Isha Haley is the real story tonight. Not radio.
If you go back 40,000 words or so, you’ll remember that Isha is the woman who runs the No More Secrets campaign for North Township. She goes around to elementary schools to teach children about sexual abuse by adults on children. I have not seen the presentations. From what I hear, there’s role playing, speeches, games, and then an invitation for any kid who thinks they may be a victim of sexual abuse to come forward.
74. That’s how many came forward in the Hammond public schools. They had to bring in extra caseworkers to handle the load.
One of the challenges associated with doing this kind of work is that you have find someone who is believable. Kids sense what’s real and what is not. You have to find someone who has survived sexual abuse to tell their story.
As Isha tells it, she found 10 survivors to come forward. She would have a reporter from The Times all lined up to interview them, but at the last minute they just couldn’t do it. Can you blame them?
So Isha told her own story. She repeated it to me on the air. After relating it, Isha ended with:
“And my mom stayed with him.”
As the three or four of you know, I blogged about this story that night.
Fast forward to the January investiture ceremony for US attorney Tom Kirsch. This was an extremely formal affair in which a ton of people came to the US courthouse in Hammond to listen to speeches as Kirsch was installed as the new US attorney for the northern district of Indiana. Afterwards, there was a reception at the arts center on Ridge Road in Munster.
“Isha. Good to see you. How have you been doing?”
I knew after I said it that I probably wasn’t gonna like the answer. Isha and I, along with Frank Mrvan III and Munster police chief Steve Scheckel and some others, are working to get this 60-million-dollar multi-agency coordination center built at the Gary Airport. Don’t ask how I got involved in this.
Initially, I built the website for the project and helped to produce a white paper and some other stuff. I have also attended dozens of meetings and strategy sessions. It has been a lot of work, so I’m glad that Frank brought Isha on board to take over many of the everyday duties.
This means that we see her a lot. She is always impeccably-dressed. Every time you see her, she carries an opening smile. But not the night of the investiture of US attorney Tom Kirsch.
“Actually, JED, I’m not doing well at all.” This caught me by surprise. We were in a huge crowd of people that was drinking wine and making small talk. It was almost all white people, so, for better or worse, Isha stuck out.
“Two days after you wrote your blog, my mom passed away.”
Now I know what the three or four of you are thinking – “You’re making this up, JED.” But I’m not. Isha’s mom died.
“Oh my god, Isha. I’m so sorry.”
There was a long silence.
“Did she read the blog, Isha?”
“I don’t think so.”
At this point, a couple of attorneys came up to us. I introduced Isha and in typical survivor fashion, she entered into conversations. I drifted away and haven’t been able to revist this topic since. I saw Isha yesterday at a meeting of NIISSA, which is this organization that’s trying to build the emergency response center at Gary airport. But she had duties and I had duites and there has been no further conversation. Not that there needs to be. There just hasn’t.
I share this story with the three or four of you to let you know just how much Isha had at stake when she decided to tell her story. Others couldn’t bring themselves to do it. But Isha did and because of that 74 kids are getting the help that they deserve and need. There is a hero in this, and I think that you know who it is.
If there was a road to take
to lessen the pain of one
of the 74 lying in bed
There is a miracle every
day in the public schools
of Hammond, Indiana.
And once in a while there
is a nightmare. As each of
the 74 stepped forward, you
could hear the thud of heavy
zippers, the fall of a
No wonder there’s so many
disturbed women in the world.
You meet a gal and, however
long it takes, you get her to
open up her womb. You lap it
up as if it was what you
were waiting for
your whole life.
Then she starts crying,
or lashing at you,
for no apparent reason.
Upon further review, it
turns out that she was
one of the 74.
I will never understand the
predatory nature of grown
men with good jobs.
They lure, they prey,
It must be a sickness or
a survival mechanism
for the species.
Maybe after a nuclear war
child molesters will roam
will repopulate the earth.
But until then, Isha Haley
conducts “No More Secrets’
in Hammond public schools
and 74 little kids come out
of the shadows. I can’t believe
there are that many little
kids lying in bed fearing
It’s a Saturday afternoon. I should be announcing the Purdue Northwest vs. Lake Superior State game at PNW Westville. That was the deal. I would announce the games to give the program a little more attention.
But I am so steeped in Black and Gold these days that I just couldn’t make the drive today. Besides, there’s some extremely qualified young guys who are more than up to the task. I just turned it on to listen to Ryan Walsh, Sam Michel and Peter Krukowski do the games, men and women. After this, some of them, along with producer Jimmy Mullaney, will get in the car and drive directly to Bishop Noll Institute. It’s the Whiting vs. Noll game and they’re celebrating the 30th anniversary of the 1988 final four team. Jack Gabor, BNI coach back then, will be there. I would really like to see him, but, once again. Alexis and I are laying around the house and it’s so quiet. So quiet.
If the earth vibrates so much,
then why can’t I feel it?
Sometimes I lay in bed and
spread my arms to the sky
and wait for the hum.
And there is nothing.
It’s just me in bed like an idiot
with outstretched arms looking
for something that
isn’t even there.
This week, then, in my life of local radio, I –
In a word, I’m spent. So I didn’t announce the PNW game today and I’m not going to the celebration of the BNI 1988 final four game.
I will not be missed by Jack Gabor or anyone else. I did not go to Bishop Noll. I went to Munster. But did you know that because of that, Jack Gabor didn’t speak to me for ten years?
In grade school at St. Thomas More, I was a pretty decent basketball player. With my dad and uncle as the coaches, I learned a little about the game, too. I was a “coaches kid.” This got the attention, naturally, of the basketball coaches at the local Catholic high school, which is Bishop Noll.
The head coach back then was Jack King. His assistant was Jack Gabor. They would come to my games and be standing there afterwards. Knowing the rules, they didn’t ask me to come to Noll or even address it. Ultimately, I started hanging out at Noll, playing pickup games in the gym.
I took the entrance exam for Noll and passed. It was all set. I was gonna be a Bishop Noll Warrior. Then came a quirk in the cosmic scheduling of the world.
It turns out that Bishop Noll started later than Munster did… or at least after the date that Munster football did. So one day I was hanging out at my house with Chris Klyczek, Paul Roberts and Bill Howarth, and they were going down to Munster High School to pick up their equipment for freshman football.
Now I had played 8th grade football the year before, so I knew everyone on the team.
“Hey, Jimmy, why don’t you come with us?” Paul asked. “Then we’ll walk to Yankee Doodle for a hamburger.”
Sounded like a good enough idea to me. We walked to the Munster High fieldhouse and into the equipment cage. A guy by the name of Bubba Goodman was there.
“Here’s your equipment, Klyczek.”
“And here’s your equipment, Howarth. Yours too, Roberts.”
They marveled at their new good fortune. Whereas in eighth grade you wore used and banged-up equipment, in freshman football you got brand new shoulder pads and a freshly-painted helmet. The pants were bright white with no holes or sign of wear. It was like a Red Ryder bee bee gun under the Christmas tree.
Klyczek, Roberts and Howarth sat on the grond in the wrestling room marveling at their equipment. Howarth, who would eventually earn high school All-American honors as quarterback, had the best equipment – a brand new pair of quarterback pads. These are lighter and smaller than everyone else’s.
While these guys embraced their new belongings, I noticed that Bubba Goodman was talking to someone in the back of the equipment cage. I couldn’t tell who it was, but the voice sounded familiar. A few minutes later, Goodman emerged with another set of brand new pads and a new helmet, along with a brand new hip girdle and pants. And a jersey. The other guys didn’t have their jerseys yet.
“Oh, and here’s your equipment, too, Dedelow.” And he dropped it in my lap.
That night, my dad came in my room.
“What the hell is this?” he said, pointing to my pile of brand new football equipment… along with the red and white jersey. “I thought you’re going to Bishop Noll. That’s what your mom wants.”
This was true. My mom was a Catholic girl from the Frogsville section of Hammond. When she was little, they didn’t have money to go to Noll. She wanted it for me and my four little brothers and sisters.
“Do what you want. It’s your decision,” my dad said.
Needless to say, Jack Gabor had good reason to not speak to me for ten years. It wasn’t until his car broke down on 45th Street in Munster that he talked to me.
I was driving along with my girlfriend at the time and I noticed a man in a baseball uniform pushing a car.
“Oh my gosh, that’s Jack Gabor.”
I pulled over and asked him if he needed some help. He started to answer, but then he realized who I was. He didn’t say anything as he pushed his car.
I got out and helped Gabor push his car to the Marathon station at Calumet and 45th. My girlfriend followed us with my car. Gabor finished dealing with the mechanic and came over and talked directly to me for the first time in ten years.
“Hey, thanks, Jim, for the help.”
“No problem. You need a ride somewhere?”
Gabor thought about it. Ten years later, he was still sore. You could tell.
“Actually, we have a game in Highland in 45 minutes. And I have the equipment.”
“Get in. We’ll give you a ride.”
That’s how the 10-year cold shoulder was lifted. A dead battery. Gabor and I became friends over the years and I probably should be there to see his 1988 team honored. I probably would have if Bubba Goodman hadn’t emerged from the equipment cage with new shoulder pads and the most beautiful red and white jersey you ever saw.
And it had the right number on it. 22. I wore that all the way through high school and to this day it’s my favorite number. This leads to another story. Are you up for it? I haven’t written much for you this week, so you might as well enjoy the weekend babble before the week starts and I go all Jack Gabor on you.
As the three or four of you who read my blog know, this junior at Hammond Gavit – Shamari Walker – and I have developed this “HeyJED” app. If you download it from the Apple store or Google, you can, with only three button hits, send me an audio message. It goes straight onto the computer from which we play audio files on the radio. There’s a lot of reasons that we spent all of this time developing it, but let’s forget that for now.
“Hey JED,” Shamari said to me this week. “A lot people ask me – ‘how did JED come up with 22 seconds as the limit for HeyJEDs?.’”
“It was my number in high school.” Shamari thought that was funny. Talk to you later.