Friday, January 15, 2016

Fulfilling the Promise

“Faith in education has been a dominant feature of our society since the beginning of the republic,” Herman B Wells, 1938

IU has adopted the slogan “Fulfilling the Promise” in anticipation of its 2020 Bicentennial.  A website citing milestones, beginning with an 1820 legislative act establishing a “state seminary,” brags: “It’s a story of broad-minded thinkers and impressive feats.  Outstanding artistic contributions and world-altering inventions.  Strong leaders and community builders.”  Among those honored are President Herman B Wells (“a pioneer in education”), Marcellus Neal and Frances Marshall (“the first African American graduates”), Ernie Pyle (“prized journalist”), dental scientist Joseph Muhler (inventor of fluoride toothpaste), Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz (seven gold medals in 1972), and 2009 Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom (in the category Economic Sciences).
above, John Bartlow Martin; below, Ray Boomhower

 “Fulfilling the Promise” is on the back cover of the December 2015 issue of Indiana Magazine of History (IMH), which contains my review of Ray Boomhower’s impeccably researched and gracefully written “John Bartlow Martin: A Voice for the Underdog.”  Martin was an award-winning magazine writer in the heyday of that genre, adviser to Democratic Presidential candidates for 20 years beginning in 1952 with Adlai E. Stevenson, and diplomatic trouble-shooter during the 1960s to war-torn Dominican Republic.  Concentrating on Martin’s 19 years in Indianapolis starting in 1919 at age four, I wrote:
  [It was] a place he claimed to have loathed, labeling his Brookside Avenue neighborhood a “mean street in a mean city.”  With his dad, J.W., he observed Ku Klux Klansmen circling the Soldiers and Sailors Monument downtown.  Martin’s two younger brothers died, perhaps unnecessarily (mother Laura was a Christian Scientist).  Home life fell apart after J.W., a general contractor, suffered reversals during the Great Depression.  Even so, Martin received a liberal education at Arsenal Tech and, after initial puerile acts of rebellion (“whoring and drinking,” as he put it), flowered at DePauw as college newspaper editor and columnist, adopting a flippant, condescending, Menckenesque tone.  Lampooning the hallowed (for Hoosiers) Indianapolis 500, Martin claimed: “It’s just like a county fair, only the bearded lady and the Streets of Paris and the Ferris wheel are missing.”  Following a stint with the Indianapolis Times and a failed marriage, Martin embarked on a freelance career and moved to Chicago. “The horizons in Indiana seemed suffocatingly close, he remembered, “the ceiling in Chicago unlimited.”   Boomhower concludes, “Martin had finally shaken off the mental shackles imposed by Indianapolis’s Brookside Avenue and had made it to a place ‘where the action was.’”  All things considered, Martin’s upbringing prepared him well for later success.

This is how I concluded my review:
  Crafting a biography of Adlai Stevenson, Martin didn’t explore his subject’s reputation as a ladies man.  Similarly, the author’s affection for Martin’s family may account for the silence on certain private matters.  A heavy smoker, he retreated often to Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula and remains somewhat of an enigma.  In 1979 Martin delineated dilemmas facing biographers.  Among them: how to make subjects come alive; what made them tick; and how much personal material to reveal.  Boomhower succeeded on the first two counts and exercised discretion regarding the third.

Also in IMH Ralph D. Gray reviewed Dean J. Kotlowski’s biography of New Deal governor Paul V. McNutt, Indiana’s most powerful chief executive save for Oliver P. Morton during the Civil War.  High Commissioner to the Philippines from 1937 to 1939 when the islands were a U.S. possession, McNutt, Gray wrote, “defied America’s restrictions on mass immigration into the U.S. and persuaded the Philippine leaders to open their doors to some 1,300 Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution.”

I’ve started “Abide By Me” by Elizabeth Strout, author of “Olive Kitteridge.”  Taking place, like most of her novels, in a small town in Maine, it describes a minister’s crisis of faith after his wife dies. 
Jeff Manes wrote: “Sometimes it gets a little hairy being the only Dem living on Ramsey Road. But I can handle the heat. Judging by the pattern, I'd say whoever shot my ‘Fire Pence’ sign was using a load of deuces from about 30 yards. 12-gauge, probably. You see, I'm not your average bleeding heart liberal lamb -- I shoot back. Have a nice day.”  David Mueller commented: “Every vintage sign should have a few buckshot holes.  This is the one you can tack into your garage siding.”

At bridge Chuck Tomes was wearing an IU sweater, so I invited him join me at a Friday basketball double header.  In one hand I opened a Heart and Alan Ynve to my left promptly bid two Hearts.  WTF?  I learned that it was a very strong take-out double indicating that he had two five-card suits.  His partner, Janice Custer bid and made two No-Trump.  Alan was void in hearts, but Janice had two stoppers.  Others who played my hand at three Hearts got set.  Several times Charlie Halberstadt and I played stellar defense only to get low board because other opposing teams got too aggressive.  Knoefel Jones, who with wife Janet finished in first place, promised to give everyone present a million dollars when he won Powerball, worth over a billion dollars (talk about wretch excess).

In “Once a Great City” David Maraniss wrote about Detroit in the early 1960s, a time when the city seemed to be thriving, with a record number of cars being sold and Motown Records booming.  My family lived in a Detroit suburb in the mid-1950s when Vic was transferred to Penn Salt’s Detroit office.  But white flight was well underway followed by business disinvestment.  Maraniss, a Michigan native, claims he got the idea after seeing an Eminem ad during the Superbowl.
 Walter Ray Williams (l) and Jerome Tachik

At Hobart Lanes, despite a 736 series by opponent Jerome Tachik, the Engineers salvaged the final game by three pins.  After I converted a spare by picking up the 1-2-7, Jerome needed a double in the tenth, but the lefty left a seven-pin after first striking.  Whew!  Posting a Facebook photo with seven-time PBA player of the year Walter Ray Williams, Tachik wrote: “I was able to bowl with him for five frames.” 
Brooke Gardner
Chuck Tomes took me up on my invitation to visit the Archives prior to our watching IUN’s Lady Redhawks defeat Lincoln Christian, thanks in large part to the hustle of sub Brooke Gardner.  A longtime Portage Math teacher and former referee, Tomes was critical of one official who took his time moving up court.  Unlike me, he knew that women’s college games now have four ten-minute quarters.  Having received a masters degree from IUN 40 years ago, Tomes hardly recognized the campus.  He took classes with Peggy Elliott, Lary Schiefelbusch, and Lew Ciminillo, who, he recalled, liked to sit on his desk with his shoes off.  I first met Tomes when he umpired Porter Acres softball games (he called me Doc).  After the game players from both teams formed a prayer circle, something I hadn’t seen before but not surprising given the opponent was a Christian school.  As I was leaving Chancellor Lowe wished me Happy New Year.

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