“I am woman
Phenomenal woman, that’s me.”
By most accounts, International Women’s Day (IWD) began in 1911 when delegates from 17 countries issued a proclamation to that effect. Three years earlier, however, on March 8, 1908 15,000 women in the needles trade marched in New York City, demanding the abolition of child labor, an end to sweatshop working conditions, and women’s suffrage. In 1975 the United Nations first endorsed IWD. In 2011 President Obama proclaimed March to be Women’s History Month. The 2016 IWD theme is “Pledge for Parity.” On a less exalter note March 8 was also National Pancake Day and march 9 Barbie Doll Day.
Women currently in the news include former First Lady Nancy Reagan (dead at 94), Erin Andrews (awarded $55 million in peephole lawsuit), and Melania Trump (who while a model posed provocatively). None are feminist pioneers, to put it mildly.
Steve Spicer has been researching the life of his first cousin three times removed Amanda Theodosia Jones (1825-1914), a suffragette, poet, spiritualist, and inventor, among other things, of a vacuum canning method.
above, Amanda Jones; below, Julia Grant
I’ve been reading a Ulysses S. Grant biography by H.W. Brands, “The Man Who Saved the Union.” Grant fell in love with Julia Dent, the sister of his West Point roommate, who lived on a slave plantation west of St. Louis. They soon became engaged shortly before Grant went off to fight in the Mexican War and married four years later in 1848 when she was 22 and he 26. Used to luxury, Julia endured many hardships due to Grant’s business failings and military career but loved being First Lady. She called the years between 1869 and 1877, “the happiest period” on her life. She entertained lavishly and accepted expensive jewelry and other gifts from those seeking favor. One wonders whether her expensive tastes played a role in her husband’s toleration of rampant corruption. When Julia hosted an opulent White House wedding for daughter Nellie, a New York Times reporter described how the East Room looked for the assemblage of 200 guests:
A profusion of beautiful flowers and tropical plants were distributed in suitable positions. Beneath the large middle window on the eastern side of the room a low platform was raised and carpeted. The two fluted columns on either side of the window were twined with roses.
After Rutherford Hayes assumed office fraudulently, Ulysses and Julia Grant embarked on a world tour, and Julia gloried in the fabulous gifts they received. In 1880 it was a bitter disappointed to her when her husband was denied the Republican Presidential nomination. Nearly destitute by 1884, Grant, suffering from cancer wrote his memoirs as a way of securing funds for Julia in widowhood. She outlived him by 17 years, dying in 1902 at age 76.
Anne Balay and Mona Shattell wrote a New York Times OP-ED entitled “Long-Haul Sweatshops.” Balay worked as a long-haul trucker after IUN unceremoniously denied her tenure without cause, and she has been studying LGBT truckers. Professor Shattell, a registered nurse, has studied the mental, physical, and sexual health of truckers. They allege that while the Labor and Transportation departments and Federal Carrier Safety Administration are rightly are concerned with road safety, these governmental entities have overlooked the well-being of drivers. The column states:
[Truckers] are told what route to take, where to buy gas and for how much, when and where to sleep. They work 14-hour days routinely and continuously, often without weekends, sick pay or holiday pay. They drive 11 of those hours, and perform other work for the remaining three: loading, vehicle maintenance and a lot of waiting.
This mistreatment doesn’t just harm the drivers. By forcing experienced workers to leave the industry, it leads employers to hire younger and less capable drivers. Under pressure from the industry, last month the Senate approved a pilot program that will allow 18-year-olds to drive semis across state lines, even though the 18- to 21-year-old demographic has one of the highest accident rates.
On Facebook Anne posted: “Wow, We got shared my more than 200 truckers, and now summarized in [the trucking resource site] CDL Life. The New York Times comments demonstrate that working people are smart, well informed, and angry. There’s hope for this country yet, people!
For Steve McShane’s class Kaitlin Musenbrock wrote about her grandmother:
Kathleen Louise Musenbrock was born January 20, 1949 in Stanley, Wisconsin. Her paternal grandparents came from Poland to East Chicago in 1914 after they found out she was pregnant with Kathleen’s father, Joseph Pazdur, born on January 22, 1915. Kathleen’s maternal grandparents migrated from Canada to St. Paul, Minnesota, around the same time with nine children, including Kathleen’s mother Dorothy.
Kathleen’s dad, Joseph Pazdor, the oldest of five children, worked shift work at Inland Steel until he purchased a farm in Wisconsin. He met Dorothy, born in 1928 when she visited older sister Mildred’s cheese factory. Just 17 when they wed, Dorothy wore a green and black suit at the ceremony and size four shoes. Reluctantly she took up farm living but could hardly wait to delegate house and farm chores to daughters, beginning with Kathleen, who recalled: “My mother would visit neighbors or just sit on the porch, smoking and drinking coffee. I was responsible for my sisters and dinner. When not making meals, I was constantly cleaning the house and attending to my siblings. Mother did have quite the mouth on her though. She must have been a sailor in her past life, as she could cuss up a storm.”
Kathleen’s earliest memories were picking peapods and the milk house, located next to the barn. Her father would pour the milk into a sterilized stainless steel container. They only had two neighbors, including Mildred and Joseph’s cheese farm where there was a store where one could buy groceries and dairy products. Kathleen’s father took milk there and got free cheese. “Aunt Mildred and Uncle Joe would start making the cheese at 4 A.M. and it wouldn’t be done until that night. It was the best cheese to this day I ever had,” said Kathleen.
When Kathleen was five, Dorothy announced that the family was moving to Northwest Indiana. Kathleen recalled: “A big white van appeared. Where did I have to sit? In the middle of the van next to a man I hardly knew.” By days end they reached East Chicago. They stayed for about a week with grandparents while Joseph and Dorothy looked for a place to rent, settling on an apartment in Whiting. She only had a few memories of that apartment she used to live in. A funeral home was next door. When her parents left for work, the lady who owned the funeral home babysat her and her siblings. “I remember being in a living room with one lamp. It was so dark and a door was cracked open that led to the funeral parlor. I was so scared and would hide behind a chair until my mom came home,” said Kathleen. Kathleen described her grandparents as tightwads: “They didn’t want to spend or go on trips. Later, visiting, we’d sit on a couch. We weren’t allowed to touch anything and could only get up when we wanted something to drink, normally half a glass of warm soda. I never had a meal there or even a snack there.”
Joseph and Dorothy finally found a home on Walter Street in Hammond with a kitchen, living room, dining room, and two bedrooms. They converted the living room into a bedroom for the girls. When Kathleen started kindergarten, older brother Andrew was in charge of walking her home. “This one day he must have forgotten about me, so I decided to go home myself. Needless to say I ended up in downtown Whiting and was lost. I was crying like a baby until a police officer found me and took me home,” said Kathleen.
Kathleen went to All Saints Catholic school. The nuns made everyone go to church at 8 a.m., and classes started at 9. Kathleen’s first three were catechism, math, and writing. Students didn’t wear uniforms; instead girls had to wear dresses from home. Kathleen’s clothes weren’t in the best condition. “I was one of seven children and my father worked hard but was one to hold onto his money. So our clothes were not that great. Mine had holes in them, and by the time I got home from school the holes were huge,” said Kathleen.
Kathleen and her siblings lived so close to school that the nuns made them walk home for lunch so they didn’t have to feed them. They had to cross train tracks but didn’t mind. The trains were fun to watch and very loud, with steam blowing out the top.
Kathleen’s brother Andrew was a rebel while younger sibling Kenny never got in trouble despite being a practical jokester who could make everyone laugh. Kenny later got into a motorcycle accident and messed up his foot so bad he finally had to have it amputated. Four other children followed, but age difference meant Kathleen wasn’t as close to them. Kathleen’s father was abusive, especially to his sons. He’d whip Andrew for defying rules over and over again. Kathleen said, “I was really disappointed in my mother, as she could have been stronger with my father. Looking back, I can see that she was dominated by him and had little control.”
A high point in eighth grade for Kathleen was graduation, a big deal back then. Kathleen didn’t really have anything nice to wear for the ceremony, but her mother bought her a beautiful pink dress with sleeves that went to her wrist. Her mother also bought Kathleen a hat and her first pair of high heels. They were only an inch high but she loved them. “When I was walking down the aisle I was crying the entire way down because I was so excited to graduate,” said Kathleen.
Kathleen went to Hammond High on Calumet Street. It was for people who wanted to attend college, while Hammond Tech was for those who didn’t. Kathleen stated, “It was the place to be even though I wasn’t smart enough for college. I am really happy I went there.” She enjoyed the football games and sock hops. At 17 she went on a double date with Andrew’s friend Victor Musenbrock. “Wherever we went we had someone with us. I was a new dater and that made me nervous,” said Kathleen. Kathleen and Victor dated for a year. “I found out I was pregnant March 5 and got married March 20,” Kathleen stated. She and Victor eloped at the courthouse in Crown Point. In tears Kathleen called her mom from a phone booth to tell her that she was married and pregnant. “We went home,” Kathleen recalled, “and my sister was running around asking, ‘What is elope? What is elope?’” They rented a trailer in Hammond. She dropped out of high school.
Kathleen recalled: “I was balling my eyes out but happy at the same time. My mom was running around the kitchen collecting stuff I could take to my new place. I also had stuff in the basement I’d been saving for when I moved out. After my dad found out, he said, ‘You made a bed, now lay in it.”
All Victor’s mom said was, “Are you sure you’re pregnant?” She took Kathleen to a doctor who confirmed it. Afterwards they went to the trailer, their first night as a married couple. They lived in the trailer for three months and then moved in an apartment next to Kathleen’s parents. The baby, a girl named Tonia, was born November 17, 1967. A year later they bought a house in Hammond where they lived in through the birth of three more children, Timothy, Todd, and Tearsa. Kathleen worked evenings so she could be home during the day; Victor worked days so he could be home with them at night. One time while she was away, Tonia reorganized her entire kitchen. “I had no idea where anything was. It was a nice thought though,” said Kathleen.
Kathleen’s daughter Tonia graduated from Hammond Tech and got a job in Munster as a dental assistant. She eventually married an abusive alcoholic who once locked her in the basement. After he struck her, she moved in with Kathleen’s sister Cindy. Tonia’s younger sister subsequently introduced her to Bill Alter, father of three children with a previous marriage who became Tonis’s stepchildren. Tonia presently is a dental technician.
Timothy, Kathleen’s second oldest, came down with kidney cancer in kindergarten. After they rolled him away into an elevator on the way to surgery, Kathleen cried that whole day and prayed. Timothy ended up being in surgery for nine hours. “I saw him come down the hall in his bed. When he got closer I saw blown up doctor gloves with happy faces on them tied all around his bed. I knew everything was okay,” said Kathleen. Still Timothy needed three weeks of radiation and 15 weeks of chemotherapy. At Chicago Memorial Children’s Hospital the doctors explained that Timothy would lose his hair. Kathleen recalled, “This is when I got mad at God. I thought he was going to die.” Fortunately she was wrong. Timothy finished high school and then married a girl named Jennifer. He got a job at BP and they had three children.
Todd was a cute child, with dark skin and chubby cheeks like a squirrel but suffered from a serious learning disability. One Mother’s day Todd brought home a little turtle that “The teacher took a picture so I had proof he made it,” Kathleen stated. Unfortunately, some teachers just put him in the corner, gave him cars to play with, and ignored him. Kathleen transferred him to Wilson School in Hammond, but on the bus kids called him “retarded.” Todd walked on days Kathleen couldn’t drive him. Todd has worked at Shakey’s Pizza, Chapman Cleaner, and Pazdur Plumbing, but due to crippling ailments he got on disability and has been living with Victor and Kathleen ever since.
Youngest daughter Tearsa, according to Kathleen, was a huge slob. Tonia and Tearsa fought all the time because they shared a room. In fifth grade Tearsa’s class had to watch the movie about the menstrual cycle. Kathleen didn’t allow Tearsa to go to school that day because she has not had her period yet and didn’t even know what that was. “She was the only girl that wasn’t able to see that movie and was very upset about it, even till this day,” Kathleen explained.
Tearsa in high school met a girl named Dawn who was a bad influence on her. Tearsa would sneak out of the house at night with Dawn when she was grounded. Dawn became obsessed with Tearsa. After high school Tearsa moved in with her aunt in Roselawn because Dawn wouldn’t leave her alone. Tearsa returned after Dawn stopped coming around, got a job at Subway in Demotte and met Matt whom she eventually married. Tearsa then went to Sawyer College and got a degree in business. After five years of failing to get pregnant, she went to a fertility doctor. After a miscarriage, she had triplets, giving birth prematurely to two boys and a girl. EmmaGrace ended up having really bad asthma and Mason has cerebral palsy. Today at 13 Mason is in a wheelchair but doing great.
In 1993 Victor and Kathleen bought land in Roselawn, Indiana. Their kids were moving out and getting married; it was time to leave Hammond. They moved into Pine Island apartments while waiting for their house to be built. After nine months they got kicked out because they had a dog, so they stayed for a month with a nephew. Grandchildren started coming into the picture: Kaitlin, Emily, Jacob and then the triplets. While living in Roselawn Kathleen worked at McDonald’s. She said, “I loved my house. I loved watching my grandchildren play in my huge backyard, driving the tractor and pulling the wagon.” As Kathleen and Victor aged, they found a duplex down the street from their old house. Optimistic despite several cancer scares, Kathleen concluded: “I’m going to live for another 60 years. That is my story.”
Kaitlin(l) on Halloween with Jennifer and Emily Musenbrock
Columnist Jerry Davich, writing about early Gary, noted:
Many Eastern European immigrants were called “hunky,” a derogatory racial slur possibly derived from the term “Bohunk,” or Bohemian-Hungarian. As a kid, I remember my father jokingly calling us hunkies. I wore that label with honor at Croatian picnics and Serbian festivals until I entered Gary schools where it was used against me by blacks and other minorities. I equated hunky with pride. They equated “honky” with white. Enough said. Here we are a century after the term was coined, then corrupted, and it’s still in our street-slang vernacular in Gary.
Ed LaFleur's grandfather, 1926
Responding to Davich, Ed LaFleur wrote:
I was called a honky by a black guy in the US Steel parking lot over a parking space. LOL. He told me to go back where I came from. My grandfather came to Gary in 1908 [and] was sold property in the boon docks of 2585 Garfield, the Patch. Built his own home, where he raised 7 children. Walked down Grant St. to work every day to the Sheet and Tin mills.
The father of IUN Grounds supervisor Tim Johnson died, inspiring this eulogy by Hollis Donald:
Without knowing Otto Johnson, we see the son and
We aren’t done with our exclamations.
We see in him the resemblance of the man he came from
And in his life the tools used and the character they made.
David Rutter’s P-T column, “Hatcher still pays his dues for unforgiven ‘sins’” deals with white flight, the illegal creation of Merrillville in 1971, and the improbability of the former mayor receiving county funds for a Civil Rights Hall of Fame, despite its tourism potential.
The light of history casts stark shadows. Those with their hands on the political wallet didn't like Hatcher when he was elected Gary's mayor in 1967, didn't like him for the 20 years he served and don't comfort him much now.
At best, he endures chilled civility.
Myths also cast long shadows. The enduring myth is that Hatcher's rise — and his attendant representation of black citizens — ruined Gary and forced white flight upon a vibrant, diverse, blue-collar city unwilling to face racial upheaval.
But a thousand knife wounds killed Gary, primarily the death of steel. The hemorrhage of middle-class jobs left a civic invalid, though Hatcher admits he bears some responsibility. He never found a way — or reason — to quell white fear. They ran from him, and he found no answer. But he faced down loud, virulent racists at every turn. And he was no Gandhi.
In Steve McShane’s class I discussed the variety of Region teen lifestyles during the 1920s, from farm and small town experiences to growing up in industrial cities. In Gary Northsiders joined social clubs and enjoyed fads and fashions of the “Roaring Twenties” while the children of immigrants often quit school at age 16 and led a sheltered and chaperoned church-oriented social life. Black kids, for the most part, went to segregated schools, in the case of East and West Pulaski adjacent to one another. I profiled social worker Thyra J. Edwards (below) who resided in Gary for 12 years beginning in 1920 and became disillusioned by blacks being unable to be admitted to Mercy and Methodist hospitals and by the denouement of the 1927 Emerson School Strike, a victory for segregationists.