Monday, June 25, 2012

Roll with It

 “When life is too much,
Roll with it, baby
Don’t stop and lose your touch
Oh, no, baby.”
    Steve Winwood

WXRT’s Saturday morning show featured the year 1988, and I heard great songs by John Hiatt, Graham parker, and the Traveling Wilburys.  I must still have been buying albums because I had several that they mentioned, including Tracy Chapman’s self-titled debut and Steve Winwood’s “Roll With It.”

At Chesterton’s European Market I ran into IUN Biology professor Spencer Cortwright and Home Mountain CEO Larry Klemz, still wearing a breathing device but with a nice woman friend.  Last time I saw him he was in poor health, having taken the death of his wife really hard.  I bought two tacos from the folks who clean our condo.  Last week business was slow, but because I waited till noon, the line was long – inconvenient for me but I’m glad their fine food is popular.  During the 30-minute wait, I listened to a guitar-playing duo.

Almost a million people showed up for Chicago’s Pride (formerly Gay Pride) Parade, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, servicemen in uniform, and a true cast of characters.  Anne Balay reported having a great time.  Stephanie Dowell of the Sun-Times took the photos above.

Because I lost the first three board games, I got to pick the fourth, Priests of Ra, and got so far ahead, thanks to wise use of my bidding numbers and some good luck, that I accepted a concession from Dave and Tom.  Dave has been attending many high school graduation parties and mentioned that student David Bork was flattered to find a photo of him and Dave on my blog that he had posted on Facebook.

Carrol Vertrees’s weekly column mentioned things that make him tear up, including memories of his father and activities of his grandchildren.  I thought of that when again attending “You’re a Good Man, Charley Brown,” this time with the Hagelbergs.  James was even more animated than last time as Schroeder and Becca brought down the house belting out “Good Night My Someone” from “Music Man.”  I even got emotional when Lucas Reinhart, still dressed as Snoopy,” sang “Gary, Indiana.”  As poet John Sheehan wrote, “O Gary, heart of our mixed up country, I love you now and forever.”

I happened to come across “America’s Got Talent,” with shock jock Howard Stern on the panel of judges with Howie Mandel and Ozzie Osbourne’s wife Sharon.  A fantastic Puerto Rican dance group called 787 did a routine that reminded me of cheerleaders on speed.  Then a buxom, overweight blond dedicated a number to Howard, who afterwards leaped on stage and danced with her.  The freak show element blended well with the format, and the variety and quality of the acts was in stark contrast to “American Idol,” which I haven’t watched in years.

Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi is the new Egyptian president.  So many of his supporters were in the streets of Cairo that all hell would have broken loose if the pro-Mubarak candidate was declared the winner.  The ruling military council has attempted to strip the office of most of its power, so an air of uncertainty remains.

A tropical storm has caused flooding in Florida and affected nieces Mary Ann and Charlene and their families, one in Punta Gorda and the other in Tampa.  And possibly the worst is yet to come.  Meanwhile, out west forest fires are decimating thousands of acres.

In June of 1896 Harvard awarded educator Booker T. Washington an honorary degree and asked him to be the featured speaker at a luncheon afterwards.  According to the diary of Marian Lawrence Peabody, her father William Lawrence saw Washington leaving commencement in a direction opposite the luncheon site and called out for him to “come this way.”  Harvard had also conferred a degree to the president of Vanderbilt, and Washington replied that the Southerners in attendance might take offense at eating with a black man.  So Booker found something to eat in Harvard Square and then showed up to speak and received “tremendous applause.”

A Linda Tropp, who grew up in Miller, wanted information on Jake’s Department Store on 21st and Broadway, which her grandfather started and her father inherited.  She writes: “As a young kid (early 1970s), I remember helping to organize rows of toiletries at the store and seeing people come in to cash their checks from the mills.  But beyond that, I have very little knowledge about the store or how it interfaced with the local community.”  She lives in Massachusetts but will be visiting Gary in August. The store was located in what became the Central District, where African Americans lived and shopped.  I told her about my Gary book and suggested she check out the city directories when she visits the archives.

Lunched on a homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwich, sweet pickles and carrots, chips, milk, and a cookie.  I took Toni to a rehab place in Valpo that treats folks with COPD and came across an NRA magazine in the waiting room that had a scurrilous anti-Obama editorial.  When nobody was looking, I threw it in the trash.  Toni prepared a tremendous dinner of tilapia, pan fried noodles, tomatoes and Brussel sprouts – my last before flying to Palm Springs CA for my mother’s ninety-sixth birthday.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Muddy Waters

“The sky is dark, the moon is blue
I don’t know what I’m gonna do
It’s like I’m falling
Down into muddy waters.”
    Aaron Neville, “Down Into Muddy Waters”

Due to threatening weather Thursday’s Thrill of the Grill was moved inside IUN’s Savannah Center.  Mo Jo Daddy Band, featuring Kenny Kinsey of the Kinsey Report, played lively blues selections to a disappointingly small audience.  They were excellent musicians; I especially liked their rendition of the Aaron Neville song “Down Into Muddy Waters.”  At first I thought it was about the blues legend.  Omar Farag, who booked the band, was judging an Elvis tribute artist contest in Wisconsin, but I talked at length to his assistant Brenda, whose 12 year-old son was halfway through “Gary’s First Hundred Years” and looking up words he was unfamiliar with in the dictionary.  When Sandra Smith started swaying to the music, I almost got up and danced with her.

The IU Board of Trustees is meeting on campus for two days, so there were plenty of men dressed in dark suits stepping outside during breaks to use their cell phones.  I’m sure there’s been much talk of Indiana governor Mitch Daniels being named Purdue’s next president after his term expires at the end of the year.  At least the SOB won’t be going to Washington.  One cartoon joked that he might sell Mackey Arena to a foreign corporation like he did the Toll Road.  A hundred people were on hand to hear IU President Michael McRobbie address the Board.  Chuck Gallmeier looked cool in a light tan sports coat and slacks.  I had on a white IU shirt I inherited from Dave.

In the news: Thirteen year-old boys in a town near Rochester, New York, ridiculed 68 year-old bus monitor Karen Klein.  A tape of the ugly taunting, which went on for over ten minutes and left the woman in tears, went viral and put the incident on the front page along with the Sandusky and Zimmerman stories.  A fundraiser set up to raise $5,000 for a nice vacation for Klein has brought in a half million dollars.  Only in America.

A condo board meeting lasted over two hours with the most contentious issues being landscaping and whether to allow ornamental blue lights to remain up after the holiday season.  A young board member who took the place of someone moving to Indianapolis probably didn’t know what he was in for.  The previous two meetings only lasted an hour, so there is some hope for the future.

George Cairns, a friend of environmentalist Lee Botts, wants to interview me on July 3 for a documentary about save-the-dunes efforts over the past century.  The semi-retired professor of theology wrote that he wants from me “a general overview of the dynamics in the region and state that have had an impact on the parks during the twentieth century.”

A rerun of “The Office” had to do with Michael (Steve Carell) discovering he had herpes and calling up women he had sex with.  Not a barrel of laughs.  Carell is in a strange movie entitled “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” about how one spends his last days knowing an asteroid will soon destroy the planet.  Rolling Stone’s reviewer only gave it two stars because no sparks flew between Carell and co-star Keira Knightley, but I thought the relationship was very moving.  Talk about strange, also playing in Portage was a flick about Abe Lincoln as a vampire killer.

A Rolling Stone article about Rachel Maddow contained a 1990s photo of her as a big-haired blond.  She was raised a strict Catholic, and her parents learned she was a lesbian when someone sent them an article she wrote while attending Stanford.  Her lover of more than ten years seems to be an earth mother type of hippie quite a bit older than her.

The reigning “Jeopardy champ has won less than $12,00 in two days.  First she lucked out when everyone missed Taj Mahal (an answer I knew) but she only bet a few dollars because she was way behind the others.  Friday neither of her opponents knew Nuremberg (shocking, really) so she pulled off another last-to first victory.

We went to Hobart to see a production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”  James was fantastic as Schroeder, the musical genius that Lucy hopes to marry some day.  Becca was just in the chorus because of rehearsal conflicts with “Music Man,” and after the play ended she sang a selection from “Music Man” that brought down the house.  I’ll see another “Charlie Brown” performance Sunday with the Hagelbergs.
Charley Blum gave Becca free tickets for the Jacksons’ Unity concert in Merrillville but because it conflicted with “You’re a Good Man,” she gave them to Marianne and Missy Brush.  Michael’s four brothers visited the old homestead earlier in the day.  It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since Michael died.  The brothers ended their show with the number “Gone Too Soon.”

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wabash Blues

“Candle light that gleams
Taunts me in my dreams
I’ll pack my walking shoes
To lose those Wabash Blues.”

I spent considerable time preparing my talk to Steve’s Indiana history class about the Calumet Region during the Roaring Twenties.  In addition to covering Gary and having the students read excerpts from my Portage Shavings, as I’ve done in the past, I added material on Hobart and Cedar Lake, including Beatrice Horner’s description of musician Paul Ash serenading night owls by playing “Wabash Blues” on the roof of the Sans Sauci Hotel at five o’clock in the morning (more recently Hank Snow and Johnny Cash covered “Wabash Blues”).  In highlighting an industrial city, rural area, small town and summer resort, I tried to demonstrate how diverse Northwest Indiana was.  After mentioning how Thyra Edwards and her sister Thelma, came to Gary from Houston to work at an all-black school, a man asked me whether Thelma was William Marshall’s mother.  When I mentioned other famous people from Gary, including Avery Brooks, the guy said Brooks was a friend of his.

The university held a reception honoring those who recently retired, including Don Coffman, one of those faculty members I wish I knew better.  His field was economic history, and he invited me to his fiftieth birthday party 15 years ago.  Bill Reilly, his predecessor in Business and one of the few professors to throw inter-departmental parties, would have liked him.  Don frequently sends copies of Chronicle of Higher Education articles to faculty he thinks might enjoy them.  He told me he has four blogs, including one on baseball (he’s a Dodger fan).   I arrived late (I enjoyed saying I just came from the classroom) but fortunately the food hadn’t been put away yet.

Garrett Cope’s Glen Park Conversation was packed.  Featured speaker was Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who discussed dealing with the city’s myriad problems with revenue less than half what it was in 2002.  She mentioned that vandals recently set fire to playground equipment and stole bricks from a war memorial at Buffington Park, which Roosevelt students had worked so hard to restore during the past year.  Unbelievable!  

                                               Post-Tribune photos by Stephanie Dowell
 Despite the adversity, Mayor Freeman-Wilson was optimistic about the future, discussed plans for the area adjacent to the university, and very patient with a woman who lived near IUN on a street with many abandoned houses.  The woman subsequently won one of the raffle items, a hanging plant in a basket.  The program ended with a rousing spiritual from the “Voices of Love” choir, one of whose members was the chancellor’s administrative assistant Kathy Malone.  Chancellor Lowe, Vice Chancellor Malik, and Dean Bankston were in the audience.  I sat next to Chuck Gallmeier and gave a wave to Barbara Cope.  The program took place in a second floor “Commemorative Study Area” of the library dedicated to the late Reverend Robert Lowery, whose church, St. Timothy, is where the “Voices of Love” choir got its start.

Tom Wade, Dave and I got in five board games (I won Amun Re and Small World) before I arrived home and watched the final six minutes of the Heat-Thunder game.  LeBron James cramped up but Dwayne Wade carried Miami to victory (darn!). 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rock of Ages

“I gotta take a little time
A little time to think things over.”
    “I Want to Know What Love Is,” Foreigner

Trish and Ray Arrendondo did a reading from “Maria’s Journey” at Ivy Tech’s De La Garza Center in East Chicago.  Angie Komenich introduced them and quoted from my Foreword, saying, first in Spanish, that Maria believed “God helped those who helped themselves.”   Eva Mendietta led off with historical background about Latinos in Northwest Indiana.  Beforehand, she whispered, “You should be doing this,” but she did an excellent job.  It reminded me of when Diana Chen-Lin was asked to talk about Chinese-Americans.  Even though it wasn’t her field, she, being conscientious like Eva, did lots of research.  Rather than accept an honorarium, Ray and Trish used the money to provide a dozen free books to audience members.

The music and acting in “Rock of Ages” were first-rate, but the plot was typical of musicals originally on Broadway – pretty shallow.  I was surprised that Tom Cruise played the aging rock star as a rather despicable character with few redeeming qualities.  In many cases the Eighties songs sounded better than the originals, especially the Journey numbers.  I especially liked Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is.”  Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin are hoots as an unlikely couple.

At Chesterton library I found a “Vanity Fair” article about the 1967 “Summer of Love” and a free autobiography of folk icon Richie Havens, who opened the Woodstock festival. 

At the European Market I bought two tacos from the family that cleans our condo and enjoyed a watermelon flavored icy free sample.  Then it was on to Becca’s dance recital, a Toni’s Dance Academy production of “Working 9 to 5.”  In one skit Becca had on a coal miner’s outfit dancing to “16 Tons,” one of the few songs I know the words to, including “another day older and deeper in debt” to the company store.  Early in the second act the curtain closed just as a number was starting.  A kid had run into a table, knocking out a tooth and necessitating a rush to the ER to get stitches.  Becca was great, as always.

At James’s twelfth birthday party was a tall, self-confident girl named Molly, who was reading “The Covenant (Abram’s Daughters)” by Beverly Lewis about Amish sisters living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  I told Molly about my friend Suzanna, who is living the simple life of an Amish woman, gardening, canning, quilting, painting, and the like.  Molly was equally at ease with kids and adults and reminded me of childhood friend Molly Schade, also tall and willowy, who charmed virtually everyone she met. I talked White Sox baseball with Kevin Horn, how college was going with wife Tina (wisely, with three kids, she took the summer off), and politics with Robert Blaszkiewicz.  Angie gave her dad, John Teague, and me matching t-shirts that stated, “This is what a cool grandpa looks like.”  Marianne Brush mentioned that Cracker will again be performing at Hobart Jaycee Fest on June 29, but I’ll be in California then.

In the news: Obama issued an executive order declaring that the federal government will no longer seek to deport illegal aliens who have been in America nearly their whole lives and will establish procedures for renewable work permits and the like. Romney, already doing poorly with Latinos, grumbled that the President’s motivation was political but refused to take a stand on the merits of the action.  Braving the wrath of fellow conservatives, old friend Pat Zollo wrote, “This is a reasonable proposal to a very difficult problem.”  One of his Facebook friends warned him that a Democrat had hacked into his identity and a nephew expressed great disappointment.  When I commented that even arch-conservative William Crystal of the Weekly Standard supported the policy, the nephew claimed Crystal was a RINO (Republican in Name Only), an epithet he used about John McCain.  It’s guys like him who purged the GOP of Dick Lugar. 
                                       Pat Zollo (right), circa 1950 and 2012
On the Sunday shows several pundits noted that the Watergate break-in occurred 40 years ago.  George Will opined that only a paranoid president (read: Richard Milhous Nixon) would order former CIA agents to burglarize the Brookings Institute and wiretap the Democratic National Headquarters.  “Tricky Dick” might have gotten away with it had not he played such a central role in the cover-up.

Tiger Woods started out so poorly on the final round of the U.S. Open that I quickly lost interest and got much proofreading done while flipping from golf to baseball to the NBA finals.  I also watched an HBO documentary entitled “Hitler’s Pawn: The Margaret Lambert Story” about a high jumper whom Hitler promised to allow on the 1936 German team to avoid an American boycott, only to go back on his word once the U.S. contingent set sail for the games.  Anti-Semitic U.S. Olympic official Avery Brundage was one of the heavies in the story, which featured interviews with Lambert, born Gretel Bergmann in 1914, both in the U.S. and on a trip to her hometown of Laupheim, which had recently named an athletic facility in her honor.

After obtaining Dale Fleming’s mailing address from Norm Carr, I sent him checks for the four drawings I sold at Pop Up Art.  Then it was off for a check-up to get my blood pressure medicine refilled and then a haircut from Anna in preparation for my California trip next week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Together

“Don’t question why she needs to be free
She’ll tell you it’s the only way to be
She just can’t be chained
To a life where nothing’s gained.”
    “Ruby Tuesday,” Rolling Stones

“Mad Men’s” Pete Campbell gets beat up twice in the latest episode.  George Bodmer must have loved it.  A woman undergoes electro-shock therapy, in retrospect what seems a barbarous practice. In 1968 George McGovern had to drop running mate Tom Eagleton from the Democratic ticket when revelations surfaced that he had underwent the procedure.  The season finale of “Mad Men” was set in the spring of 1967 when The Turtles’ “Happy Together” replaced “Ruby Tuesday” at the top of the charts.  None of the couples in “Mad Men” seem particularly happy together though.  On the other hand, the Turtles’ members Flo (Mark Volman) and Eddie (Howard Kaylan) are still together as a comedy and musical act.

I took the Corolla for an emissions test, required by the State of automobile owners living in Northwest Indiana.  I used to dread the procedure, waiting in line, keeping your foot steady on the gas pedal, and worrying, at least before we started buying Toyotas, about not passing.  These days there is little wait, no gas pedal maneuver, and slim chance of flunking.  Still, given industrial pollution and the volume of trucks passing through on the interstates, the process seems unnecessary.

Visiting the Archives was Lee Botts, working on a documentary commemorating Save the Dunes efforts.  2016 will mark the hundredth anniversary of the Dunes State Park and the 50th anniversary of the National Lakeshore.  I showed her my “Lake Michigan Tales” issue that includes John Laue’s oral history of Edgewater.  It includes an interview with her, which she’d never seen before.  Laue wrote: “Lee Botts is a well-known environmentalist who bought a leaseback in Edgewater in 1986.  Originally from Kansas, she moved to Hyde Park in 1939 and worked for the Hyde Park Herald.  In the 1960s she started working for the Open Lands Project and in 1970 she founded the Lake Michigan Federation.  Since moving to Edgewater, she has continued her involvement with both local and regional environmental groups.”

In the interview Botts told Laue: “The house was originally owned by Dr. Wood, who lived on the second floor and ran his colonics business out of the first floor. (Wood believed that the cure for most anything was an enema).  I used the downstairs as a kind of gathering place for environmentalists and friends from the Great Lakes region.  I’ve hosted many retreats since I moved in full-time in 1990.”

Lillian Foley wanted a book autographed that she purchased when I spoke to the Ogden Dunes Historical Society.  She is related to a Judge Thomas Slick, who served Indiana’s northern district.  Lillian brought two memoirs about going to school in Glen Park and downtown Gary in the 1930s and early 1940s.  She wrote: “The streetcars were wonderful.  They made us bounce around a bit, but we didn’t mind.  They were all electric.  And they had a small box that blew out hot air in the winter months.  In the summertime, one was able to put down the windows to create a breeze.  What a wonderful and blessed time that was.”

Becca sang the National Anthem Wednesday in front of 3,700 people at a RailCats baseball game.  She was great, just belting it out near home plate with out any backup music.  Afterwards players gave her high fives.  It was kids and seniors day, so there were plenty of wheel chairs and groups of youngsters with matching t-shirts.  On hand were Becca’s great-grandparents, who’ve been together nearly 60 years.  The game started at 12:10, with ideal weather, sunny and in the 70s with low humidity.  The RailCats won 4-2 to bring their record up to .500.  I consumed two hot dogs, one less than James.  Toni’s chicken soup at supper settled my stomach.

The latest Traces issue contains an article by Indiana Magazine of History editor Eric Sandweiss entitled “A Fair Collection of Interesting Pictures: Charles Cushman’s Indiana, 1938-1966.”  Though from southern Indiana (Posey County not far from Evansville and New Harmony), Cushman took photos of Inland Steel and the Indiana dunes.  

A successful salesman of business machines, Cushman left over 14,000 Kodachrome slide transparencies to the Indiana University archives.  The collection is on line, and Steve McShane and I might put together an exhibit of his work pertaining to the Calumet Region.

I congratulated Eric Sandweiss on the article and his new book “The Day in Its Color: Charles Cushman’s Photographic Journey Through a Vanishing America” and mentioned the possibility of an exhibit.  He replied: “Many thanks; your interest in the Region/Chicago shots means a lot to me.  We’re going to have a general exhibit at the Mathers Museum in Bloomington; but certainly it’d be interesting to think about something specifically related to the Region.”

Producer Jay Mukoro of Oxford Film and Television company in London is coming with a team to Gary in three weeks and sought my advice.  He wrote: “We are looking for a former steel worker to speak to – who has a compelling story to articulate, and an engaging way of telling it. We want to hear their story, but we’re also looking for people that can speak to wider concerns: why people care less about making things, why Wall Street is seen as more important than ‘Main Street’.   We’ll be looking at a number of pressing social and political issues; for example healthcare, equality and poverty, the condition of the US middle class, and what’s happened to the American dream, and what’s happened to America as a place that manufactured things?”

I spoke at Lighthouse Charter School to incoming teachers about Gary history, with an emphasis on the public schools dating back to the work-study-play system of Superintendent William A. Wirt.  The group looked quite young but were very attentive and asked good questions, including why the Wirt system was discontinued.  I arrived at lunchtime but saved my pizza and salad until after my talk.  I discussed the Emersion and Froebel school strikes, mentioned the proud heritage of Gary Roosevelt, and ended by reading John Sheehan’s poem “Gary Postscript 1989,” which begins:
“The schools I taught in were noisy but friendly
The jiving mainly merriment
The gangs mostly clubs
The learning more than you’d think
Though six of my students were shot to death
Out of six thousand.”

Nobody cared more about Gary’s children than Sheehan.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pop Up Art

“I’ve learned love is like a brick
You can build a house or sink a dead body.”
    “Judas,” Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga suffered a mild concussion in Aukland, New Zealand, when she got hit in the head with a pole while singing “Judas.”  Like a trooper, Gaga finished the show, belting out 18 more songs.

Gallery Northwest director Ann Fritz put together an interesting and well-attended alumni show featuring the work of Fine Arts graduates from as far back as 1982.  Many were delighted to see Gary Wilk, who retired last year after teaching photography for over 30 years. William Bosch’s piece was a scene from Thailand as seen in the reflection from a glass ball.  Molly Rakochy’s sculpture titled “Cooperation,” portrayed three people working together.  When I praised it, she said that most of her work was very gloomy. Attending with their wives were Tim Sutherland, Jean Poulard, and Peter Kesheimer.

Corey Hagelberg helped me hang a dozen Dale Fleming drawings at the front room of Lee Construction as part of the Pop Up Art events from 5 to 9 along Lake Street in Miller.  Around 7 he and Kate held the fort while I made myself a plate of food at Joyce’s Lake Street Gallery.  The place was jammed, but most folks were socializing, not paying attention to the artwork on exhibit.  On the other hand, at my site there wasn’t much to do except examine Fleming’s drawings and listen to my spiel.  I sold four pieces and talked up the idea of finding ways to bring Dale up from Bloomington to spend some months living near the dunes he loves so much.

What I especially liked were comments by other artists, especially young people who admired Dale’s work.  Eighth grader China Johnson (I think that was her last name), who attends Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts, stayed quite a while and returned with a friend.  A fourth grader mentioned winning a contest for designing a logo for the RailCats, a local baseball team.  Recent East Chicago Central grad Miguel Cuevera, who was showing his art up the street, came in twice with his girlfriend.  Another Latino whose girlfriend was Macedonian spent about 15 minutes reading my Gary book.  Joanna Mulder has been collecting oral histories of Jewish Millerites.  Her parents live in Illinois but still own a home on Lake Shore Drive.  Valpo law professor Sy Moskowitz lives there during the school year but travels extensively summers so Joanna is staying there.

Alesia Metz, whom I hadn’t seen in 20 years, stopped by.  Toni gave her art lessons when she attended Alternative Public School with Phil and Dave.  Anne Balay came in with her daughters and two friends and bought a drawing that daughter Emma admired, one of four pen and ink renderings that I sold.  Artist Kay Rosen also bought one.

Near the end of the evening photographer Marty Bohn videotaped me about Dale Fleming’s works on display (most of them done for inclusion in my “Lake Michigan Tales” Shavings).  She intends to post the interview on the Miller Beach Arts website and YouTube (under Marty’s Flicks).  After I packed up, event organizer Karren Lee offered me a glass of wine, and we agreed the event was a big success.  Earlier, cops broke up a wine tasting event in the former Miller Drugs after a liquor storeowner across the street complained.  The participants moved the event to a pizza place down the street that had a liquor license.

Sunday at the Wades again for Game Weekend I prevailed in Amun Re and Acquire and would have won croquet except a new rule did not reward people who were poison another shot after they knocked someone out.  Tom and Brady’s balls were pretty far away but close to each other.  I aimed for Tom but hit Brady.  Under the old rules I could then have eliminated Tom.  Instead he became poison, too, and ousted me after I gambled and left myself less than six feet from his ball.  I left with a pint of Darcey’s yummy potato salad that she insisted would go to waste otherwise.

I’ve titled my upcoming talk to new Gary charter school teachers “The Fifth Wave.” A hundred years ago idealistic teachers were eager to be part of progressive educator William A. Wirt’s work-study-play system.  The 1920s population opened opportunities for African-American teachers who dedicated themselves to making all-black Roosevelt School a first-class institution.  A third wave came during the 1960s, many inspired by Black Pride and Richard Hatcher becoming the country’s first black mayor.  A quarter century later many homegrown teachers were replacing those who had once taught them.  So the Fifth Wave has big shoes to fill and hopefully will stand on the shoulders of four generations of dedicated educators and train future leaders.

I had lunch at the Redhawk Café with Anne and Leah Balay.  Earlier morning while running Anne got bit on the back of the leg by a miniature Doberman pinscher.  Bummer.  She went with the owner to examine the dog’s rabies shot record.  The woman was a surgical technician and cleaned the wound for her.  We shared some of Darcey’s potato salad.  Leah will be working on Obama’s re-election campaign until she returns to college in the fall. They wondered why Miller library has two names, Wildermuth-Woodson.  Pioneer resident Ora L. Wildermuth, a teacher and lawyer, lent out books form his collection and became known as the town’s first librarian.  Years later, while on IU’s Board of Trustees Wildermuth wrote letters to President Herman Wells opposing desegregation.  After this came to light, many residents wanted to rename the library.  As an ironically fitting compromise, the name of Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Negro History” got attached to his name. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Garden Party

“I learned my lesson well.
You see, you can’t please everyone
So you got to please yourself.”
    Ricky Nelson, “Garden Party.”

In 1971 Ricky Nelson participated in an Oldies show at Madison Square Garden. He came out with shoulder length hair, and when he mixed in new country-oriented material with his 50s hits, some audience members booed.  The event was gist for his final smash hit “Garden Party.”  One line goes, “Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise.”  Nelson was good friends both with Bob Dylan and ex-Beatle George Harrison, who uses the alias Mr. Hughes when traveling incognito.  Ricky, just nine months older than me, gained fame on the “Ozzie and Harriet Show.”  I saw him in concert in Atlantic City’s Steel Pier around 1960 when he was a reigning teen idol.  He died in 1985 in a plane crash.

Pat Heckler had a garden party for friends and Rusty Pipes members at her 98 year-old mansion in Hobart.  The food was great and grounds quite spectacular.  Rusty Pipes French horn player Dick Hagelberg took a late lunch hour in order to attend.  Pat’s son Bob, once keyboardist with Voodoo Chili, provided the music and put on quite a show, donning hats, hairpieces, shirts, glasses and other props to go with the song.  Hence a sailor’s hat for Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville.”  He has a regular gig at a bar near Wrigley Field and was playing later that evening at the Hobart band shell.  Brother Mike is really into trains and had one running outside that attracted almost as much attention from James and Becca as “Turtle Cove,” featuring three large, very much alive creatures.

Dan Kozlowski thanked me for the “Retirement Journal” and summarized his life in the 32 years since leaving IUN.  He joined the army, graduated from law school, was an attorney and city planner in Indy, and voluntarily returned to active duty after 9/11. Over the next nine years he was deployed in Iraq, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. A law school instructor, he wrote: I have always tried to emulate you as a teacher.  What I remember most about you was your enthusiasm for the topic and your respect and appreciation for the students...I try to do the same.”

I checked out the space at Lee Construction where I shall be hanging drawings of Dale Fleming for Saturday’s Pop Up Art fest along Miller’s Lake Street.  I thought they’d just be in a window, but entire room will be open to the public, so I’ll be there the entire four hours.  Maybe I’ll hawk Shavings magazines that feature Dale’s work or have info on pioneer Millerite Drusilla Carr and Diana of the Dunes.  Archives volunteer Maurice Yancy helped transport two boxes on book to my car.

Wisconsin governor Scott Walker survived the recall election thanks to outspending his opponent almost ten to one.  Fat cats from all over the country took out their wallets to support the anti-union scumbag.  Hopefully it is not a harbinger of things to come in November.

I met with Henry and Ryan Farag at T.J. Mahoney’s in Merrillvile to strategize about turning “The Signal” into an e-book.  Ryan has converted it to a kindle format that looks quite professional.  We’re hoping to interest IU Press in adapting it rather than distributing it independently.  IU professor James Madison co-edits a series on Midwestern History and Culture, so I pitched the idea to him, writing: “Eleven years ago, as part of my Steel Shavings magazine series, I published Henry Farag’s “The Signal: A Doo-Wop Rhapsody.”  It is a fascinating story of someone growing up in an ethnic working-class neighborhood in Gary who goes on to a career as a producer of Oldies shows and a member of the singing group Stormy Weather.  It contains sketches of performers Henry has dealt with, such as Fats Domino and Jerry Lee Lewis, to mention just a few.  Farag’s Canterbury Productions team would advertise it heavily (Henry, for instance, has an upcoming show in New York City and countless contacts in the music business).  Since it is virtually ready to go, it wouldn’t require much labor beyond making certain it measures up to the press’s high standards.  Twenty-five years ago IU Press distributed a book I co-edited entitled “Forging a Community” that was originally published by Cattails Press.  Cattails supplied the books and received half the proceeds.  We could set up similar arrangements for “The Signal” with Canterbury Productions   If sales take off, as I suspect they will, perhaps IU Press might consider investing the profits in publishing it as a paperback.”

One “Jeopardy” question had to do with the War of (Robert) Jenkins’ Ear between Great Britain and Spain, named for an the body part of a merchant ship captain that a Spaniard sliced off in 1731.  An answer in the category “Antiheroes” was Travis Bickle, the Robert De Niro character in “Taxi Driver.”

I packed a ham and sweet pickle sandwich on rye, IUN’s cafeteria being closed Fridays during the summer.  Game weekend at the Wades commenced at 3 p.m.  I went one for five, edging out Tom in Stone Age in a tiebreaker.  We introduced Brady’s friends to Pit, a once popular game that we hadn’t played in years.  I was about to leave when Dave arrived and got talked into playing Amun Re.  Darcy made delicious potato salad and meatballs and gravy.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Goin' My Way

“I’ve got a beautiful feelin’
Everything’s goin’ my way.”
    “Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin’,” from “Oklahoma!”

After a week of record high temperature the mornings have been sunny and crisp with the afternoon temperature staying in the seventies – perfect weather for the Chesterton 5k race that Tom Wade participated in.

The Chesterton library has a stack of free books.  The only condition is that one is not allowed to return them.  I found “The Fourteenth Chronicle: Letters and Diaries of John Dos Passos” among the rejects.  According to the old-fashioned card in the flap at the back of the book, the last time someone checked it out was 1984.  I once thought books in the library would be there forever but evidently not.  For the time being at least, my Shavings issues are in a locked bookcase with other local history volumes.  In his youth Dos Passos was a radical but became disillusioned with FDR because he distrusted big government.  I loved his U.S.A. trilogy and Manhattan Transfer novel about New York bohemians during the 1920s.  Reflecting postwar disillusionment, one character laments, “We are the peewee generation.”

Corey Hagelberg and girlfriend Kate invited us for a vegetarian lunch at their place on top of a huge dune near Lake and Forest in Miller.  It took 80 steps to reach, and the ticks were so prevalent that they recommended taking our clothes off when we got home, inspecting our bodies and then showering when we got home.  They are hoping to convert a second house on their property into apartments where artists can stay and work in connection with the Miller Beach Arts and Creative District Karren Lee and others started.

I will be hanging an exhibit of Dale Flemings’s work at Lee Construction for Saturday’s Pop Up Art festival.  A couple months ago, I heard that Dale is poverty stricken, so I’m hoping to sell drawings he did for next to nothing that are reproduced in my 1998 “Lake Michigan Tales” issue and give him any proceeds.  Two of my favorites are of the old Michigan City Lighthouse and a rendering of artists ready to board the South Shore after a day at the dunes. 

Sunday we saw “Oklahoma” at the Valpo Memorial Opera House.  The 1943 Rogers and Hammerstein musical was dated and the plot pedestrian (a hired hand is the villain), but the songs were fun and the acting superb. A recent graduated from Valpo High School played Persian peddler Ali Hamim, and I’d have never guessed his age.  Afterwards we ate at Lucretia’s (I brought over half of my lasagna home) and then played a round of bridge with Dick and Cheryl.  Turned on the TV in time to relish Boston’s two-point victory over the Heat as James fouled out and Wade missed a three-point shot that could have won it.

At lunch Alan Lindmark complained that IUN wants to charge emeritus faculty a hundred dollars for parking stickers next year rather than continue to hand them out free.  He thinks the policy change violates the faculty constitution.  Hopefully the reason is that someone decided mailing them out to people who mostly don’t use them is a waste.  I’d hate to think someone resents my parking free.

Friday, June 1, 2012

No Bed of Roses

“Life can lift you up
It can drag you down
Life don’t have to be no bed of roses.”
   “Bed of Roses,” The Indians

Janet Dermody informed us that husband Mike has throat cancer.  He will be going through extensive treatment at a center in Boston.  That really sucks.  My mentor was a true friend for comrades Al Samter, Fred Gaboury and Ken Applehans when they were battling the “Big C.”

A personable guy named Elvis from Monroe Pest Control sprayed the outside of our condo to eradicate carpenter bees that had infested areas near the roof.  Later two guys cut down the ash tree in front of our unit that an emerald ash borer was in the process of destroying.

Gloria Biondi and Ron Cohen informed me that Arch McKinlay mentioned in his Times column that he was disappointed with my “anything but complimentary” appraisal of Gary native Tom Harmon.  There is no denying that the Horace Mann graduate was the best all-around athlete in the city’s history, but in my account of the WW II years I concluded that photo journalist John Bushemi was a bigger hero.  For one thing he volunteered to enter military service whereas Harmon was a reluctant draftee.  Bushemi died in the Pacific and therefore figuratively was the hero who never moved away while Harmon told people Ann Arbor was his hometown and became a Californian.  I did not mean to disparage Harmon, who returned for the 1956 Jubilee and maintained contact with a nun at Holy Angels and radio personality Tom Higgins.

Thanking me for “Gary’s First Hundred Years,” Jack Buhner (above, with Chancellor William Lowe at Time capsule event) wrote: “I was in Gary during the fiftieth anniversary festival in 1956.  At that time some of the history you relate seemed much closer.  A few of the actors were still around as well as much of the scenery.  And you should have experienced the show U.S. Steel put on!  Betty and I were guests at most plants and were wined and dined along with hundreds of others almost to death.  Also thanks again for all you did to make my visit so memorable.  It was a great capstone for my long life with Indiana University.”

Lewis Sink visited the Archives from Fort Wayne seeking info about a restaurant his family owned in Gary 75 years ago. Using a city directory, I located its address and that of the Sink family residence.

The Redhawk Café manager saw me in the Cedar Lake documentary that still airs on PBS.  If my Shavings volume weren’t out of print, I’d have given her one.  She’s lived there for 20 years.  Cheryl from Accurate Hearing Aid Services ordered the Portage issue, going fast since I began using them during talks about the Region during the Roaring Twenties.

I helped Toni on two NY Times crossword puzzle clues, recognizing the answers to the Cambodian ruler (Lon) Nol and the Elvis clone who sang “It’s Only Make Believe, (Conway) Twitty.

Son Dave posted these remarks on his last day of class at East Chicago central: “Said goodbye to the senior class of 2012 today...I must say that today was a strong affirmation for the reasons I became a teacher. Emotions flowed and tears were shed, but the overall vibe from everyone involved touched me genuinely in ways I wasn't aware I could still be touched. The young people I worked with this year give me HOPE for the future and I will miss them tremendously. I LOVE the CLASS of 2012!!!!!”

“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” with Judi Densch and Maggie Smith is in its second week at Goodrich Portage 16.  I suggested the film to the manager after leaving an empty (except for me) showing of “The Dictator.”  At the time he was doubtful that they’d be showing it despite my claim that lots of seniors would come see it. I was prescient; the place was packed with elderlies.  The cast included the great Judi Densch and Maggie Smith.  Toni found it somewhat depressing, but I thought it was uplifting.

Gianluca invited me to join the History and Philosophy departmet at a Chinese restaurant in Chicago to celebrate Chris Young’s tenure and promotion, but we’ll be seeing “Oklahoma!” that afternoon. Too bad; it’s a nice place.  Diana Chen Lin took us there after she got tenure.