“I’m so tired of being alone
These penitent walls are all I’ve known
Songbird calling across the water
Inside my silent asylum.”
“Blue Moon,” Beck
Beck’s 1996 “Odelay” CD is on heavy rotation following granddaughter Miranda asking what I thought of Beck following his winning a Grammy for “Morning Phase.” What received much press coverage was Kanye West idiotically storming the stage like he’d previously done to Taylor Swift and declaring that Beck should give the award to Beyonce. Miranda found “Loser” on YouTube, and I got out “Odelay,” my one Beck album. “Blue Moon,” a cut from “Morning Phase,” is on Robert Blaszkiewicz’s “Best of 2014” CD. Robert wrote: “Much like 2002’s ‘Sea Change,’ Beck delivers a low-key beautiful record perfectly executed.”
The 1934 original “Blue Moon” by Rogers and Hart was written for the movie “Hollywood Party” but didn’t survive the cutting room. In 1949 both Billy Eckstine and Mel Torme recorded jazz versions, and in 1961 The Marcels, a doo wop group, scored a gold record with their rock and roll adoption. Richard Rogers hated The Marcels’ version, but an even more outlandish take on what once had been a ballad was a Sha Na Na recording for the soundtrack of “Grease” (1978).
Steve Spicer found a Gary Post-Tribune article dated July 2, 1928 about Miller Beach native Drusilla Carr complaining to police that nude bathers were swimming and sunbathing near her property. She claimed that 50 hoodlums from Chicago were creating intolerable bedlam for folks who rented her beach cottages. Mary Dugger responded with a sarcastic, “Damn FIPs,” referring to friggin’ Illinois people, a common lament over the years if someone left trash or urinated on someone’s flowers on the way to or from the beach. Drusilla Carr fought U.S. Steel for a quarter-century in efforts to hold on to her property. As I wrote in “City of the Century,” she “stood her ground” against formidable forces.
Felicity Childress photo by Jeff Manes; below, Felicity, teacher on left
Jeff Manes interviewed 97 year-old former kindergarten teacher Felicity Childress, who came to Gary in 1946. Her first impression was tumbleweeds blowing across Twenty-Fifth Avenue. She recalled the owner of Gordon’s greeting shoppers from the landing, Goldblatt’s kosher delicatessen items, and the crippled black man outside who operated a shoeshine and shoe repair stand. Felicity told Manes: “We’d window shop all the way down to Fifth Avenue. Miller’s Toggery was on the same side of Broadway as Jackson’s Jewelry. Right across from Gordon’s, Schaumberg had a tiny bakery with delicious baked goods.” At Roosevelt, Felicity recalled, she first taught in a portable building, next at quarters in St. Timothy, and then in what people called “the hut.” She and one other teacher, Nannie Foster were expected to handle 70 students.
Nicole Anslover showed photos that Dorothea Lange took of interned Japanese-Americans during World War II. The government that commissioned her was not happy with most of them. Nicole explained that the “We Can Do It” poster by J. Howard Miller was more widely disseminated than Norman Rockwell’s 1943 Memorial Day “Rosie the Riveter” cover for Saturday Evening Post. In class Tim had an occasion to drop the “F bomb,” which always livens things up. I told Nicole about Katherine Turk’s Indiana Magazine of History article on black women workers from Gary at Kingsbury Ammunition Plant in La Porte County. First welcomed when employees were desperately needed, they saw conditions deteriorate when white co-workers complained about sharing the same bathrooms and cafeteria. Nicole gave me a copy of her Harry Truman book to show book club members at our March meeting; Nicole will speak to them in May.
Choice sent me Richard M. Filipink, Jr,’s “Dwight Eisenhower and American Foreign Policy during the 1960s: An American Lion in Winter.” Eisenhower, a blurb asserts, “constrained the choices available to Kennedy and Johnson” regarding Cuba, China, and Vietnam.
Karen Freeman-Wilson, Vanessa Allen, Jon Costas; NWI Times photo by John J. Watkins
Gary mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Urban League director Vanessa Allen were part of a Valparaiso University (VU) program entitled “Realizing the Dream in Northwest Indiana: A Dialogue on Civil Rights in the Age of Ferguson,” as were Valpo mayor Jon Costas, Calumet College president Dan Lowery, Roman Catholic Bishop Dale Melczek, and veteran WBEZ reporter Michael Puente. Several students from Heath Carter’s Fall class spoke. Tommy Morrison, who researched Bishop Andrew Grutka at the Archives, described Catholics fleeing Gary during the 1960s. Lucas Phillips stated that downsizing at U.S. Steel stripped residents of tax resources and job opportunities. Patrick Olson noted that Valpo has experienced more than its share bias-motivated incidents and wondered why there were just three black city employees out of a total of 350.
VU professors Allison Schuette and Liz Wueffel visited the Archives to talk with Steve, Ellen Szarleta and me about an oral history “Welcome Project” that they started several years ago. Having heretofore focused primarily on Valparaiso, some of whose residents were part of the 1960s “white flight,” they want to study Gary and have already interviewed a few VU students from Gary, including Christina Crawley. Their website contains audio and video clips, and they are looking both for subjects, interviewers, and places that might be utilized for the project. I was quite impressed and suggested the Gardner Center in Miller and the Midtown YWCA as places where they could explain the project to Gary residents. Ellen Szarleta added that West Side and Wirt Emerson schools have excellent recording equipment. I gave Allison and Liz “Gary’s First Hundred Years” and the latest Steel Shavings with “Steel Closets” on the cover. Allison said she recently purchased Anne Balay’s book.
High school classmate Leelee Minehart Devenney and a friend encountered a stranger on their daily, early morning walk who was worried about their safety. A few days later, he presented them with reflective, blinking red lights to wear around their necks or on coats. Leelee wrote: “We wore the lights and it was obvious they made a difference. The cars and trucks made an effort to move a little away from the narrow walking path. We certainly felt safer.”
Bowling opponent James Smith
After two subpar games at Cressmoor Lanes my back was aching, but I never considered quitting even though there was no way the Engineers would steal a game from James Smith’s team of 200+ bowlers, including the Manypenny brothers and charismatic Rob Bellamy. A favorite expression of Smith, who had a 797 series last week, is, “That’s bullshit,” delivered sometimes in disgust (when he felt he was robbed), other times (when someone else acts like they were robbed) in a comic way but with a straight face and with connotations ranging from empathy to sarcasm. I rolled a 181 in game three and missed a chance for a 200 when, going for a double in the ninth, I left a ten-pin and then failed to pick it up. My only other open was an 8-10 split on a pocket hit. I won our team’s 5-dollar pot for most pins over average by 8 pins. Dick Maloney out-bowled me but has a lower handicap.