Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Union Station

“Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown.  Through them we pass out into adventure and sunshine, to them, alas! we return.” E.M. Forster
On a “Lost Gary” excursion Jerry Davich photographed Gary’s Union Station.  Facebook friend Candle Perry recalled: We used to pick up my gramma at Union Station on Christmas morning.  She made the trip from Philly every year.  I loved the look of the building, the smooth wood benches that were almost like church pews, and the echoes in the big room.  What a treat for a kid.”
Gary's Union Station, then and now
Built in 1910 at 185 Broadway between the tracks of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway and the Baltimore and Ohio, just four years after the founding of Gary, Union Station is structurally sound despite having been closed for 60 years.  Designed in the neoclassical Beaux Arts style, with a skylight and uniquely shaped windows, the building was used in the making of the 1951 Alan Ladd film “Appointment with Danger.”  During the past decade there has been a movement to convert it to a steel museum, but without matching funds from the city or philanthropic support from U.S. Steel, the plans fell through.

On the other hand, Union Station in Indianapolis, the nation’s first, opening in 1853, was transformed into a festival marketplace and hotel during the 1980s.  While it failed to be an enduring commercial hub, the hotel remains and the rehabbed building now houses businesses, museums, and a charter school.  Chicago’s Union Station, which dates from 1925, is still is use, as is New York City’s Grand Central Station and Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station.  To get to Phillies games at the old Connie Mack Stadium, I’d get off one stop before 30th Street.  When I commuted to Philly for summer jobs as a law office mailroom “delivery boy” during the early 1960s, I’d end up at the Reading Terminal at Twelfth and Market. 

For years a former student has been taking Ron Cohen to the Chancellor’s Medallion banquet, which honors big donors to IUN scholarships.  This year he paid ($125) his own way and reported that several faculty were on hand, including Tanice Foltz, Chuck Gallmeier, Jean Poulard, and Alan Barr, as well as former administrators Barbara Cope and Linda Anderson.  The program was essentially a repeat of the scholarship event in Tamarack the week before.

Son Phil pulled a groin muscle playing soccer and whether he’d play Sunday was a game time decision.  Dave won a doubles tennis match to determine top seed in his league.  Down 5-6 in the third set, he helped his partner hold serve to force a tie-breaker and clinched match point on a difficult overhead smash.

Green Bay massacred the Eagles Sunday, eliciting this Jim Spicer reply to my limerick predicting a Philadelphia victory:

“A football prognostication by Lane
Turned out to be rather lame
His Eagles, in fact
Ran into the Pack
Let's hope we don't hear him complain.”

During the plentiful football commercials I read a few chapters of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” which portrays an idealized family, poor but loving, during the Civil War.  In contrast to the novel, where the benevolent patriarch is off fighting for his country, Louisa May’s father, Bronson Alcott, was, according to Jane Yolen, a tyrant who “as a husband was a poor provider, as a parent mentally abusive, [and] as a husband frequently absent.”  An abolitionist and transcendentalist who “was an indifferent father to his youngest three girls and positively nasty to Louisa,” he expected women to do the drudge work (and in Louisa’s case, be the family provider through her writing), while he “turned to bizarre new causes and cultish behavior without regard for his family.”

I’ve been eliminated from the Fantasy Football playoffs.  Four of my starters were on bye weeks, and – typical of how the season has gone – the two wide receivers I played, DeSean Jackson and T.Y. Hilton – garnered a total of five points, while the two I kept on the bench, A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins, wracked up 26.  LeSean McCoy was galloping full speed ten yards from the goal line with nobody in front of him when he tripped on the slippery turf.

At a condo board meeting to consider raising monthly dues in order to prepare for new roofs in a few years, President Ken Carlson said that he and wife Lorretta will be driving to Columbus, Ohio, to deliver clothes that their church raised for Kenyan refugees.  Good people, they have built Habitat for Humanity homes in Africa.
After China and Myanmar, President Obama’s final stop on an eight-day Asian tour was Brisbane, Australia, for the G20 Summit.  Twenty years ago at an oral history conference in Brisbane, I talked about steelworkers’ tales.  One feminist pronounced my talk too apolitical.  Most participants were women, and at one point when in the bathroom I heard my critic yell out, “We’re coming in.”  Evidently the women’s facilities were inadequate; I didn’t stick around to see if she used a urinal.  On the final day a guy invited me to a party to watch the Brisbane Bears play in the Australian football Grand Finals.
David Porter and Kenneth Scott
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has created a Wall of Faces online, part of a planned education center to complement the Memorial Wall. After a Times editorial mentioned that 15 photos were still needed of Region veterans, columnist Doug Ross obtained one from Karen Gribble of David R. Porter and another of Kenneth L. Scott from his brother Bernie, who told Ross that Kenneth was in Vietnam just nine days when killed by a sniper.  “The last time we saw each other,” Bernie told Ross, “we both knew we wouldn’t see each other again.”  He added: “It’s still rough, even after all these years.”

Vice Chancellor for Administration Joe Pellicciotti, retiring next May, has been with IUN since 1980 and headed SPEA for 13 years. Chancellor William Lowe wrote, Joe was appointed vice chancellor one month before the severe flooding that covered the entire campus that year and resulted in the destruction and ultimate demolition of Tamarack Hall.  The 2008 flood opened a year of facilities-related challenges that Joe, rightly, remembers as ‘Biblical,’ in range and severity.”

The epic 2008 flood closed IUN for two weeks.  After several days I needed to get to my office in Tamarack to retrieve valuable photos for Ray and Trish Arredondo’s forthcoming “Maria’s Journey,” which I helped edit.  After leap-frogging through standing water, I persuaded a campus policeman to let me in the building.  “You’ve got ten minutes,” he warned.  To my relief the photos were safe.  In fact, the History offices never flooded, but by the time I was officially allowed to return, the smell of mold was overpowering.

In Nicole Anslover’s WW II class I learned about the Red Ball Express (two one-way highways for truck convoys to transport supplies from European ports to the front) and Operation Market Garden (the September 1944 Allied offensive designed to circumvent the Siegfried Line and seize bridges across the Meuse and Rhine).  I knew about both but not their code names.  “A Bridge Too Far” captures the tragic inability to relieve paratroopers airlifted into Arnhem. Nicole stressed that despite the success of the Normandy D-Day landing, the bloodiest fighting lay ahead and hopes that the war would be over by Christmas were wishful thinking.

Brian Barnes sent me a copy of a sermon he delivered five years ago to his Unitarian congregation in Hobart about Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.  He noted that Lincoln and Charles Darwin, two of the greatest change agents of the nineteenth century, were born on he same day, February 12, 1809.  Though “Origin of Species” was in the Illinois state library in 1860, here is no evidence that Lincoln read it.  Barnes concluded: What is definitely known is that Abraham Lincoln was a lifelong fatalist finding comfort in Greek tragedies and Shakespeare’s plays. He seems to have had a hybrid faith with rationalist, Universalist, Unitarian, fatalist elements.”
On the phone with Gaard Murphy Logan, a former docent, we discussed Jeff Koons’ porcelain ceramic “Michael Jackson and Bubbles,” which sold for $5.6 million.  Jackson bought Bubbles when the chimp was six months old and traveled with him to Japan.  Bubbles slept in a crib in MJ’s Neverland bedroom, but eventually became too aggressive and got exiled to a Florida sanctuary.

Anne Balay is back from Puerto Rico and will join me for a couple hours Saturday at Gardner Center, where I will be selling “Gary’s First Hundred Years” at the annual Holiday Market.  I plan to give away my latest Shavings with her book on the cover to anyone who buys “Steel Closets” from her.

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