Donna Cronk photo // For The Courier-Times // Magician Marcus Lehmann prepares to "saw" Fayth Koontz in half. But the gag was much more campy than scary, and Koontz reported afterward that she loved it and never misses the magician's return to the fair. She's been attending the show since she was 1.
It happens every August, at the same time the Indiana State Fair is under way, and long after all the county 4-H fairs have wrapped up. It's not 4-H based and there's no corporate sponsor, unless you count the corporate efforts of volunteers on the fair board who run the big show in a seamless manner. These are farmers and retirees, working folks and more than anything, their qualifications are hard work and a love for Mooreland, Indiana and its annual fair.
The Mooreland Free Fair, to be exact, although I often refer to it fondly as The Mooreland World's Fair.
When you enter the fairgrounds on the southern edge of this small northeastern-Henry County town during this festival, you might think you've arrived inside a time capsule and the year is 1952. Oddly, I could get no phone service on my cell from the grounds. Maybe it is 1952 and cellphones have not been invented.
Fairgoers can enter their pumpkins, eggs and other agricultural products. Or, they can enter their kids or grandkids in kiddie pedal pulls or baby contests. You can enjoy the finest bowl of ham and beans with a side of cornbread this side of heaven, prepared by the local Friends Church volunteers. There's a carnival, a building filled with local and state politicians and business people and moms with side jobs selling various goods. There are the Cornfield Cloggers to watch, or the magician, parade or talent shows.
There are queen and princess candidates, tractor and truck pulls. There are couples who appear to have been married for decades walking around holding hands. There are overall-clad farmers right out of central casting filling benches to watch the crowd. People just seem to flat like The Mooreland Free Fair. They like it a lot.
It is a throw-back festival with no sign of dying.
And of course, my newspaper, The Courier-Times, covers the Mooreland Free Fair.
This year I had the opportunity to work two things I have never done before, in 35 years of community reporting. One was an antique tractor pull; the other a family-friendly magic show. I decided to approach it the way I approach anything I cover: Why is this activity important to these people? Why does the community at large care?
So I called the magician early and got some background. He left me a saved seat for the show.
And I talked to the tractor pull guys before it was time to start their engines. What interested me was how they had more to say about the relationships with each other than of boasting of their mutual competitive drives.
Here's the tractor-pull story which ran Wednesday in The Courier-Times.
I'm almost 60 but when you work in community journalism, there's always something new. Even if it's something old and charming such as The Mooreland Free Fair -- no, make that The Mooreland World's Fair.
Antique tractor pull: 'It's a friendly competition'
By DONNA CRONK - firstname.lastname@example.org
MOORELAND — For Ron Peavler, who lives near Mechanicsburg, the antique tractor pull at the Mooreland Fair is not so much about winning as it is about enjoying friends and reliving memories.
“It’s a friendly competition,” he said. “Everybody knows everybody.”
Monday night, he entered his 1953 Oliver Row Crop 88.
“It’s what I grew up with as a kid,” said Ron of the vintage model. “We helped different farmers and we had these kind of tractors.”
The pull brings back memories. “I came here as a kid and watched them (pulls),” he said.
But now he’s making new memories. His son, Ron Peavler Jr., was the team’s driver Monday night.
“I like to be able to hang out with my dad and my brother,” the younger Peavler said of his favorite part of participating in the pull.
Their tractor is 150 horsepower now, a far cry from the 36 to 42 it contained new out of the factory. While he’s participated for several years, the senior Peavler jokes that he’s “still a rookie.”
Definitely not a rookie is Richard Winter, originally from the Sulphur Springs/Middletown area and now of Yorktown. He’s been coming to the Mooreland Fair since he was a little kid.
“The town’s not changed much and the fair’s not changed much either,” said Winter, who’s won a few pulls. In Monday’s show, he entered a 1954 McCormick Farmall 400.
“I’ve been doing this off and on since I got back from Vietnam in the ’70s,” he said of pulling.
He and his brother used to team up but now, “I pull when I feel like it. I bought this thing. It looked terrible,” deadpans Winter, adding that the tractor is “all beefed up” now.
Winter said a stock tractor would “probably never get the sled going.” The sled is what contains the weight that the tractors pull as far as they can.
But the best part of the pull for Winter seems to come in the friendships.
“A lot of it’s just seeing the guys I’ve known all the years,” said Winters, adding that it’s like family. Working with him Monday night was his nephew, Al Winter.
When asked why he enters tractor pulls, Dick Gettinger of Springport said, “It’s in the blood.” Relative Brian Gettinger of Knightstown said, “Our family’s been pulling for 60-plus years.”
The Gettingers brought Dick’s 1957 Minneapolis Moline 445. Dick laughed about it, saying, “It’s a piece of junk. It wasn’t running when we got it. So we tinkered.”
Perhaps the tractor is not junk, after all. The Gettingers said it has placed in the top five many times.
Brian said of working on tractors, “Some of the new stuff’s easier, but I enjoy working on the old stuff more.”
Dale Marling and Delbert Hertel brought tractors from Liberty to enter in the pull.
“It’s just a neat place to pull,” Marling said of the Mooreland venue.
What are you reading this summer?
Just this morning I finished one of those books so delightful that I didn't want it to end. The title caught my eye while headed out of the library: Strangers tend to tell me things.
Hey, that's my story, I thought. As a writer, it's what happens; often they tell me lots of random things. Last week I sat next to a fairly recent resident of New Castle who transplanted from Nebraska while I covered a senior center luncheon for the paper. She unpacked her story so thoroughly and personally, and gave such a splendid shout-out to how much the local senior center means to her, her photo and comments became leads to my resulting story.
But what's interesting about Amy Dickinson's book, mentioned above, and subtitled: A memoir of love, loss, and coming home, is that while I figured that our writing careers would be what we had in common and why I would enjoy her memoir -- that's the least of what drew me in.
She is famous for her Ask Amy syndicated column and I am not famous for anything but, I imagined that she'd talk a lot about her career and life as a columnist.
Turned out though, that the writing experience is a minimal part of the book. We have so much more than writing in common such as our mutual core loves for our tiny hometowns. Hers is even smaller by a lot than mine. She was raised in the boonies of that town on a farm. I was raised in the boonies of my hometown on a farm. Consider even the names of our hometowns: Hers is Freeville. Mine is Liberty, or fictionally honoring the town, I call it Freedom in my novels.
We're both the youngest in our families of origin. We're about a year apart and as kids, had trouble sleeping, wanting our mothers near at night after our grandmothers died. We both grew up in small Methodist churches. We both get the utter goodness and whip-smart insights of rural folk.
Amy, who also works for NPR and appears on the show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," could live anywhere she wants but instead, settled back in her New York-state hometown as soon as she became an empty nester. Becoming an empty nester inspired the theme of returning to a woman's roots in my first novel.
In another oddly ironic moment, when I snooped around the internet for images of Amy, one popped up of her wearing a dress nearly identical to the one I chose for son Sam's wedding.
I also related to Amy's stories of coping with her mother's decline and death, and I swooned with her over her romance with -- get this, for real -- falling for the "boy next door" who had grown at midlife into the man of her dreams and she married him.
You can bet that I'll soon be reading Amy's first book, The Mighty Queens of Freeville.
My small group from church, the Midlife Moms, just finished our study of Priscilla Shirer's book, Fervent, and I'm placing it on the bookshelf today. The new one we'll start a week from tonight is Liz Curtis Higgs' Bad Girls of the Bible: And what we can learn from them.
This summer I read the proof copy of friend Janis Thornton's true-crime book, Too Good A Girl, now available from her or on amazon. And out of the blue, the church sent along Henry Cloud and John Townsend's book, Making Small Groups Work: What Every Small Group Leader Needs to Know.
In a few weeks Bible Study Fellowship resumes and we'll start our journey with Joshua in the year's study, People of the Promised Land. Ovid Church is hosting a satellite group on what I hear will be Thursday mornings, an extension of the New Castle group that meets Tuesday mornings. I attend the Middletown group that meets Monday nights in Middletown. These are women's Bible studies and if you are interested in joining BSF, you are more than welcome to do just that.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some summer porch reading to get to.
So what if no one ever accused the Ovid Midlife Moms of traveling light? We need a few, ahem, supplies, for a weekend at Terri's lake house on Cordry Lake. And this is not counting what the eighth member of our weekend crew brought on Saturday morning.
We went Friday after everyone got off work. We couldn't wait to get there, gather the evening's menu offerings, and enjoy a picnic on the lake. We had eight of our 12 present.
Dinner onboard included Sharon's homemade ham salad sandwiches, Terri's pea salad, party mix, an assortment of fruit and I see some celery sticks in there. There were yummy, ooey-gooey chocolate bar cookies as well.
The weather was perfect and some of us headed back out on the boat shortly before bedtime to see God's moon show.
What a beautiful scene from the water. A cellphone camera doesn't do it justice, but yes, the moon was THAT bright.
Still, I was the first to bed around 10:30 p.m., and I slept well as I dozed off thankful for this weekend that so many of us look so forward to all year long.
That's why I couldn't believe it when I didn't get up until 9 the next morning!
When it's not your turn to cook, the scent is all the sweeter coming from the stove.
Delaine make the best egg casserole, and we enjoyed it with biscuits, fresh fruit and zuchinni bread by Patty. Delicious.
All but Karen, who came Saturday morning, are the gals who made it this summer weekend.
Such fun, including tubing, swimming, boating, moon-gazing, movie night watching "The Greatest Showman," and a beautiful Bible study on the boat Sunday morning, courtesy of Karen, taken from the book of Joel. Oh, and some crafts, including some bookmarks made from this and that.
Thank you Terri, for the wonderful, relaxing, laughter-filled weekend. And thank You, Lord, for your creation, your abundance, and for providing such sweet friends.
Note: Welcome my friend, Janis Thornton as today's guest blogger. Janis releases her new book, a true-live mystery about the sudden death in 1965 of her Tipton High School classmate. The launch is 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4 in the Tipton County Public Library, 127 E. Madison St., Tipton, Indiana. Janis is getting statewide media notice about her update to this still-unsolved mystery. She will be speaking and fielding questions on Saturday, along with signing books. Yours Truly will emcee the program. Maybe we'll see you in Tipton.
Pursuit for truth, justice unfold in 'Too Good a Girl'
by Janis Thornton
I’ve never forgotten Saturday, Oct. 16, 1965. It was supposed to be special, full of happiness and renewal of old friendships.
Tipton High School’s homecoming celebration was that weekend. My boyfriend, a year ahead of me in school, came home for the first time since moving to Bloomington to attend college. That Saturday, we went to dinner with my just-married friends, who recently had settled into their first home and were already expecting their first child. We had lots to feel joyful about.
Unfortunately, the day turned out anything but joyful. Instead, for me and the entire Tipton community, Oct. 16, 1965, became synonymous with profound tragedy and despair. It was the night Olene Emberton didn’t come home.
Olene was a quiet, well-mannered, studious, 17-year-old Tipton High School senior. That night, she dropped off a friend at his house and drove away, headed for home, a journey of only six blocks. Inexplicably, she never arrived. The next day, her car was found parked and locked at a four-way stop three blocks from her house. The day after that, her body was found discarded alongside a remote, Tipton County road.
The autopsy revealed no cause of death. The investigation by local and state police proved fruitless. The sudden, unexplained death of Olene Emberton has never been solved.
Her death was especially difficult to process because she was a member of my class. We had attended school together since fourth grade. We lived just a block-and-a-half apart. And even though we weren’t close friends, growing up in Tipton in the 1950s and ’60s provided countless shared experiences. I often look back and wonder how her life might have played out had it not ended that October night in 1965.
The notion of researching and writing about Olene’s case first occurred to me some 30 years ago, long before I had the skills to undertake such a sensitive, emotionally- riddled subject that was certain to ruffle feathers, stoke anger, and hurt feelings.
Someone needed to set the record straight. Why not me?
Fast forward to 2004. I had been a staff writer for The Times of Frankfort, Indiana, for five years. That’s when I made the decision to dive in, to honor my classmate by telling her story and preserving her memory.
So, off and on for the next 14 years, I pored over court records, combed through news articles, tracked down and interviewed law enforcement officials, sent Freedom of Information Act requests, picked the brains of forensics experts, studied criminology, attended conferences, surveyed my classmates, talked with Olene’s friends and remaining family members, and followed all the loose ends, and snapped the puzzle pieces together.
The result of my long pursuit for the truth has manifested in a book, “Too Good a Girl,” which launches Saturday, Aug. 4.
Did I solve the mystery? No, but I did weave all the strands of Olene’s complex story together so readers can make their own tapestry of truth and discover their own conclusion.
In the almost 53 years since Olene Emberton’s mysterious death, her friends and loved ones have never stopped asking, “What happened”? Unless someone steps forward soon with a sudden recollection or a confession, it’s likely we will never know. However, even without that closure, we can take satisfaction in pulling together to honor her name and her memory.
When Olene was a freshman at Tipton High School, she authored a brief autobiography. In it, she noted her plan for the future. She wrote, “I want to attend Ball State University … and after I graduate, I want to be a teacher.”
Sadly, Olene was not able to follow her dream. But I believe there is still a way she can help future graduating Tipton High School students achieve theirs.
The Tipton County Foundation has agreed to establish the Olene Emberton Memorial Scholarship. When fully funded, the scholarship will benefit college-bound, Tipton High School seniors who, like Olene, plan to pursue teaching.
Reaching the fund-raising goal of $25,000 by the end of 2018 will ensure that the fund is permanent, so an award of $1,000 can go to a deserving student in Olene’s memory every year.
I invite you to visit www.tiptoncf.org and consider making a gift. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the sale of my book will go to the fund, and every donor of $100 or more will receive a complimentary copy with my gratitude.
“Too Good a Girl” will be available for purchase at www.janis-thornton.com and Amazon beginning Aug. 4.
So it’s Wednesday, hump day. Never mind wondering where this week has gone already-- what about the whole summer so far?
One good thing --or make it three good things -- about the nice-weather months this year is that I’ve got to see my friend Gay three times since May. Since Gay lives 100 miles away, that isn’t the usual case.
In early May, Gay hosted me to speak to her sorority in Angola; then in late May, she, husband Rick, Brian and I took a long-weekend to visit Galena, Illinois. This past weekend was “bonus” time as Gay slipped down on Friday and we spent the rest of Friday and Saturday running around to visit favorite consignment shops, boutiques and a nice yard sale a mile north of the Warm Glow Candle Outlet on Centerville Road in Wayne County.
We managed to get in a movie on Friday night and I got to hear all about Gay’s recent trip to California. It was so much fun.
Today, I had the pleasure of meeting, in person, Elaine Pence, who invited me to attend a break-out book-review session about my first book, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast, at the upcoming area Extension Homemakers Retreat at Lake Placid Conference Center in Hartford City.
The committee has also asked me to be their opening speaker. I’m honored and excited because three of the counties involved in the retreat represent my three “homes:” Union, Henry and Madison counties. Elaine and I discussed some details and she sent me home with the retreat’s full agenda.
I also swung by the library and picked up a memoir by Amy Dickinson, Strangers tend to tell me things. She writes the syndicated Ask Amy column. The book, subtitled “A memoir of love, loss, and coming home,” looks downright yummy.
It's hot and sunny and I can't wait until 5 when I'll enjoy some early-evening pool time while I can. Summer is moving too quickly.
Happy Wednesday, everyone!
The following is in today's New Castle Courier-Times. This Henry County kid has a passion for seeing that kids in Kenya get clean water. This year he's upping his game from his lemonade-stand roots to a fesitival-type event, coming next Saturday. All the best Jacob!
By Donna Cronk
SPICELAND — Five years ago, Jacob Specht of Knightstown raised $30 at his lemonade stand and donated it toward providing clean water in Kenya. Each year since, the funds he’s collected have increased and last year $2,047 was raised.
This summer, the lemonade-stand fundraiser is more akin to a full-blown festival than a roadside stand.
Jacob’s Clean Water for Kenya includes a car show, quilt raffle, vendor and flea market booths, music, baked goods, meals and yes, a lemonade stand.
The event is 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 28 at Spiceland Friends Church, 401 W. Main St., Spiceland. The goal is to raise more money each year than the year before.
The idea for the project began with Spiceland Friends Church Vacation Bible School a few years back when Jacob learned about Kenyan children who have to drink dirty water. He wanted to help them get clean water so he did something about it. He donated proceeds from his lemonade stand to purchase water filters. As in years past, all proceeds from this year’s event go toward buying those filters.
Each water filter costs $60. Each filter serves four families. The average Kenyan family contains 4.5 members so if each family has five members, that is 680 people per filter who will have clean drinking water. The filters are made of cement and last indefinitely.
Now age 10 and going into fifth-grade at Knightstown Intermediate School, Jacob has no plans to cease hosting the annual fundraiser.
“I feel that I’m doing a really good thing for people who don’t always have the clean water that we do and I think that it really helps out,” says Jacob.
He hopes to one day visit Kenya and stay for a month to check it out thoroughly.
Says his grandfather, Gerald Darling, “I think it’s wonderful that he recognized a need. Nobody told him, 'Jacob, this is something you should do.’ It’s really special.”
His mother is Valerie Darling and grandmother is Darlene Darling.
Highlights of the day include the car show until 3 p.m. with registration 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $10. Awards are at 2 p.m. Trophies and dash plaques will be awarded along with a 50/50 drawing.
A quilt donated by the New Castle Correctional Facility will be raffled. This was Jacob’s idea.
Indoor booths will feature crafts and other items for sale. There will be a bake sale and women of the church will sell pulled pork, sloppy joes, hot dogs, donuts and beverages. Of course, there will be a lemonade stand. Music will be provided by Jeff Curtis.
For more information about the event, contact Gerald Darling at 765-524-9194.
The following feature is reprinted from Sunday's Courier-Times. Congratulations go out to Blaise on the publication of his second cookbook, Blaise the Baker Celebrates! With his talent for recipe development, enthusiasm, and charm, I think The Food Network is missing the boat in not signing him for a cooking show.
By DONNA CRONK
If you’re familiar with Chew This! Columnist Blaise Doubman’s work, you’ll know that his mother, Darla, and two grandmothers, Deloris and Barbra, serve as his muses.
So it won’t be a surprise to learn that Blaise’s earliest cooking memory is helping Grandma Barbra in the kitchen while standing on an old, wooden chair.
“I also have an early memory of helping my Mom, Darla, in the kitchen baking a heart-shaped chocolate cake,” he recalls. “I was amazed at the process.”
Amazed is a constant state of being for Blaise. His writing brims with enthusiasm and unbridled joy about baking, cooking – and all-things food. Right now, he’s as busy with the business side of his spatula as he is with developing, testing, and tasting recipes.
His second cookbook, Blaise the Baker Celebrates! is newly released. It follows his 2016 debut, Blaise the Baker Dessert First.
“I guess in the back of my mind I always knew there would be a second cookbook,” the author says. “Once the first cookbook was published it wasn’t long after that I started gathering up recipes for a second and creating a vision for that one.”
The first volume outperformed expectations. “People just seemed to go crazy over it! I remember crying about how grateful I was that people seemed to enjoy it so much. I have had people email me and tell me that they have literally made every single recipe in the book and love them all.”
RECIPES THAT WORK
Blaise thinks people gravitate toward his recipes for one simple reason: the recipes work.
“So many cookbooks seem to throw recipes together without any form of testing. You have to make sure a recipe works.”
To that end, he explains his methods. First he considers recipes that he enjoys, then family recipes followed by foods he and his family often make, and then recipes that are popular which he wants to share. “I am not big into food trends or recipes that seem to be of the moment. I am more about sharing recipes that are timeless, that have been around 50, 60, 70 years and that people still enjoy today as much as they did years ago.
While he updates them, the recipe and processes remain about the same. But he also plays around with food, measurements, tastes and flavors “and luckily sometimes a delicious new recipe joins the others.”
Desserts were the focus of the first book (although lots of other recipes were included) but the second contains “some really, really strong main dishes and side dishes ...” The new cookbook is organized as is a typical cookbook in appropriate order of food courses.
Gratitude for readers pours from Blaise. “My second cookbook is also dedicated more to my fans and followers. It is because of them that I get the opportunity to do this again. It is a celebration in all definitions of the word. I am celebrating that I get to do this again, celebrating my thankfulness and just celebrating life.”
When asked to select a favorite recipe from the new book, Blaise finds the task difficult. One he mentions, however, is a quick chicken stir fry that is fried in Miracle Whip. Another fave features his new method of oven-roasting chicken that makes clean-up a breeze.
“One of my testers said it was ‘revolutionary!’”
As for mishaps while getting the book ready, Blaise wanted to develop a recipe for a pie baked into a cake. It didn’t go so well.
A Kennard native and resident, the Henry County town is near and dear to the author. One set of grandparents lived one block away from Blaise’s family in one direction, and the other set lived a block away in the other. And, his folks, Jamie and Darla Doubman, grew up as next-door neighbors.
“I tease them that they must have had a crush on each other in kindergarten,” says Blaise. “Whatever it was, it must have worked because they just recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.”
Blaise is in no hurry to leave his hometown. “I love Kennard and I love that I am surrounded by those that I love, so I guess if I do leave, it will not be very far away.”
A graduate of both Knightstown High School and Indiana University East, the author has written Chew This! for almost four years. Some of his other platforms include his blog, blaisethebaker.com where he writes extensively about various aspects of food. He recently partnered with White Cloud World Teas as a brand ambassador. Also check out his online Facebook group, Tasty Recipe Box and a cookbook-sharing group, Cookbooks, etc.
And, keep looking for the author / columnist every first and third Sunday in The Courier-Times Neighbors sections.
“Even to this day I get so excited to see my column and recipe in print – that feeling has never gotten old to me!” he says. “I am still just as excited today about it (as) I was on the first printing.”
He hopes readers enjoy the same things the did with the new cookbook as they did with the first: “That the recipes work, that they love the recipes and that they also enjoy the stories and family memories that I share with each recipe,” says Blaise.
“I really hope that they will feel a part of my family and feel like they were a part in the cookbook’s creation.”
For ordering information or connecting with Blaise, contact him at email@example.com.
You know what they say about true friends; how it doesn't matter how long it's been since you've seen each other because it always feels as though it were just yesterday, and you can pick up where you left off with no awkwardness between you.
That truth applies whenever we spend time with John and Debby Williams. We had the chance to do just that Saturday. And speaking for myself, we had a blast.
We have a history. In fact, we spent the 1980s with them! Brian and John came on board as assistant principal and principal, respectively, at Fountain Central Junior-Senior High School in 1981. Debby had been a principal but took time to be home with the couple's four children. Their twins were babies when the family arrived in Fountain County and they would have two more while living in Veedersburg.
About the time their final baby was born, I was expecting our first and Debby loaned me all her maternity clothes! Ah, the 1980s! So many things happened while we lived in Fountain County. The chart topper was baby Sam's arrival, but there are so many other memories: finishing my journalism degree at Indiana State; getting my first job at the Attica newspaper where my childhood friend Sue Barnhizer (now Anderson) just happened to be the editor! Then becoming the editor.
There was joining the Newtown Community Church, making friends for life, including John and Debby, as mentioned here, Rick and Gay Kirkton and Barb Clark, and so many others we spent time with while living in Fountain County. We've got to visit again with some of these folks as part of my book journey these past few years.
We rented two country farmhouses in our years in Fountain County -- for $200 a month each and no contract unless you count (and we do) the handshake agreement that went with both. Yes, our years in Fountain County were another place and time in many ways. Many good ways.
So that's the 1980s background. John and Debby and family and Brian, Sam and I left Veedersburg in 1989 for other pastures. It was bittersweet. There was much to miss about the life we had built in Fountain County.
But we met more friends and found new opportunities and blessings in the years to come. Chart toppers: our second son, Ben and our daughter-in-law, Allison.
Brian went on to become principal at Fishers Junior High and John went on to serve as schools superintendent at Rushville. Both are officially retired, but John remains busy in consulting work and Brian drives cars for an auction house. I know they would tell you they are having fun with both and when it's no longer fun, they will retire-retire.
Debby served as a principal at Connersville. That's the backyard of where I grew up, a farm kid between there and Liberty. It's still one of those "out-of-context" experiences to discuss with John and Debby the general area where I was born and raised, and the area where I work in Henry County. They have been in southeastern Indiana for quite a few years now!
So yesterday was a fun day of travels, food, fun and conversation. We piled into John's big, black pickup and off we went to Jungle Jim's at Cincinnati.
I've heard about Jungle Jim's for years. Here you can satisfy your foodie yearnings sourced from all over the world.
The choices are amazing, including more cheeses than you can possibly imagine. Same with ethnic breads and any number of other foods as well. You can even do your everyday shopping here, too. It was busy as this is as much a tourist attraction as a shopping experience.
Rest assured we left with an assortment of goodies. In my bags: some interesting chef-made crackers and a basil-tomato cheese that I'll serve with a fruit platter next weekend when we have company; a delicious watermelon, beautiful, tasty peaches, some peach bubble bath (there's a theme here) and some artisan dark-brown bread Brian selected.
The most unusual offering? Brian spotted some frozen python filets.
Onward to Milan, where we checked out the Milan '54 Hoosiers Museum, a charming little place packed with memorabilia from the Milan Miracle when this small school won the state in boys' basketball and went on to inspire one of the greatest sport movies of all time: "Hoosiers."
Museum Founder / Curator Roselyn McKittrick, can't get enough! In fact, she bought the vintage barber shop next door and held court discussing her favorite town and team with our foursome. In case you are wondering, the basketball museum has had visitors from 42 countries and has 2,000 people a year stream through the place. Next up: She's opening the barber shop as a museum.
On the wall is what Milan Coach's wife Mary Lou Wood said after the team won it all, in characteristic Hoosier humility: "It's nice to be important, but it's more important to be nice."
Love it. Don't you?
We tore ourselves away from Roselyn, who, in her 80s, could have gone on the rest of the day, I'm convinced (and she is charming, by the way), we headed off to Oldenburg where we enjoyed dinner at another iconic landmark in southeast Indiana:
We wound our way back to Rushville enjoying the lush mid-summer landscape, and even more, the company of dear friends.
Let's do it again soon, guys!
My Sunday column in The Courier-Times:
by Donna Cronk
Moments ago, I cleaned out the last pending email from my work in-box. Yep, I either deleted or dealt with every email cyberspace threw at me in this latest round. For one shining moment, I stare at the clean space in front of me where emails tend to collect like dust bunnies in a vacuum-cleaner bag.
The joy I get from a cleared in-box is why I know that I am not cut out to be president.
Never mind all the other reasons – that I’m totally unqualified, not rich, nor an attorney, nor did I attend Harvard or Yale. No, it’s fine to simply stop with the in-box vetting process and go no further.
I cannot imagine how many emails Donald Trump gets, not to mention those that his staff of gatekeepers intercept first.
At least at The Courier-Times, I can on occasion empty the in-box, placing items in the newspaper of community interest and deleting those with no relevance locally such as fashion week on the East Coast or a lovely notice from some prince’s estate notifying me that he had me precisely in mind to inherit his fortune. If only I would share my bank account numbers, I'd be wealthy.
Of course the in-box fills back up at a steady pace, but at least no one is asking me for a billion dollars or summoning me to an international meeting that will affect no less than the future of the world.
But even more than my concerns over never-ending emails, I could never be president because I don’t have that kind of energy. I mean, who does?
On this issue I have to hand it to President Trump and in equal measure, to Hillary Clinton. I’ll see the President on TV at a rally one night, still going full speed in front of the crowd as I doze off to sleep. Before I can get out of bed the next morning, there he is on TV, in a blue rather than red tie maybe, at his day job back in D.C. or in a different city or country, dealing with the new day’s latest crisis or critic.
Hillary kept that kind of schedule, too, during the campaign. Then she wrote a book about it all and hit the road again explaining why she lost.
Some nights after a day at the paper, I can’t make it to the laundry room to gather dry towels, let alone fold and put them away.
I don’t mind that I lack the right stuff to be leader of the free world. I suppose that’s yet another reason why I won’t be nominated for anything by a cheering throng of supporters. And if I were, I’d have to decline. Who can think with the volume in these people's in-boxes? Besides that, too many speeches and glad-handing are required well past my bedtime.
I think no matter their qualifications, education and timing, it takes a different kind of personal drive than I could ever muster to be president. I’m made, simply put, of the wrong stuff.
But that’s OK. If only for the moment, and only a moment will it remain, you should see my clean inbox.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the quarterly her magazine for women. The summer issue comes out Sunday, July 22. She welcomes reader comments and story ideas. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brian and his brother Steve's mom was one of nine kids born to Ralph and Hazel McClellan of Dugger, Indiana. The McClellans were a super close family. After the kids were grown and gone, spreading out across the state and beyond, and after sending three of their sons off to World War II and getting all three home again, the grandkids of Ralph and Hazel fondly remember summers back in southern Indiana and having a blast together at their grandparents' home place.
Then the years came where everyone gathered in Kokomo, or in Shelburn, Indiana on the weekend nearest the Fourth of July. For a few years, there were no such gatherings, but the cousins decided to resume them.
And for the past eight years now, the reunions have rotated among some of the cousins on the weekend nearest Independence Day. Today was the day, this year in Carmel, Indiana, at the lovely home of Kent and Teresa Williams and sons Jimmy and Joel.
Of the nine original McClellan siblings, there were born 20 offspring. So Brian and Steve have 18 McClellan cousins. Twelve were at today's reunion. And four represented the uncles and aunts, below.
There was fried chicken, green beans, baked beans, salads, chips and guac, an assortment of cheesy potatoes and several other dishes.
And desserts, especially pie, not to mention iced tea, laughter, conversation, and love.