Wednesday, June 22, 2016


"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." Jonathan Swift
Vaino Hannell, "Steel Making" 1936, in "Sand and Steel" catalogue
John Cain and Gregg Hertzlieb subtitled the "Sand and Steel" exhibit currently at the Munster Center for the Arts "Visions of Our Indiana Shoreline." Thanking me for contributing the historical essay for the catalogue, Cain added: "I love what you wrote for us."  Cain's essay, "Visions of our Indiana Shoreline, " stated: "Long before there were steel mills in Northwest Indiana, there were artists lured here by the natural beauty of our shoreline."  Hertzlieb's essay, "Artistic Vision and Personal Identity," noted that while the artists came from diverse backgrounds whose work reflected their unique sensibilities and means of execution, all saw the Dunes and the mills, in his words, "as exotic places in the world that could be approached but not fully possessed and yet secretive, able to share treasures  accessed only through impression and confrontation."  Like me, Hertzlieb injected a personal note in his remarks, writing:

  The dramatic juxtaposition of nature and industry in this setting has inspired me throughout my life and lies, I believe, at the heart of my identity.  I think about my memories of the Dunes as a place where anything can happen.  These graphic works invite me to tell myself a story, and the story is thrilling because the wind and the trees in the Dunes are thrilling, a little scary if I want them to be – and as a child visitor to this place, I wanted them to be.
David Sander, untitled
One of the featured artists, David Sander, once managed a coffeehouse in Porter, Saturday's Child, and I included a Dale Fleming drawing of him in "Tales of Lake Michigan."  When I visited Sander in Chesterton, I noticed literally dozens of impressionistic drawings lying around his work space of the dunes, the lake, and the sky.  I was tempted to ask him for one for the Archives and now am sorry I didn't. The three tempera on paper drawings in the show were done between 1988 and 1990, around the time of my visit.
above, Marion and Robert Merriman; below, Ernest Hemingway, center
In "Spain in My Heart"Adam Hochschild noted that only one known survivor of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade is still alive.  Many died in battle, including Robert Merriman, thought to be whom Ernest Hemingway modeled the main character after in "For Whom the Bell Tolls."  Hyman Katz, like Merrimam killed during a retreat from Teruel, wrote that had he not joined the fight, he'd forever ask himself, "Why didn't I wake up when the alarm clock rang?"  I hadn't realized that "1984" author George Orwell fought for the Republican cause or that his book "Homage to Catalonia" is considered the best memoir of the Spanish Civil War.  For over 50 years the family of Philip Schachter didn't know his fate.  Then a Spaniard who fought beside him got in touch with the family, and Schachter's niece Rebecca arranged a kaddish at the spot where he was slain.
photo by Anne Balay
Anne Balay is enjoying a ten-day retreat at the Prindle Institute in Greencastle, Indiana, home of DePauw University.  She wrote: "I'm paid to sit and write, with like-minded others.  Writing workshops, presentations, and other activities planned.  I hope we make lanyards and have bonfires." With her hectic life, she deserves a break.

Gary Council member Rebecca Wyatt convened a meeting at City Hall of people interested in preservation efforts related to the city's history.  State Senator Earline Rogers talked about a sports hall of fame.  Ron Cohen mentioned tourism possibilities relating to Michael Jackson's old neighborhood.  I gave away half-dozen copies of my latest Steel Shavings, "My Name Is Gary," including one to Naomi Millender, whose mother Dolly is on the cover, along with Coach Claude Taliaferro.
Despite the rain IUN's Savannah Center was packed for Thrill of the Grill.  New freshmen and parents were visiting, and Audrea Davis, Jackie Cheairs, and I sat next to a Bishop Noll grad and her father.  He asked about work/study opportunities, and Audrea said she'd be hiring library assistants next month.  By the gym were folks wearing "Branden Dawkins 2016" t-shirts.  A basketball camp for kids was in progress hosted by the former Lew Wallace and Michigan State star (above) currently the property of the L.A. Clippers.  Chancellor Lowe dropped in to check on the proceedings.

Nancy Coltun Wenster wrote a Post-Trib article on the history of the South Shore Railroad in connection with Indiana's bicentennial, quoting Archivist Steve McShane, railroad buff Bob Harris, and documentarian Paul Nelson.  The commuter train's antecedents date to 1899 and an inter-urban known as the Chicago and Indiana Air Line railway.  Starting in 1904 under new owner James B. Hanna, the route expanded from Chicago to Michigan City.  Rail traffic increased after the horrific sinking in 1915 of the S.S. Eastland, an excursion ship scheduled to take Western Electric employees from Cicero to Michigan City that overturned in the Chicago River, with 844  fatalities. When Hanna's company went into receivership, Steve McShane told Webster, utility magnate Samuel Insull "came to the rescue," purchasing the company in 1925 for $6 million.  One marketing tool he used was posters, many now in the possession of the Calumet Regional Archives, thanks to Bob Harris.

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