Indiana


3
Dec 20

The week with bad titles, part four

This area is rich in limestone. The campus is full of local stuff. Courthouses around the state feature stone that was ripped from the ground around here. The stone was the necessary ingredient for the move Breaking Away‘s subtext.

We watched Breaking Away when we moved up here. The Yankee had never read it. It’s still a fine film, and I wonder how townies feel about it. It still holds up, even if the locals would tell you there are some geographical problems. And I’m older now. Growing up it was a movie aimed at me, the child. Today I’m much, much closer to the dad’s age than the young kids who really make up the movie. The dad’s big speech, which probably raced right by me each time I saw it as a kid, really sank in differently that last time we watched it.

And it’s popular far and wide. Indiana’s limestone is what you see at the Empire State Building. The U.S. Holocaust Museum, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Archives, the Department of Justice, Wilson Center, the EPA, NOAA, the Department of Commerce and more, they all came from here. Federal courthouses, churches, college campuses across the country, tons of them feature Indiana limestone.

At the height of the industry, the state sent 14.5 million cubic feet of dimension stone to all of those projects, most of it coming from this region. It has certain attributes that make it both aesthetically pleasing and professionally easy to work with. Even today, those cutters quarry 2.7 million cubic feet of Indiana Limestone each year, and it generates about $26 million annually in revenue.

And it all started right here, or, rather just a few miles up the road. The first real digging of limestone in Indiana is the subject of this installment of my old and forgotten, and now remembered and almost completed historical marker project. I’m showing off all those beautiful painted signs in the county. I rode to all of them on my bicycle. This particular one is the second-furthest away from the house, in fact, so enjoy. Click on the image to see this particular entry.

The marker itself, which you can see by clicking over via the image above, is a bit removed from the location it celebrates. You can’t, in fact, see the old quarry (it failed in the 1860s) by road, or even from the bird’s eye view of Google Maps. But there’s some more local history sitting in the center of the park in that sleepy, small town, population 200. (Stinesville was laid out 28 years after the quarry began, which was when the rail line showed up. The post office arrived five years after that.) The bonus photo you’ll find in the post is of a locally important bell. It came from a church established in 1894, just 67 years after that first quarry was dug. The community saved the bell in 1995, and I bet there’s a story behind that which the web isn’t telling us, and it was put in that park in 2005. So it’s been there 15 years now. I wonder where it was for the 10 years it was being saved.

Oh, here it is, in a local historical newsletter, from 2006. It seems the church building has had several lives. First it was a congregation for Lutherans, and then it became known as the First Christian Church. It was badly damaged in a 1964 storm, though, and a few years later the church was sold to a private individual. All the contents were auctioned, including the bell. And then in 1995 the bell was going to go on the market again, but the community preserved it. Later, the church building, not made of limestone, was repaired, renovated and is now a private residence. Happy ending. And, in the summer of 2015, the last time the Google car came through, it needed a fresh coat of paint. I believe it’s had one since then, and now that I know what I’m looking for, I’ll check on it when I’m out that way again. But the lawn was well-kept! So, like all of us, it’s in progress.

If you’d like to see two county’s worth of historical signs and the places they’re highlighting, go to the main page.


3
Aug 20

Day hiking in the Deam

Welcome to August, the time when we all try to remind ourselves that days are inconsequential, but months matter, somehow. How are things going where you are? That sounds rhetorical, but I mean it. How are things? Parents are trying to figure out how school will work. Fans are wondering if they’ll see their sports this fall? People are trying to figure out if they can just get their mortgage or rent in on time. Some people are working through a lot, and isn’t it funny how inconsequential some of those things can seem if the big ones are up in the air?

So I hope you’ve been taking a little time for yourself here and there. Mediation. Coffee. Walks. Reading something fun. Dancing sillily to music. Exercise. Whatever it is you do, do a little more of it. You probably deserve it. And if you think you don’t, you definitely do. This is August.

And since it is also Monday, we check in on the cats. The cats are good!

Phoebe literally can’t even. Did we do this one right?

Poseidon, in a rare moment of cuteness takes his break from being a little pill.

I’m kidding. He’s about 50/50. Or 40/60. Definitely he’s 30/70, cute.

We went for a walk in the wilderness yesterday. We saw one family on the trail. They were hiking back up out of the ravine as we were just beginning to work our way down into it. We each stopped, and the mom and the dad and all of their kids put on masks. We put on our masks. And then we all made a wide berth for one another. I waved at one of the kids, and it is obviously too early for all of that for her. Maybe I should have complimented her mask.

The mother and I both worked on smiling with our eyes. It’s probably past due on that, at least for me.

We were in the Charles Deam Wilderness, which gives you 36 miles of trails for hiking, backpacking, and horse riding. I took pictures of some of the humble undergrowths.

It’s a scenic hardwood forest, and the up-and-down terrain is probably beautiful to explore in the autumn. If you’re on the right part of it you can get some really nice views of the nearby lake. We happily crossed a few streams in our four-mile hike.

This was declared a wilderness in 1982 based on some legislation from the 1960s and today makes up 12,000-plus acres of the Hoosier National Forest.

It’s yet another one of those places where we say “Native Americans lived here” and, also, “It was originally settled in 1826.” Clearly people had been there before. It’s got good game, even today, but the agriculture was a bit hardscrabble.

Finally, when the Great Depression hit and the economy turned in this area people were forced out. The government bought up the abandoned land and the Civilian Conservation Corps moved in to return it to a wilderness, control erosion and make it a recreation area.

You can still see some of the old home structures in the wilderness, though we didn’t run across any yesterday. As noted, it’s a big area, which will be nice for return visits and new discoveries.

We did see a few horseshoe prints, even on the trails were horses aren’t allowed. Silly horses, they should know better and read the signs. We only heard and saw a few other people the whole time we were out, and most of them at our turnaround point, at a little cave on the top of the ridgeline. It was a bit underwhelming, as caves go, but I’ve been spoiled by some large examples over the years.

We found this tree on our way back out.

Let’s take a closer look at that tree.

I got photobombed.

There are six other trails to try out, as well, and I’m sure they all feel different in the passing seasons.

The cleanup has been an impressive one. There were 81 farms out here, and corn and hay on the ridges. Given the topography and crops it was probably a terrific example of ten-year land.

Because of today’s special rules of the wilderness act, the only work done today is trail maintenance. So if you know what you’re looking at, it’s an interesting place to see nature making it’s slow and sudden comeback.

In some areas the growth is thicker than others. It’s a space rehabilitating itself.

The Deam Wilderness, I’ve just learned, is the biggest wilderness in the lower Great Lakes region with almost 13,000 acres. For comparison, Illinois has eight wilderness areas but they’re mostly a few thousand acres each.

And, finally, a tree we found in one of the creek beds.

When you’re down in that area with the creek beds, and the hills on either side of you, you have a great sense of being alone. Even in a socially distanced world it felt like a fine dose of quietude.


7
Jul 20

There’s audio here and I would be appreciative of your listening

No Phoebe and Poseidon on Monday? No. We had other cats to feature. I also had to do my work in the actual building on Monday. And the world has gone mad.

I was going to make that joke. But the local world has actually gone mad. There’s a banner on an overpass right now that says “A man was almost lynched” because a man here was almost lynched. There’s a video of the confrontation. A putrid, two minute and several seconds video of it.

So, last night there was a demonstration downtown about this troubling weekend event, as you might imagine. Someone chose to drive a car through some people. One or two people were hurt. One of them apparently mildly. The other was treated at a local hospital and released with a reported head injury. I’m also hopeful they’ll address arresting the driver of the car that did this terrible thing.

There’s certainly evidence. But there’s evidence of both, isn’t there? You can see it. I’m not putting any of that here, but it is out there if you want it, and it is all repugnant.

This is the thing about video: someone will always say “You don’t see what happened before the video.” And that’s a true and powerful insight you have there. What a keen legal mind you have. This is the real thing about video: no matter what happened before someone whipped out their phone and got the camera up, no action calls for what is seen before the unblinking eye.

At least one of my students was out there reporting. Apparently eye witnesses say the driver ran several red lights. So, in other words, done deliberate. And I’m really stuck on this part: one of my students was out there.

So vehicular assault in broad daylight, that ought to go somewhere, one assumes. One also assumes that state officials, the appropriate authority for where the almost-lynching confrontation happened, will figure out the threatened or attempted lynching. But they haven’t managed to do that yet, despite, you know, daylight video and plenty of incriminating evidence like work shirts, prominent tattoos and faces.

Madness.

But the FBI came down to look into the first crime, too. This was announced at this evening’s demonstrations which were, seemingly, much more peaceful for everyone.

So we’re having Phoebe and Poseidon on Tuesday this week.

Poseidon should also get a name for his love of cabinets. Cardea, if I recall, figures into hinged doors in Roman mythology, but I can’t think of anything close enough in the Greek, so we’re giving it to the mighty Poe, who was surveying his kingdom with great contentment here:

Phoebe and three of her favorite pursuits: a spring, a stair landing and the pursuit of belly rubs:

And they decided to sit together on the stove cover of my own design and creation. A rare display of getting along in proximity in their sibling rivalry.

So, yet again, spending a few hours building that little thing one weekend was worth it, I guess.

You know what else is worth it?

I talked to an epidemiologist today. We discussed whether the coronavirus is airborne. We talked about looking at the data and masks and the bubonic plague. We discussed whether I should get a haircut.

We also briefly mentioned the task of getting kids to wear a mask. Of course, she said, her children wear masks. She doesn’t have too much trouble with them, she said. But they are of a certain age now. And, being someone that tracks diseases, she probably brings home terrible images and scares them to death, as would be her parental right.

I’m sure she doesn’t do that. She’s a perfectly pleasant individual and probably her children listen to reason. And if they don’t, both of their parents work in public health, which means they’ve got plenty of adult experts in their lives to scare them senseless while mom and dad are conspicuously working on backyard appetizers.

Anyway, she says wear a mask. And be willing to leave places that have people not wearing masks. Stay distance and stay in well ventilated areas she said.

It keeps coming up: we had the stay-at-home orders handed down to give hospitals a fighting chance. Supplies were needed. Beds were needed. Crush the curve. Remember that, a few months and oh so many outrages and personal inconveniences and national outrages ago? Medicine and science needed time. Well, we gave it a bit of time, and now hospitals are filling up. There are a few more supplies headlines popping back up. And the consumer knows it. Stores are limiting paper goods and cleaning products again.

Let’s say everything about your health, and the health of the people around you. Mortality rates are lower than earlier projections. Thank goodness. Hard, hard earned trial-and-error have been teaching physicians for future rounds of patients, hallelujah. One of those things we’ve learned is this isn’t just about the sniffles, and it’s not just about your lungs. There are big, and varied impacts. One of the things still to be learned is how varied those impacts. Is it your lungs? Some other organ? Your mind? Medical science is still trying to figure that out. Another thing on the board, how lasting can the problems be? You can find nightmarish stories aplenty about that, too. You’re living in a big world of uncertainty right now, friends.

What’s amazing, according to every doctor and epidemiologist I’ve interviewed and seen interviewed, your best defenses are something so exotic as washing your hands and putting a protective covering over your mouth and nose. As most of us would prefer not to have our quality of life impacted in a negative way, please and thanks.

We didn’t discuss the covid19.healthdata.org charts, but we should have. They now have death projections stretching out to November 1st as a status quo, wherein some restrictions are being held and many are being eased, versus mandated mask wearing. And it looks like this.

In Connecticut 4691 – 4551 = 140 lives.

In Georgia 3,856 – 3,403 = 453 lives.

In Indiana 3,400 – 2906 = 496 lives.

In Alabama 3,442 – 1,682 = 1,760 lives.

In Texas 13,449 – 6,442 = 7,007 lives.

In Florida 17,472 – 9849 = 7,623 lives.

Wear a mask. Yeah, it’s itchy, but you can be that kind of hero.


4
Jun 20

Fossils

Here are some crinoids I picked up last weekend. I was wondering down by the creek bed enjoying myself quite nicely and it quickly became a scavenger hunt. Right there at my feet I found three of these at a glance. Why, then, I had to wonder around a bit to discover a few more.

Old seaborne fossils. Or, around these parts, definitely freshwater fossils. You can find them most anywhere that has water, seems like. Why do I still pick them up? Why do I bring them back to the house to take pictures of them?

These are, I believe, crotalocrinites. They are the sort I’ve always found. They are extinct now, but they appeared about 300 million years before the dinosaurs.

I’ve just discovered, online, there are star-shaped fossiles called pentacrinites. I want to find some of those.

Let’s jump in the time machine, though, and move up a few hundred million years. I pulled back the break lever just a bit too soon, however, and we’ve stopped 103 years before. It’s June 4, 1917. What’s going on in the world?

Oh. That. So the summer before there was a massive sabotage in New York. And two weeks after this Congress passed the Espionage Act, something Woodrow Wilson had been on them about for several years. I can’t find any details today about this person. So we’ll just have to be satisfied with these news briefs:

The next day you had to go sign up for the draft. Married men couldn’t duck it. You’ve already seen that peaceful registrations were predicted. And we now from earlier editions of the paper that several American men, even some locals, are going off to war in some capacity or another. Just down the page there’s a brief listing another handful of names. In New York, when the draft went into play, it was anything but peaceful. So, I’m sure, people were hoping for the best.

There are two creeks on either side of us that have these names.

And while people are out surveying damage, and you’re reading in another column the news that a former local who had moved to Illinois just had his house destroyed in the storms, you get this little ad:

A.H. Beldon had been a grocer. By the teens, he was doing insurance. He made it to 80 or 81 and died in 1939, the same year as his wife. Their son flew planes for the Army in World War I, in Texas, it looks like. That guy’s son served in the Army during World War II.

Enoch Hogate had some paralysis, and then he did not. Much improved was he, a relief to all it was.

Hogate had joined the law school in 1903 and served as the dean from 1906 to 1918. He also had a turn in the state senate prior to all of that.

Polio caused paralysis. I wonder if that’s what it was. He passed away in 1924.

This was the vessel, The Success. It was not built in 1790, but rather 1840. It was not a prison ship, unless it was. Sometimes Internet searches are contradictory. Anyway, it was by now a museum ship. A good fraud well executed, from the looks of things.

She was scuttled in 1891, re-floated the next year, restored and then sailed to England. In 1912 the vessel came to the U.S. and returned to cargo service in 1917, after which it sank. It was re-floated and turned into a museum in 1918, appeared at the Chicago World Fair and fell apart. The Success was to be scrapped on Lake Erie, but it sank for a third time. Someone pulled it up again in 1945 and it promptly ran ashore. In 1946 there was a fire that consumed it. The moral to that story, I guess, is don’t make up a fake history about your ship.

Get ’em a camera!

I wonder if they’re still hiring …

The second and third pages of the four-page rag were just poorly scanned photos of the graduating high school class, which is why we jump immediately to the scolding baby.

Look, baby, nobody likes a scold.

This one had a column jump, which is why it looks weird at the top. But let’s get a load of those people. George Washington Henley had graduated from the law school here three years prior. He went into private practice and got married soon after.

The well-known home boy would serve as a state lawmaker for a decade and, later, sat on the state Supreme Court bench for two months. He was a replacement until the end of a term, but he didn’t want to stay on. He needed to get back to his own clients and he just wanted, Wikipedia says, the prestige. He died in 1965 and was eulogized by the university president. His wife survived him by a dozen years, and was living in California when she passed away.

This is why you should keep Googling names. One of the attendants of their wedding was Paul Feltus. He would become a newspaper editor, witnessed and reported on the atomic bomb tests in 1946 and served as a board member for the university. He wrote four silent film scripts, served in the artillery in World War I and was a colonel in the state guard in the 1940s.

Now, a life of 81 years can’t be distilled into a paragraph, but a paragraph like that hints at an interesting life.

Because the second and third pages were poor artifacts, and because the last page was torn right through the copy, you’re getting a second wedding announcement.

This was Melvin’s second wife. His first died young after just six months of marriage. She was ill most of that time. They had 17 years of unalloyed happiness, I hope. His second wife had a child and died in her 40s, in 1934. Fender kept on farming, retired, and passed away in 1958 at 74.

OK, “Bobby.”

I spent a lot of time looking into this ad. I’m not sure Bobby was a real person.


13
May 20

Just some old stuff

We’ve come to it, finally, a day of nothing but filler. It was cold and dreary and I didn’t go outside much and inside I probably reflected the same mood and so maybe it is for the best if we just jump to this stuff and then see how we feel about tomorrow. Don’t worry, this is quick and informative and fun!

So we go back 103 years to see what was in the local paper on May 14, 1917. Because it’s worth it to remember our struggles are not our own, seldom unique, and they’re going to get looked at like this one day. So be mindful.

The Bloomington Evening-World, imagine picking up this big smeared piece of ink in the morning and wondering what they’re going to be preaching to you about today. Food juggling:

Jugglers most harmed.

Oh, they’re preaching at me about food. How exciting. How things never change. Thankfully things did change in newspaper technology, photograph and layout software. But the didn’t any better in 1917, so this was the standard look. All that writing. So many words. So much of it vague as to be useless, or at least that’s the read from our far remove.

When I started looking for a paper to study today I considered fish wraps from all of the places I’d care about. I wanted it to be something at or on this date. And I didn’t want to look at a 25 page paper. But I didn’t want it to be dense, either. So, naturally, I chose a dense four-pager. Anyway, let’s dive in.

They were going to be a part of the famed ambulance service:

Remember, this is 1917, so the AEF wasn’t there yet. But ambulances, which were state-of-the-art in medicine, were.

Stella Belmont appears in a couple of different newspapers in the teens, but then she disappears. I assume it means she married, or retired to a quieter life, and didn’t have some horrible aeronaut accident. Surely that would have been covered. Nevertheless, this sounds fun. Watch for it:

We got this war on, stop making things!

And now for your straw hat.

You think those could make a comeback this year? I figure if we keep asking for enough years we’ll eventually get it right.

Page two has your reminder that the same people have been making the same argument for more than a century. And it’s always the same sort of vague and ill-formed argument. The construction peters out after the premise: You shouldn’t. Why? Well, that’s not really important. What’s important is you shouldn’t!

The reasons are pretty simple, really, someone doesn’t want you to have what you have, or what they have, or what they can’t have. And then they try to couch it in some moralistic terms. I wonder if it was as tiresome then as it is today.

In the column right next to that:

On page three, while you’re still rolling your eyes from that bit on page two, there’s something else I’m sure they don’t want you to have. But the advertisers certainly do, and so does every woman or man who was remembering how they heated water the old way:

Corn substitutes work for feed in a pinch, at least through the war. And better for you to eat the corn than your livestock. Life has always been about compromises in the moment, I guess. It’s easy to forget that when things are going well.

Western Union by now was doing lifestyle advertisements. Gone were the days of telling you about how telegrams delivered the news from here to there as a miracle:

And, on page four, a lot of briefs. It’s always nice to see the local campus doing it’s part:

Jordan Field was said to be where the Union’s parking lot is today. And I’ve put that lot on the bottom of the frame, so that would have been right in here. They planted corn and spuds. Look at all of the things that have sprouted up:

Arbutus is the campus yearbook, by the way. I guess everyone in town knew that. It’s interesting that the town’s paper felt the need to include the applications in their copy.

Kenyon Stevenson would leave school, go to the war as a lieutenant in an artillery unit, the 21st Field Artillery and Fifth Division. He fired his guns in France and Luxembourg, in heavy fighting near the end of the war. He came home, got married, finished school, raised a family, wrote two army unity histories and some other books. He worked as a copywriter in Pennsylvania, a director of advertising, got caught up in the Great Depression and went into sales in Ohio. His last child just passed away in 2018.

I found an Edwin Sellers, but the dates don’t quite add up, so I believe it’s the wrong man. Ditto Margaret Munier, who probably married and had a fine Roaring Twenties. Joseph A. Wright, now there’s another individual from here by that same name in the 19th century. The older one has some things named after him around here. (Indeed, it seems he was one of the first 10 students at Indiana Seminary, the first iteration of IU.) He became a governor and he, understandably, sucks up all the search engine oxygen. No idea if they are related.

Joseph Piercy retired in 1938, and passed away in 1943. His wife and daughter both taught at IU.

A congressman, and a judge, and he respected a man’s gardening needs:

Can’t let the university’s potato and corn crop outpace the local bar!