Thursday, July 14, 2016

New Beginning

“There’s too much pain, too much suffering
Let’s resolve to start over make a new beginning.
We can break the cycle
We can break the chain.”
  Tracy Chapman, “New Beginning” 
Tracy Chapman
Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald began a column with this quote about dispiriting events of 1968 by historian Arthur E. Schlesinger, Jr.: “What sort of people are we, we Americans?  Today we are the most frightening people on this planet.”  Then after mentioning the killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota and five cops in Texas, Pitts added this coda:
  A black man, a “person of interest,” turns himself in to police after carrying an AR-15 rifle through the protest in downtown Dallas.
  An AR-15 Through downtown Dallas.  As police are dealing with an active shooter.
  Apparently, the guy was not guilty of a crime, but he is certainly guilty of the worst judgment imaginable – and lucky to be alive.  But then, in carrying that war weapon on a city street, he was only exercising his legal right under Texas law.  The NRA calls that freedom.
  But make no mistake: It, too, is madness.
Pitts ends with Robert F. Kennedy quoting poet Aeschylus in Indianapolis while telling a stunned crowd about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Even in our sleep pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”
 Bobby Kennedy in Indianapolis

President Barack Obama and George W. Bush appeared at a service honoring the five slain Dallas police officers.  Obama spoke of Shetamia Taylor, who brought her four sons to the Black Lives Matter protest, was shot in the leg by sniper Micah Johnson while shielding her children, and expressed gratitude that Dallas police came to her aid. “And today,” the President announced, “Shetamia’s 12 year-old son said he wants to be a cop.  That’s the America I know.”  How I’ll miss Obama after he leaves office.  Hopefully he’ll help make Chicago a less dangerous place for inner city residents.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders shared a stage and the Vermont Senator urged his supporters to get on board.  Donald Trump campaigned with Governor Mike Pence in Indianapolis and, shades of “Tricky Dick” Nixon, branded himself the “law ‘n order” candidate.  Like George W. Bush, he claimed to be a compassionate candidate but wants an attack dog as his running mate.  Maybe Dick Cheney is available.  Has he no shame?  After Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called Trump a “faker,” the presumptive nominee tweeted: “Her mind is shot – resign.”  Campaigning with Trump, Indiana governor Mike Pence said the country needed a patriot in the White House, a rotten insult to the President during a time when the incivility of Republicans toward Obama seems boundless.  Former radio host Pence once called himself “Rush Limbaugh on decaf.”  That’s all we need.

Paul Kern picked me up and drove to IUN, where he worked for nearly 40 years until retiring ten years ago.  Yesterday he and Julie visited Miller, where he lived in four different residences.  His first apartment on Lake Shore Drive was the site of a History Department beach party that memorable student Kathy O’Rourke attended. At least that’s my recollection.  As Marcel Proust once wrote, “Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were.”  Paul and Julie had lunch at Casa Blanca in East Chicago (nothing like it in Florida, he declared) and then passed their former Munster home before taking in the Sand and Steel exhibit (at my suggestion) at the Center for the Visual and Performing Arts.  That evening they partied with friends they’d met when their kids attended a Montessori school in Hobart.

Our first stop: the office of IUN CFO Marianne Milich, one of Kern’s prize students, about to retire at the end of the month.  Chancellor Lowe’s administrative assistant Kathy Malone filled us in on former administrators Peggy Elliott and Ernest Smith.  I showed Paul my Archives cage, and Steve McShane joined us at the Redhawk Café, where we ran into Jonathyne Briggs and Scott Fulk, the latter pleased to say hello to his favorite teacher.  In the library Audrea Davis used the Greek word arete that she learned about in Paul’s Western Civilization course.  Chris Young and Bob Votaw stopped to chat.  In his late 70s and in great shape Votaw attends a senior “boot camp” three days a week. I had worried the campus would be deserted, but we even encountered a student who recognized Paul’s voice.
above, Chris Molnar; below, Jerome Ezell

Paul and I reminisced about Seventies students John Wolter, David Malham (who passed away recently), and Jerome Ezell, whose mother-in-law Corrine Joshua was a History major and cleaned houses in Miller.  Ezell is close friends with Roy Dominguez; they bonded as Sociology majors struggling to get through Barry Johnston’s required course.  Both became state policemen – Ezell Indiana’s initial black trooper, Dominguez the first Hispanic - and attended Valpo Law School.  Both are area attorneys.  Ezell teaches part-time for SPEA, something I’m encouraging Dominguez to do.  Kern stays in touch with Chris Molnar, a European History professor at the University of Michigan at Flint.  Because of the job market, Paul had discouraged Molnar from pursuing a PhD, in particular because he wasn’t fluent in a foreign language.  Chris taught English in Austria, learned German, and earned a PhD from IU in 2013, 11 years after obtaining an undergraduate degree.  He has published articles on Yugoslav guest workers and the Croatian émigré community in postwar West Germany.
 No. 89 Gino Marchetti

In the Sports Illustrated annual “where are they now?” issue with Caitlyn Jenner is on the cover is an informative article on Baltimore Colts Hall of Fame defensive end Gino Marchetti. His parents were Italian immigrants living in the San Francisco area.  After WW II broke out, the family had to move to a small apartment outside town.   An army machine gunner, Gino participated in the Battle of the Bulge.  In 1951 his University of San Francisco team went undefeated and turned down an Orange Bowl bid rather than play in Florida without their eight black players, including future NFL star Ollie Matson.  USF’s athletic news director was future NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.  In the 1958 championship “Greatest Game Ever Played,” Marchetti tackled Giant running back Frank Gifford inches short of a first down, enabling quarterback Johnny Unitas to tie the score with seconds remaining.  Colt fullback Alan Ameche plunged for the winning TD in overtime. 

In 1962 in Hershey, PA, Marchetti took part in a basketball exhibition between Colts and Eagles players.  Afterwards, Philadelphia Warrior Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points against the Knicks.  Marchetti was in a veterans’ hall drinking during the historic feat.  He lent his name to Gino’s hamburger chain (“Everybody goes to Gino’s” the jingle goes, “’cause Gino’s is the place to go”).  The franchise eventually ballooned to 313 restaurants.  At age 90 Marchetti still bristles at the mention of owner Robert Irsay moving his beloved Colts to Indianapolis.

Great news!   Baron Hill withdrew as the Senate Democratic candidate in favor of popular former Indiana governor and senator Evan Bayh.  More middle-of-the-road than his liberal father Birch, Evan has a good chance to help Democrats win back control of the U.S. Senate. With Mike Pence set to be Trump’s running mate, some GOP insiders are hopeful that former governor Mitch Daniels will throw his hat in the ring, but he doesn’t want to lose his lucrative job as president of Purdue.  In a Region appearance Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg unveiled an ambitious program to refurbish Indiana’s crumbling infrastructure.  State Senator Earline Rogers suggested that Fourth Avenue leading to the Gary Airport be high on the list.
 Earline Robers, Vernon Smith, John Gregg, Mike Brown; below, Gary horse-drawn cab, circa 1907

NWI Times published a 1907 photo of Gary’s first horse-drawn cab near the Pennsylvania Railroad station at Eighteenth and Broadway.  Driver Frank Baker charged tourists two dollars an hour plus three more if they wanted the top removed for a better view of the sand dunes and steel mill construction to the north.

The program coordinator for VOLTS (Valparaiso Organization for Learning and Teaching Seniors) let me change the title of my upcoming talk from “Age of Anxiety in the Calumet Region” to “Vivian Carter, Vee-Jay Records, and the Emergence of Rock and Roll during America’s Postwar Era.”  What sealed the deal was telling her that my essay about Vivian Carter appears in "Indiana's 200: People Who Shaped the Hoosier State.” I’ll begin the talk be referencing the five people, in addition to Carter, from the Calumet Region who made the final cut: Bishop Andrew Grutka, combat photographer Johnny Bushemi, humorist Jean Shepherd, “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, and Valpo popcorn king Orville Redenbacher.
 Roger Allen Francois Jouret AKA Plastic Bertrand

I told French historian Jonathyne Briggs that for Bastille Day WXRT’s Lin Brehmer played what he termed the greatest French rock and roll song of all time, “Ca Plane Pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand.  Jon replied: “Of course he picks a Belgian song.”

Over 30 people showed up at Asparagus Restaurant for an appreciation reception Charlie Hobson hosted for Vice Chancellor Mark McPhail. Hobson stated that unlike many administrators who recoil at making waves, McPhail acted decisively when necessary but alienated some entrenched faculty. Audrea Davis remarked that Mark treated everyone with respect, faculty and staff alike.  Several staff members echoed that sentiment as well as their surprise when they first went to his office and found him sitting on a ball (for his back).  I mentioned that he once taught a Composition class where students practiced martial arts for an hour and then had 45 minutes to write an essay.  Employing the word “arete” that Mark once used to describe Geologist Zoran Kilibarda’s excellent research activities and that Audrea brought up to Paul Kern two days before, I concluded that that the Greek virtue was an apt description of McPhail as scholar and administrator.  Medical School director Pat Bankston said that earlier in the day he had attended the funeral of his predecessor, Dr. Panayotis Iatridis, who, like McPhail, was strong-willed, resolute, and an effective leader. 
above, Dr. Mark McPhail, photo by Erika Rose; below, Dr. Cheryl Pruitt
Vernon Smith presented McPhail with a framed certificate making him an honorary Indiana state legislator.  Does that mean I can pass laws, McPhail asked.  Honorary ones, Smith replied.  I gave Mark the Tracy Chapman CD “New Beginning.”  When Hobson, who called Mark someone you’d trust in a foxhole with you, produced a wrapped present that his daughter Ana picked out in South Haven, I blurted out, “A spandex bathing suit?”  It turned out to be a t-shirt.  Gary School Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt promised to keep Mark busy during his year’s leave of absence. He bought a house in Miller, so I hope he remains. I expressed the hope that, being a tenured Communication professor, he’d join the College of Arts and Sciences next year. We both believe strongly in the primacy of the liberal arts as a hallmark of IU campuses, but in recent years the denial of tenure to productive, award-winning scholar-teachers and the gutting of the once-thriving Anthropology and Women’s Studies programs has been counter-productive, to say the least.

One summer when I worked in a Philadelphia law firm mailroom, a guy said he was leaving to join the army.  Showered with presents and flowery eulogies at a going away party, he returned the following Monday saying he’d changed his mind and decided to stay.  If only McPhail would reconsider his decision.  None of Anne Balay’s detractors was present; no doubt those same “Old Boys” had it in for McPhail.
Jimbo listens to Charlie Hobson with his family (right) and Mark McPhail behind him; photo by Donald Luckett 
The Asparagus Restaurant was once the Odyssey, for years a watering hole for Lake County politicians as well as a first-rate family restaurant.  I’ve been to several graduation parties there, as well as book club meetings.  Paul Kern used to have lunch weekly with Philosophy colleagues Jack Gruenenfelder and Ed Kenar and historian Bill Neil, who hired both of us.  Paul and I invited former chancellor Peggy Elliott to speak on campus after we published our history of IUN, and afterwards Lloyd and Sharon Rowe hosted a dinner at the Odyssey for about two-dozen of her friends, including John Black and George Roberts, who for various reasons refused to set foot on campus.

No comments:

Post a Comment