Friday, December 16, 2016

Eyes Open

“My bones ache my skin feels cold
And I’m getting so tired and so old.”
“Open Your Eyes,” Snow Patrol
As the temperature plummeted to zero, I put on the 2006 Snow Patrol CD “Eyes Open,” which contains “Chasing Cars,” one of my favorite songs.  The Irish rock band has been around since 1993 and put out a CD in 1998 titled “Songs for Polarbears.”  The final lines of “Open Your Eyes:
             Take my hand knot your fingers thru mine
And we’ll walk from this dark room for the last time.
The last song on “Eyes Open” is “The Finish Line.”
Lake Michigan at -1 degrees by Jim Spicer; below, deer eating bird food, photo by Tom Coulter
On the way to a Chancellor’s “Coffee and Conversation” I passed Chuck Gallmeier holding a final exam review session for several dozen students.  He waved and said he enjoyed seeing my photo in the Post-Trib in an article about Pearl Harbor.   Bill Lowe half-jokingly stated that until he secured approval for the new Arts and Sciences building, he considered his greatest accomplishment as chancellor obtaining a traffic light at Thirty-Fourth and Broadway – adding that it took about 20 years for it to happen.  I expressed regret at missing the Holiday party, and he said that the “Twelve Days of Christmas” audience singalong was as rowdy as ever.

Checking out historian Tyler Anbinder’s “City of Dreams: The 400-Year Epic History of Immigrant New York,” I found references to urban reformer Jacob A. Riis in the Index.  In the footnotes my book “Jacob A. Riis and the American City” was cited. One paragraph where I am credited with providing insight contains these lines:
  Riis was not above prejudice; greedy Jews, lazy Italians, and crafty Chinese fill his writings.  He was convinced, however, that tenements actually bred many of the social ills that Americans blamed on immigrants. . . . Unlike most Americans, Riis knew from his own experience that most impoverished immigrants were not too lazy to work.
Marion Bushemi (middle) introduces Sen. Vance Harte to wife Ethel

At a meeting to approve a 2017 budget Sand Creek condo board members (of which I am secretary) discussed such issues as whether to have snow plowed after it reached the amount of two versus three inches and how much money to allocate for trimming tall trees.  Treasurer Kevin Cessna asked about my duties at the Calumet Regional Archives.  He googled his Uncle Marion Bushemi, an Indiana state legislature beginning in 1959, and discovered that his papers are in the Archives.  I promised to give him a tour. Court director Tom Coulter reported that deer were already after his bird seed and that parents warded off other adults to allow the young to eat first.

Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau brought his last-place Minnesota Timberwolves to Chicago’s United Center and got a friendly ovation before his squad overcame a 19-point deficit and whipped the home team. Led by All-Star Jimmy Butler, the Bulls have an excellent starting lineup, but their bench players, for the most part, suck.

While Toni was wrapping multiple presents, I signed and addressed 75 Christmas cards.  Two went to former girlfriends of Dave.  A good half dozen went to high school buddies of Phil and Dave who became our friends, too.  One got married at 18, and his bachelor party was in our living room.  Dave persuaded me to rent a XXX video for the occasion but then complained that my choice, “Debbie Does Dallas,” was too tame.

Haverford prof Anne Balay took Gender Studies students to the Museum of Industrial History at the shuttered Bethlehem (PA) Steel plant.  They talked to a transgender former steelworker whom Anne interviewed for “Steel Closets.”  She’s about finished another book on LBGT truckers. I wrote about industrial heritage museums in the September 1993 issue of Journal of American History.

In a New York Review of Books essay about Julia Ward Howe’s unhappy marriage to Samuel Gridley Howe, Wendy Lesser concluded:
  Nobody can know another’s marriage from the inside.  Even with people we know well, the relationship we see is merely the deceptive outward show, the public illusion; at home the marriage shifts into some other mode entirely, with intimate deployments of coldness and affection, manipulation or control, altering the balance at every moment.  No outsider can tell with any certainty what is really going on.
While most biographies have blamed Samuel Gridley Howe for stifling his feminist wife, Wendy Lesser, whose 2014 publication is title “Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books,” admits that Julia could be quite impossible to get along with, as attested to by various contemporaries.

Electrical Engineers took a single game from Frank’s Gang.  I rolled a 181 between two mediocre games. Opponent Debbie McIntire, carrying a 122 average, bowled a 217 despite picking up just a single pin on both her first and last balls.  She struck six times throwing a backup ball that acted like a lefty’s. Mark Waddell must have left at least a dozen ten-pin s but picked up most using a special ball emblazoned with the name PLUTO. After I missed a ten-pin, I quipped that I might try PLUTO.  “Go ahead,” he said.  I inspected the holes, but it was a finger-tip model – not my cup of tea.
John Davies and Christina Carter;  George Rogge speaking on Nelson Algren; NWI Times photos by John J. Watkins 

Honorees at the Northwest Indiana Wall of Legends induction ceremony at the Welcome Center in Hammond included novelist Nelson Algren, Hammond environmentalist Lynton Keith Caldwell, and a firefighter who invented the first automatic nozzle, Clyde Hamilton McMillan.  Christina Carter of Gary, an IVY Tech student, received a $1,000 Legends Scholarship. Injured during the 1955 Standard Oil fire in Whiting, McMillan, according to the citation honoring him, came up with the idea aimed at increasing the flow of water from standard nozzles. If he could put a spring in the nozzle, he could control the pressure, much like someone watering his or her garden puts a finger over the flow. His idea led to the first automatic nozzle design.” The Nelson Algren’s plaque reads in part:
  Algren’s family spent part of their lives in Black Oak, Indiana.  As a teenager Algren discovered and became enamored with the dunes of Lake Michigan.  His visits there prompted him to use the first substantial money he ever received for writing to purchase a cottage on the lagoon in Miller, Indiana.  His place on the lagoon served as a creative oasis for him, where he worked on A Walk on the Wild Side and many other literary endeavors throughout the 1950s.
Coming from modest means, and graduating from college at the height of the Great Depression, Algren explored the experience and consequences of poverty by riding the rails in the 1930’s as a hobo, picking fruit with migrant laborers and working as a carny, all the while documenting the lives of those whose only sin was owning nothing.  After gaining fame from The Man with the Golden Arm, he began a decades-long love affair with French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, who visited him at his Miller cabin.  While he wrote, she began a treatise on women and women’s position in the world.  Algren counselled her that women were considered a second class sex, inferior to men. As a result, she named her book The Second Sex, and began a revolution that changed the world.

Lynton Keith Caldwell, above, grew up on the Indiana side of State Line Road, across from Calumet City, Illinois, graduating from Hammond High School in 1929 at the age of 16.  In a letter to Wendy Read Wertz, his biographer, Caldwell wrote:
  My father had always loved nature. Once we had settled down in Hammond, he would sometimes take us out to the Calumet marshes area or drive to the Indiana dunes, which in those days still stretched out for miles.  I also remember my father bemoaning the increasing pollution of the Calumet river and remaining marshlands from uncontrolled industrial runoffs and the dumping of wastes.  I believe he wrote letters of complaint to various government departments, but to no avail.  Relatively few people at that time made the connection between the pollution of water and soils and human health problems, and companies certainly weren’t about to spend any money on expensive remedial controls when there were no laws in place that forced them to do so.

Caldwell who taught at Bloomington most of his academic career, assisted in the draft of the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act, and helped create IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs, and authored many books, including “In Defense of Earth: International Protection of the Biosphere’ (1972) and “Man and His Environment: Policy and Administration” (1975).

Reporter Joyce Russell interviewed me for another article on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ending of the Cold War.  From Steve McShane she learned about Gary students being tattooed and getting under their desks during air raid drills and that Korean War protestor Katherine Hyndman was jailed in Crown Point for a year while the federal government tried to deport her as an alien radical.  To justify its huge military expenditures, governmental officials exaggerated Soviet threats, which fueled a rancid Red Scare.   I told Russell about the HUAC hearings at Gary City Hall aimed at silencing labor union militants that were carried live on WWCA and piped in to some high school classrooms. 

Trump’s cabinet selections are a sick joke – climate deniers, oil barons, Wall Street insiders, public school detractors.  His pick for energy secretary, former Texas governor Rick Perry, stated during the Republican primaries that he wanted to eliminate the department but then couldn’t come up with its name when asked which three departments he wanted to eliminate.  Calling Trump “a cancer on conservatism” in July 2015, Perry went on to declare that his then-rival “offers a barking carnival act that can best be described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.”

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