This column ran Sunday in the New Castle Courier-Times.
By DONNA CRONK
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Earlier this fall, Brian and I visited Washington, D.C. One of my just-for-fun objectives was to look for Hoosier symbols wherever we went. They are, in fact, everywhere.
Consider the federal monuments and buildings alone. Indiana limestone and other stone went into these, along with many others not mentioned: The Lincoln Memorial, the interior dome of the Jefferson Memorial, the National Cathedral, The Pentagon and marble in the Indiana Memorial stone in the Washington Monument.
Also, Indiana limestone or stone grace the National Archives, National Theater, Departments of Commerce and Interior, Federal Triangle Building, Botanic Gardens, Federal Trade Commission and more.
In the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, Italian-American artist Constantino Brumidi painted the frieze that appears as almost three-dimensional around the rotunda. It illustrates major events in U.S. history. We were told by our guide that two spaces in the frieze remained when the painter fell from a
ladder and never finished the frieze. However, the artwork was completed by other artists.
One spot went to Henry Ford for his contributions with the automobile, and the last blank area to complete the ring went to Henry County native Wilbur Wright and his brother Orville in an homage to flight.
When the House of Representatives was moved for more space in 1857, the Old Hall of the House became National Statuary Hall. Each state was invited by Congress to provide two statues of its most notable citizens, according to a capitol brochure. These statues in the collection are displayed in the Hall, the Rotunda, the Capitol Visitor Center and corridors.
Can you guess the identities of the two Hoosiers who are depicted in
The first is Wayne County’s own Oliver P. Morton, Indiana’s Civil War governor.
He was a Centerville attorney whose home survives on the western edge of U.S. 40 (originally called The National Road) in Centerville and is on the National Register of Historic Places. He was elected to two terms as governor, beginning in 1861, and left office to serve as a U.S. senator. He died at age 54 during his second term.
Morton lived from 1823 to 1877. His statue graces the Statuary Hall collection.
The second statue is Gen. Lew Wallace.
Wallace was born in Brookville in 1827 and died in Crawfordsville in 1905. An attorney, Civil War Union general, governor of the New Mexico Territory, and Hoosier author. He wrote the classic Christian historical-adventure novel, “Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ,” in 1880.
The state of Indiana commissioned his tribute statue in marble. In it, he wears a military uniform. The statue was unveiled in 1910.
I have a new ornament on the family Christmas tree. It’s a small felt dove from the gift shop inside the President Woodrow Wilson Home in Washington, D.C.
I picked it up in January when I landed the last seat on the bus with State Rep. Tom Saunders’ Roaming Elephants, covering the presidential inauguration and related festivities.
The day before the swearing-in, we took a detailed tour of Wilson’s home, a time capsule filled with furnishings and memorabilia from his life there following his presidency.
I enjoy museum gift shops as they stock the most unusual souvenirs; keepsakes, really. The one in the Wilson home is packed with nice things, too, but the shop is fitted into a room the size of a large walk-in closet. Still, my eyes fell on something perfect to take home! It was a plastic bag containing a couple dozen or so white felt doves. The bag was sealed so I could only touch the flock through the plastic, but it appeared they were possibly strung together.
The price on the outside of the bag made the package a steal. My mind raced, imagining how the doves would make a beautiful tree garland, or since I’m a wreath junkie, the strand could adorn a wreath. Gosh, the doves were so lovely, I could even take them apart and offer them as small gifts to my Bible study friends.
There were no other plastic bags full of doves, or of any other decoration of its kind. Maybe these were on clearance. I just knew they were going home with me. I went ahead and checked out, then headed for the bus to get out of people’s way so others could peruse the gift shop before we rolled.
Once I got on the bus, I decided to open the sealed bag and see how my garland was structured. But when I opened it, I got a surprise. Inside were individual dove ornaments, not a garland. And each dove contained its own price tag -- the same dollar figure as appeared on the outside of the bag.
OH NO! It took but a second to realize my mistake that was not caught by the sales clerk, either! By my new calculations, not counting sales tax, I had just stolen a $288 flock of birds from Woodrow Wilson!
Evidently, the packaged doves were new inventory not yet opened or stocked properly. I was the beneficiary – er, criminal – who hoisted them!
I knew I’d make it right if the Secret Service or National Guard or IRS didn’t chase me down first. I would package it all up with a note and mail it back to the gift shop once we got home, keeping exactly one dove, for which I had paid.
But wait. Even better, the bus wasn’t yet full, so I sprinted back into the shop, and in a rushed flurry, told the surprised clerk what happened. He thanked me for my honesty as I headed out of the shop.
“So do you want just the one, then, or your money back?” the clerk asked.
“Yes! No! I mean, I’ll keep one—since I paid for it already,” and onto the bus I climbed in the nick of time.
Guess the price wasn’t so amazing, after all. In fact, $12 for a palm-size felt dove was actually a bit pricey but it came with a story. And in the currency of a writer, that makes it priceless.
My favorite teen idol, David Cassidy, died last night.
While I haven't woke up in love with him since I was 12 or 13, it still saddens me. For some girls, it was John or Paul. To others, Davey Jones or Bobby Sherman. For me, there was none like David Cassidy. I look at the photos of him in his prime and even today, when I'm old enough to almost be the age of whomever his grandma was then, I think, Wow, was he handsome! He was spectacular!
Indeed, his moment in the stratosphere of young girls' hearts was fleeting. I'm 59 and most every American woman my age probably gets what I'm talking about. But if you are five years in either direction of my age, you might look puzzled and try to remember who exactly he is. Or was.
Of course as a sheltered Hoosier farm kid growing up in the 1960s and '70s, I had no access to David Cassidy or to anyone like him. On TV's Partridge Family he portrayed a squeaky-clean, talented and popular high school kid who loved and enjoyed performing with his California-based family.
The reality was he was old enough then to be post-college instead of high school, was not squeaky clean in the least, and not happy about singing bubble-gum tunes to millions of girls like me.
It is widely reported that he would go on to struggle in various ways. A teen idol's story often is not what it would seem. The person who appears to have it all might indeed have what the "world" can give, but lack profoundly in ways that matter more.
Still, 10 years ago when I heard David was to perform at the Indiana State Fair, I had to go. He still sang like a dream, and the old tunes took me back to the end of the 1960s and early 1970s. At one point, he held up a ticket stub someone showed him from the last time he performed at the Indiana State Fair, 1972. The ticket was $5. He joked that those in the stands probably didn't pay a whole lot more for their tickets in 2007.
No one in that audience had the heart to tell him that we paid nothing. He was on the free stage.
Here's the column I wrote for the New Castle Courier-Times about my night with my favorite teen idol. It's from Aug. 18, 2007.
I think I love him
(with apologies to my husband)
by Donna Cronk
In the early 1970s, if you were a girl between 12 and 15, a continuous debate among your friends concerned who was the cutest. There were three choices: Bobby Sherman, Davey Jones or David Cassidy.
I was in the Cassidy camp.
Can it really have been 35 years since I held the cover of Tiger Beat and gazed into David's blue eyes? The thought was so clear then: He is the cutest guy in the world. Could it be, then, that he still is?
It's been a while since I was a teenybopper but I played one Wednesday night when my old-school heartthrob appeared in concert at the Indiana State Fair.
Ever since I heard he'd be there, I knew I had to go. And write about the experience. The fair is a nostalgic trip back in time as it was always the highlight of my childhood summers. Few things stay the same but I can always count on the state fair for consistent tastes, sounds, smells and experiences.
There is the obligatory corn dog, the beautiful handicrafts in the Home & Family Arts Building and the tractor shuttle around the grounds. It could be 2007 or 1972.
It was 1972 on Wednesday night as I headed onto the track near the grandstand where I had permission to take photos below the stage, inches away from David. I didn't see him at first but a woman in the crowd did as she hoisted her album in the air that he had signed when she was 16.
I stood by the tunnel where he would make his entrance. Beside me were a pair of women my age who won a radio contest to meet him. One said for me not to be fooled: She was a responsible woman by day with a professional job. Who would guess, she added, that by night, she's a David Cassidy groupie? Hey, I got it.
When he walked out of the tunnel, there was a rush of adrenaline. Then, the thought: He is so small! Astonishingly so. But cute? You betcha.
He hit the ground running and started singing immediately as he took the stage. I snapped photos not far from his feet. Surreal. I channeled my inner 12 year old. But where were the screaming fans? Where were the throngs of teenyboppers? Oh yeah. This isn't really 1972.
In the grandstand lobby appeared a skimpy display of T-shirts. No eight tracks, cassettes or albums. I saw only one woman (one!) buy a shirt. An Elvis-lookalike wore one too. That was it for the commercial side.
David interacted with the front-row women, shaking hands. He seemed genuinely interested in looking at the vintage memorabilia brought by fans such as old albums and Partridge Family goods.
For two hours with no break and barely a sip of water, he raced around the stage and crooned the old songs: "I Woke Up in Love This Morning," "I'll Meet You Halfway," "Come On Get Happy," "Cherish" and more.
The show was nearly over before he belted out his most famous hit: "I Think I Love You." It was the 1971 song of the year and David explained that he would always sing it. For a time he distanced himself from the pop songs. No more. Now he realizes that the songs and the fans who love them made him who he is.
So what has he been up to all these years? Pursuing acting, starring on Broadway in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," and touring with his 1980s teen-idol brother, Shaun.
He didn't speak of family but an internet search says he's married with a son. He has an older daughter, too, He name dropped about the New Year's Eve he and John Lennon sang "You Got To Hide Your Love Away" together at Cassidy's home.
But on Wednesday night, he was in Indiana and I was in heaven.
"Indiana wants me and I can't wait to come back here," he said. "I love you all so much."
I don't think he made it back.
But I'm glad we had that night together. Sure, a few thousand other women joined us but I won't tell if they don't. And I still love to hear that man sing.
The following originally appeared in the Nov. 14 edition of the New Castle Courier-Times.
We no more than got used to the empty nest when Era Next arrives.
And I thought the empty nest was bad.
Wasn’t it just a couple years ago when the boys were getting college brochures in the mail and we were scratching our heads, trying to find those odd, extra-long twin-bed sheets unique to Ball State University dorms?
These days the mailman is delivering new offers the senders hope we can't refuse.
There are batches of brochures, bulging envelopes, and invites for “free” fancy dinners. If you saw our mailbox, you’d think that Brian, anyway, is a pretty popular guy, maybe even some sort of celebrity. But the truth is, being 64 is what makes him attention-worthy.
His special mail arrives almost daily from all kinds of insurance companies, ones we’d never even heard of before, wanting to talk to him about the supplementary Medicare insurance he’ll need on his next birthday.
If he opened and read all the information they send, well, he’d need to hire a personal assistant to help keep it all straight and, since he's retired and can't afford such a thing, and I’m not applying, the bulk of it goes unopened.
It all makes our heads spin, frankly, so when the time comes, we’ll probably go with a recommendation from a retiree we trust -- and leave it at that.
On a more occasional basis, we get fancy invites to dinners. Would be nice if they were from friends or family but no, these are dinners from people we don’t know wanting to sell us something. They’re at places we would never attend courtesy of our own wallets and the pictures
show cloth napkins, china, silver – the whole works.
They look romantic. And delicious. Yes, the invites are clearly supposed to be irresistible until, of course, you consider that at such a meal, the reality is you’d be sitting wall-to-wall next to other
couples who received the same invites and like us, are just there for the eats. I envision a salesman standing over us pitching whatever investment he or she is selling. Maybe I’m wrong. But I think I’m probably closer to right. One thing is for sure, and that's that we aren't biting.
It is said there are no free lunches. I imagine that goes double for free dinners.
But the mail we got the other day topped both these. It was a funeral home inviting us to come on in and get our preplanning on. This has happened before. The last time, the funeral service had the gall to ask us what we expected to spend on a funeral. You know, so they could better come up with a package. Excuse me?
But we didn't bite on that offer either, and the place is trying again. We'll just pass and try not to pass on.
So this is the stage we're in. I’m not sure what mail will come in the one after this one. I don’t think
I want to know. Maybe we’ll just change our mailing address.
Donna Cronk is Neighbors Editor of The Courier-Times and edits the
quarterly her magazine for women.
My mother, Martha C. Jarrett Jobe, back row, far right, in 1948 with her parents and siblings. This is the only photo I have ever seen with all of them. The occasion was Mom's parents' 50th wedding anniversary. From left, front, sister Mary, their mother Edith, their father Jess, eldest sister Ruth (from whom I got my middle name). Back from left, Jesse, Grace, Howard, and Martha. I'm reasonably sure the photo was taken at the family home on South Second St., Richmond.
I've been thinking about Richmond, Indiana this week. It's interesting how some places come in and out of our lives for different reasons.
On Monday, Nov. 13, I'm speaking at 1 p.m. at the Senior Center at 1600 S. Second Street. My connection to that city, and to that street, began 104 years ago on Dec. 2 when my mother was born and raised on that street, and her sister, Mary, spent close to a century on that same block where the family lived.
It was Mary, in fact, who introduced Mom to my dad back in the early '30s. Something about a baseball game around Abington. Mom's father grew up on a farm in the red two-story house next to the old Abington School. She loved spending time out there with her grandparents until the property left the family in, I believe, the 1920s. Here she is in that rural Centerville lawn next to that house with a cousin who lived nearby.
After the introduction to Huburt Jobe of Brownsville, my "city-girl" mom went on to become a farmer's wife. But she never stopped loving her hometown of Richmond. She always thought that somehow she'd get Dad to Richmond ... but it never happened.
And even when they reached the age that they decided to move to town, and could have chosen Richmond, they chose to buy a house in Liberty. But when it came time to make the final move, they couldn't do it. They couldn't leave the farm. So they sold the Liberty house and stayed in the country.
While she never made it back to Richmond to live, I did! Brian and I began married life there in a trailer park where we lived for three years.
During my childhood, we took The Palladium-Item. My parents read it cover-to-cover and often clipped articles that interested them. I'm sure that newspaper made Mom feel connected with her hometown. Once she said that if for no other reason, they would always take the paper for the obituaries. It's a comment I still hear from subscribers at the paper where I work.
I connected with that paper, and with some idea that if anything significant happened to or in a community, the newspaper had it covered. At 16, watching a young reporter work a 4-H dog show, I knew, as in a bolt of lightning, that I wanted to be a reporter too. For 35 years it's been my career.
Richmond was where we went shopping, where we viewed the fireworks at Glen Miller Park. It's where we went on picnics with extended family. (I so loved that round kiddie pool.)
I attended IU East, worked my first "paid" job at Elder-Beerman my senior year, and my second at The Palladium-Item being a "go-fer girl" in advertising the summer after I graduated. I was born at Reid Hospital, and today there are relatives on both sides of my family who live in that city.
When I visit Second Street on Monday, I'll think of my mother. It's another full-circle moment.
Mom would be happy I'm there.
There are many surprises in author world. So many that, ironically, I could write a book about the surprises associated with writing a book.
But for today, let's touch on keeping this journey going and evolving. As we know from science and from hanging out for a while on this planet, nothing (except for God) stays the same. As authors, we have to keep producing new material in one form or another. Or, we have to keep finding new audiences for our old material.
The key word here is new, and keeping things fresh.
Last year, when my second novel came out, WholeHeart Communications Owner Christy Ragle suggested that I develop a presentation on self-publishing. At first, I balked at the notion. I wasn't an expert. I didn't have all the answers.
But the more I thought about it, I realized that while no, I wasn't a pro, I knew enough to publish two books and certainly had advice and opinions on the topic. I also realized that no one has "all the answers." But I had some answers. And some behind-the-cover insights and thoughts on the experience of self-publishing and what comes next. It could all prove helpful to those thinking of going for it.
I also have had a number of would-be authors approach me asking for advice, or inquiring if I would read and comment on their manuscripts, and even if I would edit their books.
So I put something together and realized that yes, I had enough for a program. It's gotten me into a few venues and this Saturday, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., I'll roll out a sample taken from the larger program in the Allen County Public Library, 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne. I'll be speaking during a panel discussion on "Top 10 tips for finding readers."
I'll also be around the rest of the day at the noon to 5 p.m. author fair. It's all free to the public, including these workshops:
* Secrets of Successful Self-Publishing 12:30-1:30 pm
Learn how to self-publish like a pro.
* How to Write 50K Words in 30 Days 1:45-3:15 pm
Writing Workshop with Michelle Weidenbenner.
* Writing Down the Genres 3:30-4:30 pm
Four authors who write in different genres: romance, Christian, non-fiction/history, and memoir—will discuss their process.
No preregistration is required to attend either of the panels or the writing class.
As writers, authors, or speakers, you never know if a particular presentation you come up with will be one that's requested over and over. My best tip in this area is that when you are developing a program, make it useful to those listening to you. It' not just about you. Give those you are speaking to food for thought, encouragement, challenge, how-to information or SOMETHING that has potential to help or change them. Years ago in the journalism field, we used to call this "news you can use."
Also, don't shy away from writing new programs to suit new opportunities that come your way.
Maybe it's not just food for thought, but actual food! A Zionsville librarian approached me asking if I would do a presentation on recipes from my first book. Oh, and bring samples. I said I could do that, sure, and told him that I would like to be reimbursed for the food expenses. He said it wasn't a problem. So I wrote a program called "Novel Food," shopped for, prepared and hauled in two dishes from recipes found in Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast.
One day at work the phone rang. A local elementary school asked if I would give a back-to-school program to staff, parents and kids on some aspect of literacy. Umm, sure? I mean, sure! I put one together called "What's Your Clue?" I've used it since then at a library summer reading program kickoff.
The point is that if we're going to continue our journey, we have to think out of the book or books we wrote, and delve into new territory.
Will it be perfect? Are we experts? No and no. Will it take time? Yes. Is it worth it? If you love writing and sharing with readers, yes. It is indeed worth it.
Donna Cronk is author of two inspirational novels, quite a few programs, and thousands of newspaper columns and feature stories. To connect with her about her programs or books, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday, Nov. 4 from noon to 4, consider stopping by the Fishers (Hamilton East) Library, 5 Municipal Drive at the Booktoberfest Author Fair. I’m grateful to be among the 24 selected for inclusion in this event.
Each author is invited to donate a book for a silent auction. I'm providing a copy of Cooking From Hoosier Cabinet Country surrounded by a few cookie cutters and a holiday candle inside a round wicker serving tray.
I was part of a team several years ago that produced these vintage-style cookbooks at the New Castle Courier-Times where I work.
Hoosier cabinets were made at “The Hoosier” factory in New Castle and I've always thought the town should make more of a big deal of that heritage. For many years I coordinated the newspaper's annual recipe contest and along the way, renamed the popular event to the Hoosier Cabinet Cooking Contest.
Many years' worth of those top recipes in categories of snacks, vegetables, salads, main dishes, breads and desserts were collected into one volume. It's a lovely community cookbook offering regional home-cooking.
Several former co-workers were passionate about getting these cookbooks out there -- Brenda, Betty and Sue. I'm grateful to have worked with them on the project.
The cookbooks were so well received that they sold out after two printings. I bought a few extras with my employee discount and figure this is an ideal occasion to donate one for the library auction. I placed it inside a round, flat basket and dolled it up with some duplicate cookie cutters in my collection and a mini-candle. I must admit that I’m looking forward to seeing the winning bid and who gets it.
Back at my table, I’ll be offering free Christmas gift wrapping (with purchase) on my books. Last year at a bazaar, one shopper took me up on this offer to the tune of seven copies! They were destined as her gifts to members of her book club.
I’m also recycling the leftover Halloween candy with a basket full of it along with some flavored teas – free samples for the taking. I look forward to seeing what surprises the library staff has in store in this beautiful library.
Fort Wayne on Saturday, Nov. 11
The following weekend, I’ll be spending Veterans Day, noon to 5, at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, 900 Library Plaza, Fort Wayne. The area is truly new territory as I’ve not been in or around there for any programs or book-club discussions.
Along with participating in the fair, I was invited to serve on a panel discussion about "The Secrets of Successful Self-Publishing." This will be from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Before questions and discussion, each of the four panelists get 10 minutes and I’m devoting mine to practical, proven ideas on how to find readers for your books. Join us in meeting room A.
This author fair was recommended a year ago by a Wayne County author who raved about what a class act it is so I checked it out this year and am pleased to be a part of it.
What's even more special is that my friend Sandy Moore was also selected as a participating author at both fairs so we’ll get to spend some special time together. Sandy will have her children’s book, Sadie’s Search for Home. Her follow-up book, Doodle's Search for Success, will be out before Christmas. I had the pleasure of helping edit the delightful book about a spunky beagle.
More fun things are also in the works but for now, I’ll simply invite you to Fishers and Fort Wayne. I'll have plenty of copies of both books, and be happy to discuss writing, self-publishing, marketing or programs I can provide for your clubs and organizations.
In case you're new to this blog, my books are Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast and That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland. They are also available on Amazon and at a new venue that I will soon be telling you about when the timing is right.
As new territory emerges, the journey keeps rolling. Believe me, I'm more surprised -- and grateful -- than anyone!