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

Ken Smith

I came across a small, inspiring story this week, and then another, and another. I did not expect this. In our troubled times, with the climate rattling us up and down like a roller coaster we can’t get off, and politics pelting us like bad weather, I don’t often catch the aroma of fresh-baked inspiration. When I do, I slow down to take a look. First I noticed a page-long chapter in a memoir* by James Rebanks, a quiet episode where at the age of 17 he decided not to buy the car he’d been saving for. Interesting!

April Lidinsky

Today, please open your English Major Handbook to the page titled: objective correlative. As you no doubt remember, that’s a literary term for objects that represent emotions in written or visual texts. You know, in a movie, we might see a teacup smashing to the floor as a sign that the character’s hopes have just been dashed.  I’ve been living with an objective correlative for most of the past year, when I got stuck halfway through repainting our kitchen.  

Michiana Chronicles: Pete's Book

Feb 8, 2019
Pete for America

At the end of the long paperwork process that put South Bend Mayor Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg into the Navy, the induction officer, says, “You said you work for the city, right?”

“That’s right,” Pete says, without adding that he’s the boss.  

Is your employer supportive?

“Yes, everyone has been great.”

Put in for the employer service support award when you get home, he says to Pete. Elected officials always come to the ceremony.

“They just eat that (shit) up.”

Andrew Kreider

We have a lot of speakers in the theater.  Not the lecturing, human kind (although we get our share of those, too).

Joe Chaney

Recently I promised to give a poetry reading with the stated plan of dividing my recitation between poems about dogs and poems about cats. I’d thought I’d written plenty of poems about both, but when I began to list them, I noticed that my cat poems merely mentioned cats. Cats were images and ideas. They figured as symbols. The poems weren’t about the cats, and the cats weren’t characters. They never did anything interesting.

The dog poems did fit the bill. Here is a typical one, called “Bali Dog”:

Bali Dog

We were lost among rice fields near Ubud

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

Often in these minutes, I relate light-hearted things. Not so much today. In the cold of the New Year, refugees are on my mind.

Ken Smith

I confess, I was seated at my mother’s dining room table not far from a big tin of Christmas cookies. There were tell-tale shortbread crumbs near me on the purple tablecloth, and a bottomless cup of coffee. From the living room TV came the muffled thunder of volume-turned-low Ghosts of Christmas Past, then Present, then Future, each one Hollywood made wilder that the last, but I ignored them. Much more interesting spirits were spread around us on the table. Not the cookies. We were sorting through a big box of family photos.

April Lidinsky

By the time you’re a grown up  — and woe betide you if that’s all you’re aiming for — it’s pretty easy to stick with what you already know. When I was in a funk about just that state of being earlier this year, my clever friend, Rosie, offered me a book that I in turn offer to you. It’s titled, Life Reimagined: The Science, Art, and Opportunity of Midlife by Barbara Bradley Hagerty —an NPR name, for you longtime listeners. Among the book’s takeaways for “living exuberantly” is this gem: “At every stage of life, you should be a rookie at something.” It’s timely advice for the new year.

My Private Concert

Dec 26, 2018

When I went to my grandson Jackson’s third grade holiday concert, so did about a thousand other people, which was way more than the school’s auditorium could hold. All the seats were full of mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and grandmothers and grandfathers and stepparents and extended families. There was no room at the concert, so to speak, so I went home.

I was bummed. And a little put out.  I thought, I’ve been picking him up after school on choir practice days for two months now, and I don’t get to hear him sing?

Michiana Chronicles: Napoleon Orwell

Dec 21, 2018

Once a month I meet with my retired teacher colleagues from New Prairie High School for breakfast and it’s like heaven for me. We’ve crossed over into the other side and our friends are there, the lucky ones who made it into the land of milk and honey, French toast and bacon for five bucks, that is the senior menu at Manny’s Café.

Andrew Kreider

Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s the colder weather…. But all of a sudden, a number of the people around me have taken a great interest in hot tea.  English hot tea.  What in my family we refer to as a proper cuppa – as in “cup of tea.”

Heather Curlee-Novak

Have you heard? It is my BIRTHDAY! Well really it is my birthday month, or it was anyway. Still is, if I haven’t gotten cake with you on the calendar yet! After becoming a mama, I moved my traditional Birthday Week into a Birthday Month because…KIDS. As a parent, my needs are often overlooked in lieu of raising awesome young people. I kind of have to get an appointment with my own Dad to not have our conversation overruled by the epic cuteness of my two daughters. But, the more birthdays I have, the more furtive I feel about them, not the “ME! ME! ME!” of it, but the…number of it.

A Dog's Bath-Time Drama

Nov 30, 2018
Joe Chaney

This week at my house we performed the biannual washing of the dog. Our dog Luna has a sort of self-cleaning mechanism—not just the licking, but also fast bacterial janitorial work, or something like that. Her fur is short and sparse. Only very slowly, or hardly at all, does she become sour-smelling as the season progresses. She does have a certain doggy love of goose droppings. She rolls in them, and she seems very pleased with herself afterwards, knowing that she can show off this distinctive perfume to the neighbor dogs.

Eileen Fisher

“I wonder if I could do that?” Maybe you have had that thought when you have heard or read of some challenge that someone else has embraced. Well, I have. About this time last year I read Ann Patchett’s op/ed in the not-yet-failed New York Times concerning her going for a year without making clothing purchases: and not just clothing purchases, but anything that she deemed to be unneeded items.

The Kindness Of Strangers

Nov 22, 2018

We’d left our bikes down south when we came back home this spring, so I decided to give one of South Bend’s ubiquitous LimeBikes a try. I knew how to do it. I’d read the directions: I just needed a credit card, a download, and a smartphone for the scan that would unlock the bike.

(Don't) Stay In Your Lane

Nov 16, 2018

Used to be you’d hear about news first by turning on the news. But this week’s “Stay in your Lane” episode unfolded on Twitter a day before it jumped to traditional magazine and radio journalism. However, none of it involved the ordinary way we use those four emphatic words.

Shifting Ground

Nov 9, 2018
April Lidinsky

What’s giving you hope today?  I am charged up. I’m slurping coffee from a gigantic mug with the motto: Wake Up, Kick Butt, Repeat. By my reading chair is a stack of books that includes Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger. Below that is Roxane Gay’s edited collection, Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture. (Spoiler alert: it IS that bad.) But still, I’m hopeful. 


Nov 2, 2018


I had a different piece for Michiana Chronicles prepared for today, one for election season, about the first time I voted back in 1972 and two years later when a funny guy running for Bloomington mayor smashed an egg on his head while I interviewed him on public access cable TV. It was my latest attempt at being heartwarming and universal, but the universe I occupy no longer seems like the right home for what I had to say.     

And “Heartwarming”?

Paul Thomas owned Paul Thomas Shoes, "the store with the little door," for 48 years. When he retired, he started the Time Was Museum, featuring donated artifacts from Elkhart's history. But before any of that, Paul Thomas was a cheerleader....

If you have a Michiana story to share, call 574.235.4199 or email


Oct 26, 2018
Andrew Kreider

I’d forgotten what it’s like to look for your first apartment. It’s been a week of living in borrowed spaces. Days pounding the pavement, exploring possible neighborhoods. Nights poring over internet ads, contacting landlords, hopes raised and dashed over and over. But finally, she’s found the right place. And today is moving day.

Michiana Stories: David Frazer

Oct 22, 2018

David Frazer of Edwardsburg, Michigan, talks about running in a Republican congressional primary against David Stockman in 1976. Stockman became President Ronald Reagan’s first budget director in 1981 and was known as the “Father of Reaganomics.”

Frazer also talks about going to High School with former Vice President Joe Biden and how he thinks the ideals instilled in them both by Archmere Academy have steered their lives.

Frazer spent 35 years living and working in Benton Harbor. He spoke with WVPE's Jennifer Weingart.

Act Your Age

Oct 19, 2018

Act my AGE?  No thank you. At the breakfast table recently,  I got corrected for using the word “Yo.” I don’t know if it was embarrassing for me to use it because I’m middle aged, or not hip, or if it is not hip to say “yo”… I’d listened to the Fresh Prince song “Parents Just Don’t Understand” by accident and “Yo” felt like the right choice at the time.  Beastie Boys were also in rotation because I remember my wilder days and feel younger.  It might feel a little mid life crisis, but I do not want to grow up and be the adult.   

Michiana Stories: The Exoneration Project

Oct 15, 2018
St. Joseph County Public Library

Notre Dame Law Professor Jimmy Gurulé speaks with law students Erika Gustin and Alyssa Slaimen about their work with the Exoneration Project.

If you have a Michiana story to share, contact the St. Joseph County Public Library at 574.235.4199 or

Michiana Stories is a production of the St. Joseph County Public Library and 88.1 WVPE.

Music: "Exoneration" by Telergy


People can become depressed on social media, threatened by comparisons with other people whose celebratory photos of successful children, talented pets, and wonderfully full heads of hair seem like bragging. None of that bothers me. I’m a private person and an introvert, and I find that the new American culture of virtual reality suits me well. I’m comfortable with language, and I’m a fast typist. This combination makes me something of a chatterbox online. I was never a popular kid in school, but in a text-driven culture, my English-major skills have value.


One of Michiana Chronicles essayists, Jeanette Saddler-Taylor, regularly volunteers to answer phones during WVPE's membership campaigns. So, we’ve asked her to talk about that experience.

If Michiana Chronicles is part of your Friday routine and your Friday wouldn’t be the same without it, please make sure you are a member of WVPE by calling 888-399-9873.

Or, if you’re shy, as Jeanette claims to be, give online by clicking on the Donate tab.

Michiana Stories: Victoria Powers

Oct 1, 2018
St. Joseph County Public Library

U.S. Air Force veteran Victoria Powers speaks with Dr.  Catherine Pittman about her time in the service and her decision to leave the military.

If you have a Michiana story to share, contact the St. Joseph County Public Library at (574) 235-4199 or

Michiana Stories is a production of the St. Joseph County Public Library and 88.1 WVPE.

At The Food Bank

Sep 28, 2018
Ken Smith

I drove to Missouri last week and while I was there I helped out at the neighborhood food bank session that an old friend and some of his neighbors have been running on Friday mornings for more than a decade.There’s a tidy old storefront that was a grocery store and later a tavern, but which in recent decades has served formally and informally as a community center. About nine-thirty Friday morning the volunteer workers arrived and a white van rolled up.

St. Joseph County Public Library

Parents Jennifer Henecke and Mat Sisk share their struggles with infertililty.

If you have a Michiana story to share, contact the St. Joseph County Public Library at (574) 235-4199 or

Michiana Stories is a production of the St. Joseph County Public Library and 88.1 WVPE.

Ken Smith

This is the story of how, at age 52, I learned to like experimental jazz. Or, really, this is the story of how I learned I could learn to like experimental jazz … I’m a work in progress. 


Michiana Stories: Gary Gabrich

Sep 17, 2018

Gary Gabrich is a retiree and historian specializing in Hungarian immigration to South Bend. When researching his genealogy, he discovered relatives in Croatia. He went to visit them... on September 11, 2001.

If you have a Michiana story to share, contact the St. Joseph County Public Library at (574) 235-4199 or

Michiana Stories is a production of the St. Joseph County Public Library and 88.1 WVPE.