on the parents of Gary-born economist Paul Samuelson, I discovered that former presidential adviser Larry Summers was his nephew and that Samuelson’s younger brother Robert, also an economist, was also born in Gary in 1922, a year before the family moved to Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. Samuelson’s background is similar to his protégé Joseph Stiglitz. The two Nobel Prize winning economists will be honored at a December 15 Wall of Legends ceremony at the Lake County Tourist Bureau Welcome Center.

Jose Villarreal inquired about my helping his family put together a book similar to “Maria’s Journey,” which his mother recently gave him. His Uncle Willie Vega is mentioned in the book, and the Vegas were very prominent in East Chicago’s Latino community. I suggested that if someone produced a manuscript, I could help with the editing and possibly suggest a publisher.

Nephew Joe told me to check out the band Demons and Wizards so I did on YouTube. Joe has good taste. I learned that the band’s name comes from a Uriah Heep album.

Indiana Magazine of History asked me to review an article about Black women workers at the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant, located in LaPorte County, during WW II. More than 20,000 people worked there. Glad to oblige. Sounds fascinating. In my “Homefront” Shavings (volume 22) Wanda Jones wrote that Esther Sanders worked there weighing powder for bullets, a very dangerous job. She wrote that Esther “wore safety shoes and a suit to protect her against powder burns.” A co-worker didn’t take her burns seriously and was under medication for them years later. Wanda continued: “While working, Esther often heard them testing bullets right outside. The mere sound would send chills down her back. In two years Esther’s salary rose to 95 cents an hour for a ten-hour day and a six-day week.”

I finally bowled a decent series – 470 – and the Engineers in a position round won two of three games even though opponent Liney Neal bowled more than a hundred pins above his average. Had I picked up just half my ten-pins, I’d have had a 500. When I started at Cressmoor Lanes, Liney was the only African American in our Gary Sheet and Tin league. Now there are about eight, all nice, friendly guys. We won the first game by two pins when their anchor Jim Fowble failed to double in the tenth despite throwing what appeared to be a perfect ball. We edged them in the third game after Melvin Nelson, struggling all night, doubled in the final frame.

Teammate John Bulat said he ate no turkey on Thanksgiving because when he was a kid, he had a pet turkey that his family slaughtered without his knowledge and served it for Thanksgiving dinner. Back home, I called bowling captain Bill Batalis about the good news and put on an Avril Lavigne CD (“The Best Damn Thing”) and the Letterman Show on mute. It was a repeat of when he made fun of Herman Cain’s campaign manager smoking and did a hilarious smoking pantomime.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a historic visit to Myanmar (formerly Burma) and is meeting with Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, who until recently had been under house arrest for many years.

No comments:

Post a Comment