Thursday, April 28, 2016

Moving to Miller


“A viable neighborhood is a community: and a viable community is made up of neighbors who cherish and protect what they have in common,” Wendell Berry

In the 1970s the entire IUN History faculty save for Dune Acres resident Jim Newman – John Haller, Fred Chary, Paul Kern, Rhiman Rotz and myself - moved to Gary’s Miller district, joining department founder Bill Neil and numerous other colleagues. including Jack Gruenenfelder (Philosophy), George Thoma (English), Abe Mizrahi (Math), Bill Reilly (Business), and Les Singer (Economics), to name just a few.  With many wealthy Millerites leaving for Munster and other suburbs in the wake of desegregation, houses became available at reasonable prices, even those near Lake Michigan.  African-American administrators such as Ernest Smith moved there, too.  Smith’s neighbors initially were not very friendly, perhaps worried about eroding property values about eroding property values, as was happening in Glen Park closer to campus.  In the spring of 1971 white liberals, including IUN’s Judy Eichhorn, formed the Miller Citizens Corporation (MCC) to encourage stability both by welcoming black families and discouraging panic selling.  The MCC set up a “hot line” to dispel false rumors and convinced the city government to ban “for sale” signs.

Post-Trib columnist Jeff Manes wrote about Angela McCrovitz, a Gary native who claims she was born in the same hospital on the same floor as Michael Jackson.  Her grandfather was the first owner of Flamingo’s Pizza.  Recently Angela returned from South Carolina to operate the Chart House restaurant in Miller. The building used to be a Catholic convent.  Angela said, “Our upstairs dining area is where the nuns slept in cots all in a row.”  Her place was once the Baker House, so Angela kept the statue out front but gave him an anchor, oar, lantern, and old keys.
Michalae Dunlap’s mother, LaVelva Burks-Gibson (above), came to Gary in 1966 by rail because her dad, David Burks, had taken a job with U.S. Steel.  Hers was one of the first African-American families to settle in Miller.  In a paper for Steve McShane’s Indiana History class Michalae wrote:   
Seven-year-old LaVelva started first grade at Norton Elementary, but within a year the family moved to Miller. This was a culture shock to young LaVelva, who recalled: “I was the only African-American student in the entire school.  I did not feel welcome.  I was bullied. It was the first time that I heard the n-word, and didn’t even know what that meant.  I went home and asked my mother Leatha and she cried. She told me that it meant an illiterate person that could not read or write. I went to school the next day and told them that I did know how to read and write. It did get better after that. However, people kept saying that I didn’t act like I was a Negro, whatever that meant.”
   In third grade, LaVelva recalled: “We had to reenact The Night Before Christmas. I was the mother in an interracial relationship. That was the first time that race was not an issue. It was like the barrier disappeared, only to resurface when African-Americans became more prevalent in the Miller area. I had found my niche and was comfortable with it.  I was the first African-American girl to wear an Afro.  It was curly and everybody wanted to touch my hair. It made me feel odd.”
  When Richard Hatcher ran for mayor of Gary in 1967, Leatha got her children to campaign as well. LaVelva held up signs and made posters that said, “Hatcher, Hatcher! He’s our man!”  
  LaVelva and her best friend Toni Holiday went shopping together and to the movies on weekends. They were like other girls - talking and laughing in between classes, having sleepovers, and spending time with other friends. Middle school was not all fun and games though.  LaVelva’s parents separated, and Leatha started worker as a caseworker and then a teacher. When LaVelva was in seventh grade, her dad was shot and killed during a robbery at his parents’ home in Bessemer, Alabama.
At Wirt High School LaVelva stayed away from cliques. A lot of times she found herself being the only African-American at social events. Some black students called her an Oreo and Uncle Tom.  She recalled: “I was the first African-American president of the Girls’ Athletic Association.  I did Y Teen, which was a group of African-American girls trying to make a difference. I was also involved in the African-American Club, and the French Club.  I worked the concession stand at football and basketball games. Homecoming was a big deal. We’d have the entire street decorated. We built floats. We hung posters in the store windows. We’d always lose, but the point was to have pride in your school no matter what.”
LaVelva (second from right) prom picture
  LaVelva’s senior year she was a cashier at Wilco Grocery. She recalled: “I’d walk to work, and the neighborhood dogs would all follow me. Then, when I got to the store, they’d turn around and walk back.”  LaVelva graduated from Wirt in 1977 and moved to Birmingham to attend Bessemer State Technical College. She lived with her grandmother Velva Green, and worked weekends at Princeton Medical Center to put herself through school. After graduating in 1980 with a Nursing degree, she moved back to Gary and worked at Methodist Hospital Northlake for over 30 years.
  In 1982 LaVelva’s mother got married to Elijah Ross.  LaVelva was maid of honor.  She and Leatha (above) wore matching suits and blouses with white flowers in their hair.  Leatha’s cousin Theuroux Barnes officiated.  Elijah treated LaVelva as if she was his own flesh and blood. 
 In 1993 LaVelva married Michael Dunlap. I came along two years later, and two years after that, my parents split up.  LaVelva began dating Remick Gibson. In December of 1998 my brother Tre’ Gibson came into the world.
  In 2012 LaVelva’s stepfather Elijah died.  He’d been battling heart issues and developed a cancerous tumor in his stomach.  A couple years later LaVelva left Methodist Hospital and started working at a methadone clinic in Gary.  She sees hundreds of people each week. Her job is to assist them in relapse prevention and help them eventually detox off the methadone. She said: “It’s definitely a new experience. There are no night shifts, so I always get off at the same time. Patients know each other. When you see them every day, you build relationships with them. You know them by name and they share things about their lives.”
It is clear that LaVelva Burks-Gibson is a Godly, intelligent force to be reckoned with. I was fortunate that God placed me with such an incredible woman.
Amy Miazga interviewed Curtis A. Remus, born on December 17, 1946. Fourteen years earlier, his grandparents, William and Orla Remus founded Remus Farms north of Route 6 and west of County Line Road.  Remus Farms supplied produce to Tittle’s Market on Route 20 in Miller and other area groceries.  Amy wrote:
The Remus family grew corn, wheat, oats, soybeans, hay, and several acres of fruits and vegetables on the 40-acre property.  William also raised draft horses and appeared in local parades. In 1970 he purchased a wooden sleigh, which transported children on rides around the property.
In 1946 Curtis’s father, William Remus, Jr., a pipe fitter, took over the farming operation.  He added flats of flowers, potted plants, and hanging baskets and went into the egg business.  Eggs were sold from refrigerators placed on the back of the hundred year-old farm house on Route 6.  If nobody was home, there was a till on the back porch for customers to pay and make change.  Starting with 300 poultry, in time over 10,000 chickens were laying approximately 7,500 eggs a day delivered to area groceries and restaurants. 
Curtis learned to pick corn by hand, drive a tractor and take care of pigs, chickens, geese, horses and cows before school.  In the summer he’d go with grandfather William to Michigan to pick up fruit and vegetables. On the way home they’d go door-to-door in Portage, Chesterton and East Gary saying, “The fruit man is here.” Payment was lunch at Home Haven on Route 6 and County Line Road, which his grandfather owned.
 After attending Indiana State, Curtis and brother Randy joined the family business.  A pipefitter like his father, Curtis farmed all day, slept a couple hours, and then went into the mill.  In 1970 the first of 22 greenhouses was built; by this time the amount of farmable land doubled.  Today Remus Farms has Indiana’s largest selection of rare perennials. The farmers market is open all year long.
Lewis Miazga, back row, fifth from left
In 1955 Amy’s dad, Lewis Miazga, was a third grader at Gary Emerson.  At the end of the school year his teacher Miss [Louise] Elisha took the class to her house at 2201 West 57th Avenue. They played games, went for a walk in the woods, and collected sticks, leaves, and wildflowers. A tunnel in the garage took them to the basement. They had a bonfire, snacks, and homemade pizza with all types of toppings.  Amy wrote:
My dad was in ROTC in high school.  In Emerson’s attic was a shooting range.  Cadets used to walk through the halls with loaded rifles on the way there.
After my dad got out of the service in 1968, he and my mom, who was from England and met him while he was stationed in Alaska, moved back to Gary.  They lived in a trailer near Miller on Route 20 for a year or so before moving to Benton Street in Gary and ultimately to Wheeler.
My dad worked in the mill before going into business as an electrician. At age 50 years he was re-wiring a house in Griffith and passed a house that he recognized. The mailbox said “Elisha.” My dad knew instantly it was the site of his third grade field trip.  That night with his full beard and long hair he rang the doorbell. Miss Elisha opened the door and said, “Lewis Miazga how have you been?” My dad said, “How did you know?”  She said it was his big browns eyes.       
Some years later, my grandpa was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and needed a hospital bed and wheelchair.  My Grandma saw an ad in the paper and set up an appointment to view the merchandise.  The owner was Miss Elisha, who had cared for her invalid mother and never married.  My dad paid another visit to Miss Elisha to pick up the bed and wheelchair.

The trailer park where Lewis Miazga lived 45 years ago was one of several located on Route 20 east of County Line Road that were convenient for steelworkers.  Gregory Nordyke’s interview with trailer park mom Joan Havlin appeared in my Portage Shavings (volume 20, 1991).   Havlin told Nordyke:
  When we moved to Ted’s east Town, they did not have a street; it was just an unpaved cut through.  It was like sand. Then they put in the street and a sidewalk and planted this tree in the yard.  We paid $25 a month for lot rent.  The trailer renters, we called them fly-by-nights.  They’d move out in the middle of the night; then we would see these pad-locked trailers.  We saw the manager set people out into the street.
The trailer park had various regulations, like 5-mile-an-hour speed limits.  You can work on your car, but you can’t leave it up on jacks. Kids are supposed to be inside when the lights come on.  No loud music after 10 p.m.  These were not really enforced that much.  Behind us they’d come home at 2 or 3 a.m. and turn up the music. You’d go ask them real nice to turn it down and they’d cuss you out.
        
At L.A. Nails a buffed, tattooed, bald, gentle Vietnamese immigrant cut my toenails and suggested I get a “pedi” next visit.  Home by 3 p.m., I watched “Girls” on HBO, much better this season than in recent years.  The amazing Lena Dunham eulogized Julia Louis-Dreyfus, star of Veep, in Time’s “Hundred Most Influential” issue.
The Lee Botts (above) documentary “Shifting Sands” debuted on Lakeshore TV, only the screen was black for the first 15 minutes.  That’s when I describe early Miller as a haven for fugitives, hermits, eccentrics, and nature lovers.  Writing about squatter Drusilla Carr in “Gary’s First Hundred Years” I noted that in 1872 she moved from Valparaiso to a Miller fishery to join her brother as a housekeeper and cook. Two years later she married Robert Carr and moved into a two-room pine cabin near the mouth of the Grand Calumet.  Her only neighbors were boat builder Allen Dutcher, a hunter-trapper of French and Indian descent named Jacques Beaubien, and a former slave known as Davy Crockett.  Corey Hagelberg and Kate Land have started a nonprofit venture called Calumet Artist Residency where practicing artists will be able to stay in a cabin next to their house atop a Miller Beach sand dune not far from where Drusilla Carr a century ago rented out cabins.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Global Warming


“Mother of us all
Place of our birth
We are all witness
To the rape of the world.”
Tracy Chapman, “The Rape of the World”

A two-day “Democracy Is in the Streets” conference at IUN organized by Raoul Contreras and Social Justice Club members LaSharn Barfield, Sharon Batiste, William Mabon, Alexandra Saucedo, Aneeb Mohideen, Teresa Augustine, and Ana Sparks focused on climate change.  Contreras and Rene Nunez, of the Political Action Caucus, asserted in a joint Welcome statement: “We join with thousands of others across the country in building a movement for social justice and against imperialism.” I attended a workshop moderated by Patricia Ann Hicks entitled “Global Climate Justice and Averting Global Climate Catastrophe.”  Most attendees tended to blame inaction on unvarnished capitalist greed.
Leading Republican Presidential contenders have belittled warnings by environmentalists of global warming.  Trump called the phenomenon a hoax, while Ted Cruz claimed that “ [these] alarmists are the equivalent of flat-Earthers.” He has it backward.  John Kasich said, “We don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that is not proven.”
 1957 Pine Barrens blaze
In a Rolling Stone article entitled “Apocalypse in the Garden State,” Kyle Dickman predicts that a devastating wildfire will occur within the 1.1 million-acre Pine Barrens of New Jersey.  The last out-of control blaze in 1963 stretched 190,000 acres from Long Beach Island to Atlantic City.  In “The Pine Barrens” John McPhee wrote: Since then, the population in the Pinelands has tripled while the forest has become even thicker. If a series of blazes starts on the right dry and windy day, it could take out a large chunk of the Jersey coastline. Yet despite the increasing danger, state officials can't do much to counter it.”

WXRT’s Saturday morning 1987 playlist included “Alex Chilton” by the Replacements, “It’s the End of the World” by R.E.M., “Sentimental Hygiene” by Warren Zevon (whom I saw twice at the Holiday Star), “Need You Tonight” by INXS (whom Dave and I witnessed open for Adam Ant), and “Only Love” by the BoDeans, whom I saw at VU. I have a BoDeans CD on heavy rotation, “Blend,” along with Eighties performers Steve Winwood, Steve Earle, Traveling Wilburys, and the Replacements.  The Regular Guy discussed my favorite movie comedy, “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles” and played Steve Martin as Neal telling John Candy (Del), “When you’re telling these little stories?  Here’s a good idea – have a POINT.”

In honor of native son Prince, Minnesota is about to make purple the state color.  Thousands of mourners have descended on his Paisley Place estate.  In “The Understanding” Sam Llanas and Kurt Neumann of the BoDeans lament: “The expectations that we’re painting/ they go from paisley to white.”
 above, Chuck Deggans; right, Eric Deggans
Ron Cohen heard NPR TV critic Eric Deggans speaking about Prince’s legacy on WBEZ and discovered that his father was Chuck Deggans, who wrote an entertainment column for over 50 years starting in 1961 called “Chuck Deggans’ Den” touching on black social life in Gary and the Region.  The column first appeared in INFO, then in Gary Crusader, for a while in the Post-Tribune (frequently featuring attractive women in swimsuits), and then again in the Crusader.   Deggans also hosted a jazz show on WGVE until shortly before his death of a massive stroke last year at age 82.  Press secretary for Richard Hatcher when he first ran for mayor in 1967, Deggans assembled supporters who called themselves the Hatcherettes.  In “City of the Century” I wrote that he also “organized a zealous band of canvassers called the ‘Shock Troops.’”
 
In the H. Theo Tatum collection at IUN’s Calumet Regional Archives are issues of INFO from March 1968, when Gary Roosevelt won the IHSAA basketball championship.  The “Deggans’ Den” column for March 14 included photos of Bea “Cookie” Hicks, former Roosevelt cheerleader and secretary of the Roosevelt Alumni Association, and East Chicagoan Pam Cody, door-prize winner and proficient “Four Corners” line dancer during SOUL-STIRRER night at Gary’s Club Woodlawn.


The HBO movie “Confirmation” about Anita Hill’s appearance during the 1991 Clarence Thomas Senate hearings was quite riveting.  A reluctant witness, Hill was treated shabbily by the all-male committee.  Her testimony left little doubt but that Thomas harassed her while head of the EEOC.  On the other hand, televising the salacious testimony was a disservice to all involved and unimaginable had the disputants been white.  Republicans found shrinks to imply that Hill might have had erotic fantasies about her once-boss.  Alison Wright, so good as Martha in “The Americans,” played the wife of Clarence Thomas.  Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post wrote: “If ‘Confirmation’ is the story of how Hill lost the short-term battle over Clarence Thomas’s nomination but helped win the long war for women’s equality, it’s also the story of how Virginia Thomas entered a particular and inextricable circle of wifely Hell.”

A chapter called “Party Bus” in “Once in a Great City” by David Maraniss describes a well-stocked (with booze and, sometimes, broads) “Party Bus” traveling dice and poker games took place.  Detroit Lions star defensive lineman Alex Karras once came back to Detroit from a game in Cleveland on it. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle suspended the Gary native one year for betting on football games (something quite common at the time but only Karras and Paul Hornung were punished).  Rozelle also demanded that Karras cease being a part-owner of the LIndell A.C., where he placed the bets.  The Lindell was a popular watering hole for professional athletes, such as Yankees Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin when they were in town.  On the wall, in addition to jerseys of local heroes like Al Kaline, Gordie Howe, and Dick “Night Train” Lane, was Lions linebacker Wayne Walker’s jockstrap.  Describing Karras as 260 pounds of irascibility, Maraniss wrote: “Karras was a born grappler and actor whose mayhem inspired one of the Lindell’s famous brawls when he and William Fritz Afflis, aka Dick the Bruiser, commenced demolition on each other and the establishment.”  Karras wrestled professionally during off-seasons when barred from the gridiron.
 John Butsicaris in 1997

Opened by Meleti Butsicaris at a different location in 1949, the Lindell A.C. remained a Detroit watering hole until 2009, managed most of that time by the patriarch’s sons Jimmy and John Butsicaris, friends of fellow-Greek Karras, to whom he was very loyal. Reporter Bill Dow called Lindell’s one of America’s first sports bars and Detroit’s version of Toots Shor’s in New York.  Dow wrote: This was the place where Detroit Tiger players squeezed behind the bar and gave out free drinks to customers on the raucous evening the team clinched the 1968 pennant.”  Karras played Jimmy Butsicaris in the made-for TV movie “Jimmy B and Andre” (1980) about a bar owner adopting a ghetto kid.  Jimmy Butsicaris played himself in “One in a Million: The Ron Leflore Story” which dramatized, according to Dow, “how Butsicaris convinced then Tiger manager Billy Martin to give Jackson Prison inmate and future All Star Leflore a baseball tryout.”

The Hobart Area Band formerly known as Rusty Pipes put on a rousing concert.  Our friend Dick Hagelberg played French horn; IUN student Karl Lugar and Religious Studies professor Rick Busse played trombone; attorney Don Evans and friend Patricia Heckler were in the coronet/trumpet section, as was Communication professor Eve Bottando’s father James, who dressed as a clown for “Screamers,” a circus march medley.  86 year-old former Lake Central band director Doug Jordan conducted his original composition “March for Reeds.”  Director Susan Williams dedicated Michael Kamen’s “Band of Brothers” to veterans and recently deceased Gene Beckner and Nic Holzmer.  Both played with Rusty Pipes into their nineties.  My favorite selection, “Big Band Classics,” featured “Tuxedo Junction,” “Serenade in Blue,” and “In the Mood.”

NWI Times Business Marketing columnist Larry Galler suggested that merchants and professionals create emotional bonds by doing unexpected things - what he termed “special sauce” - to build long-lasting customer relationships.  Examples include car salesmen sending a card to celebrate an automobile’s birthday or – something dentist John Sikora does – phoning patients the evening after seeing them.  I’ve developed an emotional bond with Dr. Sikora, an IU grad who grew up in Glen Park and is a Cubs fan.
Marc Chase’s NWI Times “Forum” column pointed out that Lake County Circuit judge George Paras, up for re-election against Marissa McDermott (above), has several relatives of county officials on his payroll, including the wife of Lake County auditor John Petalas and the sons of Councilwoman Margaret Uzelac and politically connected Jewell Harris.  Marissa McDermott, wife of Hammond’s mayor, has her own political baggage but is a bright, highly respected attorney and my choice (if I could vote in Lake County) for circuit judge.  Sexist Paras supporters are telling voters the contest is not for beauty queen.

Geosciences professor Zoran Kilibarda, recipient of IUN’s Distinguished Scholarship Award, lectured on “Unconformities of Geology” in a manner understandable to laymen like me.  Vice Chancellor Mark McPhail stated that Zoran was a former soccer player, chess champion, gourmet cook, and, in short, a modern Renaissance Man.  Kilibarda quipped that he took up chess for intellectual stimulation while working as a tour guide in Alaska.  He has undertaken research projects in the former Yugoslavia and America, most recently in the Lake Michigan dunelands.  He joked that the audience of several dozen was twice the number that turned out for previous recipient Iztok Hozo and fielded questions from Eve Bottando, Gianluca Di Muzio, Pat Bankston, Matthew Benus, and Kristin Huysken.   In response to one of mine, he noted that since state and national parks forbade digging or taking samples, generally he and his students can find similar terrain not far from those sites. Modern geosciences, I learned, began at Siccor Point in Scotland with James Hutton (1726-1797), who explained the Earth’s crust as the result of natural processes having evolved over billions of years.

On the cover of Time’s  “Hundred most influential People” issue is singer Nicki Minaj.  WTF? Bernie Sanders topped a readers’ poll followed by the k-pop hip hop South Korean quintet BIGBANG featuring G-Dragon, T.O.P., Daesung, Taeyang, and Seungri.  Joel Stein’s humor column listed the 100 most influential animals, led by Cecil the lion (shot by a Minnesota dentist, sparking worldwide outrage) and the bull orca Tilikum (whose mistreatment after drowning trainer Dawn Brancheau led to SeaWorld agreeing to end the captive breeding of killer whales).
Miller beach photos by Donald Metcalfe taken by drone

Friday, April 22, 2016

Arts and Sciences


“To develop a complete mind: study the science of art; study the art of science.  Learn how to see.  Realize that everything connects to everything else.” Leonardo Da Vinci (below)

At the annual Arts and Sciences awards banquet History Department chair Jonathyne Briggs announced the winners of the Paul Louis Urcan and Rhiman Rotz memorial scholarships, Rachel Siska and Matthew Eddy.  Urcan was a student a half-century ago who died in an accident; Professor Rotz was a popular medievalist and adviser both to pre-law students and the Muslim Student Association.  When I was chair, an Urcan winner who had taken several courses from me expressed an interest in obtaining my Gary history, “City of the Century.”  I had a spare copy, but the jacket was torn so I removed it and decided to present it to him at the awards ceremony.  Sitting on the stage I noticed that my fingers were black due to mildew in my office that had adversely affected over the years.

Briggs invited me to a class on the AIDS epidemic.  I demurred.  Performing Arts professor Mark Baer said that when he brought up AIDS in a recent class, he teared up.  As I neared retirement, I remarked, it became harder to hold in my emotions.  “I guess I’m getting old,” replied Baer, my sons’ age and father of a pre-schooler.

For a class assignment Melissa Cundiff wrote about her grandmother, Betty Parker, born in 1954 and raised in Chesterton:
Betty lived in a two-bedroom house with 9 brothers and sisters.  Neighbors helped out with meals, and friends from school would give Betty outgrown clothes.  Betty was often in charge of her younger brothers.  Betty got married at 19 and was planning a move to Chicago when she learned that she was pregnant.  She stayed close to home so her parents could help take care of JoAnn (my mother).  Betty eventually became a stay-at-home mother; her husband was a steelworker.  When Chesterton started the Wizard of Oz Festival, she sold homemade items at a craft booth, eventually expanding to the Valparaiso Popcorn Festival and Whiting’s Pierogi Fest.

 Desiree Davis’s father was born in 1970 at St. Catherine’s in East Chicago and grew up in Hammond.  A born storyteller, Bill Davis told Desiree about his life:
My father, Bill Davis, Sr., was a sharp dresser whom my mother, Judy Park, couldn’t resist.  They experienced early intercourse.  The crazy thing is that, as a practical joke, Judy’s brother George had poked a hole in the condom with a sewing needle and that’s how I got here.  My mother got kicked out of her house and quit school.  After two years Bill and Judy decided to split.  Judy’s second husband was abusive, and more than once we entered a shelter for battered wives to get out of harms way. To see our home be taken away just shattered my heart. My mother has since made good changes in her life and has given herself to the Lord.
My grandparents loved me to death. They were separated and lived their own lives but always had time for me.  My grandfather was a jazzy type of guy, handsome, tall, and proud of his Romanian ancestry.  My sister Kristie Lyll (above, with Judy and Bill) is five years younger than me, and we spent a lot of time at roller rinks, throwing frisbees, fishing, and playing hacky sac.  One time I was on the phone, and she kept blowing a clarinet in my ear.  When she wouldn’t stop, I flexed at her with my foot, pretending like I was going to kick her. I accidentally connected with the clarinet, and she had to get stitches in the back of the throat.  My mom called me every name in the book.
Living in public housing in Hammond’s Columbia Center, I’d bounce around on my waterbed until my mother would yell for me to stop before it popped. I’d wait in line for government milk, cheese, fruit, cereal, and oatmeal. We got winter jackets through the Salvation Army.  My duties around the house were to clean my bedroom, do dishes, and vacuum. My mother eventually taught me how to cook.  We went camping and did a lot of fishing.   I was cleaning fish at age 10.  We’d go door-to-door Christmas caroling, and with that money I’d buy my mom and girlfriend presents.  I’d shovel driveways for extra money.   In Little League I once hit a ball that broke a window of Madvek’s Dog House.  My coach paid me five bucks for a home run, and I once went home with ten bucks in my pocket, feeling like a millionaire.
  At Hammond Gavit I excelled in football.  Against Hammond High on September 4, 1987, I had my leg messed up so bad the doctors wanted to amputate.  Multiple surgeries later experts predicted that I’d be in a wheelchair my whole life.  After three years of physical therapy, I proved them wrong.  Friends pushed me to school in a wheelchair or I’d wheel myself.  Without a big support group I’d have lost my mind.  My friends were everything to me. We were all like a big family. We played a little poker and drank some alcohol. We had good parties.  My best friend, Glen Sheetz, loved the band Kiss, and we saw them live; it was the best concert I’ve ever been to.
I had my first date at 13; my dad picked me up and Tanya Huff and took us to Shakey’s, an all-you-can-eat pizza joint. They’d play old “Three Stooges” films.  It was pretty cool; dad sat away from us with a pitcher of beer.  Another time my friend’s mom gave us a ride on a double date to see “Footloose.”  My mom had the birds and bees conversation early considering she’d had me at 16. The main rule was, if you had sex, wear a condom. I remember crying to my mom the first time I had sex.  I was scared that I had gotten the girl pregnant.  Although I wore a condom, her period was late. I worried that it had a hole in it because that’s how I came into this world.
After school I was a stocker, did a lot of dishwashing, worked for Stanley carpet cleaning company, and in the city of Hammond’s recycling, street, and sanitation departments before moving on to jobs with Ford Motors, first in an assembly plant and then in its Chicago Stamping plant.  I met my wife at a dance.  After living together for 3 years, we bought a house and got married.  The birth of my children was the most beautiful experience of my life.  We took them to Disney World, went camping and took vacations to Indiana Beach.
 Bill and Desiree
IUN’s Supervisor of Grounds Timothy Johnson came across a dead wild turkey that apparently flew into Marram Hall.  IUN biologist Spencer Cortwright reported:
  With warmer weather it seems as though life suddenly abounds.  One of the great conservation successes in Indiana is the great increase in number of wild turkey.   Wild turkey lost their footing in Indiana due to overhunting and forest decline.  Once these factors were controlled, in the 1980's primarily, Indiana Department of Natural Resources began an effort to jumpstart turkey populations.  Partial funding came from the optional donation line for non-game wildlife of our tax forms.  DNR biologists would capture 3 grouse (which were doing better in Indiana) and give them to Missouri (not doing so well there).  In exchange, Indiana DNR received 2 turkeys caught in Missouri. The population jumpstart worked!  Now it is common for any of us to see turkeys in the woods, farm fields, roadsides, etc.  It's worked so well, turkey are again considered game and there is a legal hunting season.
Participating in a session on “Queer Attachments” at a University of Pennsylvania Humanities Forum were (from left) Kadji Amin, Durba Mi, Anne Balay, and Heather Love.  Amin, a Penn postdoctoral fellow who organized the session, likes to think of himself as a visitor from a distant time.  He looked the part.

After losing big to Donald Trump in the New York primary, Ted Cruz claimed: America’s always been best when she is lying down with her back on the mat and the crowd has given the final count.”  What’s really creepy is that he read the statement off a teleprompter.

Chancellor Bill Lowe, whose academic field is Irish history, came to the department’s “Meet and Greet” open house.  Discussing Ireland’s World War II policy of neutrality, he mentioned that President Éamon de Valera created a political storm and drew British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s wrath when, hearing of Adolf Hitler’s death, he visited to the German ministry in Dublin to offer condolences, in accordance to diplomatic protocol.

At the twelfth annual COAS conference Chris Young chaired a session on “Digitizing he Past.”  Three of his students mapped Lincoln’s funeral train (Karl Lugar), the life of William Henry Harrison ((Leanne Wieczorek) and War of 1812 battlefields ((Michael Litwiller).  Yaryn Grin used Google Books N-Gram to chart the frequency of publications about the Battle of Shiloh.  Interest spiked immediately after the war, upon the death of U.S. Grant coincident the release of his memoirs, at the outbreak of WWI and WWII, and in 1962, the centennial anniversary of the bloody Civil War engagement. 
 Michigan City dignitaries await Lincoln funeral train
According to Karl Lugar, Lincoln’s funeral train traveled 1,654 miles through 180 cities in 14 days.  Folks waited 12 hours to view the casket, set bonfires, and erected ornate wreaths above the tracks.  On the train were Lincoln’s eldest son Robert and the disinterred coffin of son Willie, who had died of typhoid fever in 1862.  In Michigan City, due to a delay in Chicago officials arriving for the next leg of the journey, Lincoln’s casket was opened and viewed by local dignitaries. Historian E.D. Daniels wrote that young girls dressed in a long black skirts placed a floral cross prepared by Harriet Colfax onto Lincoln’s casket.  According to Ken Schoon, Colfax lived in the Michigan City lighthouse and lit the tower lanterns every night for a yearly salary of $350.

11:30 COAS session highlights included Jessica Korman speaking on “Augustus Was a Religious Syncretist!” (one who merged or blended different religious beliefs into a new system), Lana Murher on “Ethnic Discord during the Umayyad Emirate of Islamic Spain” (the Umayyad dynasty dominated Spain for two centuries beginning in 756), and a recitation of the Hollis Donald poem “Dr. Martin Luther King – Was the Real Soul Thing.”
Following a 6 p.m. reception came a world premier screening of “Shifting Sands on the Path to Sustainability” with introductory remarks by director Lee Botts, Carolyn Saxton of Legacy Foundation, Superintendent Paul Labovitz of the National park Service, and James Muhammad of Lakeshore TV.  The Savannah Auditorium was nearly full (As Ken Schoon, has pointed out, the correct spelling should be “savanna” since it is named for rolling grassland). At a second showing the sound went off for a few seconds.  Schoon, sitting behind me, repeated the exact words.  Film producer Pat Wisniewski, an IUN grad, thanked Steve McShane and the Calumet Regional Archives as well as professors she interviewed, including Schoon, Peter Avis, Mark Reshkin, and myself.  Kristin Huysken, one of her favorite professors, congratulated her for a job well done.
At VU’s “Thursday Night Noir” an overflow crowd, including old friends Larry and Bobbie Galler and IUN retirees Rick Hug and Joan Wolter, watched “Touch of Evil” (1958).  I thoroughly enjoyed its exposure of racism against Mexicans and sexy Marlene Dietrich delivering an existential epitaph for Hank Quinlan (Orson Wells), in her words, a great detective but a lousy, crooked cop: “He was some kind of man.  What does it matter what you say about people?” Janet Leigh plays a horny newlywed kidnapped by villains who drugged and, it’s strongly hinted at, raped her.  Peter Aglinskas introduced me to Asher Yates, a former Hollywood sound editor and EMMY winner for the NBC made-for-TV movie “The Executioner’s Song,” starring Tommy Lee Jones and based on Norman Mailer’s psychological examination of murderer Gary Gilmore.   The last movie he worked on was the acclaimed “Last of the Mohicans” (1992).

In the news: Prince dead at age 57; the White House glowed purple in his honor. Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta pitched a no-hitter and the Black Hawks stayed alive in their series with St. Louis with a Patrick Kane wraparound goal in the second overtime well past midnight.