Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Last Saturday Ed and Monica Johnston celebrated their fortieth wedding anniversary with an afternoon party put together by son Padraig. Numerous friends attended, including Paul and Jean Kaczoha, Tom Serynek and Jean Campbell, and the Gallers. Ed thanked family, old froiends, bridge group members, and neighbors for coming. I was waiting for him to ask old Movement people to stand but he skipped that group. Someone asked how long Toni and I had been married. Answer: 46 years.

Phil was home for his twenty-fifth high school reunion and found time to play tennis with Dave and game with us Sunday morning.

Mailed out volume 41 to my Steel Shavings subscribers and a few others who have been supportive of my blog efforts. I also took some to the IUN Bookstore and gave copies to folks who moved the boxes from the mailroom to my cage. First reaction is positive: librarian Anne Koehler liked the musical lyrics that served as introductions, and External Relations director Tim Weidmann called it very interesting and liked my style of doing history.

The Archives was full yesterday with four volunteers doing their thing, TRACES editor Ray Boomhower up from Indy researching former Congressman Jim Jontz, Dolly Millender working on a Legends of Gary book, two young people seeking info on the Berkheimer Heating and Cooling Company (in business almost a hundred years), and a young woman working on a dissertation about Latinos. At noon I took Boomhower outsdide for the Thrill of the Grill lunch on the courtyard featuring music by Dave Alamillo, who was excellent singing Jimmy Buffett, Cat Stevens, and Carlos Santana tunes, among others. Old buddy Omar Farag was in charge of entertainment, and we had a blast reliving old softball memories. I showed him volume 41 that contains a photo of him and brother Henry with Bo Diddley and the Crystals.

I was able to get some great photos for my article on Richard Hatcher’s father Carlton from nephew Charles Wise and Laura Shields of the Michigan City Old Lighthouse Museum. Combining them with others from daughter Gladys Givan, I got Steve McShane to burn them onto a CD for Boomhower, who will put the article in the Winter TRACES issue.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Road Trip

Sheriff Roy Dominguez and I traveled to Bloomington last week to meet with two IU Press editors plus a marketing person and photo production coordinator. He picked me up in front of IUN’s library and we arrived at a motel his wife had booked us into around 10:30 p.m. after stops at Arby’s and Starbucks. After eating breakfast at a t diner that Roy frequented while a cadet in training, we arrived at the century-old publishing house building at Tenth and Morton. The editors were very enthusiastic about the book and assured us it would have a jacket, contain many pages of photos, and be out by early spring. Reviewing the 75 photos gave Roy a chance to tell some anecdotes, and he was impressive as always, coming off as sincere, friendly, and ready to promote the book actively. The meeting was a great success, with Roy impressed with the Press and vice versa.

I finished Ted Kennedy’s autobiography “True Compass” (more candid than I had expected) and checked out Hampton Sides’ “Hellhound on His Trail,” Monday’s History Book Club selection about the hunt for Martin Luther King’s killer, James Earl Ray. J Edgar Hoover and Jesse Jackson come off poorly. Ron Cohen stopped by and mentioned that Nancy is also reading “Hellhound on his Trail.” We talked about the multi-million dollar effort to spruce up the Marquette Park area and some of the controversy over the plans. One dispute: whether to have the road remain two lanes or to put in a walking and bicycle lane in place of one of them.

TRACES accepted my article on Carlton Hatcher (Richard’s father) for its Winter 2012 issue. My next task: to obtain photos of Michigan City, especially the waterfront area in the 1920s and 1930s.

I got a nice email from Paul O’Hara thanking me for helping him improve the quality of his book on Gary. An article of his appeared in the march 2011 issue of the Journal of Urban History entitled “’The Very Model of Modern Urban Decay’: Outsiders’ narratives of Industry and Urban Decline in Gary, Indiana.” It was my suggestion to use the phrase “Outsiders’ Narratives.”

At the Chicago Street Theater we and the Hagelbergs saw Neil Simon’s “Fools,” one of the playwright’s first efforts written in 1961 while going through a divorce. Having agreed to give his ex-wife the proceeds from his next play, he allegedly hoped it would be a flop. In fact, it lasted only 40 days on Broadway. It is set in a fictitious Ukrainian village where a curse has supposedly left everyone a stupid fool. It was mildly clever, but I rarely like nonmusical productions.

We are scheduled to see Les Miserables (Becca and James are in the cast) the last Sunday in July, necessitating a switch in when I work the Porter County Faair. My partner, Stela Pudar Hozo was willing to work on a Thursday afternoon instead, so the tradition continues.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ken Applehans

I’ve neglected my blog, but volume 41 of Steel Shavings is “in the can” and should come out in about a week. Entitled “Calumet Region Connections,” it combines excerpts of my blog with several dozen “Ides of March 2011” journals. The cover is bright pink and includes photos of unionists rallying in Indianapolis, folks marching in a Gary Gay pride parade, Gary’s incoming and outgoing mayor, and me with Sheriff Roy Dominguez.

I recently spent a week in San Diego and Palm Springs, California, with Phil and Miranda in connection with my mother’s ninety-fifth birthday. One highlight was Sea World, where prior to the sea lion show a comedian who called himself Biff put on a hilarious 20-minute routine that included dancing and mingling with the crowd.

At an IUN cookout I ran into Omar Farag, whose OMAR PRESENTS production company booked the entertainment, two guys playing soulful background music. I mentioned that his brother Henry included a profile on Spaniels singer Pookie Hudson in his “Ides” journal, and Omar recalled Pookie telling about a time when the Spaniels were driving in the South on the way to a gig when stopped by local police. When the cops learned they were entertainers, they made them dance, Stepin Fetchit style, before letting them go on their way. How despicable.

Sheriff John Buncich is trying his best to sully the reputation of his predecessor, feeding rumors and innuendoes to a newspaper columnist. A decade ago when Buncich was first in office, he got so upset at a reporter investigating his administration that he had officers go to the newspaper office and handcuff the guy on trumped up charges.

My good friend Ken Applehans, who had inoperable cancer, passed away. Scores of friends, relatives, and comrades crowded into the Beach CafĂ© dining room last Saturday for a memorial service. His wife Alice Bush and three sons delivered moving tributes that had everyone both laughing and crying. Several unionists who worked at Pullman Standard with him told heartwarming stories. I mentioned how he and Alice had invited us to stay with them for a month following a 2000 home invasion, even giving up their bedroom, claiming they fell asleep in the living room most of the time anyway. The political discussions we had each morning and evening re-enforced my belief that a radical change in our economic system was necessary if our country was to live up to its democratic ideals. I mentioned his love of cats and that normally when I’d end our phone conversation by saying “I love you,” he’d reply “Same here” but the last time he said, “I love you, too, Jimmy.”

Went to a picnic Sunday at Kevin and Tina Horn’s. Kevin’s mom came across my name on Google while looking for some information about a drive-in she worked at that was located at Fifth and Louisiana in Gary near Emerson School. The more famous Ted’s Drive-In was located about a mile to the east where Routes 12 and 20 came together near Aetna. Monday was an eleventh birthday party for James featuring good food and outdoor croquet and bean bag toss. Dave was the champ in both with me a close second.