Monday, June 30, 2014


“He said tell me baby, what’s wrong
Oh tell me baby, what’s wrong
It’s not what you want
It’s everything.”
    “Not What You Want,” Sleater-Kinney

In Indiana Magazine of History were fantastic articles about the Calumet Region by John Hmurovic (“The Battle of Mineral Springs”) and John Fraire (“Mexicans Playing Baseball in Indiana Harbor, 1925-1942).  In addition, IUN professor Eva Mendieta reviewed Elizabeth R. Escobedo’s “From Coveralls to Zoot Suits: The Lives of Mexican American Women on the World War II Home Front.”  Two prominent images for Latina women were pachuca (a chicana girl that dresses in gang clothing) and war worker (a Hispanic Rosie the Riveter).  While the latter was a positive image, not so for pachuca.  Mexican American traditionalists feared they’d bring disgrace to their communities.  Law enforcement authorities, who harassed them and their male counterparts, considered them to be juvenile delinquents.  Of course, quite a few daughters of Mexican immigrants chose to enter military service in the army (as WACs) or navy (WAVES); and, as John Fraire observed, women’s baseball leagues grew in popularity.  Mendieta wrote: “The new opportunities brought about by the war were full of contradictions: between family traditions and new social opportunities and autonomy for women; between new economic and job opportunities and workplace discrimination, negative press coverage, and stricter gender conventions.”

The social and economic mobility that war created also opened opportunities for lesbian Latinas to find mates, albeit, in surreptitious circumstances. In “Bodies of Evidence: The Practice of Queer Oral History” are testimonies by pre-Stonewall “twilight lovers.”
 Post-Tribune photos by Michelle Quinn at East Chicago South Shore station

So huge has the annual Chicago Gay Pride Parade become that the Cubs re-scheduled their Sunday game.  At least a million folks attended, and it was the front-page story in both the Post-Trib and The Times, with photos of Region attendees.  Anne Balay gave me a full report; she begins truck-driving school today.  I told her to keep an expense diary for her lawsuit. United Steelworkers of America is examining how to protect its LGBT union members, due it large part to the publicity generated by Balay’s “Steel Closets.”

Donning a Brazil soccer shirt purchased in Rio 12 years ago, I suffered through a World Cup nail-biter.  Chile almost went ahead of the home team in the final minutes before Brazil won a shoot-out on the final kick.  Sunday Mexico led favored Netherlands, 1-0, but surrendered two goals in the final eight minutes, the second on a penalty kick after a questionable call.  Preparations are underway to have giant screens at Soldier Field for the Americans’ Tuesday match with Belgium.  Grant Park, site for their previous match, was overflowing, despite a ban on beer, which will be on sale at Soldier Field.

Jerty Davich interviewed Walt White for an article entitled “Warriors Reflect.”  A student of mine in a Swing Shift Labor Studies class on the Vietnam War, White went by the nickname “Pappy.”  Not only did he serve with the marines in Vietnam but also in the Gulf War, where younger comrades called him “Pappy.”  After the last class we went to a bar and he opened up about his experiences.  He told Davich, “I got a welcome home from the Gulf War that I never got from Vietnam,  It kind of changed my feelings about Vietnam.  But I haven’t forgot how I felt.  I’ll never forget.”
Davich also wrote about young folks with Alicia Nunn’s group ARISE (Accountability-  Respect – Innovation – Success – Entrepreneurship - painting a mural at Stewart House Urban Farm and garden.  In the photo I spotted my buddy Samuel A, Love, recently laid up with a badly sprained ankle but looking dapper with a cane and red glasses.

According to a 2008 HBO documentary, an egotistical judge forced film director to flee the country after he agreed to plead guilty to having unlawful sex with a 13 year-old girl and in turn receive a 90-day sentence.  The Polish-born son of a woman who died at Auschwitz, Polanski was in London when his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, died at their L.A. residence at the hands of members of Charles Manson’s gang.  In 1977 he was photographing young women for Vogue magazine when Samantha Geimer’s mother brought her daughter to Polanski’s estate and left her alone with him.  She willingly posed naked in a hot tub and afterwards had consensual intercourse with him.  Polanski underwent psychiatric examination at Chino State Prison, but the judge then reneged on his previous agreement.  In 2011 Samantha Geimer blamed the judicial system for causing “way more damage to her and her family than anything Roman Polanski has ever done.”

I was prepared to find the Memorial Opera House production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie” depressing but thought it slightly hopeful, in that the main character escaped a humdrum life and his shy, crippled, sheltered sister showed signs, however slight, of taking control of her life.  Their domineering mother, Amanda Wingfield, is an aging Southern Belle who hopes to find a suitor for daughter Laura.  “The Glass Menagerie,” first produced in 1944, brought sudden fame to Williams, whose upbringing in Missouri closely resembled the Wingfields.  His father was a traveling salesmen who rarely was home, and his mother closely resembled Amanda.  Sister Rose suffered from schizophrenia, was subjected to a disastrous lobotomy, and institutionalized thereafter. Williams lived with numerous gay partners in such relatively tolerant locales as New York City, Provincetown, Massachusetts, Key West, Taos, New Mexico, and New Orleans.

After the play the Hagelbergs drove us to Wagners in Porter IN, famous for their ribs.  Unbelievably, while a half-stack with two sides was $17, for just two dollars more one could add a second entry, including delicious steak kabob.  It was Dick and Cheryl’s first time there, but Mike and Janet Bayer and Alice Bush and Ken Applehans had taken us there on several occasions dating back 30 years.

I congratulated editor Eric Sandweiss on the new Indiana Magazine of History issue, noting how much the articles improved under his tutelage.  When Sandweiss first asked me to critique John Fraire’s “Baseball and Mexicanidad in Indiana Harbor,” I noted that others might question the length of the quotations but that they are charming and deserving of inclusion.  Sandweiss took that advice as well as my suggestion to distinguish between baseball during the 1920s, prior to the repugnant Mexican Repatriation program, and the founding of Los Gallos (the men’s team, literally roosters or cocks) and Las Gallinas (the women’s team).

A participant in the Twin City Twilight Baseball League, Los Gallos also palyed pickup games with Gary and South Chicago squads.  The latter, Gloria Guerrero Fraire recalled, usually “ended up in fist fights.”  Los Gallos barnstormed downstate and in Illinois.  Old-timers recall facing Satchel Paige and the Kansas City Monarchs.  Manager Nap Ruez, according to Martin Vega, “took us under his wing, and he had a truck that fit the whole team.  We used to go all over Indiana, and to places with no Latins, just Anglos.  He would find teams for us to play.  We played an all-star team from Mexico.  And we even played a professional team from Michigan we called the House of David because they all had beards.”

Toni and I went to South Bend for a meeting with our TIAA-CREF financial adviser.  I was expecting he office to be in a downtown high rise, but it was in a modern three-story building near Notre Dame on a street with restaurants and other tasteful neighborhood shops.  Developments such as this will render many traditional downtowns obsolete.  On the other hand, it is just what the University Park area near IUN needs.  Gary, Detroit, and other rustbelt cities should follow photojournalist Camilo Vergara’s advice and convert vacant inner city landscape into urban museums.
Appearing on NPR, Eddie Huang, author of “Fresh Off the Boat,” is the basis for a forthcoming ABC series, had four role models growing up in a dysfunctional family, including Charles Barkley, Al Bundy (in “Married with Children”), wrestler Razor Ramon, and writer Mark Twain.  To Huang, all four were self-confident nonconformists who did their own thing without regard to what others thought.

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