Friday, July 11, 2014

Cold Beer and Remote Control

“I try not to care I would lose my mind
Runnin’ round the same thing time after time.”
    “Cold Beer and Remote Control,” Indigo Girls

It’s nice to have three or four – or five - cold beers in the downstairs fridge when I get home.  Generally I’ll put on music (currently “Come On Now Social” by Indigo Girls is on heavy rotation, along with David Gray, Cranberries, Gin Blossoms, and Smithereens) and either proofread or jot down highlights of my day.  On those rare occasions when I’m home before 3 p.m., I’ll put on Jeopardy – by remote control.  I have gotten over my hatred of remote controls but still can’t understand why they are so complicated – at least to old geezers like myself.  TVs don’t even have On/Off buttons anymore like our old black and white set that didn’t survive digitization.  Our first color television cost about $500, more than many subsequent foreign-made models.
Franklin Street, Valparaiso, during the 1920s
Valparaiso Professor Heath Carter and I had a two-hour working lunch at Diner’s Choice on Ridge Road where Peg Renner used to buy carry-out meals for herself and husband Frank, my auto mechanic for over 30 years.  I had intended to take Heath to Tommy B’s (formerly Country Lounge) but noticed the day before that it was closed.  This fall Carter is teaching a course on race-relations in Northwest Indiana and wanted to pick my brain about themes and key events.  He was familiar with the Klan’s influence during the 1920s and efforts to bring black families from Chicago to Valpo 45 years ago.  I offered to talk to his students about Gary during the 1960s and may attend other classes like I did with Nicole Anslover’s Sixties course.  I told him I’d be relatively unobtrusive and succinct the few times I spoke.
Leaving IUN, I heard a woman say, “Hello, Dr. Lane.”  Sheila Glass-Robinson (above) was a student of mine shortly before I officially retired and is now working on a graduate degree.  I remembered her but needed help on her name.

The Library of Congress has unsealed President Warren Harding’s love letters to Carrie Phillips, the wife of a good friend, with whom he had an affair between 1905 and 1920.  Harding referred to his penis as “Jerry,” and wrote: “I wish I could take you to Mount Jerry.”  In 1913 Harding gushed, “I hurt with the insatiate longing, until I feel that there will never be any relief until I take a long, deep, wild draught on your lips and then bury my face on your pillowing breasts.”  One poem to Carrie went:
“I love your poise
Of perfect thighs
When they hold me
In Paradise
I love the rose
Your garden grows
Love seashell pink
That over it grows.”

After Harding broke off the affair, Phillips blackmailed him into paying her $25,000 plus an annual stipend.  The Republican National Committee took care of the arrangements.

Mitchell K. Hall’s “The Emergence of Rock and Roll” contains circled factoids such as this: “Accidently blinded in his left eye at age four, Bill Haley would later try to divert people’s attention from the injury by wearing a spit curl over his other eye, and the look became his trademark.”  Also: “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, released by the Beatles in 1967, was the first rock recording to win the Grammy Award for album of the year.”  Unbelievable but true – I looked it up.  Previous winners, starting in 1959, were Henry Mancini, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto.  The first rock album even nominated was “Help!” in 1966.  By 1970 the dam burst.  “Blood, Sweat and Tears” would beat out “Abbey Road,” “Crosby, Still, and Nash,” “Johnny Cash at San Quentin,” and “The Age of Aquarius” by The Fifth Dimension.  During the 1960s Bob Dylan albums did not receive a single nomination. Go figure. 

Two weeks into truck driving school Anne Balay reported: “After countless failures, got my 18 wheeler into the parking lot straight, and felt comfortable enough with my fellow students to joke about how rarely I experience straightness.  Those are 10 lovely and patient dudes.”
John Trafny showed me an advance copy of his Arcadia Press pictorial history of Glen Park.  A 1968 Emerson grad, the Gary native served in he army and was a steelworker before embarking on a 30-year teaching career at Bishop Noll.  On the cover is a 1949 shot taken during a Glen Park jubilee.

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