Friday, March 31, 2017


“We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” John Steinbeck, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America” (1962)
 Steinbeck and Charley

I first read “Travels with Charley” while in college and again when teaching a course of the 1960s.  Steinbeck embarked on a 10,000-mile journey that took him from Long Island to the Pacific Northwest, down through California, and –what I remember most -  to New Orleans, where he witnessed racist protests by white mothers at a newly integrated school.  Toni and I took a memorable cross-country trip in January 1965 from Philadelphia to Los Angeles (and from there to start married life in Honolulu).  Driving through the Deep South in a VW Beetle with Pennsylvania license plates not long after Freedom Summer, we could sense how Southern whites regarded us with suspicion.

Danna Conley wrote me this nice note:
What a pleasant surprise when I received your latest volume of Steel Shavings in the mail.  Pat would be pleased with your thoughtful tribute to him.  He enjoyed auditing your classes and being able to share memories and experiences from having lived during periods of history discussed in your history classes. Recently my grandmother mentioned seeing someone dressed as a flower child who looked as if she had come from the 1960s.  She commented that she had learned about the Hippie Era in history class.  Time flies.  It’s hard to believe we’ve grown old enough to be included in history books.

Taylor Pytel wrote about his parents, John and Kelly (above), who met in 1992 at a singles dance in Schererville.  Four years later, John was working for Home Depot, whose corporate headquarters were in Atlanta, Georgia, the site of the 1996 Olympics.  John recalled:
That year Home Depot had Olympic Spirit awards for employees of the month. I got that award once, which made me eligible a free, three-day round trip for two to the 1996 Olympics. Of all the names thrown in the hat, mine happened to be picked. How lucky was that?  I thought I had no chance whatsoever and hadn’t even thought about it. They put Kelly and me up in a hotel and we were able to see five events.  A bus took us there and back. We saw the swimming, girl’s gymnastics, basketball, women’s beach volleyball (the first time it was an Olympic event), and equestrian events.  There was free breakfast every morning and dinner and from 3 p.m. until midnight, plus an open bar, so it ended up being a great trip. The evening after we flew home, the bombing at Centennial Olympic Park occurred.  Just 24 hours before, we were in almost the exact spot where it exploded killing a woman and injuring over 100 others.
 Connie Sekula tubing
Sekula family

Hayley Sekula’s parents, Connie and Michael, got married in April of 1990, in a Catholic church in Hammond. Both of them loved to travel and went to Cancun, Mexico for their honeymoon. They spent many weekends in western Michigan, skiing and tubing. They went with friends on a skiing trip to Colorado.  Connie recalled: “It snowed the entire time, but we made the best of it. On our way back home, we got stuck in an avalanche coming out of the mountains.”  Both Connie and Michael loved watching football. Michael had a friend, John Jurkovic, who was born in Germany of Croatian descent, grew up in Calumet City, and played defensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers. Jurkovic would give them tickets from time to time to see him play in Wisconsin, where Connie was born, and elsewhere.  Jurkovic played three years for the Jacksonville Jaguars and retired at the end of the decade after a year in Cleveland. He now hosts a Chicago sports talk radio show on AM 1000. Hayley wrote:  
Connie’s dream was to have two girls and that wish came true for her during the 1990’s. Connie got her kids involved in soccer when they were at the ages of three and six and was constantly carting them around from practice to practice. She loved being able to watch them play the sports they loved, whether that was soccer, basketball, gymnastics, or softball. She said, “Family life was all I ever dreamed of and it became true for me even though I was a working mother.”  She was an accountant for Columbia Paper in Chicago.
Rebecca and Madison

Madison Carnagey wrote about her mother, Rebecca Poore, a 1992 Lake Central graduate.  That summer Rebecca and five friends went to Mackinac, Michigan. They met people from all around the world and found work at different hotels and shops on the island. They had so much fun, they went there the following two summers.  To her surprise, Rebecca became pregnant on her little adventure down on the island.   Although Rebecca did not plan on having a baby at such a young age, she made the best of it and still was able to attend college away from home. While Rebecca was in the hospital after Madison was born on April 19, 1995, she watched coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing that happened on that same exact day.   Madison wrote:
Rebecca brought me with her to Indiana University in Bloomington. Her friends took care of me when she went to classes, plus there was a co-op daycare used by students and faculty. While at IU Rebecca she met her future husband, Craig Carnagey.  During her junior year at IU she traveled with friends to Germany, Netherlands, Brussels, and Amsterdam while I stayed with my Grandma.  In Amsterdam were cafés where patrons could buy marijuana.  Menus showcased various weed selections and rolling papers.
One of Madison’s fist memories is a fourth birthday party at a park in Bloomington with all her friends from Sunshine Day Care on a warm April day.  Madison’s future step dad and Rebecca’s friend Annese surprised Madison on her special day by dressing as Winnie The Poo and Tigger, Madison’s favorite characters.
 photo by Dawn Vanzo of Carol Smith, Katy Woodward and Tom Eaton

Sign of spring: Dawn Vanzo, Tom Eaton, Carol Smith and Katy Woodward were participating in a Miller Garden Club cleanup that took place near the South Shore tracks and the site of the Sunday Farmers Market. Last year, I was a Farmers Market regular because of the open mike music and a vendor’s delicious tacos.

This from Jim Spicer:
      The father of three bright sons called them in one day and said, "Put $1,000 into my coffin when I die."
      And as it happened the sons grew to maturity: one became a doctor, another a lawyer, and the third a financial planner; each very successful financially. When their father’s time had come and they saw their father for the last time in the coffin, they remembered his wish.
      First, it was the doctor who put 10 $100 bills onto the chest of the deceased. Then, came the financial planner, who also put $1,000 there. Finally, it was the heartbroken lawyer's turn. He dipped into his pocket, took out his checkbook, wrote a check for $3,000, put it into his father's coffin, and took the $2,000 cash.
      He later went on to become a member of Congress.
John Hmurovic purchased “Father Lach’s Slovak Boys Band: 1937 European Tour”  for the Calumet Regional Archives.  It consists mainly of journals kept during the trip by band director Adam Lesinsky and his wife May and put together by their daughter Tanya Lesinsky Carey. Throughout, they complain about business agent Dr. Liverman, who was anything but punctual and frequently screwed up their travel plans, starting on day one when their ship arrived in France and the entourage traveled from Le Havre to Paris.  Adam Lesinsky wrote:
We started for Paris and drove until 3 A.M.  Dr. Liverman could not find the Purple Palace Hotel and spent an hour driving through the streets trying to find it.  We all became quite disgusted.  A taxi driver finally led us to 29 Rue Des Cordeliers, where the Purple Palace was located.  An old man took all the passport and sent us up many flights of stairs.  The place looked like a regular 10-cent flop house.  It was 4:30 S.M.  The boys decided to sleep on the buses, rather than take a chance in this dump. The toilets were unsanitary andhad no stools – just a hole in the floor.
After all that, Dr. Liverman confided that he had been unable to book them a concert in Paris.

In his “Crooked Politics” book Jerry Davich wrote: “Many of the old-world Europeans, including my ancestors, who immigrated to this region during the early part of the last century, felt that anything was negotiable in life.  This included my own grandfather, George Davich, a Gary official whose infamous reputation of accepting bribes, kickbacks, and dirty money tarnished our family’s name.”  According to Gary city directories, Glen Park resident George Davich worked in the early 1950s as a crane operator.  By the end of the decade he was a supervisor with the Gary Street Department.

In “Obstruction of Justice by Twet” Ray Smock wrote”
      President Trump just tweeted his opinion of General Flynn's offer to testify if he gets immunity. "Mike Flynn should ask for immunity in that this is a witch hunt (excuse for big election loss), by media & Dems, of historic proportion!" 
      Please tell me what in hell the President of the United States is doing injecting himself into on-going investigations, advising a former employee on what legal action he should take, and at the same time declaring the Russian probes by House and Senate committees and by the FBI to be witch hunts conducted by the media and by Democrats. Is this not obstruction of justice?

      Wouldn't Trump's own lawyers tell him to keep his trap shut while he is being investigated? Or does Trump live in an alternate universe where none of these investigations have any relationship to his actions in the past and his ongoing meddling in the investigations. The recent incredibly inept president with evidence coming from sources within the White House may completely derail the House investigation. Is this not obstruction? Are we witnessing Obstruction of Justice by Presidential Tweets?

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