Two young men hit by a train in 1917, both lived. And then I found this and this. One lived to 80 and had three kids. The other lived to 85 and had four children. And this quick look online tells me that a man who died at 85 in 1983, in my lifetime, knew his grandfather, who fought at Kennesaw and Nashville and against Hood in Georgia and Alabama. That man, in my lifetime, could probably recall his grandfather who fought in the Civil War on land I know fairly well.
So it is a small world, I guess. Though anything is possible if you start a story with “So this guy found himself crawling out from under an actual trainwreck.”
Today, Indiana fired their basketball coach. Just as the tournament begin, his tenure ended. He’d gone to the Sweet Sixteen last year, indeed, three of the last six years he’d been there, and he won the conference championship twice. But they decided to go a different way, so there was an announcement, and a press conference. And, despite this also being Spring Break, the student media was there:
Yesterday I wrote, for too long, about a blue jean jacket. (“Rosebud … “) I also learned that they were back in style. As if they should have ever left …
I looked for a picture of me in the jacket, but I don’t have one. I’m sure they exist though. And then, this morning, we saw definitive proof that they were back. This is a morning show our students shoot:
On the left is one host. On the far right is another. Obstructed from this angle is a fashion columnist from the campus paper. And she is talking about the outfit being worn by the young woman on the middle right. Denim on denim.
Different colors, she intoned seriously, so that each stands out from the other.
We had a name for that once upon a time, and, as I recall, it was a look to be avoided. But everything changes.
We were setting up cameras before that. This has a name, but I forget what it is. So let’s just call it cool:
I did some of the other things that make up a normal day at the office. I helped some folks practice weather presentations on the green screen. I had lunch. At 2:30 I finally got caught up on the day’s email. I talked to students. I also gave a tour of the building today. And after work we went over to Nashville, the little artists’ colony about 20 miles away, for dinner.
We had a date! The Yankee found Hobnob Corner, which has been around since just after the Civil War as a dry goods store and then a restaurant. It felt like a cracker barrel. The people were friendly. The decor was rustic. The walls were covered with photos of the history of the little town. (White settlers came in after an 1809 treaty. Farming and forestry ran the isolated area. By the time the 20th century rolled around deforestation ruined the agriculture because of poor practices leading to wide scale erosion. Roads, the Depression and the CCC, then the artists showed up. The town has three traffic lights, which is all of the lights in the county. They enjoy tourism as a big part of their economy.) My favorite photo was of a parade from 1900. I thought it might have been a prohibition parade, or a women’s suffrage march. But I just found a site with a similar photo that might be of the same parade, and it is labeled there as Decoration Day.
But they have some pretty nice dining there. Try the Duck Breast with Orange Maple Glaze with butternut squash risotto and sauteed kale. (This is the only acceptable way to eat kale.)
We’ve been over to Nashville once before, in the daylight, in the summer time, when things were open. I’m sure we’ll go back. There are always new shops to see and 24 restaurants to try and dates to be had.
From time to time a student asks to interview me about something or other as part of a class project. I try to be a difficult interview, thinking maybe the word will get out and people will stop asking.
I don’t actually act like a bad interview subject. I try to be helpful while they’re learning their craft, but the thought always occurs to me: I could derail this. I could send this off in an entirely different direction. But they’re going to get that experience soon enough.
Today I got interviewed as part of a magazine writing exercise about the importance of clothes. It seemed an unusual topic, what clothes are important to you. So I thought, for whatever reason, about outerwear. This jacket, that coat and so on. I guess because it has been cold, I was thinking of the things that help keep you warm. Somewhere in there I mentioned this old denim jacket I had as a kid. Denim, which has made a comeback once more, was a big status symbol back then. And of course the interviewer seized on this as her topic.
I didn’t have a denim jacket for the longest time, because they were expensive and we didn’t have that kind of money. But finally, for Christmas one year, I got one. It was, I told my interviewer, an off-brand and it was probably about 15 minutes after denim was the thing, but I loved it. Loved it. I wore that jacket constantly. Day, night, overnight. And I suppose I just eventually physically outgrew it. But I remember the joy of the gift and the smell of the jacket. And it wasn’t a good smell, because I wore it constantly and I was a little boy. My mom had to wait until I went to sleep and then took the jacket off of me to wash the thing.
The interviewer asked good questions, as I imagined she would. Made me really think of my answers. It became an almost psychological exercise.
Afterward, I sent my mom a text, telling her about this interview. I figured she’d have a funny anecdote for me that I could pass along to my interviewer and we’d all have a good laugh. She didn’t remember the jacket.
In her defense, it was a few decades ago.
Also, when I was little, The Count always scared me. (I was a sensitive child.) But Brielle doesn’t have this problem. Plus, she’s adorable, and knows her stuff:
In the studio this evening, the sports show took over. David and Griffin are going places:
We’ll get to say we knew them back when. They do such great work. But you could say that about a lot of people around here.
So @kennysmith and I have decided to do a dishwasher experiment. The amount of time we have spent on the methodology is embarrassing. #nerds
To break up my 11-hour day I went for a run. And just after we started jogging, The Yankee and I, we went by a window and saw snow flakes. And so being indoors was a good idea. Because I could look like this:
But we ran in this gym instead:
That’s Wildermuth, an intramural facility, where I ran eight miles tonight. From 1928 until 1960 it was the home of the basketball team. And, on this day in 1946, it looked like this:
I’m glad I never had to stand in line to register for a college class. I think my freshman year my alma mater was on their second year of phone registration. At an orientation session they plopped in a VHS tape and made us watch a corny — even by the standards of the day — video about how to sign up for classes. But that system only lasted a few more years. Before I graduated they were doing it all online.
Not in line, online. And that probably changed things, too.
Anyway, a few more views on my snowy walk back from Wildermuth to Franklin Hall, where a sports show was recorded tonight:
You reach a certain point with these sort of pictures where you think “Hey, more snow. Yeah, yeah.” And that is almost always just behind “I can’t feel my hands.”
And as an aside about nothing, we had gumbo for dinner tonight. So I washed the dishes while listening
A Louisiana boy singing Delta and soul blues while snow was on the ground outside.
It makes perfect sense while you’re standing at the kitchen sink.
After I parked this morning I walked by this tree on the way into the office this morning:
At lunch time, I saw this tree:
Different trees, of course. Different species, even. But they’re just a block away. That was pretty much the day, outside.
The sun was shining, probably for about 15 minutes altogether, this morning on my way into the office. At least I had those bright, pretty skies for the brief time I could spend outside this morning. It was gray later. I didn’t look for other tree fruits on my way out. We’d progressed to a full on misting event as day turned into evening. It rained tonight, so we ran the gamut.
Gamut is an old English word, stemming from medieval Latin. It originally had to do with a musical note, but turned into an expression that discusses the entire musical scale.
On my way to the car I was also thinking about this song:
That’s a cover on an album of covers that won a grammy for folk album of the year in the early 1990s. The song was written by Janis Ian. Janis Ian is still playing, some 50 years into her career. And she seems like a pretty hilarious grandmother on Twitter, too. She had 34 dates in 2015 and has four booked for this summer, according to her website. And, look, here they are, Ian and Griffith together, in 1993:
That was the “then,” portion of the story. Which brings us to the turn of the century, William McKinley’s America:
“Thus a heterogeneous mass of people poured into this part of the Northwest Territory, good and bad being pretty evenly mixed. The Southerners were sound material, yet the bad among them were very bad indeed.”
Let’s discuss them!
“Today their descendants — many of them, at least — are the typical Hoosiers that one hears of in the newspapers. They carefully elude the refining touch of education and even as far as possible the census taker.”
If they’d just talk to the poor downtrodden census taker, we mean, he’s just some geek we found in Ohio, then everything else would be better off for those people in Indiana. Poor buggers.
“Down in some of the State’s southern counties they are at their worst.”
Ain’t that always the way, dear reader?
“In Brown County, an almost impenetrable section of hills, they are in their glory.”
Less than one percent of the state lives there today. But the county only reports a poverty rate of 11.4 percent, with 22 percent having at least one college degree. The arts and being outdoors getaway destination are the chief industries there these days.
“They would be as much at home in the mountains of Tennessee and Alabama as in the Hoosier hill ranges.”
“They are indifferent farmers, and have no interest in the world beyond the hog quotations in the St. Louis or Cincinnati market.”
I could go plow that field, but whatever. ‘Didja you hear ’bout what Mertle’s sow said in Missourah ‘other day?
“But, as if to mark the difference, the adjoining county of Bartholomew contains a different people.”
Now, Bartholomew is about the same size, and a full 28 percent of them have college degrees and there’s an 11.9 percent poverty rate. Cummins Diesel is based there. Chuck Taylor, the sneaker guy, was from there, just like Vice President Mike Pence and NASCAR champ Tony Stewart. A popular cartoonist, a software CEO and the former president of thee National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues all call Bartholomew County home. In the 1900 census, taken in the months just after this article, Bartholomew was the mean population center of the U.S. Except that was probably incorrect because of those lyin’, census avoidin’ Hoosiers.
“They, too, are among the Southerners who came to Indiana, but they have kept pace with time’s advance, and are thrifty farmers or active tradespeople.”
Not at all like their slovenly cousins in Brown County.
“Similar contrasts might be pointed out in other sections.”
You go elsewhere the differences are the same. We suppose. We can’t be sure, so we’re speaking in generalities. Not like we have the Internet, yet.
“Even in going south from Indianapolis for a ride of an hour on the railroad one encounters the original Hoosier in his worst aspect.”
You get out of the city, God be with you. We’ve seen it. Have you ever been to Pennsylvania?
Hard to imagine exactly who The Times liked back then. Odd that so many people still think they have such a narrow view of things.