Monday, February 20, 2017

Presidents Day

“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”  George Washington

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”  Franklin D. Roosevelt
 above, Allison Schuette; below, Elizabeth Wuerffel

At the Calumet Regional Archives Valparaiso University stalwarts Allison Schuette and Liz Wuerffel scanned Gary yearbooks to illustrate their Flight Paths project tracing the movement of Gary residents to the suburbs.  While the Northside schools of Horace Mann and Emerson quickly went from nearly all-white to predominantly black and Latino, the transformation of Lew Wallace in Glen Park was more gradual.  I suggested that they pay special attention to Froebel, the one desegregated school during the 1930s and 1940s.  I told them about the unsuccessful 1945 school strike by white students, mentioned in the recent Times supplement on Indiana history.  The article claims that both Frank Sinatra and Joe Louis participated in a Tolerance program at Memorial Auditorium, but the heavyweight champ couldn’t come due to other commitments.
 Jackson 5 mural; Genesis Towers in background (formerly Hotel Gary)

Knights of Columbus Building

Al Latrice wrote about plans for upcoming summer walking tours in downtown Gary for the website Curbed Chicago:
  Several of the buildings featured on the tour are currently abandoned but have become popular sites for photographers, specifically the urban explorer segment who often break into abandoned sites. Alex Koerner and Sam Salvesen, two AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers helping to spearhead the effort, say that the walking tour series will not only be a safer and legal way of seeing these buildings, but they hope that the tours will help start a dialogue about historic preservation and renew interest in Gary.
“We’re entering an age where Gary is witnessing a renaissance period. If Gary does well then the region does well,” Sam Salvesen tells us. “It’s a town that’s reflective of American history—to understand Gary is to understand urban America.”
Dr. Charles L. Seeger

Ron Cohen no longer comes to the IUN History office, so I pick up his mail.  Author Charles A. Miller sent him an article about folksinger Pete Seeger’s father entitled “Charles Seeger: Ethnomusicologist for America.”  While a New School faculty member in the mid-1930s, Charles Seeger persuaded the Rockefeller Foundation to sponsor over 200 scholars from Italy and Germany to attend “The University in Exile.”  In 1939 Eleanor Roosevelt asked Seeger to arrange a White House concert for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the first English monarchs to visit America. In Ron Cohen’s “Alan Lomax: Selected Writings, 1934-1997” is an excerpt from a 1981 interview by Ralph Rinzler of folklorist Lomax:
       I heard about the concert when [artist] Adrian Dornbush and Charlie Seeger decided to have me because they couldn’t lay their hands on a cowboy singer. They knew I sang ballads that my father had collected, so they invited me to perform. Min the dressing room downstairs  I first met Lily Mae Ledford and her sister, who were among the Coon Creek Girls. I was anxiously trying to tune my guitar. I played my three chords, wondering where my voice was and sweating up a storm in my tuxedo. I was about 22 and felt about 15. Finally, we went on to perform. We were staggered on the stairs leading up to the East Ballroom so there would be no delay about getting us on and off the stage. I came on after Kate Smith, as I remember. She came on after the black spiritual group sang. You can imagine how terrified I was with my three chords. As I was singing, I looked at the King and Queen. They were so much better groomed and so much more perfectly turned out than all the Americans, so perfectly polished that you could really see an aura about them. Their toes were just barely touching the ground in the large American chairs. They were right up close to the edge of the stage. I don’t think I was ever more frightened in my whole life.
       Roosevelt was in the front row with his head cocked over, smiling and swinging in time to the music. Oh, yes, he loved that concert, he was having a ball. The Roosevelts towered over the King and Queen. They looked like little dolls compared to them. Even Roosevelt in his invalid’s chair was a huge man. This presence and the vitality that poured out of him made that concert, I think, one of his peak moments.

A contributor to funding a Horace Samuel Merrill seminar room and graduate student scholarship on behalf of my academic mentor, I received a letter from University of Maryland History Department chair Philip Soergel informing me that Lucien Holness is the most recent Merrill award recipient.  Soergel wrote:
  Lucien is examining debates among northern free blacks during the pre-war and war years concerning strategies for obtaining equal citizenship. Lucien is focusing in particular on the shifting place of military service in these debates; he is showing, for instance, how some free blacks enlisted in the hopes of obtaining full equality while others rejected service until they received treatment as equals. 
After Saturday bowling and chowing down at Round the Clock, Dave, James, and I learned a new dice rolling and card collecting board game, Maichi Koro.  One of its many virtues is its brevity: we finished three games in about an hour after Tom Wade explained the rules.  Here is a brief description from Pandasaurus Games:
  Welcome to the city of Machi Koro. You've just been elected Mayor. Congrats! Unfortunately, the citizens have some pretty big demands: jobs, a theme park, a couple of cheese factories and maybe even a radio tower. A tough proposition since the city currently consists of a wheat field, a bakery and a single die.  Armed only with your trusty die and a dream, you must grow Machi Koro into the largest city in the region. You will need to collect income from developments, build public works, and steal from your neighbors' coffers. Just make sure they aren't doing the same to you!

Prior to bridge at the condo, eight of us ate at Tau Chen in Chesterton.  I wisely went with one of the chef’s recommendations, Beef Satay Udon Noodle.  Also on the menu was Tsingtao beer, first time I’ve sampled the brew since my 1994 stay in Hong Kong and trip to China.  After losing a small slam when a finesse failed, I lucked out when Dick Hagelberg put us in six Spades.  We each had two losing Hearts, but thanks to a Club lead, I was able to rid my hand of the losers and took every trick.  Toni and I finished 1-2 after seven rounds of four hands, and, thanks to an early start, finished up with ice cream and chocolate cake by 9:15.

Post-Tribune columnist Jeff opened a splendid piece on my Tuesday Chesterton bridge director Alan Yngve with a quote by actor and bridge master Omar Sharif that could apply to Manes and Yngve alike: “I want to live every moment totally and intensely even when I’m giving an interview or talking to people, that’s all I’m thinking about.”  Yngve facilitates twice weekly duplicate bridge games at Calumet Township Multipurpose Center at Forty-First and Cleveland in Gary, where the interview took place.  Alan stated, “We have significant ethnic and economic diversity here.  Everybody’s welcome.  That’s my mantra.”  He stressed that bridge relies on communication.  Yngve lived in Tokyo, Japan, during his senior year at IU and Beirut, Lebanon, with wife Katherine, for four years.  He’s played bridge in many different situations, anecdotes Manes wished there’d been space to include.  As Jeff told me, the interview was a “doozy.”  Yngve was zeroed in.  Growing up in Chicago, he discussed how he ended up in Chesterton, where his mother still lives:
My parents built a house in Chesterton as a retirement house. I was there every summer and weekends. When I came back here to Northwest Indiana, it was extremely valuable to have lived here before because the people of Northwest Indiana have extremely high levels of hospitality. But there is a resistance to newcomers until they can connect somehow. The fact that I was familiar with the Dunes from childhood meant that I could fit in faster than if I was just some Joe Blow off the street.
Former Lake Central star Glenn Robinson III (above) won the NBA slam dunk contest.  According to the Associated Press, on his final attempt he jumped over the Pacers’ mascot, a cheerleader, and teammate Paul George before completing a reverse dunk for a perfect 50 points.
David Parnell, below
Historian David Parnell’s new book, “Justinian’s Men: Careers and Relationships of Byzantine Army Officers, 518-610,” contains this tribute to IU Northwest, which, in his words, “supported me with summer research funding several years in a row.  Without the dedication of the administrators and faculty to the teacher-scholar ideal, this book would have taken much longer to write.”  Well put. His IUN predecessors Rhiman Rotz and Jerry Pierce would be proud.  Both were teacher-scholars par excellence.
 above, Benjamin Harrison; below, Kennedys with Mayor Chacharis (from Calumet Regional Archives)

For Presidents Day, Post-Tribune reporter Nancy Coltun Webster wrote about Region visits by a dozen chief executives. During his presidency, Grover Cleveland hunted waterfowl in the Kankakee Marsh.  On a Kankakee River houseboat Hoosier Benjamin Harrison shot ducks. The article quoted me about both Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson campaigning in Gary in 1912, when the “Magic City” was barely six years old.  Museum curators Serena Sutliff and Meg Telligman told Webster that Wilson also made stops in Woodville Junction in Porter County and Pennsylvania Station in Valparaiso.  Candidates came most often during spring primaries, but two exceptions were Harry S. Truman in 1948 and Barack Obama in 2008.  When Jack Kennedy toured U.S. Steel in the spring of 1960, Gary mayor George Chacharis ordered that bottled water be served at a banquet in JFK’s honor because he was in the midst of a feud with Gary-Hobart Water Company. I witnessed was Jimmy Carter’s 1976 appearance at IU Northwest.  According to Roy Dominguez, who was a campus cop at the time, Carter came backstage after his speech so he could thank those who provided security and shake their hands.
 Barack Obama at Gary Roosevelt, April 2008

After elected Sheriff of Lake County, Roy Dominguez was one of 30,000 people at Wicker Park on Halloween, 2008, as his officers helped provide security for an appearance by Barack Obama. The Democratic Presidential candidate had visited the Region in April, speaking at Gary Roosevelt High School and stopping at Schoop’s in Portage. Dominguez and Senator Evan Bayh were in the Wicker Park clubhouse when Obama came in.  In his autobiography “Valor” Dominguez wrote:
    Obama was very genuine, engaging, and easygoing, as he thanked me for helping provide security.  After he posed for pictures with Senator Bayh and me, I asked him if he would autograph two rally tickets I had for the event.
    I said, “I have two of them because I have two daughters.”
    “Say no more,” he replied.  “I understand.  You can’t go home with just one.”
    As he started signing, he said, “What is your first daughter’s name?”
    “Veronica,” I told him.
    After he signed, “To Veronica. Best wishes, Barack Obama,” he repeated the process for Maria.

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