Monday, June 22, 2015

Fathers Day

“Never take liquor into the bedroom.  Don’t stick anything in your ear.  Be anything but an architect.  Live in a nice country rather than a powerful one.  Power makes everyone crazy.  Get someone to teach you a musical instrument.” Kurt Vonnegut in a letter to his son
above, Tori, Phil, Alissa, Miranda; below, Becca, James, Josh, Kaden, Andrew

I got warm Fathers Day calls from Phil and Alissa and spent the afternoon with Dave at a fifteenth birthday party for James.  I had no special advice for my two sons and granddaughter other than to enjoy life, or, as Vonnegut once put it, “Give your own happiness a bit of brainspace.”  Phil, who recalled wiffleball games we played years ago, was having lunch with his kids followed by a movie and maybe a visit to a driving range with Victoria.  Dave’s family is excited over an upcoming trip to Universal Studios in Florida.  A couple weeks ago, James had another birthday celebration that included seeing “Jurassic World” with bowling buddies Kaden, Andrew, and Josh.
Reverend Clementa Pinckney

At Charleston’s Emanuel AME church, site of a murderous rampage that left nine dead, emotions ran high at Sunday services.  My heart goes out to Reverend Clemente Pinckney’s widow Jennifer and daughters Eliana, 11, and Malana, 6.  A few hours before Pinckney was gunned down, he was out campaigning for Hillary Clinton.  Elected to the State House in 1996 at age 23 and to a State Senate seat four years later, Pinckney was “the most kind, gentle man in the Senate,” according to Republican colleague Katrina Shealy, who added: “He was quiet until he spoke with that beautiful Barry White voice.”  What a lovely compliment.  His casket will lie in state on Wednesday in the South Carolina State House not far from where a Confederate flag flies.  Sunday evening protestors gathered, chanting “Take it down.”  I second that emotion.  So does South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.

In “An Oral History of Edgewater, A Disappearing Community” John Laue wrote:
  Most of the homes that formed the nucleus of the community were built during the post-World War II housing boom [that affected other Portage neighborhoods as well].  Many were built by young men returning from the war in the late 1940s.

Laue’s parents, Gilbert (Gib) and Loretto, bought a log house in 1951.  Gib’s father had been Gary’s first dentist, and Gib recalled playing football in the sand with high school friends and keeping a sailboat at the mouth of Burns Ditch.  He told John:
            The first time I took my mother out in the sailboat, the water was pretty rough.  We almost tipped over, and my mother yelled out, “Swim for shore, boys – don’t worry about me – I’ve lived a good life!”  We managed to get her back to shore safely, but that’s the last time she ever went out in the boat.
above, Gib; below, Gib and Loretto's house; drawings by Dale Fleming

Gib worked in Chicago for Encyclopedia Britannica while Loretto was an attorney.   After she went back to work when John was a toddler, Gib became a house-husband and wrote a book about the experience entitled “So Much To Learn” that was serialized in numerous newspapers.  The proceeds from “So Much to Learn” enabled them to buy a place in Edgewater that not only was close to the lake and dunes but adjacent to a wooded area.  John recalled:
  It was a land of mystery and excitement.  We built forts in the trees and dug holes in the soft sand where we could hide from our imagined enemies.  Sometimes my father and I would take hikes deeper into the woods and explore unknown territories.  We’d take along some bacon and cook it over a small fire for lunch.  Usually, we’d take our dog, a Springer spaniel named Penny, who would spend most of her time chasing squirrels and rabbits.  We’d follow old Indian trails along the dune ridges, and my father would tell me stories about his childhood in Gary during the 1920s.
above, John and Nancy Kadlec; below, John with Gib and daughter
A poet, Gib fancied himself skilled at making improvements on the family homestead.  In “Edgewater Anthology, #1” he wrote:
He wasn’t much for nature
 walks in the woods
   spring’s first hepatica
   September’s fringed gentian.
Home craftsman
              was his line.
Remodeling, rebuilding
              making and designing
              planning how to do it.
Poor Dot was doomed
              to never live
              in a finished house
              her kitchen was torn up
he was building new cabinets
the rec room
new ceiling
and on and on.
Once he even figured out
How to raise the roof
To add a whole new floor
He needed the attached garage for his tools and materials
So to it he attached a two-car garage, with a sun-deck roof
Neither car has ever been in it
There isn’t room.

If Gib was heavily into home repair, Loretto’s passion was gardening.  Gib recalled:
            Loretto and I especially loved all the wildflowers in the woods.  Over the years we transplanted many of them into our yard.  We started a carpet of moss through the middle of the yard with moss transplanted from the woods.  Loretto and I always liked the natural look and never believed in lawns.  I think we tried to grow every kind of dunes wild flower in our yard.  We spent a lot of time transplanting and cultivating them – that was something Loretto really loved doing.  I think she was happiest in her garden.

The Frietags were neighbors of the Laues, friendly but Baptist proselytizers.  Mrs. Frietag held Bible study sessions and taught children songs such as “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.” In “Edgewater Anthology #2” Gib wrote:
The children assemble
on Saturday mornings
streeling down our drive
plodding through the sand
of the tree-stripped lot
mini-skirted 5 year-olds
and their barelegged brothers
up and down
graveled Oak Place
trailed by tongue-lashing
tail-wagging dogs
and cluster round the
door of Frietag’s low
one-story flat-roofed
children eager to learn
another loud Baptist hymn.
It’s Saturday Singing

The postwar housing boom gave rise to the Edgewater Improvement Association.  Gib recalled:
  We had a good turnout at the first meeting at Helen Kleckner’s Spanish house at the corner of Oak and County Line.  I agreed to serve as the group’s treasurer.  One thing I learned in college is that it was better to serve as treasurer of a small organization than being the president who gets stuck with doing all the work no one else wants to do.  The first issue was the need to spray for mosquitoes.  They were very thick then.  In order to pay for the spraying, we organized some pot-luck dinners. Of course, this was before we realized the dangers of DDT and other pesticides.

The Edgewater Improvement Association got roads paved and stopped a gas station and a high rise with a swimming pool on top from being built at Oak and County Line.  Doye Grimm, the Association’s secretary, recalled:
  One issue that our group tried to deal with was to get our address changed from Gary to Portage.  The fact that we lived in Portage but had Gary addresses and phone numbers was very confusing, especially when businesses were trying to deliver things to us. We never got anywhere with that idea.

Like most Edgewater Improvement Association members, the Laues supported efforts to create the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Gib expressed displeasure that the compromise allowed steel mills along the lake.  In “The Oaks” Gib wrote:
Men in hardhats
chainsaws snarling
earthmovers roaring
exult in their power
as the old oaks crash to the ground
and every vine and violet
blade of grass and fallen leaf
is buried under raw sand
for the interstate cloverleaf
entrance to the steelmills-in-the-dunes
and a new motel to be called
no doubt
The Oaks.

John and Gib were very close, and I’m certain John thought of their times together on Fathers Day.  When his dad was critically ill in 1997, John served him a daily bottle of beer and sometimes two. In October 1997, at a memorial service at the Laue home John spread Gib’s ashes in the yard.  A breeze caused a few fragments to gently caress my face. 

During a two-hour abbreviated gaming session I won Amen Re on a tiebreaker and Tom Wade prevailed in Mega Rails.  He and Darcey attended a meeting to register their protest at a proposed new restaurant and banquet hall at Dunes State Park. Darcey wrote:
  Hey everyone, we need help to stop the "mistake on the lake" - we need to email our reps and governor.  Tomorrow the state bureau of alcohol, tobacco etc votes about a liquor license for that bird killing, handicapped parking loss, disaster for parking and lake views, and a huge profit for the politically-connected assholes who got this SECRET contract. Their rent for a 30,000 square foot banquet center (that we do not need in Chesterton, we have plenty) will be $18,000 a year - with NO property taxes - about the same as a regular 4 bedroom house in Chesterton. Sickening. How many drunk people will drown after partying at a wedding?  How will a banquet affect parking not just at the Dunes but all over town?

The threat of flooding persists in south Lake County.  Jeff Manes helped with sandbagging at Shady Shores in Shelby, and a crew of Lake County Jail inmates pitched in as well.  Things were also dire in Sumava Resorts in Newton County.
Denny Strain and Nikki Hanger sandbagging at Sumava Resorts, Post-Trib photo by Carrie Napoleon

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