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Posts Tagged ‘Calumet High School’

Brown County decided to give the kids the day off , from school, for Martin Luther King, Jr., day.  Apparently, we have not used up our snow day allotment, so JCountry is sound asleep, where he prefers to be at 10 a.m.  He is one of those kids who does well on the two-hour delay days, but not so well when he has to catch a bus at 7:30 a.m.

Not to give away my age or anything, but I was a teen in the 60s.  I still have a copy of my letter from President Eisenhower in response to my complaint that it is just stupid that people hated other people because of the color of their skin and he needed to do something about it.  I’m sure I was very polite though, as children of the 50′s were always very polite.  Sometimes, overly polite, like Eddie Haskell polite.  And, if you don’t know who Eddie Haskell is, well, I guess you weren’t there. 

I attended a fairly large school, address Gary, Indiana, called Calumet High School.  I do not know what the facts or figures are, but it ranged from Doctor’s children to children who barely had a home.  It also had a good number of African Americans and Latinos.  This is unlike the school JCountry attends, which (I am guessing here) has less than five non-Anglos in attendance.

My lab partner was an African American girl and I will never forget the day I sat down at our lab table and looked over to see her, head on crossed arms, crying.  That was the first I knew that we were going to have riots.  She told me that some of the kids hated her because she was black.  I was appalled.  I mean, out of all the things in life that you have a choice of, the color of your skin is not one of them.  I comforted her, as best as someone who has not walked in her skin could.

At lunch, I was hit and yelled at by a black student, who I did not know.  By the time we went home on the bus, school was closed.  I think we had three days off to let things settle down and probably let the teacher’s regroup.

I have never understood how people can hold so much hate in their hearts as to hate another person for such a dumb reason.  Nor, how the same people who honor and revere someone like Michael Jordan, can turn around and hate everyone else whose skin is darker than theirs.  

This blog post does not circle back around to the opening.  It has no answers for the question.  I wish I did.  I have learned though, that you cannot change people’s minds much.  If they want to hate someone because they are black, they will.  If they want to hate their President, they will.  If they want to believe every stupid rumor they will.  I just wonder — what can make a person learn to think for themselves and not believe every stupid rumor they hear, no matter how illogical it is.

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Just for the heck of it I did a search on “Da Region.”  For those of you not in the know, “Da Region” is where I grew up.  It is noted for steel mills, brown skies, people who literally spend their whole lives without leaving a few block area, and one of the most beautiful parks in the country; the Dunes State Park.

“Da Region” meaning The Region, is what it would be, and was, called on late night talk shows.  It depicts our supposed accent; which I obviously do not hear in myself but surprisingly can hear on my husband.  He grew up in Hessville/Hammond, and thus worked in the mills and breathed in much more brown air, than I did, who grew up in Calumet Township where I thought I lived in the country; because it was termed “semi-rural.”

Apparently we speak the Inland North Dialect, whereas the rest of Indiana speaks the Midland dialect.  All I know is that south of Indy, people speak a southern dialect that has been known to drive northern people to pull their hair out. 

 The Region is actually a huge area and you can find it on Wikipedia.  Northwest Indiana – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia  Thus proving that almost everything is on Wikipedia.  Gary is the largest city in The Region.

We lived in Calumet Township.  I attended and graduated from Calumet High School.  My father build our house on Ross Road and our address was Gary but, when we traveled on vacation, my father would not allow me to tell people I came from Gary.  My father, sweet man that he was, was also an insecure bigot.   It was odd though having a city address, when we lived semi-rural.  There was farm land in back of us (much to my mother’s chagrin as farm land means plowing and plowing means dust).  The half acre lots on each side of us were vacant, so that was even less like being in a town type setting. 

Anyway, The Region is also called The Calumet Region and is Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton and Jasper Counties in Indiana.  It neighbors Lake Michigan and is actually part of the Chicago Metropolitan Area.  I am not sure how they consider Crown Point to be a Chicago suburb, but they do.  I believe, at this point, it is all city from Chicago out to Valparaiso.

The heavy industry of the area provided jobs, which brought relatives who could not get a job where they were, and populated the area.  Steel mills and oil refinerys fill the landscape with depressing steel buildings and nose holding smells all along Burns Harbor and East Chicago to Gary and Portage.  I rarely saw them.  My father worked in East Chicago, at Combustion Engineering but his philosophy about travel to Chicago was, “I never lost anything there, so whey should I go get it.” 

Okay, he was not real big on logic either.  Other than an occasional school trip, I did not spend any time in Chicago, only thirty miles from my home, until I was grown.  Then, I fell in love with the city and worked for approximately twelve years there, and went to five years of college there.  I’m a woodland girl, at heart, but really do love Chicago.

And, I really love the Dunes State Park.  But, that’s for another blog, as is the reason I started to write this one and got rather sidetracked.  That is:  going back or finding one’s youth again through high school friends, or not.  I have not written it so I have no idea where I am going.  What’s new?

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There was a time when:

 

My mother was dating a young man with Mexican heritage and her mother and his mother had such a fit, that they had to stop dating.

 

I remember having a huge crush on an African American boy in high school and having my mother tell me that, while she had no objection to me dating him, my father would possibly disown me.

 

I remember dating a boy with Mexican heritage and, my father about disowned me when he found out.

 

I remember race riots in my high school in the sixties and trying to comfort my lab partner, who was African American.  I asked her what was wrong, the first morning, before I knew what was going on.  She was sitting at our table, head down, crying.  She said that she was afraid whites would hate her for what was going on.  A day later, I was struck a vicious blow, while I was in line in the cafeteria.  I did not hate my lab partner.  However, I wasn’t too fond of the girl who hit me.

 

I know this day will not stop all bigotry.  I know too many people who judge others by the color of their skin, but today, anything seems possible. 

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As my reader’s know, I love my Cloud Tags and my search criteria.  Today, I’m really wondering about the people who have been searching for “David VanVleck” lately. I personally have known two David VanVleck’s. One was a cousin and one was my brother.

My brother passed away in 1990, at age 46. He attended Calumet High School in Indiana and was in the band with Mr. Barberi, a fantastic band director. David played a clarinet in Jazz band. He was in the Air Force and, when he left the service, He worked in Illinois and Indiana as a phlebotomist. He and his wife had three children.

He was a wonderful guy, with a passion for music and books, Boy Scouts, nature and camping. He also loved computers and had a MENSA IQ.

David died of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and, if you are searching him because you knew my brother, David VanVleck and this David VanVleck, I would so love to hear how you knew him, how you remember him.  I miss him every day.

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