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Interchange – Ernest Lockridge: The Nostalgia of Emptiness in Raintree County

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Photo Credit: Hugh Hazelrigg

Host Doug Storm ends our three-part series on Bloomington author Ross Lockridge, Jr. and his bestselling novel of 1948 with an interview with Ernest Lockridge, the oldest child of Ross Lockridge, Jr.

In the program Ernest Lockridge discusses his answers to the mystery of his father’s suicide elaborated in his book Skeleton Key to the Suicide of My Father Ross Lockridge, Jr. laying emphasis on what he calls “the culture of pedophilia” of the 1940s Bloomington made prominent by Alfred Kinsey.

Ernest’s brother, Larry Lockridge, strongly opposes this view and offers what he calls a “refutation” to Ernest’s allegations against their grandfather: “Larry Lockridge’s Response to Ernest Lockridge.”

Both brothers have prepared statements as coda to this series of radio programs which offer a kind of “last word” on the subject. Those statements made via email to Interchange Producer Doug Storm follow directly below.

More about Ernest Lockridge, his Skeleton Key to the Suicide, his novels, memoirs, and paintings can be found online here: Paintings of Ernest Lockridge.

The two previous shows in the series:

Interchange – Taking the Measure of Raintree County

Interchange – Larry Lockridge: In the Shade of the Raintree

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Larry Lockridge’s refutation of the allegations made by Ernest Lockridge in his book Skeleton Key to the Suicide of My Father, Ross Lockridge, Jr.

“It wasn’t the lack of evidence, it was the considerable counter-evidence I accumulated during my research for my biography of Ross Lockridge, Jr., Shade of the Raintree, that led me totally to reject my brother Ernest’s theory that childhood sexual abuse of Ross Junior by Ross Senior was the “skeleton key” to the tragedy. I have posted this counter-evidence, some eighteen items, on my brother Ross III’s website, www.raintreecounty.com under “The Biography.” The single piece of counter-evidence people find most convincing concerns an arrangement Ross Junior made with Ross Senior in January of 1947. Ernest was then eight years old and not taking well to the cold weather in Manistee, Michigan where our family was staying. Ross Junior arranged for Ernest to live in Bloomington at his father’s house for four months. The idea was that he would enroll in third grade at Elm Heights elementary school and Ross Senior would teach him recitation. Elsie Lockridge and occasionally Lillian Lockridge would also be in residence, but Ernest and his grandfather would be unsupervised in the large house. If Ross Junior knew that his father had sexually abused himself as a child, would he have put Ernest in such terrible jeopardy? The answer is so emphatically no that this single item is in itself sufficient to discredit Ernest’s entire theory; his key simply doesn’t fit. (With respect to his health, other arrangements could have been made: Ernest could have stayed, as Larry subsequently did, with his mother’s relatives, the Mumbys, within easier walking distance of Elm Heights.)

“I cannot disprove Ernest’s memories of fondling by his grandfather during sleepovers after the suicide of Ross Junior. None of the rest of us encountered such behavior in this grandfather we loved and respected, so these memories are truly shocking. Assuming some truth in them, I suspect Ross Senior’s behavior was yet another bitter consequence of the suicide itself, some totally inappropriate attempt at bonding with the surviving elder grandson by a depressed and guilty person—as parents of suicides usually are. This is an explanation, not an exculpation. It is also a possibility Ernest nowhere considers. It could explain the lack of continuity between Ross Senior’s behavior before the suicide, where I have proved beyond any doubt that there was no sexual abuse, and Ross Senior’s behavior after the suicide as Ernest has described it. Again, the “skeleton key’ Ernest insists on to explaining our father’s suicide doesn’t fit, whatever his own subsequent victimization.”

Larry Lockridge, May 14, 2014, via email to Doug Storm

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Ernest Lockridge Responds:

“Larry posits that grief might have caused a decent man, a Doctor Jekyll, to become a sexual monster, a Mister Hyde, and that this might explain Grandpa’s attack on me on the heels of my father’s suicide. By this logic, Bruce’s drowning years earlier might just as well have caused Grandpa to molest Shockley.

“There was no grief or love propelling the indignant, imperious Mister Hyde who attacked me violently. A predator who had invested so much precious time and energy prepping me was claiming his just reward.

“My sainted father would never have abandoned me to a deviant? Last time I looked this is the same father who abandoned his entire family, the lot of us, wife and four kids, without even acknowledging our existence.

“Embedded in SKELETON KEY TO THE SUICIDE OF MY FATHER is the covert culture of pervasive pedophilia, incest, and childhood sexual abuse, cocooned by institutional protection and denial, and permitted to persist, and to wreak unacknowledged havoc in the lives of innocents. Only now are we recognizing the role of denial and naiveté in perpetuating this plague on humanity. We are also just beginning to acknowledge and understand the leading role incestuous pedophilia plays in the tragedy of suicide.

“Larry’s “counter-evidence” counters nothing; rather, it unwittingly re-inscribes the menu of lethal canards that nourish the pedophile. My brother’s entire argument, the rotting foundation of “the biography,” is an epiphany of denial, a tedious mishmash of naiveté and questionable recall that fails to acknowledge the fiendish wiliness and persistence of the pedophile, and how families close ranks to appease and protect him even as he gluts himself at the family trough. “Grandpa would never have done a thing like that”; “Grandma would never have stood for it”; “but he never did anything to me”; “he’s too old, feeble, harmless” (whereas, pedophiles become “harmless” only after the coffin-lid is nailed down); “it’s a one-off thing”; “‘what we had together’ was unique, my being so special and all.”

“Even Custodians of the Family Honor have a minimal responsibility to bring themselves up to date. Rejecting SKELETON KEY rejects what at long last is becoming factually and irrefutably known regarding the domestic pedophile, his victim, and the deplorable propensity of other family-members to do literally anything to make it all just disappear.

Ernest Lockridge, May 15, 2014, via email to Doug Storm

Interchange – Larry Lockridge: An Unedited Interview

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Host Doug Storm talks with Larry Lockridge, author of Shade of the Raintree, about his father Ross Lockridge, Jr., and his bestselling novel of 1948, Raintree County, about the search for answers to the mystery of his father’s suicide, and about the wish to save his father’s letters and manuscripts for future scholars of the novel.

This is an unedited conversation.

Find out more about Larry Lockridge’s Shade of the Raintree at www.raintreecounty.com.

Photo credit: Hugh Hazelrigg

Interchange – Larry Lockridge: In the Shade of the Raintree

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Host Doug Storm continues the three-part series on the bestselling 1948 novel Raintree County with excerpts from a conversation with Larry Lockridge, the second child of Ross Lockridge, Jr., and author of Shade of the Raintree: The Life and Death of Ross Lockridge, Jr.

The episode opens with “Flash Perkins’ Theme” from the soundtrack to the 1957 movie Raintree County.

Listen to the first show in the series: Taking the Measure of Raintree County

More about the novel and Larry Lockridge’s biography can be found at www.raintreecounty.com.

Interchange – Taking the Measure of Raintree County

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Courtesy of the Estate of Ross F. Lockridge, Jr.

Courtesy of the Estate of Ross F. Lockridge, Jr.

Host Doug Storm introduces the three-part series Taking the Measure of Raintree County.

Perhaps it needn’t be said that Raintree County is novel with a history.  We take a first step tonight into the geography of the novel with the aid of three guests who will provide a kind of compass rose to help locate us in the mythical world of Ross Lockridge, Jr.

Guests:
Don Gray, emeritus professor of English literature at Indiana University; Eric Sandweiss, Carmony Chair, Department of History and Editor of Indiana Magazine of History; and Cherry Williams, Curator of Manuscripts at The Lilly Library at Indiana University.

Interchange – A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture

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Host Trish Kerle’ interviews author, Will Fellows, whose book, A Passion to Preserve: Gay Men as Keepers of Culture, documents an American social movement rendered nearly invisible by most historians. Fellows believes there’s ample evidence that gay men have long been extraordinary preservers of history and that this inherent interest is the result of a “psychologic androgyny” of masculine and feminine qualities. He discusses five patterns of behavior in gay men who are preservation-minded that he has identified: gender atypicality, domophilia, romanticism, aestheticism, and connection- and community-mindedness.  Fellows says, “we who begin our lives as boys, who are not like other boys, grow into men unlike other men.” 

Interchange – Republican Candidates for Monroe County Council

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In tonight’s episode of Interchange, host Joe Crawford speaks with six Republican candidates for the Monroe County Council. During our first segment Crawford was joined by Marilyn Brinley, Brian Ellison, Jennifer Mickel and Paul E. White, Sr., who are competing for the Republican nomination for the District 2 seat on the Council. The winner will run against Democrat Ryan Cobine in the general election.

Later in the show, Barry Jayne and Greg Knott joined the discussion. Jayne and Knott are competing for District 4 on the Council. The winner will run against an incumbent Council member, Rick Dietz, who is the only Democrat running for the seat.

Interchange – GOP Primary Congressional Candidates District 9

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Host Alycin Bektesh talks to Mark G. Jones and Kathy Lowe-Heil, the Republican Primary candidates for Indiana Congressional District 9. The current District 9 Representative, Republican Todd Young, declined to join us.

Interchange – Recommended Listening: The Best of Interchange 2013

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Recommended Listening: “The Best of Interchange 2013″
Hosts and producers of Interchange chose their favorite shows out forty-Eight original programs produced by Interchange staff and volunteers last year.
Programs highlighted tonight:

W. Kamau Bell: Jokester Without Borders
The Airbrushed Woman: Feminism and Women’s Magazines
Kand McQueen: Boys, Girls, and Beyond
Christoph Irmscher: Against Complacency: Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”
Rahaf Safi and Shadi Alkattan: Understanding Syria
Fred Cate: Government Surveillance, Then and Now
Magnus Johnson and Jim Connor: Elder Heart
Ron Whitehead and Frank Messina: Carried by Poetry
Pat Kellar: The Making of Hoagy Carmichael

Interchange – Indiana Congressional District 9 Democrats

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Host Doug Storm speaks with candidates for the Democratic Primary Election for Indiana Congressional District 9, the seat currently held by Republican Todd Young.
Guests: William “Bill” Bailey, James McClure, and J.S. Miller.

“What kind of Democrat are you?”
Topics include Climate Change, NSA surveillance, and Public Education.

Interchange – Democratic Primary Candidates for Monroe County Sheriff

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Doug Storm hosts the second program focusing on contested Primary elections.

In the studio tonight to present their case for election and to detail their knowledge and experience for the office are Michael Pershing, Stephen Sharp, Cathy Smith and Brad Swain.

Topics covered are the operations of the department including its funding; the nature of the prison population and how it is managed; and the systemic failure of rehabilitation strategies in a population beset by poverty, alcohol and abusive relationships.

Note: The Indiana Constitution does not require any law enforcement experience for this office. Training and education are provided as mandated by statute [IC 36-2-13-9].

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