Friday, February 26, 2016

Caravan Moves On

“The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on,” Arab proverb

On a Free Book table on the second floor of IUN’s Hawthorn Hall I spotted Truman Capote’s anthology “The Dogs Bark: Public People and Private Places” (1973).  In the Preface Capote revealed that he first heard the “dogs bark” quote in Sicily from French writer Andre Gide, winner of the 1947 Nobel Prize in Literature.  Renting a room in the French Quarter of New Orleans, where he completed his first published novel “Other Voices, Other Rooms” (1948), Capote described the neighborhood as “noisy as a steel mill.  Streetcars racketed under the window, and the carousings of sightseers touring the Quarter, the boisterous whiskey brawlings of soldiers and sailors made for continuous pandemonium.”
In the blog “Art at IU” Karen Land wrote about coming across a poem written by IU’s first female African American student Carrie Parker (above) that appeared in 1915 in the short-lived black newspaper Tulsa Star.  Entitled “The Negro’s Challenge,” it concluded:
So, what more, my brother, my lily white brother,
Must we do to prove that we’re men?

If ’tis aught you can do and you’ll give us a chance

We’ll do it as good as you can.
Karen Land learned about Parker thanks to research by IU Archives director Dina Kellams and summarized her life in this manner:
  Carrie was born Dec. 9, 1878, in Enfield, N.C., to parents who had endured slavery.
 A brilliant student, Carrie was the first black female to earn a high school diploma in Vermillion County, Ind. To do so, she persevered through three years in the eighth grade. The local tradition had been to stop black students from reaching high school by failing them and waiting for them to drop out. Carrie would not bend, so the school finally did. At the time of that triumph, many white townspeople showered her with flowers.
  Carrie Parker became the top student in her graduating class.
  In 1898, she enrolled at IU. Carrie took classes for a year and said she “was not made to feel my color much.” In exchange for a place to live, however, she had to cook and clean in a professor’s home and “almost killed myself trying to work my way through.”
  Even for Carrie, who had overcome so many obstacles, it was too much. She married John G. Taylor, and while she planned to return to IU, it was not to be.
  Carrie Parker Taylor lived in Chicago and later in Michigan. She instilled in her six children the importance of education. She owned a house and helped found two churches. She loved to sing. She sold eggs and pies to neighbors. She fed her family from a bountiful garden and taught them how to forage wild greens.

In Valparaiso University’s student publication The Torch Abigail Bouma reported on Anne Balay’s “Wordfest” talk, quoting Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Stacey Miller, whose office co-sponsored the event along with VU’s English Department and Alliance, a campus organization that “advocates for LGBQ youth and their allies.”  Miller told Bouma, “I think what Anne said, (that) just because some pockets of a community are experiencing things in a positive way doesn’t mean all pockets of a community are.  There are still people within the gay community who are struggling, who are afraid, who are not safe. We need to make sure we are figuring that out.” 

Mallory Beth Marco wrote a paper for Steve McShane’s class about her stepfather Dean, a Hammond native born in 1954 who went straight into the mill after graduating from high school:
           Dean grew up in a one-story house on Birch Street in Hammond. He had an older brother Darrel, and, boy, did they get in trouble growing up. They had a strict father but a mother that let them get away with anything. Dean’s favorite meal was his mom’s meatloaf.  He loved playing baseball and recalled “buying 25 cent packs of gum and chewing the whole pack up with my friends Brian and John before games.”  The thought of baseball made Dean smile from ear to ear. Dean’s usual routine after school was for him and friends to head to the baseball field and play catch for hours. When the streetlights came on, it was time to go home for dinner.  His friends gave him the nickname Deanbobby or Deanbob. He never minded it.
In Dean’s neighborhood the houses were fairly close together. Kids played street hockey and when an automobile approached, they’d all yell, “car!” Everyone respected each other. Every Friday Dean and Darrel would walk down the street to a gas station with their allowance for keeping their rooms clean and buy snacks, in his case jolly ranchers and a soda. Dean wanted to be a policeman and was fascinated with cop cars. They also loved the weather change. His favorite season was summer because he could play baseball all day. In the winter he and friends would build snowmen, go sledding and have snowball fights with two pairs of gloves on. Every night they’d come into the house dripping from snow and tired out. 
Dean’s family went to church on Easter and Christmas. They were not very religious. Dean would write a letter to Santa and request baseball mitts and new baseballs. Every year his wish came true. Christmas dinner consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, biscuits, and gravy.  Before bed they’d drink hot chocolate and talk about their favorite gift. Dean had a great upbringing and was always grateful for his parents’ loving ways. 
At Hammond High Dean grew to be six feet tall and his favorite subject was math. He loved figuring out word problems. He also loved gym class. He could run a mile in eight minutes. Swimming was his most favorite part about gym class. He was taller than most kids and could swim faster than most classmates.. He didn't drink or do drugs and stayed ahead in his schoolwork. Regarding girls, although he had his crushes, it never led to anything further.  High school was the best time of his life, Dean said. He always had good grades and friends in every class. He was more concerned with his swimming times than what he dressed like, mainly blue jeans and t-shirts.
After high school Dean immediately got a job at US Steel, and he has been working there ever since. Although he hated midnight shifts, he kept the job because of the money and security. He was thrilled to be making enough to own his own house at age 19 near Hammond High. Dean moved out fast and was a full adult at a young age. He never went to college or pursued a career as a policeman because he was satisfied as a steelworker. He loved his co-workers with and the money. Dean paid bills on time but was a spender for a little while. He bought a brand new car and loved eating at The Wheel with friends at night. He loved the close proximity to where everything was in Hammond and how easy it was to get around.  He would go to the River Oaks Mall and browse around with friends.
Dean was married twice and had a daughter and a son born in 1991. By the time they finished high school at Hammond Gavit, there were drug raids at houses on his street and gang violence was increasing. By that time he had met my mother, and they moved into a two-story house in Hobart, along with his daughter and my four brothers and sisters. It was a tight squeeze but we made it work. 
Dean enjoyed a very simple, routine life.  When he felt like getting out, he would drive to Chicago.  He loved that he did not have to live in a city but was close enough to visit whenever he wanted. Dean was set on his finances and happy where he was in life. He had no complaints. 
Dean’s routine on days off would include waking up early and making himself a cup of Joe. He’d take his car out of the garage and hand-wash it or mow his grass and weed wack. He was very serious with keeping his yard and house clean. Every Saturday was cleaning day.  While I was growing up with him, if I’d say I was bored he’d say, “I can give you a cleaning list.”  Let’s just say I never said I was bored. But that was the great thing about Dean, he always kept busy and was never lazy. He was very tidy with his life. He liked to have fun but stayed very responsible.

When Dean was 55, he and his wife bought a Harley, perhaps to remind himself that he could still do wild things. He took a motorcycle class and got his license.  He said, “I like to be unpredictable sometimes.” He and his wife befriended the motorcycle club in church, Tribe of Judah. They rode to Colorado, Michigan, and many more places.  He has worked in the mill for 40 years now. He owns a house and is not in debt. He and his wife plan vacations once a year and get out for at least two weeks. He likes going somewhere warm and then coming back to Indiana where traffic isn't crazy and he knows exactly what ways to take home.
Dean’s favorite restaurant, called Barbecue in Gary, shut down recently, but it definitely stuck out in Dean’s mind. He also loves going to the movies. He has five grandchildren and spoils every one. Two live right down the street so he’s always taking them around town and to see the fish in the pet section of Walmart. Dean is a family man so he is always trying to get everyone together for dinner. He says he can make mean tacos and loved telling folks about his recipe. He was quite the personality. 

Checking Google for Gary barbeque joints, I found ads for three, all in the Glen Park area: Broadway Barbeque on 4301 Broadway; It’s Time 2 Eat BBQ at 3195 Grant; and Big Daddy’s BBQ on 4213 Cleveland.  Gary should emulate Valpo and have a fine dining zone, making start-up funds and liquor licenses available to local entrepreneurs.

On birthday number 74 the Times printed my “Region Proud” column where I pay tribute to notable Gary native sons and daughters.  Here’s how I ended the piece:
  Even more impressive are those who stayed and became community pillars, such as the recently deceased historian Dharathula “Dolly” Millender and coach Claude Taliaferro.
  While some lament what the city has lost, I see a ray of hope for development of Gary’s lakefront, airport and academic corridor, and even possibilities for its commercial rebirth.

Val Quadlin from Home Mountain Printing called; Steel Shavings, volume 45, with Dolly Millender and Claude Taliaferro on the cover, was ready for my final OK.  By day’s end I got a half-dozen birthday calls, including serenades from all six grandchildren. Twelve inches of snow closed IUN for two days and cancelled plans for Dave’s family to visit.
 photo by Jerry Davich
 Post-Trib photo of Richard Hatcher by Jim Karczewski

Richard Hatcher and Karen Freeman-Wilson announced plans for a National Black Political Convention similar to the historic 1972 event at Gary West Side High School attended by over 10,000 delegates.  It is scheduled to take place the second weekend in June at Gary Genesis Center.  As reported by Post-Trib reporter Michelle L. Quinn, Hatcher said: There is a disproportionate amount of young, black men incarcerated today. Because of the changes to welfare and laws with regard to drugs, we see almost a shortage of young, black men.”  Freeman-Wilson reiterated: “We want to move forward and tell the major parties what we need as a community. Everyone talks about gridlock in Washington, but if there's one thing we know, it's that (Congress moves) when the people speak.”
After ridiculing Marco Rubio shortly before suspending his own campaign, New Jersey governor Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump, leading Rubio in every contested March primary state, even Florida.  Rubio calls Trump a “con man,” but as Matt Taibbi points out, he’s a damn good media hog whose rallies remind the Rolling Stone correspondent of the Jerry Springer show.  Trump’s followers love when he ridicules establishment Republicans such as John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush.  When Jeb called his mother the strongest person he knew, Trump retorted that she should run for President. Taibbi argues that the nominating process has devolved “into something so fake and dysfunctional that any half-bright con man with the stones to try it could walk right through the front door and tear it to shreds on the first go.”  He added:
  At a time when there couldn't be more at stake, with the Middle East in shambles, a major refugee crisis, and as many as three Supreme Court seats up for grabs (the death of satanic quail-hunter Antonin Scalia underscored this), the Republican Party picked a strange year to turn the presidential race into a potluck affair. The candidates sent forth to take on Trump have been so incompetent they can't even lose properly.

Ray Smock wrote:
  From the ashes of the Republican Party's demise as the last White Man's Party, has risen a Godzilla named Trump.  He is astride the land casting fire out of his eyes in all directions, killing sacred cows and establishment politicians right and left.  Taking on the media whores even while the media swoons before him as their ratings go up every time his visage appears.  A sizable portion of the American public like this Godzilla and see him a much needed wrecking ball against the forces both real and imagined that have caused America to decline from a mythical point in the past where we were supposed to be greater than we are now.
He is a giant, abhorrent bigot and demagogue of the first magnitude. It is a phenomenon that has occurred in our history in past forms of populist fervor, but never with the level of vileness made possible by new forms of communication and ways to create a branded image. We have never had a demagogue with so much money to further his own cause!   Elbridge Gerry said more than two centuries ago that the American people do not want virtue but are the dupes of pretended patriots. If only he knew how modern mass media and celebrity status could blind the public to the reality of Donald Trump, a narcissistic billionaire who is bored with his past accomplishments and is ready to take over the presidency as his triumphal act of completing the Trump legend that he has concocted and never tires of telling us about. The only place to live that is better than a gold-laden luxury suite in Trump Towers is the White House.
I have never felt more helpless in my attempts to explain American democracy and its institutions as I am right now. Trump has simplified everything to the point of ridiculous imperfection and obfuscation. Yet it is exactly what so many seem to want.  He takes complex issues with great levels of ambiguity and turns them into slogans like “I will build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it.”  He will make our military the greatest ever because he loves our troops and our veterans. He blasts women and in the next breath says he loves women.  He will get rid of Obamacare and replace it with something “so much better, believe me.” He will eliminate ISIS. Don't ask how, just know that he will do it.
I see nothing that will stop him from getting the Republican nomination, and then Godzilla can then turn his wrath on destroying the Democratic Party. He will not hesitate to use all the weapons of Joe McCarthy, who rose to power on the Big Smear and he will make Hillary look more like a criminal than Donald's many friends in the Mafia. He is practicing calling members of his own party LIARS, so it will be so easy to say this about a Democrat. I recall the high tone of Margret Chase Smith's 1950 Declaration of Conscience against Joe McCarthy where she said she did not want  the “Republican Party to ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny--Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.”  But this is what is happening.

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