“Don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow.”
“True Colors,” Cyndi Lauper
LGBT rights activist Cyndi Lauper, who turns 61 this month, recorded her breakthrough hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” 31 years ago. She helped put together a 2007 True Colors Tour featuring such performers as Deborah Harry, Erasure, and Dresden Dolls. The following year, Joan Jett, Rosie O’Donnell, Indigo Girls, Joan Armatrading, and The B-52s signed on.
At a ceremony celebrating St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church being designated an Indiana Historic Landmark, a choir directed by Ball State professor Andrew Crow performed several stirring numbers, including “True Colors.” The 35-member group calls itself Musica in Situ (Music on Site) and features both university students and Muncie area residents performing seven concerts during a three-week period, five of them in churches but also at Monroe County Courthouse and Indiana War Memorial Museum.
After greetings from Father David Hyndman (nephew of Cold War radical Kathryn Hyndman, a political prisoner held for a year in Crown Point jail), Indiana Landmarks representative Tiffany Tolbert introduced speakers Matthew Seymour and Gretchen Townsend Buggeln, who talked about distinguished architect Edward Dart, a modernist who designed Water Tower Place in Chicago and many churches, especially those for small congregations on a limited budget. The program lasted more than three hours. Starving by the time it ended I was pleased to spot sandwiches, pastries, and punch on basement tables. One server was Eric Reeves, active in the Miller Beach Arts and Creative District. An elderly choir member went to serve herself and was told to wait till the food was blessed. Ignoring, or perhaps not hearing the injunction, she started through the line. After two others followed, I joined them, just ahead of many others. Leaving, I spotted a photo of Garrett Cope, whose funeral service took place last year in the sanctuary. Paula DuBois, largely responsible for organizing the event, said that she had taken dance lessons from him.
At Chesterton’s European Market were IUN’s Bob Beilfuss and Mark Hoyert with family members. I suggested to Mark’s son Matt, off to Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute in the fall, and he check out the Eugene V. Debs house. Mark asked if the Clabber Girl Museum was worth visiting. Dunno. In 1879 grocer Herman Hulman marketed baking powder products that in time became known as Clabber Girl. Railroad builder Chauncey Rose was one of ten founders, and for 90 years, until 1971, when the Hulman family foundation donated over 11 million dollars, the college was called Rose Polytechnic Institute.
To help celebrate Wrigley Field’s hundredth anniversary, the Cubs invited the last living member of their 1945 World Series team, 97 year-old Leonardo “Lennie” Merullo, to sing “Take My Out to the Ball game” during the seventh inning stretch. In the broadcast booth beforehand, Merullo was a riot, mentioning being one of 13 children born to Italian immigrants, saying that his son got nicknamed “Boots” because on the day he was born, Merullo made four errors in a single inning. Had another ball been hit to me, he mused, it would have been even more. Beaten in seven games by the Tigers in 1945, the Cubs were led by Andy Pafko, Stan Hack, and Merullo’s roommate Phil Cavarretta. After Merullo finished singing, he tried to get the organist to do it a second time. In a rare move TV announcers Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies kept Lennie in the booth an extra half-inning.
For his seventieth seventieth birthday celebration at Beach Café, Mike Chirich had his sister, a former opera star in Austria, sang several numbers with great emotion and musical range. Retired union official Rolland Beckham introduced me to buddies who recalled three Miller watering holes - Wilson’s, Jackson’s and Golden Coin - that hosted high stakes poker games in back rooms. Lobster dinners at Wilson’s, reputedly mob controlled, were delicious and reasonably priced. Phil loved the ribs at Golden Coin, and we were having lunch there when scantily clad models walked through on the way to a gentlemen-only lingerie show. At Jackson’s Steak House one evening former mayor George Chacharis arrived, stopped at every table, and appeared to know by name everyone in the room, including me since I had recently interviewed him for my Gary book “City of the Century.” By the late 70s Jackson’s had become a meat-market disco joint.
Gene and Judy Ayers stopped by our table, and Rolland Beckham mentioned that both had wrestled at Indiana State. Former U.S. Steel public relations executive Miles Stipanovich, whom I hadn’t seen in 25 years after he was transferred to Pittsburgh, greeted me warmly. He was visiting his mother, who lives in Chesterton and whose watercolor painting hangs in our basement. Dick and Cheryl were having dinner inside; they’d hoped to be in the outdoor courtyard, but Chirich’s friends, many of them smokers, had taken it over.
Dr. Mary Leuca, a 1944 East Chicago Washington grad and expert on Romanians in Northwest Indiana, passed away. She served as principal of Gary’s Melton School and taught courses at IUN when people referred to the institution as “The Extension.” An astute historian whom I deeply respected, Mary wrote the chapter on Romanians for the encyclopedic “Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience,” emphasizing social and cultural activities and making good use of oral testimony. It begins: “In 1913 a father with his 16 year—old son who had recently joined him in Muncie, moved to Gary where better jobs could be found. They arrived by train in the evening and went in search of a Romanian boardinghouse. As they passed a large two-storied wooden structure, they heard Romanian being spoken within. When the two of them entered, they found to their amazement that ‘in about 15 minutes the whole saloon was filled with people from our village [of] Viisoara.’” Concerning the scarcity of eligible brides, one early resident recalled: “When an unmarried girl came to town, she never got a moment’s peace. Some of the young men would fight over the girls. When there was a dance, she never got to sit down.”
Sunday Dick and Cheryl came over for an Italian sausage, sauerkraut, and potatoes meal and bridge (I was the big winner). Later Tony Awards host Hugh Jackman noted that Neil Patrick Harris, who performed in drag to sing “Sugar Daddy” from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” had hosted four times, one less than Angela Lansbury. Jackman joked that when he was named host, he got a note from Harris saying, “Wow, that’s fantastic.” Then Jackman said, “At least that’s what I think he meant by WTF.”
Reading the “Scarlet Sisters,” I am especially enjoying parts about Victoria Woodhull’s sister Tennessee Claflin. In 1870 the two of them went to fashionable Delmonico’s and the owner reminded them that they needed a male escort, so Tennie got their coachman, dressed in high boots and crimson coat, and told the startled proprietor, “Three for soup.”
Son Dave Lane read the names of East Chicago Central graduates during commencement ceremony. He’s been going to graduation parties. Students stagger them so they are not all on the same date.
After last week’s shocking ending, I was looking forward to “Games of Thrones.” Instead of taking up the fate of Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) or Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), banished by Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), it deals only with the Night Watch defense of the Wall. During the bloody battle Jon Stark’s former love interest Ygritte dies in his arms
Steel Shavings subscriber Dick Tumpes has resumed his comic series Steel City Phantom. I’ll work on him to give a complete set to the Archives. We already have “Blackman” comic books by former Post-Trib photographer Tom Floyd.
Anne Balay put a link to my “Casual Fridays” radio appearance Friday on Facebook and reported seeing a snake and a toad on a Miller Woods run. Jerry Davich offered two contrasting views about the recent rash of school massacres: “For comedic relief on such dire subject matter, here are two opposing jabs from each camp on the gun-rights issue. First the old joke attributed to Hollywood cowboy John Wayne: ‘Gun control requires concentration … and a steady hand.’ And here’s another one that reflects the antithesis of what Wayne stood for, from The Onion. The satirical news organization posted this tweet after the recent killings near the University of California Santa Barbara: ‘No Way to Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.’” Suffice it to say, The Onion was right on.