James and Becca and competition with accompanist Denzel Smith
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
“I remember you, Fred Montoya
You were the first vato (guy) to ever kiss me
I was twelve years old.
My mother said shame on you,
My teacher said shame on you, and
I said shame on me, and nobody
Said a word to you.”
Bernice Zamora, “Pueblo, 1950”
Historian Vicki Ruiz
Nicole Anslover’s homework assignment included “The Flapper and the Chaperone” by Vicki Ruiz from “Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America.” Like me an oral historian, Ruiz interviewed 17 Latinas who recalled as teenagers clashing with parents over dress, hairstyle, cosmetics, and, most of all, dating customs. Daughters had to be chaperoned at dances, movies or other social events but, seeking freedom, found ways to resist and evade such restraints.
The double standard in regard to sex roles was still around during the 1950s, my teen years. Guys were expected to pursue sex as far as dates would allow, while “good girls” worried about their reputations and reserved heavy petting for with “steady” boyfriends only. Several Upper Dublin classmates had to get married, and if a girl was too stand-offish, she’d get a reputation of being “frigid.” Feminist Alix Kates Shulman summed up the dilemma in “The War in the Back Seat”:
“In those crucial battles in the back row of the movie house or on the floor in the living room or out behind the backstop or in the darkened back seat of a parked car – those scenes which are the very essence of pretense and guile – the girls somehow always wind up the culprits, bitchy and ridiculous, damned if they do and damned again if they don’t.”
Evan Davis came in from Fort Wayne for gaming at Tom Wades. Around 4 pm Dave arrived from James and Becca’s music competition and took my place so I could spend time with Alissa, down from Grand Rapids, and Beth (her mom), up from Indy. Dave stopped in to see them the next morning after playing tennis in Michigan City.
On Beth’s recommendation I checked out “Boyhood,” all two hours and 45 minutes. Watching the brother and sister grow into young adults over 12 years was fascinating. I especially liked the portrayal by Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette of the parents. If the dad was immature, the mom’s next two husbands, both control freaks and drunks, were far worse. One was a pompous professor, the other a corrections officer who had served in Iraq. Viewers could see train wrecks coming even if Arquette’s character couldn’t.
The Grammy’s opened with ACDC wailing on “Highway to Hell.” Brit Sam Smith, a big winner, declared, “I want to thank the man I fell in love with last year . . . for breaking my heart because you got me four Grammys.” I also enjoyed pop stars Ariana Grande and Pharrell Williams and old-timers Madonna, ELO, Tom Jones, Tony Bennett (with Lady Gaga), and Annie Lennox (with Hozier). During commercials I switched to “Downton Abbey,” which I can watch later OnDemand, and caught glimpses of Lady Mary on horseback with a Flapper-type haircut.
Murray Hall and Billy Tipton
In anticipation of subbing for Nicole Anslover, recovering from oral surgery, I dreamt about being in front of the class and having no clue what to say. I actually had all 75 minutes carefully planned out, including time for discussion. I led off by soliciting opinions on why in the past many women “passed” as men and spoke briefly about Revolutionary soldier Deborah Sampson (AKA Robert Shurtlieff), Tammany politician Murray Hall (Mary Thompson), stagecoach driver Charley (Charlotte) Parkhurst, and jazz pianist Billy Lee (Lucille) Tipton. Students mostly brought up economic issues or individuals seeking freedom and adventure. I noted that some were lesbians or, like some transgender people today, saw themselves as men wrapped in women’s bodies. Murray Hall, for example, seems to have loved smoking cigars, playing poker, getting drunk in saloons and wheeling and dealing politically.
Woodhull cartoon; Johnston in drag
Rob Seals from Instructional Media Center put photos on the screen for me and played short YouTube segments on social settlement pioneer Jane Addams, “free love” feminist Victoria Woodhull, and photojournalist Frances Benjamin Johnston. We discussed the propriety and relevance of examining the sexuality of public figures. Jane Addams, I pointed out, may never have gone into social work had she not developed a crush on Hull House co-founder Ellen Gates and rebelled against parental wishes for her to marry and bear children. Discussing the Victorian Era toleration of a double standard (guys expected to sow wild oats while decent women remained virgins till marriage), I mentioned male doctors’ woeful ignorance of female anatomy and the Social Hygiene movement to make sex education and birth control devices available, in part to protect women from venereal disease and Syphilis.
Contrasting the Gibson Girl “hour glass” ideal with the Flapper image, I struggled to come up with an analogy. Tim, who frequently speaks up in Jonathyne Briggs’ class, suggested rectangle. When I rued that birth control advocate Margaret Sanger turned conservative in her later years and became infatuated with eugenics, Tim added, “like the Nazis.”
Passing around Pete Daniel and Ray Smock’s “A Talent for Detail: The Photographs of Miss Frances Benjamin Johnston,” Not content to be a society photographer, Johnston went all over the country to record the disparate faces of America, including sharecroppers, miners and women factory workers. One photo shows Johnston with a cigarette in one hand and a beer nug in the other. She lived with Matie Hewill and once confided in a letter: “Ah, I love you better than you ever know. I slept in your place and on your pillow. It was almost as good as the cigarette you li and gave me all gooey.” Like Jane Addams, she ordered her letters destroyed upon her death, so historians can only speculate about their bedroom activities. There is a tendency, however, for each generation to underestimate the degree to which their predecessors were sexually active. When Jane Addams traveled with Mary Rozet Smith, she made sure the reserved room contained a double bed. Sex researcher Alfred Kinsey having established that masturbation is virtually a universal trait, it would be naïve indeed to believe that beloved companions kept their hands to themselves.
I touched on women in early Gary, including prostitutes, mail order brides, pioneer wives, teachers, and urban missionaries such as Neighborhood House founders Kate and Jane Williams. I contrasted 1920s social life of affluent Horace Mann “Flapper” wannabes with daughters of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Mexico, and the Deep South. Student Jessica Korman made several good points from the Vicki Ruiz article that pertained equally to barrios in Bary and Indiana Harbor. There, too, young Latinas balked at efforts to chaperone their behavior yet felt pangs of guilt going against parental expectations.
In “The Flapper and the Chaperone” Ruiz concluded: “Hard as it was for young heterosexual women to carve out their own sexual boundaries, imagine the greater difficulty for lesbians coming of age in the Southwest barrios.” I wish she’d have elaborated, but perhaps her subjects did not talk candidly about this. In a later chapter of “Out From the Shadows” Ruiz wrote: “The stories of Mexicana/Chicana lesbians have only begun to be told.” She mentioned, however, that Yolanda Chavez Levya founded a Latina lesbian archives at the University of Arizona and listed several anthologies devoted o the subject, including Carla Trujillo’s “Chicana Lesbians: The Girls Our Mothers Warned Us About” (1991).
I found a copy of “Chicana Lesbians in IUN’s library. In the Introduction Carla Trujillo wrote:
“Our own existence imposes a reclamation of what we’re told is bad, wrong, or taboo, namely our own sexuality. Add to this the sexuality of other women, our lovers, and we become participants in a series of actions which give validation to the sexuality of another women as well. As a student in a recent workshop on lesbian sexuality stated, ‘Now I get it. Not only do you have to learn to love your own vagina, but someone else’s too.’”
A brawl broke out in the first minutes of a high school basketball game between Hammond and Griffith. The IHSAA ordered both schools to cancel the rest of their season. Bad blood existed due to texting taunts, and trash-talking continued during warm-ups. With his team up 4-0, Griffith’s Anthony Murphy went in for a dunk and got pushed head-first into a wall. When Murphy’s twin brother rushed to his aid, a Hammond player sucker punched him in the back of the head, precipitating a wild melee, prompting the referees to terminate the game. Sixty-eight year-old Griffith coach Gary Hayes told Steve Hanlon of the NWI Times: “"It's the worst flagrant foul I've ever seen since I've been coaching. It was like a tackle in football. Anthony went into the wall like a rag doll.” Hays accepted partial blame for not having noticed warning signs that could have headed off the incident.
Niki and Amy
Niki Quasney passed away of ovarian cancer at age 38, Jerry Davich reported. Four years ago she and longtime mate Amy Sandler had been on his Friday radio show. Married in Illinois, they couldn’t join a gym under a family membership plan even though they shared an insurance plan and had a baby. Republican state legislators are pushing to allow businesses to discriminate against gay customers if serving them violated their religious convictions. Wrote Davich: “Quasney lost her life to cancer but she showed us how to enjoy our own lives and fight for the rights of others. Her battle against a terminal disease transcended another type of cancer that spreads from bigoted ignorance or homophobic confusion.” Good for Davich, also a champion of Anne Balay.
I spoke to Steve McShane’s Indiana History class about Tolleston, which became part of Gary. Settlement began during the 1845s when the Michigan Central railroad passed through the area. Early settlers were mainly German: railroad workers, farmers, and, later, employees of a Hammond slaughterhouse. George Tolle laid out the streets. A post office opened in 1860. Some made a living by hunting, trapping, fishing, and berry picking; then came sand mining and ice harvesting.
In 1922, skilled at taking shorthand, oral historian J.W. Lester interviewed pioneer residents Henrietta Gibson, whose husband was Tolleson’s first railroad station agent, and William Kunert, whose father was postmaster, recording their words in shorthand. Born in 1864, Kunert started hunting mallards with a muzzleloader at age 12, selling them for about a dollar a dozen. He averaged about three dozen a day and some days got 70. In 1889 at age 25 Kunert became became superintendent of the Tolleston Gun Club, established by Chicago millionaires including Marshall Field John W. Gates, and J. Ogden Amour and recalled battles between local poachers and watchmen:
“In 1893 James Conroy, head gamekeeper, and John Cleary were killed by Al Looker at John Hargen’s saloon. In 1894 Dick Stone, one of the guards, was killed on the marsh. In 1896 a battle raged between the farmer boys south of the river in which Theodore Prott had his kneecap shot off and Frank Kostic, a farmer boy, was shot through the lungs. Barney Whitlock and Charles Blackburn, guards, were sent to prison, Barney for 6 months and Charley for 15 months.
On the other hand, a local jury acquitted Looker, who killed two guards three years earlier, on grounds of self-defense, and postmaster Silas E. green celebrated him in verse:
The trial is over and Looker is free;
The people are glad, and, of course, so is he.
Lake County is rid of terrible pests,
Their spirits gone hunting, their bodies at rest.
All glory to Looker, let every one sing
The praise of a man who would do such a thing.
The Calumet marshes will miss heir soft tread,
For the terrors of Calumet Township are dead.”
After reading excerpts of the Lester interviews, I told the class how future historians might make use of their journals just as I made use of the recollections of Henrietta Gibson and William Kunert. I reiterated that they might make use of family histories and could also examine their daily lives and things they are passionate about. As an example, I noted Alicia Tai’s 2011 journal entitled “Geocaching” which I previously knew nothing about and is like a scavenger hunt for containers planted by others using GPS devices. Alicia wrote that there were about 30 caches in Gary, including two on the IUN campus. When she went in search for some of them, a friend warned her to be careful, that Gary was unsafe. Alicia wrote:
“I started today’s hunt in Ridgelawn cemetery on Ridge Road. Two caches were easily located in trees along the lanes. After making my finds and signing my name to the log sheet (a requirement of the activity), I walked into a wooded area on the outskirts to place my own cache.
Three weeks later Alicia made this journal entry:
“During my four-hour break between classes I went caching in Griffith. The bike trails are continually being expanded, so new caches are popping up along the routes. I threw on my hiking boots and explored some of the newer trails. I made four finds and placed my own hide during the short walk. Unfortunately there was garbage all over, including tires, an old mailbox, broken window blinds, a broken TV, and other household appliances. It’s discouraging to see nature being littered with things people could easily throw in the garbage or take to a disposal facility. I attempted o grab he old mailbox to use in an art project or even as a geocache, but it was very rusty and heavy.”
BP strike begins; NWI Times photos by Keith Benman and Jeff Dildine