Happy 200th Birthday, Indiana!

birthday01

cake image found at http://fmdg.org/

On December 11th, two-hundred years ago, Indiana became a state. The 19th state in the United States of America to be precise. 346 days ago, here at Bibliophilopolis we began a year-long celebration of the State’s Bicentennial year, retrofitting our annual “Deal Me In” short story reading challenge (What is Deal Me In??) to contain only stories with some Indiana connection. It’s been a long journey and, rather than spread out the final three posts of the rest of December (i.e. after Indiana’s actual birthday has passed), I thought I’d just do the last few early to get them posted closer to the exact date of Indiana’s birth.


Below is a list, in order, of the fifty-two selections for this year’s Deal Me “IN” project:

1st Quarter* 

(*Hey, I’m an Accountant; I’m breaking these up into quarters!)

Week 1: ♣8♣ – Mr Blake’s Walking Stick – Edward Eggleston

Week 2: ♦9♦And One for the Road – Joanna Parypinski

Week 3: ♥7♥The Gods of Indianapolis – Jason de Koff

Week 4: ♠Q♠ – Life on a Flat Top – Ernie Pyle

Week 5: ♥Q♥  – Drills – Laura Citino

Week 6: ♣Q♣ – Bobby and the Keyhole: A Hoosier Fairy Tale – Edward Eggleston

Week 7: ♥5♥I Can Hear the Clicking at Night – Ann Gamble

Week 8: ♣10♣ – The Legend of Potato Creek – Maurice Thompson

Week 9: ♥10♥Come Go With Me – Nora Bonner

Week 10: ♦8♦Shadowed – Christine Johnson

Week 11: ♦7♦What Happens in Hell Stays in Hell – Clint Smith

Week 12: ♦2♦Play Like I’m Sheriff – Jack Cady

Week 13: ♣A♣ – A Reward of Merit – Booth Tarkington

2nd Quarter

Week 14: ♦4♦Missing Athena – Josh Green

Week 15: ♠6♠ – The Gentleman of the Press in Skirts (Janet Flanner) – Fred Cavinder

Week 16: ♦5♦It Came From Burr County – Marian Allen

Week 17: ♠3♠ – God Bless You Mr. Vonnegut: And Farewell – David Hoppe

Week 18: ♥9♥The Passeur – E.E. Lyons

Week 19: ♥2♥Siddhartha – Abe Aamidor

Week 20: ♥A♥Letter to the Man in Carnivorous Plants – Lauren Ann Bolton

Week 21: ♠10♠ – Politics and Poetry (John Milton Hay) – Fred Cavinder

Week 22: ♦3♦The Penance of Scoot McCutcheon – Frank Bill

Week 23: ♣J♣ – Next Door – Kurt Vonnegut

Week 24: ♥6♥Ransom Place – Corey Dalton

Week 25: ♣2♣ – The Boyhood of Christ – Lew Wallace

Week 26: ♣6♣ – Autumn Full of Apples – Dan Wakefield

3rd Quarter

Week 27: ♠4♠ – Men From Mars – Ernie Pyle

Week 28: ♦10♦Schliemann in Indianapolis – Michael Martone

Week 29: ♠J♠ – Peyton Manning – Champion: This Doesn’t Happen Very Often – David Hoppe

Week 30: ♥8♥The Devil and James Whitcomb Riley – Jason Roscoe

Week 31: ♥4♥A Conversation with Tim O’Brien – James J. Hanna

Week 32: ♠8♠ – The B-29s – Ernie Pyle

Week 33: ♥3♥Everything Strange and Unknown – Joe Meno

Week 34: ♠A♠ – Poet, Prophet and Philosopher (Max Ehrmann) – Fred Cavinder

Week 35: ♦6♦The Circle Effect – Diana Catt

Week 36: ♣4♣ – Harrison Bergeron – Kurt Vonnegut

Week 37: ♦K♦The Table of the Elements – J T Whitehead

Week 38: ♣5♣ – The Old Soldier’s Story – James Whitcomb Riley

Week 39: ♥K♥Not in Kansas Anymore – Rocco Versaci

4th Quarter

Week 40: ♥J♥A Hundred Ways to Do it Wrong – Emily Temple

Week 41: ♠K♠ – Songs of Experience: Bob Dylan at the Egyptian Room – David Hoppe

Week 42: ♣K♣ – The Haunted Valley – Ambrose Bierce

Week 43: ♦Q♦Uncle Sack – Murphy Edwards

Week 44: ♠5♠ – Profiles in Survival: Eleanor M. Garen – John Shivley

Week 45: ♣3♣ – The Boarded Window – Ambrose Bierce

Week 46: ♠9♠ – Profiles in Survival: James Duckworth – John Shivley

Week 47: ♣7♣ – The Pedagogue – Maurice Thompson

Week 48: ♣9♣ – The Beautiful Lady – Booth Tarkington

Week 49: ♦A♦Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List – Michael Martone

Week 50: ♠7♠ – Educational Testing: Just Another Job – David Hoppe

Week 51: ♦J♦Murder on Indiana Avenue – Andrea Smith

Week 52: ♠2♠ – Working a Jigsaw – Barbara Shoup

During the course of the year for this project, I read more than twenty authors for the first time, and several I know will become future favorites.  My favorite suit was easily “Clubs” – the “legendary authors” suit, but each suit had its own merits and I did enjoy reading some short, non-fiction works for the first time in a Deal Me In challenge this year.  So much so that I may include a suit of essays in my 2017 version. We’ll see.

Well, thanks to all those who followed along this year, and especially those that commented on some of these 52 posts. If Deal Me IN was a new discovery for you this year, I hope you’ll consider doing the challenge in 2017.  The official sign-up post will be on 12/21/2016.

 

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“Murder on Indiana Avenue” by Andrea Smith – selection #51 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♦J♦ Jack of Diamonds

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Diamonds is my suit for Stories by Contemporary Indiana Authors.

The Selection: “Murder on Indiana Avenue” from my copy of the short story anthology “Decades of Dirt” – a production of the Speed City Chapter of Sisters of Crime.

The Author: Andrea Smith (pictured above from a reading at Bookmamas Bookstore), an Indianapolis writer who was born in Chicago, and who I’ve read once before, in the “Hoosier Hoops and Hijinks” anthology.

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up postlegacy project seal of approval 2For a look at my deck of cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. The 2016 iteration of Deal Me “IN” is also a “Legacy Project” officially endorsed by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission!

Murder on Indiana Avenue

“The yellow brick Walker Building was shaped like a slice of pie. Set on an angle right at the tip of Indiana Avenue, the four-story structure took up a huge chunk of the street.”

(image above found at stenzcorp.com)

Eve and Gabriel Dawson are a jazz musician/singer couple from Chicago, in town (Indianapolis) to perform at the Stardust Theater.  The club is run by a friend of theirs, Lester Sanders, and their appearance at his club is kind of a mutual favor for both parties. When they arrive, they awkwardly walk in on a confrontation between Lester and some unsavory types.  Their friend subsequently waves it off as nothing, but sure enough, later in the evening their performance is interrupted when the police swarm the club investigating a murder, and Lester is their prime suspect!

Eve and Gabe proceed to do some amateur detective work of their own, enlisting the aid of an attorney whose office is also in the Walker Building. A couple twists and turns later and they have their man.

I’ve never been a big reader of mysteries, so don’t feel that well qualified to rate them. I do think it must be incredibly hard to write an effective one in just about 20 pages, but the stories I’ve read from the two anthologies produced by the Speed City (Indianapolis) Chapter of “Sisters of Crime” seem to be able to pull this off.

What are some short story format mysteries that you have read? Any you’d care to recommend to me?  Deal Me In 2017 is just around the corner…

“Educational Testing: Just Another Job” by David Hoppe – selection #50 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♠7♠ Seven of Spades

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Spades is my suit for short, Indiana-related non-fiction works.

The Selection: “Educational Testing: Just Another Job” from collection of essays titled “Personal Indianapolis.” This is the fourth piece from this book that I’ve read for this year’s Deal Me “IN” challenge.

The Author: David Hoppe –An Indianapolis writer who has labored for Indy’s “Alternative Weekly” Nuvo Magazine since 1998.

 

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up postlegacy project seal of approval 2For a look at my deck of cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. The 2016 iteration of Deal Me “IN” is also a “Legacy Project” officially endorsed by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission!

Educational Testing: Just Another Job

“In test-scoring centers, dozens of scorers sit in rows, staring at computer screens where students’ papers appear… each scorer is expected to read hundreds of papers. So for all the months of preparation and the dozens of hours of class time spent writing practice essays, a student’s writing probably will be processed and scored in about a minute.”

I struggled with this piece, which was my least favorite of those that I’ve read thus far in Hoppe’s book, Personal Indianapolis. I have no children in school so perhaps lack a good vantage point of the issues the essay covered, but I have followed news stories about standardized tests for years, and have frequently been amazed at how big the time gap between testing and receiving results is. I also naively hadn’t realized that the standardized testing included a writing sample from the students (i.e. something that can’t be scored in an automated fashion). I had just been picturing a multiple choice, computer scored exam like many we used to have even way back when I was in school.

Hoppe had come across an article in the Monthly Review by Dan DiMaggio titled “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Test Scorer.” (linked here if you’d like to read it) and kinda jumps on the bandwagon of condemnation regarding the process. While I agree there seems to be much that should be condemned, I felt Hoppe’s piece was superfluous once I had read the “source” article. It’s frankly a little sloppy too, as an instance of ‘bad math’ had me in an uproar pretty early in the essay:

“DiMaggio, who lives in the Twin Cities, says he has personally read tens of thousands of papers, for which he has been paid at a rate of 30 to 70 cents per paper. That means he has to score forty papers every sixty minutes to make $12 an hour”

Wait. It only means that if the rate is at the bottom of that scale. What about the 70 cent rate?  At the top of the scale it would be $28 an hour, right? Shouldn’t it read something more like “scoring forty papers every sixty minutes might only earn him $12 an hour,” or even “That means he has to score forty papers every sixty minutes to make $12-$28 an hour”? My loyalty as a reader goes out the window pretty fast when I feel I’m being manipulated by partial truths, whether they are intentional or not.

Overall, though, this piece and the DiMaggio article that inspired it, left me disappointed in “the system” once more and even glad I don’t have kids that are being “taught to pass tests” that people who often are not even educators themselves are scoring in an assembly line fashion.

What about you?  Any teachers out there reading this?  What are your thoughts about standardized tests and their value?  I’d love to hear more from the front lines on this issue.

Next up in Deal Me “IN” 2016: “Murder on Indiana Avenue” by Andrea Smith

P.S. Yes, I’m even getting a little bit ahead of schedule now, as I’m hoping to be done by Indiana’s ACTUAL bicentennial date of 12/11/16 rather than the end of the year.  We’ll see if I can make it. 🙂

“Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List” by Michael Martone – selection #49 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♦A♦ Ace of Diamonds

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Diamonds is my suit for Contemporary Indiana Authors

The Selection: “Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List” from the short story collection of the same name (with the subtitle: “Indiana Stories”).  I own a paperback copy, and another of its contents, “Schliemann in Indianapolis” made an earlier appearance in this year’s Deal Me “IN” challenge.

The Author: Michael Martone (his picture at left (that’s an Indiana flag shirt!) found at http://www.erinpringle.com/2014/07/2014-summer-library-series-four.html ). Last year I was quite impressed with “Winesburg, Indiana: A Fork River Anthology” which he edited, and I had heard of this volume through the grapevine so it found a place on my Deal Me “IN” roster. He was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and is currently a professor at the University of Alabama.

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up postlegacy project seal of approval 2For a look at my deck of cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. The 2016 iteration of Deal Me “IN” is also a “Legacy Project” officially endorsed by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission!

Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List

“During the war, the top hemisphere of the streetlight globes were painted with a black opaque glaze. They stayed that way after the war. No one seems to mind. Parts of dead insects show in the lower half of the globe. There’s more and more of them in there summer after summer.”

What list?  Why Fort Wayne? Is there any truth in this? These are all questions I asked myself when I first heard of this story. Perhaps reading it would provide some answers…

Perhaps not, though. Other research indicates that Fort Wayne was potentially a prime target during World War II – due to industrial production, etc. – whether or not it was really on a list is a bit unclear.  This “story” (it felt more to me like I was reading a prose poem) is about a city that was once on ‘high alert’ during wartime, and centers around the narrator’s grandfather who lived in those times.

It tells of times where the city would practice blackouts – one particularly vivid episode was when the grandfather (he was a “block warden” because “everyone remembered the way he’d kept calm during The War of the Worlds.”) participated in a demonstration to emphasize the importance of absolute dark. “Grandfather said that the (Civil Defense) man lit a match when the rest of the city was all dark. He said that you could see the whole park and the faces of everyone in the park… The man blew out the match with one breath. The people went home in the dark. Were they wishing they could do something about the stars.”

It also seems that the grandfather never quite fully exited the “war footing” mentality and even decades later would still see and feel things about the city in that context and through the lens of a slight paranoia.  This gave the story a haunting quality.

I enjoyed this piece less than the other one I read for Deal Me “IN,” but it was still quite good and I’d like to once again recommend the book Martone edited “Winesburg, Indiana.” Which is full of great, short vignettes about the people of a fictional Indiana town.

Have you read anything by Michael Martone?  What did you think of him?  What are some of your favorite literary depictions of the “Home Front” during the war?  One I can think of is the excellent “Under the Apple Tree” by Indiana author Dan Wakefield.

Deal Me In Bonus: Trivia question:  Which iconic 1968 cinematic space traveler hailed from Fort Wayne, Indiana?

Below (from Trip Advisor) Fort Wayne, Indiana

fort-wayne-is-indiana

“The Beautiful Lady” by Booth Tarkington – selection #48 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♣9♣ Nine of Clubs

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Clubs is my suit for “Legendary” Indiana Authors

The Selection: “The Beautiful Lady” (actually more of a novella than a short story, but it was too late to change now! J

The Author:  Booth Tarkington of Indianapolis.  One of the standard bearers of The Golden Age of Indiana Literature. He also won the Pulitzer Prize. Twice.

 

img_6202What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up postlegacy project seal of approval 2For a look at my deck of cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

The Beautiful Lady

“To fall in love must one behold a face? Yes; at thirty. At twenty, when one is something of a poet No: it is sufficient to see a grey pongee skirt! At fifty, when one is a philosopher No: it is enough to perceive a soul! I had done both; I had seen the skirt; I had perceived the soul.”

Just the quotation above should be enough to let you know what kind of story this will be, but I will drone on a little more about it… The narrator of the story is a man of twenty-four who is down on his luck in Paris. He has a half-brother who is seemingly a villain. He had a “full” brother who is now dead and whose two children the narrator tries his best to support and pay for their schooling at a nunnery. The beginning of the story finds him so penniless (franc-less?) that he has accepted a humiliating job for the term of a week. The job is to be a living advertisement for a theater and consists of him having to shave his head bald, allowing an advertisement to be painted on the top of his head, then to sit at the venue with his eyes pointing to his lap so passersby will see the ad and perhaps be curious enough to buy a ticket. He hates it. You probably would too.

One solace he has is that the act of shaving his head bald adds years to his appearance, making him seem as if “a man of forty.”  He hopes this will lead to no one recognizing him on the street to observe his humiliation. One day, the appearance “upon the lid of my lowered eyelid” of a beautiful grey pongee skirt (yeah, I had to look that up) is what sets this story ablaze. The wearer of the Pongee skirt (the Beautiful Lady of the story’s title, naturally) is accompanied by a young man who pauses to laugh at the narrator. She is shocked and sympathetic. “Ah!” she cried. “The poor man!” Her voice:

“…was North-American. Ah, what a voice! Sweet as the mandolins of Sorento! Clear as the bells of Capri! To hear it, was like coming upon sight of the almond-blossoms of Sicily for the first time, or the tulip-fields of Holland. Never before was such a voice.”

The narrator doesn’t see the lady during this “encounter” but perhaps will again during his next “job.” For my part, I loved this story. It was a bit predictable in its plot twists, which honestly stretched credibility to its seams, and also in its saccharine sweetness, which makes my admission of liking it something of a guilty pleasure, I suppose. It made me think of times in my own life where things weren’t going as I hoped or maybe when I was “ashamed” of a current employment or living status, and doesn’t it always seem to work out that you run into people you haven’t seen in a long time when you’re looking – or at – your worst? I believe Tarkington captures this phenomenon nearly perfectly in this story, which is one of my favorites of Deal Me “IN” this year.

What have you read by Tarkington? The Magnificent Ambersons? Alice Adams?  Some of his shorter works? I’d love to hear about your encounters with this author.

Next up in Deal Me “IN” 2016: Selection #49: “Fort Wayne is Seventh on Hitler’s List” by Michael Martone. (I’ve been wondering all year what this story is about…)

“The Pedagogue” by Maurice Thompson – selection #47 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♣7♣ Seven of Clubs

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Clubs is my suit for “Legendary” Indiana Authors

The Selection: “The Pedagogue” from Hoosier Mosaics, published in 1875, I own an electronic copy (Kindle Version)  Deal Me “IN” 2016 featured one other story from this collection, “The Legend of Potato Creek” covered in week 8, way back in February.

The Author: Maurice Thompson Maurice (pronounced like “Morris”) Thompson (1844-1901), born in Fairfield, Indiana, is one from the “Golden Age” of Indiana literature. He’s also a member of the archery(!) Hall of Fame. In his honor, I included in the “mosaic” above the scorecard for “bow poker” 🙂

legacy project seal of approval 2What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of img_6202cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

The Pedagogue

“He was in love with learning. He considered the matter of imparting knowledge a mere question of effort, in which the physical element preponderated. If he couldn’t talk or read it into one he took a stick and mauled it into him. This mauling method, though somewhat distasteful to the subject, always had a charming result – red eyes, a few blubbers and a good lesson. The technical name of this method was “Warming the jacket.””

The word Pedagogue has always conjured up negative images for me. I am reminded of the sadistic schoolteacher in 1941’s great film, “How Green Was My Valley” or perhaps that one episode of the television series “Little House on the Prairie,” when the town votes to bring in a “disciplinarian” schoolmaster (Mr. Applewood) when they fear poor, sweet “Miss Beadle” can’t handle some of the rowdier boys. I fortunately don’t have too much personal experience with Padagogery, but what little I have experienced was indeed quite distasteful enough to lead me to be on guard against it in those instances where I’ve been called upon to instruct or train others.

(above: big – and small – screen pedagogues who learnt their lesson)

Thompson’s pedagogue, however, lives rather without too much stigma. It was a different age in which he lived, one where “pedagoguery” was an accepted practice in the education of our nation’s children. The above quotation notwithstanding, this story – thankfully – is not all about just an abusive schoolmaster. It’s about the collision of two men who both think they should be the unchallenged intellectual authority of the county. Blodgett, the pedagogue, registered his claim first. Though he was only the latest in a long string of pedagogues, he was already in town when an upstart printer shows up to start his own paper. Add to this perfect storm of 19th century conflict that, just before the editor appears, so does a young lady, Miss Holland, who, naturally, Blodgett makes a play for.( He is, after all, the most learned man in the countryside…) The editor has his own plans:

“One of two things must be done. Blodgett must be vanquished or his influence secured. He must be prevailed on to endorse the Star (the new paper), or the Star must attack and destroy him at once.”

Thompson goes on to explain that “…when nations wish to fight it is easy to find a pretext for war. So with individuals. So with the editor and Blodgett. They soon came to open hostilities and raised the black flag. What an uproar it did make in the county!”

They have an argument in the press (home field advantage for the editor!) over, of all things, the best translation of the Latin phrase “Nil de mortuis nisi bonum” (roughly ‘say nothing but good of the dead). Their exchange of editorials in the paper becomes comical and, eventually, one prevails by laying a clever trap for the other, who is judged by “a professor at Wabash College” (Hey, that’s my alma mater!) to be “certainly crazy or woefully illiterate; no doubt the latter.”

So ends the career of one of these men. You can read the story for yourself at several places on line, like this one.  I liked this story a lot, and at a few points it reminded me a little of Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and the collision course it contains as Ichabod and Brom Bones compete for the affections of Katrina. In that story, I remember that Ichabod is said to have “read several books quite through” which grants him intellectual standing in that literary town.

What about you? Are you familiar with Maurice Thompson? I wasn’t until about a year ago and am so glad I “discovered” him.  I’m planning to read a couple more of his stories for next year’s Deal Me In challenge as well.  Also – have you had any encounters of the pedagogic kind in your education journey? Or know of any great ones in literature or the arts? I’d love to hear of them.

Profiles in Survival: James Duckworth by John Shivley – selection #46 in Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♠9♠  Nine of Spades

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Spades is my suit for short, Indiana-related non fiction works

The Selection: “Profiles in Survival (James Duckworth)” a collection of true stories of Indiana POWs who served in the Philippines in World War II.

The Author: John Shivley is a practicing physician who lives in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is also the author of The Last Lieutenant: A Foxhole View of the Epic Battle for Iwo Jima.

What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad img_5408you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

legacy project seal of approval 2

Profiles in Survival – James Duckworth

“We must impress the Japs that we are a well disciplined, smart-looking, smoothly functioning outfit. Their god is discipline. They begrudgingly admire it as much in others as they do in themselves. You must maintain your own self-respect. You must shave every day, keep your clothes washed and pressed, and your shoes shined. We’ve got plenty of soap and water. Use it. Salute your arms off, smart and snappy, especially when Nip inspection parties come through.”

The above was what the commander of the Twelfth Medical Regiment, James Duckworth, told those under his command once his post had been surrendered to the Japanese. When I read nonfiction stories like this I always start wondering how I would cope in such a situation, or indeed if I even would be able to cope at all. There seems to be little doubt that strong leadership of the POWs, such as that which James Duckworth clearly provided, greatly increased their chance for survival. Also, the treatment and care of wounded Japanese soldiers, in addition to Americans and Philipinos, under the command of Duckworth also helped mitigate the hostility of their capturing Japanese commanders. I wondered while reading how many people lived through their ordeal that wouldn’t have if someone of Duckworth’s mettle had not been in command.

For my part, I was spellbound by Duckworth’s story, which honestly was difficult to read at times, hearing of all the death and suffering that marked those times. I learned a lot as well, and some of what I learned I almost wish I could unlearn.  Like the Japanese-instituted concept of “shooting squads” in which all prisoners were put into groups of ten. If any of the group escaped, the other nine would be executed. Nice deterrent, huh?  I also read about the infamous “August 1 Kill-All Order” which addressed the “final disposition” of prisoners should POW camps be about to fall into American hands and be liberated.  Seems the Japanese were concerned that postwar testimony by the POWs, if left alive, might be damning in any war-crimes trials. Just such an order was carried out in what has become known as the Palawan Massacre, where nearly 150 American prisoners were burned to death. It was the knowledge of this massacre and the Kill-All order that eventually led to the daring raid that freed the prison camp that housed Duckworth at the end of his captivity.

I mentioned in my other Deal Me “IN” post from this book that I know I will read the rest of the stories in this volume, and I recommend the book to others as well.  One of the back cover “praises” for the book reads: “Profiles in Survival is a book that will break your heart. The Americans taken prisoner after the battle for the Philippines endured the nearly unendruable. But endure they did. Though many died in captivity, others survived with an uncommon dignity. They knew the cruelty of a war without mercy. John Shively is in our debt for giving us their tales.” (Randy Roberts, Purdue University Distinguished professor of history)

Personal Notes ♫  Reading this book has also made me want to watch the epic 1957 movie, Bridge on the River Kwai again (even though it was set in Burma) since it features American prisoners under Japanese command. I still vividly remember my Dad whistling the theme from this movie during countless hikes we went on out west during summer camping trips – another reason to watch the film again.

(Below: three of the Ranger company that freed the prisoners of the prison camp at Cabanatuan in what is referred to as “The Great Raid.” Heroes. Picture from CNN.com)

“Profiles of Survival”(Eleanor Garen) by John Shively – selection#44 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♠5♠  Five of Spades

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Spades is my suit for Indiana-related short non-fiction works.

The Selection: Eleanor Garen from the book “Profiles in Survival” a collection of stories of Indiana POWs who served in the Philippines in World War II.

The Author: John C. Shively (pictured at left from his amazon.com author page at Utah Beach) is a practicing physician who lives in West Lafayette, Indiana. He is also the author of The Last Lieutenant: A Foxhole View of the Epic Battle for Iwo Jima, published by Indiana University Press.


img_5408-1What is Deal Me “IN” 2016?
 I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

legacy project seal of approval 2

Profiles in Survival – Eleanor Garen

“Garen was too busy to be frightened about what might happen when the Japanese arrived. She was ordered to burn her paper money. She still had a little camera with her. Since she did not want the Japanese to have it, she irreparably scratched the lens. After the war she wanted to make it very clear that it was not her idea to give up. She told a friend, ‘I wasn’t defeated, I was captured. I didn’t surrender – others surrendered me!'”

I found this book while on a huge pre-2016 Deal Me In buying spree at Bookmama’s Bookstore in Irvington (an Indianapolis eastside neighborhood). I was scrambling to find suitable “short” non-fiction material to include in my annual challenge.  When I found this book I thought it would be great to read a couple of the people’s stories it contained.  Though a bit longer than most of my short story reading, I’m glad I made the decision to buy it. My knowledge base of WWII history that occurred in the Pacific Theater – and especially in the Philippines – is shamefully light and this book helped me learn where Bataan and Corregidor actually were (other than just “in the Philippines”).  This book also makes a nice partner to some of the work by Ernie Pyle that I’ve read earlier in this year’s Deal Me In.

Garen’s story was the only one of a woman included in the book, so that – and admittedly because it was one of the shorter ones – helped secure its place in my 2016 roster. I learned also that Garen hailed from South Bend, Indiana, where one side of my family is from.  As I read I wondered if she ever encountered any of my family in South Bend. My grandpa, for example, worked for a time as a grocer, and I wonder if a young – or adult – Eleanor Garen ever may have handed him a few dollars across the counter to make a purchase. That’s one great thing about “reading locally” – you can sometimes amuse yourself with such speculations… Garen is pictured on the far right in the picture below, from the book, as you can see. 🙂

garen2

This was a longer story – about 45 pages – but it held my attention so well I read it straight through without a break, and I am a slow reader. I liked Garen right away – an otherwise ‘ordinary’ person faced with extraordinary circumstances. A patriot. One who was quietly fearless and devoted her career to helping others as a member of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps. With the little background knowledge I have of this part of the war coming mostly from movies and television, I feared the worst when starting the story of a female P.O.W., but thankfully, she and the other nurses in her group were never subjected to the depravities I feared might be their fate at the hands of the Japanese.

Her Japanese captors, though, rarely missed a beat when it came to looting the nurses of their belongings:

“Most of this looting took place in broad daylight, but Garen was accosted one night while she slept. She was asleep on her cot when she became aware of a presence. Someone was at her side and she quickly realized it was a Japanese soldier. She was petrified, but remained perfectly still as he took her ring and removed her watch.  Other than this petty theft, the Japanese soldier did not molest her. Of the things stolen from her, she missed he watch the most. With it she had counted the pulse of many of her patients.”

That last sentence typified the type of character Garen had. It was all about the welfare of others and rarely about herself, even when late in captivity conditions and food supplies ran scarce, resulting in malnutrition and, in some cases, starvation.

I was on the edge of my seat reading the final dozen pages of her story, as the tide of the war was turning against the Japanese, though they often knew little of it, only garnering what news they could on a ‘contraband’ radio they hid well enough to avoid frequent searches for it by the Japanese. The fear that their captors would summarily execute the prisoners if their liberation became imminent was also a very real one, and had happened elsewhere. At one point, they searched her foot locker as part of their efforts to find the suspected radio:

“One night a Japanese soldier demanded she open her foot locker. She had an American flag inside, but when she pulled it out she told him it was a dress.  By the way she held it over herself, he did not recognize it as a flag and, not finding the radio he was looking for, moved on.”

Way to go Eleanor! 🙂  I considered her story to be one of probably countless others experienced by the more ‘quiet heroes’ of World War II.  Though I’ve only assigned two of the stories in this book to my Deal Me In project, I know I will read the others as well.

cluzon

“A Hundred Ways to Do it Wrong” by Emily Temple – selection #40 of Deal Me “IN 2016

The Card: ♠J♠ Jack of Hearts

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me “IN,” Hearts is my suit for stories from Indiana-related magazines and literary journals

The Selection: “A Hundred Ways to Do it Wrong” from the Summer 2015 issue of Indiana Review. The story was a nominee for the 2015 Pushcart Prize

The Author: Emily Temple. Having gotten her MFA from University of Virginia, she’s currently writing for lithub.com. You can browse some of her work there at http://lithub.com/author/emily-temple/#

legacy project seal of approval 2

What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up img_6202with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of
cards/storyroster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission

One Hundred Ways to Do it Wrong

“It only gets worse when you notice we can’t be trusted. I didn’t fail the test. I just found a hundred ways to do it wrong. Do you think you can forgive me?”

One thing I continue to be struck by since I joined the ‘book blogging’ community is just how many great writers there are out there that I had never heard of (imagine that!). I’ve found that one way to encounter many of these is to simply read some literary journals, something I’d never really done until a few years ago. This week, drawing the Jack of Hearts led me to this story by Emily Temple. It starts out ordinarily enough, with a devoted father (dressed hilariously in a “Shittake Happens” apron – of course I googled it and of course there is shiitakehappenssuch a thing for sale out there) preparing “tons of food” for his daughter’s 16th birthday party. All of a sudden however, when the daughter is inside the house with the “master chef,” the author sneaks in another father: “As she sniffed the mini quiches, her father came in from the yard wearing a baseball cap and holding a well-worn mitt. Are you ready to throw the ball around? he yelled pounding his fist into the mitt more times than the girl thought strictly necessary.” This happened so quickly, I had to go back and read again – ‘wait, isn’t her father inside with her?’

It turns out this was just the start, as many other fathers (I guess the number must be one hundred for the story’s title to be exact) show up, each representing one thing or another in the girl’s growing up – either real or imagined, it seems.  It seems the girl also has a secret she wants to tell her father. At some point, the girl begins to feel the need to “choose” which one of these is her real father.  Then, she lines them up and “told them they would all have to go. Except the real one, if he didn’t mind identifying himself, please. This had gone on long enough.” Though it is not exactly specified what the secret is (though one can guess) and she wants to make sure she tells the right father.  At the end, when she apparently has settled on one of the men as her father, she says to him “I’ll tell you tomorrow. If you’re still here.”

Maybe this is a story that left me with more questions than answers, but as I’ve stated here any times before, I enjoy when some of the work is left to the reader. I loved the concept and the execution of it, too. I’ll be looking for more to read from this author.

“Not in Kansas Anymore” by Rocco Versaci – selection #39 of Deal Me “IN” 2016

The Card: ♠K♠  King of Hearts (the picture at left is, appropriate for this story, from a Bicycle deck)

The Suit: For this year’s Deal Me IN, Hearts is my suit for “Stories from Indiana literary magazines and journals.

The Selection: “Not in Kansas Anymore” from my copy of the Spring 2014 issue of “Midwestern Gothic” magazine.

The Author: Rocco Versaci (pictured at left upper right [from his website]), who earned both his M.A. and PhD at Indiana University, and also worked as film critic for the Bloomington Herald times. He is currently teaching at Palomar College in San Marcos, California. You may learn more about this author at http://www.roccoversaci.com/

What is Deal Me “IN” 2016? I’m glad you asked! Before the start of each year, I come up with a list of 52 stories to read and assign each of them to a playing card in a standard deck. Each week, I draw a card, and that is the story I read. By the end of the year (52 weeks), I’m done, and ready to start a fresh deck. (For a more detailed explanation of the Deal Me In challenge, see the sign up post. For a look at my deck of cards/story roster click here.) Since 2016 is my home state’s bicentennial, in this year’s edition of my annual Deal Me In challenge, I’m reading only stories that have an Indiana “connection” of some kind. Deal Me “IN” is also now officially endorsed as a “Legacy Project” by The Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

 

Not in Kansas Anymore

“This is some perverted backwoods version of Zen, where I’m shackled to the present moment, forced to feel each droplet of sweat, smell each dead possum, listen to each echo of thunder.”

Are you a homebody or do like adventure? How do you feel about road trips? For my part, I’m usually happy staying at home, or at least only straying to places that I’m familiar and comfortable with.  That said, I have been on my share of road trips over the years as well and enjoyed them for the most part. In a sense, this story reminded me of that feeling of being “on the road” and made me think that, in a way, being on the road is almost an altered state of consciousness…

This is kind of what the narrator of this story experiences.  We join him in medias res, pedaling across the country on his bicycle, as he’s leaving Kansas and entering Missouri (just one of the reasons for the story’s title). His reaction to seeing the “leaving Kansas and entering Missouri” sign on the road? “About Goddamn time!” (having driven across Kansas, I can appreciate the fact that it is a very long way across)  He encounters a detour, which have come to plague him during his trek.  Here we also learn a little of his background:

“Detours are another matter. Detours, I know about. I hit a big one in my mid-thirties. A lump in my chest that became nine weeks of chemotherapy. Nine weeks inside a body being slowly almost-killed. Like a lot of detours, it had piss-poor signage, and by the time I got back on the road I’d been on, it didn’t look the same.”

Smattered with details of small encounters on his trip, especially in the Ozarks, the story leaves the reader with a good idea of that ‘altered state’ of consciousness that being on the road can evoke. I liked the story a lot and it made me feel like going on a trip myself. I will NOT be bicycling, however. J

What are some of your favorite road trips (of any kind)?  I’ve often thought of going on a literary road trip, retracing some of Kerouac’s routes but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Or maybe a re-tread of (roughly) the path of the Lewis and Clark Expedition would be fun.  I also have accumulated a list of great places that I visited as a child on summer ‘family camping trips’ that I’d really like to see again through the eyes of my adult self. Maybe when I retire I’ll finally have ample time to try these things…

below: from wikipedia – a map of the Ozark Mountains, where much up and down pedaling was done by the author in the story

ozark-map

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