“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” Mark Twain
There were 11 of us enjoying Toni’s ham dinner for Thanksgiving. Alissa’s mom Beth made her specialty, cucumber salad, three different ways, one without onions and one with a vinegar cider sauce. All were great. Her secret is to slice the cucumbers ultra-thin. Phil was especially interested in the Lions, and I had the Packers’ defense in Fantasy football, so we paid more attention to that than the other two NFL games. In the evening we played Texas Hold’em. Getting low on chips, I went all in with an Ace-9 of spades. Dave called with an Ace-4 and won when the final card was a 4.
Friday we saw “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” which lived up to expectations. The cast was great, starting with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, and it was a pleasant surprise discovering that my favorite actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, played Plutarch Heavensbee. Angie bought two big tubs of popcorn and twice had each refilled. In the afternoon Toni made turkey and Beth a cranberry apple pie. Tom and Brady Wade, looking very collegiate as the end of his first semester at Bloomington draws near, stopped over for gaming and another round of Texas Hold’em. Afterwards Brady posted a message to the Lane family to say “how great it was to see everybody over break.”
Josh Leffingwell was looking through my history books and talking about race-relations in Grand Rapids, so I decided to give him his Christmas present early – Todd Robinson’s “A City within a City” about the Black Freedom struggle in the so-called “Furniture City.” He was thrilled and mentioned it on Facebook. Within an hour 11 people wanted to borrow it, and he’s thinking of having a panel discussion about it.
Saturday we had planned to visit Mike and Janet Bayer in Indy, but Toni wasn’t feeling well. I did talk to Janet, Kirsten, and Shannon at length on the phone, and we promised to visit soon. Most of our houseguests took off, so I did four loads of wash (mainly towels and sheets) and got about halfway through Gabriel Fraire’s “Mills Rats.” In addition to having an interesting story line the book has vivid descriptions of what it was like to work in the steel mills during the 1960s and 1970s. For example, one character worked in the 100-inch Plate Mill as a pusher. Gabriel wrote: “The plate mill furnace spits out re-heated steel ingots and as easy as a baker rolls dough giant rollers flatten the cube of heated steel. Back and forth the cube is rolled between rollers until it reaches a specified length and width. Then the steel is moved along a conveyor of rollers, the sides, front, and back are trimmed.” Once the trimming is done, the plate is rolled into a room with roller-topped pillars and, Fraire writes, “must be pushed by two men with long steel prongs, either to the loading platform or the fine cutting machine. That’s the rookie’s job, plate pusher, hot, dirty, physical non-stop labor.”
Sunday I watched the Bears lose again and Peyton Manning throw five TD passes against the Chiefs, assuring me the Fantasy victory over Phil and a first place finish in the regular season since Kira Shifflett, who like me had a 7-5 record, tied in her match with Bobby.
Dr. Iatridis’ wife Nina thanked me for the two Shavings issues, especially “Daughters of Penelope,” since she was good friends with several of the Greek-Americans I interviewed. She added that when she told her father that they were moving to the area in 1972, he was living in Egypt and took out an old atlas belonging to his father and couldn’t find Gary on the map. It must have predated the founding of Gary in 1906.
In the Post-Trib Jerry Davich wrote about defense attorney Bryan Truitt, who said that one of his trial objectives is to humanize his clients because good people often make bad decisions. He represents a former Fegley Middle School teacher who sent sexually explicit messages to three former students. Truitt pointed out that he had a rough childhood, joined the marines and fought in desert Storm, put himself through college, was always on time in paying child support for his daughter, was never before in trouble with the law, and was a popular teacher who admits he “somehow lost my way.” Truitt concluded: “He made a costly mistake. But does he deserve to go to prison for three years? My answer is no.” On a lighter note Carrol Vertrees wrote a column entitled “Give thanks by giving more than receiving.” Vertrees quoted Mark Twain as having stated that everyone is a moon with a dark side and Edgar Guest who said, “I may misunderstand you and the high advice you give, but there is no misunderstanding how you act and live.”
The twelfth season six episode of “The Sopranos” ended with teenage son A.J. bringing home for Christmas dinner his Puerto Rican lover Blanca and her three-year old son Hector. In the kitchen Carmela says she’s got to ten years older than him. Tony replies that at least she must be Catholic.
Anne Balay gave me a Gary t-shirt (I’m adding it to the Archives collection) and a thank-you card with this note: “Jimbo, I can’t tell you how much your support of me – as a person, a scholar, and a teacher – has meant to me over the past year. You have been such a good friend.”
In the Sixties class we were talking about Legacies and Jim, who is just a few years my junior, mentioned seeing written on a Port Tavern condom machine the advice: “Don’t buy this gum. It tastes awful and is hard to chew.” I brought up an article in the current Rolling Stone entitled “JFK and the War Machine” by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Citing Kennedy’s handling of the crisis in Laos in 1962 – arranging a neutralist government – the author claims JFK would have sought a similar situation in Vietnam after the 1964 election. One sad legacy: by the 1980s, as historian Lance Trusty wrote, “The great Gary experiment, through which Washington tried to transform a black northern community into a model city [with a massive infusion of funds] was over.”
In the Sixties class we were talking about Legacies and Jim, who is just a few years my junior, mentioned seeing written on a Port Tavern condom machine the advice: “Don’t buy this gum. It tastes awful and is hard to chew.” I brought up an article in the current Rolling Stone entitled “JFK and the War Machine” by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Citing Kennedy’s handling of the crisis in Laos in 1962 – arranging a neutralist government – the author claims JFK would have sought a similar situation in Vietnam after the 1964 election.