“No legacy is as rich as honesty,” William Shakespeare
Leah Balay, on semester break, was with Anne at lunch and had knitted her a winter scarf. I asked whether her dorm mates played much cards. The answer was no, to her regret. Both Anne and I recalled marathon card games when we were in college, in my case, both Bridge as well as Spades, Hearts, Euchre, Pinochle, and Poker. Bill Buckley walked by on his way to get a key to a library carrel. Now that’s he’s retired he’s moving to a library carrel, where he will work on the Sylvia Plath journal that he edits. He has a batch of poems about the Region for the Archives.
I bowled a practice game working on holding my elbow in, increasing my velocity, and following through more. With pointers from John I rolled a 171.
French documentarian Frederic Cousseau wrote: “I am in the middle of the reading of your book. It is so interesting ! It is freezing in Paris (under 0 degrees celsius). Are you born in Gary ? If not, why did you come to Gary ? Please could you tell us some elements of your life, if you don't mind ? Merci !” I replied: “I grew up near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, got my PhD in 1970 from the University of Maryland, was very much influenced by the 1960s politically and culturally, believe in the concept of studying history "from the bottom up," and first came to Gary in 1970 to accept a teaching position at Indiana University Northwest. I'm glad you find the book interesting and informative. We've had a very mild winter so far.”
At IUN’s Gallery for Contemporary Art was an exhibit of former student Blanca Lopez’s work entitled “Legacy.” Blanca succumbed to cancer last year after going on to receive an MFA degree at University of Chicago and a teaching career at the American Academy of Art. She studied under David Klamen, Neil Goodman, and Gary Wilk, all of whom were in attendance. Gary and I talked about our old friend Larry Kaufman; it would be nice to have a “Legacy” exhibit of his work. Two of her works graced past issues of Spirits magazine. The background for one piece resembled crumpled aluminum foil. She painted it in Klamen’s class. He purchased it and shows it to all of his first-year students.
The President has endorsed a comprehensive gun control package that faces long odds in Congress. Ray Smock is outraged at a new NRA ad claiming that Obama cares more about his own kids than other people’s because armed Secret Service agents protect them while he opposes placing armed guards in all school buildings. Blowhard freshman Texas Congressman Steve Stockman wants to impeach Obama and de-fund the White House. Such extremism, Ray warns, can lead to “nutcases getting out their guns and killing people.” I emailed Ray that one nutcase mercifully has left the House; unfortunately he’s the Indiana governor’s office. Mike Pence recently signed an executive order transferring the state Education Employment Relations Board from the Superintendent of Public Instruction to his office. Why? Because the newly elected Superintendent, Glenda Ritz, is a Democrat.
Jerry Davich suggested we talk about WW II Tuskegee airman Quentin Smith, who died recently at age 94, when I appear on the radio with him Friday. He and his brave comrades put the lie to the stereotype that blacks were too dumb to fly a plane in battle, just as a generation later Doug Williams would guided Washington to a Superbowl victory, burying the myth that African Americans lacked the leadership skills to play quarterback. Born in Texas, he moved with his family to East Chicago and taught two years at Gary Roosevelt after obtaining a degree from Indiana State. Trained at Tuskegee, Alabama, as a member of the 477 composite group, he rose to the rank of first lieutenant. Since he was too big to fit in fighter planes such as the P-51 Mustang, he learned to pilot the B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. While a flight instructor at a base near Seymour, Indiana, he and 100 other black officers got arrested for entering a “whites only” officers club and refusing to leave. NAACL attorney Thurgood Marshall intervened to win their release. Smith never made it overseas, but many of the pilots he trained did. These 450 Tuskegee Airmen, wrote Kevin Nevers of the Chesterton Tribune, “provided air cover on 1,578 bombing missions and cut a savage swath in ground attacks on Hitler’s Germany, destroying or damaging 136 aircraft in aerial combat, 273 on the ground, 40 barges and boats, 619 box cars, 23 factories, 126 locomotives, and nine radar installations.” Smith later served as West Side’s first principal and was a city councilman.
I stopped to pick up flowers on the way home and took Toni to Sage Restaurant for our forty-eighth wedding anniversary. I told Toni, “Thanks for putting up with me for 48 years.” With a straight face she replied, “It wasn’t easy.” I had stuffed ravioli topped with a meat sauce, while Toni ordered scallops, something I usually get. Unlike today (and all winter, in fact,) on January 16, 1965, it was snowing heavily in Philadelphia. The night before for his sex talk, Vic had asked me if there was anything I wanted to ask him and was relieved when I said no. Paul Turk drove through a blizzard from Ohio and arrived at St. Adelbert’s Church just as the ceremony was starting.
As condo board secretary I took notes at an owners meeting consisting mainly of noncontroversial announcements. One board member complained that the garage door of a neighbor (horror of horrors, a renter) was open too much (there’s actually a rule pertaining to that), so President Holicky promised to have a tactful talk with the culprit, a single mom, emphasizing that it might lead to chipmunks or other animals getting inside or give potential thieves ideas.
The Bulls beat lowly Toronto in overtime thanks to Boozer’s 36 points and a shot by Luol Deng with three seconds to go. Coach Tom Thibodeau, who resembles the Daleys, is perfect for Chicago, the genuine article compared to that fake Mike Ditka.