Friday, January 31, 2014


“If there is a special Hell for writers, it would be in the forced contemplation of their own works.” John Dos Passos

I’m almost done laying out Steel Shavings, volume 43, but I need Ryan Shelton’s help adding columns to the Index in order to confine the manuscript to 304 pages (the longest yet).  On the inside of the back cover, under the headline “Season’s Greetings 2013” will appear eight photos that came with Christmas cards, featuring friends who once lived in Northwest Indiana, including Kentuckian Kathy O’Rourke Voorhees and Californian Don Price.  I’ll read it once more for typos and factual errors and try not to make more revisions than necessary.

Make and Janet Bayer spent the night.  Due to cancer, Mike lost his voice box but can still talk with a device in his throat.  Looking over the NWI Times obits at breakfast, Janet found one that asserted that two families loved the deceased.  Was the guy a bigamist, we wondered?  Mike made a reference to prison escape artist Willie “The Actor” Sutton, and I asked if he knew what book police found in Sutton’s apartment after his apprehension.  Answer: “USA” John Dos Passos.
 Willie Sutton with cops
Arriving at IUN later than usual, I pulled into the 33rd Avenue lot and almost collided with a vehicle driven by a young coed who drove through a stop sign while speaking on her cell phone.  Close call!   Anne Balay told me that Emma and Roy Dominguez’s wife Betty are accompanying the two of them downstate on the day before the EEOC hearing.  I told Anne that she and Emma will love Betty, an effervescent and loving soul who used to work in a juvenile court judge’s office.

My review of Jacqueline Foertsch’s “Reckoning Day: Race, Place, and the Atom Bomb in Postwar America” appeared in Choice.  The title refers to the world’s end and Biblical Second Coming.  A while back, an editor chastised me for including the 190-word review in my blog prior to its appearance in Choice.  Most of my review deals with the depiction of African Americans in survivalist novels and films.  The author refutes the myth that African Americans were unconcerned about the threat of nuclear catastrophe.  For Langston Hughes, "Reckoning Day" became a source of macabre humor; characters in his Chicago Defender "Simple" columns worry about eating radioactive tuna, joke about Jim Crow bomb shelters, and fantasize about fallout killing only whites.

Dave Serynek, Paul Van Wormer, and I raised our glasses to dear, departed Timm Coughlin at Village Tavern in Porter.  A biker and Porter Acres teammate, Paulie had amazing speed for his size and in high school was both a high hurdler and shot putter.   When he slid into a base, the fielders generally backed away, he was that intimidating.  Once he hosted a barn burning and afterwards felt both relief and disappointment that a fight never broke out.  In the Bahamas, a hotel hostess met with a dozen of us and after a short spiel asked if there were any questions.  Paulie promptly asked for more pitchers of the mixed drink she had served us.  She complied.  Dave’s silver hair was very long despite wife Barb’s protestations.  They are normally in Florida this time of year but Barb’s mother is ailing.  Dave vowed he’d get a haircut as soon as they are back in Florida.  He’d been cleaning out his dad’s place and found numerous issues of Life, including one from 1965 and a 1976 special bicentennial issue.  The bar was full and so smoky that I stripped upon arriving home, and did laundry and took a bath.
I’ve selected a dozen jpegs of photos for my upcoming Gary Chamber of Commerce talk on the year 1955, including shots of Vivian Carter, the Spaniels, and Mayor George Chacharis honoring Olympic gold medal winner Lee Calhoun. Someone from Instructional Media Center will go with me to make sure they get flashed on the screen at the proper time.  After receiving an announcement about the event, Rick Hug emailed that regretably he’d be out of town.

Samuel A. Love reports that he learned tonight that my pops saw Pete Seeger perform in 1964 at Purdue.  Can I get anymore jealous? Here's the man that saw Muddy Waters (in Gary), shook hands with Howlin Wolf, saw the Rolling Stones, Stevie Ray Vaughn... wait, he took me to those last two gigs.”  Sam’s mother posted that she “was actually touched by Alice Cooper and met Ted Nugent ( ok, well maybe I shouldn't share that one). My friend's brother ran the lighting at "Dex Card's Wild Goose" at the Scherwood Club in Schererville and a lot of later famous acts appeared there before they were famous so I got to meet them.”
Steve Spicer posted a 1940s photo of himself with big brother Jim wearing cowboy outfits.  Back then boys were programmed to play with toy guns and imagine shooting bad guys – or Indians.

On a site called Imgism Alan Brightside cited ways young “millennials” are changing the sexual landscape: they are likely to regard masturbation, kinky sex, and watching pornography as normal behavior, and in increasing numbers they support gay marriage, same-sex experimentation, and coupling with more than two people. 

Bob Mucci informed me that somebody donated a rare 1977 volume of Steel Shavings, volume 3, on the 1930s to the Anthropology book sale.  He offered to trade it for numerous books I have for him.  Corey Hagelberg dropped by my office to say he wouldn’t be a lunch and is taking students to the Gregg Hertzlieb exhibit at Savannah Gallery.

Cousin Sue Stone is organizing a July “Lane Reunion” in Lancaster, PA, that will include a visit to Wheatland, James Buchanan’s estate.  I told her to count me in.  

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