This is all commentaries on WVPE including Friday's Michiana Chronicles Feature and occasional one-time contributors.

Peter Barritt / Superstock, via Alamy

Trying to figure things out has been an expression of my essential optimism, it seems to me, over the course of my lifetime. “Recognize problems, solve them, and make things better” makes sense to me, as easy to understand as picking up after myself.


I’m a child of the Enlightenment, I suppose, a believer in logic and evidence and reason, and like my parents and grandparents, progress, social progress, that will make the world a better place than it was for me for our children and our grandchildren.


Heather Curlee-Novak

The worst job I ever had was also the most useful job I ever had.  I’ve always enjoyed talking to people. My ability to engage and connect makes me a natural for any customer focused sales position.  My acting chops and outgoing, upbeat personality led me many different places to train and be trained for sales and customer service over the decades. For two months, that one time, it was on a Used Car Lot.  I learned some things on the car lot which are helpful to remember when buying a car. I have used my car lot life lessons to sharpen many sales teams in a variety of industries!

Andrew Kreider

For years, I have wanted to own a jukebox.  You know, one of those rounded, neon-lit rocket ships with names like Wurlitzer.  Or perhaps a glass-topped record machine like the one that the Fonz knows just how to hit on Happy Days.  Something modest, bright and cheerful. 

Michiana Chronicles: COVID intermission continued

Sep 23, 2021

Having moseyed down U.S. Highway 1 to Key West in June, we took a respite at home to see if we were infected by any of the unvaccinated and unmasked in the southerly climes. Finding ourselves safe, thanks to our vaccination and mask-wearing, in late July we decided to venture to the other end of the spectrum, U.S. Highway 1 in Maine.

Brett McNeil

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Michianapolis, Michiana, my Indiana home, here on the banks of the Saint I Ain’t River.

I ran into a station honcho this summer who asked why these Michiana Chronicles essays can’t sound more like Lake Wobegon. That got me thinking. I remember that old hokum. I follow the horseshoe scores in the Mishawaka Enterprise. Let’s do it. Let’s serve up some rhubarb pie.

Ken Smith

This is April Lidinsky.

And I am Debra Stanley.

April: thank you so much for making time to have a conversation with me. It’s always wonderful to be with you, and, you know, you just have my deep respect for all the public health conversations you’ve had, around HIV/AIDS, around sexuality in our community, and other topics, as well. I consider it my great good fortune to have watched you teach a sexuality education course to high schoolers, and to see how you have a real genius, I think, for reaching people where they are. 

Ken Smith

In the sunlight on the other side of the kitchen window, a sly, smile-shaped curve of youthful green caught my eye. I looked closer and saw that this green smile was the right flank of the long rear body segment of a barely stirring praying mantis. At the other end, two antennae swung slowly through space from its triangular head which was topped on the outer edges with those remarkable green bulging eyes. Deep inside each of those green bulges a black spot, sometimes in mesmerizing motion, indicated where the creature was directing its gaze. 


Michiana Chronicles: The Translator's Village

Aug 26, 2021
Emily T. Philips

For Israeli translation scholar Gideon Toury, translation is both an act and an event. It is both a process that requires a wide range of creative, research, interpretive, linguistic, and cultural skills as well as a singular event emerging at a particular moment in time, within specific social and economic contexts. As such, translation, as a process and as an event, contributes to establishing, reinforcing, questioning, or subverting imbalances of power. 

Sid Shroyer

“They moved the entire church brick by brick and only cracked one.” That’s what Lucinda Holderman told me Monday morning on the phone when I was making arrangements to attend the Somerset Lions Club meeting that evening after work. 

Michiana Chronicles: Luke, Lightning And The Antichrist

Aug 12, 2021
Andrew Kreider

My first summer in Michiana, I was part of a group of students who joined a painting business.  Our boss, Luke, a fellow student, was a brilliant entrepreneur who combined possibly excessive thriftiness with student desperation in order to mold a successful enterprise.  It was quite a time.

Brett McNeil

We hit the St. Joe 4-H Fair and did the local bike parade and caught twilight fireworks at the ballpark the night before. The Fourth was a real red-white-and-blue holiday again this year, especially the magnetometers outside the fair. Very Americana.

It was all pretty good fun, especially with a three-year-old, but carried a whiff of the rote and clumsy in our flag-waving and elephant ear-eating, the solemn trotting and urgent smartphone-videotaping of Budweiser Clydesdales. 

Was it a relief to return to a crowd? To celebrate the Fourth in public? 

Heather Curlee-Novak

Friends, I have a confession to make:  I am not just your average stay at home mama.

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

Like wildebeests out of the cage, after the last homebound year and a half, it was road trip time. Although a curious thing was that that road trip became a wildebeest trip. Unlike my friend, Rosemary, who literally will go to the ends of the earth to see exotic animals, I’m not the biggest animal fan in the universe, so it seemed odd that after 18 months of going almost nowhere, I went over 3500 miles to look at a lot of animals. Having not gotten out much, I clearly was desperate to go somewhere—anywhere!

Ken Smith

Once violets and vaccines had bloomed across the Midwest, we gassed up the orange hatchback and headed east, then west, and then south, putting more than 4000 miles on the odometer, reminding ourselves what North America looks like these days. and visiting family members we hadn’t seen for more than a year. Near the end, in the heat wave, our sturdy little car’s air conditioner wavered and then broke down crossing Iowa, but our adventure was a success.

April Lidinsky

In May, the New Yorker magazine featured a cover of little cartoon people tentatively opening a gigantic door. It was easy to imagine the creaking sound that captures our collective anxiety and hope about this season of emergence. Hasn’t it been weird, worrying, and sometimes wonderful? 


Michiana Chronicles: The Willful And The Chosen

Jul 1, 2021
Emily T. Phillips

I have often been asked and I have never failed to disappoint. No, I am not worried for my father’s soul. Those who eclipse themselves after decades of battling feelings of inadequacy and unbelonging have duly earned their eternal spots in the Sun, don’t you think? If indeed there is a life after death, they deserve to be granted their own visions of imperishable joy.

Dear Reunion Organizer:

Michiana Chronicles: Dance Season

Jun 17, 2021
Andrew Kreider

It’s dance season.  I’m pushing a broom across the floor, collecting an impressive pile of bobby pins, sequins and orange and green feathers.  I like to think we have two seasons of dance in our theater.  Spring dance is filled with feathers and fuzz.  Winter dance has an endless supply of snowflakes.  Either way, the detritus has a way of hanging on long after the dancers have departed.

Heather Curlee-Novak

Last week I dreamt that I awoke to a snow-covered yard.  I know, it is now June and these fears should be far behind me, but the seasons have been discombobulated. We need to admit snow in June might not be completely off the table.

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

Come spring they say that a young man’s fancy turns to love. But for this old Kentucky girl, spring is time to strap on big Partisan boots for the excitement of the season. First thought when envisioning Partisan boots are those very cool-looking, fold-down, pirate-type boots. While fun-looking, they are the wrong Partisan boots for my interest. The boots required for my spring fancy are those very handsome riding boots, because it’s the new season for horse racing, particularly the Kentucky Derby.

Brett McNeil

The masks are off, the summer travel season is set to sizzle and consumer spending is back with a capital B, baby!

Unless it’s not, and gas hoarding and inflation-panic are ill, stagflating headwinds. 

Portentiously, we continue tempting the fates, tampering with the labor pool, paying people to stay home and out of the workforce. The Chamber of Commerce would like to remind everyone: Get Back to Work.

It’s weird out there. Especially in a nation where our truest function is not as citizen or human or even human capital but as discretionary spender.

Michiana Chronicles: Reduced Circumstances

May 20, 2021
Ken Smith

Over the years I grew tired of the not always faster Interstate highway route to see family on the west side of Saint Louis. On I-80 around Chicago, the Slinky-style traffic would have me in the driver’s seat shivering and levitating with frustration.Then there’s the lulling boredom of I-55, where one Illinois mile undulates as mildly and blandly as the next.

Ken Smith

This is April Lidinsky 

And this is Des Harris 

Michiana Chronicles: Enjoy The Silence

May 6, 2021
Katie Gotfried

When I was in my mid teen years, I volunteered at our school library, helping to reshelf books. I would go in after school and push the squeaky wheeled cart through the rows of books. The librarian could hear the wheels squeak and stop as I snaked my way through the stacks. The cart would go silent for long periods of time. In retrospect, I was probably one of the most unproductive volunteers the library had. Books had a way of distracting me.

Photo provided by Sid Shroyer

I’m writing my new grandson a letter. 

Andrew Kreider

This last week I was finally let go from my job – not my regular 9 to 5 you understand, but from my side gig - as a personal shopper.   It was always for a very select clientele, mind you – just my parents-in-law and my mother.  But I did get to do it for an entire year.

Heather Curlee-Novak

My husband says he is a grumpy old man even though he is not old! He is a little bit of a cynic. While his loyalty runs deep to work, friends and of course, darling me, he rarely feels safe meeting new people.  He’s seen enough human behavior to know he wants to choose carefully how he spends his heart and time. I on the other hand, am the Five Year Old. He likens me to that freckled girl in pigtails of my youth standing in the front yard addressing everyone passing by with “Hi!  I’m Heather! Wanna be friends?!?”  He’s not wrong.  I find people fascinating.

Elmer Street: The Northside

Apr 14, 2021
Photo provided by Karl Smith, Logo by Tiana Batiste Waddell

WVPE's Karl Smith steps out of his usual role as host and producer of shows that focus on music and the arts to look at a piece of South Bend's secret history.  It's a program based in part on the book Better Homes of South Bend along with personal recollections from Karl's family and friends.


Brett McNeil

This time last year, we were still Cloroxing Costco boxes and quarantining groceries in the garage. 


Don’t laugh. 


My wife returned from one Meier trip dressed like an extra from Lawrence of Arabia -- layer atop protective layer, scarf on mask, hands triple-gloved. 


She disrobed complicatedly and straight into the washing machine then ran to a scalding shower.