An experiment of history, The Lagrange Phalanx, in Lagrange Indiana

Had never heard of these folks till I passed this sign. From the sound of it, they were an experiment in kibbutzim, the communal villages that exist (but are also for the most part failing) in Israel for the last 70 years. Apparently there were 33 of these scattered around the then United States, most of which were formed between 1841 and 1869, none of which lasted more than a handful of years.

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Drove by this Marker while driving from Ohio to Chicago upon a diversion route off route I 80/90 (i.e., the Indian Toll road) on to State route 20 (apparently there was an accident or something slowing traffic ahead of me).

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The sign reads: “The Fourier System of communal living was attempted here between 1843 and 1848. Approximately thirty families lived by rules established in councils of industry, commerce, justice and education. Their “new social order” was a failure.”

the marker isn’t shown on google maps, so I am putting a link to the closest business I could find. It’s a bit west of that, near the corner of Route 20 and the Turkey Creek

 

James Whitcomb Riley, Boyhood Home & Museum; Greenfield, Indiana

I LOVED this place! Sitting right on the National road (Also called the Cumberland Road, or route 40), is the boyhood home of one America’s great poets, James Whitcomb Riley, sometimes known as the Hoosier poet, because of his connection to the Hoosier state (Indiana). Now I admit a personal connection because his most famous poem, Little Orphant Annie, was one of the few poems I ever memorized (for school), and as Riley is one of those writers who wrote what he knew, all of his poems that stem from his childhood experiences lovingly reference specific details of this home.

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With respect to his poetry: for those who don’t already know this, Riley and Mark Twain were both part of the same movement in American literature to elevate and appreciate the “authentic” phonetic voice of the American people when writing, rather than to use the “Formal” voice of educated society. Hence the “Orphant” is NOT a typo, it’s how the word orphaned was pronounced in 1885 by the average person then living in the Hoosier state (Indiana), and this technique is used through the whole poem (most of his poems actually) so that if you carefully read it OUT-LOUT, but AS WRITTEN you can’t but help but switch into something approximating the accent intended  (which is different from how Twain had Tom or Huckleberry sound, as the accents in the deep south were different).

Little Orphant Annie [first stanza only]
Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;
An’ all us other children, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you

Ef you

Don’t

Watch

Out!

To this day I have an image indelibly marked into my brain as my grade school English teacher stood before the class and recited Little Orphant Annie to us, using a completely different accent than she normal spoke in… and then assigned for us to memorize it so that we could each recite it in class the following week. I LOVED that poem and can (pretty much) still do a decent job of recalling it to this day (so that the fact that the docent was reciting various stanzas of the poem, as she took us through the house, made it doubly meaningful for me).

One of the things to be aware of before heading here is that the museum building closes at 4pm, and the last tour of his childhood home, which is the adjacent home  (and you are NOT allowed to enter it without the docent guiding you) begins at 3:15pm. I arrived at 3:25 (immediately after a group of three other women) only to be told, “we’re sorry, you’re too late for the tour, please come another day).

The museum, which is where you enter via an adjacent house (the main house is locked up at all time, except for when the docent allows you in) is sort of major non-event in my opinion, and NOT really worth visiting. It’s mostly a holding area should more people arrive at once than the available docent can safely escort through the home next door. It has a tiny little excuse for a gift shop located in a back room of the house alongside the offices for the docents. (It has some books on CD, magnets, a few toy type things — this one shelf is pretty much it)

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And then in the main “living room” are cases holding some first editions, and pictures of his life POST when he lived in his childhood home (his adult home was in Indianapolis).

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This is an original poem, written in Riley’s own hand that they have on display

The reason his photo (below to the right) was drapped in black was because I visited the house on July 21st, 2018, and we were approaching the 102nd anniversary of his death, July 22, 1916

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the Sofa below the screen belonged to Riley, and was known to be a favorite napping place

You then are led to sit on some folding chairs and watch this short video of just under nine minutes, the highlight of the museum, which I found was also available on YouTube (so you don’t need to drive there to see it)

while researching for this blog piece I found this 20 minute documentary about Riley was on YouTube, it seems to be made by a person who visited the house (apparently more than once), and contains parts of the tour as well as a load of biographical information about Riley

Before we sat down to watch the video I had loudly commented on how sad it was that we’d JUST missed the last tour window. How much I LOVED Riley, and had even memorized Orphant Annie in school… and then recited bits of it out loud… and how sad it was that I’d driven ALL the way from Chicago only to miss the window by 10 minutes, and how I’d probably not pass this way again. I think this had the desired effect because half way through the movie the manager of the place said that even though we’d arrived late, she’d stay a bit late and give us the tour herself (which she normally never does, as she’s not a docent).

[To paraphrase the movie Wall Street, “guilt, for lack of a better word, is good” — guilt & greed, they both work as motivators. Another great motivator would be sexual desire — somewhere in the Talmud there’s a comment that but for sex no man would build a house or plant a seed — but I dont’ think I was her type. (Joke)]

So she took us outside to the home next door and let us in. A very cool point that the docent comments on repeatedly is that Riley’s father,

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His father served in the Civil war, and came back suffering from serious PTSD which essentially broke him

who was a lawyer by profession (and had been the town mayor at one point), was a member of the historic fraternal organization of The Freemasons (so-called because of claims of connection to the Masons of the medieval periods who, because of their specialized knowledge of masonry, were alone of the working classes free to wander Europe, going from castle or monetary building site, to site as needed or wanted) …

IMG_2377… his father took the group’s history seriously, to the point of designing and building (by HAND) not only a lot of the furniture in the house, including a “partner’s legal desk” AND chairs for his legal practice which he worked from his home office (it’s a two-sided desk  — she noted how at the time there were no law schools, you studied law by working with an older lawyer… so the ‘apprentice’ or Jr. Lawyer, would be on the far side supporting the older lawyer who would see customers)

IMG_2551This chest was also one he built by hand; it has no nails, but rather is put together like a puzzle and then glued. It’s very beautifully carved, and the docent said that various woodworkers who’ve come through the house have commented on how, even with today’s tools, making a chest like this is VERY hard. That it exemplifies just how skilled of a woodworker he was.IMG_2552He also built these rocking chairs and did the caning himself. The docent particularly like the way you could see how the hands had worn over time, and would imagine the family members sitting there, maybe rocking a baby to sleep.

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This ladle and bucket were also and made, the ladle is special as it is made from a coconut shell. Think about it, this is the mid 1800’s, coconuts were incredibly rare delicacies. But the position of the home directly on the National road meant that at least there were (according to the docent) an average of 90 vehicles passing a day, many of which had goods to trade. After eating the flesh of the delicacy, James’ father had the foresight to make use of the shells.

So we know that Riley’s father was a highly creative and artistic master furniture maker; but get this, he also built the ENTIRE house by himself… (although I’m sure he had help with the multi-man jobs like getting the framing for the walls up, etc.)IMG_2540.JPG

and this was INCLUDING the stairway!!!!

IMG_2548.JPGThe docent spent a lot of time telling us about how he constructed it, how he soaked and twisted the wood of the railing by hand, and put the shape of musical note at the bottom to symbolize a harmonious household. She also told us how “Orphan Annie” otherwise known as Mary Alice “Allie” Smith, had thought the staircase was the most amazing thing she’d ever seen, and had fancifully named each step.

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Photos of the original “Annie” as a child, and as an old lady

Interestingly, the poem had originally been “Little Orphant Allie’s come to our house to stay”, Allie for Alice, but the printer hadn’t been able to make sense of Riley’s handwriting and screwed it up. By the time Riley discovered the error too many copies had been printed, and the poem was already a major hit, so it stayed as Annie.

That said, if you know Riley’s poetry visiting this home is something of a treat as he references it often in his poems.

 

Little Orphant Annie [continued from above]
Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers,–
An’ when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an’ his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he wuzn’t there at all!
An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press,
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A ‘press’ is a built-in half closet, that’s only as deep as the distance from the interior to exterior walls. The cubby hole is a room under the stars.
An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an’ roundabout:–
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James’ pants to the left, the roundabout is a shirt with buttons around the bottom that button into the top of the pants ensuring a tidy appearance
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you

Ef you

Don’t

Watch

Out!
An’ one time a little girl ‘ud allus laugh an’ grin,
An’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin;
An’ wunst, when they was “company,” an’ ole folks wuz there,
She mocked ’em an’ shocked ’em, an’ said she didn’t care!
An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,
An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ‘fore she knowed what she’s about!
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you

Ef you

Don’t
Watch

Out!
An’ little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An’ the lamp-wick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!
An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,
An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is all squenched away,–
You better mind yer parunts, an’ yer teachurs fond an’ dear,
An’ churish them ‘at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,
An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ‘at clusters all about,

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Er the Gobble-uns ‘ll git you

Ef you

Don’t

Watch

Out!

[Note: When looking at where Annie slept, while working at the Riley home, it’s important to remember she arrived after the Civil war had started, and James’ father was away fighing. She had been staying with relatives, but their father was also going away to war and the family didn’t feel they could afford to support her during that time. She was brought to the Riley home, as they were one of the richest families in town. Mrs. Riley

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said she couldn’t afford to pay her, as her own husband was also away at the war, but could provide free room and board. BUT, since Mr Riley was away, there was no one to build Annie a bed to put her mattress upon.]

 

A BACKWARD LOOK

Away to the house where I was born!

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⁠And there was the selfsame clock that ticked

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Note the clock on the mantel-shelf

From the close of dusk to the burst of morn,
When life-warm hands plucked the golden corn
⁠And helped when the apples were picked.
And the “chany dog” on the mantel-shelf,
⁠With the gilded collar and yellow eyes,

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The [chinese] or chany dog, on the mantel-shelf
Looked just as at first, when I hugged myself
⁠Sound asleep with the dear surprise.
And down to the swing in the locust-tree,
⁠Where the grass was worn from the trampled ground,
And where “Eck” Skinner, “Old” Carr, and three
Or four such other boys used to be
⁠”Doin’ sky-scrapers,” or “whirlin’ round”:
And again Bob climbed for the bluebird’s nest,
⁠And again “had shows” in the buggy-shed
Of Guymon’s barn, where still, unguessed,
⁠The old ghosts romp through the best days dead!
And again I gazed from the old schoolroom
⁠With a wistful look, of a long June day,
When on my cheek was the hectic bloom
Caught of Mischief, as I presume—
⁠He had such a “partial” way,
It seemed, toward me.—And again I thought
⁠Of a probable likelihood to be
Kept in after school—for a girl was caught
⁠Catching a note from me.

— James Whitcomb Riley

 

In addition to Orphant Annie, one of the other poems of Riley that even students today are sometimes taught is this one:

The Raggedy Man

O the Raggedy Man! He works fer Pa;
An’ he’s the goodest man ever you saw!
He comes to our house every day,
An’ waters the horses, an’ feeds ’em hay;
An’ he opens the shed—an’ we all ist laugh
When he drives out our little old wobble-ly calf;
An’ nen—ef our hired girl says he can—
He milks the cow fer ‘Lizabuth Ann.—
Ain’t he a’ awful good Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
W’y, The Raggedy Man—he’s ist so good,
He splits the kindlin’ an’ chops the wood;
An’ nen he spades in our garden, too,
An’ does most things ‘at boys can’t do.—
He clumbed clean up in our big tree
An’ shooked a’ apple down fer me—
An’ ‘nother ‘n’, too, fer ‘Lizabuth Ann—
An’ ‘nother ‘n’, too, fer The Raggedy Man.—
Ain’t he a’ awful kind Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
An’ The Raggedy Man one time say he
Pick’ roast’ rambos from a’ orchurd-tree,
An’ et ’em—all ist roast’ an’ hot!—
An’ it’s so, too!—’cause a corn-crib got
Afire one time an’ all burn’ down
On “The Smoot Farm,” ’bout four mile from town—
On “The Smoot Farm”! Yes—an’ the hired han’
‘At worked there nen ‘uz The Raggedy Man!—
Ain’t he the beatin’est Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
The Raggedy Man’s so good an’ kind
He’ll be our “horsey,” an’ “haw” an’ mind
Ever’thing ‘at you make him do—
An’ won’t run off—’less you want him to!
I drived him wunst way down our lane
An’ he got skeered, when it ‘menced to rain,
An’ ist rared up an’ squealed and run
Purt’ nigh away!—an’ it’s all in fun!
Nen he skeered ag’in at a’ old tin can …
Whoa! y’ old runaway Raggedy Man!
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
An’ The Raggedy Man, he knows most rhymes,
An’ tells ’em, ef I be good, sometimes:
Knows ’bout Giunts, an’ Griffuns, an’ Elves,
An’ the Squidgicum-Squees ‘at swallers the’rselves:
An’, wite by the pump in our pasture-lot,
He showed me the hole ‘at the Wunks is got,
‘At lives ‘way deep in the ground, an’ can
Turn into me, er ‘Lizabuth Ann!
Er Ma, er Pa, er The Raggedy Man!
Ain’t he a funny old Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
An’ wunst, when The Raggedy Man come late,
An’ pigs ist root’ thue the garden-gate,
He ‘tend like the pigs ‘uz bears an’ said,
“Old Bear-shooter’ll shoot ’em dead!”
An’ race’ an’ chase’ ’em, an’ they’d ist run
When he pint his hoe at ’em like it’s a gun
An’ go “Bang!—Bang!” nen ‘tend he stan’
An’ load up his gun ag’in! Raggedy Man!
He’s an old Bear-shooter Raggedy Man!
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
An’ sometimes The Raggedy Man lets on
We’re little prince-children, an’ old King’s gone
To git more money, an’ lef’ us there—
And Robbers is ist thick ever’where;
An’ nen—ef we all won’t cry, fer shore
The Raggedy Man he’ll come and “splore
The Castul-halls,” an’ steal the “gold”—
An’ steal us, too, an’ grab an’ hold
An’ pack us off to his old “Cave”!—An’
Haymow’s the “cave” o’ The Raggedy Man!—
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
The Raggedy Man—one time, when he
Wuz makin’ a little bow-‘n’-orry fer me,
Says “When you’re big like your Pa is,
Air you go’ to keep a fine store like his—
An’ be a rich merchunt—an’ wear fine clothes?—
Er what air you go’ to be, goodness knows?”
An’ nen he laughed at ‘Lizabuth Ann,
An’ I says “‘M go’ to be a Raggedy Man!—
I’m ist go’ to be a nice Raggedy Man!”
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum: Battle Ground, Indiana

This travel stop was in my opinion a complete let down to the point of being annoyed that it took up so much of my time for that day (So what comes next is a very long RANT). The Tippecanoe Battlefield Museum has got to be one of the worst local community sponsored museums I’ve seen, especially when compared to all of the sites that I’ve been to that focus even peripherally on Native American history. But that said, it had hands down the BEST gift store (priorities, clearly). This place is in DIRE need of a skilled curator… it’s clear they had brought one in for the “white people” stuff, but the Native American areas are a pathetic and almost insulting joke. The focus here is almost entirely on what the Federal government did, including the blow by blows of the battle. [This is probably because the U.S. military officer in charge was the local Indiana boy William Harrison, whose success, in said battle, helped him to go on to become our 9th President — a presidency that only lasted for 31 days before he died of pneumonia making his the SHORTEST term in office]….  IMG_2254

One of the annoying things about this site was, at least with regards to the Native American’s side of the story, you didn’t really learn anything on the inside of the museum (after paying your entry fee) that you hadn’t already learned while reading what was presented on the OUTSIDE of the building from the various signs and plaques.

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Erected 1974
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This was probably the first thing put up at the site, and is clearly all about the US forces

Adjacent to the museum is this park with a massive monument dedicated to the American Forces, with a uber masculine/sexy statue of what I’m assuming is Harrison, who as I said went on to become our 9th President, in large part because of this battle. (which tells you something of its political relevance in the day). Please note the:
LOSS, Americas Killed 37, wounded 151…. Indian loss unknown …

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And then these small off to the side plaques, added in 1996 — about the forced removal of the Potawatomi Native populations in the area, called the Trail of Death that happened to the in Sept – Nov. of 1838… a 660 mile forced march during which many children died.

[An important note which I did NOT see explained ANYWHERE in the museum (DID I MENTION that the museum sucks?) is that, the Potawatomi were the tribes that were traditionally a settled/farming tribe that lived on this land, while the Shawnee Indians — the ones involved in the battle — were actually a semi-migratory nation whose lands overlapped Potawatomi land in Indiana and Illinois (in low numbers), but who had MOSTLY lived in lands that extended EAST as far as Maryland. As such, they had already been pushed off those lands by American settlers, and were regrouping and building permanent settlements in Indiana (Indian land anyone?) before the battle happened (which probably didn’t make the Potawatomi very happy)]

fullsizeoutput_4205.jpegOnce I paid to go inside it become incredibly obvious to me that most of the focus of the museum is firmly on the white people, with the Native Americans only really given lip service as an after thought… to be honest, I didn’t really read the poster (below) that blocks your entrance into the place like a warning sign until AFTER I had left the place… and was paying closer attention to the photos I had taken.

IMG_2280This attempt at an apology, which as I said was located JUST at the entrance, in the middle of the path, STRONGLY suggests to me that I’m not (by a long shot) the first person to notice this…  “Originally preserved as a tribute to the soldiers who fell here. We recognize today the bravery of both the Native American and United States military forces who died here defending their way of life.” So, what they have there was about the Native Americans is almost a “lip service” nod to them, and is presented in the most boring, cost-effective ways possible, so the likelihood of customers ‘taking it in’ was unlikely.

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So, even though you’ve walked into a museum that is supposed to be focused on the battle, the first section is devoted to the lesser findings of local archeological digs about a a village where the French and the Miami Indians were living together peacefully… which is more than a bit confusing, largely because it’s not properly segregated nor introduced (to that point, the fact that it was Miami AND French was something I figured out later as I put the disparate pieces from the various signs together — really it was NOT clear). I’m guessing the good stuff went to bigger museums or the University’s museum.) That said, what was presented was a bit scattered and a bit hard to make sense of….

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There was VERY little reference to the French traders nor any mention how well they integrated themselves into the local populations, other than by reference (they lived were living side by side)… so NO comments anywhere about how the Native Americans were never threatened by them, and how their presence was almost diametrically opposed to that of the American settlers…. just these few items

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Seriously, this is IT, this is ALL they had on the French traders

and then there is an equally tiny a bit about the later American white settlers who lived in the area other than that they were there (with some bit and pieces of archeological evidence of their lives… ). Again, NO mention or explanation about how they were invaders, from the local populations’ points of view: i.e., the settlers were forcing Native Americans off their ancestral lands, destroying their hunting grounds and converting them to farms.  And again, there’s no discussion of how those white settlers got there or why… nor of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, etc. (I did spot some reference to the Founding Fathers buying land in the area, but it didn’t come with any explanation of how those land speculations — and the fact that the British said, “sorry no, that land belongs to the French so no you can’t claim ownership of it.” Nor was there any good explanation of how this land greed was something that most historians at this point recognize as being part of what motivated the decision to break from Mother England; all I spotted was a one sentence reference to it which most people would likely miss as it wouldn’t make sense to them.

There are a few scattered references to the settlers’ presence being partially responsible for The American, War of 1812, with Britain, (which from the British point of view was a minor theater of what historians argue was actually the first World War) that happened during the same time period as this battle… but very little explanation of what that connection was….

The Native Americans involved in the Tippecanoe battle receive barely enough focus on the Shawnee Indians to make any sense of the motivations of Tecumseh (one of the most famous Native American tribal leaders EVER, whose name is probably better known than Harrison’s) and his brother Tenskwatawa (other wise known as ‘The Prophet”)… that, and their offerings were so badly displayed as to border on nonsensical (it was just stuff, it didn’t tell any sort of story).

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Also, if you DO actually stop and read what’s written on the various posters (make sure you read the one above first) it’s repetitive, and the time lines of the thing are confusing. It’s almost as though they copy and pasted things they found on-line or in books into the various posters scattered almost thoughtlessly on the walls

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Then, you come to what this museum was CLEARLY intended to be focused upon when first created; it is the section where — by far — most of the money was spent, and actually looks like a serious museum rather than a slap dash attempt at one. This section is a glorification of the American soldiers who arrived for the sole purpose of breaking up any last hope attempt on the part of the Native populations of the area to live peacefully.

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Note the concerned look of the Native American looking up the barrel of a rifleman (who is ridiculously decked out, but that’s what militaries did back then)

Right after this is a multi-media sound and light show devoted to giving you an intricate blow-by-blow of the battle.

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It reminded me of a much smaller, and more affordable version of the Battles for Chattanooga presentation in Tennessee that I love so much that I’ve gone there three times in the last 10 years.

And then back to lip service to the Native Americans… a few posters stuck up on the wall

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After these few pieces of paper stuck to walls, the exhibit returns to its true love of the U.S. Military and Harrison

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A case devoted to the medical tools of the day used by army doctors
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A case devoted to what the soldiers carried with them
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If you have a kid who likes guns, just saying….

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As I was leaving the place, the ONE thing the woman running it insisted on leaving her desk to point out to me was the fact that Harrison’s campaign for President was what we today might consider a “modern” one, in that it utilized slogans “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” and the media in order to make Harrison popular and promote his candidacy

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But, let’s talk about the gift store….

… IF you’re searching for a decent source for historic clothing to wear to a historical reenactment of circa 1811, this is the place… IMG_2422Hand made, historically correct round hats selling for $342 are not the sort of items you normally see for sale in local museum gift stores!  While there were some items, cheap knickknacks that are more normal for these sorts of gift stores, the MAJORITY of items this place was selling seemed to be AS focused on historic reenactment. They weren’t selling little rubber Tomahawks for kids, they were selling REAL ones, and historically correct hand-made leather bags, pipes, and either the clothing, or the pattens so you could make them yourself…  as in exactly the sorts of goods for sale (but for a different time period) as what I found at the store of the  SCA Pennsic event I went to last year — which is a medieval reenactmentIMG_2423

APPARENTLY, this is because there are TWO reenactments that happen in the area devoted to this period of history (below is just one of them), one devoted to the pre-revolutionary war period, and one to the Tippecanoe battle.

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Fair Oaks Dairy: Fair Oaks Indiana

I’ve been to Fair Oaks Dairy restaurants twice now, but have yet to visit their theme park. Apparently, it the ONLY theme park devoted to dairy in the who country. The first time I was in 2015 when I was driving from Chicago to Florida, and spotted the road side advertising for the place (there’s a lot of them, and they are all way cool, MUCH nicer than the shoddy billboards you usually see — when researching this I learned the dairy had been bought out by Coca-cola in 2014), and they are one of the biggest and most high-tech dairies in the country.

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Last time I was here I was able to grab a meal at their cheaper food option, which is off on the other side of the parking lot from the restaurant and theme park (above)

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but that closes at 6pm (I didn’t show up there till about 6:30 today).

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which they call the Cowfé… it’s a no frills cafe that serves produce and food items fresh from their farms…

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cuban sandwich, $7.75 and an iced tea

and from what I could tell it’s SOME of the same foods as at their restaurant called ‘The Farmhouse,’ (the cafe has a MUCH smaller menu), for about half the price… I know this because I apparently ordered the same dish both times I’ve been there (hey, I like cuban sandwiches… )

IMG_2396.JPGbut without the table service, massive order of fries, and the all you can eat jalapeno cornbread… So the Cuban sandwich which was $7.75 at the cafe, is $14 at the restaurant. (I’m also willing to consider that the cafe sandwhich might be a bit smaller in size — I could only eat half of the restaurant’s sandwhich.) Looking at the foods offered, a lot of it is the same stuff you’d expect to find in Appalachia, which is not surprising as the culture extends about this far north.

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while walking back out to the parking lot I passed the table where some people who I had gotten friendly with when I entered were sitting, and they allowed me to photograph their food (I was amazed at how MASSIVE their portions were)…

IMG_2400.JPGand the woman gave me one her disturbingly large fried chicken wings (I was utterly underwhelmed by it, almost no flavor at all). On my way out of the parking lot I realized that the BP (British Petroleum) gas station adjacent to the Fair Oaks Dairy was actually sort of an extension of it (the gas station store ALSO sells their food).

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Giant Lady’s Leg Sundial: Lake Village, Indiana

This is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a sundial made using a very large cutout of woman’s leg. Apparently if it’s a sunny day the thing actually works… which is helpful since it’s located in a nudist colony (yup, lot’s of naked people, with no wrist watches).  I had learned about this place years ago before my first commute from Chicago to Florida …  pretty much EVERY road tripping web site lists it … but I haven’t managed to make it here till today.

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The manager was kind enough to take the photo for me, after first being sure none of his members were visible to the camera (they were visible to me)

Please note, I went to this shortly after TRYING to see the Jesus thing… note the puddles on the ground. The gods were NOT OK with me seeing Jesus stuff, but lots of naked people (??) sure, no problem with that…

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The sign I found most amusing was this one:

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The Shrine of Christ’s Passion: St. John, Indiana

From the little I was able to see, this Passion of Jesus and the Stations of the Cross  attraction (the whole thing is free) — things that I, as a nice Jewish girl, really only know about because I spent a few weeks teaching social studies at a Private Catholic grade School in Chicago (teaching 5th, 8th, and highschool history and economics) … during Lent is a massive garden devoted to the story of Jesus — with a few other things thrown in,.  That said, I was expecting The Shrine of Christ’s Passion to be more over the top than it turned out to be… it’s actually rather tasteful… from the little I saw

That said, I didn’t managed to see more than a bit of it, nor was I able to appreciate the what I did see in full due to a horrible traffic leaving Chicago that DOUBLED the amount of time it took to get here … I was supposed to arrive at 3:30, but instead arrived about 10 minutes before it closed at 5pm …. So I had NO time to explore the MASSIVE gift store (seriously massive) before heading to the main event of the place…

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Moses on the mount, with the burning bush off to the side

When I first arrived, it the weather was cloudy and dry, but you could still see blue sky, so I went to first see Moses on the mount (above)… cause you know… Moses…otherwise, I know, this is not someplace you’d expect a nice Jewish girl to go, this is SO NOT something Jews tend to do — idolotry anyone? But I love this sort of stuff — I mean come on… they advertised as having a 33 foot tall steel lady!!! (never saw it)IMG_2235

and then I entered the Jesus section and it started to rain, but lightly at first …. The first Jesus thing was the last supper… Every tableau came with a recorded “acting out” of the scene — the sound system at this park ROCKED… they have spent serious money on it.

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For the “Garden of Gethsemane” tableau you pushed the button at the entrance to a cul-de-sac type layout, and the loudspeakers were spread in such a way that you could walk through it at your own pace without missing any of it.

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When I got to Jesus being condemned the rain was starting to come down harder, but I was determined to not turn back…

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I made it through a few different stations of the cross, at which point I was starting to get soaked through and my iPhone’s touch screen stop working making it impossible to take photographs, even though it was in a “water-resistant” Otterbox case — at which point I gave up and headed back to the car….

As SOON as I was at my car, the rain stopped and the sky blued up…. almost like the powers that be didn’t want me seeing the Jesus stuff

(googlemaps not working for some reason, try this link)

Jeffersonville, IN

Louisville Kentucky is one of the myriad of US towns situated on a river that is a state border, so that her ‘suburbs’ effectually spread over multiple states; historic Jeffersonville Indiana is just such a suburb.

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Originally the location of a fort named after Baron Von Steuben (the Gay military genius without whom we would have most likely lost the Revolutionary war), Jeffersonville was most likely named as such the same year Thomas Jefferson became president of the united states, and the settlers of the town used the same grid layout that he had promoted as a way for distributing land.

To the town’s credit, they have embraced the historic nature of their town, and as you walk around it you’ll see numerous historic buildings, and signs attached to walls, that offer you a window into the towns past.

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Ironically, however, when I scanned the QR codes attached to those signs into my phone I was taken to a web page saying that the campaign had been disabled — not sure why they would go to all the effort to produce the signs if the city leaders weren’t committed to at least keep the associated web pages active.

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The town however is full of architecturally interesting buildings that have been, for the most part, well maintained, and was full of cute little restaurants, cafes, etc., including a two different cigar lounges (all leather armchairs and sipping bourbon), and a Cafeteria resturant, which is sort of a dying institution.

img_7068Truth be told, I hadn’t come to Jeffersonville in order to see the town, even though having seen it I would happily categorize it as a destination in and of itself, but rather U had come here because of Schimpff’s Candies, which is historic enough to have been covered by the history channel (it was, ironically, featured in the show, Modern Marvels on an episode devoted to candy production).img_7065

Having celebrated it’s 125th anniversary, Schimpff’s, which was originally opened on April 11, 1891,  is one of the oldest continuously operated, family owned candy companies in the US to still be located in it’s original location. And in case one were to forget the perils of being in a town located adjacent to a river, I found the way that the owners had proudly notated its various floods on the exterior wall of the shop to be interesting.

Schimpff’s Candies is a cute place, a combination store, ice cream and lunch counter, with a museum of the Candy industry located in the back.
img_6847I came here because I thought there was going to be a factory tour but there is not — they just do demonstrations of what they’re making that day.
img_7063They’re famous for their red hots, but today they were making Christmas candy.

While the store itself was worthy of a stop, I think that the it’s more the high point of a cute little historic town visit, rather than a full destination in and of itself.

The day I went was by sheer coincidence veterans day… and I saw this:img_6867