Updated: September 16, 2013 11:11AM
Sure, the accompanying photo for today’s column can be viewed as just another demolished building in Northwest Indiana, another brick-and-mortar victim of the endless march of progress.
But I see this construction site as much more.
To me (and possibly you?), it’s still hallowed ground, where tens of thousands of region residents inhaled their first breath, gasped their last breath, or were healed back to recovery by modern medicine and ancient rituals.
Today, it’s merely the former site of Porter Memorial Hospital in Valparaiso — amid ongoing demolition and its final demise — but it’s still ground zero for thousands of resuscitated memories about us as a people. Our families’ accidents, injuries, diseases, recoveries, deaths and births.
My two kids were born at PMH, and I returned there countless times for frantic emergency room treks, patient room visits and waiting room jitters. Were your kids born there, too? Or were you?
“All three of my kids were born there,” Chris Sulcer of Valparaiso said in response to my recent social media post on this issue.
“I was born there, and so were my daughters and grandsons,” replied Tim Cole of Woodville in Porter County.
“My mom, me and my kids were all born there, not to mention all the various surgeries, admissions and emergency trips,” said Michelle Searer of DeMotte. “We drove past it a couple weeks ago. It was a weird, eerie feeling to see it in heaps of rubble.”
When I biked past this fenced-in gravesite last week, I felt compelled to pause for a moment to pay my respects. Rest in peace, PMH, and thanks for the decades of memories that joyfully and painfully illustrated our humbling fragility and amazing strength.
From the ‘Peanut’ gallery
Ken Yatsko of Kouts read my column on Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte and came away impressed by Forte’s integrity. But Yatsko was even more impressed by the personal gesture of another Bears player, cornerback Charles “Peanut” Tillman.
Yatsko has been a season ticket holder for 30 years and attended both of the Bears’ Super Bowl appearances.
At one of those games, the Bears passed out cheering pompons to the crowd and his young daughter kept hers as a memento. On Aug. 3, he attended “Bears Family Night” at Soldier Field with his daughter and now her daughter, his granddaughter.
His daughter brought along the souvenir pompons and allowed her young daughter to cheer on their beloved Bears with it.
“Towards the end of the evening while she was waving it, it slipped out of her hand and fell onto the field,” Yatsko told me.”It happened right in front of one the security guards, but he ignored our pleas to retrieve the pompons.”
Then, “out of nowhere,” Tillman ran to the stands, looked for the pompons and handed it to Yatsko’s granddaughter.
“Here you go, honey,” Tillman told the girl before running back to the field.
“I can’t tell you how grateful we were to get the souvenir back,” Yatsko said. “This shows the human side of Charles and what he considers important. Can you somehow get in contact with him and let him know how grateful we are that he was there to become a superhero for us?”
I’m working on it, Ken, starting with this column. Tillman, who’s famous for stealing the football out of opposing players’ grips, obviously stole the heart of this girl and her family.
A class act, Peanut.
Reaching black teens
Michelle Horst, who teaches social studies at East Chicago Central High School, contacted me with good news.
After reading my column on 48-year-old high school dropout Brian Causey and his public plea to black male teens — to stay in school — she has arranged for him to visit her school to address its students.
Causey will give a presentation on Oct. 9 and I plan on being there for a follow-up column.
Thanks for donating
Thanks to those readers who made a donation to Opportunity Enterprises, Inc. for my upcoming fundraising run (crawl?) in next month’s Chicago Marathon.
There is still a monetary goal to meet and if anyone is interested in changing the lives of those less fortunate, you can do so at this website: www.crowdrise.com/jerrydavich.
Any dollar amount would be highly valued by all those OE clients who are unable to take part in the Chicago Marathon yet who truly know the meaning of a challenging race — the human race, of course.
Prince of Transylvania?
Father Joe Vamos of Our Lady of Consolation Catholic Church in Merrillville believes he has identified the mysterious image cast in concrete of a Portage homeowner. If you recall, Brenda Sumner’s late husband, Gerald, unearthed it in their backyard after nearly 20 years of being buried by weeds, brush and abandonment.
“I believe it is a bust of Ference (Francis) Rakoczi II,” Vamos told me. “I am quite certain that it is him.”
“He was born in Borsi, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire on March 26, 1676. He was also considered a Prince of Transylvania. His remains are entombed in the present Cathedral of St. Elizabeth in Kosice, Slovakia.
There you have it. Mystery solved?
Good luck Karmen
I’m told that long-time Post-Tribune reader Karmen Konrath of LaPorte is undergoing a major surgery procedure later this month. I want to wish her good luck. Our thoughts are with her.
Department of Corrections
In my Friday column regarding the Chicago Street Theater show, I switched the names of the character and the actress for one role. “The World’s Worst Fairy Godmother,” the role of the best fairy godmother, Edna Prim, was played by actress Andrea Bertch.
Connect with Jerry via email at email@example.com, or at 713-7237, or Facebook, Twitter, and his blog, at jerrydavich.wordpress.com.