I received an email this week from reader Karen Matuska of Highland who, along with her husband Milan, is on the hunt for a rare book published a decade ago by our own beloved Times columnist Archibald McKinlay.
"Hi, Phil: Last year when we moved, poor Milan had to whittle down 15 bookcases full of books to five. He packed up and gave more than 60 boxes of his beloved books to two Christian organizations. He had set aside a box of cherished books, BUT they too were inadvertently put with the books to be given away. Now we've discovered one of the books we are missing from our collection is 'Oil and Water' by Arch McKinlay. I have searched in vain for a copy of this book and I'm asking everyone I know if they would be able to connect me to someone who would have a copy of this book and would be willing to part with it. Thank you so much, Karen"
Karen and Milan are not only faithful Times readers, but they are also dear friends. Like myself, Milan is also a graduate of Valparaiso University. When I first joined The Times in 1995, after the Valparaiso newspaper I worked for The Vidette-Messenger was sold to The Times, Karen was one of the first smiles to greet me in the newsroom, since she worked as our librarian and archivist at our Munster offices. She was also a valuable resource back when she started at our original Hammond Times offices at 417 Fayette St. in Hammond.
As for Times columnist Archibald McKinlay, 86, he has been writing his Sunday newspaper feature "Calumet Roots" for 33 years, since launching the column in 1981. A 1945 East Chicago graduate, one of my favorite "Archie stories" is when he described how he waited from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on a cold night in New York in September 1954 to see Marilyn Monroe film her famed street scene of her skirt blowing in the air for the film "The Seven Year Itch."
McKinlay's other great stories include his time spent at the White House as a member of President Richard Nixon's communications cabinet.
In addition to writing his long-running column in The Times, McKinlay has also authored several books, including the limited printing run of the tome the Matuskas are seeking.
The complete title of this book by Arch is called "Oil and Water: A Pictorial History of Whiting, Indiana," a 203-page paperback published in 2003 by Donning Company Publishers. It details back to 1803 and the early settlers, along with info about Berry Lake and the Berry Family, whose inn was one of the first businesses in the area. The book includes information on Madura's Danceland, Standard Oil, the Memorial Community Center, sports and the wonderful entertainment area Five Points with its casino and amusement park.
A call to Arch resulted in news that even he no longer has any extra copies to spare to help out the Matuskas. Online searches reveal the few copies that are still floating about, are selling for a steep asking price of $750 to $980, all from sellers out in California.
If any readers happen to have an extra copy of this book by Arch, and you are willing to part with it, please contact me and I'll be happy to let the Matuskas know the good news.