Thursday, December 8, 2011

Making Ammo

“I turn the music up, I got my records on
I shut the world outside until the lights come on.”
Coldplay, “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall”

The Indiana Magazine of History asked me to assess an article about discrimination against African American women from Gary who applied to work at the Kingsbury Ordnance plant in La Porte County during World War II. With revisions, it should be a first-rate piece. Making ammo was dangerous work, but the pay made it attractive to women whose opportunities heretofore had been very limited.

I picked up three packages of Opatki wafers at Nativity catholic church in Portage for Christmas Eve dinner. Toni sends one to her sister in Florida who can’t find them in Punta Gorda. At Best Buy for Christmas presents I purchased CDs by Wilco, Destroyed, Pink Floyd and Coldplay – two Chicago bands and two British groups.

Newt Gingrich appears to be bent on self-destruction to judge by some of the idiocies coming out of his mouth. I guess the man can’t help himself. His ad claiming he’s the one to unify America reminds me of Nixon drivel 40 years ago. Romney ads stress that he’s a one-woman guy, leaving unsaid that Newt is on his third wife. Newt seems to think the normal rules of the political game do not apply to him.

The Post-Trib’s front page Pearl Harbor story yesterday was of vets’ ashes being returned to the sunken battleships Arizona and Utah. Not many guys left; the ranks get thinner with each passing year. The anniversary of the death of John Lennon gets more airtime as memories of WW II fade.

I spent lots of time examining Gary city directories tracing Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Samuelson’s parents. According to sisters-in-law Judy and Anita, Ella, Samuelson’s mom, opened a restaurant called The Barbeque. It turned out to be in Chicago. Earlier she tried to make a go of a style shop in Gary’s immigrant ward, but it failed for lack of customers. Ella’s husband Frank was a druggist and a dreamer. The historian Robert Sobel wrote that he “was a moderate socialist and a middle class businessman, which was not a contradiction in that period.”

TRACES magazine sent me a copy of my Carlton Hatcher article to proofread. It will appear in the next issue. I couldn’t find my favorite paragraph, which I added after first submitting the piece, about Carlton helping a family of ten move from Iowa to Michigan City in 1926 in an old Hudson. With bags and boxes tied to the roof and fenders, two flat tires, several wrong turns, and numerous pit stops, the return trip took 24 hours. Hopefully there will be room for it.

Led by John Bulot, my bowling team won all 7 points against The Big Hurt. The rest of us had one good game each. Fortunately our opponents left a ton on ten-pins and, in the case of their two lefties, seven-pins. So it was more a case of their under-performing than we putting a big hurt on them. John pointed out an announcement on the bulletin board that Lisa Anserelli has the women’s high series for the year. “Jim Fowble was her teacher,” he said, referring to the owner of Cressmoor Lanes. Years ago, my league bowled on eight lanes and some of the best women in the Region on the other eight. I used to observe Lisa, who had beautiful form. Next to us a guy in a Cozumel shirt was saying “Way to go, Jimmy” whenever a teammate got a strike. After his strikes, Jimmy would do a little dance similar to someone shadow boxing.

Judge James Zagel sentenced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich to 14 years in the slammer. The only egregious thing he was guilty of was being arrogant and full of hot air. The “crimes” were picayune compared to Dick Cheney, who profited from his clout to the tune of tens of millions. Letterman had some fun at his expense, saying his hair stylist should have gotten the death sentence and that Michael Jackson’s doctor-murderer got ten fewer years. Echoing the defense of slimeball accused child molester Jerry Sandusky, David claimed that in his plea to the judge, Rod said he really was not trying to get money for Obama’s vacated Senate seat, he was just horsing around. His Top Ten list of messages left on Blago’s phone included a future cellmate asking whether he preferred top or bottom and the warden wondering, “How much for your seat?” The implication was that pretty boy Blagojevich was in for unwanted some same sex experiences.

Went to the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra’s seventieth anniversary holiday celebration with Cheryl Hagelberg, whose husband Dick was in the chorus. In past years the late Communication professor Jim Tolhuizen was in the chorus as well. The orchestra is a successor to the Gary Civic Orchestra, which gave its debut concert hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor, prompting conductor Arnold Zack to open with the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Perhaps for that reason current conductor and musical director Kirk Muspratt had “Battle Hymn of the Republic” on the program. The best number was an African song from the Congo that involved orchestra members stomping their feet and clapping. For one number youngsters from Protsman Elementary School in Dyer were featured in a number and were excellent. They got a standing ovation from folks who in all likelihood were their parents and relatives. We were in the fifth row in the mezzanine. Behind us were two kids. The girl was well behaved, but the boy was protesting loudly at his confinement. Out he went with a parent shortly into the show. After intermission they tried again with him but had to take him out minutes later.

On Gaard Murphy Logan’s recommendation I started a book, “Three Men in a Boat (to say nothing of the dog),” written by an Englishman, Jerome K. Jerome over 120 years ago. It made her laugh out loud, she said, and I can see why. It’s quite charming and clever, and the quaint language (i.e., turning leaves, meaning pages) enhances rather than detracts from the enjoyment. The narrator mentions coming across an ad for liver pills that will cure everything from ague to zymosis and after reading the symptoms of each, imagined he had every ailment except housemaid’s knee.

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