Commentary

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

Nimbilasha Cushing

April: This is April (laughter)

 

Nimbilasha: And I’m Nimbi

Sid Shroyer

I became immersed in the study of the Holocaust because I took on the responsibility of teaching about the Holocaust to high school students in 2001. It’s a topic, I discovered, that we think we know everything about, and yet, as it turns out we know nothing about.

 

Michiana Chronicles: The Personal Lives Of Science

Jan 7, 2021
Anne Magnan-Park

Science writes its own patients' history. It is data and success-rate driven. Alongside these scientific reports are patients' stories, the personal lives of science. Though   data-oriented, their criteria for success are far more complex than the ones elaborated in the labs and relayed in scientific journals. They are layered stories which narrate access and lack of access to care, as well as trust and distrust in the healthcare system due to social status, race, cultural differences, and history.

(AP Photo)

The snowy weather has had me inside the last couple of weeks, with time on my hands to read.  This is the time of year I often turn to poetry, and as has become my custom in the last few years I want to take my Chronicle from this time of year to share a poem with you.

Heather Curlee-Novak

It is so very cold, and it is so very dark.  The cold seeps into my bones and makes me want to just sit here in my chair with a fuzzy blanket and slippers.  I only have energy to zone out in a book or watch Netflix until my eyes dry out.

Anja Niedringhaus / AP File Photo

As a child, I dreamed of greatness. I wanted to be a major league baseball pitcher, but I’d have settled for quarterback on an NFL team. Basketball also attracted me, especially Elgin Baylor and the Los Angeles Lakers. I would have loved to play for the Lakers. Season by season, I practiced these sports with my friends. I possessed some skills. Pitching a rubber baseball against a wall, I could hit the same mark over and over. My football passes were accurate. I was small, but I believed that I would grow bigger.

Holly Heyser

Occasionally, it’s like I’ve been dropped on my head and lost clear reason—in those times I decide to delve into my backlog of “well-this-looks-pretty-good” recipes and cook something more involved than my go-to Ramen noodles. The weather being cooler, the pandemic raging so that stay-at-home is the order of the day, and the major eating season looming over us, I had one of those culinary days not so long ago.

Ken Smith

What with the world so narrow and tight right now, I don’t feel like answering the phone or turning on the TV, two ways the bad news sneaks in. But that approach doesn’t work because while I’m peeking through the front curtains, trying to out-wait the bad news, there’s a fair chance of shriveling into a bitter prune myself. Besides, there are people we just have to honor by taking the call and hearing their bad news and maybe standing right there in the hallway weeping when we do. Still, there must be some way out of here, as the Joker in the Bob Dylan song said to the Thief.

Ken Smith

April Lidinsky speaks with Dr. Darryl Heller, Director of the ​Civil Rights Heritage Center at IU South Bend, about holding difficult conversations.

Music: "If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)" by The Staple Singers

Sid Shroyer

We are standing in a field on the Saturday before the election, somewhere between Highway 61 and the White Bear Yacht Club, 20 miles northeast of Minneapolis.

Michiana Chronicles: Musings On Being A Poll Worker

Nov 12, 2020
Steve Helber / AP File Photo

I am NOT a morning person…..but on November 3rd, I was already warming up the car at 4:35 am with coffee, snacks and trepidation. The plan hatched last month when my 18-year old son, looking to add spice into his life beyond taking college classes on-line in his childhood bedroom, signed up to be a poll worker. Given COVID, I realized the older seasoned poll workers may not be showing up. What better time for a great civics lesson for both of us!

Michiana Chronicles: Stop Pretending You're Monolingual

Nov 5, 2020

I have to stop pretending I am monolingual by birth and by upbringing. Like many of us, I was born into a family that was engineered to be monolingual over generations. Engineered by national decree.

Andrew Kreider

There’s an old country song by Dan Hicks, “How can I miss you when you won’t go away?”  To me, that’s 2020 in a nutshell.

Heather Curlee-Novak

The thing I want all of you to know is there was one time I nailed this stay at home mama deal. Sure, it was just that once, but since I left my job in August, I am here for the small wins!  In one day the house was kind of tidy, the kids got haircuts, we researched the past owners of our hundred year old house and I voted.  I also laid out a tray of hot cocoa and fresh oil popped popcorn for a pal and her brood. It was a socially-distanced-bonfire-and-whatever-you-find-in-the-garage playdate. Then I put dinner on the table.  I kind of impressed myself. This ONE day.

Mike Roemer / AP File Photo

I’ve always been a football fan. I’ve played football. I collected football trading cards. My brothers and I once received Christmas gifts of football helmets and shoulder pads. So it may surprise you to hear that I’ve launched a movement to change the culture of American football. My idea is simple: teams should cooperate.

Elaine Thompson / AP File Photo

“Jeanette, you’re just a glutton for punishment,” my Mother would say to me when I had doggedly persisted in what she perceived as self-destructive behavior. That pronouncement came back to me as I, possibly once again in self-destructive mode, watched all eight nights of the political conventions in August. Not only were the “festivities” long, but I was compelled to stay up for the post-game commentary as well. Sometimes, like when you pass an accident on the highway, there’s no looking away. And, since these bug-eyed binges were cocktail fueled, my sleep-deprivation was compounded.

Ken Smith

For about twenty years my office has been behind the last door at the east end of a very long hallway located on the third floor of a university building in South Bend. The hallway walls are more or less white, and the many office doors are a pale wood grain. There’s not much art to speak of there, and when office doors are closed no natural light enters the space for many, many, many yards. There’s no window in the east section of the hallway, no window in the central section, and just the one large window at the end of the west section.

Ken Smith

We have something a little different for this episode. April Lidinsky has a conversation with Kathy Burnette, founder and owner of Brain Lair Books in South Bend, about how they developed their lifelong love of books and reading.

Music: Hamilton – “Wrote My Way Out” (Nas, Dave East, Lin-Manuel Miranda & Aloe Blacc)

Justin Hicks / WVPE

It’s just a coincidence, right?

One man’s good fortune and another man’s misfortune play out within minutes of one another in the same town, less than two miles apart, a 40 minute walk.

And it’s just a sad coincidence, no dots to connect here, right?

Michiana Chronicles: Leave The Fire

Sep 4, 2020
Anne Magnan-Park

Distance has been the longest-running theme in my life. I don’t look for it, but, somehow, distance manages to find me. Long-distance marriage, long-distance relationships with my extended family across continents, long-distance connection with my first language of expression and culture, and now, like many of us, socially-distant relationships with our geographically not-so distant, local friends and co-workers.

Michiana Chronicles: A Pennsylvania Farm Boy In Elkhart

Aug 28, 2020
Andrew Kreider

Paul Gingrich was for many years my neighbor here in Elkhart.  He and his wife Anne were world-travelers with vast experience and influence in places all across North America and around the world.  But in spite of all that, to me Paul was always still a farm boy from Pennsylvania with simple tastes and a huge heart.  Paul loved nothing more than to go out for breakfast at McDonalds – I could not tell you how many Egg McMuffins I saw that man eat.  And never was there a happier day than when Paul discovered that Dairy Queen had invented a new drink. 

Heather Curlee Novak

Unless you live under the proverbial rock, what I am about to say should spark recognition: “Nailed it!!”  Do you know it?  This current standard in our ‘Pinworthy’ You Tube Social Media World should make you cringe or smile.  “Nailed it!” is the recognition that what we see, what we attempt, and what we actually create….do not match.  (Google the phrase when you need a belly laugh.)  If you were a gymnast, “nailing it” would indicate mastery and perfection.  Shall we imagine together that it originated in carpentry? 

GREGORY SHAMUS / GETTY IMAGES

I recall shopping at my local grocery store back in late March when the seriousness of the coronavirus was first becoming obvious to everyone. I pushed my cart into the paper products aisle to discover: no toilet paper! Another shopper was already surveying the empty shelves. He looked at me and asked, in disbelief, “What does toilet paper have to do with the pandemic?”

Paul Costello

“Hey, y'all, watch this!” When you hear someone yell that at a gathering, you can be pretty sure that an ambulance soon will be needed. Julia Reed wrote that and it’s that kind of Southern humor that makes me laugh aloud and look forward to more of her observations. While reading a recent issue of Garden and Gun magazine—OK, calm yourself, that is a real magazine and probably is not at all what you imagine—there was an article, as there often is, by Julia Reed.

Michiana Chronicles: Cicada Days

Jul 30, 2020
Ken Smith

In our neighborhood, the cicadas are back, buzzing on the high branches in the evening, sliding out the slit backs of their exoskeletons when nobody’s looking, and then hanging on the side of the house all green and black and shiny in their fresh jackets. The exoskeletons remain on a tree trunk for ages, ghostly reminders of the oddest, most unlikely renewal. The new wings are finely drawn, a shiny metallic green near the body but clear further down, something so fabulous a king would have paid a master artist a stack of golden coins for one in days gone by.

April Lidinsky

In a stay-at-home summer, it’s easy to run out of topics during social Zooming. So, I offer you a prompt, inspired by the June 17th New York Times “Food” section, in which a baker’s half-dozen of writers share memories of  “restaurant magic.”  Sure, we can still get takeout, and perhaps eat nervously out-of-doors, but these writers remind us that restaurant dining can be so much “More than a Meal.”

I woke up at 3:00 last Friday morning thinking about a scene in a movie we’d watched the night before. One of the main characters, a police detective, had been called to the local secondary school to fetch her son who’d run afoul, himself, of the law of the blackboard jungle. After the conference, she wormed her way through a packed hallway of students walking the other way toward an exit.

Michiana Chronicles: The Bugler In Me

Jul 9, 2020
(AP Photo/Brad C Bower)

I was looking for a good deal on my heart's desire at the Salvation Army, when I spotted a bag of old comic books on a high shelf behind the register. Bingo! I've got grandchildren the same age as I was when I spent hours and hours reading those cheap, floppy, innocent and uncomplicated rags. Maybe it was just wistful thinking, but I was sure they'd love to lift their eyes from the screens of "those devices" - to discover the likes of Archie and Jughead and GI Joe. So, I bought the whole stack.

Michiana Chronicles: Rocking Chair

Jul 2, 2020
Marilyn Thompson

In our house is a rocking chair. It is all wood, with no padding, and it has no arm rests. It squeaks when you use it, and you don’t have to look too closely to see that its base is held together by wire, fashioned by a farmer who took whatever was handy to fix a split in the wood.

The rocking chair shows its age, but it is one of the most precious items in our house, because it belonged to my grandfather—a grandfather I rarely saw.

Andrew Kreider

It was twenty-five years ago.  Pastor Duane Beck of Belmont Mennonite Church had just done a funeral for a young man in the neighborhood who had died from a gunshot wound.  At the service, Pastor Duane told the young man’s friends: If you would like to do something to bring meaning and change from this death, then I’ll help you organize yourselves.  Out of that offer, a local movement began – it was entirely youth led, and it called itself Drop Your Guns.  Over the next number of months, DYG organized themselves into a hopeful force in Elkhart.  They spoke to local businesses, to churches,

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