Monday, August 29, 2016

Baum's Bridge

“Never in all my world travels, have I found a more perfect spot, not a more tantalizing river.” Lew Wallace.

sketch of Baum's Bridge, circa 1870; Sarah Miller (left) in 1930 on Lew Wallace's former houseboat 

"river rats' Jim Sweeney andJeff Manes at Aukiki River Festival

Jeff Manes began a SALT column about 89 year-old Sarah Miller with the above quote from Civil War general Lew Wallace, who, according to local lore, wrote parts of the novel “Ben Hur” while on a houseboat on the Kankakee River near Baum’s Bridge, named for Enos Baum, who in 1863 built a wooden walkway across the river.  Sarah Miller, who worked this past weekend at the children’s craft station of the Aukiki River Festival on Baum Bridge Road, is not nostalgic for the days prior to the draining of the Kankakee Marsh and dredging of the river.  She told Manes:
  I'm glad it's farmland. I tell people a generation younger than I am: "You did not live here when there was no running water and electricity. You did not live here when the river would come up and leave the rotting, stinking swampland in its wake and the mosquitoes would carry you away."
George Wilcox, second from right
Manes employed these excerpts from the century-old diary of George Wilcox:
  May 13, 1916: Cut up a hog and put it in the ice box. Made Kate some flower boxes. Dr. Noland came and borrowed three hundred dollars for three years. Going to buy him a Maxwell auto.
  July 30, 1916: Made ice cream. Took Annie home. Mercury 108.
  Sept. 23, 1916: Jerked some corn. Went out and saw the dredge leave here. Gary folks was here fishing and hunting.
  Feb. 28, 1917: We got two big loads of hay from the marsh about 3 tons. John Noodhouse came at noon with the furs to be divided. 138 [musk]rats.
  March 24, 1917: I heard Griff Marcy was arrested for selling game fish. We grubbed some of the peach trees.
  March 26, 1917: Griff Marcy got fined for selling game fish. Glad he did.
  May 26, 1917: Sowed my clover. We had a cyclone. Done us no particular damage. Tore Hebron, Kouts and surrounding country all to pieces. Killed several.
  June 17, 1917: Dr. Noland paid us his interest $17.25.

The May 26 “cyclone” that George Wilcox referred to was one of several tornados that caused damage in Missouri and Illinois, as well as northwest Indiana in an area six miles south of Crown Point.  Moving east around 5:40 p.m., it caused the destruction of a dozen farms near Route 8, resulting in three deaths, and damaged 30 others.  A railroad worked died while in a boxcar and two dozen others sustained injuries.

Prior to bridge at Hagelbergs eight of us dined at Miller Bakery Café.  A celebration was in progress of Maureen Farag’s retirement and being cancer-free.  I said hi to brothers Henry, Omar, and Bobby Farag as well as Henry’s son Andy, whom I had collaborated with while converting “The Signal” to a Kindle book. My only bridge highlight was making a 2-Club bid despite having only two trump (the Ace-King) in my hand.  I bid a short club, and Dick raised to two clubs with four little ones. Fortunately, I got a 4-3 trump split.  I would have bid 2 No-Trump but feared Dick would go on to game.

Toni served delicious country fried steak Sunday with all the trimmings to Dave’s family and one of his former students.  Beforehand, I watched “Straight OUTTA Compton,” which was quite gripping and kept my interest even though I’m not into gangsta rap.  I especially liked Paul Giamatti’s nuanced portrayal of N.W.A. manager Jerry Heller, who was crucial to N.W.A.’s success and was as ethical as one can be in a dog-eat-dog profession.  Jason Mitchell was convincing as N.W.A. member Eric “Eazy-E” Wright and R. Marcos Taylor properly menacing as Death Row Records CEO Marion “Suge” Knight.  Several party scenes featuring topless groupies provoked criticism, as did the film's soft-pedaling of Dr. Dre’s mistreatment of girlfriends.  For comic relief I watched the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode “The N Word,” where African Americans keep thinking Larry is using that racial epithet when he was just repeating something he’d overheard.
Edward Jewell and USNS Comfort

I was disappointed to find almost no mention of sexual activity in “Operation Homecoming,” either in Iraq or upon returning home. One exception was in 48 year-old Commander Edward W. Jewell’s 2003 journal, written while aboard the hospital navy ship USNS Comfort operating in the Persian Gulf.  Jewell wrote:
  April 12; It had to happen.  Boys and girls together.  Sex.  People are having sex on board, and rumor has it that finally somebody(s) got caught.  A ménage à trois had been the subject of rumors for some time and they were finally caught in flagrante. They were sent to captain’s mast, a form of internal Navy investigation and trial.  Whatever punishment was assigned here is unknown to the crew.  Most of the men just want to know who the girl (s?) were.

This excerpt of Jewell’s journal was absent from “Operation Homecoming”:
  Rumor has it (there's always a rumor) the command will start a special night patrol looking for people having sex. How will the patrol function? Will they use night vision goggles? Will they take photos for documentation? What will the arresting agent say on discovering a violation: “Put the weapon down and come out with your hands up?” According to sea stories, sex on board became a major disciplinary problem on the hospital ships during Desert Storm. The Comfort was known as the “Love Boat” by the rest of the fleet.
A definitive study of sexual assaults in combat zones is still waiting to be written, although sexual harassment was not uncommon and contributed to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Samuel A. Love posted a photo of Great Marsh Trail, located near Beverly Shores within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Wife Brenda posted: “Today's round of ‘Guess how many cars are at the porn store!!’ was won by yours truly with a guess of 8. Sam posited there would be six. The actual magic number was 11.”  Going to work, I used to pass the same place on Route 20 and marvel at the number of cars there at 8 a.m.

At Valparaiso University to hear Pat Bankston speak about “Innovations in Medical Education at IU School of Medicine, NW” as part of a Continuing Education lecture series that I will be taking part in, I ran into Budd Ballou, who recently donated to the Archives his book on elementary schools in the Lowell, Cedar Lake, Shelby, and Schneider areas. Ballou, a former Lowell H.S. football star and wrestling coach, knows many people interviewed in my Cedar Lake history, including Bob Carnahan and Bob Petyko, whose son was an excellent wrestler, he noted.  When I mentioned Bea Horner, he noted that her Cedar Lake writings were a valuable resource for his book.  Aware that I’d be talking about Vivian Carter in November, Ballou said he listened to “Livin’ with Vivian” on WWCA when in high school during the 1950s.
Bankston (right) at 2015 donor remembrance service with Rev. James Wetzstein &  Ernest Talarico; photo by Dominick Lopez
Bankston was quite impressive discussing how medical school students learn in a group setting with professors as advisers.  He showed a New Yorker cartoon of an owner telling his cat, “Don’t think outside the [litter] box.”  He made passing reference to the med school Quonset huts quarters for over a quarter-century.  He stressed how important people skills and making eye contact are to being a good doctor.  He drew laughs admitting that his urologist, a former student, once broke down after flunking a test and now tells his staff, “Dr. Bankston once made my cry, and now it’s my turn to get even.”  Asked about physicians’ poor handwriting, Bankston replied that computers are making the issue moot.  When someone complained that her doctor looks at his computer rather than her, Bankston said that he expected examination rooms to be designed so doctors can do both.  Answering a query abut late-stage care, Bankston mentioned that patients no longer are kept in the dark about their affliction nor are doctors reluctant to recommend addictive drugs such as morphine to terminal patients.
Gene Wilder with Gilda Radnor

In honor of Gene Wilder’s death at age 83 radio stations are playing famous movie lines, such as these from “Young Frankenstein”: “It’s pronounced ‘Fronkensteen’,” “Didn’t you used to have that [hump] on the other side?” and, referring to the door, “What knockers!” – eliciting from Inga, “Oh, thank you, doctor.”

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