Saturday, February 22, 2014


 “Times were good,
She never thought about the future,
She just did what she would.
. . . .
But time went by
It wasn’t so easy now,
All uphill and not feeling so strong.
Yes times were hard,
Too much thinking about the future
And what people might want.”
    “Duchess,” Genesis

Whenever I play the Genesis album “Duke,” which is quite often, I think of Clark Metz’s old dog Duke.  Until his dying day he loved to chase cars.  In his younger days he actually caught some and had the resulting bumps and bruises.  Clark’s view was that it was his one excitement in his life, so why deny him that?  When I knew him, he ran with a limp and slowly but still had the desire in him.
 Adeline Sotnikova

Hobbled by a cold, I had a pajama day Thursday, watching last Sunday’s “Downton Abbey” episode (when Bates apparently wreaks revenge on Mr. Green, who raped his wife) and a brilliant HBO documentary on liberal cartoonist Herblock (nobody nailed “Tricky Dick” Nixon better) that Ron Cohen recommended interspersed with Winter Olympics figure skating and women’s hockey.  I was rooting for Russian Adeline Sotnikova, who barely edged out reigning champ Yuna Kim.  The U.S. hockey team had a 2-0 lead with less than four minutes remaining before surrendering two goals to send it into overtime.  At one point after Canada had pulled its goalie, a shot came within inches of going into the empty net.  After Canada scored the winning goal, there were plenty of tears.  I had enjoyed watching Canada tie the game but then rooted for the Americans.

More info arrived about my fiftieth Bucknell reunion, which I am leaning against attending.  One co-chair pictured in the brogchure was John Nesbitt.  A Sig Ep fraternity brother known then as Jack “The Hawk,” Nesbitt lived near me in a north Philly suburb and had a swimming pool to which I took Toni on an early date.  It was the night I fell in love with her.  In the fall of 1964 Jack and I were both at Virginia law School and got a single motel room when Toni and Jack’s date came for a weekend; we worked out the logistics as to when we’d each have some privacy. 
In an article about Anne Balay entitled “Gay steelworkers?  New book opens closet door.” Jerry Davich wrote that the handful of gay steelworkes he knows are “more closeted than my ripped pair of blue jeans from high school.”  Davich added: “Amid her research on discrimination against homosexuals in the workplace, Balay became a victim of discrimination at her workplace, IUN, she contends.  She was denied tenure and promotion last spring by the school’s main campus in Bloomington, and she’s in need of a new education position. (Anyone need a brilliant English professor?)”  Anne helped make IUN an exciting place for seven years and deserved better.

Attending Gary mayor Freeman-Wilson’s State of the City address was Portage mayor, whom folks in attendance praised for helping out with snowplows during a recent blizzard.  He endorsed regional cooperation, a smart move politically as well as the right thing to do.

Nick Mantis interviewed me at the Archives for a documentary about Hoosier humorist Jean Shepherd.He hadn’t heard about the Bloomington folklore conference where Shep performed and hung out with us or the 18-minute monologue he delivered that had folks rolling in the aisle at a luncheon in 1995 prior to his receiving an honorary IU degree.  In a thank you note afterwards Mantis wrote: “Your insight and memories are extremely valuable in helping me document the life and career of one of America’s greatest storytellers of all time!”  Mantis began the project after coming across audiotapes from Shep’s legendary New York City overnight radio show.
While my favorite Jean Shepherd book is “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash,” I love his description in “Wandy Hickey’s Night of Golden Memories and Other Disasters” of riding around, something my friends and I did on many weekends.  He wrote: “Sometimes when Flick got his old man’s car, we’d go to East Chicago top ride around with the windows open just looking at Polish girls walking around the streets.  We’d holler out at them and ride around and around the block, jabbing each other in the ribs, swigging Nehi orange, gulping down White Castle hamburgers and blasting the horn.  We never actually talked to a girl, of course, or even really got near one; we just hollered, gunned the motor and stared.”

The Corolla was sounding louder than usual and vibrating somewhat at high speeds, so I stopped at the Toyota dealership and learned that one tire had a large bump, probably from one of the potholes that are so prevalent it is virtually impossible to avoid all of them.  Since a second tire was worn, I got two new ones.  I was relieved that it wasn’t something more serious (and expensive).

Last week an intruder shot five people at the Safe and Sound Social Club for seniors on the 2200 block of Broadway during a robbery attempt.  Though wounded, E.C. Robinson managed to wound the gunman, who is under arrest and at a local hospital.  In the past the place has been busted on gambling charges.  One person blamed the shouting on a member bringing an unauthorized guest.

Some 40 years ago Toni’s sister Sue and her husband Charlie came for a visit.  A student of mine had told me he played drums for a band performing at a nightclub on the same block where the Safe and Sound Social Club now is.  When we arrived, a doorman frisked us for weapons.  Other than the drummer, we were the only white folks there but, after initial caution and curiosity, were greeted warmly.  The bandleader dedicated one number to “our blue-eyed soul brothers.”  At one point a skimpily dressed couple nicknamed the Duke and the Duchess came out and basically dry-humped to the music.  Susie has never let us forget about that.
 Vanessa Allen (r) at Indiana statehouse

Vanessa Allen from the Urban League invited me to a talk Saturday at DuBois Library for Black History month where she was to speak on Civil Right in America for 20-25 minutes. Traveling on Broadway was like traversing an obstacle course, given all the potholes.  I passed the Safe and Sound Social Club and two car washes, including one that advertised “Best hand job in town.”  Vanessa noted my contributions in preserving the history of the civil rights movement in Gary.

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