“With a twinkle in his eye, the old-timer told me, ‘I’ll see yuh in the funny papers. Salt of the earth, Leo Kleine.” Jeff Manes
If I ever revise my history of Cedar Lake, now out of print, I’ll include 95 year-old Leo Kleine’s description of Reichert’s Tavern during Prohibition, as told to Jeff Manes:
At Reichert’s Tavern they took the guts out of a player piano and put the booze in it. Benny Reichert told me he paid for his house and blacksmith shop in two years. They had an ice cream parlor upstairs and in the basement they had a roulette wheel and a poker table.
Jeff Manes with Sig Bozeman in 2011
Jeff Manes recently found out that he has acute kidney failure problems that will keep him hospitalized for a while. He added: “Have already set up my SALT interviews here by my bedside. Have never missed submitting a column in ten years and don’t plan on letting this setback stop me.” What grit the former steelworker and expert interviewer has. Among the many Facebook replies from folks sending along hopes, prayers, and positive thoughts, Sue Schreiner Kosta wrote: “You have way too many stories left to tell and looking forward to hearing them all.” Cindy Donohoe-Ahmad added: “Water is your best friend. Drink it like your life depends on it because it does.”
At the Archives was a woman interviewing Bill Pelke, in town for his fiftieth high school reunion, about his close bond with Paula Cooper, who murdered his grandmother, and his reaction to Paula committing suicide. I know from emails what a blow her death was to Pelke, who had hoped she’d join him on a speaking tour to groups opposing the death penalty. Yesterday a homicide took place near Lew Wallace and the neighborhood where Ruth Pelke was murdered 30 years ago.
Thanks to tickets provided by Joe Johnston, Clark Metz and I attended the 46th annual Hunky Hollow Athletic Club fundraiser for cerebral palsy at St. Elijah picnic grounds in Merrillville. The event originated at Country Lounge, nicknamed “Hunky Hollow” when it was the watering hole for white ethnic Lake County Democratic machine politicians. Among the many attendees were County Commissioner Gerry Scheub and several folks wearing Judge George Paras caps. The meal was sumptuous – a huge steak with salad, green peppers, corn on the cob, bread, and baked beans. At one time, Clark said, he’d have known half attendees (all men), but he’s been retired from politics for quite a while.
Clark Metz is my oldest Indiana friend not in academia. Our children went to the same Glen Park alternative school and banter about each other’s foibles. He does an imitation of me driving – hunched forward, eyes darting back and forth. Once on a bet I won his lazy boy chair. It turned out that he had a new one in the garage but admitted later that it wasn’t as comfortable as the one I carted away. Driving along Route 30, I pointed out my chiropractor Manuel Kazanas’ office and told Clark what a fair and competent guy he is. Clark told of a chiropractor who wanted to schedule a year’s worth of visits and just put hot towels on his back: no manipulation whatsoever. Clark never went back.
Answers for a “Jeopardy” category about battles named for rivers included Tippecanoe, Shiloh, Little Bighorn, and Marne. I knew Winston Churchill’s Cold War statement about Russia being “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Asked what Nancy Reagan compared women to in the quotation “only in hot water do you realize how strong she is,” a contestant answered “tea” only to be shot down, unfairly I thought, because the answer was “teabag.”
Cindy Tendeck wrote about moving20 years ago from Illinois to Demotte, an area familiar to my buddy Jeff Manes:
May 25: To celebrate our thirtieth anniversary Mike and I enjoyed a lovely dinner at The Lighthouse Restaurant in Cedar Lake. We sat by the window and watched the sunset on the lake. We Skyped with our youngest son, Jim, who is 19 and a Marine stationed in Okinawa, Japan. Mike also served in the Marines, but that is not the reason that our son decided to join. Our other kids, Jessica (23) and Joe (21) are in college. Twenty years ago we moved from Bolingbrook, Illinois to Demotte. At the time, Bolingbrook was exploding with new subdivisions, stores, and traffic. Demotte was affordable and in the country without being too far from everything.
May 30: My mom and I saw comedian Craig Ferguson at the Star Plaza in Merrillville. She had watched his TV show for years and wasn’t disappointed. In 1955 when her brother was 18 and his girlfriend 16, they got married in Crown Point because in Illinois a 16-year-old could not marry without parental permission. My aunt and uncle had six children and are still together today.
June 7: Mike and I were trimming branches when it started raining. Our property is one acre and needs much work. Our subdivision used to be woods, and our yard is always trying to return to its original state. Demotte is all sand, another reason that yards are difficult to maintain. Last night we drove around St. John, as we are interested in moving there. We asked residents walking their dog if St. John has a downtown area, and they said, “No, not really!”
June 17: The Kankakee Valley Post News announced the opening of Rangeline Road, closed for about a year due to the dismantling of the wooden one-lane bridge that had spanned the Kankakee River since 1920. Some people were afraid to use it, but I loved driving through the Grand Kankakee Marsh Park area and enjoying nature. It will be nice to have a two-lane bridge, but I will also miss the quaint uniqueness of that old bridge. The Kankakee Valley Historical Society has transported it 14 miles upriver to Collier Lodge at Baum’s Bridge, where it will be restored and become a pedestrian walkway.
June 18: Daughter Jessica had an interview at Eli’s Golden Apple in Crown Point. She had applied for a hostess position, but they want her to work as a server - something she has never done and had never been interested in doing. We will see how this goes.
June 23: Jessica has trained for three days and thinks she may even like being a server. The menu is huge, about 6 pages, which she brought home to “study”—she has a lot to memorize.
June 27: Had a great day at the Field Museum in Chicago to see the Vikings exhibit. We took the South Shore and recalled taking the kids on a similar train ride when they were much younger.
June 28: We moved to Demotte in October of 1995. Our first night, as we lay down to sleep, we sat right back up, and said, “What is that sound?” We were two blocks from Interstate 65, and a rest stop. When looking at homes in the summer, the leaves on the trees hid the noise. In December, Mike was let go from his company in Joliet due to downsizing. He got a similar job in South Bend, but the long drive and hour time difference were difficult, so we decided to start our own vibration analysis and balancing company. There was not a lot of money at first, so for several summers we vacationed at Indiana Beach in Monticello. We’d stay two nights in their hotel, eat at the nice restaurant, and spend a full day at the amusement park. The kids were young enough to think it was a real vacation. Six years after moving to Demotte, we moved to a nicer subdivision a few miles further east of the highway. I joined a Bunco Club, and played with this wonderful group of women for many years. It was fun to have a “girl’s night out,” get different prizes, and catch up on the latest happenings and gossip. I learned very early on not to talk about people behind their backs in a small town - it is true that everyone knows one another and word gets around.
Demotte has at least 5 blueberry farms, so I began taking the kids to Zylstra’s Blueberries. This became an annual “blueberry-picking day” in which we invite family and friends from Illinois for picking, grilling out, and swimming in our pool. We also make it a practice to go to County Line Apple Orchard in Hobart, and have seen the orchard grow bigger and bigger. It is still a wonderful place, but our family prefers what it once was. Yet another Tendeck tradition is to pick out a freshly-cut Christmas tree at Kingma’s Christmas Tree Farm. Once the tree was chosen and cut down, while workers prepped it, we’d play with the barn cats, drink hot chocolate, and shop in the little gift shop.
In a farming community such as Demotte, different agriculture jobs are available to kids. One summer our three worked at Kingma’s Christmas Tree Farm, which they did not like at all. Their main tasks were to trim the trees to maintain their conical shape and to spread fertilizer, (manure) around the base of the trees. On the first day they set their shears down during their lunch break, and old Mr. Kingma began to inspect each set. Then he’d take out an ancient oilcan and carefully oil each pair that needed it. He reminded them several times not to throw their shears into the dirt or sand. Kids can start detasseling corn at age 13. Workers walk up and down each field pulling the tassels off the tops of corn that the machines have missed. In the morning it is chilly and the corn wet; by afternoon it is hot and humid. Jessica did this for one season when she was 14 and hated it. It was particularly rainy that season, so she could barely walk without losing her shoes in the mud, and her jeans would become caked with mud, and in the afternoon she was very hot, but did not want to remove her long-sleeved top for fear of corn rash. Joe just did one season, but Jim continued for three more years; after two years he moved up to the supervisory position of “checker.” He made good money, and he was not bothered very much by the weather conditions. He did get the so-called “corn rash” because he’d wear shorts and often no shirt. It itched a little but went away when the season ended.
above, Miller South Shore, photo by Samuel A. Love; below, poster sent by Beamer Pickert