“The 19th of June wasn’t the exact day the Negro was freed. But that’s the day they told them that they was free… And my daddy told me that they whooped and hollered and bored holes in trees with augers and stopped it up with [gun] powder and light and that would be their blast for the celebration.” – Haye Turner, former slave
Texas Juneteenth celebration, 1900
Dating to June 19, 1865, Juneteenth is the celebration of slavery ending. On that day, Union soldiers under the command of Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, bearing the momentous news. Granger’s General Order Number 3 proclaimed: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves.” IUN poet Hollis Donald wrote: “It’s so hard to live in the land of liberty and not help but to desire to be free. Juneteenth is the celebration of the human spirit: a caged cat let free, a bird in flight, the opening of a can of hope, the drowning of ‘Can’t’ and what cannot be, and the freeing of the inner self and self-respect.”
above, Gary's first permanent building; below, City Methodist Church
Lake Effekt Summer Expo took place along Lake Street in Miller and featured entertainment by Mike and Buddy, Eve and Jordy, the Barb Silverman Trio, and Jef Sarver. Samuel A. Love, who just turned 40, had just completed the Gary downtown walking tour, including stops at the Gary Land Company Building and City Methodist Church. I ran into Corey Hagelberg and his parents Dick and Cheryl at the Calumet Artist Residency poetry display. At Ming Ling’s Jennifer Taylor was putting finishing touches on a mural.Bud Rosen waved from the beer garden, and Gene Ayers greeted me near the Miller Beach Arts and Creative District display, where the exact 2013 “Lake Effekt” t-shirt that I was wearing was now on sale for 5 bucks. It reminded me of a 1993 family visit to Sea World in Aurora, Ohio. Phil was about to pay $15 for a t-shirt when he spotted one featuring the orca Shamu and the year 1992 for five bucks. That’s the one he bought, noting that in time the year wouldn’t matter. Whenever I saw him wearing it, I’d go, “Shamu ’92.” We’d both laugh at the inside joke.
Tom, Yana, and Brady Wade
On Father’s Day Dave showed up for gaming, along with Tom and Brady Wade, back from St. Petersburg visiting Tom’s daughter Lyana and first Grandkid, Yana. I won the trifecta - Amun Re, Acquire and Macho Koro - thanks to an incredible bit of luck. In Macho Koro, for example, my only hope was to roll 4s with one die and I did it 3 times in 5 tries. I told Phil, who called, that I used what we call the “Phil Gambit” to eke out a victory in Amun Re by obtaining 3 of the 4 temples and having them each be worth 4 points due to players making large sacrifices. That’s what happened, for an improbable variety of reasons. When I told Phil he was a great dad, he replied, “I learned from you.” Nice. Dave’s family and Angie’s dad John arrived for a Chinese meal.
Dave, Becca and James
Phil's family on Father's Day
I visited Fred Chary, still pretty much in shock over son Michael’s sudden death. I brought up stories about Michael, but, taking a cue from him, talked mainly about inconsequential things. I refrained from saying what I once told IUN Arts and Sciences chairman John Kroepfl after the death of his daughter, only to have him break down in tears – that I hoped the time would come when he could recall memories with a smile instead of pain. In the 1970s Fred spent a year in Sofia, Bulgaria, doing research on the fate of Bulgarian Jews during World War II. During that time, Michael went to Ho Chi Minh School. What a great thing to be able to put on your résumé. After a New Year’s Eve party at Ron and Liz Cohen’s, we made an audiotape to send to the Charys that he never got. Fred speculated later that Bulgarian censors confiscated it, either because they thought it too ribald or perhaps contained hidden political messages.
At Burns Funeral Home in Hobart Michael’s brother David Chary greeted us with a hug. Not far from the open coffin were his mother Julie (in a wheelchair), Fred and Diane (seated) and Fred’s daughter Ella Rose. Former IUN colleagues of Fred Ron Cohen and Mike Certa were on hand, as well as many others looking to be either Michael’s or Fred and Diane’s friends. When Toni and I arrived home, I cracked open a Yuengling lager and put on Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son.”
IUN’s “Daily Redhawk” digest of media coverage mentioned my blog for the first time ever in connection with paragraphs on the history of IUN’s theater program. I had tried to have them post information about Michael Chary’s death and funeral arrangements but was told that was against policy. Interestingly, the blog was mainly about Michael Chary, so perhaps this was University Advancement’s way of getting around the policy. It was much appreciated.