Thursday, May 3, 2012


“Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man
Tryin’ to make a living and doin’ the best I can.”
   “Ramblin’ Man,” Allman Brothers Band

On the cover of Rolling Stone is Obama interviewed by publisher Jann Wenner.  Also is the issue is a tribute to Levon Helm of The Band and an excerpt from Gregg Allman’s “My Cross to Bear.”  A hitchhiker killed Allman’s dad when he was a toddler, and brother Duane died in 1971 in a motorcycle accident.  Gregg admits that his drug and alcohol addiction torpedoed his marriage to Cher.  No mention how they got tattoos from Glen Park’s Roy Boy.  In 1973 “Ramblin’ Man,” written and sung by Dickey Betts, became the Allman Brothers Band’s biggest hit.  Based on a song of the same name by Hank Williams, Sr. The single reached number two, surpassed only by Cher’s lame “Half-Breed.”

On the anniversary of Navy SEALSs killing Osama bin Laden President Obama flew to Kabul to announce victory over al-Qaeda is within reach and that our primary mission will be to train Afghan troops.  Republicans, who had been criticizing Democrats for supposedly politicizing the death of bin Laden, mostly kept their mouths shut.  Nine years ago Bush declared “Mission Accomplished” on board the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, a gesture he later regretted.   Romney, contrary to statements he made in 2007 that he wouldn’t have violated Pakistan sovereignty to strike at bin Laden, quipped that “even Jimmy Carter” would have approved the mission – a crack that even Republican Joe Scarborough thought unfair and misleading.  In truth both Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had misgivings about giving the OK to the SEALs mission.

Robert Caro’s “The Passage of Power,” covering the years of LBJ’s vice presidency and first months as president, got a big splash in “The Smithsonian” and the Sunday “New York Times Magazine.”  Caro despises Lyndon the person but admires his skill following JFK’s assassination and shepherding liberal legislation through Congress.  Caro is in his mod-Eighties, so one doubts if he’ll ever complete the biography.

Getting my PSA blood work done took about an hour.  An 88 year-old WW II air force guy starving for company started up a conversation.  Delia’s Aunt Elba checked me in.  Last time I hardly felt the prick, but the nurse did three or four unsuccessful probes in my arm before asking if I mined her using my hand.

Proofreading Henry Farag’s “The Signal” in preparing for it to become an eBook renewed my appreciation of his unique talents as a writer, performer, and producer.  His account of growing up in the Tolleston neighborhood of Gary is also great social history, dealing with gangs, teenage haunts, relationships between the sexes, politics, and race-relations.  The program Henry’s son Ryan used to create a word document was remarkably efficient.  Except for mistaking “rn” for “m,” (i.e., tumed instead of turned) and capital “O” for zero (0), the main errors were too many spaces between words.

Angie bought odometers for herself and the kids.  Doctors recommend that adults walk about ten miles a day.  I’m probably good for about half that.

I’m pondering having Fall students keep a daily log of how many miles they drove and to where. Here’s what one of mine would look like: Thursday, May 3, drove to Jewel and back (one mile) for ice cream, beer, and ingredients for tuna and macaroni casserole; took back “City of Fortune” to Chesterton library and picked up a Subway cold cut foot-long before arriving at IUN (total of 20 miles); visited W.E.B. DuBois library on Eighteenth and Broadway (one mile) to peruse a 1942 Roosevelt yearbook for information about William Marshall; drove 16 miles to East Chicago Central for tennis match against Hanover Central (a 3-2 victory for the Lady Cardinals with four of the five matches going three sets and the number one doubles team of Katie Lipa and Jackeline Fernandez winning on a third-set tie breaker); arrived back in Chesterton in time for Flyers OT loss to Jersey Devils (25 miles).

I’m having trouble in my research into Gary actor William Marshall.  His nephew was helpful on the phone but hasn’t answered my written queries.  The FBI has been giving me the runaround regarding my Freedom of Information Act request.  He’s mentioned in a file pertaining to a so-called Communist Front group, the Committee of the Arts Against Repression but for some reason I can’t see the documents.  The Roosevelt yearbook I looked at belonging to the Gary library’s local history room is missing the page containing Marshall’s senior photo.  I did find him, however, in a Men’s Glee Club photo and in a senior play cast photo of “Our Town.”

The May history book club will meet at Gino’s in Merrillville, where I had lunch with the son of former Indiana attorney-general Theofore Sendak’s son. We’ll discuss a biography of Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff.  I found a 1972 scholarly work by Michael Grant that mentions that her lineage was Greek, not Egyptian, a descendent of Alexander the Great.  First married to a kid brother (incest being royal tradition), she had affairs both with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.  Her elaborate spectacles were held not out of decadence but to cement the loyalty of subjects as the earthly embodiment of goddess Isis.  In 33 B.C. Mark Anthony stabbed himself after losing the naval battle of Actium and Cleopatra then succumbed from a self-inflicted deadly bite of a cobra.

Finally emailed Marylander Sam Walker, who wrote a history of the early years of ACC basketball between 1953 and 1972, after finding his address in the sports jacket I wore to Ray Smock’s Distinguished Alumni lecture.   The ACC was formed with football in mind, but in time the basketball rivalries were much more intense.  Sam wrote an excellent account of 1944 Gary Lew Wallace grad Vic Bubas, who played for North Carolina State and then coached Duke for 11 years beginning in 1959.  Bubas started out as assistant at NC State to Everett Case, whom Sam calls “the man who made ACC basketball” because he inherited a mediocre program and made it so competitive that rivals had to up their efforts to keep up.  Bubas was a great recruiter, working on prospects early in their high school careers and snagging such All-Americans as Art Heyman and Jeff Mullins.  His Blue Devils teams won 213 games, and made three Final Four NCAA appearances.  Contemporaries included coaches Bones McKinney at Wake Forest and Frank McGuire at North Carolina.  The 85 year-old Bubas went on to become commissioner of the Sun Belt Conference for some 15 years.

Aaron Pigors taped me at the Archives in connection with the time capsule opening next week.  Jack Buhner, who’s attending the graduation day events, started teaching at the old IU Extension in 1948 and helped secure the present location of the campus in what was then Gleason Park.  While I got in some information about Buhner, most of Chris Sheid’s questions had to do with my memories of Tamarack Hall (originally Gary Main), which was recently razed and whose cornerstone contained the time capsule. I mentioned summer musicals Phil and Dave were in as kids, including “Hello Dolly” and “Finnegan’s Rainbow,” and lively lunch discussions in the lounge adjacent to my office with the likes of George Roberts and Leslie Singer.

Exactly 70 years ago 26 year-old Charles Kikuchi wrote from Tanforan, California: “I saw a soldier in a tall guardhouse near the barbed wire and did not like it because it reminds me of a concentration camp.  I feel like a foreigner in this [internment] camp hearing so much Japanese although our family uses English almost exclusively.”

Vietnam vet Jay Keck sent me a book of poetry put out at IU-PU at Fort Wayne entitled “Confluence.” He liked Jessica Wilson’s untitled poem that contains these lines: “There’s nothing you can do but keep on holdin’ your ground/ Keep your head up and get ready for the next round/ Count your blessings and be thankful for today/ Because we all know tomorrow’s not guaranteed anyway.”


  1. fyi - Robert Caro is 76, and he works most every day on the LBJ bio. I wouldn't count him out. Incidentally, I'm reading an e-book version of The Passage of Power, and in addition to numerous punctuation errors (oddly inserted commas and hyphens), the first chapter ends mid-sentence. Obviously e-book formatting issues, but unacceptable nevertheless.

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