The Journey — Days Seven through Ten

Posted On: October 1, 2017

September 25, 2017 — Chicago, IL to Valparaiso, IN

 

Monday was another day of traveling from the present into the past. The day after my talk in Chicago, Judi and I drove to Valparaiso, the place that “launched” me into the Peace Corps after I’d completed my four-year undergraduate degree at the university in 1968. We first stopped to visit our cousin John Springsteen who lives with his wife, Becky, in the house designed and built sixty years ago by John’s father, Bob Springsteen. As a place the Zink family visited often in the 1950s and 1960s, the Springsteens’ home holds many memories.

The Camry at Springsteens’ home in Valparaiso

In February 1968 I had a significant conversation with my parents. I sought their advice about the Peace Corps’ offer to me to become a volunteer. Our conversation took place in this living room (pages 102-103).

Living room in the Springsteens’ home

 

September 26, 2017 — Valparaiso, IN to Indianapolis, IN . . .

 

Tuesday was the seventh day in a row of unseasonably hot weather. It was also my opportunity to visit with Bernie DeKoven, my New Games inspiration and mentor, at his home in Indianapolis. Bernie’s wife, Rocky, snapped this photo just after Bernie cracked a joke. . . .

Bernie and Tom, after the joke

I first met Bernie in Hartford, CT, in 1977 (pages 151 and 152). Bernie’s middle name is Lou, thus his nickname of “Blue.” His deep fun website is the entry point to Bernie’s wise, generous, light-hearted approach to following a playful path through life.

 

In March, Bernie was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. But his humor and playfulness have not deserted him. Here is where you’ll get a sense of Bernie’s attitude about honoring and hallowing life even in the face of death. Bernie and I talked for a while, then he invited me to walk with him a few blocks to Ellenberger Park to see visible evidence of his legacy as a peripatetic purveyor of games and playfulness. Bernie donated a special piece of playground equipment for families to enjoy. Adults and very young children can sit facing each other as they ride together on this unique swing set.

Bernie rides on the parent-and-baby swing set
Bernie’s philosophy is a permanent part of the swing set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

. . . and to Cloverdale, IN

 

I drove from Indianapolis to Cloverdale for a visit with Rob Springsteen, the oldest of my Springsteen cousins, and his partner, Karen Huntley. After we returned from dinner in a nearby town, they gave me a brief tour (in the gathering darkness) of the ranch house, large pond, and boat dock on the 50-acre farm where they live.

 

September 27, 2017 — Cloverdale, IN to Valparaiso, IN

 

On Wednesday, I drove back to Valpo to visit my cousin, Marlise Anne Reidenbach. In my acknowledgements (page 221), I wrote this: “My heartfelt ‘Thank you!’ goes especially to my dear cousin, Marlise Anne Reidenbach, a fellow logophile who has been a welcome, dependable source of reassurance, light-hearted wordplay, and advice that helps me stay spiritually grounded. We often laugh together, sometimes we cry, but always our phone calls have inspired me to persevere.” Marlise Anne, who lives in Valparaiso, is the closest I come to having an older sister.

 

Her failing eyesight has prevented her from reading my book in the months since it was published in April. So I told her I would visit her while I was traveling for this book tour and read her part of my book. On this Wednesday evening, I was able to read to her Chapter Six about my Peace Corps years in its entirety. Then I sang the song, “Good Enough for Me” (pages 236-237)  that I’ve sung at the conclusion of each one of my book talks. It was truly a blessing for both of us to share this calm, intimate time with each other.

 

 

September 28, 2017 — Valparaiso, IN to Chicago, IL

 

Before leaving Valpo and returning to Chicago on Thursday morning, I roamed the Valpo campus, noting differences from when I lived here. New buildings have taken the place of ones I knew well. But some familiar places remain. The Hilltop Gymnasium where I learned the volleyball skills that played such a key role in my Peace Corps years on Saipan still stands, enhanced by an Athletics and Recreation Center that opened  in 1984. Heritage Hall, site of many brief visits (page 102) to the office of my aunt, Anne Springsteen, has been expanded and renovated but retains an historic look and feel I recognized.

Heritage Hall

 

The Valparaiso University Chapel, considered the largest collegiate chapel in the United States, was my last stop on campus. Daily chapel, Sunday worship services and the Christmas midnight mass are some of the memories of mine this building holds. Visible in this photo, the chapel’s iconic circular chancel is nearly one hundred feet high, with a roof shaped like a nine-pointed star. The chapel is a landmark, visible from nearby U.S. Highway 30.

The Camry’s visit to the Valpo Chapel

 

 

From Valparaiso, I drove back to my sister Judi’s home in Chicago. There I began to prepare for phase two of my journey, the Peace Corps reunion in Santa Fe, New Mexico.