Thursday, December 22, 2016


“When you are in a bad contract, be an optimist.  When you are in a good contract, be a pessimist.” Robert S. Todd
above, bridge at Chesterton YMCA 2015; below, Marcy and Chuck Tomes

The word “duplicate” can mean a copy or an identical twin, plus a version of bridge where several couples play the exact same hand.  Naomi Goodman, Charlie Halberstadt’s duplicate bridge partner at Chesterton YMCA, is off to Tucson, Arizona, for a couple months, so I was pressed into service.  Most women were proudly wearing Christmas sweaters; several had brought homemade cookies. My best hand was making three Clubs despite holding just four points and only four Clubs, King, Jack, spot, spot.  When Chuck Tomes on my left opened a Diamond, Charlie doubled, which I took for a demand bid if the person on my right passed, which Marcy Tomes did.  Charlie only had three Clubs, but they included the Ace, Queen.  In another hand our opponents were bidding Hearts and Spades and Charlie Diamonds and Clubs.  I only had one Diamond and two Clubs plus five Hearts (Jack, ten, nine, spot, spot) and five Spades to the Ace, ten.  When the bidding stopped at three Hearts, I should have doubled but chickened out.  We set the contract but my caution meant the difference between high board and settling for the middle of the pack.
Above: Post-Tribune photo by Kyle Telethon

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson appeared on the eighth season premiere of “Undercover Boss.”  In the course of the filming she worked at the Gary sanitary district, fire department, police department, and park department.  NWI Times reporter Ed Bierschenk wrote:
  Employees were told that the disguised Freeman-Wilson, going by the name Sheila, was a contestant on a game show called Tough Jobs. She said employees were surprised to later find out during the "reveal" segment that it was actually the mayor who had been working alongside them.
  In some "Undercover Boss" episodes, the employer will discover employees who are not doing a good job, but Freeman-Wilson said her experiences with the employees were all positive and left her "with a real sense of pride and a sense of gratitude."  Freeman-Wilson said the employees she worked with are underpaid and overworked, "but they are some of the most dedicated people I ever worked with."
After viewing the show on a big screen at Gary Genesis Center, Freeman-Wilson thought that the scenes made her out to be a bigger klutz than she was, telling Post-Tribune reporter Gregory Tejeda: “I would not be any good in the Fire Department, but there were things they didn't show (in sewage) where I wasn't bad.”  One sewage plant employee told “Sheila” that, in Tejeda words, “everything was messed up in Gary because the department supervisor was the mayor's best friend.”

At Quick Cut in Portage it’s usually a wait to get Anna, but a cute blond barber named Ariel has  following of her own.  Anna always asks about Toni and the grandkids, even though they go to a place near our condo.  I get a haircut about once every 6 or 8 week, when my sideburns are out of control and usually before some family event.  I don’t even have to give instructions to Anna, just answer yes when she says, “the usual?”

Pearl Jam and Tupac Shakur will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, along with folkie Joan Baez, and old-time bands Yes, Electric Light Orchestra, and Journey.  Still no Moody Blues, ten times more worthy than the stadium rock group.
Old Dominion professor Joe Jackson’s biography “Black Elk: The Life on an American Visionary,” benefits from a 1931 decision by American poet laureate John Gneisenau Neihardt to visit the Oglala Lakota shaman who fought at Little Big Horn and survived the Wounded Knee massacre.  Black Elk and Gneisenau bonded, and their intimate conversations resulted in the publication of Black Elk Speaks (1932).

The Holiday bowling pot luck was bountiful.  Continuing my streak of being first in line, I almost missed the deviled eggs, donated by a late-comer.  Delia’s Uncle Phil brought tamales, and I was especially impressed with somebody’s corn pudding.  The Engineers won a game and series from second-place Just Do It Again.  I rolled a 454 series, and Frank, after suffering through five splits in game one, finished with two games well over 200.  We lost the finale by ten pins when their anchor, Frank Braun, tripled in the tenth.  Gene Clifford saw us passing money back and forth (dimes for doubles and made splits, quarters for every tenth strike), and noted that he once was on a team where bowlers lost quarters for games under 150, missing all pins on splits, and for blowing spares. Leaving a 6-10 on two consecutive frames, Clifford first hit the 6-pin straight on and chopped, then was a fraction too far to the left, again leaving the 10-pin standing.

Toni and I attended Burns Funeral Home to honor Clark Metz, who subbed a few times when we needed a bowler until he practiced so often (“to beat your ass,” he admitted) that he screwed up his thumb.  I wore an old shirt that Clark had outgrown.  Many family photos were on display dating back to Clark’s childhood.  A campaign poster indicated that Clark had run for township assessor – news to me.  Daughter Sloan, who lived near him in Miller, said that they were assembling material for the Archives.  They discovered almost a complete run of Steel Shavings magazines.  I told them that Clark was in many, including a photo of him with Mayor Tom Barnes in “Gary’s First Hundred Years.”  The service featured granddaughter Meg Viola and grand-niece Jaime Broulette sang Leonard Cohen’s “Halleljiah” and concluded with everyone singing “Amazing Grace (how sweet the sound).”  Clark valued friends who were real characters, and I was proud to be one of them.
 Trish and Ramon Arredondo with matriarch Maria
A 4-hour bicentennial DVD entitled “Hoosiers” is now available, and Trish Arredondo wrote producer Kim Jacobs:
  What a wonderful gift and what a fascinating story of the entire State.  Of course the highlight for me was to see my sweet husband, the guy who always wanted to remain out of the spotlight, and his family being featured in such an important work.  Everyone, Jimbo, Lorenzo [Arredondo], and, of course, Ramon, spoke so truthfully and from the heart that I cried through that and much of the rest of the production.  
I wondered how you would ever be able to tell the stories so seamlessly and in such a short time - the editing must have been a tremendous undertaking, but you and your team sure did a terrific job.  Aside from the Arredondo Family, which was perfect, I was totally unaware of all the many sides of Indiana.  Most just good caring real people; others, like the story of the 3rd phase of KKK a complete revelation.
Trish went on to say that the interview with Mayor Richard Hatcher was eye-opening, as was the early history of pioneers from North Carolina, indentured servants, the Underground Railroad, “and the women!”  Historian James Madison made sure the documentary highlighted diversity.

Dave Serynek, back from Florida for the holidays with bottles of Yuengling for me, passed on the sad news that our old softball teammate Mike Kubiak died.  Mike loved to fish and often cooked delicious Coho salmon on a grill at Porter Acres picnics.  The only time I took LSD was at such an event, and I thought the salmon on the grill might still be alive.   Mike’s sister was Fred Chary’s wife Diane, and at Freddy’s seventy-fifth birthday party Mike was bragging on the baseball prowess of grandson Graham, whom he coached.  One wonders if Graham was named for Indy driver Graham Rahal.  Or Graham Parker?  Here is part of the obituary:
  Born in Gary, IN on September 11, 1953 to the late Harry and Myrtle (nee King) Kubiak. He was a resident of Valparaiso since 1980, formerly of Portage IN, manager of a trucking company, 1971 graduate of Portage High School, member of Ducks Unlimited, Deep River Bowmen, Northwest Indiana Archers, involved with the Union Twp. Little League, avid outdoorsman, and supporter of the Wheeler High School Athletic Department. 

“Manchester by the Sea” is riveting but terribly depressing, as the negligence of the main character (Casey Affleck) results in the death of his three kids, scarring him for life.  His wife, played by Michelle Williams, was terrific.  It being the end of the year, previews included other Oscar-worthy films, including the musical “La La Land” and “Fences” with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.

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