Mar 20

We go back in time

I didn’t go out to see this, because we shouldn’t be going out anywhere right now, but this is really lovely.

If you unpack that tweet as a thread, you’ll see a collection of marquees around the country. The Buskirk-Chumley’s signage is pretty terrific, and that is a wonderful quote.

Fun fact of trivia: I walked in there Thursday of last week to pick up some Will Call tickets for a show last Friday night as the show was being postponed. Sometimes you can only smile, and so that’s what I did. The woman working there at the moment didn’t know anything yet. She said they hoped to know something soon about make up dates. I said that’d be nice, and hopefully so, but I think we both knew it wouldn’t be tomorrow or the next day, like she said. I wished her well, and good luck with all of the other customers I was sure they’d hear from, and gave her a smile as I walked back outside.

That’s not being a helper in the sense that Mr. Rogers taught us about, but I’d like to be a person who doesn’t cause other problems, which is one of his less well-known quotes, I’m sure.

At the moment, their website says they plan to reopen on May 11th. Wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe the first movie in May, or whenever they get back, will be Home Alone.

If I may sum up a convoluted website I just read about the place, it was originally built as the Indiana Theater and used for vaudeville entertainment and silent movies, in the 1920s. It lived on as a movie theater until 1995, when it became a performing arts center, so a little bit of everything these days. (We were supposed to see Guster last week.) It is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Let’s fall back in time and look a little more at this place. May as well, we’re homebound anyway, right?

The time was 1917, the paper was the Bloomington Evening World, a paper that dates back to 1892, and ran under this name until 1943, when it merged with the coolest paper name in town, the Bloomington Telephone. A few mergers and name changes later, and it’s lineage is loosely still found in the modern Herald-Times, which is being almost stripped for parts today.

I’m looking at this issue for the first time as I create the screen captures, so I’ve no idea where this is going or what we’ll find … but on this day in 1917 …

The Campbell’s ad, which is so scandalously run on the front page — it isn’t a scandal, and it wasn’t a few years ago when some papers returned to that historic trend — invites you to come into their shop on the west side of the courthouse. Actually, the ad doesn’t say where it is. Everyone just knew. A man named Noble Campbell ran that concern. He was an IU graduate, sat on the library board, married well and eventually retired to Florida, where he died in the 1950s. I see on one site that he “was also connected with the motion picture business.” Whether that means he made wardrobe or just liked movies, we don’t know.

It’s fun to imagine though. I’m going with the silent, silent investor type. The guy the organized guys were afraid of.

They just put all your news in the old papers:

Another front page ad, where most assuredly people gathered for batteries and to gossip about that front page brief:

The Willard franchise was about 20 years old, but already a national concern. I’m not sure why the character is shooting his own sign there. Anyway, by the 1930s there were more than 5,000 shops under their banner. They’d eventually buy a radio station, built batteries that powered submarines and some of the sort you could hold in your hand. Things dried up in the 1950s and 1960s. A few years after this ad J.W. Farris also got into plumbing, heating and air. That was probably a booming series of career choices for a man in the 19-teens. Where it led him next, we don’t know.

Where that store was then? Condos today, just a few blocks from the theater, above.

There are four pages of the paper, and a lot of it points to the agricultural audience of the time, and some what we would today call syndicated content, or sponsored content, or “there weren’t a lot of people involved in writing this thing, perhaps.” You’ll be happy to hear there’s advice for how women can remove any corn, and a “Write Now” to receive the secret to masking gray hair. It’s not a new concern.

There’s also this, just hanging out on the bottom of the third page:

It’s just a hundred years ago, but they were still looking for people to settle land. In that time the building they wanted you to write to, the Traction-Terminal Building in Indy, came and went. It was the train station, and then a bus station. They razed it in the 1970s. Today there’s a Hilton on that spot.

At the student building on campus you could settle in for a play with a legitimate silent film star:

She was about to turn 21, so her audience looked a lot like her. She’d been in 125 movies and shorts by then, too. She acted regularly until 1930. This was one of her last films.

She got married, got divorced, different than the one above, and then the talkies came. She only appeared in three of them before moving to radio and Broadway. She worked in retail and then showed up in two television shows and one movie from 1958-1960. This was her last appearance, on The Many Loves of Doobie Gillis.

Arrivederci, Mrs. Dowell! It’s a quick part, and how it came to her is probably one of those small non-mysteries from 70 years ago we’ll never know, meaning a quick glance of the Internet didn’t have an essay or comment from a great-niece. In the late 1960s film scholars and, eventually, documentarians, rediscovered her career. She lived long enough to see all of that and died, at 90, in 1986.

The society notes tell of us a student recovering from appendicitis, a man who had lung fever, various family visits, and the return home of Howard M. Tourner, a jeweler. He had been out of town in Washington D.C., where he saw the second inauguration of Woodrow Wilson. He had a shop downtown, though it might not have been downtown back then. He played and taught the flute. He passed away in 1941.

On the front page there’s a paragraph about the signs of spring. The university’s baseball team had taken the field for practice, and boys could be seen playing marbles in the streets. On the back page there was the weather forecast: “Generally fair tonight.”

Mar 17

Tuesdays, we ride

OK, OK, I’ll stop writing about the eventual oncoming of spring. We’ll just assume that it is here. Until, that is, another cold snap comes through and drops snow or ice or both on us, and then we can all grimly shiver under four layers of blankets. But until then, spring:

I mark it because more trees are now in bloom than not. And also because the almost-warmth in the air has a sense of dedication and staying power to it. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Who can say. What I can say is that we went for a bike ride this evening. One of the groups of the 300-strong local cycling club meets near our house for Tuesday and Thursday rides and they are a nice group of people. If the right combination of folks are there it is a challenging group. But this is early in the year and I will need a few more miles in me before I am ready to seek out something really challenging. So today we didn’t even go down the big hill — which required turning around and coming up the big hill.

It kept us fresh for a few late evening photos:

Two of the strong guys from that group were there, and we hung on to their wheels. They’d also gone down the big hill and the people behind us had, too. But I came up a little slope to get to the beginning of the group ride and knew I wasn’t trying that hill today. Sometimes you know, you know? And they say that wisdom is in listening to what you already know.

At least I said that. Perhaps others have too. Let’s see.

No, no one has ever said that. Lhamo Dondrub said something similar, and wiser: “When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

But that’s the Dalai Lama for you.

I’m never this enlightened on my bicycle. Well, almost never. Usually I’m breathing too hard. After the fact, when my legs are resting and my lungs aren’t burning, sure, I can think up all sorts of things about hills. Also, hills are always much shorter in my imagination and memory than in reality, as we’ll soon see.

Jun 16

Corn! Beautiful corn!

And how was your day? Mine was just fine, thanks. I spent the afternoon yoyoing off and on the back of the front pack of the slow group ride. That sounds like about the right station in life for a couple of hours.

Here we were hammering it by a cornfield. Keeping up is hard!

I love this. A John Deere tractor sitting out on the corner nearest the road. That’s a tool and a display piece. And it is a welcome site.

If I rode more I’d see more.

Jun 16

My app says I rode my bike 90 mph today (I didn’t)

We found a spooky barn on our bike ride today. How often do you see a barn like this?

That’s probably a little over halfway along in today’s 30-mile route. It was at the top of a long slow climb. You get up there and before you can catch your breath you are wondering about the people that lived there. House on one side of the road, two little barns on this side, all right at the top of a round hill.

Which is better than being at the bottom of the hill, but you go through there thinking, Man, mechanized automobiles are great. Isn’t it great we didn’t have to haul these materials up here by hand?

Or that’s what I’d think, anyway.

Coneflowers we found somewhere else along the way:

We stopped four times on our ride today. And that’s OK. Great day for it. Everything is growing and in the full splendor of summer. It is a sight. You want to see it all, and hold it, and then find a way to keep it for forever, because you know the season and the beauty won’t last forever. But it should. Even when it shouldn’t, it should, even when you know why it can’t.

It’s not yet July, you shouldn’t be thinking about the winter.

I thought I would take a picture of my bicycle tire:

Seemed like a good idea at the time. I’d just mounted the thing, after all. Now I need to swap the other one, so the wheel doesn’t feel bad.

Jun 16

Through the windows

We saw this while walking around downtown tonight.

I’ll be sure to use that around the holidays.

This is from our foyer.

The angle and dramatic light makes it all look pretty imposing. But you wouldn’t get that impression in person.

We have removed most of the boxes from the foyer now. We are still, somehow, unpacking.