“Life is full of surprises, but never when you need one.” Bill Watterson
Bill Watterson, creator of the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes,” is known for a sardonic sense of humor. He once said, “The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere is that it has never tried to contact us.” He also stated: “Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything’s different.” In the movie “Life,” which Toni and I saw, the space station crew named the alien from Mars “Calvin.”
Indiana History student Kayla Norton (above) interviewed Diane Hamady, who on January 15, 1990, gave birth to a healthy baby boy named Casey 13 years after Casey’s sister Jill was born. Diane said:
Everyone was so thrilled, especially my husband Bill’s father, who always said, “You need to give Billy a little boy because he’s going to need someone to help him with the business.” We couldn’t keep Bill’s dad away from the house, he was just so excited over Casey. He was always bringing Casey candy bars and junk food he shouldn’t have been eating at such a young age. Then, late one night, Bill’s dad called saying he wanted to stop by to see Casey. Well, Bill and I thought that was odd, but we told him to come on over. When he arrived, he did not want to put Casey down; he just kept holding him and talking about all the things he was going to do in the future. After he finally left, Bill and I both thought it was weird for his dad to stop by so late. Well, the next day Bill father died from a brain aneurysm. He was such a healthy, strong, outgoing, energetic man, you can only imagine what a shock we were all in.
One of Steve McShane’s students wrote about her father, a 1990 Griffith graduate, who, during his senior year, worked at Schoop’s Hamburgers in Highland:
Schoop’s was a really busy and popular place. Most nights, there would literally be a line out the door. People wouldn’t mind waiting that long to get a table there. In the winter this older guy in his thirties got a job there. Less than a month later, he was gone, and so was one of the cooks. We came to find out that the old guy was an undercover cop, and the stoner cook had been selling cocaine. I had no idea what was going on until after the fact. Soon afterwards, I almost burned down Schoop’s. Changing the grease in the fryer, I had drained it and started refilling it with new grease. When it was a little over half filled, I turned it on to start warming it up, and then went to go get more grease. Well, nobody told me I couldn’t do that, and so when I came back it had caught on fire because the top of the heater was exposed. There was literally a fire in the kitchen, and we had to get the fire extinguisher to put it out, and then they had to take the equipment out. My manager let the owner know that I was never trained properly, so I wasn’t fired.
Ryan and Vicki
Alyssa Garvey interviewed her father Ryan, who was born December 30, 1977, and grew up in the Hessville neighborhood in Hammond.
My twin brother Rodney and I spent hours playing baseball, taking turns batting and pitching, using a tennis ball or a wiffle ball. We were allowed to run around the neighborhood pretty much untethered. Most of the time we kept our noses clean, but sometimes we did stupid things. I recall “bombing” cars - throwing snowballs or crab apples at passing vehicles. One time a guy chased us, and my only recourse was to go inside my house. The guy rolled down his window and let out a sinister laugh as I ran inside. I was terrified the next couple of days because the man knew where I lived. Nothing ever happened though.
Seventh grade was the year I really started to be interested in girls. I enjoyed the newness of relationships: meeting someone, getting to know them, learning all about them, kissing them for the first time, holding hands in the hallway going from class to class, passing notes to each other, calling them on the phone, and spending hours talking about nothing. Then after a bit we’d both get bored or meet someone else and go our separate ways. Around this time, I’d go to “make out parties” - couples kissing for hours on end and barely coming up for air. I didn’t go much further than that, but other people did.
In high school at Hammond Morton, Sarah became my first serious relationship. I’d get off from school and go over to her mom’s apartment. We spent three years doing just that. She was the first girl that I had sex with. At the time, we had off-campus lunches, so one day instead of getting lunch, Sarah and I headed to a friend’s house and did it in his mom’s bedroom. In the spring of my junior year, Sarah broke up with me. We just drifted apart and that was that.
At the end of junior year, I started going with Vicki. In the summer of 1995, Vicki and I were hanging out at a friend’s “party house.” Somehow, we ended up alone downstairs and had sex on a pool table. About a month later, Vicki found out she was pregnant. I was absolutely scared to death to tell my parents. Vicki had dreams of going away to college and studying medicine but decided to keep the baby. When I started my senior year, I avoided Vicki a lot because I was still scared about everything. And then there was no question; I started dating her for good. Then we had our daughter, Alyssa, on March 29, 1966. Vicki and I were able to go to our senior prom and graduated that June. That summer I got a job at the Lake County Surveyors Office. At this point, Vicki and I kind of lived together, just not permanently; we both still had houses to go back to. It was always acceptable to stay together because of our child.
In October 1998, our next child was born, Jacob. Vicki and I moved into our first apartment in Griffith. We stayed here only shortly because the roof came down in one of the bedrooms and some creep broke in once only to steal Vicki’s underwear. When my mother’s second house opened up, we took it.
Isabel Tavaras interviewed her mother Shari, who in November of 1990 at age 25 married Isabel’s father:
John proposed to me in January and wanted to get married in 1990 so he could always easily calculate how long we had been married. Every time that I went to a bridal salon, they told me ten months was too short of a timespan to get wedding dresses for me and my bridesmaids. So, I went to a fabric store, fell in love with some lace, bought the necessary materials on the spot, and made my own dress. I had a lot of prior sewing experience. I also made the flower girl’s dress.
We got married at Prince of Peace Church in Merrillville, where I had been baptized as a baby. John’s family was unhappy that it wasn’t a Catholic wedding and didn’t think that the marriage would last. The reception was at Lake Hills in St. John. The windows looked out onto a golf course. We liked it because we could leave the dinner tables, and go upstairs into a ballroom filled with pink and silver balloons. Dad’s friends from his Scottish pipe band came. John’s parents brought a loud group from their Lithuanian church. I bought a wedding cake that was supposed to feed 250 people. The Lithuanian guests tried taking multiple pieces of wedding cake to go! My Aunt Helen kept insisting that they could only take one each!
Our honeymoon was on the Netherlands side of St. Maarten island. Upon arrival, we were at a strange place in the middle of the night, and some random guy in a jeep told us he was from the hotel. We were apprehensive, but he actually was a hotel employee sent to pick us up. Most of our week was spent by the ocean, or by the hotel’s pool. We were pretty struck by how much poverty was on the island. It was a little scary and very sad.
Shari went on to have three children during the 1990s. She and John lived in Hammond, then Chesterton, and finally Crown Point. They went to the Dunes every summer to catch up with extended family and are still together.
Ray Smock’s friend Matthew Simek wrote:
Not only are Republicans -- especially but not limited to the president -- showing themselves to be a particularly paranoid lot, claiming everything is a plot by Democrats, but at the same time they are the most conspiratorial bunch of politicians I've ever seen. Their well-documented plotting session at The Monacle restaurant in Washington, DC, on the very day that Barack Obama was being sworn in as president, was clear evidence that "winning" was their only goal, even to the point of shutting down the government and threatening the U.S. global credit rating, among other despicable acts. Their admitted plot to block anything and everything the Obama Democrats would do in the next four years, regardless of the impact on their fellow Americans, was reprehensible. While the Democrats have clearly had their moments of shame, they have done nothing as conspiratorial and deceptive as the Republicans have done in the past three months, and continue to do each and every day. In spite of Republicans' cries of "Foul!" America's future will depend on returning to a state of respect and cooperation in our legislative processes. I am convinced that we cannot count on the exclusionary Republican party to lead in that effort.
Former House of Representatives historian Smock replied:
It is a shame that the Republican plotting against Obama in 2009 occurred at my favorite restaurant, the Monocle. This restaurant on D Street just behind the Senate Office Buildings is a favorite watering hole and dining place for members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, lobbyists, congressional staff, and even House and Senate historians. The food is OK. The service is excellent. Some of the waiters have been there for decades. They know their customers. It has a great advantage of location, location, location.
Ruth Westberg, front, middle
Barb Walczak’s latest bridge Newsletter noted that Ruth Westberg turned 90 and with partner Rosietta Brown finished first among east-west pairs at Community Bridge Club. Barb added: “Think of our nonagenarians – maybe it’s bridge keeping them young.”
Frank and Joan Shufran; photo by Jeff Manes
Post-Tribune columnist Jeff Manes interviewed bowling teammate Frank Shufran and wife Joan. Surprised to get the request, Frank suspected (correctly) that I had something to do with it. Here’s an excerpt of “Hobart couple find joy in rescue pets, quilting”:
Frank: In 1950, at age 18, I came to Gary. My family is from Philipsburg, Pa. My father was a coal miner. I didn't want no part of that.
Manes: So, you became a steelworker in Northwest Indiana.
Frank: That's right, U.S. Steel. I started out as a spark tester. I operated a little machine with a wheel on it. By looking at those sparks, you can tell what's in the steel. All the materials like chrome or carbon have different sparks. I did that for four years.
Joan: My father was his foreman.
Manes: Good move, Frank.
Frank: With two years' seniority, I was drafted into the Army.
Joan: My mother said I couldn't marry Frank unless he went to college.
Frank: When I got out of the service, I went to Valparaiso University.
Manes: Good move, Frank.
Frank: I worked in the mill during my summers while going to school. I ended up with an electrical engineer degree in 1959.
Manes: The year the White Sox won the pennant. Also the year steelworkers went on strike for 116 days.
Frank: I was still a bargaining unit employee at the time. No paycheck for nearly four months.
. . . .
Manes: What kind of dog is Sugar?
Frank: Jack Russell terrier, rat terrier and Chihuahua.
Joan: Frank has walked five miles a day at six in the morning since 1991 — rain, sleet or snow.
Frank: I also take Sugar for walks every day. We walk all over Hobart. Whichever way she wants to go, I follow her. Sugar's getting older now. Sometimes I have to carry her home.
French History scholar Jonathyne Briggs gave a talk at IUN’s Robin Hass Birky Women’s Center on theories of autism entitled “Smother Mothers.” Until the 1980s many French child psychologists blamed overprotective parents for having autistic children. The remedy, horrible as it sounds, was to institutionalize the offspring away from their destructive parents. Ten years ago, Jenny McCarthy published “Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds,” a controversial book that claimed it was possible to cure autism and lauded the benefits of a gluten-free and dairy-free diet and chelation therapy. Critic Shannon Des Roches Rosa wrote:
Autism Warrior Parents (AWPs) insist on supporting their autistic kids either by trying to cure them, or by imposing non-autistic-oriented goals on them — rather than by trying to understand how their kids are wired, and how that wiring affects their life experience. Ironically, an AWP’s choices not only interfere with their own kid’s happiness and security, but contribute to social biases that prevent autistic people of all ages from getting the supports they need. Worst of all, by publicly rejecting their own children’s autism and agency, and by tending to hog the autism spotlight, AWPs are partially responsible for the public’s tendency to sympathize with parents rather than autistic kids.
Teddy Roosevelt set impossibly high standards for his progeny. In addition to his own brother, two committed suicide and Ted, Jr., didn’t feel worthy of his name until he led troops onto Utah Beach during D-Day and then succumbed to a heart attack peacefully in his sleep. William J. Mann ends his impressive “The Wars of the Roosevelts” with a 1991 family reunion that included Franklin’s Hyde Park ancestors and the ancestors of Elliott Bulloch Roosevelt (Eleanor’s father) and his lover Katie Mann. William Mann wrote:
There was a striking lack of pretension and formality. Among the prominent names, there were also artists and writers and performers and musicians. Nonconformists were evidently now welcome among the sprawling Roosevelt clan. One grandson of Franklin and Eleanor’s dropped his pants to show off a new tattoo on his thigh. [Once shunned] Elliott and Kermit and Jimmie and Sadie and Dirck would have felt right at home. It was a very different world.