Making Enemies

“People are so afraid of change.”

Edited by Rebecca Werner.

Transcript for Title of Story

If you want to talk about making enemies, I could tell you that I did a lot of zoning work, land use work. From 1965-1990, I was the man in Porter County that you’d talk to if you wanted to get something approved. And I can tell you that if there had been a vote of the neighborhood, there would never have been a development occur. People are so afraid of change, and you don’t know what the future’s going to be if somebody puts a subdivision next door to you. And then the remonstrances were sincere but sometimes foolish. I represented good clients and we did good things. I mean, Lakes of the Four Seasons, Shorewood. Those are big names that everybody knows, but I represented Paul Saylor who did South Haven. South Haven was very much a part of the flight from Gary that occurred in the ‘60s, and people moved out from Gary into what is now Portage. Everybody that was connected with real estate knew, “This is going to boom.”

Gary became a place where people didn’t want to live. I didn’t induce them to come here. Those people that left didn’t leave because we were here. They came here because of what they were leaving. I once visited with a person who had moved from Gary, and it was shortly after the election of Mr. Hatcher as mayor, and he summed it up this way. He said, “Almost immediately after Mr. Hatcher was elected mayor, we found out what it was like to be black in Gary.” Which simply meant the black neighborhoods got their streets plowed last. Their garbage was picked up last. The repairs in their neighborhood occurred last. And that all changed. The best construction I can put on it is that he felt an obligation to the people who had elected him and it was not the white people of Gary, it was the black people of Gary that elected him and if there wasn’t enough to go around, it wasn’t the blacks who missed out.

I really don’t know whether those people who left Gary and came to Portage and Porter County feel any responsibility. I think they just feel like they’ve been driven from their home. They’re like refugees, if I may use that comparison. I had clients who had lived in the same home as their parents had lived in, they lived there all their life, and now they feel like they’ve been driven out of their home by this force. If I’ve been driven from my family’s home, I don’t feel any warmth towards the people who drove me out. The next generation, hopefully, will feel differently.

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