Monday, October 21, 2013

Musical Cake

“Punk rock,
Red white and blue.”
    "you Turn the Screws," Cake

I visited the European Market and Chesterton library Saturday morning and picked up the latest Generations issue.  The feature article is about Dyer resident Bob Schoop, a WW II radio operator who flew on 35 missions aboard a B-24 nicknamed the Heavenly Hideaway.  He got the dry heaves on virtually every mission and recalled: “It was ordinarily the top turret gunner’s job to manually open the bomb bay doors if they stuck.  On one particular day the top turret gunner was busy fighting off enemy airplanes, and I was expected to open the doors.  I had to crank them down.  In order for all the bombers to drop their bombs together, the lead bombardier dropped a fuse and all the other bombardiers would drop their bombs.  When I cranked open the door the smoke from that flare was sucked into our bomber and I thought that I was hit.  I yelled that I was hit, and the copilot came to help me.  Before he could get there, I realized that I was OK.  I told him to forget it.  I was really scared that day.” 

Chris Young asked me to co-lead a discussion with Nicole Anslover about experiences teaching about the JFK assassination for a brown bag “Chalk and Talk” session in November.  More interesting might be how to teach about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  Vanity Fair noted the spate of JFK books as the fiftieth anniversary of his assassination draws near.  Several scrutinize his reckless sex life.  After screwing 61 year-old Marlene Dietrich in the White House in 1962, Kennedy asked the German-born actress whether she ever made it with his dad.  When she said no, he said, “Well, that’s one place I’m in first.”  Papa Joe was notorious for trying to jump into bed with his offspring’s girlfriends.  A recent book about Elizabeth Taylor called “There Is Nothing Like a Dame” claims that after a nude swim in the White House pool she had a threesome with Kennedy and actor Robert Stack (Eliot Ness in “The Untouchables”).

I checked out James Ciment’s “Another America: The Story of Liberia.”  Founded in 1822 out of a desire by members of the American Colonization Society to rid the U.S. of former slaves, Liberia came to be ruled by settlers who exploited the native tribes already there, much like they had been exploited as slaves.  The “Americo-Liberian” elite controlled the government until 1980, when a bloody coup set off 30 years of violence and chaos.  Current President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, elected in 2011, was a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, along with fellow Liberian Leymah Gbowee and Tawakel Karman of Yeman for their work on behalf of women’s rights.
 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Watched the first half of IU-Michigan before going to Sage Restaurant and then playing bridge with the Hagelbergs, back from their European cruise.  Michigan QB Devin Gardner wore number 98 in honor of Wolverine legend and Gary native Tom Harmon, winner of the 1940 Heisman Trophy.
 Ron Cohen at Aquatorium with Tuskegee Airman statue; photo by Jeff Manes

Jeff Manes’ SALT column was on Ron Cohen, who noted that we were hired on the same day and that when we first started the Calumet Regional Archives, we had stuff piled all over our offices until we got space in the new library.  While a teaching assistant at Minnesota one of his students was David Zimmerman, Bob Dylan’s brother.  Jeff asked him about his upcoming biography of Pete Seeger, and Ron mentioned that Pete campaigned for Eddie Sadlowski when he ran, unsuccessfully, for president of the United Steelworkers of America.

Carrol Vertrees attended a performance by the Chorus of the Dunes (a group founded in 1944), lamented the aging of its members, and reminisced about singing in a church choir.  Claiming the music can lift our hearts and sustain us in troubled times, he concluded that “barbershop harmony is a small slice of the great musical cake that adds a high caloric treat to our lives.”  My favorite “slices” include folk and punk rock, among my albums on heavy rotation are Dylan’s “Blood on the Tracks” and “London Calling” by the Clash.

In “Boardwalk Empire” the J. Edgar Hoover character mentions his intention to go after radicals rather than organized crime.  The bastard was either on the take or fearful of taking on a really dangerous adversary instead of a mere phantom.  Hoover named Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey and Cyril Briggs as two of the most dangerous men in America.  I wasn’t familiar with Briggs but learned that he was also a Black Nationalist who like Garvey was born in the West Indies.  Briggs joined the Communist Party in 1921 and feuded with Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association.

Watching the Bears-Redskins, I was less interested in which team would win since I like them both than how my Fantasy players Alfred Morris and Brandon Marshall would fare.  Unbelievably, every time Washington was poised to score, out went Morris and in came Roy Helu, Jr., who had 3 TDs to none for Morris.  Marshall was also held without a TD.  Kira, my opponent, had Matt Forte, who also had 3 TDs, enabling her to beat me by 15 points.  Afterwards we had shrimp spring rolls at Dave and Angie’s.

Steve McShane made jpegs of photos of Raoul Contreras, Gary Wilk, and Omar Farag for my upcoming talk in Nicole’s class about Vietnam Vets from the Region.  One shows Raoul with an Asian girl who was his escort while he was on R and R.  What a crazy war – survive 180 days, go to Taiwan or Thailand for a respite, then return to finish out your 465 days.  Next Monday Nicole will be in DC talking about Bess Truman on a C-Span show, part of a series on First Ladies.

Nicole showed a few minutes of the PBS documentary “Stonewall Uprising,” which went into detail about how homosexuality was treated barbarically as a mental disease.  Some people were even lobotomized.  She also showed a creepy 1960s public service clip portraying homosexuals as potential child molesters and showed a young boy hitchhiking, a practice that was very common back then.  I hitchhiked home from Bucknell several times and thought nothing of picking up young folks thumbing rides. 

Hilbert Bradley was laid to rest over the weekend.  Indiana Supreme Court Justice Robert D. Rucker and numerous Gary attorneys mentioned that they are where they are “on his shoulders.”

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