Wednesday, January 29, 2014


“Man needs escape as he needs food and deep sleep.” W.H. Auden

Among the books I took from Jack Gruenenfelder’s library was Graham Greene’s autobiographical “Ways of Escape.”  Greene writes: “Writing is a form of therapy: sometimes I wonder how those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human condition.”   Inside the book was a coupon for Dolly Parton’s album “Golden Streets of Glory,” a collection of spirituals recorded in 1971.  Jack’s retarded son Paul loved Dolly and had multiple copies of several of her albums.
 Megan Holland, NWI Times photo by John J. Watkins
IUN’s Lady Redhawks defeated Moody Bible Institute 73-50, as senior Megan Holland scored 21 points. Coach Ryan Shelton said, “We spaced the floor well to get the ball inside to Megan, and she did a good job of finishing.”  After the game Holland was honored for having scored over a thousand points during her stellar career. 
 NWI Times photos by Dan Shelton

Coming home last week, I exited at Portage onto Route 20 after a sign warned that all three eastbound 80/94 lanes near Chesterton were closed.  Some 46 vehicles were involved in a massive pile-up that killed three people and injured many more.  “It was like a war zone,” fireman Mick Pawlik exclaimed.  The accident occurred at 2:21 p.m. under white-out conditions.  This winter is one of the worst in memory.
Portage Councilman Mark Oprisko criticized Mayor James Snyder for making four snowplows available to Gary Wednesday, when Portage was spared most of the snow that fell to its west. I’ve not been a big fan of Snyder, but good for him.  An appreciative Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said, “I looked at it from the perspective that we do mutual aid with fire and police.”  Snyder stated, “I thought about how many of our residents might not be able to get to work or residents from Gary who couldn’t [otherwise] get to our stores.”  Mike Siroky wrote, I am proud of Portage for doing this. As the mayor of Portage said, they have also used SWAT team members when doing major busts in downtown Gary and no one objects to that. Made me feel a little better about the Region. As a Millerite it's nice to see that area get help because it is usually last on the list.”
On Facebook Cheryl Hagelberg posted a photo of deer eating at her bird feeder.  Darcey Wade noted mention of James and Becca in the Chesterton Tribune for making the honor roll with straight A’s.  Janet Bayer passed on this suggestion: “Why won’t the banks do something with all the empty houses they own?” 
Henry Farag listed me as editor for his musical, “The Signal: A Rhaspody,” that will be performed at Miller Beach Aquatorium on February 16.  He’ll tell stories between numbers, similar to Jean Shepherd’s narrations in “A Christmas Story.”

Valerie Quadlin of Home Mountain Publishing Company said that owner Larry Klemz worked at home until the last day of his life.  I’m dedicating Volume 43 to him.  Checking Home Mountain’s Christmas card, I noticed that Larry’s signature was not among those on it.
 Elizabeth Wallish at Gardner Center; photo by John Luke
Big doings in Miller over the weekend – the airing of a documentary about “Bead Town” artist Stephan Wanger at Gardner Center Friday and Trivia Night at Temple Israel Saturday.  Despite the weather we saw Judy Densch in “Philomena” (excellent) and ordered Italian carry-out from a Schererville restaurant at Hagelbergs before playing two rounds of bridge.  A blizzard postponed gaming Sunday, but I watched IU defeat Illinoi,s thanks to Yogi Ferrell’s heroics, and got caught up on “Downton Abbey” to the point where I know most of the characters.  Since I’ve been utilizing subtitles, the activities of the servants seem more interesting than those  “upstairs.”

Comedians are still having a field day with “Bridge-Gate.”  Bill Maher quipped, “If it’s one thing Chris Christie is good at, it’s clogging arteries.”

Season three of “Mad Men” ended with JFK’s funeral and Don’s marriage coming apart.  While the credits rolled, Roy Orbison’s moving, eerie 1963 recording “Shahdaroba” plays.  How moving when Roy sings, “When your dream dies and your heart cries, shahdaroba, fate knows what’s best for you.”  I also watched “Million Dollar Baby” (2004) for the first time, realizing I’d hate the ending but knowing I’d love the performances by Hilary Swank, Clint Eastwood, and Morgan Freeman.  A bonus was watching Margo Martindale (so good in “August: Osage County”) as a despicable mom.

Polar Vortex 2 produced subzero temperatures and blowing snow, causing whiteouts, fender benders, pileups, and school closings throughout the Region.  Tom Wade and Daves’s family managed to come to the condo Tuesday for gaming (I was shut out) and a delicious steak dinner.  I watched tributes to legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, who died at age 94, and President Obama’s state-of-the-union address where he threatened to go around Congress to get things done if the Republicans continued their stonewalling tactics.

Last Friday Ron Cohen got a postcard in the mail from Pete Seeger thanking him for the book Ron wrote about him and adding: “Today was a day I had set aside to memorize Wm. Shakespeare’s 65th sonnet”  Ron speculates that the postcard, dated January 13, may have been the last thing Pete wrote since he went into the hospital shortly thereafter.  The postcard, which according to Ron “sums up his life, always caring and studying and thinking,” is on Oxford University Press’ blog, along with the Shakespeare sonnet:
Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea,

But sad mortality o’ersways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
how shall summer’s honey breath hold out

Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days,
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong, but time decays?
O fearful meditation; where, alack,
Shall Time’s best jewel from Time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back,
Or who his spoil of beauty can forbid?  
O none, unless this miracle have might,  
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.
below, At Highlander Center, Martin Luther King, Seeger, Charis Horton, Rosa Parks, Rev. R.D. Abernathy

Anne Balay returned home safely from a weekend car trip to New England to take Leah back to college.  Quoted in a Post-Trib article about Republican efforts to push for a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage or any benefits for such couples, she mentioned that n her Gender Studies class, “we’ve talked about marriage and the religious, legal, and cultural aspects, such as visitation in the hospital and tax issues.  The ballot is a ridiculous place to have this debate.  You don’t turn to voters to decide basic rights.”  Fortunately, enough Republicans came to their senses to delay, for the time being at least, the measure.
Timm Coughlin, an old softball teammate, passed away at age 62, Dave Serynek informed me.  He served in Vietnam (something I never knew) and had retired from Bethlehem Steel.  His passion was playing the guitar, and I recall fondly an outdoor jam at his place that our family, including six month-old Alissa, attended.  Dave, who played on stage, still remembered it.  At White-Love Funeral Home wife Pam recalled that occasion and pointed out photos of Timm in his Porter Acres uniform that were part of a display.  In one he appears to be smoking a joint.  Pam, author of the NWI Times obit, wrote: "Timm never met a stranger and was a true free spirit.  Peace, love, dove .... incense and peppermints."

The Engineers won all three games from formidable D’s Pro Shop.  I rolled a 500 series, starting with a 178.  I stayed clean after opening in the first frame when my second ball veered too far left going for the 2-4-5, leaving the 5-pin.  Bob McCann announced that his teammate Dennis Phillips, a sweet guy, died suddenly from a heart attack.  On a brighter note Ray Piunti was back just weeks after being near death from an auto accident.  I did a double-take when I saw him and gave him a hug.

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