Meet Jerry! Jerry is in the business of connecting people, asking questions and provoking dialogue, through his Post-Tribune/Chicago Tribune columns, his Casual Fridays radio show, his freelance magazine stories, and his two books: “Connections: Everyone Happens for a Reason” and “Lost Gary: Rusted Landmarks of the Steel City,” to be released in May. Jerry, a recovering business owner, has gotten paid to visit New York City two days after the September 11 attacks; watch a woman with terminal cancer die in a hospice; witness an autopsy, and jump out of a perfectly fine airplane with a parachute and tape recorder. He lives in Portage and never leaves home without his pen, notepad and curiosity.
What brought you to the dunes?
Ditching too many days at Wirt High School in Gary brought me repeatedly to the Dunes as a teenager, specifically the Miller Beach dunes, where I played in the sand instead of studied in the classroom. In hindsight, it worked out just fine.
How long have you lived here?
I was born and raised in Gary, moving to Portage in 1980 and always returning to the Dunes to further escape my duties, stresses and responsibilities.
What is your favorite thing to do in the area?
Continue to play hooky by avoiding the office – any office – as much as possible while chatting and writing about this region’s people, issues and controversies.
Tell us a secret about the dunes
The best secret about the Dunes is that they can keep YOUR secrets no matter how many you reveal in their midst… forever, like a sandy confessional with no dogma attached.
Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)
a) Flamingo Pizza in Miller, which I’ve been going to in some form or another for half a century, when it started in downtown Gary.
b) The lazy, winding trails at Indiana Dunes State Park, which still remain hidden to too many people (fortunately for me).
c) Union Station in downtown Gary, which has been closed for more than 50 years yet still embodies a certain, albeit sad, charm at Third and Broadway, something I discovered while researching my latest book, “Lost Gary, Indiana,” which was released in May.
What would you like to teach people about the dunes?
The Dunes are a living entity, constantly on the move – one grain of sand at a time – like a massive hourglass in our backyard, where millions of others have walked, played and contemplated the whimsical concept of time.
One of the reasons the city of Gary has a thread of hope for its future is the Dunes, another nugget of insight I learned for my “Lost Gary” book. For more info, please visit my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/LostGaryBookByJerryDavich
As its cover states: “A poster child for our nation’s urban experimentation a century ago, Gary was forged with hype and hope, dreams and sweat, political agendas and tons of steel.
“The hardscrabble city attracted all kinds, from shady scoundrels and famous architects to hardworking immigrants and brilliant entrepreneurs. Boasting 180,000 residents at its peak, the …booming melting pot eventually faded away under the afflictions of urban decay, racial unrest and political upheaval.
“Jerry Davich explores the remnants of Gary’s glory days, from Union Station in ruins to City Methodist Church stripped of its soul. Revisit the Sheraton Hotel’s demise, Emerson High School’s hard lessons, Vee-Jay Records’ last release and a devastated downtown filled with façades and fond memories.”
To read about more “neighbors”, click here!