Friday, January 20, 2017

Rivers and Roads

“Been talkin' 'bout the way things change
And my family lives in a different state
If you don't know what to make of this
Then we will not relate
            “Rivers and Roads,” The Head and the Heart

I’m fortunate that Dave’s family lives close to us and Phil’s just two hours away in Michigan, although during the winter lake effect snow can make the roads between us hazardous. The Head and the Heart is performing in Grand Rapids next month, and Phil’s working on securing a half-dozen tickets as a way of celebrating my seventy-fifth birthday.
 Where Alissa will be on January21

Better day: Ray Smock at Bill Clinton Inaugural, Jan. 20, 1993

There’s dangerous flooding in Texas and elsewhere in the South.  Twice while I attended Bucknell in the early 60s the Susquehanna River overflowed its banks with dire results.  My junior year, I and four fraternity brothers were living in a private residence in Lewisburg. I had just returned from washing lunch dishes at Women’s Cafeteria when I heard about the assassination of JFK. I thought of that event when a shot of Kennedy appeared in the movie “Forgotten Figures.”  If I force myself to watch Inauguration events on the evening news, I’ll flash back to what an eloquent speech JFK gave 56 years ago.  Ray Smock called Trump’s address “a dark and defiant speech, a gloomy vision of drug-addled and rusted-out crippled America.”

A Bucknell fraternity brother, Jack “The Hawk” Nesbitt, lived not far from my hometown of Fort Washington.  I gave him the nickname because of his prominent nose, and it stuck.  In fact, he liked the appellation.  His family had a swimming pool that I took Toni to on one of our early dates. One time I was on my way to Jack’s place, and the fog was so thick I could barely see.  At some point, I sensed trouble and put on the brakes.  The country road had curved, and the car stopped not a foot away from a tree.  Whew!  Close call.  Jack and I both attended Virginia Law School, and Toni and his fiancée visited one weekend.  We booked a single motel room and worked out details so we’d each have some private time there.

Reporter Joyce Russell from the NWI Times interviewed Ron Cohen and me for a feature on the Calumet Region Archives, which the two of us founded over 40 years ago.  We gave credit to Steve McShane, who was on hand, for guiding its growth with professionalism and discussed its variety of holdings and that it has been used by scholars from all over the world. While in the Archives, Russell perused my history of Gary, “City of the Century,” for an article she’s working on about the Calumet Region during World War I a hundred years ago.

Terry Jenkins’ daughters Melissa and Lorraine sent an email about my good friend’s operation entitled “Day one with a new bladder.”  They wrote: He said he would pay a thousand dollars for a 24-ounce diet coke, as he is incredibly thirsty. He is not permitted to drink anything for some days, as they don’t want to tax the new system yet. Also, diet coke is no longer on his dietary list. We may see a leaner and meaner Terry after all this!  He hopes to break out of the ICU Friday or Saturday. They had him stand up and sit in a recliner for most of today, which is better for his lungs. The nurses claim he is funny, so his wit and humor has clearly survived the procedure.”
 Terry Jenkins and Sam Corey

Terry, Sam Corey, and I had a “secret” fort in a clearing in the woods across from the Jenkins house between Fort Washington Avenue and Bethlehem Pike.  I had my first puff of a cigarette there.  Because it wasn’t far from a gas station, we built up a collection of oil cans (don’t ask me why?).  One time Mrs. Woodward, the mother of a friend, took us to an amusement park and on the way stopped for gas.  I spotted some “empty” oil cans and, thinking they’d be a nice addition to our collection, hid a couple on the rear self.  What a dumb move.  Wouldn’t you know, drops of oil leaked out of them.   Was I embarrassed when I had to fess up to putting them there.
photos by Spencer Cortwright
Botanist Spencer Cortwright wrote:
  Happy mid-winter!  How do animals around here survive our lengthy winters when all seems so lifeless as in the prairie picture below?  There are a myriad of ways, but I want to share the "coolest" strategy.  Some frog species around here use cryogenics!  They pack their vital organs with glucose so those organs won't freeze, while lots of other parts of the body do freeze!  Then when spring comes around, they thaw, regain their color, and hop around looking for a mate!
 Samuel A. Love

City Methodist Church by Samuel A. Love

Samuel A. Love photographed Gary’s City Methodist Church and wrote: “Abandoned now but not forever.”  Gene Coleman replied: “Saw my very first Tamburitza concert there. . . was hooked and became an adopted ‘Hunky.’” Magdalena Gomez commented: “Pass this on my way home from work.  A true beauty, even in its current state.” April Cook wrote: “This place is freaking gorgeous.”  Indeed, it is, both outside and, even now, inside, too.

Gloria McMillan, a University of Arizona lecturer who grew up in East Chicago’s Indiana Harbor, is seeking contributors of short stories for a book entitled “Children of Steel.” McMillan, a science fiction devotee, wrote these clever paragraphs one night when she couldn’t sleep:
            The fateful story of Old Man Gary-ssippi opens in a travel agency at the main port dock of Gary, Indiana.   The walls hold brand new brightly-colored signs.  On display are Post-industrial Adventure Tourism signs such as “Visit the Cavernous US Steel plant and see the hanging Kudzu!” and “Admire the flooded limestone quarry with paddle boats!” and, best of all, “Watch the thousands of bats take roost in the old Memorial Auditorium.”  Mayor Esmeralda Green is flabbergasted at the growth of global tourism to Gary in recent years, especially luxury and adventure-minded tourists who fly thousands of miles to be “Urban Explorers” and bring back their prey—photos-- with a camera and not a gun. At least she hopes not a gun.  She’s had it with that kind of adventure tourism.
          The two robots who staff the phones are quiet now.  Priscilla Jones, the only human in the Styleways Riverboat Tours of Gary’s new Saint Broadway Seaway that connects to Lake Michigan awaits the flood of calls after a TV blitz on all the Chicago TV stations.  The Army Corps of Engineers has recently dug the greatest civil engineering project in Midwest history opening a deep-water canal on what used to be Broadway Boulevard in Gary, Indiana.
Valkyrie River Cruise Lines holds raffles on various upscale magazines in the east for this novelty, tours of the almost depopulated Midwest.  One of the highlights of the adventure cruise is drone-kebabs.  Drones carrying shish kebabs fly over the open deck of the flagship Dillinger.  (Daily re-enactments of the famous escape from the Crown Point jail and the gun fight at Chicago’s Biograph Theater are part of the educational package.)  After the Dillinger show the drones precision drop their meaty cargo into the waiting hands of the pleasantly surprised passengers.  The customers will be told that a “mystery” main course is coming as they munch their salads.  One wit wanted to call this entré Lamb Amerstan, alluding to Stanley Ellin’s ancient story about the gourmet London restaurant whose secret pièce de résistance turned out to be people, but that was voted down.  These are family cruises, Priscilla admonished Garth, her ad writer.

The Electrical Engineers took two games and series from the first-place Pin Spinners. After two mediocre games, I converted a difficult 1-2-8-10 spare in the first frame of game three and finished with a 168.  I used my 30-year old ball successfully in order to pick spares on the right side.  Garnering four straight strikes, opponent Pat Burnham rolled a 200 game despite a couple early splits. Once she moved two boards to the right, on teammate Bill Silver’s advice, her ball went into the pocket almost every time. She got so animates, we were all rooting for her.
Scott Bocock asked me to be a consultant on an Indiana Humanities Initiative grant for the town of Cedar Lake and requested a resumé.  I haven’t updated mine in ten years and would have to start from scratch since my old one disappeared when my last computer crashed.  Fortunately, Scott appears satisfied with the following statement:
Emeritus Professor of History James B. Lane received a PhD from the University of Maryland in 1970 and taught for 37 years at Indiana University Northwest.  The author of numerous books and articles about the Calumet Region, Lane is presently co-director of IU Northwest’s Calumet Regional Archives (which contains a significant Cedar Lake collection) and editor of Steel Shavings magazine, a yearly publication dealing with the social history of Northwest Indiana.  Volume 26 (1997) in the series is titled “A History of Cedar Lake.”
 Bri Wischman

I attended an IUN Lady Redhawks victory against Lincoln Christian to up their record to 17-3.  Star guard Nicki Monahan fell hard driving to the basket and had to be helped off the court but later returned to everyone’s relief. She and fellow senior Bernadette Grabowski have given fans many thrills and will certainly be missed. I learned that volunteer assistant Bri Wischman, who is rail thin and can’t be over five feet tall, played for four seasons beginning in 2010 and is the seventh all-time leader in career points.  Monahan is currently third on the list behind Sharon Houston and Juliette Keller.

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