Monday, March 16, 2015

Into the Woods

“Careful the spell you cast, not just on children.  Sometimes the spell may last past what you can see, and turn against you.”  Witch (singing) in “Into the Woods”

I delivered copies of “My Name Is Gary” (Steel Shavings, volume 44) to Jack Franklin, who’s on the cover in a chair in front of Roosevelt Service Center, and to Magnum Jamal, whose 4 Brothers Grocery is on the back cover.  Sitting outside just like in the shot Frederic Cousseau and Blandine Huk took of him tipping his cap, Franklin eyed me suspiciously as I got out of the car, stared at the photo for a few seconds and exclaimed, “That’s me!”  Suddenly wary again, he asked, “What does it cost?”  He was pleased when I gave it to him free of charge.  Magnum Jamal, behind a counter protected my thick glass, shook my hand and showed considerable emotion.
above, Toni at Porter Beach; below, Shannon and Maxwell
Granddaughter Miranda, down from Michigan for the Discovery Charter School production of “Into the Woods,” went shopping at Marshall’s with Toni and then to Waverly Beach, it being so mild outside.  Afterwards, Toni used a photo Miranda took for her new Facebook profile picture.  Checking it out, I discovered that Shannon Bayer gave birth to a boy named Maxwell.  It made me think of the Beatles’ “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” Agent Maxwell Smart, and Max Blaszkiewicz.

At Edison High School for the grandkids’ play, Miranda spotted Delia (her mom) in a Lake Station class of 1988 photo on the wall. I ran into Melvin Nelson’s neighbor Wendell, who bowled with us for several years and whose granddaughter would be performing on stage.  He said he reads the Steel Shavings magazines I give to Mel and introduced me to his grandson, a Michigan State freshman studying to be a chemistry teacher.

“Into the Woods” was a huge success, with the cast getting a standing ovation from the appreciative audience.  It combined several of Grimm’s fairy tales, including Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel.  As the Baker, one of the leads, James appeared in almost every scene and was charming and witty.  Becca threw herself into the role of Witch, who near the end turned into a beautiful young lady.  It made me realize how much my grandkids are growing up.  That afternoon James had been in need of tall white socks, and the pair Archives volunteer Maurice Yancy gave me over the winter were perfect.

At Camelot Lanes teammates James, Andrew English, Josh Froman, and Kaden Horn rolled a 745 scratch, almost a hundred pins better than the top game of the season.  Kaden had his first 200 game ever, bringing a tear to Kevin’s eye.  Bowling for Doughnuts are in first place with five weeks left to go. In class James is studying “Bleeding Kansas” and the coming of the Civil War.  He found a section of his book on James Buchanan and the 1856 election.

We had a full house over the weekend, as Phil, Alissa, and Beth arrived for Saturday evening’s performance of “Into the Woods” and Dave’s family slept over.  Sunday afternoon after Beth left, we played three rubbers of bridge with Phil and Dave, and I watched Michigan State lose the Big Ten championship game in OT to Wisconsin, whom I’m picking to win the NCAA tournament even though unbeaten Kentucky is the prohibitive favorite.  Five Indiana teams made it to the “Big Dance,” Indiana (luckily), Purdue (with a late season surge), Butler, Notre Dame, and Valparaiso, who will play Maryland in their opening round.  IU goes against Wichita State; last year the Shockers were undefeated but in a bracket with talented Kentucky and didn’t even make the Sweet Sixteen.  In “The Imaginary Girlfriend: A Memoir” John Irving wrote:

An imperious Spanish teacher [at Exeter Academy] was fond of abusing those of us who lacked perfection with the insensitive (not to mention elitist) remark that we would all end up a Wichita State.  I didn’t know that Wichita was in Kansas; I knew only that this was a slur – if we weren’t talented enough for Harvard, then Wichita State would be our just reward.  Fuck you.  I thought: my objective would then be to do well at Wichita State.

I’ve been proofreading a manuscript Julie Jackson wrote about Chicago director/playwright/actor Frank Galati, whom she worked with as costume director.  Having never heard of him, I discovered that he and co-writer Lawrence Kasden adapted Anne Tyler’s “The Accidental Tourist” into a screenplay and that the Northwestern professor was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.  Inductees listed under the rubric “Friend of the Community” included oral historian Studs Terkel and former mayor Richard M. Daley.  Billie Jean King was honored in 1999, Jane Addams and Henry Blake Fuller posthumously.  In 1896 Fuller published “Saint Judas’s,” the first American play to deal explicitly about homosexuality, about a gay man who commits suicide at his former lover’s wedding.
above, Henry Blake Fuller; below, photo by Brenda Love

Brenda and Samuel A. Love visited Conrad Station Nature Preserve in Newton County.  Now a ghost town, Conrad, founded by Jennie Minerva Conrad in 1908, once contained a train depot, hotel, general store, church, school, dance hall, blacksmith shop, and stockyards for Jennie Conrad’s cattle.  By the 1930s it became apparent that Conrad’s days were numbered.  According to historian Dick Schmal, Jennie Conrad’s father, Lemuel Milk, had been responsible for the draining of Beaver Lake, wiping out 12,000 acres of marshland, much to the dismay of hunters and fishermen.  The irascible Jennie Conrad frequently feuded with neighbors.  In a 1990 Kankakee Valley Historical Society publication Schmal wrote:

One day she spied some boys with buckets of berries. Stopping her team, she quickly threw the berries on the ground and crushed them with her feet. She then ordered the boys from her property, but they hid until she was gone, then set fire to a 40-acre field of wheat, which was ripe and ready to cut, a total loss.

Another time she locked up some of a neighbor's cows because they were in her corn. She was taken to court and fined heavily for nearly causing the deaths of the animals. It was hard for the neighbors to give up their berry picking, knowing that no one person could use it all, but Jennie still regarded them as trespassers and dealt with them sternly.

She had cattle stolen from her and was in court many times, and it soon became a part of her routine to ride the boundaries of her property with a shotgun at her side to drive away anyone who should be foolish enough to trespass on her property.
photos by Samuel A. Love

Monday Sam reported that officials were doing a controlled burn in Marquette Park and his job was to make sure Nelson Algren’s old cottage doesn’t burn.  When we lived on National lakeshore property, this was an annual thing in the spring.  The first couple years, it was unnerving.

No comments:

Post a Comment