“Communication is irretrievable. Be careful what you put out there.” Dorothy “Dee Dee” Ige Campbell
DeeDee Ige Campbell invited Miller faculty to have lunch Saturday at Miller Bakery Café with incoming Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Mark McPhail. The idea was to introduce him to Miller Beach on a day when a block party was taking place along Lake Street. Arriving around 1:30 wearing my “Lake Effect 2013” t-shirt, I ran into Samuel A. Love, watching an accomplished rapper from the group ARISE perform on stage. At Miller Bakery Café, Communication professor Eve Bottando made a motion toward me with her arms and quipped and she was ready to rub elbows with IUN’s new second in command.
Our convivial waitress told us that Miller Bakery Café opened two hours earlier than normal on Saturdays because of the reservation for 12. The move seemed to pay off because a bar crowd quickly gathered, as it was quite hot and humid outside. Ron Cohen told Vice Chancellor McPhail about Paul Kern and my social history of IUN, “Educating the Region,” and he replied that he was reading it. Impressive. I reiterated to him what a great mentor Dee Dee had been to both students and faculty and that with her perfect voice she had narrated (along with Tom Higgins) a four-hour documentary history of Gary. I told her I was looking forward to her retirement ceremony only to learn there wasn’t going to be one. Some functionary had asked if she wanted one and she said it wasn’t necessary. Damn. They shouldn’t have given her the option to say no. She should go out in grand style as befitting her many contributions to the university. Her endorsement went a long way toward McPhail’s selection as Vice Chancellor over a Blue Ribbon group of finalists. Dee Dee had danced at my retirement (Dave’s band Voodoo Chili played on campus for the occasion), and I had hoped to dance at hers.
An alarming number of longtime area restaurants have closed in 2015, including The Patio in Merrillville, Bronko’s in Crown Point, Strongbow’s in Valpo, Round the Clock in Hammond, Country Lounge in Hobart, B and J’s American Café in LaPorte, and Kelsey’s in Portage. Miller Bakery Café itself was closed for quite a while until purchased by a new owner. Ming Ling’s across the street is boarded up. It’s a rough business; tony micro-breweries and and upscale chains such as Noodles and Co. and Bagger Dave’s seem to have more appeal to millenials. Times business editor Joseph S. Pete also cited the rising food costs, the statewide smoking ban, an aging clientele, and a stagnant customer base. IUN professor Micah Pollak told Pete: “There’s a lot more competition, which adds pressure. Some of it’s generational because these restaurants serve classic comfort food while younger diners might prefer more cosmopolitan fare, tapas, fusion, farm-to-table, and what have you.” Pollak also noted that busy families often prefer a quick meal at a place like Panda Express or Panera Bread that serves inexpensive but decent-quality food to a prolonged sit-down meal.
At Lake Street Gallery I found a couple of rare copies of “Tales of Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunelands” Steel Shavings (volume 28, 1998) that includes John Laue’s “Oral History of Edgewater” accompanied by many wonderful Dale Fleming pencil drawings. I will make use of both in my August talk to the Portage Historical Society on the subject of “Edgewater: A Vanished Community.”
What doomed Edgewater was the 1976 Dunes Expansion Bill, passed ten years after Congress established the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Park Service gave Edgewater residents the option of receiving 20-year leasebacks on their property or comparable compensation to relocate elsewhere. When we purchased our house at 9649 Maple Place, we knew of the plans and welcomed them. The federal government paid us approximately $10,000 more than we paid for the house and then charged us $10,000 for the leaseback, meaning we essentially got a free house for 20 years. Later we successfully obtain for another 15 years before forced to leave, as were all remaining leaseholders, in 2010.
A hundred years ago Alice Mabel Gray, AKA Diana of the Dunes, lived in a shack somewhere between Edgewater and Ogden Dunes. In the early 1920s the Silha family would board a train to Miller and then walk east from the north end of Lake Street along the beach until arriving several miles later in Edgewater, right across the Porter County line. Occasionally they’d follow railroad tracks along the north edge of Long Lake used by a sand-mining company. Georgie Silha Kadlec, in her 80s when John Laue interviewed her, recalled:
When they first started building Oak Avenue and County Line Road, I’d sit on this high dune and wonder why they were doing this. It made me feel very sad. I used to sit on the beach near the site of the existing West Beach bathhouse and watch tiny railroad cars chugging along to the beach onto a large pier where they dumped sand into barges. My father told me that this sand was being used to fill in Grant Park and the site of the Field Museum of Chicago.
Georgie recalled a squatter known as “the Hermit” who tended a small garden and caught frogs in Long Lake that he’d sell to restaurants. She told Laue
We got our drinking and cooking water right out of the lake. My father would take a large bucket by his teeth and swim way out, fill the bucket up, and swim back carrying the bucket this way. We’d use the water for everything and never got sick from it. We’d bring all our food with us and be sure we ate I all so the knapsacks would ne lighter for the long walk back to the train/. Before leaving, we’d bury the cups and utensils in front of a cottonwood tree so we wouldn’t have to carry all that stuff home every weekend.
In 1926, once Oak Avenue and County Line Road were finished, an enterprising man named Papageorge built a shack, dug a well for water, opened a parking lot and charged 25 cents to carloads of tourists. Georgie Kadlec recalled that Papageorge had a beard down to his stomach and that her father talked to him about constructing cottages to rent out. She told Laue: “We were his first tenants. He built five cottages altogether, and a bunch of my Czech relatives started renting them.” Papageorge’s wife Tillie opened a little convenience store. Georgie said: “She’d go to the A and P, but some cans of food, raise the price a few pennies, and then sell the stuff.” Daughter Myra Papageorge, the same age as Georgie, helped collect money from the parkers. The two became good friends.
The first year-round Edgewater residents were the Taylors: Jim and Dot, their four children and Dot’s mother, Grandma Kaufman. They literally moved a two-room cottage from Carr’s Beach in Miller to a plot of land next door to Papageorge’s. Myra Papageorge recalled:
They had a barn in back with lots of chickens and some horses. They were nice people and really good musicians. I can still remember listening to their music on warm summer nights. Dot Taylor had a beautiful voice.
Son Phil called with news that he had won another Michigan EMMY (his fifth) for a WGVU show entitled, “Newsmakers: The World of Dr. Seuss.” He and Miranda called on their ride back to Grand Rapids from the Detroit awards ceremony.
Rachel A. Dolezal resigned as President of the Spokane, WA, chapter on the NAACP. For years she claimed to have had an African-American father; she has two African-American teenagers. Recently her killjoy parents, from whom she has been estranged for years – told reporters that she was Caucasian. How sad society is punishing her for being true to her inner self. How different is this from light-skinned “Negroes” passing as white or transgenders having sex changes.
Comedian Bill Maher pointed out that even though former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling and former House majority leader Dennis Hastert are despicable characters (the former a racist, the latter apparently a molester of teenage boys), do we want people banned from their profession over a private conversation (in Sterling’s case) or jailed for withdrawing money from their own bank account (in Hastert’s)?
Rocker Dee Dee Ramone (Douglas Glenn Colvin) wrote many punk classics, including “Rockaway Beach” (“Chewin’ at a rhythm on my bubble gum/The sun is out, I want some”) and “Commando” (which advises, “Don’t talk to commies, eat kosher salamis”). Dee Dee started out as the Ramones’ lead vocalist but struggled to sing and play bass guitar simultaneously, so Joey fronted the band. Dee Dee died of a heroin overdose in 2002 at age 50 a few months after the Ramones’ induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.
Other semi-famous Dee Dees include Bill Clinton’s press secretary Dee Dee Myers, dogsled racer DeeDee Ane Jonrowe, Olympic sprinter De’Hashia “DeeDee” Trotter, and the first woman mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, Deedee Corradini.
Just as I arrived at IUN Monday, it began pouring and didn’t stop for a half-hour. When I finally got out of the car, I found Thirty-Fifth Avenue to be a veritable river. By the time I reached the library, my feet were soaked. Fortunately, I had a spare pair of socks and rubber boots in my cage.