Hot Air: Roadtripping

Cathi’s Big Holiday

The Electron Pencil is the place to be every morning next week as the Democrats gather for their every-four-years love fest in Philadelphia. Indiana Congressional District 9 delegate Cathi Crabtree will be reporting in throughout each day she spends with her fellow Dems, Monday through Thursday, July 25th through the 29th.

We’ll be carrying Cathi’s impressions, bits of gossip, scoops, and more starting Monday with her report on the car ride with two other delegate pals, Jeanne Smith and Martha Hilderbrand, through Ohio and Pennsylvania on their way to the City of Brotherly Love.

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(L to R) Cathi, Jeanne & Martha

[BTW: The gals will be bringing their hoops along so travelers along Interstate 70 just may be in for a treat when the three pull into a rest stop.]

They’ll set off Saturday morning, knock off about halfway to Philly for a night’s sleep and then hit the big town sometime late Sunday afternoon. The three will stay together in a hotel room outside the Philly city limits (Personal to Cathi and her colleagues: You might want to stay away from those Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches, especially with onions, as long as you have to spend your nights in such close quarters with each other.) The party has made scores of deals with local hotels to put up their delegates. In Cathi’s case, for instance, she and her cohorts will pay $2000 for their five-night stay.

For Cathi, attending this historic convention (the first woman will be nominated by a major party) will be both serious and a lark. Cathi was inspired to run for district delegate in honor of her Mom who died almost exactly a year ago. Crabtree mère was a big Hillary fan. Cathi tears up as she recalls making the decision to go for it. “I’m a feminist,” she says. “I was raised a feminist by my mother — although I didn’t know it at the time.”

She positively glows as she talks of the trip and the convention. “It’ll be like a vacation,” she says. “I want to take in everything I can!”

Well, good luck, girl. Delegates’ days begin at seven in the morning with a mandatory breakfast meeting at each hotel. There, she’ll get important news of the day, an updated schedule of events, and her daily events pass. Then it’s off to downtown Philly on a shuttle bus. She’ll bounce between the arena and the nearby convention center where various caucuses will be held and seminars and presentations offered. Each day’s gavel comes down at either 3 or 4 in the afternoon and the festivities can last until 11pm or midnight and then there are after-parties that will only break up at about two in the morning. An exhausted Crabtree will climb aboard the shuttle bus for the trip back to her hotel bed, which she’ll only enjoy for a scant few hours before the whole orgy starts again.

Cathi Crabtree is a mechanical engineer at the Crane Naval Support Activity installation 25 miles southwest of Bloomington. The US Navy’s Surface Warfare Center and the US Army’s Ammunition Activity center are the base’s primary tenants. The naval side of things is responsible for designing warships and their weapons systems and the army’s people design things that explode. “There are hardly any women engineers, either at Crane or in the country at large,” Cathi says.

She claims it was at Crane where she found her political and philosophical footing. Cathi hates to admit it but she voted for the first time at the age of 25 — for Ronald Reagan, “because of the guy I was dating,” she adds hastily. “Then I became informed. I’m a late bloomer.”

As a member of Federally Employed Women (FEW) she heard visiting speaker Toby Strout, executive director of Bloomington’s Middle Way House, speak about the non-profit’s work with abused woman. Next thing Cathi knew, she’d signed up to volunteer. Since that time, Cathi has served on Middle Way’s board, was instrumental in starting up Bloomington’s short-lived National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter, and is an 11-year member of Bloomington’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Just as important, she spent four years jamming with the Bleeding Heartland Roller Derby before she retired  in June, 2015. She skated as Cat Scratch — and she’s got the tattoo to prove it.

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AKA Cat Scratch

And now, she’s the celebrity correspondent for this global communications colossus. “I’m excited to share my experience with more people,” she says. “I was thrilled when you asked me to do it.”

I mean, honestly, who in this world would turn down such a request from The Pencil?

“I hope I can fit everything in,” she says. “I want to network with other people who think like me. I want to make the 9th District and Monroe County proud.”

Well, I’m thrilled, too. Come here every morning next week and I bet you’ll be, too.

July 21st Birthdays

Ernest Hemingway — A native of Oak Park, a Chicago suburb, he professed after he became an adult to have loathed both his hometown and his mother. He studied music as a child, playing the cello, and later claimed his music lessons helped him create metric structure in his writing. “Be brief,” he advised.

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Marshall McLuhan — The medium, he famously said, is the message.


McLuhan (R) With Woody Allen (Center) in “Annie Hall”

Janet Reno — The first woman to serve as United States Attorney General. She was nominated by Bill Clinton in 1993 after his first two choices, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood, were rejected by the Senate for having employed illegal immigrants as nannies.


Garry Trudeau — New York City-born cartoonist who bestowed “Doonesbury” upon a wildly appreciative American public.


Garry Trudeau speaks onstage during the "Alpha House" panel at the Amazon 2014 Summer TCA on Saturday, July 12, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

[Image: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP]

Robin Williams — “If women ran the world we wouldn’t have wars, just intense negotiations every 28 days.”

Robin Williams photographed in 1999

Charlotte Gainsbourg — French singer who somehow survived recording the song “Lemon Incest” with her father Serge Gainsbourg when she was 12 years old. Now, I must go disinfect myself after typing those words.

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On this day in 1998, Robert Young died. People of a certain age may remember him best as the genial daddy-o in Father Knows Best. I prefer to think of him as the unflappable, hard-bitten cop, Sgt. Finlay, in the groundbreaking movie about murderous anti-semitism, Crossfire. Oddly, the novel upon which the film was based, The Brick Foxhole by Richard Brooks, was actually about murderous homophobia. Hollywood in the year 1947, though, was still under the thumb of the Hays Code which branded homosexuality a sickness so the producers had to rework the story.

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Three Roberts, (L to R) Mitchum, Ryan & Young, In “Crossfire”

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