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!