Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tortoise and Hare

“Watch the turtle.  He only moves forward by sticking his neck out.”  Louis V. Gerstner. Jr.
Illustration by Arthur Rackham, 1912

IBM’s CEO for ten years beginning in 1993, Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., wrote about his experiences heading that venerable multinational corporation in “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance” (2002).  The quote about the turtle is both a Spanish and a Korean proverb and a take-off on a similar statement by Harvard University president James Bryant Conant that began, “Behold the turtle.”  Gerstner, an MBA from Harvard Business School, may first have heard the adage there.  The saying, “Slow and steady wins the race” is the moral of Aesop’s Fable about the Tortoise and the Hare, where a confident rabbit lay down and napped while the turtle kept trudging along and reached the finish line first.  As Maryland PhDs, Ray Smock and I sometimes referred to ourselves as terrapins (the university mascot) or simply turtles.
Lightning over BP Refinery in Whiting; NWI Times photo by Jonathan Miano

As befitting the end to the wettest June in memory, a thunderstorm swept through the Region overnight, accompanied by tornedo warnings, knocking out power to thousands, and leaving us without Comcast for a few hours.  I slept through it all but then noticed my bedside clock flickering, evidence that we briefly lost power.  The pond by Bob Calvert’s place is so high the snapping turtles that he feeds are coming up onto the pier.    

On the fiftieth anniversary of passage of the 1964 Civil Right Act Channel 56 correspondent Hillary Powell interviewed me about race-relations in Northwest Indiana.  A half-century ago Richard Hatcher took office as an at-large Gary council member.  Under Mayor A. Martin Katz an omnibus civil rights ordinance outlawed discrimination in employment, housing, schools, and public places.  When I mentioned that Indianapolis mayor William Hudnut was one of the few downstate officials that treated Hatcher with respect, Hillary said she was from Indianapolis and had heard of him.  I suggested she investigate the Anne Balay case, one of the top local stories of 2014.  Maybe she can get a shot of Anne driving a 16-wheeer.  Powell stayed in the Archives another hour or so examining old Post-Tribunes and other materials.  I impulsively hugged her when she said good-bye, and she seemed pleasantly surprised.  She was nicely dressed but her shoes looked uncomfortable; I’d think she’d be forgiven for wearing something more practical, being that she was a one-person crew, handling the camera as well as asking the questions.

Maurice Yancy said he enjoyed my Senior College appearance in Steve McShane’s class.  He read excerpts from a Rudy Kapitan interview, about being in a Catholic seminary as a teenager.  Rudy ultimately decided to leave in order, as he put it, “to find out what life was about.  I’d never dated or held a girl’s hand or kissed a girl.  How am I going to make a lifelong commitment to lead a celibate life?”  Here’s the final paragraph that Maurice read:
         “Telling my parents was very difficult.  I came close to having a nervous breakdown.  My brother was in Massachusetts in the military.  I stayed with him for a month until I got letters urging me to ‘come on home.’  I was positive I’d be going back to the seminary but instead got married.  I became a teller in 1952 and stayed there 32 years.  I raised sic children.”

Rudy was a gentle soul whose autobiography we have in the Archives.  Son Rudy, Jr., died tragically when a train struck his car shortly after he left his parents’ house on his way to a Chicago Bears game. 

U.S. lost to Belgium despite a heroic performance by goalkeeper Tim Howard, who has become a media darling and even got a phone call from President Obama praising his performance.  Like the German win over Algeria, the game was nil-nil until extended play and the final 2-1.  The Americans, though thoroughly outplayed, had a chance to win in the 88th minute and an excellent chance to score a second goal in overtime.
In “A lovely day in – Gary?” Josh Noel of the Chicago Tribune wrote:
 “Yes, Gary is a wounded city.  But I ate well here.  I met good people.  I saw pristine nature.  I drank first-rate local beer.  I saw the house where Michael Jackson grew up.  I marveled at the city’s urban ruins.  I filled my gas tank for #3.89 per gallon.  It was a well spent 12 hours.” 

Noel described the air as clean and the Lake Michigan shoreline as spectacular if one didn’t look in either direction where factories spoil the view.  He noted the $28 million renovation of Marquette Park and ran into attorney Greg Reising, who provided the only sour note of the day when asked whether the Aquatorium’s refurbishment could be seen as a metaphor for Gary coming back from the brink.  Reising said: “No, Gary is in continual decline.  I’ve been waiting for it to hit bottom for 50 years.  I haven’t heard that thud yet.”  If the 72 year-old curmudgeon was trying to be funny, it did not come out that way in print.      
above, Ethan and Isabella Ruddell; Marquette Park shots by Alex Garcia

At Miller Bakery Café Noel chatted with City Council president Kyle Allen, who described the columnist’s next stop -  2300 Jackson Street – as in an old-timers’ neighborhood with many of the same families residing there as when Michael was rehearsing with his older brothers in the tiny bungalow.  It’s safe, Allen told him, adding: “Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.”  After interviewing MJ fans and gaping at the ruins of City Methodist Church, abandoned for almost 40 years, Noel had a beer and sandwich at 18th Street Brewery before taking in a Railcats baseball game.  Leaving the park, he heard over the loud speaker “ABC” by the Jackson 5.   Noel offered readers “a piece of advice for your summer travel plans.  Spend a day in Gary.”

On Facebook were photos of Paul and Julie Kern at Waterrock Knob in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina and granddaughter Becca who won “high gold” for her tap solo performance at nationals.
top, photo by Colin Kern of his parents; below Rebecca Lane (r), photo by Sarah Moran
Deputy superintendent Garry Trayham, subject of Jeff Manes’ column, is retiring soon after a 37-year career with the National Park Service, including 17 at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  Proud to have exposed inner city kids to the diversity of he dunes environment, Trayham told Manes:
“We have plants from the arctic that meet plants from the desert in this location. Arctic bearberry grows here in a small marsh and we have prickly pear cactus, which grows at places like West Beach. We have more species of orchids than the state of Hawaii. This a major viewing spot for migratory birds in the fall. We have populations of deer, beaver, muskrat and coyote. There are a number of different species that meet and cross here. We have the Karner blue butterfly here, which is a threatened and endangered species. This is one of the few places on the planet that they’re still left. It’s a special place and we just want people to value it.”

The Post-Trib’s “Quickly” column contains many comments about whther or not the newspaper is giving too much attention to the controversy over same-sex marriage.  Several people have complained about photos on two men kissing and someone accused Jerry Davich of “stirring the pot” with his advocacy of everyone’s right to marry whomever he or she pleased.  A majority of respondents have sided with him and accused the critics of being bigots.

On Amazon someone has listed “Gary: A Pictorial History” for $373,208.34.  I kid you not – somebody’s idea of a joke (???!!!).

In Murrieta, CA, protestors chanting “Deport, Deport!” and “Impeach Obama” prevented three buses carrying immigrants, mostly children, from reaching a processing station.  In the past eight months authorities have picked up approximately 52,000 unaccompanied children, most from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. Comparing the action to keeping Jewish refugees out 75 years ago and repeating lines (“Give me your tire, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”) from Emma Lazarus’ poem “New Colossus” that are on a Statue of Liberty plaque, Samuel A. Love observed: “The Amerikkkan way.”

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