Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend

“Peace is the only battle worth waging.” Albert Camus

Most Memorial Day newspaper articles were not memorable, but, as always, the Post-Trib’s David Rutter offered up food for thought.  His column began: We Americans burden ourselves with a new war every decade or so in a rolling litany that extends back more or less uninterrupted for 250 years.  For a self-defined peace-loving nation, we sure kill a lot of people. The total of our soldiers who have died will hit 1.5 million sometime this spring.  We may have killed roughly 10 million enemies deliberately in our wars and vast millions more by accident. We can assume that not all of them had it coming to them.”  Our leaders, Rutter wrote, have: “shown a predisposition to attack people with dark skin (Vietnam, Korea, Mexico, Cuba, Barbary pirates and 30 or so major Native American tribes who would not give up their rights unless we shot them first).”

Historian John F. Hogan has a new book out about the Memorial Day Massacre at Republic Steel entitled “The 1937 Chicago Steel Strike.”  He quotes organizer George Patterson as recalling: “The police told us to disperse or else.  We refused, and the next thing we knew, our heads were being clubbed.”  At least ten demonstrators died, including Sam Popovich, Earl Handley, Ken Reed, Hilding Anderson, Anthony Tagliori, Lee Tisdale, Otis Jones, Leo Francisco, Alfred Causey, and Joseph Rothmund.
The Post-Trib’s sports historian John Mutka profiled 73 year-old Tolleston grad Eliot Uzelac, whose football coaching career spanned 47 years at the high school and college level.  His last stint was with St. Joseph’s in Michigan, which had suffered through two winless seasons before he turned the program around with records of 6-5, 10-1, and 10-1.  The team won two regionals but, in his words, “could never get past Grand Rapids.”
 Variety show raised $525 for Porter Co. Animal Shelter

Soon after we bade good-bye to Seattle Joe, Phil’s family arrived for a crab feast.  He and Dave had three-dozen Maryland blue points flown in from the East Coast.  Beforehand, we attended a variety show at Chesterton’s 4th Street Theater entitled “Kids Power Goes to Hollywood.”  James and Rebecca were in several scenes and did an Abbott and Costello routine together.  Becca excelled at a song and tap dance number, and James was a riot as a game show host.
Everyone liked the crabs although Angie thought some of the innards gross.  Some claws were dry, but, all things considered, it was a great success and reminded me of grad school get togethers with the Smocks, Rumbles, and Burtons, where Toni would eat all of us under the table.  We introduced family members to steamers in Cape May, New Jersey, a decade ago.

In Texas Hold ‘em tournament.  I finished third, out of the money, to Dave and Alissa.  I don’t usually remember dreams but woke up after replaying one of the hands over and over; as often is the case in dreams, the details were rather skewed.  When Toni and I first moved to Indiana, we played duplicate bridge several times at Temple Israel and had trouble sleeping afterwards.

I watched “Midnight Cowboy” for the first time in 40 years.  The beginning was great, as we get a glimpse of the small town Joe Buck (Jon Voight) is leaving behind, but once the scene switches to New York, the movie gets very depressing.  Voight preens in front of a mirror and zips the fly on his pants almost exactly like John Travolta in “Saturday Night Fever.”  Joe Buck’s favorite hustling line: “I ain’t a f’real cowboy.  But I am one helluva stud.”  I loved the crestfallen look on Buck’s face when Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) tells him his cowboy outfit makes him look like a fag.  Ironically, desperate for money, he ends up offering stud services to men.

In 1894 Hoosier Republican James Watson won his first Congressional election by being able to deliver speeches in German.  His memoir “As I Knew Them” included an interesting anecdote about Maine Congressman “Czar” Thomas Brackett Reed, Speaker of the House for most of the 1890s.  Reed changed the quorum rules to prevent opposition Democrats from employing a favorite delaying tactic.  One pompous colleague from Illinois, William M. Springer, ended a long, boring speech by declaring, “Like the great Commoner from Kentucky, Henry Clay, I would rather be right than be president.”  Eyewitness Watson recalled: “Mr. Reed, standing close by, drawled out through his nose in real Yankee fashion, so that the entire House could easily hear: ‘The gentleman from Illinois need not be alarmed.  He will never be either.’”

Former House historian Ray Smock remarked: Reed is one of the most interesting Speakers and a colorful character all around. My favorite quotation of his is what he said of two members of the Democratic Party in the House: ‘They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum total of human knowledge.’”  Ray mentioned reading obituaries for Herb Jeffries, who died at age 100.  Nicknamed the “Bronze Buckaroo,” he played a singing cowboy similar to Gene Autry in so-called B-movies made for black audiences.  Biracial, Jeffries darkened his skin with make-up in order to pursue his career in movies and jazz.
Miranda selfie with Toni, Tori, Alissa, Stephanie, Jimbo, and Phil
Sunday I did laundry, including many, many towels, while Josh, Alissa, Miranda, and Tori went to the beach.  The others saw “Godzilla” and gave it enthusiastic reviews.  Alissa’s freshman roommate Stephanie Stephens visited from Chicago and noted approvingly the Michigan State t-shirt I was wearing.  I asked if anyone had told her she looked like Meg Ryan; she answered, “Drew Barrymore, it’s my mouth.”  She’s getting married twice, the second time in Brazil for the benefit of her fiancé Philippe’s family.  Stephanie told stories about when she and Alissa lived in a house with three others.  One Halloween they started drinking, fell asleep, and missed their own party.  I remember Dave’s old friends swapping stories of wild times during their youth that they would never dared to let parents know about at the time.

Miranda spent a couple extra days with us, but the others had Memorial Day plans.  Monday we drove to Granger, a suburb of South Bend, to see nieces Lisa and Michelle and their families, plus Seattle Joe, on the last leg of his trip.  He’s anxious to be back in Seattle. Nobody commented on my t-shirt from French Lick, where I took Joe, Tom, Michelle, Sophia, and Nickolas three years ago.

David Goldfield was pleased that my latest Shavings mentioned our “Golden Oldie” “The Enduring Ghetto.”  He recently spent 10 days in China “doing programs for the State department on ‘Green Cities,’ of which there aren’t any in that country.”  In the Preface to “The Enduring Ghetto” we wrote: “Any flash of brilliance in thought or prose in our introductory essay is probably due to the careful and expert guidance of our mentors and friends Dr. George H. Callcott and Dr. Horace Samuel Merrill.”  Callcott was so brilliant a lecturer that people not registered would attend his class.  I couldn’t have completed my PhD in four years if it wasn’t for Sam, and during the subsequent year jobs for history professors completely dried up.

Ron Cohen loves to tell me about parties in Miller to which I was not invited.  He learned that after Amanda Board got my magazine snatched away from her at commencement, she complained to Women’s Studies chair Tanice Foltz and to the Chancellor himself.  Good for her!  Anne Balay returned from Toronto, Canada, where she took part in the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and plans to bring daughter Leah to Miller Bakery Café tomorrow to meet Miranda and me.
At Sharon Lowe’s party was jazz legend Art Hoyle, who played the trumpet in Lionel Hampton’s orchestra and recorded with scores of vocalists, including Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, and Peggy Lee.  He and his mother moved to Gary from Oklahoma in 1943 when he was 13.  Hoyle told Chicago Jazz Magazine: “She he had a brother whose wife had just passed. He was one of Gary’s most prominent doctors, who held the record for the most babies delivered in one year—305—almost one a day! She told him that she was having a tough time disciplining me, and he said if we moved to Gary there would be good schools and all that.”  At Roosevelt the band director, Ernest Bennett, was also a trumpet player and influenced Hoyle greatly.  I’m pretty sure I met Hoyle years ago at John and Lillian Attanasi’s house.

IUN’s cafeteria is serving great custom-made salads, but the place was practically deserted due to the crazy class times and the growing number of online courses.   I said good-bye to Dorothy Greer and Diane Robinson, Arts and Sciences office mainstays for as long as I can remember, who are both retiring.  They’ll be missed.

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