Mount Baldy


Mount Baldy, Michigan City, Indiana

I went to Mount Baldy last Sunday just for old times’ sake. Jim, Vito, and I went to Mount Baldy regularly when we were younger. Jim was very familiar with this part of Indiana since he grew up in Hammond. Whenever he was bored, he would stop by my house unannounced and say, “Let’s go for a ride!” There was no need to ask where because we always ended up in Indiana somewhere. I always loved Indiana ever since I attended Divine Heart Seminary in Donaldson. For a while there, I seriously considered moving to Indiana. So, I didn’t mind too much whenever we took a road trip to Indiana. We often went to Mount Baldy and its beach just for the fun of it. We never actually went in the water, though.

When I went last Sunday with Beata, we had a hard time finding a parking space at Mount Baldy. Jim, Vito, and I never had trouble finding parking before. I couldn’t figure out why. Then, I remembered! Jim, Vito, and I never went to Mount Baldy during the summer, during the tourist, beach-going, sun-tanning season. We never kept a regular schedule like normal people.  We always went late at night or long after beach weather had passed. Now that I think of it, we were often the only ones on the beach!

We would cruise along Lake Michigan with no particular destination or agenda. We just loved driving! Occasionally, when we were old enough to drink, we would stop for a beer at a bar that Jim discovered near Mount Baldy. Jim loved discovering new places of interest and then taking us there. I don’t know about Vito, but I wasn’t so excited about these places. But I liked to humor Jim because we did have fun on our road trips!

We often went to the beach long after the beaches were closed. We even went in the winter. One extremely cold winter, we went to the beach at Beverly Shores.  Danger signs were posted to warn everyone to keep off the ice. Those warning signs only work for normal, moderately sane people. To us, they were an open invitation to go on the ice as far as we could go. The smooth sheets of ice were broken up by warm waves of water and then frozen so they looked like waves that froze as they approached the shore. They looked dangerous and inviting all at once. As I recall, Jim and I went out on the frozen waves, but Vito urged us not to go so far. Despite Vito’s cautious approach, he was right behind us. I suppose he did this as a precaution, If the ice cracked and swallowed up Jim or me, Vito could safely go back to shore. Since the weather had been so cold, we went out pretty far out on the ice, far from the shore. We kept going until we could hear the ice cracking under our feet. So, we turned back and headed to the beach. Hey, we weren’t totally insane!

Dr. D. carrying his son up Mount Baldy way back in 1990.

We really had fun on our last road trip to Mount Baldy. I was home alone with my son at home in Bridgeport. Jim and Vito unexpectedly showed up early one Saturday morning. They wanted to go to Mount Baldy! But I had to go to work later that day! What about my son? They insisted that I take my son with me and that we would be back in time for me to go to work. I resisted with all my might. Finally, after deep determination and exertion of my strong will, I gave in. I was able to resist a whole minute before I agreed to go with Jim and Vito to Mount Baldy for old times’ sake. Little did we realize that this would be our last trip together to Mount Baldy.

Vito, as usual, brought his camera. He brought his camera everywhere, or so it seemed. I don’t know about Jim, but I found Vito’s camera very annoying back then. Now that I look back, I’m thankful that he took so many pictures to document our past good times!

Cedar Point


Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio.

I’m not sure how the conversation started, but my sons and I thought back to all the amusement park that we had ever ridden. Of course, when you speak of amusement park rides, you also conjure up images of roller coasters. Tall, scary fast roller coasters. They wanted to know what was the scariest roller coaster I had ever been on. I thought long and hard and finally recalled the Blue Streak at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

Way back in 1975, I went to Cedar Point with Jim Harmon because he had gone there with his family when they lived in Indiana. He told me about what a great amusement park it was. And, it was within driving distance from Chicago. We really enjoyed all the rides (I was much, much younger then). However, I only remembered one ride: The Blue Streak. It was the most wicked roller coaster I had ever ridden. Jim warned me in advance of the big drop at the beginning, but even with advance warning, I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to experience. Back then, the only safety feature was a bar that we pulled back over our laps. So, when we went down that first drop, I actually felt myself floating off the seat and I clung to the safety bar for dear life! Then there were a whole series of little dips that actually caused me to be airborne many times during the rest of the ride. From then on I compared all roller coasters to the Blue Streak, which had become my gold standard.

So, I told my sons about the best roller coaster in the world. They suggested we go to Cedar Point to check it out. Since I keep becoming more and more like my father, I follow many of my sons’ suggestions. We went to Cedar Point in 2004 for the first time, but the Blue Streak was no longer the most exciting roller coaster at Cedar Point. In fact, Cedar Point became the roller coaster capital of the world. There were so many roller coasters that we didn’t have time to go on all of them in one day. Yes, the lines for the main attractions like the Millennium Force and the Top Thrill Dragster were more than two hours long!

Well, we loved all the roller coasters! But just for old time’s sake, I suggested that we ride the Blue Streak so they could experience firsthand what I had described to them. They were not as thrilled. Of course, after riding all the other roller coasters, the Blue Streak was anticlimactic. They were like, “Dad! What a boring roller coaster.”

When we went on the Blue streak again last week, after I insisted–actually, begged–, They said they couldn’t believe how the Blue Streak could have been the main attraction at Cedar Point. I told them, “Just wait until you have your own children and you tell them about the rides today. They will be surprised at how boring these roller coasters are. They’ll have something way faster and scarier.” I don’t think I entirely convinced them. But roller coasters just keep getting higher and longer and faster and scarier all the time.

Check out some of the roller coaster world records at Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_roller_coaster_records

Friends


Dr. D. in Michigan City, Indiana

When you reach a certain age (Yes, my age!), you tend to look back to the past more often than you look forward to the future. I always recall my friends and some of our adventures.

I was going through my old pictures when I saw this picture of me. My friend Vito took this picture of me. Vito, the photographer who claims he doesn’t like posed pictures, asked me to pose for this picture. So I did.

Back then, Vito took his camera everywhere and I always found it annoying. Now when I look through my old pictures I realize that I have many pictures of me with my friends and family that Vito took and later gave to me  unexpectedly. Of course, I now truly believe the annoyance was worth it. I can’t thank Vito enough for all the pictures he gave me. If you see an old picture of me in this blog, chances are that Vito took it.

I vividly remember taking the trip in this picture. My friends, Jim and Vito, stopped by my house unexpectedly one day, without even calling me first. We used to do that to each other back then. Just stop by someone’s house unexpectedly. Actually, I always enjoyed those surprise visits. Nowadays, no one has time for such frivolous visits. We also had more fun because these visit were a bonus no one expected.

So, anyway, one day, Jim and Vito stopped by my house and demanded that I go for a ride with them. Jim enjoyed going out for a ride ever since he got his driver’s license and his own car and he would drag along anyone who couldn’t come with a good excuse not to go with him. Since I had no plans for that day, or the next week for that matter, I went along for the ride. All three of us have always been drawn to Indiana for some strange reason, so we usually went to that strange, foreign land of Indiana. Generally, we stayed near the coast of Lake Michigan, much like the Portuguese sailors who never lost sight of the African coast lest they fall off the edge of the earth.

We enjoyed the sand dunes, so we usually went to the beach at Mount Baldy. When we were old enough to drink, we went to bar that was right across the street. After that, we usually just wandered around aimlessly for the rest of day. That explains why we ended up in Michigan City in front of Jaymar, the Sans-a-belt pants outlet! And just to commemorate this momentous occasion, Vito took my picture for the sake of posterity. And a great picture such as this deserves a great dedication. So, with much fanfare a few weeks later, Vito presented me with this picture that had the following dedication on the back:

He is the man …
… the superman

AND –yes– he shops at Jaymar!

Jaymar … downtown Michigan City
the duct tape capital of the world!

MAR 87

As I recall, I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes when Vito first gave me this picture. I’m sure I even laughed when I read the inscription on the back. I recalled how we used boast about how we had wasted our time that day. However, when I saw this picture in my photographic archives (actually, it’s just a cardboard box), I was in awe of that oh so awesome trip we took. I wish I could take trips like that once again. All my friends are now grown up and don’t have time for such nonsense. My sons refuse to take too many of those trips with me because they are more grown up than me.

Now I long for those useless, pointless trips!

Donaldson, Indiana


This post office only came into existence because of Divine Heart Seminary and Ancilla Domini College nearby.

I know Heraclitus said you can’t step into the same river twice, but I tried anyway. I went back to Divine Heart Seminary in Donaldson, Indiana, to visit after a long absence of many years. Once again, I felt the urge to go back. But you can’t go back to the same place again. I knew this would happen, but I hoped against hope. I had braced myself for disillusionment, so I wasn’t saddened when I didn’t find places that I had wanted to revisit.

Sometimes, I like to go back to places from my past just to see if they still exist. Most places have actually improved from the way I remember them. However, DHS was not one of them. The main drive was a pot-hole violated road. I missed seeing the familiar white wooden fence that lined the main drive. When I got halfway down the drive, it was closed off with a No Trespassing sign. I stopped to take pictures anyway. The owner came to the gate to greet me. Yes, greet me. I’m sure he wasn’t checking up on me to make sure I didn’t trespass on his property! He was selling part of the property and they would soon knock down some of the buildings. He said that he would save the cornerstones so someone could send them to Hales Corners, Wisconsin. He wouldn’t allow me to take pictures on the property, but he said he would take some before the demolition began and promised to post them on the Internet.

Afterwards, I went down the road a piece to Ancilla Domini College. I learned “down the road a piece” while I was a student at DHS, so I like to sprinkled my driving directions with this phrase from time to time. Ancilla had not only survived beautifully, but it has also flourished in the intervening years. The Ancilla girls were cheerleaders for our sports teams, the tenacious and ferocious Deacons. We also used to go to Ancilla in the winter to Gilbert Lake to play ice hockey.

I decided to look for some other familiar places. The Hi Dee Ho Truck Stop on U.S. 30 was still there, but under a different name now. Days Country Store on old U.S. 30 was no longer there. The Dairy Queen in Plymouth was replaced by a new one that resembles any of the new Dairy Queens that I’ve seen all over the USA while driving around on vacation aimlessly. The bowling alley in Plymouth was gone. I went to Meyers Lake where we went camping with the Explorers Club. The Trading Post was gone. The campground where we camped was gone and a housing complex was in its place. But at least Meyers Lake was still there.

Other people would probably be disappointed with such a trip. But not me! Despite the many things that I expected to see being gone, I was extremely happy that I was not one of them!

Running


Even though it was 95 degrees, I finished 8th place in 2:44!

I’m enjoying my summer vacation from teaching so far. I get up whenever I feel like. I have a cup of black coffee while I rub the sleep from my eyes. I more or less kill time and stall before I go out my front door for my morning run before it gets too hot out. Lately, I’ve been slowing down on my runs. I’m not sure if it’s due to age and/or allergies. Of course, I’ve had these experiences before, even when I was in my twenties. I have been running, on and off again, since high school. I first started running when I was at Divine Heart Seminary when I joined the cross country team. For some reason I wanted to be on a school team because I thought it would be cool. My first race was the Marshall County Cross Country Championship in Indiana. Since I didn’t know any better, I ran alongside the lead pack right from the start. After about a mile, I suddenly slowed down to a crawl, or so it seemed to me. I’m not sure where I placed, but I received a ribbon. I have one run that I will never forget: I was running on some backwoods road in Camp Pendleton when I felt someone running alongside me. I looked over my shoulder and saw a coyote. At first, I was startled, but I continued running as if this were normal. The coyote and I ran together for about five minutes before we went our separate ways. Well, enough stalling! I am now going out for my morning run.

Hello, coyote! Where are you running to?

Divine Heart Seminary


Divine Heart Seminary
My mother Carmen and me. 1971

I attended Divine Heart Seminary in Donaldson, Indiana, despite my protests. It all started when I was in the seventh grade at Holy Cross School. Two seminaries, Divine Heart Seminary and Divine Word Seminary, sent priests to talk to the boys about vocations. When I was thirteen, I thought I might be interested in becoming a priest. After all, I attended mass almost everyday. My father and all his brothers attended a seminary in Montezuma, New Mexico. My aunt was a nun, and two of my uncles were priests. But I had my doubts about the priesthood because I would have to take vows of obedience, poverty, and celibacy. Celibacy? Now wait a minute. The vow of celibacy was my main stumbling block. I knew that someday I would like to have children. Anyway, I gave both priests my name because I said I might be interested in the priesthood. Then, I forgot all about their visit.

In the eighth grade, Divine Heart Seminary called me to see if I wanted to visit their campus. They would come to my house to pick me up and drive me all the way to Donaldson, Indiana. How could I say no? Before I went to visit DHS, I truly wondered if I wanted to become a priest. I was an altar boy then and a very devout Catholic, but I did have my mischievous side. Overall, I considered myself a good person.

At the Divine Heart, I saw how the seminarians lived. I spent one weekend there and got a taste of seminary life. I slept in the dorm where I would sleep as a freshman and I got a tour of the campus with the “big brother” that I was assigned. I got to see how real seminarians lived! Well, I was disillusioned by the seminary life. I didn’t think that potential future priests should behave like these seminarians.

At Holy Cross, I was taught that just about everything was a sin: swearing, smoking, playing pool, etc. Well, I was shocked to hear the boys swearing when their were no priests or brothers present! And they were going to be priests? Then, my big brother showed me the smoking lounge. These boys were allowed to smoke? I thought smoking was a sin. But my biggest shock of all was that they had pools tables! Not one or two pool tables, but many pool tables. In fact, there were several rooms that were exclusively reserved for playing pool. At that moment, I decided that future priests should not behave like these seminarians. I absolutely knew that I would not attend this seminary because they lived sinful lives.

Later, when I had forgotten all about my visit to Divine Heart Seminary, Sister Cecilia, the principal, called me outside of the classroom to talk to me. I thought I was in trouble for something I did. She told me that DHS called and wanted to know if I was still interested in attending their seminary. I immediately told her, “No.” She said, “You’re just too shy to admit it.” We went back into the classroom, I sat down, and she addressed the class, “Well, boys and girls, you are all very fortunate! David has received a vocation. He will become a priest someday! Next year, David will be attending Divine Heart Seminary in Indiana.”

Well, that little announcement truly changed my life forever. I sure didn’t want to attend any seminary, let alone Divine Heart Seminary. Soon, my classmates started calling me Father David. In the neighborhood, the kids would see me coming and mutter under their breath, “Watch what you say. Here comes the priest.” The girl I really liked in the class lost all interest in me. The next morning when I served mass as an altar boy, Father Gilbert congratulated me on my vocation. I told him that I didn’t want to become a priest, but he didn’t believe me and said that I was just being modest.

I told my father about what had happened to me with the seminary. That’s when I learned he, too, had attended a seminary for many years. He was actually proud of the fact that I would also attend a seminary. When my mother found out about my “vocation,” she told me that she was so proud of me. No one would listen to me! I didn’t want to attend Divine Heart Seminary. I had narrowed down my choices for high school to Leo High School or De La Salle High School. Try as I might not to attend DHS, I was forced to attend DHS. Before I even started school there, I had already made up my mind that I would never become a priest. Yet everyone was so proud of me and the fact that I would attend Divine Heart Seminary!