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Baseball great Carl Erskine of Anderson

Brooklyn Dodgers players Jackie Robinson and pitcher Carl Erskine sign baseballs for fans during a 1956 good-will tour to Japan. Image courtesy brooklyndodgermemories.com

(April 12, 2014) - With the season opening of Major League Baseball this week, Hoosier History Live! explores the career, as well as the life away from the dugout, of one of the most beloved Hoosiers who ever pitched.

Nelson's special guest is Anderson native Carl Erskine, a star pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers (he was chosen to pitch the opening game in 1958 when the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles) during the era that the team's roster included his longtime close friend Jackie Robinson, who broke the racial barrier in the major leagues. Carl Erskine pitched for the Dodgers in five World Series.

Carl Erskine.After retiring from baseball, Carl, now 87, returned to Anderson and became one of the top business and civic leaders in his hometown.

Carl and his wife, Betty, have been particularly dedicated to Special Olympics, in which their son Jimmy, who has Down syndrome and is now in his 50s, continues to compete. Carl wrote his most recent book, The Parallel (2012), as a way to raise funds for Special Olympics Indiana. The book draws parallels between the evolving social acceptances of minorities - thanks to trailblazers like Jackie Robinson - and societal acceptance of people with disabilities. Carl's other books include What I Learned from Jackie Robinson (McGraw-Hill, 2005).

Carl met Jackie Robinson in 1948 when the Hoosier was playing in the minor leagues and the civil rights pioneer gave him encouragement in the dugout. Carl went on to win 122 games as a pitcher for the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers. He also pitched three two no-hitters during his 12-year career with the team. In 1953, he set a record in the World Series for striking out 14 players. (They were New York Yankees.)

Following his return to Anderson, where he started out in sandlot, high school and amateur baseball, Carl was a bank president for several years. He also coached the baseball team at Anderson University and, for more than 40 years, has volunteered for Special Olympics.

His honors include being named a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society in 1999 and, in 2010, receiving the Sachem Award from then-Gov. Mitch Daniels in a ceremony at the Indiana Statehouse.

Carl, who was born in Anderson in 1926, grew up in a racially integrated neighborhood. His childhood pals included "Jumping" Johnny Wilson, an African-American who later was named "Mr. Basketball" as the state's best high school player in 1946. Eventually, Wilson played pro basketball for the Harlem Globetrotters.

The Parallel book cover by Carl Erskine. Features photo of baseball player Jackie Robinson on left and Special Olympics athlete Jimmy Erskine on right.In What I Learned from Jackie Robinson, Carl writes that his early experiences with diverse families meant that he was open to a quick, easy friendship with Jackie Robinson, whose life story was depicted in the movie 42: The Jackie Robinson Story (2013).

In his book, Carl describes a series of disturbing incidents in 1949 in Atlanta, where the KKK picketed the Dodgers and Robinson received death threats.

"We couldn't believe anybody would want to kill somebody else for playing ball because of his race," Carl writes. According to Carl, the classy way in which Robinson handled taunts from spectators, fellow players and the media taught him "to be 'better,' not bitter, whenever adversity struck."

In addition to Carl, Robinson's supporters on the Dodgers included another Hoosier: Gil Hodges(1924-1972), a native of Princeton, Ind., who was a star first baseman. Later in his career, Hodges became manager of the New York Mets and, in 1969, led the team to a World Series championship.

By then, Carl had retired as a player and had moved back to his hometown with his wife, Betty, and started a business. He also was president and a director of Star Bank.

The Erskines' son, Jimmy, had been born in 1960 with Down syndrome. Carl and Betty were urged to institutionalize him, but they declined and raised him at home. This led to their involvement with Special Olympics, where Jimmy has been a gold medalist.

History Mystery

In the early 1940s, before Carl Erskine played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, another Indiana-born baseball star was on the team's roster. A native of New Albany, he also played for teams in Boston and Pittsburgh.

Chicago Cubs logo.Primarily, though, the Hoosier was associated with the Chicago Cubs, where he was considered one of the greatest hit-and-run hitters of the 1930s and played against icons like Babe Ruth.

The mystery player, a second baseman, had been born in New Albany in 1909. At the end of his career, he was a team manager and scout. By the time he died in 1992, he had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Hint: His granddaughter, Cheri, grew up to marry former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Question: Who is he?

The prize is a pair of tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair in Brown County on April 26, courtesy of Story Inn, and a pair of tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: T.C. Steele and Brown County wildflowers

A young photographer takes pictures of wildflowers in Brown County, Ind.Guest Roadtripper Chris Della Rocca of Indiana Landmarks suggests we take in the 29th Annual Wildflower Foray in Brown county coming up April 25-27.

During a three-day period, guests can enjoy 24 different hikes and programs that focus on the natural history and environmental concerns of Brown County, especially as they relate to wildflower and bird populations. Included are wildflower and bird walks, wetland hikes, a boat trip on Lake Monroe, nature photography and more.

Hikes and programs will be on established trails throughout the T.C. Steele property and at other nearby natural areas, including DNR properties, Hoosier National Forest, Indiana University, Sycamore Land Trust and Nature Conservancy lands.

By the way, our History Mystery prize this week includes two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair that same weekend in Brown County! Spring is especially welcome this year after such a seemingly endless winter!

Tiffany windows across Indiana

A detail from Angel of the Resurrection, which is on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The 1904 piece, created by Frederick Wilson of Tiffany Studios, was donated by First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church. Image courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art.(April 5, 2014) - One of them - titled the Angel of the Resurrection and informally known as the "President Benjamin Harrison Memorial Window" - is at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Another, The Ascension with Passion Flower and Vine, is in the chancel of Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.

And other stained glass windows created in the late 1800s or early 1900s by the iconic, New York-based Tiffany Studios are in the Episcopal Cathedral of St. James in South Bend; the Morrison-Reeves Library in Richmond and on various mausoleums across Indiana.

As Hoosier History Live! explores those stunning Tiffany windows and others across Indiana, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests:

  • Leslie Anderson-Perkins, a curatorial assistant at the IMA, which is about to launch a small exhibit associated with the "Harrison Window," which was commissioned by the former president's second wife and widow, Mary Lord Harrison, after his death in 1901. The window, which depicts Michael, the angel of the resurrection, signaling the dead to rise with the second coming of Christ, originally was installed at the former First Presbyterian Church, where Benjamin Harrison had been an elder for more than 40 years. More details recently have surfaced about the early history of the window.
  • And Fred Kortepeter, the historian at Second Presbyterian Church. Its Tiffany window, which is 25-by-12 feet, was installed in the early 1900s when the church was located at Vermont and Pennsylvania streets. The massive window was re-installed when the church moved in the late 1950s to the current site at 7700 N. Meridian Street.

Leslie Anderson-Perkins.From the late 1870s through the early 1930s, Louis Comfort Tiffany and his decorative glass company (which had various names, but primarily was known as Tiffany Studios) produced thousands of windows for churches, businesses, private homes and mausoleums across the country.

Wherever their location, Tiffany windows almost always are eye-catching, to say the least. Typically, the stained glass is multicolored and, during sunlight, has an iridescent effect; vibrant mottled glass is a hallmark of many of the windows.

Louis Comfort Tiffany, circa 1908.Declaring his life's goal was the "pursuit of beauty," Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) oversaw many designers at his decorative glass business. His father, Charles Lewis Tiffany, had founded the luxury jewelry retailer known as Tiffany & Co.

Leslie, our guest from the IMA, has traveled to South Bend and Richmond to gather details about the Tiffany windows in those Hoosier cities. In addition to the library in Richmond, buildings in the far-eastern Indiana city with Tiffany windows include St. Paul's Episcopal Church and Reid Memorial Church, a Presbyterian congregation that commissioned several stained-glass windows.

Fred Kortepeter.In Indianapolis, the same Tiffany artist, Frederick Wilson, designed the windows for both First and Second Presbyterian churches. Wilson, who often signed his windows, was one of the best-known designers at Tiffany, where many others worked in near-obscurity, overshadowed by the legendary "Tiffany" name.

After various congregational changes and moves involving First Presbyterian Church, the Angel of the Resurrection window was donated in the early 1970s to the IMA by First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church, a successor to the congregation. The window depicts Michael, the heroic angel, wearing chain mail and resembling a medieval knight as he beckons the dead to rise.

A window by Tiffany Studios is at the Morrisson-Reeves Library in Richmond, Ind. Image courtesy Morrisson-Reeves Library.The Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site has provided the IMA with a presentation sketch for the window that was given to Mrs. Harrison; the sketch, along with a Tiffany Studios catalogue, will be displayed with the window as part of the exhibit.

At Second Presbyterian, the Tiffany window was a gift to the church by the widow of a congregant, Charles F. Sayles, who died in 1902. The Ascension with Passion Flower and Vine initially was installed in 1905, according to a timeline supplied by our guest Fred Kortepeter.

Fred also has a list of Tiffany windows that had been installed - or were being commissioned - across Indiana circa 1910. The current whereabouts of some of the Tiffany windows has been a bit of a mystery. Both of our guests have undertaken research to explain about what may happened to some of the windows.

Some history facts:

  • Among the predecessors of Benjamin Harrison, who served as president from 1888 to 1892, was Chester A. Arthur. He commissioned a young Louis C. Tiffany to decorate several rooms of the White House, boosting Tiffany's career.
  • Benjamin Harrison's first wife, Caroline Scott Harrison, died of tuberculosis while she was the nation's first lady. After his defeat for re-election in 1892, Harrison returned to Indianapolis, resumed his law practice and married Mary Lord. Their daughter was a  young child when her father died.
  • In South Bend, the Cathedral of St. James actually has four Tiffany windows. One of the stained glass windows at the Episcopal church was a gift from the family of Peter Studebaker, who was among the five Studebaker Brothers of wagon- and car-making fame. This window initially was displayed at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair.

"Learn more" videos:

History Mystery

Dale Chihuly’s Fireworks of Glass sculpture graces the lobby of the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. Image courtesy johnbarrettblog.com.Major glass sculptures created by Dale Chihuly, the famous contemporary artist, have been commissioned across Indiana. And there have been exhibits of Chihuly's sculptures of blown glass at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art and many other cultural sites in the Hoosier state. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis features "Fireworks of Glass," a 43-foot tower that's considered to be the largest permanent sculpture of blown glass created by Chihuly, who is based in the state of Washington.

Elsewhere in Indianapolis, the Indiana University School of Medicine commissioned an enormous sculpture by Chihuly that represents an aspect of human biology. The glass sculpture, which weighs 3,000 pounds, was dedicated in 2003 in the medical school complex on the IUPUI campus.

Question: What aspect of biology does the massive sculpture symbolize?

The prize is a gift certificate to Arni's Restaurant and two admission to the Latitude 360 entertainment center in Castleton, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: Chief Richardville House in Fort Wayne

Jean-Baptiste de Richardville.Guest Roadtripper Tom Castaldi of Fort Wayne suggests a visit to the only known standing Treaty House in America, the Chief Richardville House in Fort Wayne. On the city's southwest side at 5705 Bluffton Road, the house is in the Greek Revival style and was built in 1827 for Miami Indian Civil Chief Jean-Baptiste de Richardville.

A myth prevails that an unusually formed silver maple tree at the front entrance to the home has a special meaning in the Miami culture. Tom says that it cannot be determined whether the twisting of the limbs was caused by an act of nature or by human manipulation.

Within the lawn area of the house are two mature lilac trees that may be date to the 19th century. The house is open for touring each first Saturday between May and November. Admission is $7, or $5 for seniors or $3 for students.

Governors of Indiana

Indiana's first governor, Jonathan Jennings, is shown in an official portrait painting.(March 29, 2014 - encore presentation) - "Historically, the office of governor in Indiana has been a weak institution compared to the strength of the state legislature and in contrast to the office of governor in some other states. Over time ... the office has been transformed into one with considerably more power."

So begins a book co-edited by two distinguished Hoosiers who are Nelson's studio guests for a show exploring the colorful array of Indiana's chief executives since statehood in 1816 - as well as various patterns among the political leaders who have held the top office.

The Governors of Indiana book cover.During this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live! archives (its original air date was April 6, 2013), our guests are Linda Gugin, a professor emeritus of political science at Indiana University Southeast, and James E. St. Clair, a journalism professor at ISU. They co-edited The Governors of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006), an anthology to which dozens of writers contributed profiles of the Hoosier state’s leaders.

Our first governor, Jonathan Jennings, was a longtime foe of slavery who resigned in 1822 after being elected to Congress; he struggled with alcoholism in his later years. During our show, Nelson and his guests will explore how Jennings and other early Indiana governors - including William Hendricks of Madison (our third governor) and Paris Dunning of Bloomington (our ninth) - dealt with slavery-related issues.

In their book, Jim and Linda identify the two "most powerful governors" as Civil War-era leader Oliver Perry Morton, a Republican from Centerville, and Franklin native Paul V. McNutt, a Democrat who was the state's chief executive during the Great Depression. A vintage postcard image shows the Indiana governor’s residence in Corydon. The house no longer stands.Morton had lost his first race for governor, in 1856, during a bitter election in which, according to our guests' book, Democrats resorted to "overt appeals to racism."

The election demonstrated "the polarized nature of the state at the time," with the Democratic candidate, New Albany lawyer and orator Ashbel Willard, prevailing in almost all of the southern counties and Morton in the north.

In 1860, Willard became the first of four Indiana governors to die in office. The most recent was Corydon newspaper publisher and state legislator Frank O'Bannon in 2003.

During the show, Nelson and his guests explore how various civil rights and social justice issues have been handled by governors. A former first lady, Zerelda Wallace, became a leading suffragist during the 1870s and '80s, lobbying the legislature for women's rights. She was the second wife of David Wallace, who had served as governor in the 1830s. Fun fact: His son from his first marriage is Lew Wallace, who went on to write the international bestseller Ben-Hur.

Native plants and early Indiana botanical explorations

Monotropa uniflora is shown growing in a nature preserve in Indiana’s LaPorte County. Photo courtesy Michael Homoya.(March 22, 2014) - With, at long last, the arrival of spring - at least in terms of the calendar, if not the current weather - Hoosier History Live! focuses on our state's botanical heritage. And a special co-host guides us during our look at native plants and early botanical explorations.

Did you know, for example, that 43 varieties of orchids are native to Indiana - more than in Hawaii?

Author and gardening expert Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, who writes the popular "Hoosier Gardener" column for The Indianapolis Star, joins Nelson in studio for the show. Their guest is a fellow author, botanist and plant ecologist Michael Homoya of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. His books include Orchids of Indiana (Indiana University Press), which describes all 43 native Indiana orchids.

Jo Ellen, the co-author of The Indiana Gardener's Guide and the author of The Visitor's Guide to American Gardens (both published by Cool Springs Press), is the secretary of Garden Writers Association. She has been writing and speaking about natural gardening for more than 20 years.

So Jo Ellen and Michael will be ideal for this show, during which we dig deep into botanical explorations across Indiana. The first known one occurred in 1795 by French explorer Andre Michaux. Some of Michaux's collections from the Indiana wilderness still exist in the national herbarium in Paris, according to Michael, who has personally seen them.

Our first state forester, Charlie Deam (1865-1953), grew up on a family farm in Wells County and went on to chronicle native plants across the state, including specific locations in counties and townships. Botanist and plant ecologist Michael Homoya and crew work to restore a prairie at Prairie Creek Barrens in Daviess County. Photo by Paul Bouseman.Known as the "father of Indiana botany," he collected more than 73,000 plant specimens from across Indiana, according to Michael Homoya. (His collection is now housed at the herbarium at Indiana University.)

Some other insights about our state's natural history, courtesy of Jo Ellen and Michael:

  • Short's Goldenrod(Solidago shortii) is one of the rarest plants in the world, only found in the wild in about two places in the country, including in Harrison County. The plant is now available in the garden trade as Solar Cascade, introduced by the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden. Short's Goldenrod is considered the most endangered plant in Indiana.
  • Indiana ranks near the world's best for the show of forest spring wildflowers.
  • The name of Thorntown in central Indiana comes from the Miami Indians, who referred to the area as "Thorn tree place."
  • Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp.In 1915, a national contest was held to document the largest non-conifer tree in the country. A sycamore tree from Greene County was the winner; it was almost 14 feet in diameter.
  • Stella do Ora daylily was developed Walter Jablonski, a daylily hybridizer from Merrillville, and was introduced in 1975. It was the first re-blooming daylily.

In addition to his book about orchids, our guest Michael Homoya has been the author or co-author of other books about Indiana wildflowers. They include Wildflowers and Ferns of Indiana's Forests (IU Press).

And Jo Ellen, in addition to being an author and columnist, is a garden coach and landscape consultant. A frequent guest about gardening topics on TV and radio stations across Indiana, she is a member of Great Garden Speakers.

History Mystery

A sycamore tree is shown, with an upper white bark that is visible against the winter sky. The sycamore tree is commonly found along Indiana waterways, but it is not Indiana's state tree.Question: What is the official state tree of Indiana?

Sycamore trees shed their bark in winter, providing beautiful white branches to look at against the sky. However, the sycamore is not the state tree of Indiana.

The call-in number is (317) 788-3314. Please do not call into the show until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air, and please do not try to win the prize if you have won any other prize on WICR during the last two months.

The prize is a gift certificate to Howl at the Moon restaurant in downtown Indianapolis and two admission to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: Circus Day at Indiana History Center

Man juggling hoops while girl and woman exclaim, at the 2013 Circus Day at the Indiana Historical Society. Photo courtesy Indiana Historical Society.Guest Roadtripper Amy Lamb will suggest you run away to the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center at 450 W. Ohio Street in Indianapolis for the Indiana Historical Society's popular (and free) Circus Day celebration on Saturday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Many Hoosiers may not be aware that Indiana's connection to the circus industry dates back to the late 1800s. By the early 1900s, a number of the nation's premier shows set up winter quarters in Indiana. Today, Peru, Ind., is home to the world's largest amateur circus and the International Circus Hall of Fame.

The day will include performances from the Hampel Family Circus, the Amazing World of Animals, clowns, magicians and jugglers, as well as free admission to the Indiana Experience. Guests can purchase tickets to enjoy face painting, balloon sculptures, crafts and carnival games with prizes. For more information, visit www.indianahistory.org.

Wicked winter history with Paul Poteet

(March 15, 2014) - When you endure one of the most brutal winters in Hoosier history, whom do you call to put it in context?

Snow totals through March 14, 2014. Courtesy Paul Poteet.None other than the multimedia meteorologist often dubbed "Indiana's Weatherman." Indianapolis-based forecaster, weather historian and veteran broadcast personality Paul Poteet joins Nelson in studio to share details about the wicked winter of 2013-14 and how it stacks up to previous eras when temps also hit rock bottoms and snowfalls seemed endless, including the notorious Blizzard of 1978.

As the operator of the weather site paulpoteet.com, Paul delivers forecasts on the Internet and is a go-to guy for media clients ranging from newspapers such as The Indianapolis Star and The Lafayette Courier-Journal to radio stations WZPL-FM (99.5) and WQME-FM (98.7). For nearly 15 years until 2009, he was the morning news meteorologist for WRTV-Channel 6 in Indianapolis.

Known for his wit and boundless energy, Paul has been a busy man this winter, which included a dozen days in Indianapolis during January and February when the temps plunged below zero. Paul Poteet.According to Paul, the 11.4 inches of snow that fell on Jan. 5 in the Indy area was "the second highest calendar-day snowfall since records began."

An independent forecaster, Paul owns Weather History Research, a business hired by insurance companies and law firms seeking historic weather data.

The snowiest winter on record in Indy was 1981-82, with a total of 58.2 inches.

And then there's the Blizzard of '78, which was the focus of our second show after Hoosier History Live! made its debut in January 2008. That blizzard, generally considered the worst in city history, involved a massive snowfall of 15.5 inches on top of more than 5 inches already on the ground.

According to Paul Poteet, the maximum snow depth ever recorded on the ground in the Indy area happened during the notorious Blizzard of '78. For three consecutive days (Jan. 26-28 of 1978), the snow depth measured 20 inches.

Snow piled high in downtown Warsaw, Ind., circa 1915. Courtesy Indiana Historical Society.With wind chills reported at 51 degrees below zero, the Blizzard of '78 paralyzed the city, stranded hundreds of people at the American Red Cross shelter and at Indianapolis International Airport and led to the activation of the Indiana National Guard - even to the use of tanks - to rescue stranded motorists and stalled semis.

Our show, which was broadcast on the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard of '78, featured guests who included a pregnant woman who went into labor at a farmhouse in Franklin Township and the director of the Red Cross shelter.

  • Listen here for Hoosier History Live! audio from our Jan. 16, 2008 show, during which former COO of the Indianapolis Red Cross Craig Widener talks about how the city opened its Red Cross Shelter to stranded Greyhound passengers.
  • Listen here to for a caller talking about being stranded at O'Malia's grocery store in Carmel.

Heidelberg Haus on Indy's east side is shown during the blizzard of f1978. Photo courtesy heidelberghaus.com.As Paul Poteet joins Nelson, he draws comparisons and contrasts among other wicked winter seasons. Some winter history facts for the Indy area, courtesy of Paul:

  • Average date of first measurable snowfall: Nov. 19
  • Average date of the last measurable snowfall: March 30.
  • Average first freeze date: Oct. 16.
  • Average last freeze date: April 17.

Two weeks ago, Paul traveled to Alaska to cover the Iditarod in connection with one of his other gigs. With TV personality Patty Spitler (also a former Hoosier History Live! guest), Paul co-hosts Pet Pals TV, a syndicated magazine show that focuses on dogs, cats and an array of other pets.

Consider this: When Paul and Patty left for the Iditarod last week, it was colder across central Indiana (at 6 degrees) than in Alaska, where temps were in the low 20s.

And if history is any guide, Hoosiers may not be out of the woods for quite awhile in terms of the need for overcoats, or at least jackets. According to Paul, the last date of measurable snowfall in central Indiana was May 8. That late-season snowfall happened in 1923.

History Mystery

Lorenzo's Ristorante is at 15 E. Maryland St. in downtown Indianapolis. Image courtesy americascuisine.com.The lowest temperature ever recorded in the Indianapolis area occurred within the last 25 years.

On a day during January of the mystery year that became historically cold, the air temperature in Indy plunged to a record low of minus-27 degrees, not counting wind chill.

Question: What was the year?

The prize is a gift certificate to Lorenzo's Ristorante in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to GlowGolf, the miniature golf course in downtown Indy's Circle Centre Mall.

Roadtripper: Yount's Woolen Mill, Shades and Allen's Country Diner

Guest Roadtripper Gary BraVard encourages us to discover some treasure in Montgomery County; county seat is Crawfordsville. Yount’s Woolen Mill, west of Crawfordsville, Ind., was built in 1851 and provided Grade A wool for Civil War uniforms. In its heyday, about 300 women worked here. Hoosier History Live photo.A picturesque hidden paradise stands four miles west of Crawfordsville along Sugar Creek, which winds its way through all those wonderful sandstone cliffs in Shades State Park.

Yount's Woolen Mill is off Highway 32 west of Crawfordsville; it's south on Old Mill Road just west of Sugar Creek. It's rather tucked away.

Built in 1851, Yount's Woolen Mill provided much of the Grade A wool for Civil War uniforms. During its heyday about 300 women worked there, and sleeping quarters for the women were provided in the boarding house in front of the mill. The former boarding house now operates year-round as a bed and breakfast, Yountsville Mill Inn & Garden.

If you've absorbed enough natural beauty after hiking around Montgomery County, you can top off the day with some home cooking at Allen's Country Kitchen in downtown Crawfordsville. Tell them that the Roadtripper from Hoosier History Live sent you!

Bobby Plump on Milan's triumph, 60 years later

(March 8, 2014) - Can you think of any moment in Hoosier history that has become better known around the world than a buzzer-beating "last shot" in March 1954?

The basketball player who led underdog Milan High School to the championship in Indiana's state tournament in 1954 - a victory that inspired the movie Hoosiers - joins Nelson in studio to share insights (and separate facts from folklore and myths) as we mark the 60th anniversary of the "Milan Miracle."

Bobby Plump cuts down the net at Indy’s Hinkle Fieldhouse after winning the 1954 state basketball championship. Image courtesy Milan 54 Museum.Although Bobby Plump has been a public figure ever since his shot went in the basket at Hinkle Fieldhouse, he and his Milan teammates have been reaping even greater attention in recent weeks because of the big anniversary. Former Gov. Mitch Daniels and Hoosiers screenwriter Angelo Pizzo attended a ceremony at which a ramp at Hinkle was named in Plump's honor. And the 1954 Milan state champion teammates were honored two weeks ago during a basketball game at Butler University, home of the fieldhouse. (As most longtime Indiana basketball fans know, Bobby went on to play for Butler after graduating from Milan High.)

Amid the hoopla, Bobby somehow found time to phone in to Hoosier History Live! during our recent show about the history of Attucks High School so he could comment about Oscar Robertson and other outstanding players from the days when Indiana had an all-inclusive, single-class tournament.

Speaking of phoning in: With our call-in format, this show was an ideal opportunity for calling in and asking Bobby Plump, who is now 77, about the 1954 season that culminated with his game-winning shot. Thanks to that shot, Milan defeated Muncie Central High School 32-30 and made "Hoosier Hysteria" history.

Please keep in mind that Angelo Pizzo always has maintained - and Bobby frequently says - that the only aspect of the fictional Hoosiers (1986) that is lifted directly from the Milan story is "the last 18 seconds." (In other words, Bobby's last shot.) The relationship between Bobby and his real-life coach, Marvin Wood, for example, apparently was far different than the one between Jimmy Chitwood, the fictional star player in Hoosiers, and the coach played by Gene Hackman. Click here to watch video of Gene Hackman's inspirational locker room speech.

Hoosiers movie poster.For those who need a refresher: In 1954, the year "David slew Goliath" in Indiana, Milan High School in Ripley County was one of the smallest schools in the state, with about 160 students and a class of 27 seniors. Those seniors included Bobby Plump, who actually grew up in nearby Pierceville, a town smaller than Milan - so small, in fact, it didn't have a high school.

That's why, just before the buzzer sounded at the 1954 state tournament, Bobby's last shot - which Nelson describes in his book Indiana Legends as "a stunning, 15-foot jump shot he scored against seemingly invincible Muncie Central" - instantly became iconic.

After being named Indiana's "Mr. Basketball" of 1954, Bobby played hoops as a Bulldog for legendary coach Tony Hinkle at Butler. Then he played for industrial and amateur teams before become an Indianapolis-based businessman and entrepreneur.

In the 1990s, Bobby crusaded against the creation of the multi-class state basketball tournament. His restaurant Plump's Last Shot in Broad Ripple displays vintage photos and memorabilia of the "Milan Miracle."

Photos and memorabilia also are exhibited at the Milan 54-Hoosiers Museum in the town that USA Today once called "arguably the most famous small town in high school sports history." In 1954, Milan had a population of about 1,150 - but crowds totaling more than 40,000 people flocked to the town the day after the upset victory in the state tournament.

Celebrations have continued on milestone anniversaries. For the 50th anniversary in March 2004, teams from Milan and Muncie Central had a rematch game.

Unlike the fictional Hickory Huskers team in Hoosiers, the Milan team in 1954 did not exactly burst from obscurity. Bobby Plump. Image courtesy Courtesy Kelli Plump Piechocki.The year before, Bobby Plump and his fellow Milan Indians had made it to the semifinals of the state tournament. And in 1954, Milan  defeated powerhouse Attucks (when Oscar Robertson was a sophomore) to reach the Final Four. Of course, Oscar Robertson - known as the "Big O" - and his Attucks teammates would go on to capture back-to-back championships in the two years after Milan's triumph.

In terms of size, though, Milan certainly could have been considered an underdog in 1954. The tallest player on the team with Bobby Plump (5-feet-10) was Ron Truitt at 6-feet-2. Other players on the "Milan Miracle" team included Ray Craft, Gene White, Rollin Cutter and Roger Schroder. Bobby and some of the others had been playing barnyard basketball together since they were young boys. Like Bobby, Ray Craft and Rollin Cutter would go on to play at Butler for Coach Hinkle.

After graduating from Butler, Bobby played basketball with an industrial team based in Oklahoma called the Phillips 66 Oilers. In 1963, Bobby and his wife Jenine resettled in Indianapolis, where he launched a successful career in the insurance and financial planning business. They have three children - Tari, Kelli and Jonathan - and seven grandchildren.

Bobby Plump has been named a Sagamore of the Wabash and was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.

History Mystery

The movie Hoosiers (1986) is set in the fictional small town of Hickory, Indiana. Its high school basketball team, the Huskers, bursts from obscurity to win the state championship in 1952. The year of the climactic tournament is just one of several deviations from real story of the Milan Indians, who won the championship in 1954.

Another deviation involves the small town team's final opponent. In real life, Milan defeated Muncie Central. In the movie, the Huskers beat a team from a different Indiana city, one that truly exists - unlike the fictional town of Hickory. In fact, the team that loses the climactic game in Hoosiers hails from a city that's larger than Muncie.

Question: What is the city?

The prize is a gift certificate to The Rathskeller in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy, and four passes to GlowGolf, the miniature golf course in downtown Indy's Circle Centre Mall.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the March 1 History Mystery for readers who did not get a chance to hear the show. The question: In March of 1982, two Hoosier women founded a business that they named in honor of one of their mothers. Although their company started modestly in the basement of one of the co-founders, it has become an international success. Still based in the Indiana city where it began, the company makes products used by millions of women every year.

Question: Name the business and the Indiana city where it is headquartered.

Answer: Vera Bradley and Fort Wayne.

Madam Walker: her life, business and theater building

The U.S. Postal Service honored Madam C.J. Walker in 1998 with a commemorative stamp as part of its Black Heritage Series.(March 1, 2014) - As we welcome Women's History Month following our salute to Black History Month, Hoosier History Live! explores various aspects of a pioneer entrepreneur, philanthropist and visionary whose life truly became iconic.

We have the best possible guest for our show about Madam Walker, the daughter of slaves who probably became the country's first self-made African-American woman millionaire. We also explore the Indianapolis landmark, the Madam Walker Theatre Center, that is among her legacies in her adopted hometown.

Nelson's guest is Madam Walker's great-great granddaughter and biographer, A'Lelia Bundles, who grew up in the Hoosier capital, graduated from North Central High School and Harvard, then became an Emmy Award-wining TV producer. She currently is based in the Washington D.C. area.

A former ABC News executive, A'Lelia wrote a critically acclaimed biography of her legendary ancestor, On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker (Scribner, 2001).

Now A'Lelia is the author of a new book. Madam Walker Theatre Center: An Indianapolis Treasure (Arcadia Publishing) explores the construction and evolution of - as well as the social history associated with - the block-long flatiron structure built on Indiana Avenue in the 1920s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The cover of A’Lelia Bundle’s book, Madam Walker Theatre Center: An Indianapolis Treasure.Madam Walker (1867-1919) did not live to see the opening of the building designed as the new corporate headquarters of her Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Co., which produced hair-care products sold internationally. But Madam Walker had the vision for the landmark building with a stage that, for more than 85 years, has been a venue for African-American performers such as Motown great Smokey Robinson and opera star Angela Brown, an Indy native.

When the Walker building had a grand opening in 1927, it included, in addition to the corporate offices, a movie theater, beauty salon, ballroom and a café called the Coffee Pot that was promoted with a distinctive coffee-pot-shaped sign on the exterior.

Madam Walker had been born as Sarah Breedlove on a cotton plantation in Louisiana. By age 7, she was an orphan. She married during her teen years, had a daughter and, by age 20, was a widow. She found work as a laundress but in the 1890s suffered a severe scalp disease that, as A'Lelia notes in her new book, "was causing her to go bald."

From those inauspicious beginnings, Madam Walker created shampoos, ointments and other hair-care products that became enormously popular. The Madam Walker Theatre is in downtown Indianapolis. Image courtesy Walker Theatre.The company she founded eventually employed and trained thousands of women. In 1910, she moved its headquarters to Indianapolis for several reasons, including the city's "Crossroads of America" reputation as a railroad hub that enabled efficient shipping across the country for her products.

While patronizing a downtown Indy theater in 1914, Madam Walker was startled when she was told tickets for blacks had increased sharply higher than admission for whites. She promptly instructed her attorney to sue the theater.

"Legend has it," A'Lelia writes in her new book, "that she also vowed that day to build her own movie theater."

The book includes dozens of vintage photos of the building that, since a major restoration in 1988, has been a cultural arts center. Its theater, designed in an African art deco style, not only is the venue for jazz, blues and gospel concerts, it has been the setting for performances by the Vienna Boys Choir.

A'Lelia Bundles holds up a copy of her new book Madam Walker Theatre Center: An Indianapolis Treasure at the December 2013 Holiday Author Fair in Indianapolis. Hoosier History Live photo.In addition to being a pioneer African-American business leader, Madam Walker was a staunch advocate for women. The "on her own ground" reference in the title of A'Lelia's biography refers to a response that Madam Walker gave in 1912 when she was denied a request to be included on the program at the National Negro Business League convention:

"I am a woman who came from the cotton fields of the South. I was promoted from there to the washtub. Then I was promoted to the cook kitchen, and from there I promoted myself into the business of manufacturing hair goods. ... I have built my own factory on my own ground."

With her success in business, Madam Walker became an arts patron and a major philanthropist, helping fund the Senate Avenue YMCA in Indianapolis and other organizations.

In addition to vintage photos of the Walker Theatre, A'Lelia's new book includes photos of Madam Walker's Indianapolis home (which has been demolished), ads for her hair care products and a photo of her final residence in New York, a mansion just a few miles from the estate of John D. Rockefeller.

A'Lelia currently is working on a book about her namesake, Madam Walker's daughter A'Lelia Walker, who was based in New York and helped influence the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.

History Mystery

In March of 1982, two Hoosier women founded a business that they named in honor of one of their mothers. Although their company started modestly in the basement of one of the co-founders, it has become an international success.

Still based in the Indiana city where it began, the company makes products used by millions of women every year. The two co-founders also have become major philanthropists, establishing a foundation for breast cancer research that has been a major donor to the Indiana University School of Medicine.

Question: Name the business and the Indiana city where it is headquartered.

The prize is a gift certificate to O'Reilly's Pub and Restaurant in downtown Indianapolis, as well as a pair of tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

Detail from a painting by our mystery artist.By request, we are publishing the answer to the Feb. 22 show History Mystery for readers who did not get a chance to hear the show. The question: Among the famous Hoosiers included in Indiana Legends, one of the books by our host Nelson Price, is a contemporary artist who has been in the news this month. She has announced plans to sell her gallery, which has been located in a former Methodist church built in the 1860s. She intends to open a new gallery in New York City, although she plans to keep her central Indiana home and studio, where she paints on the upper floor of a horse barn. Who is the artist?

Answer: NANCY NOEL.

The artist, who was born of French heritage in Indianapolis in 1945, announced this month that she plans to sell The Sanctuary, her gallery on Main Street in Zionsville. The Sanctuary, which also includes a restaurant, is in a renovated historic building, a Free Methodist Church built in the 1860s.

In her announcement, Nancy Noel reported that she plans to open a New York City gallery, although she intends to keep her home and studio that are located on a rolling, 45-acre farm near Zionsville.

Roadtripper: Buffalo Trace in southern Indiana

Guest Roadtripper Andrea Neal tell us that bison hooves paved Indiana's first road, known as the Buffalo Trace. Long before Indiana became a state, American bison moved from the salt licks of Kentucky headed toward the grasslands of the Illinois prairie. In Indiana, the bison entered at the Falls of the Ohio and headed west through what later become Vincennes.

Very few remnants of their trail remain, but if you look closely you can still see sections of the Buffalo Trace. Andrea tell us that you can hike it too!

'Ask Nelson' - and Andrea Neal, too

Host and author Nelson Price signs a copy of Indianapolis Then and Now for fellow author Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge at the 2013 Holiday Author Fair in Indy. Hoosier History Live photo.(Feb. 22, 2014) - Once again, Hoosier History Live! turns the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, opens the phone lines and gives our listeners an opportunity to question the interviewer who calls himself "a garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia." Just as with previous all-call-in shows, Nelson is joined by a distinguished co-host.

Not only is Andrea Neal a syndicated columnist and a member of the State Board of Education, she is a history teacher and a former editorial page editor at The Indianapolis Star. Andrea teaches at St. Richard's Episcopal School and has been writing a popular column about Indiana history - called "Indiana at 200" - as we advance toward the bicentennial of the Hoosier state in 2016. She also is an adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation and a board member of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

Like Nelson, Andrea grew up in Indianapolis and is descended from a long line of Hoosiers; both Nelson and Andrea are board members of the Society of Indiana Pioneers, a non-profit that celebrates the state's heritage and was founded by descendants of early settlers.

Andrea discusses the Native American group in Indiana known as the Miami. Unfortunately, they lost their federally designated tribal status more than 100 years ago due to what Andrea says was an administrative error. She shares details.

Andrea Neal.In terms of Hoosier history, Nelson's areas of expertise are famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary figures) and Indianapolis city history. His books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about his hometown.

Some of Andrea's recent "Indiana at 200" columns have focused on topics that we also have explored on Hoosier History Live! shows, including the utopian communities that attempted to flourish in New Harmony; the wine-making heritage in Switzerland County (it is believed to have been the site of the first successful winery in the entire country) and the boyhood of Abe Lincoln in what's now Spencer County.

Fun fact: In addition to the previous week's show about young Abe's relationships with his father, mother and stepmother, we did a program in February 2009 about Lincoln's youth. Nelson's studio guests then included Andrea and two of her eighth-grade students at St. Richard's who had immersed themselves in the early years of the 16th president.

One of the darker aspects of Indiana’s history was the bloody Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811 near what is now Lafayette. This 19th-century oil painting by artist Alonzo Chappel hangs in the Smithsonian.Other recent columns written by Andrea have focused on William Henry Harrison, the first governor of the Indiana Territory in the early 1800s (decades later, he was elected U.S. president) and the bloody Battle of Tippecanoe, in which soldiers under Harrison's command defeated Shawnee forces led by the Prophet, the controversial brother of legendary leader Tecumseh.

Nelson's book Indiana Legends, now in its 4th edition and 7th printing, features profiles of more than 160 notables, ranging from frontier figures such as Mother Theodore Guerin (a Catholic nun from France who founded orphanages, schools and the academy that became St. Mary of the Woods College near Terre Haute), who was named Indiana's first saint, to contemporary figures including Hoosier astronauts, Olympic athletes and artists.

Nelson and Andrea worked together for several years at The Indianapolis Star. Before that, he was a feature writer/columnist for The Indianapolis News, and Andrea was a Statehouse reporter for United Press International. So these two Hoosier history buffs began journalism careers at almost exactly the same time.

History Mystery

Among the famous Hoosiers included in Indiana Legends, one of the books by our host Nelson Price, is a contemporary artist who has been in the news this month. She has announced plans to sell her gallery, which has been located in a former Methodist church built in the 1860s. Detail from a painting by our mystery artist.She intends to open a new gallery in New York City, although she plans to keep her central Indiana home and studio, where she paints on the upper floor of a horse barn.

The artist, who first achieved popular success with her portraits of children, grew up in Indianapolis. A teacher at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School noticed her artistic talent and encouraged her. Celebrities who have owned her paintings include Robert Redford, the Beach Boys and the late South African leader Nelson Mandela.

Question: Who is she?

The prize is a gift certificate to Prime 47 restaurant in downtown Indianapolis, as well as a pair of tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.

Roadtripper: Belle of Louisville at Indiana Preservation Conference

The Belle of Louisville on the Ohio River there. Image courtesy Suzanne Stanis.Guest Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks suggests a Roadtrip south on I-65 to visit the fabled riverboat, the Belle of Louisville. Though constructed in Pittsburgh in 1914 as the Idlewild, a ferry and freight packet, and living a vagabond's life in the 1950s, the Belle of Louisville dropped anchor on the Kentucky side of the Ohio River in 1962.

With engines built in the 1890s and still running strong, the Belle is a National Historic Landmark and the oldest operating Mississippi River-style steamboat in the country.

Louisville's "Legendary Lady" will be featured during Preserving Historic Places: Indiana's Statewide Preservation Conference in New Albany, Ind., April 9-11.

Attucks High School history

Community pride is evident as fans of the Attucks Tigers cheer on their basketball team, circa 1950s. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis Recorder Collection.(Feb. 15, 2014) - During the 1920s, white segregationists in Indianapolis pushed for the creation of the city's only all-black high school. Unlikely as it may have seemed to many at the time, Attucks High School emerged to be a source of black pride for generations of Hoosiers.

As Hoosier History Live! salutes Black History Month, we explore the history of the high school attended by future legends, including basketball superstar Oscar Robertson; jazz musician David Baker; opera star Angela Brown and members of the Tuskegee Airmen, the country's first African-American military aviators.

For this look at Attucks - which opened in 1927, became a junior high/middle school during the 1980s and '90s and now is once again a high school, with a magnet program for Indianapolis Public Schools students interested in medical careers - Nelson is joined in studio by three guests:

  • Stanley Warren.Stanley Warren, an Attucks alum (and former teacher) who became an administrator at DePauw University. Now retired, Dr. Warren is the author of Crispus Attucks High School: Hail to the Green, Hail to the Gold (Donning Co. Publishers, 1998). "The story of Crispus Attucks High School has many ups and downs," he writes, "but its place in history can never be questioned."
  • Pat Payne, director of the Crispus Attucks Museum and of the IPS Center for Multicultural Education. During a long tenure as an IPS teacher, Pat served as president of the Indianapolis Education Association in the 1980s.
  • And Wilma Moore, senior archivist for African-American history at the Indiana Historical Society. Wilma, an Attucks alum, has been a popular guest on several Hoosier History Live! shows.

According to several accounts, IPS officials initially wanted to name the all-black school Thomas Jefferson High School. Many black leaders objected both to the creation of the segregated school (African-Americans had been attending Shortridge High School, Manual High School and other IPS schools) as well as to the proposed name. Wilma Moore.School leaders eventually decided the namesake should be Crispus Attucks, an African-American who protested the British and is believed to have been the first American killed during the Boston Massacre of 1770.

By the time the new school opened, Dr. Warren writes, the concept of a separate high school for black students was being explored by other Indiana cities with sizable African-American communities.

"By 1929, both Gary Roosevelt High School in the northern part of the state and Evansville Lincoln High School in the south replicated the form and function of Crispus Attucks High School," according to his book.

Some history facts about the school, which is on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • With its grand entryway, elegant auditorium and other features, Attucks High School quickly became a social center for the African-American community and a destination for visiting celebrities. Ten years after the school opened, it was visited by track star Jesse Owens, the gold medalist in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
  • The school's Tigers basketball teams, with stars such as Robertson and other future pro players, dominated the high school basketball tournament in the mid-1950s. Coached by Ray Crowe and clad in green and gold uniforms, the Tigers won back-to-back state championships. Pat Payne.With the initial victory in 1955, Attucks became the country's first all-black high school to capture a state title in any sport.
  • In the late 1960s, Attucks became the country's first all-black high school to be integrated at its original site, according to accounts in The Indianapolis News.

In addition to exhibits about the school's history, the Crispus Attucks Museum celebrates African-American history with vintage photos, artwork and memorabilia, including musical instruments played during the heyday of jazz clubs on nearby Indiana Avenue. During a Hoosier History Live! show in March 2008, future jazz icon David Baker shared anecdotes about sneaking into Indiana Avenue nightspots in the late 1940s when he was an Attucks student - and underage - by resorting to a fake mustache and a beret to appear older.

Because African-Americans with post-graduate degrees had limited employment options for decades after Attucks opened, many often joined the faculty at Attucks. As a result, Attucks became known for its outstanding faculty members, who were recruited across the country.

According to an article by our guest, Dr. Warren, in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine, the faculty when the school opened in 1927 included Mary Stokes, a "brilliant mathematician" who almost had been named valedictorian at Shortridge High School; she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa at Butler University. In addition to teaching math at Attucks, she taught Greek and sponsored the Poetry Club.The 1934 class officers of Crispus Attucks High School. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Indianapolis Recorder Collection.The school's first principal, Mathias Nolcox, earned a doctorate from Harvard.

Ironically, given the school's eventual triumphs in basketball and other sports, Attucks "was built without a real gym," as the Indianapolis Star noted in a 2005 story on the 50th anniversary of the 1955 basketball championship. Instead, the school's auditorium included a combination stage/gym.

Initially, Attucks even was denied membership in the Indiana High School Athletics Association because it was not considered a "public" school - since white students were not included. Limited in the early years primarily to playing teams from other African-American high schools, Attucks players endured long, exhausting bus trips across the state. Attucks finally was allowed to compete in the IHSAA tournament in the 1940s.

Also during the 1940s, some Attucks alums were Tuskegee Airmen pilots in World War II. Harry Brooks, a member of the Class of '47, became a general in the U.S. Army. Another member of the Class of '47, John W. Lee, became the first black commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy.

History Mystery

Illustrious graduates of Attucks High School who have been Hoosier History Live! guests include a member of the Class of 1953 who enjoyed a long career with the Harlem Globetrotters.

A 1960 program for the Harlem Globetrotters.At Attucks, he and teammates such as Willie Gardner helped kick off what our guest, Stanley Warren, describes as the school's "basketball golden age" by helping take the Tigers to the state finals in 1951, where they were defeated by Evansville Reitz High School. Two years later, he was named the state's outstanding player, becoming Indiana's "Mr. Basketball" of 1953. That was followed by basketball triumphs at Indiana University.

Next came a 27-year career touring the world with the Globetrotters, first as a barnstorming player then in public relations.

In recent years, he has been an Indianapolis-based businessman and motivational speaker.

Question: Who is he?

The prize is five tickets to the Crispus Attucks Museum, courtesy of the Crispus Attucks Museum, as well as gift certificate to MacNiven's in downtown Indy on Massachusetts Avenue, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Abe Lincoln's parents: Thomas, Nancy Hanks and stepmom Sarah

This corner cabinet was made by Thomas Lincoln for his neighbors in Spencer County, Ind., who gave it to their daughter as a wedding present. Image courtesy Indiana State Museum.(Feb. 8, 2014) - As he often has been depicted, was Thomas Lincoln merely an illiterate farmer who objected to his son's passion for reading and learning when the family lived in the Indiana wilderness?

What was the relationship like between young Abe Lincoln and his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died in Indiana when he was 9 years old? And what about the future 16th president's relationship with Sarah Johnston Lincoln, the widow from Kentucky who became his stepmother? Are there misconceptions about these parental relationships with Abe, who lived in southwestern Indiana during the character-shaping span between ages 7 to 21?

To explore these issues during the month when we celebrate the birthday of the "Great Emancipator" (1809-1865), Nelson has three guests:

With our distinguished guests, Nelson explores how Abe Lincoln's family life was greatly transformed during his years living in a small cabin in the frontier settlement of Little Pigeon Creek. The family of four - which included Lincoln's older sister, who also was named Sarah - evolved into a blended family after Thomas married Sarah (often called "Sally") Bush Johnston, who had children from her first marriage. Thomas Lincoln.And Dennis Hanks, the 18-year-old ward of Nancy Hanks Lincoln's aunt, moved into the one-room Lincoln cabin - and slept in the loft with young Abe - after his guardians died.

Amid all of the changing family dynamics, our guests will share insights about the parents of the lanky, book-loving youth who grew up to become perhaps America's greatest leader.

Our guest Steve Haaff, who has studied almost every piece of furniture available made by Thomas Lincoln, contends the patriarch long was misunderstood by historians because, as Steve told the Evansville Courier-Press, "they didn't speak the same language."

Steve, whose favorite style of furniture is Federalist, the type popular during Thomas Lincoln's era, says the family patriarch would have had to be highly skilled - and a master at calculations - to create the cabinets and other woodwork that he produced.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln (1784-1818) died from what frontier communities called "milk sickness" - the result of drinking milk from infected cows that had eaten white snakeroot. Sarah Johnston Lincoln.In his book, our guest Bill Bartelt describes white snakeroot as "a simple and abundant plant with a delicate white flower. ... Since colonial time, deaths from milk sickness occurred in isolated areas with few residents, drawing little interest from the medical profession."

That changed, he continues, when the frequency of deaths swept through frontier settlements like Little Pigeon Creek. He notes that Lincoln and their neighbors would not have known "what caused the milk to become poisoned - and that mystery made it difficult to prevent the deaths."

The Lincolns had moved from Hardin County, Kentucky, to what is now Spencer County, Indiana(then Perry County) for several reasons, including disputes over land ownership. Many experts also have concluded that Abe Lincoln's parents objected to slavery.

Dale Ogden.Tall for his age, young Abe was able to help his father build a cabin in Indiana's dense wilderness after the family's arrival. For their neighbors and others in Indiana, Thomas Lincoln made cabinets that displayed highly skilled craftsmanship for the era. They included a corner cabinet - now owned by the Indiana State Museum - that neighbors gave as a wedding gift to their daughter.

William Bartelt.Referring decades later to his years in Indiana, Abraham Lincoln wrote, "There I grew up," accounting for the title of our guest Bill Bartelt's book.

After the death of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who was buried on a hill near the cabin in southern Indiana, Thomas Lincoln  (1778-1851) returned to Kentucky. That's where he married Sarah (or Sally) Bush Johnston, whose first husband had died at least three years earlier. She had three children (Elizabeth, Matilda and John), who moved with her to the Lincoln cabin in Little Pigeon Creek.

According to Bill Bartelt's book, young Abe "bonded quickly with his stepmother, who recognized and encouraged his desire to learn and read."

The Lincolns lived in Indiana until 1830, when they moved to Illinois. By then, Abe's sister Sarah had married and died in childbirth.

Of the three parents who raised Lincoln, only his stepmother lived to see him elected to the presidency. In fact, she outlived her stepson and died in 1869.

Roadtrip: Romance at the Limberlost

Limberlost Indiana State Museum historic site logo.Guest Roadtripper Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne suggests we enjoy a romantic Valentine's Day at Limberlost, the home of Hoosier author Gene-Stratton Porter in Geneva, Ind., in Adams County, south of Fort Wayne.

In addition to wine and dessert tastings, film historian Eric Grayson is generously allowing Limberlost to show the vintage 1934 film A Girl of the Limberlost, based on the book by Gene Stratton-Porter.

This special evening event is a fund raiser by the Friends of the Limberlost to help to raise funds to restore Gene Stratton-Porter's 1895 kitchen. Reservations are required; contact Curt or Randy at (260) 368-7428.

History Mystery

Dozens of buildings and businesses across Indiana have been named in honor of Abraham Lincoln since his death in 1865. In downtown Indianapolis, the Lincoln Hotel opened in 1918. It became known as one of the city's finest hotels during the first half of the 20th century and was the setting for political, civic and social gatherings, as was the rival Claypool Hotel.

The Lincoln Hotel was in downtown Indianapolis.During the 1960s, however, both hotels slid downhill. The once-grand Lincoln Hotel was demolished in the early 1970s. On its site, however, one of downtown Indy's first modern, urban hotels opened in 1976. The new hotel was hailed as a step in downtown revitalization. Although the hotel has undergone several renovations since then, it still stands on the site of the former Lincoln Hotel.

Question: Name the hotel.

The prize is a gift certificate to MacNiven's in downtown Indy on Massachusetts Avenue, and a pair of tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, courtesy of  Visit Indy.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Feb. 1 History Mystery question:  Name the center on Central Avenue in downtown Indianapolis that provides emergency shelter, clothing and food for homeless families with children.

Answer: DAYSPRING.

The Dayspring Center at 1537 Central Avenue in Indianapolis - near All Saints Episcopal Church - provides emergency shelter, clothing, and food for homeless families with children in central Indiana.

Dayspring traces its history to 1984, when Episcopalian volunteers opened a soup kitchen and a shelter in a church basement. Dayspring's center for emergency housing opened in the late 1980s. Nine years later, Dayspring began a transitional housing program to assist former residents who need assistance while working on longer-term goals. The agency estimates more than 10,000 children - and 3,000 families - have been helped at Dayspring Center since it opened.

Families, children, seniors and homeless: outreach heritage

A vintage photo of the Wheeler Mission wagon, date unknown. Image courtesy Wheeler Mission.(Feb. 1, 2014) - In 1883, a small group of German immigrants to Indianapolis, motivated by their Lutheran faith, started a home for orphans.

Ten years later, other residents of the Hoosier capital founded an outreach organization called Door of Hope. Volunteers included William V. Wheeler, a hardware salesman.

And in 1902, a residence known as the Jewish Shelter House, which offered care and services to the elderly, opened in Indy. By then, various services to the city's indigent - including financial assistance - had been offered for more than 40 years by the Hebrew Ladies Benevolent Society.

The heritage of the faith-based social outreach services that evolved from these beginnings will be explored with Nelson's studio guests from Lutheran Child and Family Services, Wheeler Mission Ministries and the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council.

A woman and child enter the Lutheran orphanage on Indy’s east side in this vintage photo, date unknown. Image courtesy Lutheran Child and Family Services.Wheeler Mission, which is celebrating its 120th anniversary, had an early focus on outreach to women who had been disowned by their families, often for sexual activity; in the early 1900s, volunteers even operated a "rescue wagon."

According to several accounts, the focus of the non-profit organization shifted to helping homeless men during the Great Depression. Since 1929, Wheeler has had one of its highest-visibility sites at 245 N. Delaware St. in downtown Indianapolis.

Our guest Steve Kerr, Wheeler's development director, traces the evolution of Wheeler, which in recent years has added programs and residential facilities for men and women seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. Just last week, Wheeler announced it will break ground for a 12,000-square-foot facility for the homeless that will be adjacent to its existing shelter at 520 E. Market St.

Wheeler also operates several other missions, including two shelters for women and children in Indy and an addiction recovery center in Monroe County.

Lutheran Child and Family Services also has significantly expanded its services and evolved since the founding of the initial orphanage in the 1880s on East Washington Street by members of two Lutheran congregations.

Developments have included the opening in 1956 of Lutherwood, a residential facility (which has since been completely rebuilt), as well as the expansion of "counseling and compassionate care to families."

Sven Schumacher, CEO of the Foundation for Lutheran Child and Family Services (and himself a German immigrant in 1985), shares details.

Lindsey Mintz.Nelson also is joined by Lindsey Mintz, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the public affairs arm of the Jewish community. The Jewish Shelter House that opened at the turn of the last century eventually evolved into Hooverwood, a nursing facility that specializes in residential care, adult day services and other social services.

Sven Schumacher.The heritage of Hooverwood, which opened at its current location at 7001 Hoover Road in 1970, is just one aspect of a much larger history of social service delivery by the Jewish community in Indianapolis. Our guest Lindsey Mintz will discuss the evolution of a range of social services, including the Jewish Community Center and the Albert & Sara Reuben Senior and Community Resource Center. It provides a broad range of services and programming for both Jewish and non-Jewish residents of the Hoosier capital.

According to several accounts, a settlement house for recent Jewish immigrants to the city - with special programs to help those who were poverty-stricken - as well as a community center were established more than 100 years ago. That was shortly after the opening of the shelter house for the elderly.

Steve Kerr.The Jewish community, Lindsey says, regards as one of its primary responsibilities "to care for those most in need. It's not only the fulfillment of a commandment to do so, but also helps create and sustain a society that is ultimately a safer, more hospitable society in which the Jewish community can thrive."

A third-generation Hoosier, Lindsey grew up in South Bend and has been executive director of the JCRC since 2012.

At Lutheran Family and Child Services, which turned 130 years old in 2013, our guest Sven Schumacher has been CEO of the foundation since 2006. That was two years after the ground-breaking for a complete rebuilding of Lutherwood, which the non-profit describes as "the most ambitious building project in the history of the agency." Religious services at the Borinstein House in Indianapolis, which opened in 1929 following the establishment of the Jewish Shelter House in 1902. Image courtesy hooverwood.org.Additions to the facility at 1525 N. Ritter Ave. include dormitories, a chapel and a family center. Since the project's completion, Lutherwood has been able to treat 98 residential children as well as 60 students at its day school.

The first house, a small orphanage founded by the German immigrants in the 1880s, consisted of just nine rooms. It was overseen by Rev. Peter Seuel, a Lutheran minister who served as president until 1915. By then, the small orphanage had been replaced by a massive, three-story building on the near-eastside of Indy that served as a children's home until Lutherwood opened.

Today, Lutheran Child and Family Services partners on some programs with local German clubs and societies. Last year, the agency also began a collaboration with Community Health Network.

At Wheeler Mission Ministries, one of the key organizing figures, hardware salesman William Wheeler, also was a congregational leader at what became Central Avenue United Methodist Church. In fact, Wheeler oversaw the construction in the 1890s of the historic church building at 12th Street and Central Avenue that now is the state headquarters of Indiana Landmarks.

Wheeler Mission’s neon sign adorns its Indy building on North Delaware Street.According to A Door of Hope, a book about Wheeler Mission Ministries' history published in 1993, many women in the congregation at the Methodist church were worried about the fate of "unwed mothers, referred to as 'friendless women'." In rented rooms on the upper floor of a building on South Street in 1893, the new organization called Door of Hope offered a place where young women - who had been cast out by their families, abandoned by their lovers or referred by police and hospitals - could stay.

Contending the mission should be broadened, William Wheeler persuaded congregation members to offer help to entire families. He and others "began intervening in the lives of families with husbands and fathers in jail," according to A Door of Hope.

After the stock market crash of 1929, "Wheeler morphed into a refuge for men," according to a recent story in The Indianapolis Star. The evolution and expansions of services has continued for decades. The expansion announced last week is for a facility of 12,000 square feet for the homeless adjacent to Wheeler's existing men's shelter on East Market St. The new facility is part of $6.5 million in upgrades planned for Wheeler's various facilities.

Roadtrip: Farmland in Randolph County

Vintage view of downtown Farmland, Ind.Film historian Eric Grayson suggests a Roadtrip to Farmland in Randolph County, on the eastern side of the state. The small town has one of the most active historic preservation organizations in the state.

Farmland was originally a railroad town, and it still is. The few blocks of historic buildings are bisected by the railroad tracks. The flat terrain and open view from the tracks make this a great spot for taking sunset pictures.

Farmland has a nice little 1950s-style diner, The Chocolate Moose. The town also is famous for an annual Chili Cook Off. And there's a grain elevator next to the tracks that's now called the Ole Thyme Market.

Farmland also is home to the world-famous Courthouse Girls. The courthouse in Winchester, the county seat of Randolph County, was in danger of being torn down, so Historic Farmland mobilized its volunteers. They had some of their senior ladies pose semi-nude behind models of the courthouse to create a promotional calendar to help save the courthouse. And it worked!

History Mystery

In 1984, a soup kitchen and an overnight shelter opened in the basement of an Episcopal church in Indianapolis. The shelter and soup kitchen were run by a small group of volunteers inspired by an Episcopal priest who had been offering a place to sleep to homeless people. As a result of increasing need, the programs expanded and, in the late 1980s, a renovated building opened as an emergency shelter to assist homeless families with children.

In the decades since then, it has evolved into an agency that works to prevent homelessness with a range of programming. This has included a center on Central Avenue that provides emergency shelter, clothing and food for homeless families with children. In the agency's transitional housing program, families who leave community shelters can live for up to two years while working on long-term goals. The center for emergency shelter has the same name as the non-profit agency that runs it.

Question: What is it called?Booth Tarkington.

The prize is a gift certificate to New Orleans on the Avenue and Rhythm Discovery Center, courtesy of Visit Indy.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Jan. 25 History Mystery question: Name the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who is entombed in a family mausoleum at Crown Hill.

Answer: BOOTH TARKINGTON.

The famous author and playwright, an Indianapolis native who was living in a mansion at North Meridian Street at his death in 1946, was entombed at Crown Hill. The Tarkington-Jameson family mausoleum is in Section 13 of the cemetery.

Tarkington won his two Pulitzer Prizes for the novels Alice Adams (1921), which more than 10 years later was made into a movie starring Katharine Hepburn, and The Magnificent Ambersons (1918), a novel about an aristocratic family in a Midwestern city called Midland; it was obviously based on Indianapolis.

His series of Penrod stories about adolescent growing pains are still praised as captivating by critics. The title character of Penrod inspired the name of an annual arts festival in Tarkington's hometown. Tarkington is considered one of Indiana's literary greats of the early 20th century, along with his friends James Whitcomb Riley and Meredith Nicholson, who also are entombed or buried at Crown Hill.

Crown Hill Cemetery history

Crown Hill Cemetery’s Gothic Gate was designed by Indianapolis architect Adolph Scherer and was completed just in time for the funeral procession of Vice President Thomas A. Hendricks on Nov. 30, 1885. Photo by Marty Davis.(Jan. 25, 2014) - It's the third-largest private cemetery in the country, with a history that has been intertwined with Indianapolis since the 1860s. Crown Hill Cemetery also is the burial site of more American vice presidents than any other cemetery, as well as the gravesite of notables ranging from bank robber John Dillinger to poet James Whitcomb Riley and former Indianapolis Colts owner Robert Irsay.

As the landmark cemetery (which has had more than 200,000 burials since it was dedicated in 1864) turns 150 years old, Nelson explores its rich history, which also is being showcased in a lavish new book, Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary (Indiana Historical Society Press).

He is joined in studio by three guests, including Keith Norwalk, president of Crown Hill Cemetery, and Douglas Wissing, an award-winning, Bloomington-based journalist and author who wrote much of the text for the book. They also are joined by Marty Davis of the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, who took many of the book's photos.

Crown Hill's creation resulted in some ways from problems and limitations involving the Hoosier capital's first major cemetery, a pioneer graveyard known as Greenlawn Cemetery.

Located near the White River, Greenlawn was prone to flooding - and it also, as Doug notes in the book, was overwhelmed by deaths during the Civil War. Civic leaders decided a spacious new cemetery was needed in a "park-like" setting on high ground. John Dillinger gravestone, 1903-1934(As a tribute to James Whitcomb Riley, who died in 1916, the memorial monument for the "Hoosier poet" eventually was erected on the "crown" - or summit - of the cemetery. Riley had once written a poem titled At Crown Hill.)

A Pioneer Cemetery at Crown Hill has become the re-burial site of early Hoosier settlers. That's because their original graveyards have become "lost" (or closed, often for redevelopment), a topic that was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show last June. Many Hoosiers buried at Greenlawn were reburied in the Pioneer Cemetery.

With its towering Gothic Gate built in 1885 at the eastern entryway off of West 34th Street, Crown Hill has scores of distinctive monuments, mausoleums and other gravesites. According to various reports, the most visited is the grave marker for Dillinger (1903-1934), who was known as Public Enemy No. 1. Some visitors even leave coins on his grave marker; the coins are donated to the Riley Children's Foundation.

Speaking of criminals: Vandalism of cemetery art sometimes has had a fortunate resolution. Our guest Keith Norwalk shares details about the 1995 theft - and recovery - of an 800-pound sculpture of a stone hunting dog that had rested next to the gravesite of his "master" since the 1880s. Gothic Chapel and National Cemetery at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Photo by Richard Fields.The stone dog was discovered across the country thanks to a sharp-eyed Crown Hill docent.

Some other history facts:

  • First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison, who died of tuberculosis in the White House in 1892, is buried at Crown Hill. So is her husband, Benjamin Harrison, the only president elected from Indiana.
  • The gravestone of Irsay, who died in 1997, has a giant horseshoe (symbolizing the Colts, of course) emblazoned on it.
  • According to Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary, one of the biggest funeral crowds in Crown Hill's history was for a potholder salesman. Our guest Doug Wissing explains why the service in 1971 for the humble salesman, Herbert Wirth, drew a huge crowd of diverse mourners.

Our guest Keith Norwalk has been Crown Hill's president since 1991. Two years later, he oversaw the opening of an on-site mortuary, Crown Hill Funeral Home, at 38th Street and Clarendon Road.

Our guest Marty Davis has worked for more than 30 years at Crown Hill, where her husband, Tom, often is the guide for themed tours. Marty, who specializes in nature photography, has won several awards for her images.

Marty Davis.During our show, she shares details about the "heroes of public safety" section of Crown Hill, including the Public Safety Memorial that honors Hoosier police officers and firefighters who have died in the line of duty. (Marty has photographed many of their funerals.)

Our guest Doug Wissing, a journalist acclaimed for his international coverage, has reported on everything from the war in Afghanistan to a medical missionary/explorer in Tibet. Keith Norwalk.Closer to home, Doug wrote about the history of brewing in the Hoosier state for his book Indiana: One Pint at a Time (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2010).

During our show, Doug discusses details of a Dutch immigrant who chose to express frustration - with some justification - at his adopted homeland in the stone carving on his gravesite. (The grave marker is carved to look like a small replica of a Dutch barn of the early 1900s.)

Both Doug and Marty also discuss various aspects related to the burial site of Dillinger, an Indianapolis native who grew up on a farm near Mooresville and was fatally shot by federal agents in Chicago.

Doug Wissing.Doug shares details about the bank robber's funeral service - as well as the service for his mother, who died when Dillinger was 3 years old. (The boy attended her service and reacted dramatically.)

Marty reports about visitors who traveled to Crown Hill after the release of Public Enemies, a movie in 2009 that starred Johnny Depp as Dillinger.

On a more serene note - but one that also has a Mooresville connection - we also explore daffodils. Specifically, Marty discusses Helen Link, a Morgan County resident who developed hundreds of varieties of the flower. Since her death in 2002,  the Indiana Daffodil Society has been tending flowers around her memorial monument at Crown Hill, as well as elsewhere at the cemetery, including a Greek goddess statue.

"Each spring," Marty notes, "an important part of Helen Link blooms again as she rests nearby."

Roadtrip: An exploration of Shelbyville

Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff recommends a short jaunt to Shelbyville, just a little southeast of Indianapolis. In 1822 Shelbyville was created on donated land to be the seat of Shelby County, established the year before. 

A vintage photo shows Joseph Fountain in Shelbyville, Ind.Glory tells us that if you enjoy wandering around looking at great old buildings, this is the place. There are several civic, commercial and residential buildings in a great variety of styles over which to marvel. The county courthouse on South Harrison is one of three Art Deco courthouses in the state, constructed under the New Deal in the 1930s. Near it stands the last Civil War monument erected in Indiana, a simple statue of a Union soldier. 

On the public square is a bronze sculpture commemorating author Charles Major, who lived in Shelbyville and certainly left his name around town. The sculpture depicts a character in his famous children's novel, The Bears of Blue River.

The Grover Museum at 52 W. Broadway is an exceptionally fine county museum, run by the Shelby County Historical Society and open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free!

Our Roadtripper says that if all this history makes you hungry, stop at the Cow Palace at 319 N. Harrison for all things ice cream, not to mention tasty sandwiches. It's open 7 days a week until 9. If you feel like something a tad more substantial, she recommends the restaurant Tour of Italy, just starting its third year in the southwest corner of the public square at 39 Public Square. Ciao!

History Mystery

A family mausoleum at Crown Hill Cemetery includes the tomb of a famous Hoosier novelist and playwright who died in 1946. He was born in Indianapolis in 1869 and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction two times, a rare accomplishment.

His novels were the basis for movies in the 1930s and '40s, with stars such as Katharine Hepburn.

Perhaps his best-known novel was set in a city that obviously was Indianapolis, although the author gave his hometown a fictional name in the book. The movie based on that novel was directed by Orson Welles.

Crown Hill History, Spirit, Sanctuary book cover.The author also wrote a series of stories about a mischievous boy that are considered among the best ever written about Midwestern adolescence.

Despite his national fame, the author continued to live in Indianapolis, although he often spent summers at the resort town of Kennebunkport, Maine.

Question: Name this novelist, who is entombed in a family mausoleum at Crown Hill.

The prize is a copy of the new book, Crown Hill: History, Spirit, Sanctuary (Indiana Historical Society Press), as well as a pair of tickets to a historical tour of Crown Hill Cemetery, courtesy of Crown Hill Heritage Foundation.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Jan. 18 History Mystery question: What was the name of the mineral water sold at the West Baden Hotel? Hint: The character that symbolized the water was an elf or gnome-like figure.

Answer: SPRUDEL water.

Sold by the West Baden Springs Hotel, Sprudel water never become nearly as well-known and popular as Pluto water at the rival French Lick Springs Hotel. Some experts have attributed that to better marketing by French Lick; the content of both mineral waters has been described as nearly identical. In fact, both waters are said to be primarily laxatives.

In the early 1900s, the small towns of French Lick and West Baden each had high schools. A devil (Pluto) was the mascot of French Lick's basketball team, and an elf or gnome (Sprudel) was the West Baden mascot. By the time future superstar Larry Bird was growing up in the region, the high schools had been consolidated. Bird first drew widespread attention for his outstanding play at Springs Valley High School, the consolidated school.

Indiana's most mysterious county?

A spelunker descends 80 feet to the floor of the cave beneath Indiana’s Orange County Courthouse. Experienced cavers find it fascinating and beautiful, with a town above the cave and the roar of a river heard in its deepest part. Photo by Mike Morrow, courtesy Steve Crowder.(Jan. 18, 2014) - With a limestone cave beneath the county seat of Paoli, a village underwater, colorful folklore involving the famous French Lick and West Baden Springs Hotels, a "lost" river and some Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War, Orange County in far-southwestern Indiana may be our most mysterious.

In this program, we explore the limestone cave beneath the historic Orange County Courthouse, where one of Nelson's guests has been a court reporter for more than 40 years. She is Orange County native Diane Dillard, a historic preservationist.

Her late husband, Arthur Dillard, a former prosecuting attorney, completed the manuscript for a book about Orange County's colorful heritage, Casinos, Copperheads, Pioneers and Politicians (Hawthorne Publishing, 2012), before his death.

In addition to Diane, Nelson's guests are two historians/authors with their own links to Orange County's heritage.

The Orange County courthouse. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.They include Jim Fadely, who is considered the top expert on Thomas Taggart (1856-1929), the Irish immigrant-turned-Indianapolis mayor-turned French Lick hotel owner who brought international attention to the resort and its mineral springs and spas.

Jim, an administrator at University High School, is heading up a campaign to restore the long-neglected Taggart Memorial at Riverside Park in Indianapolis; Indiana Landmarks had placed the limestone monument on its 10 Most Endangered list for a couple of years.

Nelson's guests also include author Nancy Niblack Baxter of Hawthorne Publishing, who edited Casinos, Copperheads, Pioneers and Politicians. Diane Dillard, right, is pictured with her late husband Arthur Dillard, a former prosecutor.The casinos in the title refer to gambling that, although illegal in the early 1900s, openly flourished during the first heyday of the French Lick hotel and its arch-rival in West Baden.

Owners of the West Baden hotel, built in 1902, included a flamboyant entrepreneur, Ed Ballard, who, like Taggart, rose from humble beginnings to become a millionaire. Our guest Jim Fadely will share insights about Ballard, who was shot to death in Hot Springs, Ark., in 1936.

The West Baden hotel, called the "Eighth Wonder of the World" upon its opening in 1902 because of its spectacular atrium and other features, closed as a hotel in the 1930s. After a lavish restoration spearheaded by the late philanthropist Bill Cook and his wife, Gayle, the West Baden Springs Hotel reopened in 2007. The Cooks also oversaw the restoration of the French Lick Springs Hotel.

Nancy Niblack Baxter.Earlier hotels on the French Lick site - including one that may have been a "hotbed of Copperhead activity" - are described in Casinos, Copperheads, Pioneers and Politicians. ("Copperhead" was a term for Southern sympathizers during the Civil War; it derives from copper buttons some wore.)

Casinos, Copperheads, Pioneers and Politicians book cover.The Copperhead presence is analyzed by Arthur Dillard, a former president of the Orange County Historical Society, who spent years researching folklore about the county.

The mysterious cave underneath a vast section of Paoli, including the impressive courthouse, exists in part because, as his book puts it, "Ice Age glaciers did not touch this region."

In fact, the cave includes a cavern bigger than the courthouse, according to the book.

James P. Fadely.Diane and Nancy share insights about that, as well as about Newton Stewart, an Orange County village that thrived during the late 1800s but had been abandoned by the early 1970s. Subsequently, the village was flooded as part of the creation of Patoka Lake.

They also discuss bygone dry goods and general stores that once thrived in Orange County, as well as such mysterious street and place names as Moonshine Hollow, Grease County Road, Tater Road and Hog's Defeat Creek. The area's mineral springs appealed to Native Americans decades before white settlers arrived. William A. Bowles.French Lick's distinctive name derives from the fact that French explorers had obtained salt from the springs.

According to Casinos, Copperheads, Pioneers and Politicians, the valley's first hotel, which was known as the French Lick House, opened in 1845. Its owner was William A. Bowles, a Confederate sympathizer, physician and civic leader.

His hotel was a predecessor of the spectacular French Lick Springs Hotel that Taggart, a nationally powerful Democrat, marketed in the early 1900s to guests, including the Rockefellers, Roosevelts, Vanderbilts and Studebakers. (The memorial to Taggart was built in Riverside Park because, as Indy's mayor and a passionate advocate of parks, Taggart pushed for the city's purchase of the parkland despite critics who denounced it as a flood-prone "folly.")

This vintage photo shows the Thomas Taggart memorial in Riverside Park in Indianapolis.Our guest Jim Fadely, the chairman of the Taggart Memorial Task Force that is crusading to restore the memorial, is the author of Thomas Taggart: Public Servant, Political Boss (Indiana Historical Society Press).

Just as Taggart was a Democratic power broker, various owners at the rival West Baden hotel were well-connected Republicans. As a result, when  gambling linked to both hotels flourished during the early 1900s, local public officials often ignored the goings-on because leaders of both political parties were involved.

The atrium at the West Baden Springs Hotel was the world's largest free-span dome until the Astrodome in Houston opened in the 1960s.

West Baden had closed as a hotel during the Great Depression; then it was owned by Jesuit priests and, later, the Northwood Institute, which offered culinary, automotive and other training.

West Baden Springs Hotel, under construction.Ever since the lavish restoration, West Baden has again been a luxury hotel; it's a National Historic Landmark.

Other facts about the county with so many twists, turns and mysterious or historic features:

  • The Orange County Courthouse, built in the Greek Revival style in 1850, is the state's second-oldest county courthouse in continual use. (The oldest is the Ohio County Courthouse.) Indy-based architect Jim Kienle shared insights during  a Hoosier History Live! show in June 2010 following his restoration of the courthouse.
  • According to Arthur Dillard's book, Moonshine Hollow is a name given by French Lick residents to a gulch on the south end of town because "illegally distilled whiskey was allegedly bartered or sold there."
  • Arthur Dillard's grandfather was a blacksmith in Newton Stewart, the "town underwater."

Roadtrip: Kurt Vonnegut's Who am I this Time?

Kurt Vonnegut's Who am I this Time play image.Guest Roadtripper Kelly Young of Baise Communications tells us about Kurt Vonnegut's Who am I this Time? - which opens at the Indiana Repertory Theatre on Jan. 28 and is directed by IRT artistic director Janet Allen.

The show is a quirky collection of some of Vonnegut's most endearing characters who are searching for love and identity. The material is taken from the Indy hometown author's first short story collection, Welcome to the Monkey House.

Also at the IRT, And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank, opening Jan. 17. IRT Playwright in Residence James Still's most-produced play combines video and live performance, combining videotaped interviews with Holocaust survivors Ed Silverberg and Eva Schloss with live actors recreating scenes from their lives during World War II. James Still also been a guest on Hoosier History Live!

History Mystery

More than 100 years ago, the French Lick Springs Hotel became famous for selling Pluto water, the mineral water that was promoted as a curative for a range of ailments. Pluto water was marketed for many decades with an image of a red, devil-like figure who symbolized Pluto, ruler of the underworld.

Pluto Water was billed as “America’s Physic.”At the arch-rival West Baden Springs Hotel, "curative" mineral water was bottled and sold as well for many years in the early 1900s. Rather than call their product Pluto water, West Baden owners sold and marketed their mineral water under a different name.

Question: What was the name of the mineral water sold at the West Baden Hotel?

Hint: The character who symbolized the water was an elf or gnome-like figure.

The prize is a gift certificate to the Winner's Circle Pub and Grille in downtown Indianapolis, and two tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, courtesy of Visit Indy.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Jan. 11 History Mystery question: Indiana native Ernie Pyle was the World War II journalist most admired by the American public and was killed during the war. In what state was he buried?

Answer: HAWAII.

Ernie Pyle's burial site is at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. Informally known as Punchbowl Cemetery, the national cemetery serves as a memorial to honor men and women who served in the U.S. armed forces and lost their lives doing so.

Ernie Pyle is one of the few American civilians killed during World War II to be awarded the Purple Heart. That distinction is noted on his gravestone at the memorial cemetery in Hawaii, which is visited by millions of tourists annually.

Pyle's parents had been sharecroppers in Dana, where his restored boyhood home is located.

World War II veterans remember

(Jan. 11, 2014) - Ranging from Marines, sailors and others who survived combat on the front lines to Hoosiers who served on the home front, more than 84 veterans of World War II, all with links to Indiana, have described their personal stories to educators Steve Hardwick and Duane Hodgin.

American soldiers display a captured Japanese flag. Image courtesy Robert Albright.Then Steve and Duane, who were colleagues in Lawrence Township Schools in Indianapolis, pulled the remembrances together in a book titled WWII Duty, Honor, Country: The Memories of Those Who Were There (iUniverse, 2013).

Now Steve, a fifth-grade teacher at Indian Creek Elementary School and a U.S. Army veteran, and Duane, who has retired as a school administrator and returned to live in his hometown of Richmond, are Nelson's guests.

They are joined by a World War II veteran, Noblesville resident Merrill "Lefty" Huntzinger, who was a staff sergeant in the 2nd Infantry Division.

"Lefty" landed at Omaha Beach a few weeks after D-Day. In the book, he recalls asking his squad leader where they were going. This was his reply: "We're going to hell, and if we are lucky, we will soon land up in heaven."

Steve Hardwick.Fortunately, "Lefty" survived the global conflict that, as Steve and Duane put it in their introduction, some historians consider to be the "single most significant and influential event of the 20th century."

Duane Hodgin.Among the Hoosiers whose memories are featured in their book is the late Jimmy O'Donnell, a U.S. Navy machinist who survived the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in the Pacific Ocean by a Japanese submarine.

The episode often is described as the Navy's "worst tragedy at sea." About 800 of the crew (out of a total of 1,190) survived the sinking by remaining afloat in the dark, oil-covered ocean waters - for awhile. Help did not arrive for nearly five days, though. By then, about half of those sailors had drowned or had been killed by sharks.

In 1995, a monument to the USS Indianapolis was dedicated in downtown Indy. Jimmy O'Donnell, who retired as a firefighter, attended that ceremony; he died last January at age 92.

The USS Indianapolis memorial in downtown Indianapolis along the canal was dedicated in 1995.Other veterans of WWII whose memories are shared in the book by Steve and Duane include an Indy native who was one of the first group of African-Americans to serve in the Marines, as well as a nurse from Corydon who, like our guest "Lefty," landed at Omaha Beach a few weeks after D-Day. Serving in a trauma unit, she treated soldiers with serious head, chest and abdominal injuries.

As The Indianapolis Star noted in an article about Steve and Duane's book last February, the experiences described by the veterans include "some (that are) funny, some sad, some gut-wrenching and some awe-inspiring."

The book evolved from a history project Steve initiated in 2001 at Indian Creek. A tribute to WWII veterans, the event has become an annual gathering in Lawrence Township and has been attended by many of the 84 veterans profiled in the book. USS Indianapolis survivor Jimmy O'Donnell (center) stands in front of statue of a likeness of him during his service in the Navy as a teenager. The statue was dedicated on Dec. 7. 2009. City of Indianapolis photo.Of the 84, all are at least 87 years old; about 15 have died since Steve and Duane began their interviews and collecting  photos.

Those whose stories are featured include Eugene Hodgin of Richmond, the father of our guest Duane Hodgin. Duane was born while his father, a tech sergeant with the medical battalion in the 38th Infantry Division, was serving in New Guinea. Eugene did not see his first son until he was 15 months old. While serving his country, he severely injured his back lifting heavy crates of medical supplies.

"I was on my back in a tent for 30 days and could not move," he recalls in the book. Following that ordeal, he contracted a severe case of malaria.

Our guest "Lefty" Huntzinger was assigned to a machine gun squad that was fighting German soldiers. In the book, he shares memories of nightly rotations pulling guard duty.

WWII Duty, Honor, Country: The Memories of Those Whe Were There book cover."It's a lonely, scary assignment because you're all alone, and you feel that the enemy has you in sight, and you could be shot at any time."

He also shares memories of crawling out of his foxhole to drag away a dying comrade whose open chest was full of shrapnel. "Lefty" eventually was awarded a Bronze Star for Valor.

Other Hoosier veterans whose stories are highlighted during our show (and who are featured in the book) include:

  • A sergeant from Terre Haute who fought in the Philippines and was awarded two Purple Hearts. He shares a humorous story about a "great doughnut drop" that caused a temporary cease fire between Japanese and American soldiers. The doughnuts were dropped in a river in a New Guinea jungle.
  • An Indianapolis woman who describes life on the home front, including the rationing of gasoline and tires, the sale of war bonds and the planting of victory gardens.
  • And a medic from Fountain City who helped liberate several concentration camps. During combat, Bob Swift often cleared injured GIs from the battlefield. He recently visited Steve Hardwick's classroom to speak to fifth-graders about his war experiences.

History Mystery

Indiana native Ernie Pyle was the World War II journalist most admired by the American public. He told the soldiers' stories, reporting from the front lines, rotating among the various branches of service as he joined U.S. troops fighting in North Africa, Europe and the Pacific.

In April 1945, as the war was winding down, Ernie Pyle was killed by a Japanese machine gunner when his jeep came under fire. His remains eventually were brought to the United States for burial, but he was not buried in his hometown of Dana in far-western Indiana. Instead, Ernie Pyle's remains were buried in another state.

Ernie Pyle.Question: What is the state?

The prize is a gift certificate to California Pizza Kitchen in Circle Centre Mall, and two tickets to the Rhythm Discovery Center, courtesy of Visit Indy.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Jan. 4 show History Mystery: To help save a historic county courthouse in Indiana from demolition, several members of a local bridge club came up with a creative - some said quirky - idea to raise funds and public awareness in 2006. The women, most of whom were in their 80s (some were even in their 90s), posed for a calendar - in the buff. In what Indiana county is the courthouse?

Answer: RANDOLPH COUNTY.

Members of a bridge club in the east-central Indiana town of Farmland were appalled in 2006 when they learned that the Italianate courthouse in Randolph County was scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a new building.

Inspired by a movie titled Calendar Girls (2003), the women - most of whom were more than 80 years old - undressed and posed for the Court House Girls Calendar. They stood behind small, porcelain replicas of their beloved courthouse.

Eventually, the vote by county commissioners to demolish the courthouse was overturned. State legislators also credited the calendar girls with prodding the General Assembly to create a preservation commission on Indiana courthouses.

Squirrel invasion of 1800s and other quirky episodes

An Eastern Grey Squirrel nibbles on a snack.(Jan. 4, 2014) - Regular listeners may remember a phone caller during a recent show who sought details about the "Great Squirrel Invasion" during the 1820s and '30s in Indiana.

Our host Nelson confirmed the freakish episode had occurred - it apparently was almost akin to an Alfred Hitchcock movie, albeit with swarms of squirrels instead of flocks of birds as the invasive species - but he did not have details to share.

It so happens that some Hoosier historians have researched the squirrel saga; one of them is among our studio guests.

As a lighthearted way to kick off the new year (our sixth on the air), we also explore other quirky chapters in Hoosier history. In addition, Nelson and his guests debunk aspects of our folklore that, as it turns out, are significantly distorted or embellished accounts of what actually happened.

Tom Castaldi.The seemingly sudden and unsettling presence of thousands and thousands of squirrels in the wilderness and towns across early Indiana, though, is no myth.

Jason Lantzer."Three times during the first half of the 19th century, crops were destroyed by these bushy-tailed varmints," Allen County historian Tom Castaldi wrote in a column for Fort Wayne Monthly magazine.

Tom, one of our state's most popular county historians and an expert on canals, Italian immigration and other aspects of our heritage, joins Nelson in studio as we explore the squirrel invasions. In his column, Tom noted that early Indianapolis civic leader, attorney and landowner  Calvin Fletcher described the massive number of squirrels in the 1820s - and wrote about the devastation they wrought - in his diaries.

Also quoting from Calvin Fletcher's diaries, Indianapolis historian Connie Zeigler noted that one Marion County resident, in desperation, killed 248 squirrels at his home in just three days. In a 2008 column in Urban Times, a monthly newspaper that covers Indy's historic neighborhoods, Connie described the squirrel numbers of the 1820s as "incomprehensible in the mind of a modern city dweller."

Prohibition Is Here to Stay book cover by Jason S. Lantzer.In addition to Tom Castaldi, a native of Logansport, Nelson is joined in studio by Jason Lantzer, who has taught history at Butler University, serves as the interim coordinator of its honors program and, like Tom, is widely acclaimed for his broad knowledge of our Hoosier heritage.

So Jason, a native of Wakarusa in far-northern Indiana, shares insights about various quirky episodes that have unfolded in Indiana. He also is the author of books, including Prohibition Is Here To Stay (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009).

Back to the squirrels. According to Tom’s column, a second squirrel invasion - this one during the 1830s - was documented by Wabash County historians and affected nearly the entire state.

"Early settlers equated them to an army on the move," according to Ron Woodward and Gladys Harvey, co-authors of Wabash County Chronicles (The History Press, 2010). "The vast hordes were so thick that their weight would cause tree limbs to fall. ... The corn crop was nearly decimated."

Tom Castaldi notes: "Even the Wabash River could not stop the little varmints as they swam the river or crossed on overhanging tree limbs, even forming a living chain bridge for other squirrels to cross."

This old woodcut image is titled “Squirrel in Trees.” Image courtesy Tom Castaldi.The explanations for these bizarre invasions?

They apparently relate to environmental changes in the wilderness that caused hordes of squirrels to migrate to Indiana in search of food. During our show, Tom will share insights.

Lest you conclude the new year has made Hoosier History Live! go all squirrelly, we also explore such quirky episodes as:

  • How the town of Wakarusa got its name. Who better than our guest Jason Lantzer, a native of the town in Elkhart County, to give us the scoop?
  • A connection between a police booth in Goshen and John Dillinger, a native Hoosier who became a notorious bank robber (known across the country as "Public Enemy No. 1") during the 1930s.
  • Folklore involving the opening of the Wabash & Erie Canal in Fort Wayne and famous political and military figure Gen. Lewis Cass. According to various tales, Cass (1782-1866), the top dignitary at the grand opening in 1843, fell - or was dunked - into the canal during the proceedings.

An illustration of the size of the canal, boats and tow animal. Image courtesy Wabash and Erie Canal Association.Tom Castaldi, who has researched the episode (Cass County, which includes Tom's hometown of Logansport, is named in honor of Lewis Cass) will explain what really happened. After negotiating treaties with Native Americans in Indiana, Lewis Cass (1782-1866) became the governor of Michigan, then a U.S. senator from our neighboring state, followed by a stint as U.S. secretary of state. He even was a Democratic presidential candidate.

A board member of the Canal Society of Indiana, Tom Castaldi shares other quirky episodes involving the Hoosier state's rivers and canals during our show.

Tom is the author of a series of notebooks about the Wabash and Erie Canal's creation and impact in several counties, including Allen, Huntington, Cass, Carroll, Tippecanoe, Wabash and Miami counties.

Some other history nuggets (or should we say history "nuts," in honor of our squirrel topic?):

  • Some of the first accounts of a squirrel invasion came from no less than John James Audubon, the legendary bird expert, naturalist and painter. "In 1819, Audubon, who was traveling down the Ohio River between Indiana and Kentucky by boat, saw large numbers of gray squirrels swarming across the river," Tom wrote in his Fort Wayne Monthly column. "Many drowned or were killed by hunters."
  • In 2010, the Indiana Historical Society presented Tom Castaldi with its Eli Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award for his work in Indiana history.
  • The final resting place of an African-American former slave named "Tom," who was one of several to have inspired the title character in Uncle Tom's Cabin, the international bestseller written by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852, is in Indiana. Our guest Jason Lantzer shares details about the unlikely "Uncle Tom" burial site during our show.

Roadtrip: How many stars at Indiana Roof?

A close-up of "Jhon" and "Tohm" handwritten ratings of performers, on a stage door at Indiana Roof from the 1930s. Hoosier History Live photo.How many stars did you rate if you performed at the Indiana Roof in the 1930s? We know about the stars in the "sky" at the Roof, but guest Roadtripper Gary BraVard tells us about a unique stage door where, from 1931 to 1936, two Indiana Roof employees, John "Jhon" Young and Thomas "Tohm" Kelly, faithfully rated all the performers who appeared on stage there. (Apparently the two had stage names with slightly exotic spellings).

Cab Calloway and Jan Garber were given four stars by "Jhon" and "Tohm," and the two gave themselves five stars. The door remains in the ballroom today; it is to the left of the stage as you face it.

The Indiana Roof  first opened in September of 1927 and was designed to appear as if you were in a European village. Painted grapevines creep up plaster columns, and the stucco facades, doorways and balconies contain exquisite details. The domed ceiling over the circular ballroom resembles a starry night sky, with soft clouds and a crescent moon. As a special treat, every once in a while you get to see and hear a thunderstorm!

History Mystery

To help save a historic county courthouse in Indiana from demolition, several members of a local bridge club came up with a creative - some said quirky - idea to raise funds and public awareness in 2006. The women, most of whom were in their 80s (some were even in their 90s), posed for a calendar - in the buff.

During the photo shoots, small replicas of the historic courthouse were discreetly positioned in front of the "calendar girls" in order to, as some accounts described it, "protect their dignity."

Courthouse ladies pose in the buff to save a historic structure.The calendar sold thousands of copies and drew national attention to the crusade to save the county courthouse. The bridge-playing calendar girls became unlikely celebrities and were credited with convincing officials to spare the courthouse, which was built in 1877.

Question In what Indiana county is the courthouse?

The prize is two tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum and two tickets to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Dec. 21 show History Mystery: What was the department store chain that traces its beginnings to Vincennes?

Answer: GIMBELS.

The company was founded by Adam Gimbel, a young Bavarian immigrant who opened a general store in Vincennes in 1842. His two sons, Jacob and Isaac, were born in Vincennes during the 1850s.

Family members opened a successful department store in Milwaukee in the 1880s. Next came a large store in Philadelphia, followed in 1910 by the iconic Gimbels store in New York City overseen by Jacob Gimbel. The rivalry between Macy's and Gimbels was legendary and inspired a subplot of the 1947 movie "The Miracle on 34th Street."

Gimbels had 36 stores across the country, including its flagship New York City store, when the retailer closed in 1987.

Union Station history in Indy and Political cartoon heritage: Two classic shows

(Dec. 28, 2013 - encore presentations) - For generations of Hoosiers traveling by rail, Union Station in Indianapolis was at its bustling peak during holiday seasons. And iconic images created by political cartoonists (albeit non-Hoosiers) have included Santa Claus and Uncle Sam.

So as a holiday season treat, Hoosier History Live! will broadcast encore shows focusing on those two topics. Instead of a one-hour program, you can enjoy two back-to-back, half hour shows from our archives of more than 270 programs in nearly six years of covering all aspects of our Hoosier heritage.

Union Station history in Indy

Union Station's grand reopening in 1986 featured balloons being released. Photo by Lauren Basile.During the first classic show (original air date: March 3, 2012), we explore an aspect our heritage that became a national "first." For the first time in American history, railway lines came together in a single central Indiana train depot, the country's first "union" station. It happened in Indy in 1853, six years after the first railroad reached the Hoosier capital.

The opening of Union Depot helped account for explosive growth in Indy and the city's longtime "Crossroads of America" nickname. In the 1880s, the initial depot was replaced by a nearby, majestic Union Station designed in Romanesque Revival architectural style with elegant Rookwood tiles in its interior and a 185-foot clock tower that became a city landmark.

Santa Colossal “spoke” holiday greetings to passengers at Union Station in 1949. Image courtesy Bass Photo Collection, Indiana Historical Society.To discuss the history of the station listed on the National Register of Historic Places - as well as the impact of the railroads on Indy - Nelson is joined in studio by architectural photographer Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography. Garry, who often is a commentator on tours of the station, also is the corporate photographer for Crowne Plaza Union Station.
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Today the historic train shed houses a Crowne Plaza luxury hotel, and the restored grand hall is a ballroom, with rooms in the former concourse serving as convention meeting rooms. Hotel guests may stay in historic Pullman cars that have been converted to suites and named after famous people who traveled through the train station, such as Winston Churchill, Cole Porter and Amelia Earhart.

During the show, Garry shares insights about how train travel initially was considered unsafe - with good reason. Even so, its popularity soared, with Indy serving as a major cross-country hub.

Fun holiday history fact: During the late 1940s, a 51-feet-high Styrofoam replica of Santa Claus - known as "Santa Colossal" - was positioned in the train terminal to greet passengers. Santa Colossal "spoke" yuletide greetings and was so popular that postcards with his image were handed out at Union Station for years afterward.

Political cartoon heritage with Gary Varvel

Pictured is a signed 1911 Abe Martin cartoon by Indianapolis-based humorist Kin Hubbard.Whether creating visual commentary about tragedies such as the 9-11 terrorist attacks or creating mythical characters such as Brown County's cracker-barrel philosopher Abe Martin and whimsical Raggedy Ann, Hoosier political cartoonists have been at the cultural epicenter.

To explore the rich heritage of political cartooning - including images that range from lighthearted to poignant to controversial - Nelson is joined in studio on this classic show by Gary Varvel, the award-winning political cartoonist for The Indianapolis Star. (This classic show's original air date was Aug. 13, 2011.) Gary, whose work is syndicated to more than 100 newspapers through Creators Syndicate, has created dozens of images that have made readers' blood boil, provoked them to laugh or inspired them to think.

During the show, Gary explains the derivation of Santa Claus as a newspaper cartoon character.

Nelson and Gary also explore the impact of Abe Martin, the fictional character (sample quip: "You can take a voter to the polls, but you can’t make him think") created in 1904 by Indianapolis News cartoonist Frank McKinney "Kin" Hubbard (1868-1930). His homespun wisdom became enormously popular across the country.

Gary Varvel.As for Gary, his best-known cartoon probably has been one drawn in reaction to the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. A depiction of a weeping Uncle Sam holding a limp firefighter while the smoldering skyline of New York City crumbles in the background, the cartoon resulted in requests for copies from thousands of readers. The Star printed his 9-11 cartoon as a poster for sale and raised $130,000 for relief efforts in New York.

As for Raggedy Ann: The book series and dolls were created by former Indianapolis Star cartoonist Johnny Gruelle (1880-1938), who grew up near the Lockerbie neighborhood in Indy. Names and traits of his famous creation were inspired by blending two of his favorite James Whitcomb Riley poems: "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphant Annie."

Victorian-era and ethnic holiday traditions

Period decorations adorn the Christmas tree in the front parlor of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.(Dec. 21, 2013) - Buckle up for a time-traveling sleigh ride with Hoosier History Live! as we explore holiday traditions of earlier eras - as well as yule-season and new year customs brought to this country by various ethnic heritage groups.

Did your family or ancestors ever set out a pair of shoes for St. Nick? That footwear-shuffling Christmas season tradition was an Eastern European custom.

Ever wonder about the evolution of holiday greeting cards and what they would have been like during the Victorian era? An immigrant from an ethnic heritage group started the mass printing in America of holiday cards during the 1870s. (You will have to tune in to learn details.)

To share insights about ethnic immigration holiday traditions - cherished, bygone or transformed in various ways - Nelson is joined in studio by a diverse group of guests. They also share insights about folk traditions associated with the holidays during the Victorian and Edwardian eras stretching from the mid-1800s through the early 1900s.

Nelson's guests are:

  • Nancy Grant. Photo by Jim Battles.Nancy Grant, a journalist, photographer and speaker based in Louisville. During her career, Nancy has written about a wide range of topics, including the history behind some of the most popular Christmas traditions. Her book Christmas in America (1991) described the evolution of greeting cards, holiday trees decorated with lights and other traditions.
  • Olga Imperial Keegan of Carmel, whose parents immigrated from the Philippines. A past president of the Association of International Women, Olga is a real estate agent and mother of four. She also has been a volunteer host for the International Center of Indianapolis.
  • And Rosaleen Crowley, a Carmel-based artist and poet who immigrated from Ireland in 1990. A painter, Rosaleen has just opened Roscro & Co., a new studio in Carmel, and has had a long career in education, speech and drama. She is a graduate of the National University of Ireland and the London College of Music. For 10 years, she owned a business that helped families adjust to their new communities and adapt to their host culture.

The Christmas and New Year's traditions that we explore range from festive to poignant.

Rosaleen Crowley.According to Rosaleen, Irish families on New Year's Day often set a place at the table in remembrance of those who have died.

She also describes an Irish twist on the seasonal "kissing under the mistletoe" tradition: On New Year's Eve, some single Irish women slip mistletoe under their pillows. That means they will meet their future husbands during the new year, according to folklore.

Our guest Nancy Grant, whose areas of expertise include energy technology (she writes a monthly “Future of Electricity” column for Kentucky Living magazine), reports that the tradition of putting lights on holiday trees began in 1882.

Olga Keegan.Fun fact: As regular listeners of Hoosier History Live! - or visitors to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site - may recall, the only American president elected from the Hoosier state has a yule-season claim to fame. Benjamin Harrison (who served from 1888 to 1892) and First Lady Caroline Scott Harrison became the very first First Family to have a decorated Christmas tree in the White House.

We explored this aspect of their heritage during a holiday season show in 2011 with Jennifer Capps, curator of the presidential site. During the show, Jennifer noted that President Harrison, who had a beard and a slightly stocky frame, portrayed Santa on at least one occasion.

During this show, our guest Olga Kenner describes a five-pointed star that Filipino families often place on their front doors (similar to the way Americans hang wreaths) during the Christmas season.

Noting that the Philippines was under Spanish rule for generations, Olga estimates about 80 percent of the population in her ancestral homeland is Catholic. That means many Filipino traditions, including attending midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, derive from Spanish and/or Catholic traditions.

Nancy Grant's 1991 book "Christmas in America" highlights holiday traditions in the United States."When I was a girl, we would go to midnight Mass, then come home and there would be our presents," Olga said. "It was late in the evening, but we would open the gifts right then, not wait until morning."

Also during our show, Nancy Grant describes how enterprising merchant F. W. Woolworth began importing glass ornaments from Germany in 1880. Then he sold them across the country.

The Eastern European tradition of setting out shoes happens on Dec. 6, St. Nick's Day.

Our guest Rosaleen, who also is a member of the Association of International Women, describes Irish activities related to St. Stephen's Day (Dec. 26), setting a table with "Christmas crackers" and what typically happens on the Feast of Epiphany (Jan. 6).

Nancy Grant is convinced that various Christmas aromas from the kitchen provide clues about a family's ethnic heritage. Cinnamon: maybe British for figgy pudding. Licorice or anise: German for springerles. Also in terms of seasonal goodies, Olga describes the variety of home-made sweets that Filipinos typically serve this month.

Roadtripper: Jeffersonville

Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us that it doesn't have to be Christmas time to head to Schimpff's Confectionery in Jeffersonville (347 Spring Street), a candy store, soda fountain, and lunch counter that is more than 120 years old! (Jeffersonville is, of course, just across the Ohio River from Louisville.)

Glory-June Greiff points to her “take” from Schimpff’s Confectionery in Jeffersonville, Ind. Image courtesy http://gloryjune.com/wordpress.But at Christmas especially, Schimpff's is a fantasy land filled with jars and glass cases of its yummy candy. You can even watch them making it in the adjoining space, which also houses their candy museum. After you consider your many choices of candy for gifts and a few for yourself, have an old-fashioned lunch - maybe an egg salad sandwich and a chocolate phosphate. Then take a stroll down historic Spring Street, with its many interesting shops.

Are needle arts your thing? There is a wonderful yarn shop with the bizarre name of Grinny Possum across the street from Schimpff's.

A little farther south is a novelty shop, with every kind of costume, favor, decoration, etc. you can possibly imagine. Horner Novelty at 310 Spring Street touts itself as the world's largest party store, and it may well be.

A few blocks north at 723 Spring Street is the new location of the Vintage Fire Museum, but currently it is open only on Fridays and Saturdays, so plan accordingly.

If all that isn't enough, not too far off to the southeast is the Howard Steamboat Museum on Market Street along the river. It's a great pile of a house with a fantastic collection of artifacts and ephemera telling the history of steamboats in general and those built in Jeffersonville in particular. It's an easy drive down I-65 from Indy to enjoy this scenic river town.

History Mystery

A nationally known department store that became associated with the holiday season had its beginnings during the 1840s in Vincennes, Indiana's oldest city. Most Americans associate the retailer with New York City, where it opened a flagship store that flourished for generations of shoppers. But the retailer's founder, a Bavarian immigrant, actually began in business with a general store in Vincennes. Eventually, he moved his business to Milwaukee, then expanded it considerably for 40 years and achieved success in other cities.

Second-story façade of mystery department store in Vincennes, Ind.The New York City department store opened in 1910. It had a fierce, decades-long rivalry with another retailer that even became a major aspect of the plot of a classic movie with a Christmas theme. When the department store chain closed during the 1980s, it had 36 stores across the country.

Question: What was the department store chain that traces its beginnings to Vincennes?

The prize is a gift certificate to the Rathskeller Restaurant in Indianapolis and two admissions to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, courtesy of Visit Indy.

By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Dec. 14 show History Mystery: What is the name of the dinosaur, which is also the first name of the paleontologist who discovered it?

Answer: SUE.

Paleontologist SUE HENDRICKSON was born in Chicago in 1949 but grew up in Munster. While working for the Black Hills Institute, Sue Hendrickson discovered the remains of a Tyrannosaurus rex on a Native American reservation in South Dakota. Now known as "Sue" in her honor, the dinosaur remains are considered to be the largest and best-preserved T-Rex ever discovered.

After the entire skeleton was assembled, it was 40 feet long from its nose to its tail. For more than 13 years, "Sue," the T-Rex skeleton, has been exhibited at the Field Museum.

Sue Hendrickson also been credited with discovering other important fossils and artifacts.

Indiana during the Ice Age, when mastodons roamed

A young boy is fascinated with the giant bones on display at the Indiana State Museum. Image courtesy Indiana State Museum.(Dec. 14, 2013) - In this show, we delve into the deepest era of Hoosier history - and the coldest.

To explore the Ice Age, including the landscape of - as well as plant and animal life (including mastodons) once found in - the part of Earth that eventually became Indiana, Nelson is joined in studio by two experts from the Indiana State Museum.

His guests are Ron Richards, senior research curator of paleobiology, and Ron's colleague Damon Lowe, chief curator of science and technology. They have been the key figures in putting together the blockbuster exhibit Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons that opened in November at the State Museum.

According to Ron, mastodon bones have been discovered in most of Indiana's 92 counties.

The exhibit features actual skeletons, skulls and casts of Ice Age animals as well as fossils. The Indiana State Museum contends its collection of Ice Age bones is the largest in the Midwest. Some of the bones belonged to a mastodon that was discovered on a farm near Fort Wayne and has been named "Fred."

Damon Lowe.According to our experts, a frigid climate more than 80,000 years ago forced an expansion of the Arctic ice sheets. The largest sheet covered much of North America, including the future state of Indiana.

Ron Richards, senior research curator of paleobiology at the Indiana State Museum. Image courtesy Indianapolis Monthly.As described by the State Museum, mastodons like Fred were "shorter, stockier cousins" of mammoths, which also roamed prehistoric Indiana about 13,000 years ago. Mammoths were not as plentiful here as mastodons, though.

"Like modern elephants, mastodons could live 60 years or more, but few made it to retirement (age)," according to an article in Indianapolis Monthly magazine's November issue.

In conjunction with the Ice Age Giants exhibit at the State Museum, the nearby IMAX Theater is showing a movie, Titans of the Ice Age, that depicts the era in 3D. It's an age described as inhabited by "saber-toothed cats, giant sloths, dire wolves and woolly mammoths."

A skeleton of a dire wolf, a type of wolf that co-existed with mammoths and mastodons in Indiana, is displayed at the State Museum.

A mastodon skeleton, known as “Fred,” greets visitors at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis. Fred once weighed about 3 tons and stood 9 feet tall. Bone analysis through radiocarbon dating shows he is more than 13,000 years old. Image courtesy Indiana State Museum.The museum has been involved in what's known as "bone recovery" of prehistoric remains since the late 1970s. The first major excavation site was near Bass Lake in Starke County.

Since then, significant excavations have occurred near Hebron in northwest Indiana and near the city of Plymouth. Mastodon bones also have been found in a bed of the White River in southern Indiana. The average excavation takes two weeks and a crew of about 10 staff members from the State Museum and volunteers.

The skeleton of Fred, the mastodon, is about 9 feet tall and 250 feet long. His skull alone weighs 250 pounds.

Some other Ice Age history nuggets:

  • Our guest Ron Richards was involved in the discovery of the nearly complete skeleton of a peccary, a pig-like animal that existed in Indiana during ancient time. The peccary skeleton was unearthed in Crawford County.
  • In addition to differing in their size, mammoths and mastodons had different types of tusks. The taller, slimmer mammoths had tusks that were much more curved, projecting downward "like a walrus," according to the State Museum. Mastodons' tusks tended to project straight forward.
  • Ice Age Giants: The Mystery of Mammoths and Mastodons exhibit will continue at the State Museum until Aug. 17.

Roadtripper: Sing along with Handel's Messiah

A panorama photo of the 2012 holiday Sing-Along at the Indiana Landmarks building. The annual event features the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Encore Vocal Arts. Image courtesy Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra.

Ever affable Guest Roadtripper Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography suggests we check out one of Indy's newest holiday traditions. It's the opportunity for any and all to sing selections from Handel's Messiah along with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and Encore Vocal Arts. No singing experience needed!

Sit in your section (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) or sit with your friends and family, whatever is most comfortable for you! Grab your score; you can also download one from icomusic.org, borrow or purchase a score for $5 at the performance.

The Sing-Along takes place Monday, Dec. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Indiana Landmarks Center Grand Hall in Indianapolis. Tickets are $30 for adults and $12 for students.

Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra also performs Handel's Messiah on Dec. 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 15 at 3 p.m. at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.

History Mystery

One of the world's most famous sets of dinosaur fossils - the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex considered the most complete and best preserved ever found - is exhibited at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. However, there is an Indiana connection to the T-Rex. The specimen has been named in honor of the woman who discovered it. She is a paleontologist who grew up in Munster, Ind.

Although the future discoverer was born in Chicago, her family moved to Munster when she was a young child. She lived in the northwestern Indiana city until age 16.

In 1990, while excavating in South Dakota, she discovered the Tyrannosaurus skeleton, which is considered 90 percent complete. It's been exhibited at the Field Museum since 2000.

A T-Rex dinosaur with an Indiana connection is on display at the Field Museum in Chicago. Image courtesy Wikipedia.Question: What is the name of the dinosaur, which is also the first name of the paleontologist who discovered it?

The prize is a gift certificate to New Orleans on the Avenue restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.

Last live show's answer. By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Nov. 30 show answer was: A STEER.

Known as "Old Ben," the steer has been displayed in Kokomo's Highland Park since before World War II. His weight upon his death in 1910 was estimated at more than 4,500 pounds. Old Ben was born on a farm in 1902 and apparently weighed at least 125 pounds at birth. During his life, the steer became famous and was exhibited at various festivals.

After Old Ben slipped on ice and broke both legs in 1910, he had to be put down. His owners had him stuffed and mounted by a taxidermist to prove to future generations of doubters that an animal of his gigantic size once existed. In the pavilion in Highland Park, Old Ben is exhibited next to a pile of hay.

Old Northside neighborhood in Indy history

The Ovid Butler House in Indy’s Old Northside neighborhood features two large griffins atop a porte-cochere (carriage porch) that originally came from the long-gone Bates Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.  Hoosier History Live photo.(Dec. 7, 2013 encore presentation) - Thanks to spacious Italianate and Queen Anne-style houses built in the late 1800s, the Old Northside in Indianapolis became the city's posh neighborhood through the World War I era.

By the 1970s, when urban pioneers Paul Smith, Rick Patton and their wives moved into two of the historic homes, the neighborhood had become, as Rick diplomatically puts it, "blighted." Paul says his house even was occupied by a drug dealer.

During the 30 years since then, many of the grand homes have been restored to their former glory in the neighborhood, which has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and now is known as the Old Northside Historic District.

Join us for an encore broadcast of a show about the colorful heritage of the neighborhood that's roughly bounded by East 11th, Pennsylvania, East 16th and Carrollton streets. Paul Smith and Rick Patton are Nelson's guests on the show, which originally was broadcast on Jan. 7, 2012.

Indy’s downtown Old Northside neighborhood is pictured in the early 1900s. The house at 1508 Broadway was home to the family of Albert Metzger, pictured here in front of their first car, a 1907 Premier, which was manufactured in Indianapolis. Photo courtesy Rick Patton.During the decades that the Old Northside struggled, many of the once-fashionable homes (Rick estimates more than 100) were demolished. Others, including his, were converted into apartments.

By the way, Rick's home was built in 1876 by the son-in-law of civic leader Ovid Butler, a founder of the university that now bears his name. In fact, the Old Northside was the initial site of Butler University, then known as North Western Christian University.

(Fun fact: College Avenue derives its name because that street led to the university, which moved to Irvington during the 1870s. Butler moved, yet again, to its current location in the 1920s.)

Paul Smith, whose house was built in 1892, is a past president of the Old Northside Neighborhood Association and a past board member of Indiana Landmarks, the statewide historic preservation organization. (In 2011, Landmarks itself became an Old Northside "resident" by moving its headquarters into the former Central Avenue University Methodist Church, later known as the Old Centrum.)

Construction of I-65 occurs just south of the Morris-Butler House at 1204 N. Park Ave., circa 1970. Photo courtesy Heritage Photo & Research Services.Preservation advocates from across the country - including architects, civic leaders, attorneys, historians and federal officials - toured the Old Northside during last month's conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Most of the Old Northside's historic homes were built between the 1870s and the early 1900s. Before the Civil War, property in what became the Old Northside was regarded as too far away from the bustling Mile Square to be developed for homes.

That changed with the coming of horse-drawn trolleys and the extension of city streets. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, influential residents included Benjamin Harrison (his Italianate home, now known as the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, is at 12th and Delaware streets); the Ayres and Wasson families of department store fame (their historic mansions were demolished), novelist Meredith Nicholson, author of the bestselling romance thriller House of 1,000 Candles, and Thomas Taggart, the former mayor who bought the French Lick Springs Hotel.

This house at 1500 N. Delaware Street in what is now called the Old Northside neighborhood of Indianapolis is shown circa 1905. It once was home to author Meredith Nicholson, and now it is home to Indiana Humanities. LC Detroit Pub. Co., courtesy Heritage Photo & Research Services.The Old Northside also includes the restored Morris-Butler House, which was built in 1865 and is owned now by Indiana Landmarks. And it includes a Romanesque Revival house built in the 1890s at 1410 N. Delaware owned by the Propylaeum Historic Foundation.

Why were so many homes demolished in the Old Northside? Many, including the mansions of the Ayres and Wasson families, came down during the 1960s and early '70s with the construction of I-65, which cuts through the neighborhood. Other homes were demolished as part of "urban renewal."

Along with spectacular renovations of many historic homes in recent years, new-home construction has occurred, particularly on the east edge of the neighborhood near College Avenue.

As Old Northside residents for more than 30 years - Paul and Rick arrived with their wives shortly after graduating from college - our guests have insights about the changes they have seen in the neighborhood. Paul is real estate manager for the city of Indianapolis; Rick is an executive for a textbook publisher.

As Rick notes with pride, the Old Northside today resembles the neighborhood depicted in historic photographs much more than the "blighted" residential area he encountered as a newlywed.

Interviewing tips for family, church and neighborhood histories

Nelson Price interviews Joe Kennedy II, eldest son of the late Bobby Kennedy, at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, circa 1994. The park, near 17th and Broadway streets in Indianapolis, was the site in April 1968 of Bobby Kennedy’s famous impromptu speech during which he broke the news to the crowd that Dr. King had been assassinated. The speech is credited with helping keep Indy free of the rioting that broke out elsewhere. Image courtesy Rich Miller.(Nov. 30, 2013) - Family gatherings during the holiday season are, obviously, ideal opportunities to do oral interviewing of grandparents and other relatives for a family histories.

And folks who want to put together histories of their churches, neighborhoods or civic groups also will benefit from tips for getting people to "open up" and share memories, including those that touch on sensitive or painful topics.

To provide techniques and tips for the broad range of our listeners, Hoosier History Live! turns to three veteran interviewers.

They include our host, Nelson, who frequently teaches classes (sometimes called "Making People Talk") for the general public based on his years of interviewing everyone from acrobats to zoo veterinarians - as well as folks in their 80s and 90s who have lived through dozens of historic events.

Nelson, a former feature writer/columnist for The Indianapolis Star, is joined in studio by:

  • Ray Boomhower of the Indiana Historical Society. An author/historian like Nelson, Ray has interviewed countless history-makers for his various books and in his capacity as editor of the society's magazine, Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History. Ray currently is working on a biography of John Bartlow Martin (1915-1987), a Hoosier journalist known for his interviewing techniques as well as for his coverage of national stories such as John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign.
  • Allen Safianow.Allen Safianow, a professor emeritus of history at Indiana University-Kokomo who has overseen oral interview projects in Howard County. He has interviewed people on sensitive topics such as the statewide stranglehold that the Ku Klux Klan had in the 1920s (he was a guest for a Hoosier History Live! show on that topic in April 2010) and the controversy surrounding the crusade of AIDS victim Ryan White to attend school in the 1980s.

Nelson and his guests share tips about their favorite interview questions (and ones that are the least effective in getting people to open up); how to extract decades-old details from interview subjects, and ideal settings for interviews.

In addition, Nelson discusses the importance of asking about sensitive issues (such as a parent's alcoholism or a family tragedy) when doing a family history interview. He shares non-threatening ways to ask questions about painful episodes.

Allen shares suggestions about phrasing questions so they are posed in neutral ways that don't influence interview subjects. When he has trained Howard County residents for oral history projects, Allen has used this example of a leading question:
"Don't you feel that management was antagonistic toward the workers?"

Instead, he recommends: "How would you describe management's attitude toward the workers?"

Ray Boomhower was a Hoosier History Live! guest in April 2008, talking about his book Robert F. Kennedy and the 1968 Indiana Primary. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.For in-depth interviews, both Allen and Nelson strongly recommend one-on-one sessions, without observers such as spouses, managers and friends - even if the third parties promise to stay silent. (In fact, Nelson is convinced that silent onlookers pose special problems. He will explain why during our show.)

For his various biographies, our guest Ray Boomhower has interviewed Hoosiers ranging from a World War II-era flying ace from northwest Indiana (Alex Vraciu was the focus of his book, Fighter Pilot, which was published in 2010 by the Indiana Historical Society Press) to political leaders such as the late U.S. Congressman Jim Jontz, the subject of The People's Choice (IHS Press, 2012).

With more than 70 other authors with Indiana connections, Ray and Nelson will sign copies of the books about famous Hoosiers from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 7 during the annual Holiday Author Fair at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.

But both of our guests, like Nelson, have interviewed countless Hoosiers who never made headlines.

Even so, who doesn’t have at least some captivating stories to tell? Tune in for practical advice that will help anyone interested in capturing vivid memories that will add depth and details to histories of families, neighborhoods, churches and civic groups.

Here are some advice books recommended by Nelson, who has taught interviewing classes for the Indiana Writers Center and Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis:

Roadtrip: Eight holiday open houses across Indiana

The Pepin Mansion is an 1851 Italianate villa on Mansion Row in New Albany, Ind. Photo by Greg Sekula courtesy Indiana Landmarks.Guest Roadtripper Chris DellaRocco of Indiana Landmarks suggests we add some historic flare to this year's holiday season by visiting some of the spectacular Holiday Open Houses around the state.

Eight historic homes will be dressed up for the holidays, and admittance is free for Indiana Landmarks members and their guests. Chris tells us that this is a chance to see some excellent examples of preservation and restoration inside homes not that are not normally open to the public.

Many of the homes are ones have been saved from the Top Ten Endangered List, and others have long held a great significance to their community.

Here is a line-up for this year's Holiday Open Houses.

Chris tells us that Indiana Landmarks has been working to save meaningful places for more than 53 years.

History Mystery

Kokomo, where our guest Allen Safianow has been a history professor and has overseen oral interviewing projects, has a claim to fame in taxidermy. The largest preserved example in the world of a certain kind of animal is displayed in Kokomo.

The animal lived during the early 1900s and set a record for his size that still stands today. The stuffed, mounted figure of the animal stands in a pavilion in Highland Park. The park in Kokomo also is the home of the world's largest Sycamore tree stump.

Barbara Boyd was the on-air guest of host Nelson Price in a 2008 Hoosier History Live show about pioneering African-American newscasters in Indiana. Hoosier History Live photo.Question: The world's largest example of what kind of animal is displayed in Kokomo?

The prize is a gift certificate to Iozzo's Garden of Italy, courtesy of Visit Indy, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.

Last live show's answer. By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air.

The Nov. 16 show answer: BARBARA BOYD. The well-known TV news personality had been the office manager of Head Start in Indianapolis before being hired as a consumer reporter at Channel 6 in 1969. From 1981 to 1984, Barbara Boyd anchored the noon news, becoming the first African-American woman to anchor a TV news broadcast in Indianapolis.

Still highly visible as a civic leader since retiring from TV news in 1994, Barbara Boyd joined Nelson in February 2008 for a Hoosier History Live! show about her trail-blazing career in local television.

Cafeterias across Indiana

Text on the back of this vintage postcard for Mangas Cafeteria reads: “Best place to eat in the Middle-West. Steaks and chops. Air-conditioned. Corner of Main and Anderson Streets, Elwood, Indiana. Published by the Lewellyn Studio, Elwood, Ind.”

Click here to listen to this encore broadcast!

(Nov. 23, 2013 - online-only encore presentation) - Hoosier History Live! will be pre-empted Saturday on WICR-FM so the radio station can broadcast live coverage of the University of Indianapolis football team's playoff game. Shapiro’s Delicatessen and Cafeteria, on South Meridian Street in Indianapolis, is pictured in the early 1970s. IUPUI Digital Collection. Caption research by Heritage Photo & Research and Historic Indianapolis.Even though you won't be able to tune in and listen to us over the airwaves, as a special treat we are making available - on our website and by clicking on a link embedded in this e-newsletter - one of the most popular programs from our Hoosier History Live! archives.

The featured program is a perfect show for a season known for its focus on food. Rather than feast on Thanksgiving turkey, though, we dig into our state's cafeteria culture in a show originally broadcast on Oct. 27, 2012.

Unaware that Indiana was famous for its cafeterias?

Well, think how many have flourished for generations of hungry Hoosiers. Gray Brothers Cafeteria in Mooresville has received national acclaim for its fresh-made rolls, fried chicken and old-fashioned pies. Indiana-based MCL Cafeterias is described in Tray Chic: Celebrating Indiana’s Cafeteria Culture (Emmis Books, 2004) as "arguably the largest family-owned cafeteria chain in the nation."

Poe's Cafeteria in Martinsville is cherished by devotees of its persimmon pudding, gooseberry pie and other scrumptious fare.

Guests Sam Stall and Daina Chamness in the WICR studio for the live show on Oct. 27, 2012. Hoosier History Live photo.And Shapiro's Delicatessen has been a landmark in downtown Indy for more than 100 years, although fourth-generation owner Brian Shapiro has been quoted as saying he dislikes the term "cafeteria."

Even so, all of those beloved cafeterias (and a platter of others) are featured in Tray Chic, and its author is among Nelson's in-studio guests. He is Indianapolis-based writer Sam Stall, who also pens a question-and-answer column in Indianapolis Monthly magazine called "The Hoosierist."

In addition to Sam, Nelson is joined on our exploration of cafeteria culture by a culinary queen who is well-known among Hoosier foodies. Daina Chamness of Greenwood has carved out a long career, thanks to her work both in broadcasting and in the kitchen. Now known for Yours Truly Foods, her wine cake mixes, Daina formerly specialized in single-serving pies of all varieties.

Tray Chic book cover. By Sam Stall.Speaking of pies: As part of our cafeteria conversation, Nelson and his guests discuss sugar cream pie, which has been designated Indiana's "official state pie." It's relevant to our topic because Jonathan Byrd's in Greenwood and other cafeterias are among the few eateries that regularly serve it. (Sugar cream pie also was the focus of a "Hoosierist" column by Sam last year.)

In Tray Chic, Sam describes the sprawling Jonathan Byrd's as the cafeteria version of an "epic, Cecil B. De Mille-style scale" production.

Noting that cafeterias have long been hailed for their comfort food, Sam writes: "Some would say that the long view down the tray line is what heaven looks like."

According to Tray Chic, though, cafeterias are vanishing in many parts of the country.

"Today, they're as state-of-the-art as a brontosaurus, and almost as rare - unless you live in Indiana," Sam writes. In the Hoosier state, he explains, cafeterias are "culinary landmarks."

A piece of sugar cream pie. Mmm, delicious!The former Laughner's Cafeteria chain, which traced its beginnings to a storefront restaurant in 1900 in downtown Indy, opened the state's first cafeteria and was on the cutting edge of "food service technology," according to Tray Chic.

Expansion of the Laughner's chain included the 1964 opening in Southern Plaza shopping center of a cafeteria in a structure that, as Tray Chic puts it, resembled a "big, Tudor-style house." In 1987, the chain opened a Laughner's Super Cafeteria on the far northside of Indy. After about 100 years in operation, though, the last Laughner's closed in 2000.

Daina Chamness holds a package of her wine cake mix.  The MCL chain, however, has survived with signature fare, including cloverleaf rolls, carved roast beef, Swiss steak and Irani iced tea. According to Reid Duffy's Guide to Indiana's Favorite Restaurants (IU Press, 2006), the chain resulted from a business relationship between co-founder Charles McGaughey and George Laughner, a son of the Laughner's founder. (The "L" in MCL stands for Laughner.)

By 2006, the MCL chain had more than 20 cafeterias, including restaurants in Anderson, Bloomington, Muncie, Richmond, Speedway, Terre Haute and West Lafayette.

In Mooresville, Gray Brothers seats 500 and often feeds 3,000 patrons per day, according to Tray Chic. With homemade dishes that have won praise from national food critics, Gray Brothers has been a landmark on State Road 67 since the late 1960s.

Shapiro's roots go back much farther. In 1905, two years after immigrating from Russia because of anti-Jewish pogroms, Louis and Rebecca Shapiro opened a kosher grocery shop on what's now the south side of downtown Indy, according to Reid Duffy's book.

Sam Stall.The transition to a restaurant - with cafeteria-style lines - began in the 1930s when Louis delegated the store to his sons Abe, Izzy and Max.

And about 120 years before that, hundreds of Quakers from North Carolina traveled to Indiana to settle. Our guest Daina Chamness noted during a previous show (that also featured Reid Duffy as a guest) that sugar cream pie may have its origins in a dessert made by Quaker farm wives.

Speaking of farms: In Tray Chic, Sam writes that, for Hoosiers, cafeterias often conjure up "ancestral memories of old-fashioned farm dinners, or fond reflections of Sunday after-church suppers at Grandma's."

Typically, he notes, cafeterias serve fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, pecan pies and "pretty much anything else that farm wives set out for their families 150 years ago."

Some fun facts:

  • The word "cafeteria" is derived from a Spanish term for coffee shop, according to Tray Chic.
  • According to Reid Duffy's book, Louis Shapiro's grandfather had been a primary food supplier for the czar of Russia's naval fleet.
  • At Jonathan Byrd's in Greenwood, Sam Stall writes, the serving line is about as long as a tennis court.

Click here to listen to this encore broadcast!

A vintage photo shows Mangas Cafeteria in Elwood, Ind.

Roadtrip: 25 Weird and Wonderful tour

Guest Roadtripper and Hoosier History Live! fan Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne, who listens to the show every week via WICR Online, tells us to check out 25 different real Roadtrips, all highlighted under one roof, and taking up two huge gallery areas.

It's the 25 Weird and Wonderful tour at Minnetrista in Muncie, Ind. Turns out the Minnetrista staff queried lots of Hoosiers about 25 awesome places to visit in east central Indiana. It runs now through March 30.

From famous ice cream shops to glass blowing to the world's largest ball of paint, east central Indiana has it all and much more! Terri tells us that you can explore 25 of the region's best-kept secrets in one intriguing exhibit at Minnetrista, and then visit each location itself.

In the news

IBJ covers Hoosier History Live!

Reporter Chris O'Malley of the Indianapolis Business Journal sat in on a recent program and shared some of the unique ambition and charm of Hoosier History Live! with IBJ's readers.

Indianapolis Business Journal story about Hoosier History Live, June 22, 2013.

Ask Nelson and Channel 4 children's shows history

Nelson Price.(Nov. 16, 2013) - Once in awhile, we like to take full advantage of our claim to distinction at Hoosier History Live!: Our show is the country's only live radio program with listener call-in about a state's history.

That means we can turn the tables periodically on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, open the phone lines and give our listeners an opportunity to question the interviewer, who calls himself "a garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia."

Julie Young.During our "Ask Nelson" shows, listeners are encouraged to call the WICR-FM studio and pose questions to Nelson, whose areas of expertise are famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary people) and Indianapolis city history. His books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about his hometown.

On this show, Nelson is joined by a special co-host who joins the questioning - and also takes questions from listeners. His co-host is author Julie Young, whose newest book is The Famous Faces of Indy's WTTV-4 (The History Press). It explores the lives, careers and impact on Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and other Hoosiers of TV personalities during the heyday of children's programming on WTTV-Channel 4.

Those personalities include some - such as Janie Hodge, the popular star of the long-running "Popeye and Janie" (the show was later renamed "Janie") and Cowboy Bob (real name: Bob Glaze) - who have been guests on previous Hoosier History Live! shows.

The Famous Faces of Indy's WTTV-4 book cover, by Julie Young.Julie's book also explores the lives and careers of ghoulish Sammy Terry, the host of the cult favorite "Shock Theater," which also had other names, including "Nightmare Theater" and "The Sammy Terry Show," during its various incarnations) and Peggy Nicholson, the host of a children's show in the 1970s on Channel 4.

Sammy Terry (real name: Bob Carter) died last June at age 83; his son, Mark Carter, now makes appearances as Sammy Terry, a name that, when spoken quickly, is a riff on the word "cemetery."

So with Julie's expertise about, as her book puts it, "a pre-cable era when shows were live, hosts were local celebrities and anything could happen," she is an ideal co-host for Nelson, with his expertise about famous Hoosiers.

His book Indiana Legends, now in its 4th edition and 7th printing, features profiles and vignettes of more than notables. He has interviewed - often several times - contemporary-era famous Hoosiers such as David Letterman, Jane Pauley, Larry Bird, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Ryan White, Reggie Miller, Florence Henderson, astronaut David Wolf and Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of the University of Norte Dame.

He also has researched the colorful lives of historic notables such as bank robber John Dillinger, composers Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael, entrepreneurs Col. Eli Lilly and Madam Walker, novelists Lew Wallace and Booth Tarkington and movie star Carole Lombard.

Film star Carole Lombard was born in Fort Wayne, Ind., on Oct. 6, 1908, and died in a plane accident at the age of 33. She was the highest-paid star in Hollywood in the late 1930s. Image courtesy MGM Vintage.Nelson welcomes questions during our show about any of these famous (or, in a couple of cases, infamous) Hoosiers, as Julie does about any of the Channel 4 personalities.

During our show, Nelson and Julie also interview each other. Nelson asks his co-host how and why WTTV, which went on the air in November 1949 as only the second TV station in the state, carved out a niche in offering children's programming. (According to Julie's book, the first TV station on the air in Indiana  was Indianapolis-based WFBM, which is known today as WRTV-Channel 6.)

In addition, Nelson welcomes questions related to city history of the Hoosier capital. His book Indianapolis Then and Now explores sites such as the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Garfield Park, Fort Harrison (now Fort Harrison State Park) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It also features neighborhoods with colorful histories such as Lockerbie, Woodruff Place and Broad Ripple.

By the way, his co-host on this "Ask Nelson" show has been a frequent guest on Hoosier History Live! in connection with her other books. In addition to writing The Famous Faces of Indy's WTTV-4, Julie Young is the author of books about the histories of Shelby County and the eastside of Indy. In fact, Nelson, who grew up on the far-eastside, is quoted in Eastside Indianapolis: A Brief History (The History Press, 2009).

Julie also is the author of A Belief in Providence: A Life of Saint Theodora Guerin (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2007), a biography of the first Hoosier to be named a saint. Mother Theodore, as she was known during her lifetime (1798-1856), also is featured in Nelson's Indiana Legends; she was a Catholic nun who traveled from France to the wilderness of far-western Indiana in 1840. As a pioneer, she founded schools, orphanages and frontier versions of pharmacies. So both Julie and Nelson welcome questions about her remarkable life.

This circa 1806 “Old French House” still stands in Vincennes, Ind., and was occupied by French fur trader Michel Brouille (1774-1838). Image courtesy Society of Indiana Pioneers.Earlier this year, shows with the "Ask Nelson" format have featured, as co-hosts, Indianapolis-based event planner Gary BraVard and our WICR colleague, attorney Charles Braun, whose Legally Speaking radio show is celebrating its 30th year on the air. During the show with Gary, he shared behind-the-scenes anecdotes about galas that he planned in the Hoosier capital attended by a range of visiting celebrities.

A caller asked Nelson about early French immigrants to the Indiana frontier, including the fur traders who founded Vincennes, our oldest city. Another caller shared memories about the construction of I-465 and I-70 during the late 1960s and early '70s.

And yet another caller asked about the law school years of Dan Quayle. The former vice president also is among the scores of well-known Hoosiers whom Nelson has interviewed.

We always look forward to these lively, insightful shows - with your phone calls as the centerpiece.

Fun fact: Julie and Nelson will be among more than 70 authors who will sign books during the Indiana Author Fair from noon to 4 p.m. on Dec. 7. The annual fair will be at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, 450 W. Ohio St. in Indianapolis.

Roadtrip: Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski

Guest Roadtripper and public historian Glory-June Greiff tells us that late fall is the time for the annual pilgrimage to Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area (just north of Medaryville off 421) to see the sandhill cranes.

The sight of thousands of these amazing birds flying in from all directions - with their unique bugling cries, then landing, gabbling and dancing in Goose Meadow - is a wonderful experience.

Sandhill cranes fly at dusk at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife area in northern Indiana. Photo by Glory-June Greiff.She says to plan to arrive about an hour before sunset to see them come in. Glory recommends trying to go up on a weekday when the crowds are smaller; hearing the cranes is a vital part of the experience, and she reports being recently annoyed by many people babbling about shopping bargains and such. In fact, she wanted to hear those magnificent sounds! (Perhaps those same people talk in movies and at concerts.)

She says if you're heading up from the south, you’ll go up State Road 43 north from Lafayette and continue straight north on US 421. Passing through Brookston, a few miles north of Lafayette, you may want to check out Two Cookin' Sisters/Prairie Street Market for Grannie's Garden Pumpkin Butter and such.

Hungry? Reme's Monon Family Restaurant (in Monon, of course) offers a huge menu of classic family cafe fare. They're open late enough that you can catch them on the way back as well.

For something quick but tasty, on the north side of Monon is The Viking, locally owned - always Glory's preference.

Farther north of Monon is what could be a destination stop in itself - you might want to head up early to check this out. They, too, are open late enough to catch on the way back. It's the Whistle Stop Restaurant and Monon Connection Museum.

Happy crane watching and good eating - and tell everyone that Hoosier History Live! sent you.

History Mystery

In addition to Janie and Cowboy Bob, popular former TV personalities who have been studio guests on Hoosier History Live! include the first African-American woman to be a TV news reporter in Indianapolis. That happened in 1969 on WRTV-Channel 6, which then was WFBM-TV.

A consumer reporter, she went on to become the first African-American woman to anchor a TV news show in Indianapolis. She drew widespread attention in 1973 when, after learning she had breast cancer, she broadcast a report about her mastectomy from her hospital bed. In 1994, she retired after a 25-year career at Channel 6.

Question: Who is she?

The prize is admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society, and a gift certificate to LePeep, courtesy of Visit Indy.

By the way, Anna of Indianapolis just won a prize on our Facebook page, so be sure to check us out there as well!

Last live show's answer. By request, we are publishing the answer to the last live History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air.

Schuyler Colfax of Indiana was 17th vice president of the United States.The Nov. 9 show answer: SCHUYLER COLFAX, who served as vice president with President Ulysses S. Grant.

A native of New York City, Colfax moved with his family to northern Indiana at age 13 in the 1830s. Ambitious and gregarious, he advanced through Indiana politics as a Republican and, beginning in 1855, was elected to the U.S. Congress. Colfax served as Speaker of the House during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, who became a close friend.

His term as vice president was from 1869 to 1873. Colfax died in 1885 and is buried in City Cemetery in South Bend.

The other three deceased vice presidents from Indiana - Thomas Hendricks, Thomas R. Marshall and Charles Fairbanks - are buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.

By the way, Judy from our Irvington Library Listening Group won the prize! So check out that group every Saturday during the live show at the Irvington Library, 5625 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis.

Brazilian immigration with artist Artur Silva

The Allegory of the Cave, a 2013 Artur Silva installation at Indy’s Alexander Hotel, is an inkjet-on-vinyl piece. Image courtesy Artur Silva.(Nov. 2, 2013 - encore presentation) - Join us for an encore broadcast of a program in our popular series about our ethnic heritage in Indiana. For this show about Brazilian immigration, Nelson's guest is Indianapolis-based artist, clothing designer and cultural organizer Artur Silva, one of several immigrants and visitors from his South American homeland who have been creating a splash on Hoosier soil. (The show's original air date was June 11, 2011 and is a half-hour program. The last half hour in our usual time slot has been pre-empted for U of I football.)

A recipient of the prestigious Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship in 2010-11 and, more recently, of a creative renewal fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Artur moved to Indy in 2001 after a few years in New York City.

Artur Silva. Image courtesy Artur Silva.He has helped organize Indy Brazilian Carnaval, a festive celebration that has become an annual event in the Hoosier capital. His artwork has been exhibited at the Harrison Center for the Arts, the Indianapolis International Airport and the Fort Wayne Museum of Art. It also has been exhibited in galleries from Chicago and Los Angeles to the Netherlands and Brazil.

Artur, 37, is a native of Belo Horizonte City (translation: "beautiful horizon"), a city in southeastern Brazil that is surrounded by mountains. During our show, Artur discusses the wide range of reasons that native Brazilians have chosen to settle in Indiana.

Some fun facts:

  • The high profile of Brazilian race drivers in the Indianapolis 500 has resulted in increasing enthusiasm for the sporting event in South America. Even casual race fans are familiar with three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves; the race last May was won by another native Brazilian, Tony Kanaan, who has become extremely popular among Hoosiers.
  • The Indiana town of Brazil derives its name only indirectly from the country. According to folklore, the town took its name from a nearby farm called Brazil; the farm, in turn, had appropriated it because the country had been in the news frequently during the 1840s.
  • The Chafariz dos Contos fountain was a gift from the nation of Brazil to the city of Brazil, Ind. It was dedicated in 1956. It is a replica of the original fountain built in 1745 in Ouro, Brazil. Image courtesy Geocaching.Even so, Forest Park in Brazil, Ind., features a large granite fountain that was a gift from the country; it's a replica of a historic fountain there.
  • Artur's artwork is exhibited in The Alexander, the boutique hotel that opened in downtown Indy early this year. The hotel is named for Alexander Ralston, the surveyor who laid out the Hoosier capital in the 1820s. Nothing had been named in honor of the city's planner for more than 200 years. His life - and insights about the reasons Ralston assigned names to streets in the Mile Square - was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show last February.

One more item: Here is video of Artur talking about art at the Alexander Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.

Environmental heritage across Indiana

Nebo Ridge, part of the Hoosier National Forest, is in Brown County, Ind. Image courtesy Hoosier Environmental Council.(Oct. 26, 2013) - The way history has unfolded, maybe we should call this show "the good, the bad and the ugly."

Early settlers in Indiana and subsequent generations clear-cut the dense, unbroken forest of towering trees that had dominated the Hoosier landscape, resulting in soil erosion and other significant challenges.

But, beginning with work during the Great Depression undertaken by the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Hoosier National Forest was recreated extensively in southern Indiana.

White River in the Indianapolis area has been substantially cleaned up, particularly when contrasted with its previous reputation as a dumping ground and a punch line for jokes. Many experts, though, consider the Grand Calumet River in northwestern Indiana still to be among the top 10 dirtiest in the country.

Tim Maloney.New hotels, businesses and buildings on university campuses in Indiana are winning acclaim for their energy-saving features. Concerns are increasing, though, about factory farms and their impact on nearby communities and havens such as Camp Tecumseh, a retreat near Monticello that has been beloved by generations of Hoosier youth.

Jesse Kharbanda.To explore the state's environmental heritage, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests from the Hoosier Environmental Council, a non-profit that is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The HEC, which describes itself as a "science-based advocacy organization dedicated to protecting Indiana's environment," will host one of the state's largest gatherings of environmentalists on Nov. 16 on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

Nelson's guests are:

  • Jesse Kharbanda, the dynamic former Rhodes Scholar who has been HEC's executive director since 2007. Known for his media savvy - Jesse has been a Nuvo Newsweekly cover subject and a familiar interviewee on TV and radio shows - he has emphasized ways that environmentalists can work in concert with business leaders and religious conservatives rather than being seen as perpetually at, well, loggerheads.
  • Tim Maloney, HEC's senior policy director. He also has been the chair of Hoosier chapter of the Sierra Club; during the early 1980s, Tim helped found the HEC as a board member.

"A lot of what we're worried about today results from actions taken decades ago and generations ago," Jesse Kharbanda says, referring to what he and others call "legacy waste."

A coal-ash sludge lagoon is pictured, with a coal-powered electricity plant in the background. Image courtesy Hoosier Environmental Council.He also says: "Everyone cares about nature. They just care about different facets of it, in different ways, with different approaches to dealing with problems."

Specific areas of concern include Blackford County in northeastern Indiana, the site of several abandoned industrial complexes and former factories.

According to several accounts, the county and its county seat, Hartford City, have some of the highest levels of cancer, per person, in the state. The HEC launched a task force to coordinate investigations into the health issues and pollutants in the region, which once was home to automobile, gas, glass and chemical companies. In recent years, local residents have formed Blackford County Concerned Citizens, a grassroots organization that crusades for, as they put it, a "healthier and stronger future."

For the HEC, a galvanizing crusade after the organization was founded in 1983 involved attempts to stop expanded gas and oil leasing in parts of the Hoosier National Forest. The forest had been recreated by the CCC in the 1930s because extensive clear-cutting in Brown County and elsewhere in southern Indiana was causing significant environmental problems.

The Hoosier Environmental Council has worked to protect the Patoka River in the Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge near Jasper, Ind.Our guest Tim Maloney, who was involved with the statewide campaign to protect the Hoosier National Forrest, shares details about how it unfolded. He also shares insights about various rivers in Indiana, including the White River and the Grand Calumet.

"We have a mixed record in Indiana," he says. "Throughout our history, we turned our backs on most of our waterways for many years. We saw them as sewers, with the result that they became badly contaminated."

Our guest Jesse Kharbanda is the son of immigrants from India. He grew up in St. Louis and studied economics at Oxford University in England, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.

Since moving to the Hoosier state, Jesse, 36, has helped lead a collaboration with the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce on pending legislation regarding public transit. In 2011, he was named by the Indianapolis Business Journal to its "40 Under 40" roster of rising young executives.

Here are some learn-more websites:

Roadtrip - You Are There 1904: Picture This!

The studio of Fort Wayne, Ind., photographer Charles Miner is pictured in 1904. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.Guest Roadtripper Amy Lamb of the Indiana Historical Society suggests that you be one of the first to see You Are There 1904: Picture This!, which opens Oct. 29. She says visitors can step into the studio of photographer Charles Miner, who is busy conducting a normal day's business taking portraits of his Fort Wayne neighbors in 1904.

The Columbia City native turned Fort Wayne resident enjoyed a thriving business in the heart of Fort Wayne's downtown, where he participated in monumental moments in the lives of others.

Guests may also meet Miner's cousin/office manager, his technical assistant, or some Fort Wayne residents who may have visited the studio. And yes, Charles Miner really will take your photograph!

Amy also invites you to visit the IHS website after your visit to download your picture, play with the custom-made software, and morph your image into a vintage photograph to share with your friends and family.

The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center is located at 450 W. Ohio Street in downtown Indianapolis.

History Mystery

During the 1970s, an Indianapolis-based radio station drew widespread attention - and even astonishment - for sponsoring an annual raft race on the White River, then considered far from pristine. Popular among young listeners for playing a wide range of rock music, the radio station organized the raft race on a 2.5-mile section of the White River near the Broad Ripple area.

About 8,000 rafters each year participated in the race, which drew nearly 30,000 spectators to Broad Ripple Park and other areas along the course on the murky White River in the 1970s.

Question: What were the call letters of the radio station?

The prize is a voucher for two tickets to an Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra 2013-14 Masterworks Concert (includes The Messiah as a choice), courtesy of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, where you can experience the new Picture This:1904 exhibit, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.

Thanks to all of our wonderful prize partners, including the stalwart Visit Indy, and also to our own Nelson Price, who seems to have a never-ending wealth of ideas for this contest.

Last week's answer

By request, we are publishing the answer to last week's History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Oct. 19 History Mystery answer is: REV. JACQUELINE MEANS.

The issue of ordaining women as priests was highly controversial among Episcopalians during the 1970s. Some protesters gathered in front of All Saints, 1559 Central Ave., on New Year's Day 1977 when Jacqueline Means was ordained as the first woman Episcopal priest.

In the decades since her ordination, Rev. Means served for several years as the parish priest at St. Mark Episcopal Church in Plainfield and continued her work as a prison chaplain, including at the Indiana Women's Prison. She also served in administrative capacities with the Episcopalian Church's prison ministries.

Preservation at the Crossroads kicks off Oct. 29 in Indy

Susan West Montgomery, a senior director at the National Trust for Historic Preservation in Washington, D.C., will do a special call-in to the show to tell us about the trust's upcoming annual conference, which runs Oct. 29 through Nov. 2 in Indianapolis and nearby locales.

She'll tell us a bit about why the "Crossroads of America" is historically significant on a national level, and she will mention a couple of conference highlights.

HHL tidbits

Sweet tweets from Allison, and more

Allison DePrey Singleton.Hoosier History Live wishes to thank Allison DePrey Singleton for being our official Tweeter. Allison told us that we needed to be on Twitter, and producer Molly said, "I can't add one more thing to my list; would you like to do it?"

Spreading the duties out is a beautiful thing.

Oh, and Allison also can teach you how to trace your ancestry. 

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As you may know, we enjoy taking our show guests out to lunch on Saturdays after the show if schedules allow. Many of our guests have traveled quite a distance! We have a new sponsorship arrangement with Fountain Square Theatre Building that makes dining at one of its restaurants possible. And it's just a straight shot up Shelby Street from the UIndy campus! Our guests also get to see a bit of the evolving Fountain Square area.

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We'd also like to thank some of our 2013 contributors, Julie Slaymaker and Jane "Janie" Hodge of Indianapolis and Ann Allen of Akron, Ind. You can help to defray the costs of maintaining our website, our email marketing software, our editing costs, etc. by simply clicking on the yellow "Donate" button on our website. If you would like your contribution to be tax-deductible, visit the "Support us" page on our website. Your support helps us to remain and the air, on the Web and in your inbox.

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The Irvington Library Listening Group continues to meet on a regular basis from noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays to listen to and discuss the live show. If you think you would enjoy listening with fellow history lovers, just stop by the library at 5626 E. Washington St. in Indianapolis and ask for the listening group.

By the way, it's easy to form your own listening group; all you need is a relatively quiet room with comfortable chairs and either a radio or an online listening device to pick up the show from the live Web stream on Saturdays. We do have listeners all over the world!

If you need any advice on how to get started, please contact molly@hoosierhistorylive.org. Or better yet, just go ahead and get started! A weekly listening group is an easy way to get "regulars" into your organization or place of business, and we will promote your group in our enewsletter. Also, this is a great warm and cozy winter activity. Coffee anyone?

Rabbi Sandy Sasso, pioneer for women clergy

Sandy Sasso.(Oct. 19, 2013) - Nearly 40 years ago, she was ordained as the country's first woman rabbi from the Jewish Reconstructionist movement. When Sandy Eisenberg Sasso and her husband, Dennis Sasso, were hired at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis in 1977, they also became the world's first husband-and-wife rabbi team to serve a congregation jointly.

Earlier this year, Sandy Sasso retired as senior rabbi at the synagogue, but her career continues as an author of best-selling books for children, a civic leader and a speaker known for her storytelling gifts.

She also has become the director of a new program, the Religion, Spirituality and Arts Initiative under the auspices of the Butler University Center for Faith and Vocation.

Creation's First Light book cover by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso.When Sandy became a rabbi in 1974, only one other American woman, from a different Jewish movement, had been ordained.

Her children's books - beginning with God's Paintbrush (Jewish Lights Publishing) in 1994 - are sold around the world and have been translated into German, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew and other languages. She says she became an author after she could not find faith-oriented books for her son and daughter when they were children.

Now a grandmother, Sandy Sasso joins Nelson in studio for a show about her trailblazing career and multifaceted life as one of the best-known women in central Indiana.

"I read of men's struggles with God, but not women's," Sandy is quoted as saying in 19 Stars of Indiana: Exceptional Hoosier Women (IU Press, 2009), a book of profiles by Michael S. Maurer. "No one was answering my questions. In fact, no one was asking them."

She was referring to her growing interest in becoming a rabbi during her youth in Philadelphia, her home town. Rabbi Sandy Sasso at Congregation Beth-El Zedeck in Indianapolis. Image courtesy Indianapolis Monthly.Sandy and Dennis Sasso were both just 31 years old when they were chosen to lead Beth-El Zedeck, 600 W. 70th St., and made history.

Sandy went on to earn a doctorate from Christian Theological Seminary and has received honorary doctorates from several Indiana colleges.

Since her ordination, women rabbis are no longer unusual. A total of more than 700 women across the country currently serve as rabbis from the various streams of Judaism, according to an article in The Indianapolis Star when Sandy retired at Beth-El Zedeck. (In Orthodox Judaism, women are not ordained.)

Her newest book, Creation's First Light, has just been published. An illustrated description of the Earth's creation that's inspired by the biblical chapter of Genesis, Creation's First Light been called "a perfect jewel of a book" by another distinguished Hoosier History Live! guest who also is an ordained member of the clergy: Quaker pastor and author Phil Gulley. (Known for his folksy stories about a fictional town that resembles his hometown of Danville, Phil was Nelson's guest for a show last May.)

Her other books for children - many of which cover religious issues in a non-denominational way - include God Said Amen, For Heaven's Sake, Noah's Wife and In God's Name, which invites young readers to come up with their own names for God based on what they value most. Sandy's adult books include Midrash: Reading the Bible with Question Marks.

Sandy Eisenberg Sasso in 1970.She met her husband, Dennis, who was born in Panama, when they were seminary students. Neither of the Sassos knew much about Indy when they moved to the Hoosier capital for what turned into 36 years of serving together at Beth-El Zedeck.

"I have come to care deeply about the future of Indianapolis, its problems, and its vision for overcoming them," Sandy wrote earlier this year in an account for Indianapolis Monthly magazine. "There are matters that require attention: hunger, healthcare, transportation, education, caring for those who are marginalized. But there are also people who are trying to create change, who fashion venues for civil conversation, who believe that diversity enriches us, that culture is good for the soul and for business."

Her civic endeavors include serving for three years as the board chair for the Spirit & Place Festival, the annual collaboration in November that celebrates the arts, culture and spirituality.

History nugget: In 2002, Sandy was the editor of Urban Tapestry: Indianapolis Stories (IU Press), a collection of insights and essays about the Hoosier capital. Contributing writers included our host, Nelson.

Learn more: Sandy Sasso has just launched a new website, www.allaboutand.com.

Roadtrip: Duckpin bowling in Fountain Square

Gary BraVard goes duckpin bowling in the Fountain Square Theatre in Indianapolis. Hoosier History Live photo.Guest Roadtripper Gary BraVard suggests we take the Roadtrip to play a little duckpin bowling (like regular bowling but everything is smaller!) in the Fountain Square Theatre Building. That's at the intersection of Virginia Avenue at Shelby and Prospect Streets just southeast of downtown Indianapolis.

And yes, Fountain Square has a replica of its original 1880 fountain, "Lady Spray," back squarely in the square! The statue "Pioneer Family," which had occupied the square for some time, was moved just across the street.

Fountain Square continues to grow as a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood; it grew up around the end of the old Virginia Avenue streetcar line.

But Roadtripper Gary suggests you try a little duckpin bowling at the Fountain Square Theatre Building. The building sports two bowling facilities, Action Duckpin Bowl on the fourth floor and Atomic Bowl Duckpin in the basement.

Building owner Linton Calvert said he started collecting pieces of old duckpin bowling facilities some 20 years ago, all across the country. He says that most of the pieces from the Action Duckpin Bowl on the fourth floor were harvested from a defunct facility in Columbia City, Ind. Tune in Saturday for more!

History Mystery

Amid controversy in 1977, an Indianapolis resident became the first woman ever ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Church. Her ordination on New Year's Day at All Saints Episcopal Church in the Old Northside neighborhood drew national attention, including opposition from other Episcopal priests. Before her ordination, the trail-blazing priest had worked as a licensed practical nurse and as a prison chaplain.

Interior of All Saints Episcopal Church at 16th Street and Central Avenue in Indianapolis.Question: Name the Episcopalian priest whose ordination made headlines in 1977.

The prize is admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, a gift certificate to Le Peep Restaurants, and two passes to the Crown Hill Cemetery public tours, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Last week's answer

By request, we are publishing the answer to last week's History Mystery, in case you didn't catch it on the air. The Oct. 12 History Mystery answer is: GEORGE McGINNIS.

In 1969, many sports analysts considered him the best high school athlete in the country because of his basketball exploits at Washington High School. He propelled the team to an unbeaten season, then drew headlines with a 35-point scoring "eruption" during the state championship game at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

After leading the Big Ten in scoring at Indiana University, McGinnis - who, at six-feet-eight, became known as "Big Mac" - thrilled fans of the Indiana Pacers. He played for the Pacers for four seasons (1972-75), before leaving to play for teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers, then returned to the Pacers in 1979.

Since retiring as a player three years later, George McGinnis has remained in the public eye as an Indianapolis-based business executive and, for many years, a TV and radio sportscaster.

Coliseum and Clowes Hall histories

The 1943 IHSAA boys basketball tournament featured Lebanon and another team competing at the Coliseum at the Indiana State Fair grounds. Image courtesy Indiana State Fair.

(Oct. 12, 2013) - The Coliseum at the Indiana State Fairgrounds - site of some of the most joyous and colorful events in Indy history, as well as some of the most tragic episodes - is undergoing a $63 million renovation.

Clowes Hall, which opened in 1963 at Butler University amid great uncertainty about its chances for success, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

What better time to explore the histories of these two landmark venues?

Chapters in their stories include concerts in 1964 by the Beatles; an explosion during an ice show on Halloween night in 1963 that remains among the most massive tragedies in state history; performances by household names ranging from Bob Hope, Judy Garland and Liberace to the Bolshoi, and public speakers including Coretta Scott King, Robert Kennedy Jr. and Indy native Kurt Vonnegut.

Edith Whitehill Clowes smiles during the opening-night gala at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University in October 1963. Image courtesy Clowes Memorial Hall.To explore the events, crises, celebrations and backstage stories that have unfolded at the Coliseum and Clowes, Nelson is joined in studio by three guests. They are Justin Armstrong, director of advancement at the Indiana State Fair Foundation, James Cramer, community relations manager at Clowes, and Christine Thacker, the Clowes archivist.

The Coliseum, which opened in the fall of 1939, was constructed under Franklin D. Roosevelt's Public Works Administration. Its 11,000 seating capacity made the Coliseum the largest event facility in Indy then.

Three years later, the venue hosted its first basketball game, during which the Indiana High School All-Stars defeated the Kentucky High School All-Stars by one point. In 1967, the Coliseum became the home court of the Indiana Pacers, then playing in (and, eventually, three-time champions of) the American Basketball Association.

According to guests James and Christine, the opening of Clowes was a "huge gamble - they bet the farm." But the venue went on to host appearances by Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston, John Travolta and other entertainers who either were (or became) icons.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Clowes, artwork by Hoosiers will be displayed as part on an on-going "mosaic of visual art" throughout the 2013-14 season. James Cramer.The public is invited to a free open house and mosaic unveiling on Oct. 20 at 4 p.m. For more info about other 50th-anniversary festivities, visit cloweshall.org.

At the renovated Coliseum, which is scheduled to reopen next summer, the Art Deco exterior is being restored. The new interior will include double-tiered seating, a new video scoreboard and a modern sound system.

Christine Thacker.If the Coliseum endured wear and tear over the decades, it shouldn't be a shocker, given some of the events that were staged in the venue. In 1974, the Coliseum was the setting for the first - and largest - indoor tractor pull in the country.

Longtime listeners of Hoosier History Live! will recall that we explored the 1963 Holiday on Ice explosion at the Coliseum during a show in October 2008 with Lawrence "Bo" Connor, a retired managing editor of The Indianapolis Star. He reported from the scene of the tragedy, during which 74 people were killed and about 400 more were injured.

And during another show, we delved into the Beatles appearances with two guests who, as ardent teenage fans of the wildly popular "Fab Four," attended their 1964 concerts at the Coliseum. Both guests recalled they could not "hear a note of music" because of the screaming teens.

Justin Armstrong.Both the Beatles concerts and the tragic explosion will be explored during our upcoming show. A plaque near the Coliseum's main doors memorializes the victims of the explosion, which occurred 50 years ago this month. Propane - being used to keep popcorn warm - leaked from a faulty valve into an unventilated room beneath the grandstands. The blast hurled a 50-foot section of spectators, chairs and concrete into the air and on the ice.

That same year of 1963, Clowes Hall opened. Built for $3.5 million and designed by a partnership that included Indianapolis architect Evans Woollen, the performing arts hall became the home of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for 20 years. (The orchestra moved to Circle Theatre on Monument Circle in 1984 following a major renovation of what is now known as the Hilbert Circle Theatre.) As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, the symphony will return to Clowes with a Pixar in Concert performance on Oct. 27.

As the venue for productions ranging from touring Broadway shows to ballet, opera and pop concerts by the likes of Duke Ellington, Big Bird and the Four Tops, Clowes Hall "ushered in a new era in the city's cultural history," as the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis puts it.

Then-U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy speaks at the Coliseum while campaigning for president, Oct. 4, 1960. Image courtesy Indiana State Fair.According to a recent Indianapolis Monthly article, the Clowes staff arranged for a Rolls Royce to shuttle opening weekend performer Bob Hope. But the famous comedian was a spokesman for Chrysler and could not be seen in any other vehicle, according to an anecdote that the magazine attributes to our guest Christine Thacker. During our show, Nelson has Christine explain how the awkward situation unfolded.

We also will explore behind-the-scenes stories associated with the Coliseum, which has been a home of Indy's various pro hockey teams since it opened. Currently, it is the home of the Indiana Ice of the U.S. Hockey League.

During their colorful "ABA years" at the Coliseum, the Pacers won national championships in 1970, 1972 and 1973; they became the most successful team in the history of the former league, which played with red, white and blue balls. Coached by Terre Haute native Bobby "Slick" Leonard, the Pacers captivated crowds at the Coliseum until 1974, when Market Square Arena replaced it as the team's home.

Interior of Clowes Hall, on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis. Image courtesy theater-works.com.The massive renovation of the Coliseum that's currently underway began in October 2012. Part of the project, the new Youth Arena ice rink, opened this week. After the fully renovated Coliseum reopens next August, it is expected to host everything from major livestock shows and the concert series during the Indiana State Fair to high school graduation ceremonies and touring national concerts.

Fun facts:

  • The Coliseum cost $1.2 million to build in 1939. Initially, its major purpose was to be a livestock pavilion. Construction employed hundreds of Hoosiers, with the federal government picking up 55 percent of the cost because it was a WPA project.
  • According to the Indianapolis Monthly article, actress Faye Dunaway made multiple demands before a 1997 performance at Clowes. She also commandeered a dressing room intended for 30 people.
  • The largest crowd for a sports event at the Coliseum occurred in 1951. Nearly 13,680 spectators packed the venue to watch the Harlem Globetrotters.

Roadtrip: Crispus Attucks Museum in Indianapolis

The Crispus Attucks Museum is in downtown Indianapolis. Image courtesy AroundIndy.com.Guest Roadtripper is Kisha Tandy of the Indiana State Museum, who suggests that we take the Roadtrip to the Indianapolis Public Schools Crispus Attucks Museum, located at Attucks High School in downtown Indianapolis.

Crispus Attucks (c. 1723-1770) was an African American who is believed to be have been the first person shot to death by the British during the Boston Massacre prior to the Revolutionary War.

The Crispus Attucks Museum is located at 1140 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. St. on the newly renovated campus of the historic Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School.

The museum is filled with historic treasures that date back to the late 19th-century African American experience in Indianapolis, and particularly that of the first all-black high school in the state of Indiana. 

History Mystery

During the American Basketball Association era, when the Indiana Pacers began thrilling spectators at the State Fairgrounds Coliseum, a future star on the team was causing a sensation at the high school level.

Indiana Pacers logo.Born in Indianapolis, he led a local high school team to an unbeaten season and the state championship before being named "Mr. Basketball" of 1969 by the Indianapolis Star.

He went on to hoops triumphs at Indiana University before becoming an outstanding pro player in the 1970s, beginning with the Indiana Pacers of the ABA. The hometown star eventually helped take the team to championship titles in the ABA league.

Question: Who is he?

The prize is admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, and a pair of tickets to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Amish in Indiana

A road sign in Amish country. Image courtesy Amish America.(Oct. 5, 2013) - Only two states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, have larger Amish populations than Indiana.

The 49,000 Amish residents here live in about 22 distinct communities scattered across the state, from Elkhart and LaGrange counties in northern Indiana to settlements near the towns of Washington in southern Indiana, as well as Berne and Geneva in the northeast.

"What is it about the Amish that both enchants and perplexes us? ... Could a horse-and-buggy people be more satisfied than the rest of us, with all our modern conveniences?"

Those questions are posed in a new book whose co-author, Steven Nolt, a history professor at Goshen College, is Nelson's guest to explore all aspects of the "intensely private and insular" folks, who, as his latest book puts it, are "known for their simple clothing, plain lifestyle and limited technology."

Steve's co-authors of The Amish (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013) are Donald Kraybill and Karen Johnston-Weiner. In addition, Steve is the author or co-author of several other books about the Amish and has collaborated on multiyear research projects about their religion, history and distinctive culture.

Inside an Amish one-room school in Elkhart County, Ind. Most Amish children attend private Amish schools and end their formal education with 8th grade. Almost all Amish schools have Amish teachers. This is school is very unusual in that the Amish school board hired a non-Amish teacher. Image courtesy Mennonite Historical Library, Goshen College.We explore aspects of the ever-increasing population of Amish (the average family has seven children), ranging from their values and schools to their shift from an almost exclusive focus on farming to jobs in factories and businesses such as the RV industry in the Elkhart area - even though the Amish do not own or drive motor vehicles.

According to The Amish, about two-thirds now support themselves in Amish-owned small businesses or by working in non-Amish factories and shops.

Steve also addresses misconceptions about the Amish, who recently have become, as his book puts it, "popular culture icons of tourism and reality TV shows, even as they have deftly learned to flourish in a digital world."

He points out that the Amish are not homogeneous. Some communities in Indiana include families who send their children to public schools until the eighth grade; children in other communities almost exclusively attend private schools. The Amish book cover.(In Adams County, our host Nelson recently was part of a group that visited a one-room Amish schoolhouse attended by students ranging from 6 to 15 years old, all instructed by a single, bearded teacher.)

Founded more than 300 years ago in Europe as an offshoot of the Anabaptist Christians, the Amish Church faced persecution. The first Amish settled in Pennsylvania during the 1730s. According to The Amish, many families headed west - including to Ohio and Indiana - during the 1800s because of rising land prices in the eastern United States.

In northern Indiana, the towns of Nappanee and Shipshewana- both with Amish communities that date to the 19th century - have been popular in recent decades for tourists and shoppers intrigued by products such as quilts and baked goods. The Amish typically refer to outsiders as, simply, "the English."

Steve also is the co-author of Mennonites, Amish, and the American Civil War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). That book documents how many Amish communities strived to remain pacifists and refused military service in the Civil War.

Voting patterns, though, often reflected those of their "English" neighbors. Amish in Holmes County, Ohio, which today has the country's largest concentration, tended to vote Democratic, the dominant political party in that region during the Civil War era. In LaGrange County, where the GOP dominated, Amish tended to vote Republican.

An Amish family travels in a buggy on an Indiana road. Image courtesy Indiana Business Network.In The Amish, Steve and his co-authors explore Rumspringa (which translates as "running around"), the rite of passage when adventurous teenagers in many Amish communities enjoy the freedom to experiment with cultural influences before deciding whether to be baptized and officially join the church.

During our show, Steve and Nelson explore misconceptions about Rumspringa, which drew widespread attention in the late 1990s following a series of alcohol and drug arrests of "wilding" Amish teenagers.

Typically, Rumspringa ends with marriage, according to The Amish. Activities during the rite of passage vary widely among Amish communities, with many youth never engaging in mischief.

"In other communities, some youth own cars, hit the party scene and give their parents anxious nights."

Other insights, courtesy of Steve Nolt and The Amish:

  • Steve Nolt.The U.S. Supreme Court in 1972 upheld the rights of Amish parents to end their children's education after the eighth grade. Before that, Amish families were prosecuted in some states.
  • The Amish practice "shunning" to shame adult members who violate a community's beliefs. As with Rumspringa, the manner and severity of shunning (social avoidance) varies greatly among Amish groups. "Members may shake hands with offenders, but not accept anything - gifts, payments or money - directly from their hands," according to The Amish.
  • About two-thirds of the Amish live in the northern part of the state, with LaGrange and Elkhart counties having the largest concentrations. Nearly 22,000 Amish people live in those two counties. The Amish population in Adams County is 7,200; in Daviess County in southern Indiana, it is 3,805.
  • Overall, only about 14 percent of the Amish today are full-time farmers, according to some reports. In contrast, 61 percent were farmers in 1970. In addition to holding jobs in RV factories, many Amish in Indiana work in furniture-making and home construction.

Learn more: Watch the PBS documentary The Amish. Steve Nolt's new book is a companion to the PBS documentary, which is part of the American Experience series.

Roadtrip: Summit Lake State Park

Autumn hues at Summit Lake State Park in Henry County, Indiana. Image courtesy rvwheeloflife.com.

Guest Roadtripper is Ken Marshall, an adjunct professor of communications and lifelong Indiana state park lover. He suggests we take the Roadtrip just a little north of New Castle to a hidden treasure, Summit Lake, which he says is never crowded.

The name "Summit Lake" comes from the fact that the area has the highest point of elevation in the immediate region. The area also has excellent fishing -and swimming, boating, hiking and camping - and it's also a great birding area.

Tune in on Saturday for more from Ken!

History Mystery

The Swiss heritage town of Berne in northeastern Indiana is located in Adams County, where some estimates indicate 12 percent of the population is Amish. In late July, Berne hosts a Swiss Days celebration that salutes its heritage. The town, which has about 4,000 residents, also includes Swiss Heritage Village, an outdoor museum.

Children dance together at the Swiss Wine Festival. Image courtesy in.gov.In another region of Indiana, a town on the Ohio River also has a Swiss-themed festival. The 42nd annual Swiss Wine Festival was held during late August in the town, which is celebrating its bicentennial this year. The wine festival is a salute to a Swiss immigrant family whose vineyard in the fertile soil near the Ohio River began in the early 1800s.

Question: What is the Ohio River town that celebrates a Swiss Wine Festival?

Hint: The town, and the county in which it's located, were the focus of a recent Hoosier History Live! show.

The prize is a gift certificate to the Hard Rock Café in downtown Indianapolis, two tickets to GlowGolf, a miniature golf course across from the food court at Circle Centre mall in Indianapolis, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of Glow Golf and Visit Indy.

Interurbans: Their rise and fall across Indiana

A vintage postcard shows the Indianapolis Traction Terminal.(Sept. 28, 2013) - With the fate of Amtrak service in Indiana making recent headlines, and mass transit always a hot topic, consider this:

Interurbans were intercity electric railways popular 100 years ago - and, believe it or not, the Hoosier state had one of the most extensive systems in the entire country.

The first interurban line in Indiana opened in 1898, from Anderson to Alexandria. The first interurban to Indy opened on New Year's Day in 1900 and brought passengers from Franklin and Greenwood to the Hoosier capital.

Interurban lines connected small towns with most of Indiana's big cities and the cities with each other. Lines radiated from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne, Louisville, Lafayette, Peru, Terre Haute and Richmond (and six other routes). These interurbans then connected with others, reaching Chicago, Toledo, Columbus, and even farther. A separate hub centered on Evansville.

The restored interurban depot in Amo, Ind., in Hendricks County was built in 1907. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.The bygone Traction Terminal in downtown Indianapolis - which opened in 1904 - was easily the nation's largest interurban station. A nine-story building with a train shed, the Traction Terminal was demolished in 1972.

Today, the only remaining passenger interurban in the state - and one of the few left in the country - is the popular South Shore line that links South Bend with Chicago. The final interurban departed from Indianapolis in September 1941, bound for Seymour.

What happened to the electric railways beloved by earlier generations of Hoosiers? Why was Indiana in the national forefront with them? And why did interurbans vanish from the Indiana landscape?

This abandoned interurban power station is in Azalia, Ind., in southern Bartholomew County. Image courtesy Historic Columbus.To explore the rise and fall of the interurban system, Nelson is joined in studio by two experts:

  • Nathan Bilger, the planning director for the town of Whiteland in Johnson County. Nathan grew up in Columbia City, lives in Greenfield, and has extensively researched interurban and railroad lines throughout Indiana. Here is the website about Indiana railroading that Nathan maintains.
  • And Craig Berndt of Fort Wayne, the author of The Toledo and Chicago Railway Company (2007), a book about one of the interurban lines that served travelers in northeastern Indiana, including residents of towns in his home turf of DeKalb County.

According to Electric Railroads of Indiana (Hoosier Heritage Press, 1980) by Jerry Marlette, a total of 111 different interurban companies operated more than 3,000 cars in the Hoosier state during the interurban era. Nathan Bilger.Only Ohio had more miles of interurban lines than Indiana's 2,100 miles under wire.

Vestiges of the interurbans do still remain. In southern Marion County, the contemporary names of some streets - Stop 11 Road, for example - date to their heritage as stops on an interurban line.

As our guests Nathan and Craig join Nelson, they explore everything from the reliability of the interurban lines to various wrecks, including an accident that involved some of the cars on the final Indy-to-Seymour segment.

Craig Berndt.Fun fact: Although the interurban system was designed to shuttle passengers between (not within) towns, travelers in Indy during the early 1900s rode the interurban to Broad Ripple and Irvington. That's because they were distinctively separate villages then, not having been annexed yet into the Hoosier capital.

Of Indiana's 92 counties, 68 were served by at least one interurban line. In addition to the massive Traction Terminal in downtown Indy, Muncie was known for its impressive interurban station.

Interurbans competed for passengers with steam railroads whose terminals included the majestic Union Station in Indy. Running much more frequently during the day than passenger trains, the electric interurbans were tethered to power lines running above their tracks. According to several sources, few systems of transportation ever developed as quickly as the electric interurbans, and probably none disappeared as quickly.

Could the interurban system be successfully revived? Nelson poses that question to Nathan and Craig.

Roadtrip: Feast of the Hunters' Moon, Oct. 5-6

French “voyageurs” come ashore in a re-enactment at the annual Feast of the Hunters’ Moon at Fort Ouiatenon near West Lafayette, Ind.

Guest Roadtripper and photo historian Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo & Research Services suggests we take a Roadtrip to the West Lafayette area for the annual Feast of the Hunters' Moon celebration coming up on Oct. 5-6.

The festival is a re-creation of the annual fall gathering of the French and Native Americans that took place at Fort Ouiatenon, a fur-trading outpost, in the mid-1700s. It is held annually in early autumn on the banks of the Wabash River, four miles southwest of West Lafayette, Ind.

Joan tells us that Historic Fort Ouiatenon Park is a primitive country setting on South River Road, and the grounds stretch across more than 30 acres along the banks of the Wabash River.

Thousands of participants re-enact this event, creating a feast for your senses: Smell the wood smoke, hear the report of the rifles, savor authentic food and more.

History Mystery

Amid much fanfare, the Traction Terminal opened in 1904 at a high-visibility site in downtown Indianapolis. It was by far the nation's largest interurban station. The nine-story building and train shed remained at the site for nearly 70 years.

Designed by the D.H. Burnham & Company architectural firm, the Traction Terminal was a downtown landmark for generations of Hoosiers as the hub of the state's electric rail system.

Dachshunds are on hand for the wiener-dog race at the Athenaeum’s German Fest. But little attention was paid to its demolition in 1972, decades after the last interurban had departed from the Hoosier capital.

Question: Name the high-visibility site - the downtown Indy street corner - of the bygone Traction Terminal.

The prize is two tickets to the 5th Original and Fabulous GermanFest on Oct. 12, 4 tickets to GlowGolf, a miniature golf course across from the food court at Circle Centre mall in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy and GlowGolf, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.

On the roads: Lincoln Highway and U.S. 40 heritage

Old National Road engraving plate, 1825, pictures Indianapolis' Washington Street.

(Sept. 21, 2013) - Tune in for a history road trip as we cruise through the heritage of two east-west highways that span the entire width of the Hoosier state. Both have a billboard-high heap of other distinctions as well.

This 1928 photo shows a tavern on an unimproved section of the Old National Road near Richmond, Ind., just west of the Ohio state line. Image courtesy the U.S. Federal Highway Administration.In fact, the Lincoln Highway, which opened in 1913 as a result of a national crusade spearheaded by a famous Hoosier, is celebrating its 100th birthday. Extending from New York to San Francisco - and cutting completely across northern Indiana - the Lincoln Highway became, as USA Today recently put it, "the nation's first truly transcontinental road."

Beginning in the 1920s, U.S. 40 also traversed the entire country, including Indiana, where the highway stretches from Richmond to Terre Haute. For much of Indiana, U.S. 40  follows the route of the Old National Road, which pioneers in covered wagons used to settle in western frontiers after the roadway was created across Indiana in the 1830s.

You can listen to our 2009 show about the Indiana National Road with historic preservationist Jim Glass here.

For this radio road trip, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests:

So, who kicked off the national crusade to create the Lincoln Highway?

The Old National Road, at its 1839 state of completion.None other than Greensburg native Carl Fisher, the entrepreneur who, with various partners, built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and launched the Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

Glory-June was Nelson's guest in 2009 for a show about Fisher's colorful life; listen to that show here.

As the founder of the Lincoln Highway Association, Fisher advocated the creation of a transcontinental roadway during an era in the automobile's infancy, when long-distance travel almost always was by railroad.

Joe Frost."Paved roads existed only in cities and towns, and auto travel on rutted, unpaved byways was not for the faint of heart," the USA Today article notes.

Some nuggets:

  • The Old National Road was the nation's first federally funded highway. When construction of the dirt road through the wilderness began, starting in Maryland in 1811, civic leaders dreamed it would span the rapidly expanding country. Alas, the pioneer road ended in Illinois - at the town of Vandalia - when funds dried up.
  • In Indianapolis, U.S. 40 - and, before its construction, the National Road - takes the name Washington Street.
  • In addition to Indy, Richmond, Cambridge City and Terre Haute, Hoosier cities located on U.S. 40 include Centerville, Knightstown, Greenfield, Plainfield and Brazil.
  • In some towns, such as Plainfield and Greenfield, U.S. 40 is known by the local name of Main Street. In Brazil, U.S. 40 is called National Avenue.
  • Glory-June Greiff.To spotlight the Lincoln Highway, Carl Fisher arranged for statues of Abraham Lincoln to be placed along the route.

There is an Indiana Lincoln Highway Association. Hoosier cities located on the Lincoln Highway included Fort Wayne, South Bend, Valparaiso and Elkhart. Beginning in the 1920s, the name "Lincoln Highway" began to disappear as the numbered highway system was established across the country.

Lincoln Highway 100 years 1913-2013 logo.And beginning in the mid-1920s, Indiana had the distinction of offering two "routes" for the Lincoln Highway with the creation of a second option that traversed the state farther south, running from Fort Wayne to Chicago through Columbia City and Warsaw.

Contemporary highways in Indiana that reflect the routes of the Lincoln Highway - or portions of them - are U.S. 20, U.S. 30 and U.S. 33.

On U.S. 40 across the Hoosier state, landmarks range from historic farmhouses to skyscrapers and suburban strip malls. Looking west, the Lincoln Highway runs right through downtown New Carlisle, Ind., in western St. Joseph County. Photo by Glory-June Greiff.They include the Huddleston Farmhouse in Cambridge City, a brick residence built in the 1840s by a Quaker family with eleven children. The farmhouse, which offered overnight lodging for travelers headed west on the historic National Road, today includes a museum as well as Indiana Landmark's regional office, where our guest Joe Frost works.

In Richmond, U.S. 40 passes a monument known as Madonna of the Trail. Dedicated in 1928, the monument at the edge of Glen Miller Park is a memorial to pioneer mothers of the covered-wagon era; it depicts a steadfast woman holding an infant, with a toddler clinging to her long dress.

Other landmarks on U.S. 40  include the James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home and Museum in Greenfield; Circle Centre mall and Victory Field in Indy, and the Metropolis shopping mall in Plainfield.

In the Wabash Valley between Brazil and Terre Haute, roadside landmarks include a large billboard for Clabber Girl Baking Powder that has been on the site since the 1930s.

Across much of the state today, U.S. 40 runs nearly parallel to I-70.

The 1916 Lincoln Highway Official Road Guide included this overview map of the road.

Roadtrip: Greencastle's buzz bomb and DePauw's Nature Park

Guest Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson tells us that just a hop, skip and a jump from the Old National Road west of Indianapolis is the historic town of Greencastle. The hometown of DePauw University has something unique on its courthouse square: an authentic WWII buzz bomb, the V-1 rockets that Hitler used to bomb London.

Greencastle, Ind., features a buzz bomb on the courthouse square.These are the bombs that were used before the silent rockets that were launched by Wernher Von Braun's team. This is the only authentic V-1 that exists in America!

And across from their 1905 courthouse is a really outstanding local restaurant, Almost Home. And if you  like desserts, you're a short drive from a 1950s ice cream shop, Dairy Castle.

Eric also tells us that one of the real hidden gems in Greencastle is the DePauw Nature Park, which he says is a great example of outdoor historic re-use. The area was an abandoned gravel pit that had been excavated as close to all the neighboring roads as possible, and the university bought it and turned it into a fascinating nature park. If you like a short hike, you can see places that look like New Mexico, Hoosier swamps, butterfly gardens, frog ponds and two different creek beds. And you can see all kinds of wildlife, even more than you might find at some state parks!

History Mystery

A roadside diner built in the 1950s on U.S. 40 has generated considerable attention in recent years because the once-popular eatery is considered endangered. Designed in the Streamline Moderne style in New Jersey and transported by rail to a town in central Indiana, the diner closed in 2009.

The Cheyenne Diner in New York City also is an example of Streamline Moderne design. Photo by Wally Gobetz.The next year, the vacant diner was named to the "10 Most Endangered Places" list compiled by Indiana Landmarks.

The history and possible fate of the diner - which still has its 1950s interior with pink tiles - has been discussed on two Hoosier History Live! shows and sparked a Facebook crusade to save the landmark. The name of the diner reflects the town where it's located on U.S. 40.

Question: What is the town in central Indiana with the endangered diner?

The prize is a gift certificate to Le Peep Restaurant and two tickets to the NCAA Hall of Champions, courtesy of Visit Indy, and admission for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.

Party pics!

Lots of smiles at our 5-year anniversary fest

Some nice coverage of our five-year anniversary soiree came from Cathy Kightlinger of the Indianapolis Star, who gave the party a nice writeup:

"When Nelson Price talks history, people listen. That was apparent Thursday when his show, Hoosier History Live!, celebrated its fifth anniversary with a soiree of the state's notables and fans of the show. The event included a few trivia questions (something the Saturday show, which airs at noon on WICR-FM (88.7) is known for) and lots of shoulder rubbing."

Special thanks to Bill Holmes, who took all of the photos below.

History gurus gather at the Hoosier History Live! five-year anniversary fest. From left are Joan Hostetler, Tiffany Benedict Berkson and David Willkie, all known for their contributions to history in Indianapolis.

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Chris Worden, district director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson, speaks to a full crowd at the Cook Theater, Indiana Landmarks Center, on the evening of Feb. 21, 2013 to celebrate Hoosier History Live's 5th anniversary.

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Pam Fraizer of Fraizer Designs smiles for the camera at the Hoosier History Live! five-year anniversary soiree.

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Producer Molly Head hands out a prize to the lucky winner of one of the five-year Hoosier History Live! anniversary fest’s history-trivia question prizes. Photo by Bill Holmes.

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Garry Chilluffo (left) and Nelson Price bring out the cake for the five-year Hoosier History Live! anniversary fest celebration. Photo by Bill Holmes.

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Michael Freeland, Nelson Price and show supporter Sharon Butsch Freeland smile for the camera at the Hoosier History Live! celebration of five years on the air, Feb. 21, 2013, at the Indiana Landmarks Center in Indianapolis. The Freelands hauled home some history-mystery prizes! Photo by Bill Holmes.

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Show supporter Roz Wolen engages with host Nelson Price at the Hoosier History Live! five-year celebration in Indianapolis. Photo by  Bill Holmes.

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Rita Kohn shares a moment with Andy Hein and Dona Stokes-Lucas at the Hoosier History Live! celebration of five years on the air, Feb. 21, 2013, at the Indiana Landmarks Center in Indianapolis. Both Rita and Dona have been studio guests twice, Rita for shows about the Delaware Indians (Lenape) and Indiana’s beer heritage, Dona for shows about roots-tracing and the Underground Railroad. Photo by Bill Holmes.

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Amy Summer, newspaper librarian at the Indiana State Library, was a guest at the Hoosier History Live! celebration of five years on the air, Feb. 21, 2013, at the Indiana Landmarks Center in Indianapolis. Photo by Bill Holmes.

Extra thanks to Bill Holmes (who has done photography for five years), Emily Barker, Jeanne Blake, Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Media, Mark Szobody, Suzanne Stanis, Hoaglin to Go, Lockerbie Pub, Pam Mitchell (who made the cake), Lorraine Vavul (who made the elegant donation box), Richard Sullivan of Monomedia, Pam Fraizer of Fraizer Designs, Molly Head, Nelson Price, Charlotte Carmichael, Kathy Riester, Mary Kummings, Barbara Goddard, and Lynn Herold.

We thank the following new individual donors to Hoosier History Live! Paul J. Fouts, Jr., Rita Kohn, Margaret Sabens, Richard Vonnegut Jr., Margaret Smith, Sharon Butsch Freeland, Don Gorney, Alice Roettger, Maureen Dunlap, Peggy Hollingsworth, Monica Thompson-Deal, Clarke Kahlo, Janet Gilray, Barry Glazer, and Bruce and Julie Buchanan.

We thank those whom we count on to keep Hoosier History Live! on the air, on the web and in your in-box! If you’d like to know how to support us, visit our website at Hoosier History Live!

We look forward to being around for next year's sixth anniversary - and on into the future with our ever-growing body of history journalism!

Dan Ripley's Antique Helper

Thanks to Antique Helper, corporate sponsor for the Hoosier History Live! fifth-anniversary party!

Cuban immigration to Indiana

Click here to listen to this show!

Click to listen to show.(Sept. 14, 2013 - online-only encore presentation) - For Sept. 14, Hoosier History Live! was pre-empted on WICR-FM so the radio station could broadcast Yom Kippur services from the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. So as a special treat, we made available one of the most popular programs from our Hoosier History Live! archives.

The featured program is a show in our rotating series about ethnic immigration to the Hoosier state. We have explored our German, Irish, Italian, Greek, Scottish, Brazilian and even our Sikh heritage in Indiana, among others, during our five-and-a-half years on the air. If you'd like to have a look at our rich archive of past weekly enewsletters, click here.

Sofia Lopez, show guest Danny Lopez and host Nelson Price were joined by Lopez friends Melissa and Roberto Flores in the WICR studios after the May 26, 2012 broadcast. Hoosier History Live photo.To explore Cuban immigration to Indiana, Nelson is joined in studio by Danny Lopez, who was executive director of the Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs when this show originally was broadcast on May 26, 2012. All four of Danny's grandparents left Cuba in 1960, fleeing political and economic upheavals.

Since he shared intriguing details about our state's Cuban heritage on this show - including identifying Fort Wayne and South Bend as the cities that have had the most concentration of Cuban immigrants - Danny has a new job title, although he remains an administrator with state government. Since the election of Gov. Mike Pence, Danny has been special assistant to the governor.

During our show, he notes that the number of Hoosier with Hispanic/Latino heritage has nearly doubled since the turn of the new century, climbing to 389,000, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. About 85 percent are of Mexican heritage. Daniel Lopez 1997 photo in Miami at remembrance ceremony for Cubans who died trying to escape.The next largest ethnic groups of Hispanic/Latino heritage in Indiana, according to Danny, are Puerto Ricans, followed by Cubans.

Cuban-Americans here (there are 4,300 of them, Danny reports) differ from their counterparts from other Latin homelands in several ways.

He attributes the concentrations of Cubans (for several generations) in South Bend and Fort Wayne to, respectively, the University of Notre Dame and to Catholic parishes in Fort Wayne that assisted Cuban families, including children during the early 1960s who were evacuated because of the Fidel Castro regime. In terms of the overall Hispanic/Latino population, the largest concentrations are in Indianapolis and in Lake County.

Danny has been a Hoosier since 2008. He grew up in Miami and graduated from an all-male, Jesuit-run preparatory school there that had been attended by his ancestors in Havana. Danny's wife, Sofia, also is Cuban-American; her grandfather graduated from Notre Dame.

Danny's paternal grandfather attended his alma mater, the Jesuit-run prep school, but it had a different setting then. As Danny discusses during the show, the prep school was based in Havana, not Miami, during his grandfather's era.

With increasing waves of Hispanic/Latino immigration to Indiana and other states, concerns have been expressed about "linguistically challenged" children in schools. In some immigrant households, as Danny notes, young children are the only English speakers among the family members.

Daniel Lopez speaks at Indiana State University about challenges facing Latino Hoosiers. Courtesy Terre Haute Tribune-Star.But Danny also emphasizes that a reverse effect has the potential for unnecessarily limiting the advancement and talents of Hispanic and Latino children.

"We have concerns that many Hispanic families are not encouraging their kids to develop, or even keep, their fluency in Spanish," he said. "The parents want their children to assimilate so badly that they are discouraging their Spanish language usage. Obviously, though, fluency in Spanish will be a tremendous asset for professional opportunities later in life."

Unlike surrounding Midwestern states that have experienced only slight population increases or, in the case of Michigan, even lost residents since the turn of the 21st century, Indiana’s population climbed 6.6 percent. According to an Indianapolis Star analysis of 2010 U.S. Census data, Hispanics accounted for 43 percent of the population increase in the Hoosier state.

Click here to listen to this show!

"Learn more" web links:

  • video of an interview with guest Danny Lopez on Newsmakers from WNIN in Evansville, Ind., about Hispanic and Latino affairs.
  • An article from the Miami Herald about "Operation Peter Pan" or "Pedro Pan." From 1960 to 1962, about 14,000 Cuban children were flown to Miami as refugees without their parents because their parents feared for their safety under Castro.
  • A report from the Kelley School of Business about Indiana's Latino population.
  • A Youtube about the history of Operation Pedro Pan.

Thanks to UIndy student Derrick Lowhorn for editing this podcast.

Roadtrip: Ernesto Gonzalez on Indy Latin dance scene

Ernesto Gonzalez.Cuban-born Indy resident Ernesto Gonzalez steps up to talk about one of his personal passions, the Latin and salsa dance scene in Indy. An active dancer himself, Ernesto tells us about the Jazz Kitchen, the Red Room, and other hot spots around town on this online show.

Ernesto came to Indy in 1980 as a 17-year-old, being sponsored by the Indiana Catholic Conference at 1400 N. Meridian St. in downtown Indianapolis.

"I came as a political refugee, completely by myself, speaking no English, with only the clothes on my back," he says.

Ernesto has worked in Indianapolis as a hair designer for 33 years.

"America provides opportunities," he says. "I believe in hard work, and in reaping the rewards of hard work. I also believe that it is very important for everyone coming to this country to learn English."

Ernesto's parents and three siblings still live in Cuba, and 16 years ago Ernesto sponsored one of his brothers in moving to Indianapolis.

History Mystery contest on Facebook

During the 1990s, a city in Indiana elected a Hispanic mayor, one of the first in the state. He won two terms in office as mayor of the Hoosier city, serving from 1996 to 2003. A Democrat, he is the son of Spanish immigrants and was just 35 years old when he first won election as mayor of the city, which has been gaining population for several years. question markDuring his second term in city hall - in 2002 - the mayor launched an unsuccessful campaign for Indiana secretary of state.

Question: Name the city in Indiana that had a two-term mayor of Hispanic heritage beginning in 1996.

Please do not try to win if you have won any prize on WICR, or on our Facebook contests, within the last two months, so that others can have a chance. By the way, our Facebook winners last week were Wanda and Jane! Be sure to "like" us on Facebook if you haven't yet. And, we're also on Twitter at  @hoosierhistlive. A big shout-out to our youthful and beautiful Tweeter, Allison DePrey Singleton; she is a former show guest who told us that we needed to be on Twitter!

Pioneer music in early Indiana

(Sept. 7, 2013 - encore presentation) - The jaw harp was popular. So were the fiddle and dulcimer. Community bands played flutes, whistles and drums.

There even were pianos before 1840 in Indiana, despite the significant challenges of transporting them to frontier communities via horse-drawn vehicles and river boats.

This ad for singing instruction appeared in the Indiana State Journal on Jan. 20, 1838.Musical instruments that weren't widely seen (or, in some cases, not present at all) in the Hoosier state of the 1820s, '30s and '40s: the guitar, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, ukulele and accordion.

To explore all aspects of the music played by pioneer families in Indiana, Nelson is joined in studio by Erik Peterson, an Indianapolis-based musician and historian, on this encore show. (The original air date was Jan. 26, 2013.) Erik has performed at Prairietown at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park and at other history-focused sites.

"Keep in mind that, during the pioneer era, Mozart had not been dead for as long as Buddy Holly has been gone today," Erik says.

He has researched pre-1840 music of central Indiana for a postgraduate degree, thanks in part to a fellowship from the Society of Indiana Pioneers. Adept at various instruments, Erik often performs traditional Irish, American folk and Celtic music with various ensembles, including Hogeye Navvy, an Indy-based band known for sea chanteys.

During our show, he performs a few musical interludes to convey a flavor of the music heard in pioneer Indiana. He has gained insights by tracking down diaries, letters and journals of pioneer families.

Erik Peterson holding a banjo."People in that era were incredibly musical," he says. "Music was a daily part of their lives, and it served as a way to build community among neighbors."

The jaw harp, a hand-held instrument about the size of a harmonica, was played frequently. Erik performs a tune on the instrument during our show, a rare opportunity to hear it. He notes the jaw harp primarily is relegated today to the soundtracks of cartoons.

"The fiddle was king of  instruments here during the pioneer era," he says. "It’s loud, and it's portable."

As Hoosier History Live! guests discussed during a show last month about Switzerland County and Life on the Ohio River, the first piano was brought to Indiana in the early 1800s; the historic instrument is exhibited today at Switzerland County Historical Museum in the far-southeastern county on the Ohio River.

The extraordinary efforts undertaken to transport pianos here decades before railroads underscores the importance of music in the lives of pioneers, Erik emphasizes. He points out that many pioneer towns in Indiana even had community bands.

Like later generations, early settlers differed along gender lines when playing musical instruments. But the gender preferences often were reversed from those that unfolded later, Erik says. Many men tended to play flutes and violins, while women played guitars and banjos once those instruments finally made their way to Indiana, primarily after the Civil War.

Before that, advertisements for academies such as the Indianapolis Female Institute touted instruction in piano for young women.

During our show, Erik plays a few verses of a song that would have been played frequently in early Indiana: Hail, Columbia!, the unofficial national anthem of the era. The Star Spangled Banner was not adopted as the official national anthem until 1931, about 100 years after the era that is the focus of our show. Since then, Hail Columbia! primarily has been played to introduce the American vice president.

Roadtrip: Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi

Going too fast? You can take the relaxing and slow ride on the Delphi, a replica canal boat, until the end of September. Image courtesy Indiana Landmarks.Guest Roadtripper Glory-June Greiff, Indianapolis public historian, has made the day trip several times to the old canal town of Delphi in Carroll County, about 15 miles northeast of Lafayette.

There's plenty of hiking and history at the Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi, which is open year-round and includes an Interpretive Center, lots of trails for hiking and biking, and canal boat rides that continue through the end of September.

Don't miss the Latrrope and Ruffing Opera House and adjacent shops. Glory-June also has an eye for great small-town restaurants; she says Delphi has the Stonehouse Restaurant and Bakery. And for your dining pleasure either coming or going, there is Treece Restaurant in Rossville.

History Mystery contest on Facebook

Harps of all kinds are built in a factory that has become a tourist attraction in a small Indiana town. Located in a former speakeasy, the factory building also includes a venue for concerts of harp music. The family-owned business makes instruments ranging from large symphonic harps to smaller harps, which they call "harpsicles," that are made in an array of colors. The former speakeasy-turned-harp factory is located on Main Street in its scenic hometown.

Question: Name the Indiana town. Since this is an encore show, you won't be able to call in. But if you are the first person to post the correct answer on the Hoosier History Live Facebook page (reference History Mystery in your post), you will win a gift certificate to Le Peep Restaurant, courtesy of Visit Indy, as well as a pass for four to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana Historical Society. You must also be willing to supply your postal address so the prize can be mailed to you.

Winona Lake, Warsaw, orthopedics and Grace College

Winona Hotel, in Winona Lake, Ind., appears in 1908. The building now contains condominiums. Courtesy Morgan Library Archives, Grace College & Seminary.(Aug. 31, 2013) - A scenic county in far-northern Indiana includes a city known as the "orthopedics capital of the country," a lakeside community with a long heritage as a spiritual retreat (one of the country's best-known evangelists of the early 1900s had deep connections to the region) and an evangelical Christian college.

We explore the rich history of Winona Lake, the orthopedics industry and its impact on Warsaw, the heritage of Grace College & Seminary and other aspects related to Kosciusko County, including links to the Potawatomi Indians, colorful evangelist Billy Sunday (1862-1935) and a Bible conference internationally known as the Second Wave.

Nelson is joined in studio by three guests:

  • Terry White, co-author of Winona Lake at 100: Third Wave Rising (BMH Books), a book published in connection with the centennial of the resort town of Winona Lake's incorporation in 1913.
  • Brad Bishop.Brad Bishop, executive director of OrthoWorx, a non-profit devoted to ensuring the Warsaw area remains the country's "orthopedics capital." In the 1890s, Warsaw-based DePuy Manufacturing became the world's first manufacturer of orthopedics appliances. Since then, major businesses such as Zimmer and Biomet have been founded in Warsaw, making the city a hub for devices associated with hip and knee replacements.
  • And Bill Katip, the president of Grace College & Seminary, which describes itself as "an evangelical Christian community of higher education."

Bill Katip.According to Terry's book, the "first wave" of flourishing activity around Winona Lake began during the 1800s with the Potawatomi culture. This wave also included early white settlement and, from 1896 through the 1930s, a Chautauqua Days festival that included secular programs of lectures, recitals and plays often featuring famous Americans. Booker T. Washington spoke at Winona Lake in 1897, as did Helen Keller in 1915 and humorist Will Rogers in 1928.

The Chautauqua concept - derived from an ongoing cultural festival every summer in western New York - has been revived at Winona Lake in recent years.

Terry White.Although Billy Sunday grew up in Iowa and primarily was based in Chicago during most of his preaching years (he first achieved fame as a Chicago baseball player), he settled for part of each year in Winona Lake at a home he called Mount Hood. Built in 1911, the restored home is known today as the Billy Sunday Home Museum.

The first Bible conference in the area started in 1895, according to Winona Lake at 100; it was begun by Presbyterians. Brethren Church groups also began having general conferences in the resort town in the 1890s.

Subsequently, a corporation was formed to manage Winona Lake's summer Bible conference, which exploded in growth; it was overseen by a board that included household names such as politician William Jennings Bryan and wagon and auto-maker John Studebaker of South Bend. In 1944, Winona Lake also was the setting for the launch of Youth for Christ, an early employer of evangelist Billy Graham. (Historians now often describe Billy Sunday as "the Billy Graham of his era.")

The massive Billy Sunday Tabernacle, seating more than 7,500, was the largest venue in northern Indiana for many years. Built in 1920, it was razed in 1992. The charismatic Billy Sunday is the man standing up on the right in the white coat. This photo is from circa the late 1920s. Image courtesy Reneker Museum of Winona History. Photo research by Heritage Photo and Research Services.Just like the Bible conference, the orthopedics industry in the region dates to 1895. According to an article in The Indianapolis Star in 2004, entrepreneur Revra DePuy, the founder of DePuy Manufacturing, began a splint-making business "with one key innovation: He used metal instead of wood." One of the company's top employees, J.O. Zimmer, left in the 1920s to form a competing medical device manufacturing company in Warsaw. Our guest Brad Bishop formerly served as Zimmer's director of public affairs.

According to Winona Lake at 100, Biomet was founded in 1977 by four young entrepreneurs in the orthopedics industry and began pioneering technological advances early on; within three years, it achieved $1.1 million in net sales.

The orthopedics industry now employs more than 6,800 workers in the region, accounting for nearly one in four jobs in Kosciusko County, according to a video on the OrthoWorx website.

For several decades, many students at Grace College in Winona Lake have had internships in the orthopedics industry, according to the Star article. A four-year liberal arts and sciences college with a seminary for masters and doctoral study, Grace College is Brethren-affiliated and began in 1937.

Winona at 100 book cover.Our guest Bill Katip shares details about Grace College's early days, as well as its recent expansion, through the college's Weber School, to sites in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and other cities. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of Grace College, its history department will sponsor a seminar Sept. 10 at Westminster Hall on the Winona Lake campus. And as part of Winona Lake's centennial celebrations, our guest Terry White will be among the speakers at a community appreciation dinner Nov. 14, also in Westminster Hall.

According to Terry's book, Winona Lake in the 1960s and '70s was a far cry from its earlier heyday. The resort village, he writes, had "declined remarkably, with much of the summer seasonal housing now ramshackle and unsightly."

That era of decline, though, was followed by a resurgence that Terry describes as a "metamorphosis." When he moved back to Winona Lake in 2003 after 26 years away, he discovered a "third wave" that included flourishing arts and culture. The town's historic street, Park Avenue, had become "lined with solid, quaint shops inhabited by artists, photographers, glass blowers, potters and woodworkers."

History Mystery

This Trail of Death sign appears along the Old Michigan Road in northern Indiana. Courtesy jimgrey.net/Roads/MichiganRoad.To commemorate the Potawatomi heritage across much of northern Indiana, a Hoosier city hosts a Trail of Courage Living History Festival every September. Like Warsaw and Winona Lake, this "mystery" city has a deep, historic connection with the Potawatomi.

When the tribe was forcibly removed from northern Indiana in 1838 by the forces of Gen. John Tipton, the Potawatomi were marched, single-file, down the city's Main Street. In what became known as the Trail of Death, the Potawatomi were led 900 miles to Kansas.

The Trail of Courage Living History Festival in the "mystery" Indiana city includes Native American music and dance, canoe rides, crafts, historic re-enactments and pioneer food cooked over wood fires.

Question: What city in northern Indiana hosts the festival?

Roadtrip: Glory-June's northern adventure

We’re just going to go with public historian Glory-June Greiff's words here for a few notes about her Roadtrip this Saturday:

"I always love a chance to go to the northern part of our state where the glaciers left behind lots of lakes and rolling terrain. Pokagon State Park in Steuben County is a good excuse. It offers all the activities you'd expect in a state park, but swimming in a real lake is a plus. All this and history, too: The park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its many examples of the work of the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps).

The stone and brick gatehouse at Pokagon State Park was built by the Civilian Conversation Corps. Plans are being made to turn the building into a mini-museum showcasing the work of the CCC at the park. Photo by Glory-June Greiff."The park inn is a fine place to eat," says Glory-June, "but I strongly recommend Clay's Family Restaurant (7815 N Old 27, Fremont) just a few miles north of the park, just south of the Michigan state line. Their food is just darned good and their pies are heavenly! Clay's is, after all, the home of the annual Pie Day in June, when, for a fixed price, they offer unlimited samples of every pie they make.

"The area is lovely to explore, what with its lakes, small farms, and small towns. Orland is a very small village, about 10 miles west of Clay's on SR120, but boasts a fish hatchery constructed by the WPA (Works Progress Administration). It, too, is listed in the National Register If you're there on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, check out the Joyce Library in downtown Orland. It's charming, but ask to see the second floor, where the library first started. Many of us remember when most public libraries looked like this.

"If you’re going up from central Indiana, it's a goodly drive, although you can make Pokagon in less than three hours on I-69. I'd recommend going at least part of the way on the old highways, however, and if you get hungry, stop for a bite at Pembroke Bakery in downtown Fort Wayne.

"Don't let the fact that they offer healthy food deter you - it's really good! But if you’re not convinced, you can always go back in time to Powers Hamburgers at 1402 South Harrison, which was built around 1940. Don't confuse their hamburgers with a certain long-lived chain's sliders. These are meaty and loaded with onions grilled fresh. They also usually have a goodly supply of sweet rolls and doughnuts from the New Haven Bakery (or visit the bakery itself on the old Lincoln Highway! It's at 915 East Lincoln Highway. Enjoy!"

'Ask Nelson' and special-events-in-Indy insights

Chris Gahl and Nelson Price of Hoosier History Live and Gary BraVard of Too Many Cooks appear at an event at Indiana Humanities in 2008 in Indianapolis celebrating locally produced radio programs. Hoosier History Live photo.(Aug. 24, 2013) - A couple of times every year at Hoosier History Live!, we like to take full advantage of the fact that we are a live, call-in show - indeed, the only radio show about history in the entire country that offers listener call-in. That means we're able, periodically, to turn the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, open the phone lines and give our listeners an opportunity to question the interviewer who calls himself "a garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia."

Along with our invitation to listeners to call the WICR-FM studio - the number is (317) 788-3314 - and pose questions to Nelson, we offer a bonus. In addition to questioning Nelson, who writes books about famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary notables) and Indianapolis city history, listeners of this show were able to ask questions of a special guest co-host.

Nelson is joined in studio by special-events impresario Gary BraVard, who has planned scores of the most glittering soirees in Indy for more than 25 years. From private parties to weddings, bar mitzvahs and black-tie fund-raisers featuring visiting celebrities, Gary has been the planner of a staggering array of events in the Hoosier capital.

Gary's credits include events attended by Liza MinnelliCarol Channing and the late Ted Kennedy.

Nelson's books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about his hometown.

Indiana Legends, by Nelson Price, book cover.In between phone calls from listeners, Nelson and Gary ask each other questions.

By the way, Gary is no stranger to WICR - or to questions from Nelson. For several years, Gary was the co-host of our "sister" radio show on WICR-FM, Too Many Cooks!, which featured chefs, restaurant owners, dietitians, cookbook authors and foodies as studio guests.

Recently, Gary has been featured on-air as one of the rotating Roadtripper correspondents on Hoosier History Live! Did you catch his report last month about Crown Hill Cemetery, the third-largest private burial ground in the nation? Crown Hill also is one of about 70 sites depicted in Indianapolis Then and Now, which involved a collaboration among Nelson, photo historian Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo & Research Services and photographer Garry Chilluffo.

Other sites in the book - which may provide fodder for listener questions - include Conseco Fieldhouse, now renamed Bankers Life Fieldhouse (do you know what was on the site 100 years ago of today's arena for the Indiana Pacers and Indiana Fever?), Broad Ripple, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Union Station, Lockerbie, Garfield Park and Massachusetts Avenue.

Nelson Price with Indiana Living Legends winner Patricia Miller, co-founder of Vera Bradley, Inc. of Fort Wayne, at the 2008 Living Legends gala at the Indiana History Center. Hoosier History Live photo.For his books about famous Hoosiers, Nelson interviewed notables such as Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Reggie Miller, violinist Joshua Bell, artist Nancy Noel and former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, who just was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Nelson has researched the lives of Little Turtle, Madam Walker, Carole Lombard and popcorn king Orville Redenbacher, who was the focus of a recent Hoosier History Live! show.

Fun fact: When Nelson was a feature writer/columnist for The Indianapolis Star and its bygone sister newspaper, The Indianapolis News, he interviewed Gary BraVard. Twice, in fact.

Two years ago, Gary was shot on the Monon Trail during an attempted robbery. Gary BraVard appears with singer/actress Carol Channing at an event in the mid-1980s. Channing performed a one-woman show at the Civic Theatre, then at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The staging of the performance was "reverse," with Channing positioned on a platform in what was the audience area, and the audience seated on the stage itself. Image provided by Gary BraVard.During our show, he shares details about the crime, the trial of the 15-year-old who shot him, and Gary's ongoing recovery. He still has several bullets lodged in his body, including his spine.

On a much lighter note, Gary also shares behind-the-scenes details of a posh event - the retirement party of an Indianapolis business leader - that went awry. (A teaser: The disaster involved wet paint.)

Plus, Gary has a parade of anecdotes from Indy events that he planned with a guest list of visiting celebrities. In addition to the previously mentioned notables, including Carol Channing, attendees at his parties have included Lucie Arnaz, who was visiting the Hoosier capital for a theatrical performance.

So, with their trove of anecdotes about Hoosier places, notables and special events, Nelson and Gary field an array of questions from callers, and from one another.

Roadtrip: Indiana Dunes, town of Beverly Shores and South Shore Line

A vintage poster for the South Shore Line trip to the Dunes beaches.Roadtripper Nikki Martin will call in with a taste of what to expect when traveling up to the Dunes area in northwestern Indiana on Lake Michigan. Did you know that the South Shore Railroad Line historically has brought happy sun worshippers from the Chicago area to the Dunes?

The town of Beverly Shores also has some interesting landmarks, including several "modern" homes that were relocated to the town after Chicago's 1933-34 Century of Progress World's Fair. Tune in Saturday for more!

History Mystery

Several of the famous Hoosiers featured in Indiana Legends, the book by host Nelson Price, also have been guests on Hoosier History Live! They include a jazz musician and educator who is credited with pioneering the use of cellos in jazz music. A native of Indianapolis, he talked on our radio show about his teenage years at Attucks High School when, although under-age, he was able to slip into nightspots on Indiana Avenue during the area's post-World War II heyday as a jazz mecca.

Later in life, the musician and educator primarily has been based in Bloomington. He has enjoyed the distinction of serving as the conductor of the first orchestra funded by the Smithsonian Institution.

Question: Who is he?

Longtime sponsor

A fond farewell to marketing partner Aesop's Tables on Mass Ave.

For many Saturdays after the airing of Hoosier History Live, show participants have dined at Aesop’s Tables on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indy, a longtime show sponsor. Here, Darryl Jones and Donald Pitzer, collaborators on the book New Harmony Then & Now, appear with host Nelson Price and Connie Pitzer after a September 2012 show. Hoosier History Live photo.

Aesop's Tables will be open for its last day of business on Saturday, Aug. 24, after 20 years in business. It has sold the lease on its stellar location at 600 Massachusetts Ave. in downtown Indianapolis. The landmark independent restaurant will be offering specials on Saturday.

Hoosier History Live has enjoyed a sponsorship trade with Aesop's for many years, which has made it possible for us to treat our fascinating Saturday show guests to lunch after the show, and also to be able to do a little business entertaining. Many loud and lively conversations over great food and drinks have taken place over the years at Aesop's. Thank you!

Christ Church Cathedral, Zion and Second Pres in Indy

This 1932 photograph shows the First Baptist Church (foreground left) and Second Presbyterian Church (foreground right) just south of the Indiana War Memorial on Vermont Street in Indianapolis. Both church buildings were demolished in 1960. Courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Collection.

(Aug. 17, 2013) - Three historic congregations in the Hoosier capital - each with a heritage of more than 150 years and each celebrating a significant milestone - are the focus of this show.

Located on a high-visibility site on Monument Circle, Christ Church Cathedral was built in the 1850s; the Gothic Revival building is considered the oldest religious structure in the city. This wood carving of the Last Supper was dedicated in 1930 at Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ in Indianapolis. Photo by Hoosier History Live.The Episcopalian congregation, though, dates back even further, to the 1830s, and is currently celebrating its 175th anniversary.

Sometimes called "the Little Church on the Circle," Christ Church remained at the heart of downtown even as neighboring churches moved or closed. Christ Church is known for its support of the arts, annual Strawberry Festival and renowned choirs, which sang at the Indiana State Capitol when Abraham Lincoln lay in state during a stop on his funeral procession to Illinois.

Rev. Stephen Carlsen, dean and rector at Christ Church Cathedral, join Nelson in studio. So does Rev. Jonathan Basile, senior pastor at Zion Evangelical United Church of Christ, which has a deep German heritage in Indy.

Christ Church Cathedral interior. Photo by Hoosier History Live.Founded in 1841 by German immigrants and considered to be the city's second-oldest Protestant congregation, Zion is celebrating 100 years at its current building on the corner of New Jersey and North streets. The church's neo-Gothic style building includes a sanctuary with wood sculptures of the disciples (a rendering of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper") by a German woodcarver. The sanctuary also boasts a 1940 Kimball pipe organ with 3,022 pipes.

One of Indy's largest congregations also is celebrating its 175th anniversary. Second Presbyterian Church, which has been known for decades for the "movers and shakers" in its pews, was founded in 1838.

Initially located on Monument Circle, followed by a building near the Indiana War Memorial, Second Pres has been at its current site at 7700 N. Meridian St. since the late 1950s. Rev. Stephen Carlsen.Since then, several wings and other additions have been added to the massive structure, most recently a music and fine arts department addition, youth area and social activities room called McFarland Hall. The church's historian and archivist, Fred Kortepeter, joins Nelson and the other guests in studio.

Jonathan Basile.According to a history Fred has put together, the minister at Second Pres in the 1860s galvanized civic leaders to start the Indianapolis Public Library. The crusade began when the minister proclaimed during a Thanksgiving Day sermon that the lack of a public library was "a deficiency that is really fatal to the city's character."

Christ Church Cathedral also has been actively involved in civic affairs. Congregation members helped start public schools in the city during the 1800s and, more recently, have been involved with the Julian Center, the Damien Center and Second Helpings. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the cathedral was the setting for a citywide memorial service.

Some history nuggets:

  • Bill Hudnut moved to Indy in 1963 to become senior minister at Second Presbyterian, then served a record-setting four terms as Indy's mayor. When former Mayor Hudnut was a guest on our show in June, the History Mystery focused on his well-known predecessor from the 19th century. Rev. Henry Ward Beecher served as the Second Pres pastor beginning in 1839, then moved to New York City and became one of the most famous spiritual and civic leaders in the country.
  • Fred Kortepeter.The caller who answered that History Mystery was current civic leader Henry Ryder, a member of Second Pres and retired lawyer who is a well-known re-enactor for his performances as Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley.
  • At Christ Church Cathedral, the acclaimed Choir of Men and Boys, founded in 1883, has toured Europe, performing at Westminster Abbey in London and Notre Dame in Paris; the Cathedral Girls' Choir also has appeared overseas and performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.
  • Although there's no longer a regular German-language service on Sundays at Zion, services in German continue to be offered during Lent and Advent.
  • Irish immigrants in the 1830s are credited with founding St. John's Catholic Church, the oldest Catholic parish in Indy. The heritage of the church at 126 W. Georgia St. was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show in October 2010.
  • The architectural firm that designed St. John's, which is located near Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, also had a connection to Zion. D.A. Bohlen & Son designed Zion's current building, which opened in 1913. In addition to the wood carving of the disciples, the sanctuary features 100-year-old stained glass windows.
  • Regular worshipers at Christ Church included the late business leader and philanthropist Eli Lilly (1885-1977), who squashed attempts by banks and others to purchase the cathedral's site on Monument Circle.
  • Not only is Christ Church the oldest religious structure in Indy, it's the oldest building on Monument Circle. The cathedral is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Learn more:  Zion's stained glass window renovation by Conrad Schmidt Associates.

History Mystery

Among several Methodist congregations that founded churches in downtown Indianapolis during the 1800s, one has a special distinction in the city's public-safety history. This downtown Indy church was built in the 1870s. Hoosier History Live photo.The Methodist congregation initially met in a chapel on the corner of Pennsylvania and Market streets in the 1840s and '50s. The chapel had a tower with a bell that called the congregation to worship; because the city had no fire bell then, the congregation allowed firefighters and other residents to ring the bell if a fire erupted in Indianapolis.

During the 1870s, a new church elsewhere downtown was built for the Methodist congregation, which continues to worship in the building today. Like Christ Church Cathedral, the church building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Question: What is the Methodist church?

Roadtrip: CCC legacy at McCormick's Creek State Park

Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks suggests we attend a daylong program coming up at McCormick's Creek State Park near Spencer, Ind., to explore the legacy of the Civilian Conversation Corps.

The gatehouse at McCormick's Creek State Park in Indiana was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Image courtesy Indiana Landmarks.The CCC was  President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's  New Deal Depression-era employment program that put men to work creating charming structures in Indiana's parks - lodges, picnic shelters, bridges - using locally available materials.

Says Suzanne: "It was a sustainable design program ahead of its time!"

McCormick's Creek State Park, Indiana's first state park, offers several examples of CCC. From 1933 to 1935, Company 589 of the CCC constructed shelter houses, a gatehouse and magnificent stone-arch bridge still visible today.

On Saturday, Aug. 24, Indiana Landmarks is offering a daylong Landmarks Experience exploring the CCC legacy at McCormick's Creek State Park, with tours and lectures by historians, landscape architects and naturalists. You can register online for Landmarks Experience.

This event is co-sponsored by Indiana Landmarks, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Owen County Preservations.

Ancient people here - and agricultural beginnings in Indiana

Awl, 10,400 years old, from Carroll County, Indiana, found in 2003.(Aug. 10, 2013 encore presentation) - Never let it be said Hoosier History Live does not dig deep into our rich heritage. As evidence, our focus during this show is on the so-called "Very First Hoosiers," or ancient people who lived more than 10,000 years ago in the densely wooded forests that became the site of Indiana.

During this encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our archives (its original air date was Sept. 29, 2012), Nelson's guest is Dr. Christopher Schmidt, an archaeologist, biological anthropologist and director of the Indiana Prehistory Laboratory at the University of Indianapolis.

In addition to sharing insights about the ancient people who lived in what became the Hoosier state, Chris also discusses the beginnings of agriculture here. He is credited with discovering the oldest known man-made tool in Hoosier soil, an awl (used for making clothes) found during a dig near the town of Flora in Carroll County. Christopher Schmidt.The awl is estimated to be about 10,400 years old.

During the show, Chris, a popular U Indy faculty member who has overseen excavations across Indiana, shares details about the ancient Hoosiers of nearly 11,000 years ago, as well as information on the animal and plant life that surrounded them.

After many centuries, the ancient people began to develop agriculture, a move that, according to Chris, also meant an increase in various diseases. He discusses the correlation, as well as the origin of maize in Indiana.

Chris describes the ancient people as biological ancestors of Native Americans, although they differed culturally from the Native Americans who were living in the Eastern Woodlands when white settlers arrived.

According to Chris, the first evidence that Eastern Woodlands people manipulated plants - the beginnings of agriculture - occurred about 3,000 years ago. The ancient people, who lived in structures similar to wigwams, initially cultivated four varieties of plants that, according to Chris, today might be dismissed as "weeds."

Conclusions about the ancient people's diet and agricultural cultivations come from analyzing a variety of sources, including fossils found in Indiana.

Referring to the early cultivation of maize - a term Chris says is generally synonymous with corn - he explains that the ancient people often selected floodplains as sites of their fields. Floodplains provided a way to irrigate their crops.

"The actual corn they cultivated to eat was very similar, nearly identical, to the corn we eat today, except smaller," Chris says.

Initially, though, the plant did not produce multiple seeds in cobs. In what Chris describes as a "huge achievement," ancient people selectively bred their maize to produce cobs filled with corn kernels.

Switzerland County and living on the Ohio River

The Schenck Mansion in Vevay, Ind., now operates as a bed-and-breakfast inn. The 35-room home was built by “hay king” Benjamin Franklin Schenck in 1874. Photo by Kendal R. Miller.(Aug. 3, 2013) - Even though it's one of our smallest counties, the history is deep and rich, the views are scenic, and Switzerland County, with its county seat of Vevay, turns 200 this year.

Not only does Hoosier History Live! explore the county's heritage, which includes Swiss immigration, an entrepreneur known as the "Hay King" and a popular wine festival, we also explore the impact of the Ohio River on towns and farms in the far-southeastern corner of the Hoosier state.

For this journey in advance of the Vevay Switzerland County Bicentennial, Nelson is joined in-studio by three guests:

Considered to be the home of the country's first commercial winery, Vevay hosts the annual Swiss Wine Festival. The four-day event, which will be Aug. 22-25, features a parade, riverboat cruises, music and a grape stomp.

Martha Bladen, 2013.The county's early Swiss settlers, who included John James Dufour Jr., his family and descendants, initially called their land on the river "New Switzerland." They set up vineyards and, in 1813, established the town of Vevay. Thanks to the ease of shipping goods by riverboat, the town and surrounding farms flourished for several decades. Farmers constructed flatboats and keelboats from nearby timber.

Kendal R. Miller, 2013 photo.A history nugget, courtesy of bicentennial material: "Due in part to its easy accessibility to the Ohio River, other forms of transportation were slow to develop in Switzerland County." No railroad companies ever laid track in the county. Major roadways also were slow to be built.

The result was that later in the 1800s, when railroads trumped river traffic such as steamboats as the primary way to transport products and people, the region's economy declined.

At the "Life on the Ohio" River History Museum, riverboat models and artifacts from the heyday of steamboats are displayed.

Switzerland County's “Musee de Venoge” is a museum and nature park celebrating the county’s French-Swiss heritage. This small house may be more than 200 years old and is an example of the distinctively French post-on-sill style of construction. Photo courtesy Indiana Landmarks.In addition to overseeing the museum and creating artwork, our guest Martha Bladen is a retired elementary school teacher. She also oversees the under-development Agricultural Museum Center, which will showcase a hay press barn. Invented in Switzerland County, the hay press was patented in 1843.

"The hay press was a three-story, animal-powered machine that, using a pulley and screw, pressed 300- to 400-pound bales," Martha explains. "The defining characteristic was the large wood 'driver' that dropped from heights of 20 feet or more into a hay-filled box, thus pressing the hay into large bales."

Switzerland County resident Ulyyses P. Schenck, who became known as the "Hay King," had a fleet of eight steamboats and barges. Even before that, the ancestors of our guest Barry Brown had settled in the county. Both sides of his family, which included Scottish immigrants, as well as Swiss and French, arrived in the early 1800s.

Vintage artifacts from various early settlers displayed at the Switzerland County Historical Museum include the first piano brought down river by flatboat to Indiana.

Roadtrip: Hoosier Theater in Vevay, plus good eats

The Hoosier Theater in Vevay, Ind., features a mural of the Ohio River on the side of the building. Photo by Lee Lewellen, courtesy Indiana Landmarks.Roadtripper and film historian Eric Grayson will report on adventures to be had in Vevay, Ind., including visits to the famous Hoosier Theater there. Built in 1837, it is notable for its balcony, which is suspended from the ceiling by cast-iron rods.

The 1974 TV movie A Girl Named Sooner was shot in Vevay, and Eric even ran a showing of the film at the Hoosier last year!

Right next door to the Hoosier Theater is Roxano's Restaurant, a popular local eatery that specializes in pizza and Italian cuisine.

Eric also reports that just up the State Road 156 is Shell's Ice Cream and Grill, which he says is open late and is great for someone who just finished watching a long movie and wants to take a shake home for the road.

Eric also says Vevay has a very strong Main Street program, which we surely will hear more about from our show guests.

History Mystery

The “Life on the Ohio” River History Museum in Vevay, Ind., features a rare and diverse collection depicting life and work along the Ohio River, from the earliest flatboats to the rise and fall of the steam packets and towboats. Photo by Kendal R. Miller.

Switzerland County is one of the state's smallest counties, but it's not the smallest. That distinction goes to another county in the far-southeastern corner of the Hoosier state; it borders Switzerland County. And it's the smallest county in Indiana, both in population and in area.

Question: What is the county?

The prize is a couple of tickets to the Switzerland County Historical Museum and the Life on the Ohio River History Museum in Vevay, Ind., courtesy of the Switzerland County Historical Society, and a gift certificate to Dick's Bodacious Bar-B-Q in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Historic movie theaters, Act II

An audience gathers for opening day at the Emboyd Theatre (later the Embassy Theatre) in Fort Wayne, Ind., on May 14, 1928. The theater came with a Page theater pipe organ, and the seven-story Indiana Hotel was wrapped around the west and north sides of the theater. Image courtesy Historic Embassy Theatre.

(July 27, 2013) - Consider this a sequel to a popular show last February that focused on historic Indiana movie theaters that now are in a range of conditions, from lavishly restored to long-deteriorating. The Lerner Theatre in Elkhart, Ind., opened in 1924 with 2,000 seats. Shows included vaudeville, big band and theatrical revues, plus newfangled talking pictures. Image courtesy Lerner Theatre.We also touched on a challenge that could imperil single-screen theaters built decades ago: a looming deadline to convert to digital projection, which involves considerable expense.

To explore additional movie theaters with rich histories, as well as delve further into the digital-era challenges and various issues involved in programming classic or other Golden Age movies instead of contemporary films, Nelson is joined in studio by two guests. They are Indianapolis-based architect Jim Kienle, director of historic preservation at Moody Nolan, and film historian Eric Grayson, who owns a vast collection of rare movies and has preserved and restored many of them.

New Moon Theater in Vincennes, Ind., now houses a church. Photo by Glory-June Greiff.Eric is known across the state for his vintage-film presentations, including the Vintage Movie Nights series at the Garfield Park Arts Center in Indianapolis.

During our show, Nelson and his guests explore the Circle Theatre on Monument Circle in Indianapolis; it was built in 1916 as one of the largest silent-movie palaces west of New York. Despite its highly visible location in the heart of the Hoosier capital, the Circle had deteriorated alarmingly through the 1970s. Our guest Jim Kienle was a key figure in the 1980s renovation of what's now known as the Hilbert Circle Theatre, the concert hall of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Jim Kienle.Jim Kienle also shares insights about the Lerner Theatre in Elkhart, which opened in 1924 as a movie house and as a venue for vaudeville shows and big-band concerts. With an auditorium often likened to a European opera house of the 19th century, the Lerner has been the focus of national attention since an $18 million renovation that was completed in 2011.

But what about the long-deteriorated Rivoli Theatre on the eastside of Indy? We provide an update on the once-lavish theater on East 10th Street that seated 1,500 when it opened in 1927. Its disturbing saga, which included a stint as an X-rated theater, followed by decades of sitting vacant, was spotlighted during our February show.

Nelson and his guests also explore:

  • The Artcraft Theatre in Franklin, which was built in 1922 and shows vintage movies year-round.
  • The Paramount Theatre in Anderson (now the Paramount Theatre Center and Ballroom) that opened in 1929 and has a restored theater organ and an interior Spanish courtyard.
  • The Embassy Theatre in Fort Wayne, which opened as a movie palace in 1928 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Eric Grayson.At the Embassy on Aug. 9, our guest Eric Grayson will be involved in a gala to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of famous Hoosier novelist and naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter. The event will include the showing of Laddie (1926), a rare silent movie (with its original score) based on her novel, which was published 100 years ago.

Initially known as the Emboyd Theatre, the ornate Embassy was built with nearly 3,100 seats, according to The Historic Fort Wayne Embassy Theatre (IU Press, 2009). Total seating capacity today is 2,470, including the balcony.

Many historic movie houses are far smaller and have just one screen. Their fate is uncertain as the movie industry quickly eliminates film in favor of all-digital distribution, an issue Nelson and his guests discuss. The Avon Theater in South Bend was torn down in 2012. Photo by Glory-June Greiff.Purchasing and installing digital projectors - estimated to cost more than $70,000 per screen - far exceeds the resources of many historic movie houses in small towns.

Some history nuggets:

  • Even though the Circle has been the concert hall of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra since 1984, the theater occasionally reverts to its original use as a movie house. The Circle was the setting for the world premiere of Hoosiers (1986).
  • In the 1970s, the Embassy closed and was threatened with demolition. Outraged activists in Fort Wayne established a foundation that purchased the landmark.
  • In a Hoosier History Live! show last year about Tipton County history, we explored the Diana Theater, a movie house built in the 1920s by a Greek immigrant to Tipton. Generations of town residents have had their first dates at the Diana, a single-screen theater that retains its vintage ambience.

Roadtrip: Harrison Memorial at Crown Hill Cemetery

The President Benjamin Harrison Memorial under renovation at Crown Hill Cemetery is visited by Bob Milne, superintendent at Crown Hill, and Gary Bravard of Hoosier History Live! Photo by Hoosier History Live.Roadtripper Gary Bravard suggests we take the Roadtrip to one of his favorite bicycling spots as a youth, Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis. Established in 1863, Crown Hill is the country's third largest non-government cemetery, with 555 acres.

With its elegant landscaping and beautifully curved roads, and as the final resting place for one U.S. president, three vice presidents, Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley and infamous bank robber John Dillinger, Crown Hill is a virtual treasure trove for history lovers.

Gary spoke recently with Crown Hill President Keith Norwalk, who reported that President Benjamin Harrison Memorial (Indiana's only U.S. president) and gravesite at Crown Hill is getting a restoration, courtesy of a grant received through the Indianapolis Garden Club. A new walkway is being installed, with new steps and new landscaping. After the restoration is complete, visitors will be able to walk all the way around the memorial.

The renovation will be complete by the time of the annual Wreath Laying Ceremony for the Harrison Memorial, to be held at Crown Hill on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 10:30 a.m. in celebration of President Harrison's 180th birthday. Benjamin Harrison was elected to the presidency in 1888 and served one term (1889-93). He was the nation's 23rd chief executive. The ceremony is free and open to the public.

History Mystery

An extensively restored, historic movie theater reopened last April in an Indiana town that's a county seat. The theater, located on the town's courthouse square, opened on New Year's Eve in 1928 and drew crowds from surrounding communities for several decades. Vintage photo of mystery theater in mystery town.But a few years after a fire, the theater closed in the 1990s and sat vacant.

The landmark theater's restoration was spearheaded by Cook Group Inc., which is based in Bloomington - just one county away from the town where the theater is located. Cook Group, the medical supply manufacturer, also has a plant in the "mystery" town.

Question: What is the town?

Hint: The town and its theater on the courthouse square were discussed during a Hoosier History Live! show in February about vintage movie houses.

The prize is four entries to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana Historical Society, two tours of the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, and two public tours of Crown Hill Cemetery. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roots-tracing tips and advice

A page from an 1858 Evansville, Ind., city directory lists residents in alphabetical order. Image courtesy Evansville City Directories Digital Archive.(July 20, 2013) - Maybe it happens more than once in a generation, but ask yourself: How often do you get free tips and advice about tracking down your family history?

Knowing that genealogy can be intimidating and overwhelming, Hoosier History Live! brings in some experts. They include an acclaimed Hoosier who not only is considered one of the top genealogists in the state, but among the best in the country as well.

Curt Witcher is manager of the renowned genealogy center at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne; it's generally regarded as the nation's best resource for roots-tracing, except perhaps for the Mormon-affiliated resources in Salt Lake City.

Curt also is former president of the National Genealogical Society and a board member of the Indiana Genealogical Society. Founded in 1989, the Indiana Genealogical Society has more than 500,000 records on its website from all of the state's 92 counties.

Curt Witcher.In addition to Curt, Nelson also is joined in studio by two Indiana Historical Society staff members who will be leading an upcoming workshop about beginning genealogy.

Kendra Clauser."Start with What You Know" is the title of the workshop with Kendra Clauser, IHS oral history project archivist, and genealogist Allison DePrey, IHS assistant coordinator for education and community engagement, who will be guests on our show. For more information about - or to register for - the July 27 workshop, which will be 10 a.m. to noon at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, contact the historical society.

Elsewhere in Indiana, a major opportunity will be available for listeners interested in roots-tracing. The Federation of Genealogical Societies will have a national conference Aug. 21-24 in Fort Wayne. Allison DePrey.Our guest Curt Witcher is a board member of the Federation of Genealogical Societies; its upcoming conference at the Grand Wayne Convention Center is open to anyone interested in family history.

During our show, Nelson and his guests explore roots-tracing aspects galore. They include tips on:

  • Using ancestry.com and launching your research.
  • Assessing the accuracy of diaries and letters, as well as of notations in family Bibles and other family documents.
  • Dealing with special challenges that involve ethnic immigration, as well as the ancestry of African-Americans and other minority populations.
  • Interviewing relatives.
  • Delving into the resources at the Allen County Public Library. A sample: It has the largest collection of city directories in the country. The library also has one of the largest collections of Canadian genealogy material.

Vintage photograph of a boy and a girl in formal clothing. Old family photographs can be a great source for genealogists. Remember to always write as much information as possible on the back of the photos.Our guest Curt Witcher has worked at the Allen County Public Library for more than 34 years. And our guest Allison DePrey, an Allen County native, began her roots-tracing research at the library as a teenager. In recent years, Allison has given presentations at several genealogy workshops across the state.

Her colleague at the historical society, our guest Kendra Clauser, specializes in interviewing and "collecting individual life stories" of people who have witnessed significant events in Indiana's recent past.

This is an ideal show for listeners to call in at (317) 788-3314 and ask for advice in exploring family trees.

Learn more:

Roadtrip: Wabash, Ind.

Guest Roadtripper and historian-at-large Glory- June Greiff recommends we head north from Indianapolis to visit the historic town of Wabash, which was founded in 1834 on a high bluff.

Wabash lies above the river of the same name in the county of the same name and also was a port on the Wabash and Erie Canal. It was the first town in the world (!) to be illuminated by electricity, back in 1880. The lights were installed on the dome of the beautiful new courthouse, completed only the year before.

A 1,500-seat theater is the centerpiece of the Honeywell Center in Wabash, Ind. Image courtesy Honeywell Center.The historic courthouse still stands, and immediately to the west is the old GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Hall, guarded by two cast-iron Civil War sentries. The building, which until recent years housed the Wabash County Historical Museum, now contains county offices. The museum moved to a new location downtown at 36 E. Market and is well worth seeing. The staff there will be pleased to direct you to the numerous historic sites in the area.

Wabash is filled with many wonderful historic houses, and Glory strongly suggests simply walking, especially north and west of downtown. A very nice house museum is the Dr. James Ford Historic Home. And the Honeywell House is a beautiful bed-and-breakfast that also hosts several arts and educational programs and events throughout the year.

The Honeywell Center, an interesting building with Art Deco influences, is a community center and auditorium that offers top-notch entertainment throughout the year. And if you're hungry, don't miss lunch or dinner at the Charley Creek Inn, a beautifully restored 1920s hotel downtown. You may very well want to stay the night!

History Mystery

In addition to being the site of the renowned Allen County Public Library and its genealogy center, Fort Wayne also hosts one of the largest annual festivals in northeastern Indiana. The festival is held every September to celebrate the life of an American folk hero.

Image of a festival in Fort Wayne's Archer Park.Many historians believe the folk hero died in the Fort Wayne area, probably in 1845. A memorial to the folk hero on his likely gravesite is in Archer Park and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

He has been celebrated in literature as well as pop culture, including Walt Disney cartoons.

Question: Who is the folk hero celebrated at the Fort Wayne festival?

The prize is four entries to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana Historical Society, two tours of the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, and a pair of tickets to the Track Tour at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Swedish and Norwegian immigration

This old Swedish “skola” (school) in Porter, Ind., was built in 1881.(July 13, 2013) - Much turf remains to be explored in our rotating shows about ethnic immigration to the Hoosier state, even though we already have explored German, Irish, Scottish, Cuban, Italian, Greek, Colombian, Brazilian and even Sikh heritage in Indiana.

Now the turf will involve scenic homelands with fjords, the midnight sun, seafood and ship-builders.

That's because Nelson and his guests explore Swedish and Norwegian immigration to Indiana, a topic that involves a legendary football coach at the University of Notre Dame, an organ factory in Chesterton, heritage groups scattered across the state and the Studebaker Brothers in South Bend, even though the wagon- and car-making brothers were of German ancestry themselves.

Show guest Jim Nelson in Oslo, Norway, in 2011, in front of the Norwegian parliament building.Our show is timely because the Indianapolis-area lodge of Vasa Order of America, which was founded to assist Swedish immigrants, recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. Named in honor of the first king of modern Sweden, King Gustav Vasa, Vasa has broadened its mission to welcome anyone interested in Nordic culture, including Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic and Finnish heritage.

Full disclosure: Our host Nelson is particularly passionate about this topic because his ancestry is Norwegian. His maternal great-grandparents emigrated in steerage on ocean liners, separately, from Trondheim (Norway's third-largest city) and Bergen, a coastal town. Nelson's parents are members of the Circle City Lodge of Sons of Norway, a heritage group that also has lodges in Fort Wayne, South Bend and Chesterton.

Trade card for Hillstrom Organ Manufacturing of Chesterton, Ind., c. 1900. Owner Charles O. Hillstrom was Swedish, as were most workers.Nelson is joined in studio by three guests, one of whom also is a Sons of Norway member. Jim Nelson, a music teacher in Greenwood, is the descendant of Norwegian immigrants, grew up in Chesterton, lived in Norway for more than 18 years and has taught Scandinavian studies at colleges in Minnesota, Canada and Norway. He has given presentations about Norwegian immigration, as well as about Norwegians in the Civil War.

To share insights about our state's Swedish heritage, Nelson welcomes an old friend and colleague, Vasa member Jim Lindgren, a Fishers resident whose ancestry is 100 percent Swedish. Now an editor for Strategic Marketing and Research Inc. in Carmel, Jim Lindgren is a former colleague of Nelson from their years at the Indianapolis News and The Indianapolis Star, where Jim was known for propping up a Swedish flag on his desk.

Nelson and the two Jims also are joined by John Bevelhimer of Indianapolis, a retired IT specialist and past chairman of the local Vasa (Lodge Svea No. 253) who extensively researched its history for the recent centennial.

According to Peopling Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 1996), Swedes and Norwegians who eventually came to Indiana tended to settle first in Chicago, then filter into the Hoosier state as a result of a second move.

The grandparents of both Nelson and Jim Lindgren lived in the Chicago area. In fact, Jim's great-grandfather, Nels Lindgren, owned a Swedish tavern in Chicago. The Andersonville neighborhood of the Windy City is historically Swedish.

John Bevelhimer, 2013.Scandinavian immigrants typically arrived in Indiana decades later than their German and Irish counterparts, often lured by whatever farmland remained unclaimed during the late 1800s and early 1900s. For early groups of Swedes, that often meant farmland in Porter County.

In the 1880s, an organ factory in Chesterton became the town's main industry and employed many Swedes and Norwegians, according to Peopling Indiana.

"Swedes were so dominant in Chesterton that in the 1880s the Chesterton Tribune occasionally ran front-page articles in the Swedish language," the book notes.

Jim Lindgren, 2013.Primarily, early Swedish settlements were in a part of northeast Porter County known as Bailleytown and surrounding areas near the Lake Michigan shore. According to our guest Jim Nelson, Swedish settlements large enough to establish and sustain Lutheran congregations - in addition to Chesterton - were in Plymouth, LaPorte, Donaldson, Michigan City, Porter, Chesterton, Gary, East Gary (later renamed Lake Station), Hobart and Whiting.

A section of Michigan City became known as "Swedeville," drawing Scandinavians seeking jobs in shipping and lumber. Peopling Indiana notes that by 1890, three counties in northwest Indiana - Lake, LaPorte and Porter counties - included more than half of the state's Swedish-born residents.

Studebaker Brothers in South Bend actively recruited Swedish workers during the factory's heyday. Several of the mystery novels of contemporary author Jeanne Dams of South Bend focus on a resourceful Swedish immigrant working as a maid in one of the historic Studebaker mansions during the late 1800s.

This 1975 Norway stamp commemorates 150 years of Norwegian emigration to America.South Bend also became the adopted hometown of an icon in college football history. Knute Rockne, the famous Notre Dame coach who used the "win one for the Gipper" story as a motivational technique, was born in the Norwegian village of Voss. The South Bend Chocolate Company continues to market Knute Rockne lines of chocolates in tribute to "The Rock," who is credited with revolutionizing college football before his tragic death in a plane crash in 1931.

Some other fun facts:

  • The movie Song of Norway (1970), a musical about the life of classical composer Edvard Grieg, starred a famous Hoosier. Florence Henderson, a native of Dale, Ind., completed her role in the movie, which was filmed on location in Norway, just before she began the long-running TV series The Brady Bunch.
  • The former longtime mayor of West Lafayette is of Norwegian heritage. Sonya Margerum, who served as mayor for 24 years beginning in 1980, also was a longtime board member of her alma mater, St. Olaf College in Minnesota.
  • Col. Eli Lilly, the Civil War hero who founded the pharmaceutical business that became an international company, was of Swedish heritage.
  • Although the 30-year-old conductor of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra is Polish, Krzysztof Urbanski has a strong connection to Norway. Urbanski, the youngest person ever to lead a major North American orchestra, is simultaneously serving as chief conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in Norway.
  • On his right hand, our host Nelson always wears a family heirloom wedding ring from his Norwegian ancestors. His great-grandmother, Clara Jensen, gave it to his great-grandfather, Olaf Nelson, during their marriage ceremony.

"Learn more" websites include:

Roadtrip: Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor and art playground in Columbus, Ind.

Children climb high in the air, with protective netting, at The Commons playground in Columbus, Ind.

Guest Roadtripper this week is one of Central Indiana's favorite foodies, Daina Chamness. She'll be reporting on a recent trip she took to Columbus, Ind., to check out the fabulous 1900 ice cream parlor Zaharakos in the 300 block of Washington Street there.

Right across the street is "The Commons," which boasts an elaborate children's playground.

Remember that the Columbus Visitors Center is in walking distance of these downtown attractions.

History Mystery

A well-known former political figure from Indiana is Norwegian-American on his mother's side. Her grandfather - the politician's great-grandfather - emigrated from Norway in the late 1800s.

The Hoosier politician, who won a series of statewide elections over a 20-year period beginning in the 1980s, took a trip with his mother to their ancestral homeland of Norway, as well as to other Scandinavian countries. The mother-son journey unfolded in the summer of 1978, following the son's graduation from Indiana University.

Indianapolis International Film Festival logo.Less than a year later - in April 1979 - the future politician's mother died of cancer. In her final years, she had crusaded to raise awareness of breast cancer.

Question: Name the former Indiana politician who is of Norwegian heritage in his maternal line.

Hint: His father, who is still living, also had a long political career and won statewide elections over a period of 20 years.

The prize is a pair of tickets to the Indianapolis International Film Festival and a gift certificate to Dick's Bodacious Bar-B-Q. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Orville Redenbacher and popcorn heritage in Indiana

(July 6, 2013) - Chew on this: Not only is "Year of Popcorn" the theme at next month's Indiana State Fair, but the farmboy-turned-entrepreneur who became internationally known as "the Popcorn King" was a Hoosier.

Orville Redenbacher was born in Brazil, Ind., in 1907 and became a famous popcorn entrepreneur with his namesake brand.Grandfatherly, bow-tied Orville Redenbacher (1907-95), who became a multimedia advertising icon, is far from Indiana's only link to the perennially, uh, pop-ular product that long ago became a household staple.

A farm agent who grew up near Brazil, Ind., Redenbacher studied at Purdue University and experimented for more 40 years with 3,000 hybrids of popcorn. He's credited with making the first significant changes in the treat since Native Americans introduced it to white settlers in the 1600s.

His adopted hometown of Valparaiso, where Redenbacher lived for many years, continues to host an annual Popcorn Festival in his honor. The event, which includes a popcorn parade, typically is attended by 75,000 people.

Another Hoosier town - Van Buren in Grant County - also hosts an annual Popcorn Festival that features a parade.  Because so much popcorn is produced from the farms surrounding Van Buren (pop.: 864 in the 2010 U.S. Census), the town bills itself as "the popcorn capital of the world." According to the State Fair, Indiana is one of the country's top popcorn-producing states.

So not only do we explore the colorful life of Orville Redenbacher, the "king of kernels," Nelson and his guests also delve into the product's historic importance to the Hoosier state's economy and heritage.

John Norberg.Noblesville-based, family-owned Weaver Popcorn Company makes and distributes popcorn internationally (since 2010, Weaver Popcorn has even been sold at movie theaters in China) and is a leading maker of microwave popcorn.

To digest all of this popcorn talk, Nelson is joined by Purdue staff writer and historian John Norberg, who interviewed Redenbacher and also was a colleague of the late Robert Topping, author of the definitive biography Just Call Me Orville (Purdue University Press, 2011).

Andy Klotz.Nelson's guests also include Andy Klotz, public relations director of the State Fair, who shares details about the ways the product will be showcased next month. Andy also shares insights about Weaver Popcorn, which was founded in the 1920s by Rev. Ira Weaver, another beloved Hoosier entrepreneur.

Fun fact: When Nelson was researching Orville Redenbacher's life for his book Indiana Legends, he discovered the popcorn king always preferred his "salted, no butter."

At Brazil High School, Redenbacher captured state championships in 4-H club contests. He paid for his tuition at Purdue (which, as he put it, soon was "on the cutting edge of popcorn research") by scrubbing hog houses and tending chickens. Redenbacher became an agricultural agent in Vigo County, where he apparently was the first county agent in Indiana to broadcast live on radio from fields.

Orville Redenbacher as a member of the Purdue University Band with a helicon horn, 1924-25. Image courtesy Purdue University Libraries Archives.By the time Redenbacher died at age 88, he was a national celebrity, thanks to the use of his name and image on his product's label and in countless magazine ads and TV commercials. Even today, nearly 20 years after the death of Redenbacher (who is often described as popcorn's version of Col. Harlan Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame), ads and commercials still feature him, often accompanied by his grandson.

According to Just Call Me Orville, Redenbacher was named in honor of Orville Wright of the famous Wright Brothers aviators. (Orville Wright's brother Wilbur was born in far-eastern Indiana.)

At age 12, Orville Redenbacher began raising popcorn and selling it in 50-pound sacks to stores in Brazil and Terre Haute. In addition to studying agriculture as a Purdue student, he played the sousaphone in Purdue's renowned All-American Marching Band.

The decades he devoted to experimenting with hybrids are credited with producing a variety that popped significantly larger, lighter and fluffier. It became a marketing sensation as Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Popping Corn and eventually was sold to California-based Hunt Wesson Foods, which continued to use Redenbacher as the brand's spokesman. (It eventually was swallowed up by ConAgra, the giant food conglomerate based in Omaha.)

At the State Fair, which will run from Aug. 2-18, the world's largest popcorn ball - weighing 5,200 pounds - will be on display. Popcorn festival float in Valparaiso popcorn parade.According to a recent article in the Indianapolis Star, Sac City, Iowa currently holds title for the world's largest popcorn ball with its 5,000-pound ball created by town residents in 2009.

Other aspects of the "Year of Popcorn" celebration at the fair will include a twist on a traditional corn maze: a popcorn maze that fair-goers can maneuver through.

Final fun fact: According to Just Call Me Orville, the "Popcorn King," who became a hit on the speaking circuit, occasionally would introduce his talk by saying, "My topic tonight is sex."

After his audience reacted with astonishment, he would share insights about "the sex life of a popcorn plant and the breeding methods required to obtain hybrids."

Learn more:

Roadtrip: Oldenburg, the village of spires

Most of the spired buildings in Oldenburg, Ind., are part of the complex of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis. Image courtesy Archdiocese of Indianapolis.Guest Roadtripper this week is William Selm, architectural historian, adjunct faculty member at IUPUI and expert on German heritage in Indiana. He suggests we visit another of his favorite German-settled small towns in Indiana, Oldenburg, which is right off I-74 going southeast Indianapolis in Franklin County.

William tells us that "Oldenburg is one of many towns and villages across Indiana, especially Southern Indiana, founded by and for German immigrants before the Civil War. What makes Oldenburg stand out is its townscape of spired buildings, most of which are part of the complex of the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis."

Oldenburg was founded in 1837 by two immigrants from the Grand Duchy of Oldenburg at the request of the Catholic priest, Fr. Joseph Ferneding, also an Oldenburger. A later priest, Fr. Franz Josef Rudolf from Alsace, had the vision of spires as he built the c. 1848 onion-domed stone church, the current brick 1860s parish church, and the first convent buildings.

This energetic priest also co-founded the convent and invited Beatus Gehring to establish his brick yard south of the village. He is honored with a crypt tomb in the parish church. Oldenburg's annual Freudenfest is this July 19-20.

History Mystery

The "mystery restaurant" in West Lafayette, c. 1940.Not far from the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette where Orville Redenbacher majored in agricultural studies is a landmark in Indiana food history.

Billing itself as the state's oldest drive-in, the restaurant has a memorable name. Known for burgers, shakes and root beer, it serves menu items such as Boilermaker burgers and peanut butter burgers. The restaurant opened in 1929, one year after young Orville Redenbacher graduated from Purdue.

Question: Name the landmark restaurant in West Lafayette.

The prize is a  pair of tickets to the Children's Museum, courtesy of Visit Indy, and tickets to the Indiana State Fair, courtesy of the Indiana State Fair.

Underground Railroad reality and myths in Indiana

An 1838 Bardstown, Ky., newspaper advertisement offers a reward for the capture of a runaway slave. Image courtesy Library of Congress.(June 29, 2013) - If you believe folklore across Indiana, just about every historic house, inn and tavern - particularly those with hidden rooms, cellars or attics - were stops on the Underground Railroad.

Exaggerations and misconceptions abound regarding the movement before and during the Civil War to help escaped slaves, according to experts.

To share insights about the myths and reality regarding the extent and nature of the Underground Railroad network in Indiana - including what is and isn't confirmed - Nelson is joined in studio by two experts. They are historic researcher and genealogist Dona Stokes-Lucas of Indianapolis and Kisha Tandy, assistant curator of social history at the Indiana State Museum.

A board member of Indiana Freedom Trails Inc., a nonprofit established to pull together, verify and preserve information about Underground Railroad history in the Hoosier state, Dona has been a popular guest on Hoosier History Live!, as has Kisha.

Re-enactor DeAlden Watson tells the story of freedom seekers crossing the Ohio River into southern Indiana at the Progressive Journey Conference in October of 2011. He is standing outside the Second Baptist Church in downtown New Albany, which is believed to be a site that assisted escaping slaves. Hoosier History Live! photo.Dona has joined us for shows about roots tracing, as well as about various aspects of Underground Railroad heritage in Indiana. The Underground Railroad era generally is defined as beginning in the mid-1830s.

Oral histories, diaries, notations in family Bibles and letters have been crucial in figuring out the routes, buildings and people associated with the effort to help runaway slaves - or freedom seekers - as they passed through Indiana.

How, though, do you document something that obviously was kept secret?

In addition to tackling that issue - Nelson asks Dona and Kisha how people can determine the reliability of diary entries or letters - we also explore which regions of the state had frequent stops on the Underground Railroad. And which ones had very few.

Learn more: Clickable map showing Underground Railroad sites in Indiana.

According to several accounts, St. Joseph County, which includes South Bend, served an integral role with fugitive slaves as they headed north. And because of the prevalence of anti-slavery Quakers in Wayne County and other parts of far-eastern Indiana, that region also had a flurry of clandestine activity.

During our show, we also will discuss the frequency with which so-called slave catchers from the South - often mercenaries - combed Indiana in search of freedom seekers.

Kisha Tandy, 2013.Related to that, we will explore the frequency with which home and business owners were prosecuted for harboring escaped slaves or helping them in other ways. In some cases, abolitionists arranged for medical care. Small groups of Hoosier women secretly gathered to weave blankets and clothes for the refugees, who often fled with scarcely any possessions.

Also during the show, Dona and Kisha share insights about on-going efforts to preserve the Underground Railroad heritage across the state.

Dona Stokes-Lucas.For a program in 2011 with historic preservationist Maxine Brown of Corydon, Hoosier History Live! even explored freedom seekers in Indiana before the Underground Railroad was established - in some cases, several years before statehood was achieved in 1816.

Learn more: Click on these Hoosier History Live! show newsletters (2008 through 2013) with African-American history themes from our trove of 250 shows:

Roadtrip: Underground Railroad in Jeffersonville

Hannah Toliver historical marker.Guest Roadtripper and historic preservationist Maxine Brown of Corydon, founder of the Indiana African American Heritage Trail, suggests we take a Roadtrip to southern Indiana, that part of the state along the Ohio River rich with Underground Railroad activity because of its proximity to the slave state of Kentucky.

Hannah Toliver was a free black woman living in Jeffersonville before the Civil War and was an Underground Railroad activist. She was was arrested for aiding a fugitive slave from Kentucky, and she served time in the Kentucky Penitentiary in Frankfort before being released and returned to Jeffersonville. Her historical marker is on Riverside Drive in Jeffersonville.

Maxine Brown, who also known for having restored the Leora Brown Colored School in Corydon, will suggest Underground Railroad spots to visit in "her" part of the state.

History Mystery

In a small town near Richmond during the 1840s, a Quaker couple helped so many escaped slaves in their journeys to freedom that their home became known as the "Grand Central Station" of the Underground Railroad.

A bed can be moved to cover the small doorway to a hiding place in the historic home of our “mystery couple” in Wayne County. Image courtesy in.gov.Their red brick, two-story house in Wayne County had a cellar as well as a hidden, second-floor bedroom - actually, a large crawl space - where freedom seekers could hide.

Feeling passionately that slavery was wrong, the couple convinced other Quakers in their town to join their crusade. A prosperous banker, mill owner and merchant, he prevailed on townspeople to help transport and conceal escaped slaves. She persuaded her friends to gather at her spinning wheel and help weave blankets and clothes for the refugees.

Today, their home is a popular destination for school field trips.

Question: Name the Quaker couple.

Please provide their surname and both of their first names.

The prize is a  pair of tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, and a gift certificate for Greatimes Family Fun Park on Indy’s southside. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Centennial in 1916, bicentennial in 2016

President Woodrow Wilson, Gov. Samuel Ralston and Mayor Joseph E. Bell view the Indiana centennial parade from Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis in 1916. Photo research by Joan Hostetler, Heritage Photo. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Collection.(June 22, 2013) - As Indiana prepares to celebrate a big birthday, Hoosier History Live! look ahead and back. That is, we explore what happened in 1916 when Indiana celebrated 100 years of statehood. And we will explore plans under way for the upcoming bicentennial in 2016.

In one sense, the 1916 centennial hoopla will be hard to top: It's credited with sparking the process to create Indiana's first state parks.

To share insights about the 100- and 200-year celebrations, Nelson is joined in studio by Indiana's widely admired and award-winning historian, James Madison, a professor emeritus of history at Indiana University and the author of several books about various aspects of the state's history, and by Chris Jensen, executive director of the Indiana Bicentennial Commission.

Chris Jensen.According to an article in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine, the 1916 centennial was "conducted with great energy and little funding," although it ended up having a "lasting impact" on the 19th state.

President Woodrow Wilson spoke at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Coliseum. A weeklong pageant (called the Pageant of Indiana) was held at Riverside Park in Indianapolis. James Madison.A silent movie (titled Indiana) was filmed in which Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley appeared (click link to view a portion of the film commission by the Selig Polyscope Co. All seven reels of this epic may be lost.)

And high school students across the state donned American Indian outfits and feathers.

Enthusiasm generated during the centennial eventually resulted in the purchase of Indiana's first two state parks, Turkey Run in Parke County and McCormick's Creek in Owen County. Civic leader Richard Lieber, who chaired the centennial's park committee, served as a "tireless advocate" of the purchases, as Traces put it.

For the 200th celebration, our guest Jim Madison is one of 15 distinguished Hoosiers who have been appointed to the bicentennial commission, which is overseeing the planning and execution of statewide events. Program cover from the Indiana centennial pageant in 1916.The commission is being chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, a Republican, and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton, a Democrat. The state's first lady, Karen Pence, is serving as the official bicentennial ambassador.

Jim Madison is the author of several books about various aspects of Indiana history, including The Indiana Way: A State History, A Lynching in the Heartland and Eli Lilly: A Life. He also is a trustee of the Indiana Historical Society and a board member of Indiana Humanities.

According to information from our guest Chris Jensen, the goal of the 2016 celebration is to "honor our state's 200 years of history, but to do so in a modern way that engages all Hoosiers and leaves a lasting legacy for future generations."

Plans are being developed for a Bicentennial torch relay that will run through all of the state's 92 counties. The relay will highlight passing the torch from one generation to the next.

The bicentennial commission also hopes to spark "legacy projects" across the state. Specifically, the commission wants to work with communities to identify local projects that are dedicated to the bicentennial, but that also will have a lasting impact. Under a Bicentennial Nature Trust dedicated to nature conservation, 35 projects in 28 counties already have received $8.1 million in grants, according to Chris Jensen. The trust is funded by money from the state and the Lilly Endowment.

In addition to the state park system that was kicked off in 1916, the centennial also spurred the formation of groups such as the Society of Indiana Pioneers, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and honoring the work of the state's pioneers. A Centennial Medal with the phrase “The admission of Indiana to the Union” was created by Hoosier sculptor Janet Scudder. The figure of Columbia represents the United States, and the child represents the new state of Indiana. The Corydon statehouse and Constitution Elm are in the background. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Bureau.Members are descended from settlers who arrived during the pioneer era, generally defined as before 1840. (Nelson is a board member of the Society of Indiana Pioneers.)

"Local historical societies were forming or reactivating across Indiana," Traces reported, referring to the impact of the 1916 centennial.

But the hoopla took awhile to ignite. According to a booklet published after the 1916 festivities, an initial challenge involved galvanizing Hoosiers about the state’s 100th anniversary.

"The people of Indiana as a whole knew little and therefore cared little about the centennial anniversary. ... There was the usual amount of inertia to overcome."

According to an Indianapolis Star account about the Pageant of Indiana in Riverside Park, its huge cast "nearly matched the number of onlookers," but it was nevertheless a "hit." The pageant, which reviewed the state's history, opened every afternoon for six days and continued after sunset, with electric torches providing the illumination.

Re-enactors - who included adults, as well as 1,500 high school students and children - portrayed French soldiers, Native American warriors, Quaker farm wives and famous Hoosiers such as Gen. Lew Wallace, author of Ben-Hur.

Roadtrip: Danville's Courthouse Square

The Royal Theater in Danville, Ind., in the Tudor style.Guest Roadtripper Eric Grayson, film historian, suggests we head just a bit west of Indianapolis on State Road 36 to visit Danville, which has a classic Indiana small-town courthouse square. The square boasts a wonderful 1907 courthouse and is home to one of the most moving Memorial Day displays in the area.

Crowning the square is the historic Royal  Theater, which one of Indiana's only movie theaters in the Tudor style. The facility has been lovingly maintained and run by the Shearer family for the past several years.

Next door to the Royal is an outstanding Italian restaurant, Frank's Place, run by a real Italian. It's in a historic building, but the inside is all-new, and the smells are great.

Around the corner, of course, is the legendary Mayberry Cafe, a takeoff on television's classic Andy Griffith Show. The Mayberry Cafe has a 1963 police squad car parked in front, so you can't miss it!

History Mystery

One of Indiana's first counties to be organized already is celebrating its bicentennial this year. Located in far-southwestern Indiana, the county was organized in 1813.

Pictured is an Ohio River walkway in this “mystery” Indiana County that is celebrating its bicentennial.Its county seat is a town to which a teenage Abe Lincoln walked so he could sit in courtrooms and observe cases argued by a local lawyer, who mentored him. (The bicentennial county is located next to Spencer County, where the Lincoln family lived.)

Another town in the county is known for its historic Main Street and scenic "river village" ambience; the town is nestled on the Ohio River. Some of the county is considered to be part of the metro area of Evansville, which is located in another bordering county, Vanderburgh County.

Question: Name the far-southwestern county celebrating its 200th birthday this year.

Hint: It often is listed among the 10 fastest-growing counties in the state.

The prize is a  pair of tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home and four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Indy Mayor Greg Ballard on Marines history and 'old' Cathedral High

Future Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard is pictured as a Marine at Camp Pendleton in California, circa 1980. He is selecting a Mountain Dew. Image courtesy Office of Mayor Greg Ballard.(June 15, 2013) - An Indianapolis native, he grew up on the Eastside, attended the "old" Cathedral High School (when it was located downtown and had all male students) and eventually enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps.

So there's much local history to cover with Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis, 58, who was elected to his second term in 2011. As Hoosier History Live! segues from a former mayor of Indy (Bill Hudnut, the June 8 show guest) to his current counterpart, Mayor Ballard is Nelson's studio guest for a show that explores history topics that have been intertwined with his life.

They include the links between the Hoosier state and the Marines. After a 23-year military career, Mayor Ballard, a Republican, retired as a lieutenant colonel  from the Marines in 2001 and returned to his home town to enter private business.

He shares insights about who and what influenced him during his youth to join the U.S. Marine Corps. Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard meets with veterans at a Statehouse rally in 2012. Image courtesy city of Indianapolis.The future mayor joined the Marines after studying economics at Indiana University in the 1970s.

The decision eventually led to assignments in places such as Okinawa, Japan; Saudi Arabia during the first Persian Gulf War; and Stuttgart, Germany, as well as in Michigan, North Carolina and California, where he met his wife, Winnie Ballard, a native of the Philippines. During the first Gulf War, the future mayor was promoted to major.

Other links between the Marines and the Hoosier state:

  • Hoosiers who have achieved distinction in the Marines include David Shoup (1904-1983), a Tippecanoe County native who grew up on farms there and near Covington. A Medal of Honor winner during World War II, Shoup led the U.S. invasion during the Battle of Tarawa in the Pacific Theater of the war. He rose to become the 22nd Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, serving in the top post during the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations. Shoup was credited with emphasizing combat readiness and fiscal efficiency; he later became a vocal critic of the Vietnam War and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Greg Ballard.Specifications for many of the weapons, night-vision goggles and other equipment used overseas by the Marines are developed at Crane Naval Warfare Center in southwestern Indiana. (The Marines and the Navy both fall under the Secretary of the Navy.) Created during World War II, Crane Naval Warfare Center consists of 64,000 acres in Greene and Martin counties and employs about 5,000 people. Equipment used by the Marines also is tested at Crane.
  • Well-known living Hoosiers who have served in the Marines include Carol Mutter, a retired lieutenant general who lives in Brownsburg. (She was born in Colorado and became the first woman to receive the rank of lieutenant general in the Marine Corps.) Others include historic novelist James Alexander Thom, a Korean War veteran whose bestsellers include Follow the River, and Julia Whitehead, executive director of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

Back in the mayor's hometown, we also will focus on Cathedral High School, where he was a member of the Class of '72.

Cathedral High School, shown in this 1926 photo, formerly was located at 14th and Meridian streets in Indianapolis. The building now houses the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Collection.Since its founding in 1918, the Catholic high school had been located at 14th and Meridian streets and attended only by boys. The future mayor's years there were preceded and followed by major changes.

In 1976, four years after he graduated, Cathedral merged with Ladywood, an all-girls Catholic academy located on the northeast-side, a decision that was presented as a financial necessity for both schools. The merged, co-ed school, which took the Cathedral name, is on the former Ladywood site on East 56th Street.

Previously, while the future mayor was attending Cathedral, Ladywood had merged in 1971 with Cathedral's "sister" school downtown, St. Agnes Academy. Located just to the south of the "old" Cathedral, the former academy now is the site of St. Agnes Apartments.

Greg Ballard, who grew up on the Eastside in a family of five children, attended Cathedral on a scholarship. In addition to graduating from IU, he obtained a master's in military science from Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va. His defeat of incumbent Bart Peterson in the 2007 mayoral election has been called one of the biggest upsets in Indy's political history.

Roadtrip: Monument Circle for kids

Urban explorers Bailey (left) and Sean Young roam around at Monument Circle in Indy. Image courtesy Kelly Young.Guest Roadtripper Kelly Young of Baise Communications reports that she took her kids for a recent tour of Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, and her children were fascinated by Christ Church Cathedral, with its early gothic revival architecture, Tiffany stained-glass windows and pipe organ.

Kelly's daughter, age 10, had studied President Lincoln in school this year and was fascinated to learn that the church bells had rung out as Lincoln's body lay in state at the nearly Capitol.

Kelly and crew then crossed the street, headed up the 330 steps (yes, walked!) to the observation level of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument for a great view of the city, and they visited the Civil War Museum in the lower level.

They topped off their Roadtrip with ice cream from the Chocolate Cafe, and then a quick trip back in time for Kelly at Rocket Fizz, a candy shop with nearly every type of novelty candy. Both of these sweet spots are right on the Circle.

History Mystery

More than 25 years before future Mayor Greg Ballard became a Marine, another well-known Indianapolis political figure served in the Marines. Shortridge High School in Indianapolis. Image courtesy Historic Indianapolis.As a Marine from 1950 to 1952, he served during the Korean War, saw combat and endured two fierce winters in Korea.

The future politician was born in Indy in 1932. He graduated from Shortridge High School in 1949, then served in the Marines. After that, he enrolled in Indiana University. In addition to a long political career - he held public office almost without interruption from 1964 until retiring in 1997 - he worked as a deputy sheriff in Marion County, a lawyer, an author and a college instructor.

Question: Who was he?

The prize is a  pair of tickets to the President Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site and four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Former Indy Mayor Bill Hudnut

The NFL’s Colts move into town from Baltimore and are greeted by Mayor William Hudnut on March 28, 1984. Courtesy Institute for Civic Leadership and Mayoral Archives at University of Indianapolis.(June 8, 2013) - He served as mayor of Indiana's capital city longer than anyone else in history.

For 16 eventful years - a span of four terms that included unforgettable chapters, many of which have been the focus of previous Hoosier History Live! shows (such as the notorious Listen to show on the blizzard of 1978, Hoosier History Live!Blizzard of '78 and the massive Pan American Games of 1987 - William Hudnut III led Indianapolis and attained national prominence.

Although former Mayor Hudnut and his wife, Beverly Hudnut, primarily have lived in the Washington D.C. area since he left the top Indy office in 1992, he makes a return visit and - for our 250th show - joins Nelson in studio to explore what has become known as "the Hudnut era."

He didn't start out as a Hoosier. Born in Cincinnati in 1932, Bill Hudnut grew up in New Lebanon, N.Y., graduated from Princeton University and, like his father and grandfather, became a Presbyterian minister. He moved to Indy in 1963 to serve as pastor of Second Presbyterian Church, one of the city's most prestigious congregations.

By the time he left Indy, the city's skyline had been transformed - by, among other structures, the domed stadium that initially was known as the Hoosier Dome when it opened in 1984. Mayor Hudnut, a Republican, championed the sports facility's construction, even though the city did not yet have a National Football League team to play in it. William Hudnut, 2013.The Hoosier Dome was still not quite finished in late March 1984 when the Baltimore Colts moved to Indy on Mayflower Van Lines trucks late at night. The move beat a looming deadline in Maryland, where the team had been squabbling with lawmakers and civic leaders.

The history of what later was named the RCA Dome was the focus of our third Hoosier History Live! Show after our debut in early 2008, shortly before the stadium's demolition. That program followed a show about the 30th anniversary of the Blizzard of '78, the worst in city history, during which the lanky, 6-foot-4 mayor rode on snowplows and urged residents to persevere.

An unabashed cheerleader known for his willingness to do just about anything to rally his adopted hometown - including donning a leprechaun outfit on St. Patrick's Day - Bill Hudnut particularly advocated the resurgence of downtown and Indy's unofficial designation as the country's amateur sports capital. During his terms as mayor (1976-92), he also served as president of the National League of Cities.

Nelson asks the former mayor to identify his greatest accomplishments, as well as his biggest disappointments. A recent article in the Indianapolis Star about the 25th anniversary of the concert venue initially known as Deer Creek Music Center (now Klipsch Music Center) indicated then-Mayor Hudnut unsuccessfully pushed for it to be built in what became White River State Park, rather than its eventual site in Hamilton County.

"What would you do if you were called to lead a city known as Naptown, India-No-Place or Brickyard in a Cornfield?" Bill Hudnut asks in his book The Hudnut Years (IU Press, 1995). His other books include Minister Mayor (Westminster Press, 1987).

Mayor William Hudnut is pictured on the front page of The Indianapolis News of March 2, 1989, with a story on demolition beginning for construction of the Circle Centre Mall. Image courtesy Joe Young.Citing Hudnut's initiatives with downtown rejuvenation and the city's track record as a sports capital, current Mayor Greg Ballard in January renamed a downtown park Hudnut Commons. Formerly known as Capitol Commons, the park is at Maryland Street and Capitol Avenue, across the street from the Indiana Convention Center.

Before his record-breaking mayoral terms, Bill Hudnut served as a U.S. congressman from Indianapolis. In 1972, he defeated his friend, incumbent U.S. Rep. Andy Jacobs Jr. - who, in turn, came back and defeated Hudnut two years later.

During the mid-1970s, in between his stints in public office, Bill Hudnut was on the faculty at the University of Indianapolis (then Indiana Central University), where he taught political science.

As mayor, he oversaw highly touted partnerships between the public and private sectors. In 1990, the Indianapolis News estimated that with "gifts from the Lilly Endowment, millions of dollars in tax abatements and other incentives, and investments from private developers, more than $4 billion worth of construction took place downtown. ... Public and private city leaders placed an unprecedented emphasis on downtown development."

Indianapolis Mayor William Hudnut often dressed as a leprechaun during St. Patrick's Day parades. Courtesy Institute for Civic Leadership and Mayoral Archives at University of Indianapolis.

 

Roadtrip: Whitewater Canal State Historic Site

Guest Roadtripper Christopher Della Rocco will call in on Saturday to tell us about current activities at Whitewater Canal State Historic Site, located in the charming 1836 canal village of Metamora, Ind., which is southeast of Indianapolis in the Whitewater Valley in Franklin County.

The site offers a new Whitewater Canal Experience package that allows visitors to experience the best of the site at a discounted rate. And coming up June 29 is a special event called Twilight Time, which features an island-themed catered dinner in Grist Mill Park and twilight cruise on the Ben Franklin III canal boat. Slow and relaxing are the characteristics of this boat ride!

The Whitewater Canal State Historic Site is open for tours of the grist mill and canal boat rides Wednesdays through Sundays. Canal rides are at noon, 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m. - dependent on canal conditions - the same days. More information can be found online or at (765) 647-6512. Enjoy your summer!

An aqueduct carries the Whitewater Canal over Duck Creek in Metamora, Ind. Image courtesy Christopher Della Rocco

History Mystery

One of the best-known men in America from the 1860s through the 1880s had, earlier in his career, served as the minister of Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis. A clergyman, abolitionist, social reformer and speaker, he was not a Hoosier by birth or upbringing.

Second Presbyterian’s first church was on the northwest quadrant of Governor’s Circle (now Monument Circle) from 1840 to 1867. Its second home was at Vermont and Pennsylvania streets, near the World War Memorial. Today, the church is located at 7700 N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis. Image courtesy Second Presbyterian Church.However, he moved to Indianapolis in 1839 and, while preaching at Second Presbyterian Church, held his first revival meetings and, according to historians, solidified his anti-slavery stance. As a result of his dynamic preaching, he built Second Presbyterian into the largest congregation in the Hoosier capital.

Before coming to Indianapolis, he had been the pastor at a Presbyterian church in Lawrenceburg, Ind., for two years.

The clergyman left Indiana in 1847 and rose to national prominence on the East Coast.

Question: Who was he?

Hint: His sister wrote one of the country's best-selling novels during the 1850s.

The prize is a  pair of tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum and four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Lost cemeteries

An angel looks over a child’s grave where the headstone has sunk into the ground in Cave Springs Cemetery in Jennings County, Indiana. The angel’s wings and an arm lie at her feet. The “new” part of this cemetery is well taken care of, but the older part of the cemetery has many broken and displaced headstones and statues.(June 1, 2013) - Lost cemeteries have been in the news since Indianapolis police reported the discovery of a human jawbone in Garfield Park on the city's south side. Could the historic park, the oldest public park in Indy, be the site of a lost cemetery?

To explore lost or "nearly lost" cemeteries across the state - and issues associated with the forgotten or neglected burial grounds - Nelson is joined in studio by Jeannie Regan-Dinius, cemetery and burial ground registry coordinator for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and pioneer cemetery advocate Theresa Berghoff, an Elwood native who now lives in Indianapolis.

They share details about lost graveyards everywhere from Berne in Adams County and the Madison County community of Leisure, to a site near Kessler Boulevard and Keystone Avenue on the north side of Indy, and Rome in southwestern Indiana.

Jeannie Regan-Dinius.Nelson and his guests also explore Greenlawn Cemetery, which was founded in 1832 near White River and Kentucky Avenue in Indy. More than 1,600 pioneers had been buried in Greenlawn when, because the graveyard was prone to flooding, city leaders initiated a mass reburial about 155 years ago with the creation of Crown Hill Cemetery, the country's third-largest private cemetery. The site for Crown Hill was chosen in part because it was believed to be the highest ground at the time in Indianapolis and thus not prone to flooding.

In 2008, our guest Jeannie Regan-Dinius helped oversee the move of 33 tombstone and remains of Hoosier pioneers from a mid-1800s cemetery in the Castleton area of Indy to Crown Hill. Shortly after that reburial - which was initiated to allow for the widening of I-69 near its interchange with I-465 - Jeannie joined Nelson for a Hoosier History Live! show during our first year on the air.

This 1866 Sullivan Map of downtown Indianapolis shows the old city burying grounds (later known as Greenlawn Cemetery) northwest of Kentucky Avenue on the east side of the White River. The cemetery was closed to new burials in 1890, as the area was prone to flooding. Image courtesy Jeannie Regan-Dinius.Now, they also are joined by Theresa Berghoff, a cemetery restorer whose ancestors include Revolutionary and Civil War veterans buried in Wayne County. Theresa, who has helped restore tombstones, reports there are lost or "nearly lost" cemeteries in Richmond, and in the Augusta community in Pike Township on the northwest side of Indianapolis. Augusta Cemetery is the burial site of several Civil War veterans.

In Richmond, Maple Grove Cemetery, which apparently had been the site of more than 500 graves, was closed during the late 1800s. The cemetery's land then became part of Glen Miller Park. Many of Richmond's first settlers were buried in Maple Grove Cemetery.

According to Theresa's research, the first burial ground for white settlers in what became Indianapolis was known as the Plague Cemetery. Established about 1820, the cemetery was the burial site for victims of a malaria epidemic that swept the newly developing state capital, which was partially built on swampland and marshes. A current view of the Augusta Cemetery in Pike Township in Indianapolis shows vandalism and knocked-over tombstones. The cemetery is on West 76th Street, a block east of Michigan Road. Photo by Theresa Berghoff.The site of the early cemetery was later marked with a large stone next to the intersections of Barnhill and Michigan streets near the IU Medical Center on the IUPUI campus.

According to Jeannie's research, the lost graveyard in Berne was a Mennonite cemetery. She has copies of notices published in local newspapers in 1908 urging relatives to arrange for reburials of their ancestors to allow for road improvements.

During our show, Jeannie shares insights about the protocol that farmers and other property owners should follow if they discover human bones. Nelson and his guests also explore vandalism of cemeteries, as well as the various reasons some graveyards have become lost or forgotten.

Some "learn more" websites:

Roadtrip: Summer nights on the canal

Summertime means concerts on the canal at the Indiana History Center in downtown Indy. Amy Lamb of the Indiana Historical Society tells us that there are plenty of relaxing summer evenings ahead downtown on the Central Canal with the time-honored favorite, Concerts on the Canal, plus the second year of Museum Nights on the Canal.

On Thursday evenings this summer through Aug. 8, the IHS will host some of the area's best performers. Concerts take place from 6 to 8 p.m., with the exception of the annual Independence Day Bash on July 4 (5 p.m. start), and free seating is available on the grassy slope across the canal.

For June and July concert dates, IHS's Museum Nights on the Canal will offer free Indiana Experience admission, as well as hands-on activities and extra entertainment, from 4 to 8 p.m. The Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, home of the IHS, is located at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis, along the picturesque, historic Central Canal.

History Mystery

A stone carving of a child in the “mystery” cemetery near Bedford.  A cemetery in southern Indiana has been called a "tombstone tourist's delight" and an "outdoor sculpture park." The cemetery, which dates to the 1880s and is located near Bedford in Lawrence County, features dozens of personalized monuments that were created for the graves of local residents.

Because the area is known as the "Limestone Capital of the World," generations of highly skilled stone cutters were available to carve sculptures memorializing the deceased. For example, the cemetery, which is on scenic, rolling terrain, includes sculptures of a golfer, a World War I doughboy and the tools of a limestone cutter on various burial sites.

Question: Name the historic cemetery near Bedford.

The prize is a  pair of tickets to the Indiana State Museum and four admissions to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Historic baseball stadium into apartments

A rendering of Stadium Lofts at Bush Stadium, Indianapolis. Image courtesy Core Redevelopment.(May 25, 2013) - Apparently it will be the first time in the country that a baseball stadium will be converted into residences. The stadium is historic Bush Stadium in Indianapolis, which was the home ballpark of the Indianapolis Indians for nearly 65 years.

Now the West 16th Street stadium - which had been deteriorating dramatically since the minor-league team left and began playing home games at Victory Field in July 1996 - will be converted into apartments by John Watson of Core Redevelopment LLC.

The Stadium Lofts project - featuring 138 apartments set to open Aug. 1 - has attracted such extensive national interest that the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., has contacted John for a mini-exhibit about the stadium re-use.

John Watson.A former board chairman of Indiana Landmarks and a veteran developer known for transforming historic structures into residences, John is Nelson's studio guest. The previously uncertain fate of Bush Stadium, which was built in 1931 and initially known as Perry Stadium, was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show in 2008, our first year on the air. At that point, the empty stadium was on Indiana Landmarks' list of 10 Most Endangered Places in the state.

In addition to the 138 apartments in the $14 million Stadium Lofts conversion project, John Watson plans to build 144 other apartments - to be known as Stadium Flats - just west of the historic ballpark. He also plans to build an office complex in centerfield of the historic stadium.

According to a recent article in the Indianapolis Business Journal, the Stadium Lofts design "retains the outer shell of the Art Deco building and includes the look of an actual baseball field in the courtyard" for residents of the apartments.

Just a few short years ago, Bush Stadium on the near westside of Indianapolis was used to store old cars for the Obama administration’s “Cash for Clunkers” program.Once beloved, Bush Stadium is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was considered such an outstanding example of a vintage ballpark that Hollywood took notice and selected it as the setting for the movie Eight Men Out (1988). The movie focused on the notorious Black Sox cheating scandal in the 1919 World Series.

Bush Stadium also served as the venue for the baseball tournaments during the Pan American Games hosted by Indy in 1987.

However, after the Indians, a Triple-A team in baseball's minor leagues, moved to the newly built Victory Field in White River State Park, an attempt fizzled to make Bush the venue for midget auto racing. (A dirt racetrack had been installed.) A long, slow slide downhill followed.

Vintage postcard shows entrance to the historic ballpark with a number of names.  First named “Perry Stadium” when it opened in 1931, then “Victory Field” in 1942 in support of the war effort, and then finally “Bush Stadium” in 1967."Many considered Bush Stadium a lost cause," noted Indiana Preservationist, a publication of Indiana Landmarks, in a recent issue.

A front-page article in The Indianapolis Star in 2008 was headlined "Decaying diamond." Describing the vacant stadium as an "eyesore," the article noted that the concourse and former clubhouse for the Indians were "littered with trash, abandoned equipment and animal droppings." It described collapsed sections of stadium walls, holes in the grandstand roof and cracks in the steel columns and beams.

Even before the Indians moved to Victory Field, the stadium's deteriorating condition had been a major concern. In 1993, the governing body of minor league baseball announced the team would be moved from the city unless Bush Stadium was improved. Instead, the new Victory Field was constructed.

The 1988 movie Eight Men Out was filmed at Bush Stadium in Indianapolis.  Fun fact: Bush also was known as Victory Field for many years. During World War II, the stadium's name was switched from Perry to Victory Field as a patriotic gesture. Then it was renamed again in honor of Owen Bush, a longtime manager of the Indians.

In the 1980s and '90s, our guest John Watson, in partnership with developer Carl Van Rooy, redeveloped several historic buildings in downtown Indy into condos or apartments. They included the Real Silk Factory, which opened in the 1920s and manufactured women's silk hose, then parachutes during World War II. John also oversaw the conversion of The Continental at Vermont Place, 410 N. Meridian St., into contemporary apartments.

According to the IBJ article, John is paying "homage" to Bush Stadium's heritage in the apartment development's courtyard by featuring in its design a "permanent baseball diamond made with dirt-colored concrete." He also plans to restore the old scoreboard in right field, which has taken a beating from scores of winters and thunderstorms.

In June 2011, city leaders announced a plan to make the area near Bush Stadium into a magnet for life sciences and high-tech businesses. The area would be known as 16 Tech.

Roadtrip: Chesterfield Spiritualist Camp near Anderson

Suzanne Stanis, director of heritage education and information at Indiana Landmarks, suggests a Roadtrip to historic Camp Chesterfield near Anderson, founded in 1886 and operated by the Indiana Association of Spiritualists.

The Sunflower Hotel at Camp Chesterfield, near Anderson, Ind., was bustling with out-of-town guests yearning to communicate with their deceased relatives in this circa 1920 photograph. Image provided by Suzanne Stanis.The camp began as a summer tent camp on the banks of White River and is now a permanent 40-acre settlement. Building boomlets followed World Wars I and II, when grief-stricken people found comfort in the possibility of speaking to relatives killed in battle through resident mediums.

Spiritualism is a religion based on the belief that the spirits of the dead continue to evolve and can communicate with the living. From the 1840s through the 1920s, Spiritualism attracted a wide following, particularly among the educated elite, many of whom were also devout believers in various Protestant faiths.

Camp Chesterfield welcomes visitors to explore the Trail of Religion, a river rock grotto, and the "Toadstools," a meadow of concrete chairs and mini-pedestal tables where mediums held readings in the old days. The Hett Art Gallery and Museum presents a collection of psychic art, spirit photography and precipitated portraits (paintings of the deceased facilitated by mediums). The camp has a welcome center, and you can even spend the night in the 1940s Western Hotel for a very modest rate.

The Trail of Religion at Camp Chesterfield in Indiana shows religious leaders of the world assembled in one large arc that is made of natural stone. Image provided by Suzanne Stanis.

History Mystery

Indianapolis Clowns players Manuel Godines, Reinaldo Verde and Andres Mesa stand by the team bus in 1947. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.In addition to the Indianapolis Indians, the Indianapolis Clowns of the Negro Baseball Leagues played many of their home games at Bush Stadium. Before the heyday of the Clowns in the 1940s and '50s, an earlier baseball team of African-American players based in Indianapolis gained national prominence.

The Negro League team, which had a catchy name featuring three letters of the alphabet, was a fan favorite in the 1910s and '20s.

Question: Name the baseball team.

The prize is a gift certificate to California Pizza Kitchen in Circle Centre Mall and a pair of tickets to the Indiana State Museum. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Hollywood icons Red Skelton, Robert Wise and Irene Dunne

Indiana native Red Skelton performs as “Clem Kadiddlehopper,” circa 1951.(May 18, 2013 - encore presentation) - Aside from being icons of Hollywood with links to Indiana, what could three luminaries - comedian Red Skelton, acclaimed director Robert Wise (The Sound of Music and West Side Story) and 1930s and '40s movie star Irene Dunne - have in common?

All three are the subjects of biographies written by movie historian Wes Gehring, a film professor at Ball State University who joins Nelson in studio for one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live! archives. (Its original air date was Oct. 6, 2012.)

Wes' most recent book is  Robert Wise Shadowlands (Indiana Historical Society Press), a biography of the Academy Award-winning director who was born in Winchester and grew up in Connersville.

Robert Wise, director, at his desk at RKO studios in Hollywood, mid-to-late 1940s. Wes D. Gehring Stills Collection.Not only do Wes and Nelson focus on the life and career of Robert Wise (1914-2005) during the show, they also explore the Hoosier roots and careers of Red Skelton, a native of Vincennes, and Irene Dunne, who grew up in Madison.

Wes delved into their lives in Red Skelton: The Mask Behind the Mask (IHS Press, 2008), which explores, as Wes puts it, the comedian's "hardscrabble beginnings with a shockingly dysfunctional family in southern Indiana" and Irene Dunne: First Lady of Hollywood (Scarecrow Press, 2003). It's a look at the versatile actress, who won critical acclaim for her roles in genres ranging from musicals like Show Boat (1936) to comedies (including The Awful Truth in 1937 with Cary Grant) and dramas such as I Remember Mama (1948).

Irene Dunne.Red Skelton (1913-1997) achieved major stardom in movies, TV, radio and on Broadway after getting his start in vaudeville shows and, before that, in burlesque. Irene Dunne (1898-1990) was nominated five times for an Academy Award but never won. She also served one term as a delegate to the United Nations.

Like Irene Dunne, Robert Wise was known for astonishing versatility. He directed movies ranging from the science fiction cult classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and the horror movie The Haunting (1963), which is set in a spooky New England mansion to the two musicals for which Wise won Oscars as Best Director, The Sound of Music (1965) and West Side Story (1961).

At Connersville High School, the auditorium has been renamed in Wise's honor. In his biography of the filmmaker, Wes quotes from columns (titled "Wise Crax") he wrote for the high school newspaper.

Phil Gulley on Indiana festivals, summer jobs and other things Hoosier

(May 11, 2013) - As a teenager, Phil Gulley may have had the worst summer job in Indiana history. The popular Hoosier storyteller, humorist and Quaker pastor based in Danville once shared details with Nelson about the distasteful job of his youth.

Philip Gulley.Tune in to our show to hear the unappetizing specifics, as Nelson is joined by Phil, whose bestselling, nationally distributed books include Front Porch Tales (1997) and Home Town Tales (1998), which were inspired by real people and episodes. He's also the author of  Home to Harmony (2000) and other books in his acclaimed series of inspirational and humorous stories about the fictional town of Harmony. It seems to have at least a passing resemblance to Danville.

Known for his folksy style, Phil is a popular speaker and a columnist for Indianapolis Monthly magazine. He also has written non-fiction books such as I Love You Miss Huddleston and Other Inappropriate Longings of My Indiana Childhood (2009).

Because Phil has spoken and written about the propensity of Indiana towns to throw festivals and fairs in honor of just about every product or crop - ranging from persimmons and pork to popcorn - Nelson asks about that topic as well. They also explore the importance of porches.

"I believe all that is wrong with our world can be attributed to the shortage of front porches and the talks we had on them," Phil writes in Porch Talk (2007), a collection of stories that won praise from the likes of Charles Osgood, host of CBS Sunday Morning. "Somewhere around 1950, builders left off the front porch to save money, and we've had nothing but problems ever since."

Valparaiso, Ind., throws a popcorn festival every September. Here is an Orville Redenbacher mascot made of popcorn from one of Valpo’s popcorn parades.In Danville, Phil and his wife, Joan, live in a home - with a porch - that's filled with antiques, as well as with furniture Phil made himself. They also own a farmhouse in southern Indiana. The Gulleys are the parents of two sons, Spencer and Sam.

In addition to his books of vignettes about the quirky characters and life lessons associated with small towns, Phil, a graduate of Christian Theological Seminary, has written several books focused on theology. They include If the Church Were Christian (2010) and The Evolution of Faith: How God is Creating a Better Christianity (2011).

He is pastor of Fairfield Friends Meeting in the town of Camby, which is just southwest of Indianapolis. The protagonist in Home to Harmony and the other books in the Harmony series also is a Quaker pastor.

Phil, 52, who grew up in a Catholic family, once told Nelson he had a one-word explanation for why he became a Quaker as a teenager: "Girls."

Interior of the new Fairfield Friends Meetinghouse in Camby, Ind., which was dedicated in 2012.   Apparently there weren't many of them among the parishioners at his family's church in Hendricks County. But a local Friends meeting - as Quaker worship services are called - was attended by several young women whom Phil found attractive.

"So I showed up for the wrong reasons," Phil told Nelson. "But you know something? When I started studying Quaker beliefs - the emphasis on simplicity, pacifism and the tolerance for diverse people - they resonated with me."

In Home Town Tales, he wrote: "When I was young and unattached, the women in my Quaker meeting paid me considerable attention. But then Quaker women tend to take an inordinate interest in people who need help. And I needed help. I was six feet tall and weighed 110 pounds."

Phil's career as an author was launched when, while in seminary in the 1990s, he was serving as the pastor of Irvington Friends Meeting in Indianapolis. His musings for the church's newsletter came to the attention of Paul Harvey Jr., the son of the late, legendary broadcaster. The Harveys showed Phil's tales to a national publisher - and book contracts followed.

Like his columns for Indianapolis Monthly, Phil's vignettes in Home Town Tales explore such topics as the arrival of a new Walmart and include wry humor, self-disclosure and insights about human nature. The inclination of Indiana towns to celebrate a product or crop as an excuse for a summer festival has been the focus of one of his popular essays.

Roadtrip: Ferdinand in Dubois County

The monastery of Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand, Ind., is hard to miss. It can even be seen from I-64.Guest Roadtripper William Selm, architectural historian, adjunct faculty member at IUPUI, and expert on German heritage in Indiana, will suggest we take the Roadtrip to Ferdinand, a small town is located in Dubois County in south central Indiana south of Jasper, the county seat.

Ferdinand  has real curb appeal, as you can see its main attraction for miles. It's a massive complex atop a hill, the monastery of the Sisters of St. Benedict, first established in 1867.

The town was founded in 1840 by missionary priest, Father Kundek. He named it for Kaiser Ferdinand von Habsburg of the Austrian Empire. Learn more on the show this Saturday!

History Mystery

In addition to Phil Gulley, well-known authors from Indiana who have been guests on Hoosier History Live! include James Alexander Thom, whose books of historical fiction have become national bestsellers. Dark Rain Thom.The author of Follow the River, Panther in the Sky and many other books, James Alexander Thom was a guest on this radio show with his wife, Dark Rain, who is of Native American heritage. A tribal historian, Dark Rain also is an author and has collaborated with her husband.

Question: What Native American tribe reflects Dark Rain Thom's heritage?

We will also note that there is an 80th birthday party for James Alexander Thom, as well as for Dark Rain Thom, as part of First Friday at the Vonnegut Library at 340 N. Senate Ave. in Indianapolis on June 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. All are welcome.

The prize is four admissions to the Indiana Experience and two admissions to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, courtesy of  Visit Indy.

'Ask Nelson' and more county name origins

Hoosier History Live! host Nelson Price pioneered the concept of exploring “Indiana Legends,” with his first book by that title having been published in 1997. The book is now in its fourth edition and seventh printing, with updated information and newly added famous Hoosiers.(May 4, 2013) - The last time we turned the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, and let our listeners interview him, callers wanted to know about the late jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, as well as which famous Hoosier has been Nelson's favorite interview subject.

He used to dodge that question but 'fessed up that it's Jane Pauley. Nelson grew up about two blocks from the future TV newswoman on the far eastside of Indianapolis. Following in her wake, he attended every school that she did, from Moorhead Elementary School through Warren Central High School and Indiana University.)

To give our listeners another opportunity to question Nelson, who calls himself a "garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia," Hoosier History Live! occasionally opens the phone lines. Listeners are invited to call the WICR-FM studio - the number is (317) 788-3314 - and ask questions of Nelson, who writes books about famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary figures) and Indianapolis city history.

As a bonus, Nelson is joined in studio by our attorney friend and WICR colleague Charles Braun, founder and host of Legally Speaking, the longest-running legal advice show on American radio.

Charles, a fellow Hoosier history lover, has extensively researched the origins of county names in Indiana. In September 2010, he joined Nelson for a show about this intriguing topic, but they only scratched the surface of our 92 counties then. (Listeners learned that Marion County is named in honor of Francis Marion, a Revolutionary War hero. Allen County, which includes Charles' hometown of Fort Wayne, derives its name from John Allen, an early American politician, attorney and military leader who was killed in the War of 1812.)

Charles N. Braun II.So Charles not only joins listeners in asking Nelson questions, he also responds to queries about our county names. A former state deputy attorney general, Charles is an instructor at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, where he helps train police officers from across Indiana. In 1983, Charles launched Legally Speaking, which airs at 10 a.m. Saturdays on WICR.

After he signs off the air - and just before Hoosier History Live! signs on - Charles and Nelson typically can be found near the studio chatting about history-related topics. Nelson loves to share anecdotes and insights, particularly those derived from his expertise. His books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history about the Hoosier capital.

Listeners are encouraged to phone in with questions about famous Hoosiers, including historic figures that Nelson has researched, such as Madam Walker or contemporary notables he has interviewed, including former Indiana Pacers superstar Reggie Miller, astronaut David Wolf and artist Nancy Noel of Zionsville.

Several of the famous Hoosiers featured in Indiana Legends have been Nelson's guests on Hoosier History Live!, including Hoosiers and Rudy screenwriter Angelo Pizzo, jazz great David Baker, novelist Dan Wakefield and former Olympic figure skaters Kim and Wayne Seybold of Marion.

In this November 1992 photo, Nelson is interviewing Indiana filmmaker Angelo Pizzo, who wrote “Hoosiers”, on the campus of Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, during the filming of another Angelo Pizzo film, “Rudy”. Photo by Rich Miller.Need more fodder for questions? The histories of sites across the Hoosier capital are the focus of Indianapolis Then and Now, which involved a collaboration among Nelson, photo historian Joan Hostetler of Heritage Photo Services and photographer Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography.

Do you know what, 100 years ago, could be found on the site underneath the Artsgarden at Circle Centre mall in downtown Indy? Or what infamous structure was located where the Barnes & Noble is now on the IUPUI campus?

Ever wonder about what flourished on the current site of Butler University in the early 1900s, back when the campus was still located in the Irvington neighborhood? This is your opportunity to call in - the number is (317) 788-3314 - during the live show this Saturday from noon to 1 p.m. ET, and ask Nelson to share insights about the then-to-now changes.

Questions about the derivation of any county names are fair game for Charles, our in-house expert at WICR-FM. Although some county names  are easy to figure out - Ohio County in far-southeastern Indiana, for example, or Wabash County in the north - others have names that are much more obscure. Call in and ask about the ones that always have perplexed you.

Roadtrip: 'Morgan's Raid' online video game

Morgan's Raid game screen.Guest Roadtripper Ron Morris, professor of history at Ball State University in Muncie, suggests that we take an online Roadtrip to https://sites.google.com/site/morgansraidgame/, where we can play a video game simulating Confederate General John Hunt Morgan's Raid across Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio during the Civil War. The video game is free and available to all.

Those playing the game learn Indiana geography and history, and as the game unfolds, players allocate resources in order to continue their raid, and reputation points are earned for successful actions that cause chaos across southern Indiana.

The game was developed by Ball State students under the direction of Paul V. Gestwicki, Ph.D. in computer science, and our guest Roadtripper, Ron Morris, Ph.D. in history, all of Ball State.

This game is a frequent learning tool for fourth- and eighth-grade students in Indiana who are learning about the Civil War.

Our Roadtripper is a former Hoosier History Live! guest. He spoke about Oliver P. Morton, Indiana's Civil War Governor, and he also is renovating and planning to move in to Morton's home in Centerville.

History Mystery

Among the famous Hoosiers featured in Nelson Price's Indiana Legends book is a broadcaster and business leader who became a pioneer in cable TV. A Lafayette native, he attended Purdue University and got his start in local TV in his hometown.

C-SPAN logo.He went on to become the founder and CEO of C-SPAN, a public affairs network that began on a shoestring budget in 1979.

C-SPAN, which started out focusing on live, gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives, enjoyed dramatic growth. So the Indiana native launched C-SPAN 2 in 2000 and also became the host of shows such as Booknotes, a weekly series of in-depth interviews. He interviewed hundreds of the nation's top politicians, historians, authors and newsmakers, but he always has been known for his calm, low-key demeanor.

Question: Who is the famous Hoosier?

The prize is a gift certificate to Aesop's Tables, courtesy of Aesop's Tables, and four admissions to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Dan Patch, the first superstar racehorse, and True tall tales from Indiana: 2 classic shows

(April 27, 2013 - encore presentations) - According to many sports historians, the greatest athlete of the early 1900s was a Hoosier - and he wasn't a baseball player, a bicyclist, a boxer or even a human being. Dan Patch was a racehorse who became a top national celebrity, never lost a race on the grand circuit of harness racing and was hailed as the "Epitome of Excellence in American Sports."

Current view of Dan Patch Barn in Oxford, Ind.Other Hoosier animals, although far less famous than the renowned racehorse, nevertheless became fodder for folklore. In Howe, Ind., the town character was known as the "Skunk Woman" because she kept skunks as pets. And the talk of Goshen once was a rooster described as "over-hormoned."

In Churubusco, generations of residents have debated alleged sightings of a giant turtle. Accounts of the "Skunk Woman", the resilient rooster and the alleged turtle (often called the "Beast of 'Busco") were syndicated across the state during the 1950s.

These two topics - Dan Patch, the first superstar racehorse and True tall tales from 1950s Indiana - are the focus of "encore" broadcasts of two popular Hoosier History Live! shows. Instead of a one-hour broadcast, you can enjoy back-to-back, half-hour shows from our archives.

Dan Patch, the first superstar racehorse

For the first classic show (original air date: April 7, 2012), Nelson is joined in studio by two guests with special expertise about Dan Patch, who had gangly, crooked legs at his birth in 1896. He was foaled in a barn in Oxford, a western Indiana town that continues to celebrate an annual Dan Patch Festival in honor of the famous son; the 2013 festival is planned for Sept. 6-8.

Farmer Bob Glaspie, 86, of Oxford, Ind., knew the family of the original owners of Dan Patch. He came to the Hoosier History Live! studios in April of 2012 to share his stories.Nelson's guests are Oxford resident Bob Glaspie, who owns a vast collection of Dan Patch memorabilia, and Gerald Waite, a lecturer emeritus at Ball State University who has written extensively about the legendary racehorse.

The superstar eventually endorsed an array of products ranging from sleds to washtubs, children's wagons, a pocket knife and a clothes ringer. Dan Patch first made headlines by stunning spectators at the Benton County Fairgrounds with an incredible win that was a sign of his unbroken streak of victories. The barn where "the Patch" was foaled and raised still stands in Oxford and is owned by the grandson of the racehorse's initial owner. The wonder horse died in 1916 in Minnesota, where his final owner lived.

Dan Patch's dominance hurt betting at racetracks because, if the undefeated champ was entered, everyone knew who would win. Other prominent owners also didn't want their racehorses "to submit to the humiliation of being beaten every time," according to an award-winning cover story written by our guest Gerald Waite for Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine. So for several years, "the Patch" raced against a stopwatch, essentially competing against himself to set new world records.

Our guest Bob Glaspie, a farmer who grew up in Benton County, owns one of the historic stopwatches, as well as  more than 300 other pieces of memorabilia. They include Dan Patch-endorsed billiard chalk, children’s wagons (they came in three different styles) and a straight razor.

In retirement, Dan Patch enjoyed railroad tours to meet adoring fans across the country. He traveled in a specially designed, private railcar with his portrait on the exterior.

True tall tales from 1950s Indiana

The "Skunk Woman" of LaGrange County, Ind., became a tourist attraction.During the second classic show (original air date: April 21, 2012), the focus is on true tales, including the "Skunk Woman" (in addition to keeping skunks as pets, she seldom bathed) that were syndicated across the state during the 1950s by Al Spiers, a Michigan City-based columnist and editor. Although Al died in 1994, his columns about true tall tales have been collected in a book, Hoosier Lore (Brooks Publications), put together by his daughter, Sally Spiers.

An Indianapolis civic leader who is retired after a career in city and state governments, Sally joins Nelson in studio to explore the colorful critters, people and towns that her father described.

Sally was growing up in Michigan City during the era when her father was writing the columns, including the one about the "over-hormoned" rooster. During the 1950s, roosters routinely were injected with female hormones so they would shun hens, stop crowing, eat hearty and be tender. Despite numerous injections, a resilient rooster in Goshen named Elco resumed fraternizing with hens as well as emitting "cock-a-doodle-doos" - all in front of a stunned Jaycees event.

Some of the tales in Hoosier Lore had their origins long before the 1950s. The "Skunk Woman" (whose real name was Chrissy Hand), for example, died in LaGrange County in 1925. When Al Spiers visited 30 years later, though, he was able to interview many residents of Howe who had known the "Skunk Woman." She typically kept about half a dozen of the critters ("not de-skunked skunks, but fully equipped specimens," as Al wrote) wandering around in her house.

Sally Spiers.Al Spiers, an inductee into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, was editor of the Michigan City News-Dispatch, as well as a human interest columnist. He wrote about the "turtle tizzy" in Churubusco involving residents who claimed to have seen a giant turtle in Fulks Lake beginning in 1949.

Even though the lake had been partially drained and skin divers deployed (with no confirmations of the turtle's presence) by the time Al Spiers showed up in the mid-1950s, folklore about a massive "Beast of 'Busco" persisted. At dusk, Spiers drove to Fulks Lake, where he noticed, as he put it, a "wild and spooky section - swampy, full of tangled, dead trees and brush, silent and brooding. It looks like ... a set for a movie starring prehistoric monstrosities."

The folklore continues to this day in Churubusco, which celebrates a Turtle Days festival every summer in honor of Indiana's counterpart to the Loch Ness Monster.

Derek Daly on Indy-car fans overseas, son Conor and more

Derek Daly debuted at Indy in 1983, driving the No. 34 Valvoline car for Wysard.(April 20, 2013) - We're going to varroom back to when former Indy-car and Formula One driver Derek Daly was growing up in Ireland. That's because Dublin native Derek Daly, now 60, joins Nelson in studio to assess how the interest level overseas in the Indianapolis 500 - as well as in NASCAR racing - has evolved during the last half-century.

Now a popular motorsports commentator on TV and radio - Derek has worked for media ranging from ESPN to Fox, CBS and the Speed Channel - he also has a son who is making headlines and blazing a path. So Nelson asks Derek, who has lived in Noblesville for many years, about Conor Daly, 21, who has been hired by A.J. Foyt Racing as a rookie driver in next month's Indy 500.

Our guest owns Derek Daly Academy, which coaches, evaluates and manages young motorsports drivers. His career as a race driver spanned 17 years and included competing in the Indy 500 six times. He also is the author of Race to Win (Motorsports Publishing, 2008), which features an introduction by his friend Mario Andretti.

Derek and Conor Daly celebrate Conor’s 2012 win in Barcelona in the GP3 Series, a training series for young drivers. Photo by Daniel Kalisz/GP3 Media Service.Back in the early 1980s, foreign-born drivers like Derek and Mario were something of a novelty in the Indy 500 - although competitors during the 1960s had included popular Jimmy Clark from Scotland and Graham Hill from England, the winner of the 1966 race. Eventually, the infrequency of foreign drivers changed dramatically, almost reversing itself during the last 20 years. For example, the field of 33 drivers in the 2011 race included four from Brazil alone.

So what has all of this meant to the Indy-car fan base overseas? Do Derek's native land and other European countries still reserve most of their passion for Formula One? Is NASCAR even on their radar yet?

We explore that and more with Derek, including the remarkable rise of his son. Conor, an Indianapolis native and graduate of Heritage Christian High School, wasn't even born in 1985, when Derek had his best finish (12th) in the 500 Mile Race. Derek Daly.So far, Conor has spent much of this year overseas himself, competing in Europe and Malaysia in lower-level racing series that are considered preludes for advancement to Formula One.

Derek Daly is his son's manager. After retiring from a career as a driver that included starting on the front row with Mario for the Indy 500 in 1984, Derek launched his successful business and broadcasting careers. He's also a popular motivational speaker.

In 1990, Derek began a long relationship with WISH-TV/Channel 8 in Indianapolis, serving as the expert racing analyst for the CBS-TV affiliate. This September, he will celebrate his 20th year as an American citizen.

Derek's racing career began in his homeland, when he won championships in Ireland during the 1970s. His later triumphs included winning the 12 Hours of Sebring, one of the premier endurance races in the U.S., in 1991 and '92.

Gaston Chevrolet won the Indianapolis 500 in 1920. He is pictured here with his brother Louis. All three Chevrolet brothers are buried side-by-side in Holy Cross Cemetery on the south side of Indy.In the early years of the Indianapolis 500, foreign-born drivers like Derek were frequent competitors.

"Striving for the 500 to be a truly international affair from the very beginning, overseas entries always had been sought," Speedway historian Donald Davidson writes in Autocourse Official History of the Indianapolis 500.

He notes, though, that in the first two years of the 500 - 1911 and 1912 - none of the overseas drivers came primarily to compete in the race, "having been either in the country on an extended basis or else on their way to applying for citizenship."

French drivers, however, were the top four finishers in the 1914 race, and various Chevrolet brotherscompeted in the late 1910s and early '20s. (According to Donald Davidson's book, older brothers Louis and Arthur Chevrolet were born in Switzerland, while kid brother Gaston Chevrolet, who won the 500 Mile Race in 1920 at age 23, was born in France.)

With Derek, we explore the extent to which the race intrigued overseas fans during that era - as well as during subsequent eras when foreign drivers were rarities. And we get personal, with Nelson asking our special guest about his evolving awareness of the Indianapolis 500 as a boy in Ireland.

Hoosier History Live! bonus: You can listen online to Nelson's 2011 interview with Donald Davidson about the Speedway's 100-year history.

History Mystery

In the 1980s and early '90s - several years before Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia and Venezuelan drivers E.J. Viso and Milka Duno made their debuts at the Indianapolis 500 - one of the most popular foreign-born race drivers was a native of Colombia.

This week’s winner will get a look inside the  Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum, courtesy of our friends at Visit Indy.He nearly won the Indy 500 twice during the 1980s but was the runner up both times. In September 1987, he was nearly killed in a wreck during tire testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was in a coma for more than two weeks at Methodist Hospital and spent several months in recovery. Even so, the driver from Colombia returned to win the pole position in the 1992 Indianapolis 500. But he had retired from racing in the Indy 500 by 2001.

Question: Name the Colombian-born race driver.

The prize is a pair of tickets to "500 Track Tours" and a pair of tickets to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: Historic Pendleton in Madison County

Falls Park in Pendleton, Ind.Guest Roadtripper and historian-at-large Glory- June Greiff recommends we take short trip from Indianapolis up the Pendleton Pike (SR 67) to the small historic town of, surprisingly enough, Pendleton! Glory says it's a great place to play hooky for an afternoon.

Falls Park in Pendleton is lovely, with trails, charming rock features built over 80 years ago, and a large duck pond with a stone "lighthouse" recently restored. On weekends, drop in to the Pendleton Historical Museum that overlooks the falls; it's free. The park is only a couple of blocks from the historic downtown, which is pleasant to stroll and offers nice antique shops, a coffee bistro and many marvelous old buildings. The New Deal-era post office features a mural inside.

Glory recommends lunch or supper at Jimmie's Dairy Bar on the edge of town on Pendleton Pike near Water Street. The sign says they offer the "best barbecue in Indiana." They also offer ice cream sodas, which, as our Roadtripper notes, are hard to find these days!

Jazz recording heritage in Richmond

The Starr Piano Co. in Richmond, Ind., is pictured in this vintage postcard. The Gennett Records label was based here.(April 13, 2013) - Memphis, Chicago, New York City and Nashville, Tenn., have long been hailed for the significant roles their recording studios played in the boom of American popular music. Why do some say Richmond in far-eastern Indiana almost should be mentioned in the same breath?

Consider that during the 1920s the parade of future musical legends who traveled to the town - specifically, to the Starr Piano Company and its Gennett Records division - included Louis Armstrong, Indiana native Hoagy Carmichael, cowboy singer Gene Autry and Jelly Roll Morton, who recorded nine piano solos at the Richmond studio in 1924.

"Gennett was among the first record companies to cater to both the segregated white and black record markets," according to Rick Kennedy, author of Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy, whose book, first published by IU Press in 1994, is being released in an expanded, revised edition.

Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy book cover.Rick is among Nelson's guests, as are Bob Jacobsen and David Fulton, president and treasurer, respectively, of the Starr-Gennett Foundation, a nonprofit that is helping Richmond reclaim its remarkable heritage in recording jazz, blues and country music. David Fulton also is chancellor emeritus of Indiana University-East in Richmond.

To honor the city's rich but frequently overlooked heritage - which ended with the Great Depression - the Starr-Gennett Foundation has established a Gennett Records Walk of Fame and an annual music festival in September near the Whitewater River.

That's also near where the riverside piano factory and recording studio made so much musical history.

Performers who recorded on the Gennett label - either at its Richmond studio or one in Manhattan - included Duke Ellington, Joe "King" Oliver and legendary cornet and piano player Bix Beiderbecke, who befriended and influenced a young Hoagy Carmichael. The musical director and lead soloist of the Wolverine Orchestra (usually known as the Wolverines by jazz enthusiasts), Beiderbecke died at age 28 in 1931.

Rick Kennedy, 2013 photo.As Rick puts it in Jelly Roll, Bix and Hoagy, Beiderbecke "was immortalized by musicians and journalists as ... the sensitive musical genius who drank himself to death before the world could fully recognize his command of a misunderstood art form." (Beiderbecke's tragic life loosely inspired the 1950 movie Young Man with a Horn, in which Hoagy played a character based on himself.)

Bob Jacobsen.The musical history in Richmond accelerated in the 1890s when piano retailer Henry Gennett bought an interest in Starr, an existing piano company. Henry Gennett had owned music stores in Nashville, Chicago, St. Louis and other cities. Under his leadership, the piano factory also began producing player pianos, piano rolls and, eventually, phonographs.

The saga that unfolded, according to Rick's book, included a legal fight over patent infringement between Gennett and mighty Victor Records, which in 1917 had produced the world's first jazz records. (They featured the Original Dixieland Jazz Band.) David Fulton.Gennett was joined by other small labels. They prevailed in 1922, breaking Victor's stranglehold, "resulting in new record labels and greater competition," as Rick puts it.

Later in 1922, the New Orleans Rhythm Kings made their recording debut at the Richmond studio.

"Ragtime, jazz, blues, gospel, country and other 'new' sounds swelled the mainstream of popular music with the help of instruments and recordings produced by Starr and Gennett for international distribution," according to the Starr-Gennett Foundation.

Until 1934, the Gennett studio produced thousands of recordings, including some that are considered among the greatest jazz recordings of all time.

According to a history included with vintage recordings re-released in recent years on CDs titled Gennett Records Greatest Hits Collection, Hoagy Carmichael first recorded his classic Stardust at Gennett in 1927; it was released to the public early in the following year.

Although not a hit initially, Stardust eventually became "one of the most recorded songs of the 20th century."

History Mystery

Hoagy Carmichael often composed songs about places across America such as states or cities, including Can't Get Indiana Off My Mind and Memphis in June. For years, debate ensued about whether one of his songs was about a place or about one of his sisters. A commemorative stamp for Indiana’s Hoagy Carmichael was issued in 1996.She happened to have the same first name as a place.

The Hoagy Carmichael song - which evokes a mood of yearning - has been recorded by many top performers.

Question: What was the name of Hoagy's sister?

The prize is a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park and a pair of tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: Levi Coffin House in Wayne County

This unusual indoor well provided water for Coffin House “guests.”Just up the road from Richmond and its Starr-Gennett sites is the Levi Coffin House, located in what is now Fountain City on U.S. 27. The house is Indiana's most famous "way station" on the Underground Railroad, and before the Civil War, Quaker owner Levi Coffin and his wife, Catharine, helped as many as 2,000 former slaves escape to freedom in the free states and Canada.

One of the many formerly enslaved persons who hid in the Coffin house was "Eliza," whose story is told in Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Governors of Indiana

(April 6, 2013) - "Historically, the office of governor in Indiana has been a weak institution compared to the strength of the state legislature and in contrast to the office of governor in some other states. Over time ... the office has been transformed into one with considerably more power."

So begins a book co-edited by two distinguished Hoosiers who are Nelson's studio guests for a show exploring the colorful array of Indiana's chief executives since statehood in 1816 - as well as various patterns among the political leaders who have held the top office.

The Governors of Indiana book cover.Our guests are Linda Gugin, a professor emeritus of political science at Indiana University Southeast, and James E. St. Clair, a journalism professor at ISU. They co-edited The Governors of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006), an anthology to which dozens of writers contributed profiles of the Hoosier state's leaders.

Our first governor, Jonathan Jennings, was a longtime foe of slavery who resigned in 1822 after being elected to Congress; he struggled with alcoholism in his later years. During our show, Nelson and his guests explore how Jennings and other early Indiana governors - including William Hendricks of Madison (our third governor) and Paris Dunning of Bloomington (our ninth) - dealt with slavery-related issues.

In their book, Professor Gugin and Professor St. Clair identify the two "most powerful governors" as Civil War-era leader Oliver Perry Morton, a Republican from Centerville, and Franklin native Paul V. McNutt, a Democrat who was the state's chief executive during the Great Depression. (Gov. Morton, an ally of President Lincoln, was the focus of a Hoosier History Live! show last December. Our guest was historic preservationist and Ball State professor Ron Morris, who has purchased Morton's house.)

A vintage postcard image shows the Indiana governor’s residence in Corydon. The house no longer stands.We explore how Morton, McNutt and other governors handled conflicts with the state legislature.

By the way, Morton had lost his first race for governor, in 1856, during a bitter election in which, according to our guests' book, Democrats resorted to "overt appeals to racism." The election demonstrated "the polarized nature of the state at the time," with the Democratic candidate, New Albany lawyer and orator Ashbel Willard, prevailing in almost all of the southern counties and Morton in the north.

In 1860, Willard became the first of four Indiana governors to die in office. The most recent was Corydon newspaper publisher and state legislator Frank O'Bannon in 2003.

During our show, Nelson and his guests explore how various civil rights and social justice issues have been handled by governors. A former first lady, Zerelda Wallace, became a leading suffragist during the 1870s and '80s, lobbying the legislature for women's rights and founding suffrage groups in Indianapolis. She was the second wife of David Wallace, who had served as governor in the 1830s. His sons from his first marriage included Lew Wallace, who went on to write the international bestseller Ben-Hur.

James St. Clair and Linda Gugin.During the 1920s, Gov. Ed Jackson, a Republican lawyer from Lafayette, was generally perceived to have been controlled by the Ku Klux Klan. The notorious Grand Dragon of the KKK, D.C. Stephenson, befriended and endorsed Jackson. The governor refused calls to resign when Stephenson was convicted of second-degree murder in the death of a statehouse worker who had accused him of raping her.

Other governors had opposed the Klan, including Warren McCray of Kentland. In the early 1920s, he vetoed a proposed "Klan Day," which would have featured "a nighttime cross burning at the Indiana State Fair," according to The Governors of Indiana. Indiana Gov. Ed Jackson served during the 1920s.But McCray's reputation was tarnished in 1924 when he was charged with selling and distributing fraudulent promissory notes. He served more than three years in a federal penitentiary in Atlanta but eventually received a full pardon from President Herbert Hoover.

Two governors, both Democrats, went on to become U.S. vice presidents. They were Thomas A. Hendricks of Shelby County, who was elected veep under Grover Cleveland in 1884 (Hendricks died after eight months in office), and Thomas R. Marshall of Columbia City, who served under Woodrow Wilson and is best remembered for his witticisms, including: "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar."

(Indiana's first territorial governor, William Henry Harrison, decades later was elected president after moving to Ohio.)

In addition to co-editing The Governors of Indiana, our guests Linda Gugin and James E. St. Clair are the co-editors of Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court (IHS Press, 2010).

History Mystery

Ever since Indiana shifted its capital from Corydon to the new city of Indianapolis during the 1820s, the governor's mansion has been located in various sites and in various houses. The current Indiana governor’s mansion is on Meridian Street in Indy.Beginning in the 1970s, a historic mansion at 4750 N. Meridian St. has served as the governor's residence.

However, the first governor's mansion in Indy was built during the 1820s at a different site. The mansion was unused by several governors and their wives, who refused to move into it. Finally, the mansion fell into disrepair and was demolished.

Question: Where was it located?

The prize is a pair of tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana Historical Society, and a pair of tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home. These prizes are courtesy of of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: 'Follow the North Star' at Conner Prairie

Visitors experience the “Follow the North Star” re-enactment at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park. 2013 image courtesy Conner Prairie.

"Rotating Roadtripper" Rosemary Arnold will be calling in on Saturday to tell us about Conner Prairie's "Follow the North Star" program, which enables visitors age 12 and older a nighttime experience of being a fugitive slave on the Underground Railroad, fleeing from captivity and risking all.

Since 1998, nearly 60,000 people have participated in this 90-minute program, which offers a powerful diversity training experience. This month the program will be offered April 12-13, 19-20 and 26-27, and Rosemary Arnold of Conner Prairie Interactive History Park directs the program.

Frank Lloyd Wright and Indiana houses he designed

The living room of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house, Samara, in West Lafayette, Ind., is pictured. Photo by Alexander Vertikoff.(March 30, 2013) - Probably the best-known is Samara, a single-level "Usonian" house in West Lafayette built in the 1950s for a young faculty couple at Purdue University. But the world's most famous architect of the 20th century - and, arguably, its most flamboyant, influential and imperial - also designed other houses across Indiana, including at least one in his trademark Prairie style.

Frank Lloyd Wright had other connections to the Hoosier state as well. His son, John Lloyd Wright, designed a building in LaPorte County that's now considered endangered.

In addition to Samara, which now is owned by a private foundation established by the owner of the house (who continues to live in it), Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) designed houses in Fort Wayne, South Bend, Gary, Marion and other Hoosier cities.

To share insights about these homes and Indiana-related aspects of the architect, Nelson is joined by two guests. They are Linda Eales, associate curator of Samara (which was built for Dr. John Christian, a Purdue bio-nucleonics professor, and his late wife Catherine), and Scott W. Perkins, a nationally known Oklahoma-based expert on Wright, as well as on the interiors of the buildings, for many of which the architect designed furniture and textiles.

The K.C. DeRhodes House is one of two Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes in South Bend, Ind. Image courtesy Indiana Landmarks.Here's how a PBS documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick summed up Wright:

"He was an authentic American genius, a man who believed he was destined to redesign the world, creating everything anew. Over the course of his long career, Wright designed over 800 buildings, including such revolutionary structures as the Guggenheim Museum, the Johnson Wax Building, Fallingwater, Unity Temple and Taliesin. Wright's buildings and ideas changed the way we live, work and see the world around us."

He wasn't a Hoosier - and, in fact, never even visited the sites of several of the Indiana houses he designed, including Samara. (The Christians visited the architect at his Wisconsin studios and consulted by phone, photos and mail.) Samara has a sunken living room, cabinets and other furnishings designed by Wright; even the china is patterned after some he designed for the Imperial Hotel in Japan. It's open for group tours by appointment.

Linda Eales.Wright's son,  John Lloyd Wright (1892-1972), who also was an architect,  lived for more than 20 years in Long Beach, a LaPorte County town (pop. 4,500) on the shore of Lake Michigan. According to a 2005 article in the Indiana Preservationist, a publication of Indiana Landmarks, the younger Wright designed 13 buildings in the town before he moved to California in 1947; some of the structures "brought touches of the Prairie style pioneered by his father."

Frank Lloyd Wright, a Wisconsin native, established his career while working in a studio in Oak Park, Ill. Known for his intimidating personality, Wright periodically fell out of public favor because of his sensational personal life. His first scandal hit the headlines in 1909 when Wright abandoned his family - including his first wife (John Lloyd Wright’s mother) and several children - to move to Europe with a client with whom he was carrying on a torrid affair. (A second scandal ensued in 1914 when she was murdered by a deranged, ax-swinging servant in Wisconsin, where the couple had re-settled.)

Most of Wright's homes in Indiana - including Samara - were designed in the 1950s when he was enjoying a final, spectacular revival of his career. Wright derived the name Samara from a name for the winged seed of a pinecone.

Scott W. Perkins.According to the book 99 Historic Homes of Indiana (IU Press), Wright selected Samara's exterior bricks from the Indiana town of Attica. He also designed everything from many of the three-bedroom home's furnishings to its landscaping. Fun fact: Samara does not have a garage. That's because Wright disliked them and insisted the Christians instead have a carport, which he often is credited with inventing, or at least popularizing.

When Samara was finished in 1956, Wright was 88 years old. He was working on several projects when he died a few months before his 92nd birthday.

Some other tidbits:

  • Our guest Scott W. Perkins will discuss Indiana's connections to Wright in a presentation April 11 at Indiana Landmarks Center, 1201 Central Avenue. The program is free, but RSVPs are required. The reception is at  5:30 p.m. and the illustrated lecture is at  6 p.m.
  • The Wright-designed home in Marion was owned for several years by the late radio-TV writer Madelyn Pugh Davis, an Indy native who helped create I Love Lucy, and her late husband, Dr. Richard Davis.
  • Beginning in 1937, Wright often worked at Taliesin West, a design studio he established in Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • "Usonian" is a word Wright made up. Shorthand for "United States of North America," it was coined to tout distinctively American architecture.

History Mystery

One of Frank Lloyd Wright's granddaughters was an Indiana native who became a famous movie actress. She was born in 1923 in Michigan City. Her mother, Catherine, was one of Wright's daughters.

Old postcard says Greetings from Michigan City, Ind.Catherine and her family, including the granddaughter, did not live in Michigan City for very long. By the time the granddaughter was 10 years old, they had moved to the New York City area. The granddaughter made her Broadway debut when she was barely in her teens.

She went on to star in dozens of classic movies during the 1940s and '50s, even winning an Academy Award. Among her movies is a blockbuster frequently shown on TV during the Easter season.

Question: Name the famous actress - and native Hoosier - who was Frank Lloyd Wright's granddaughter.

This week's prize is a pair of tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair in Brown County on April 27, courtesy of the Story Inn, and a pair of tickets to Crown Hill Cemetery tours, courtesy of of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: 'Preservation at the Crossroads'

The Hoosier History Live! Roadtrip report? Oh yes, that's a live call-in report about a cool place to visit in the Hoosier state, or a festival, or an event coming up. Preservation at the Crossroads logo.A fond farewell to Chris Gahl, whose extensive schedule as vice president of marketing and communications at Visit Indy has made it necessary for him to sign off from his additional duties. And our sincere thanks to Visit Indy for continuing to provide prizes for our History Mystery winners.

Coming up next, the Rotating Roadtrippers! Yes, we are asking several of you to step up and report your favorite spots and activities around the state.

Up this Saturday is Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography, who chairs the Hospitality Committee for Preservation at the Crossroads. The annual preservation conference for the National Trust for Historic Preservation will be holding its annual conference in Indy this fall, from Oct. 29 through Nov. 2.  Hear more on the show this Saturday, and click here to watch a video that puts Indy in a whole new light! 

Amelia Earhart and her Indiana connections

Amelia Earhart in stride beside her plane. Image courtesy Purdue University.(March 23, 2013 - encore presentation) - She vanished more than 75 years ago over the South Pacific while attempting to fly around the world in a Lockheed Electra 10E twin-engine airplane sponsored by Purdue University. That's just one of the connections between famous aviator Amelia Earhart and the Hoosier state.

She was particularly associated with Purdue, which has the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of artifacts associated with the famous aviator, whose disappearance in 1937 remains a mystery.

To explore the sky-high stack of Earhart links to Indiana, Purdue staff writer and historian John Norberg, an aviation expert, joins Nelson in studio for one of the most popular shows in our Hoosier History Live! archives. (Its original air date was Sept. 15, 2012.) Our salute to Women's History Month makes a re-broadcast of this show particularly appropriate.

Amelia Earhart in 1931 set a world altitude record of 18,415 feet in a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro plane.During the final two years before Amelia Earhart vanished, she was a sort of visiting celebrity-in-residence on the West Lafayette campus, where she was a career counselor for women students, and where she lectured and conducted conferences. She also was an adviser to the university’s department of aeronautics.

Despite her fame, "Lady Lindy" chose to stay in a women's dorm (then known as South Hall, today it's part of Duhme Hall) and eat with students in the cafeteria.

In 1935, the same year she joined the Purdue faculty, Earhart visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She became the first woman to receive an official position during the  Indianapolis 500. serving as a race official. Earhart also demonstrated a parachute  training device before the race began.

The pioneer aviator was just 39 years old when she disappeared with her navigator, Fred Noonan, while flying from New Guinea to the Howland Islands.Amelia Earhart. She was attempting to become the first woman to circumnavigate the globe.

Purdue's sponsorship of her Lockheed Electra included arranging for financial assistance from Indianapolis business leader J.K. Lilly and other donors. The huge collection of Earhart memorabilia at Purdue includes some of her flight suits, logs and diaries, lecture notes, poems and even a pre-marital agreement with her husband, George Putnam.

Amelia Earhart wasn't a native Hoosier. Born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897, Earhart earned her pilot’s license in 1922 and within a month set an altitude record (14,000 feet) for a woman aviator.

John Norberg.Subsequently, her list of record-breaking achievements included becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, and two years later setting a speed record (181 mph) for a woman in flight.
Invitations to establish a relationship with Purdue apparently were appealing for several reasons. She  liked the fact that engineering and mechanical training were fully open to women students, and she was appreciative that, in 1935, Purdue was the only university in the country with its own airstrip.

Our guest John Norberg has written extensively about Earhart's colorful life. During our show, he confirms various accounts about the impact of her stay on the Purdue campus. They include an appeal by women students to administrators after they observed the celebrity aviator in slacks. Under a dress code enforced in the mid-1930s, women students at Purdue were prohibited from wearing slacks.

Birds across Indiana

American White Pelicans at the Wabashiki Fish & Wildlife Area in Vigo County, Indiana. The species is becoming a more common migrant in the state. Photo by Marty Jones.(March 16, 2013) - Have you heard birds chirping?

Anticipating the arrival of spring, Hoosier History Live! will swoop into all things related to birds across the state. Our show will feature the return appearance of a guest who is making his own history.

Don Gorney, a longtime volunteer board member of Amos Butler Audubon Central Indiana who is known for his bird hikes that often are based at Fort Harrison State Park, has just become the first full-time staffer in the 75-year history of the nonprofit.

Don joined Nelson in studio to share insights about our bird heritage in late November 2009 for a show that primarily focused on winter-related aspects of our feathered friends. This time around, with spring imminent, there is much more turf to cover.

Cliff Chapman.Nelson also is joined by Cliff Chapman, conservation director of the Central Indiana Land Trust and a board member of Amos Butler Audubon.

During the show, we explore the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area in Greene County near the town of Linton. According to our guest Don Gorney, about 8,000 acres of restored marsh and prairie were drained in the 1800s for the site. It has become a "hot spot" for bird watching because of the sheer numbers of species and individual birds.

"In late February and early March, there were thousands of geese, over 15,000 Sandhill Cranes, 200 American White Pelicans, 25,000 ducks and nesting bald eagles" seen at the Goose Pond Fish and Wildlife Area, Don reports.

In his new post as Amos Butler Audubon's director of bird conservation and education, Don will be an advocate for bird conservation and lead the Lights Out Indy initiative designed to prevent the nighttime deaths of birds as they migrate over the Hoosier capital. He also will oversee a Wings Over Indy project that's designed to benefit - hold on to your hat - chimney swifts.

Don Gorney visits with a hyacinth macaw, a species of parrot that is native to South America, at the Indianapolis Zoo. In addition, Don will be working with the city of Indy to increase awareness of the Indianapolis Birding Trail. Expected to be unveiled later this spring, the non-linear trail will highlight existing sites in Marion County where birds can be found.

"Trail sites," he says, "will be designated by signage, and narrative text will be available via a website and smartphone app."

Our guest Cliff Chapman, who oversees land management for the Land Trust's preserves located throughout central Indiana, lives in Indy on a nature preserve on the White River. He describes himself as "passionate about birds," noting he has traveled across the country to seek out "rare birds in sometimes beautiful and sometimes difficult areas."

Amos Butler Audubon describes itself as a "grassroots chapter" of the National Audubon Society. Don, a naturalist who has worked as a bank examiner, began serving on the chapter's board in 2009. He recommends www.ebird.org as a convenient way to keep bird checklists and provide important data to researchers.

During our show, Don, Cliff and Nelson also explore:

  • The Indiana "Big Year". The "big year" concept in birding - which involves seeing large numbers of different species in a specific geographical area - came to widespread public attention thanks to the movie The Big Year (2011). According to Don Gorney, the Indiana Big Year record is 313 species seen in 2008. Only about eight people, including Don, have "broken" the 300 barrier in Indiana. (He saw 301 species in 2005.)
  • Eagle Creek Park Ornithology Center. It's probably the only municipal center in the country dedicated only to birds, Don reports.
  • Human-induced hazards to birds. They include, in Don's words, "free-roaming cats, urban lighting, loss of habitat, pesticides and wind turbines."

Roadtrip: Urban Homestead at Flower and Patio Show

A detail from the “Urban Homestead” lot concept.Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy will be calling in with a live report from the 55th annual Indiana Flower and Patio Show, which runs through March 17 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

Amidst the lush flowers, landscaping and innovative building materials you get to see every year, new this year is the "The Urban Homestead" - an on-site primer for adopting and living a sustainable (think small house!) lifestyle.

The "Eco Cottage" on display sits on a 10,000-square-foot "city lot" inside Expo Hall, complete with rain gardens, rain barrels, wind turbines, wood-burning boiler, chicken coops with live chickens, raised-bed gardens and beehives. Learn more when you tune in this Saturday!

History Mystery

Birds - majestic, colorful or wise - serve as the mascots for sports teams at some Indiana high schools. At one high school, the sports teams are known as the Owls. At another, they are the Cardinals, in honor of our state bird. Other high schools have as their mascots the Blackhawks, the Eagles and the Golden Eagles.

Question: Name just ONE of the Indiana high schools with one of these bird-themed mascots.

This week's prize is a gift certificate to the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, courtesy of Visit Indy, as well as two tickets to You Are There, where you can see the new 1913: A City Under Water interactive exhibit that opens March 26, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.

Flood of 1913, worst in state history

The Whitewater River during the flood of 1913 reached the second stories of homes in Brookville, Ind. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.(March 9, 2013) - "How could a disaster that claimed 1,000 lives be forgotten?"

So asks Trudy E. Bell, a science writer and author based in Ohio, in a recent blog post in advance of the 100th anniversary of what is generally considered to be the greatest flood in Indiana history. Almost every Hoosier town near water - whether a river, lake or even a pond - found itself overwhelmed by the catastrophic Flood of 1913, which occurred on Easter weekend in late March.

Even worse, Terre Haute had just been hit by a tornado that caused an estimated $1 million to $3 million in damage (in 1913 dollars), according to an article Trudy wrote for Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine.

"Levees," she reports, "burst all over the state - on the Mississinewa River in Marion,  on the White River in Muncie, on the Wabash River in Lafayette, and on the Ohio River in Lawrenceburg - flooding the cities they were supposed to protect."

Wulf's Hall Relief Station on west side of downtown Indianapolis on March 31, 1913, following the Great Flood of that year. "You Are There 1913: A City Under Water," a 2013 exhibit with re-enactors at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, is based on this historic photograph. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.Indianapolis became "the single largest city ... badly devastated by the flood," Trudy notes.

She is among Nelson's guests for this show about the natural disaster, which usually is remembered - if at all - because of the deaths of nearly 500 caged lions, tigers and other circus animals who drowned in Peru.

Others know about the horrific flood because of accounts about cadets from Culver Military Academy who undertook search and rescue operations in Logansport and other Hoosier communities.

In addition to Trudy, Nelson is joined in studio by Eloise Batic and Angela Giacomelli, two historical researchers with the Indiana Historical Society. They are helping put together an upcoming exhibit, titled "You Are There 1913: A City Under Water," that opens March 26 at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center.

Re-enactors at the exhibit will portray historic Hoosiers, including Frederick Ayres, the president of the department store founded by his father; he was a key figure on the Indy relief committee for the Flood of 1913.

The south side of Peru, Ind., is pictured during the 1913 flood there. Eleven people died in Peru because of the flood. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.Another re-enactor will portray a bicycle-bound postal carrier on the city's west side who took photos of the flood that indicate he was in the middle of the chaos when a levee broke on the Morris Street Bridge.

Amid the torrential rain and flooding in Peru, according to Trudy's article in Traces, more than 3,000 "instantly homeless" residents tried to jam into the hilltop Miami County Courthouse. It became a relief center akin to the Superdome in New Orleans decades later during Hurricane Katrina. Inside the courthouse, 12 people suffocated to death from the overcrowding. Outside, other Peru residents endured a night of pelting rain as they huddled in hopes of gaining entry - and watched in terror as the floodwaters crept ever higher.

By the end of the horrific flood, about 200 Hoosiers had died, with 200,000 others left homeless. (The total fatality count of nearly 1,000 includes deaths in other states.)

A note about the description of the 1913 flood as the state's worst:

Trudy E. Bell.According to several sources, some areas of the state - particularly in central and southwestern Indiana - actually endured worse flooding in June 2008. For example, Columbus experienced a flood then that was more than 6 inches higher than the March 1913 record. The flood in June 2008 forced the evacuation of 250 patients and employees at Columbus Regional Hospital, where total damage estimates exceeded $210 million.

Even so, the consensus of most experts is that the Flood of 1913 (which occurred on Easter weekend) has been the worst statewide, particularly in terms of deaths, loss of homes and the extent of the impact on daily lives. In Indiana, the full devastation began on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday in March of 1913, following what Trudy describes in her Traces article as a winter that had been "unusually warm and wet."

Angela Giacomelli.She writes that record, "hurricane-force" winds began sweeping across the state, blowing down barns, uprooting trees, whisking the roofs off buildings and downing power lines. Next came relentless, driving rains for days.

Gov. Samuel Ralston of Indiana appealed for help to the American Red Cross, which Trudy points out was rather small in 1913 and "still relatively unknown in the field of disaster relief." The governor's wife, Jennie Ralston, helped create a women's committee that provided relief for flood sufferers in Indianapolis.

At the Indiana History Center, the "You Are There" exhibit will focus on Wulf's Hall Relief Station, a saloon on the west side of downtown Indy that was quickly converted into a relief center. A re-enactor will portray the head rabbi of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation, which also was heavily involved with relief efforts.

Eloise Batic.On Trudy's website, she recounts how Indiana Reformatory inmates became heroes by helping save the town of Jeffersonville. Temporarily granted freedom by the reformatory's superintendent, the convicted felons battled "night and day for more than a week" to bolster two levees against the Ohio River's surging floodwaters. After the ordeal, Jeffersonville residents honored the prisoners with a lavish banquet.

In addition to the upcoming exhibit at the History Center, other exhibits related to the Flood of 1913 include:

Roadtrip: Historic New Carlisle on Lincoln Highway

Public historian Glory-June Greiff will be Roadtripping for us this Saturday. Her pick is New Carlisle in northern Indiana. It was established in 1835 on the Michigan Road and is also crossed by another scenic byway, the Lincoln Highway, so this trip will get take you to two historic roads for the price of one.

The downtown streetscape in New Carlisle, Ind.The Old Republic on the hill is the town's signature home and is headquarters of Historic New Carlisle, Inc. The home also houses a small museum of local artifacts and displays. New Carlisle also boasts a historic district of six blocks, including a picturesque downtown, and offers a great variety of historic styles of architecture.

Glory-June also tells us that New Carlisle has a slew of interesting restaurants, including Moser's Austrian Café, a real Irish pub, Millers Home Cafe for old fashioned comfort food, or The Diner for, well, your basic diner.

Our Roadtripper tells us if you're looking for more vigorous walking or communing with nature, nearby is Bendix Woods County Park (which formerly was the Studebaker Proving Grounds!) or the lovely Spicer Lake Nature Preserve. Enjoy!

History Mystery

In March 1913, just before the great flood that overwhelmed the entire state of Indiana, the town of New Castle was the setting for a tragedy that became a national media sensation for years and remains a mystery to this day. A vintage postcard shows the Henry County Courthouse in Newcastle, Ind. A 9-year-old girl suddenly vanished in a mystery that some have called Indiana's equivalent of the case of JonBenet Ramsey in a subsequent era.

The disappearance of the girl in New Castle in broad daylight - at about noon on March 20, 1913 - resulted in a national search, far-fetched theories about who might have abducted her, suspicion against her parents and massive media coverage.

Her mysterious disappearance even inspired two popular songs of the era. For decades, many parents would warn their children to take precautions while walking to school, playing outdoors or running errands - or else they could end up like the girl from New Castle who was never found.

Question: Name the girl who vanished in March 1913 in New Castle.

This week's prize is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 27, in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as two tickets to You Are There, where you can see the new 1913: A City Under Water interactive exhibit, courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.

Hoosier women pioneers in media

Pictured are officers of the Woman’s Press Club of Indiana in its inaugural year, 1913. Image courtesy Ann Allen.(March 2, 2013) - The state's first statue erected to honor a woman is in Turkey Run State Park and pays tribute to a journalist. The Woman's Press Club of Indiana celebrates a milestone, its 100th anniversary, this year. And the challenges confronted by women in Indiana media - from reporters and radio newscasters to newspaper owners - have been researched by their counterparts today.

So, as Hoosier History Live! salutes Women's History Month, we will focus on women journalists who blazed trails in our state, including some who attained national renown more than 100 years ago.

Nelson is joined in studio by two past presidents of the Woman's Press Club who have won multiple awards for their media work:

  • Julie Slaymaker, an Indianapolis-based freelance writer with an extensive background in print and radio. Her credits range from covering the rape trial of Mike Tyson to writing profiles of such Hoosier newsmakers as Susan Bayh and Judy O'Bannon.
  • And Ann Allen, a former newspaper owner based in the town of Akron in far-northern Indiana. Now a magazine and newspaper writer, Ann is the former owner and editor of the Akron News (later the Akron/Mentone News), the author of six books and a correspondent for the Rochester Sentinel.

In addition to discussing the challenges that they have confronted (as a staff member at an Indy radio station in the 1960s, Julie says she was told she could not be a news reader because women did not have "credibility" delivering newscasts), Julie and Ann also will share insights about Hoosier women of earlier media eras.

Juliet Strauss.They include Juliet V. Strauss (1863-1918) of Rockville in Parke County, who eventually became one of the country's best-read magazine writers. She wrote a monthly column called "The Ideas of a Plain Country Woman" for The Ladies Home Journal after beginning her career at The Rockville Tribune newspaper. Juliet Strauss, a founder of the Woman's Press Club,  also fought to save Turkey Run from developers. That explains why women journalists across the state arranged for her statue to be placed there.

Julie, Ann and Nelson also discuss Kate Milner Rabb (1866-1937), a columnist for The Indianapolis Star who became a president of the Woman's Press Club, and Hortense Myers (1913-1987), a legendary political reporter for United Press International who was the first woman inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.

Ann Allen.Julie and Nelson are board members for the Hall of Fame, which inducted Rabb posthumously last year. They also share details about their late, cherished friend, Bettie Cadou, an Indianapolis-based writer known for breakthroughs in sports journalism who also was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame.

In 1971 - six years before Janet Guthrie became the first woman driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500 - Bettie Cadou shattered a barrier at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She is considered to have been the first woman, in any professional capacity, to gain coveted silver-badge credentials to Gasoline Alley, allowing her access to the pits and garage areas. Kate Milner Rabb.(A few other women, including some journalists and sponsors, occasionally had been allowed in Gasoline Alley for brief visits. In general, though, women had been barred from the pits and garage areas ever since the opening of the world-famous racetrack in 1909.) Bettie's entry followed a lawsuit against the Speedway filed by Mari McCloskey, a staff member of Women's World magazine,

Bettie Cadou, who died at age 66 in 2002, also covered the Indianapolis Colts during the 1980s as a stringer for The New York Times and Sports Illustrated. She once told Nelson: "I'm probably the only grandmother covering an NFL team in the country."

Nelson and his guests also explore the challenges confronted by the first woman photographer to cover the state high school basketball tournament. Ruth Chinn, now 88, is a Muncie-based photojournalist who, as our guest Ann Allen puts it, "broke into sports reporting with a bang" in the mid-1940s. Lugging 55 pounds of camera equipment into Hinkle Fieldhouse (then Butler Fieldhouse), she covered the tournament during an era when fewer than 20 women in the country were staff photographers for daily newspapers.

Julie Slaymaker.Ann Allen, who has written an article about the Woman's Press Club of Indiana for an upcoming issue of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History magazine, notes: "Lest we forget, founding members had to overcome their editors' fears that they might become, horror of horrors, suffragettes. Many were called into their editors' offices to see just what they had in mind with this new club."

Some history facts:

  • The Woman's Press Club of Indiana was founded in 1913 at a famous, bygone site that we explored on a recent radio show: the L.S. Ayres Tea Room.
  • Our guest Ann Allen's recent newspaper work has included a first-person account of putting herself on a food stamp budget for one week, and also a story about the disappearance of an Akron man that remains an unsolved mystery.
  • During World War II, Hortense Myers was recruited to handle the sports desk for a wire service. She resorted to a byline ("M.H. Powner") that disguised the fact that a woman was writing about sports.

Roadtrip: Mauxferry Road, Indiana's 'Mother Road'

Mauxferry Road, northbound in Bartholomew County, Indiana, date unknown.We had a listener tell us that not enough attention has been paid to Indiana's "Mother Road," the Mauxferry Road, which originally ran from Mauckport on the Ohio River and ended in Indianapolis. The name Mauxferry Road has pretty much disappeared in most parts of the state; for example, in Bartholomew County the name of the road was changed to 500 West, but the name "Mauxferry" remains on the much of the road in Johnson County.

In 1824, the road was completed, and in the fall of that year, the state's treasury and other tools of government were moved from Corydon to the new capital of Indianapolis. Learn more when you tune in this Saturday.   

History Mystery

In 1971, Indianapolis-based journalist Bettie Cadou made a breakthrough for women at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Six years before Janet Guthrie became the first woman driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500, Bettie Cadou is considered to have been the first woman, in any professional capacity, to gain coveted silver-badge credentials at the Speedway, allowing her access to the pits and garage areas.

Bettie Cadou. Image courtesy Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.Although a few other women, including some journalists, occasionally had been allowed in Gasoline Alley for brief visits, three things had been considered bad luck in the pits and garage areas since the Speedway opened in 1909. They were women, peanuts and a certain color.

In fact, when Janet Guthrie made international headlines in 1977 by becoming the first woman driver in the Indy 500, she deliberately showed up with a race car painted in this long-unseen color as a gesture of defiance against antiquated traditions.

Question: What was the color that was considered bad luck for so many decades in Gasoline Alley at the world-famous racetrack?

This week's prize is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 27 in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as two tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, courtesy of Visit Indy.

What do you do with vacant, historic movie theaters?

The Tivoli Theatre in Spencer, Ind., pictured here in 1929, opened on New Year’s Eve 1928. Image courtesy Owen County Historical and Genealogical Society.(Feb. 23, 2013) - On this Academy Awards gala weekend, Hoosier History Live! spotlights an aspect of our movie heritage. Specifically, we focus on the challenges that confront towns and neighborhoods with historic movie theaters that, while glorious in their heyday and built with marquees, balconies and platforms or pits for organs and pianos, have fallen on hard times.

That's particularly been the case for many vintage theaters built with only one screen, limiting their ability to compete with newer, multiscreen cinemas in shopping centers.

Among the historic theaters that have been in the news recently - and that we will explore during the show - is the once-lavish and beloved Rivoli Theatre on the near eastside of Indianapolis. Built in 1927 on East 10th Street, the Rivoli had a seating capacity of 1,500. Its sad post-heyday fate has included a long stint as an X-rated theater, then an even longer stretch of sitting vacant and deteriorating alarmingly.

The Rivoli Theatre, on East 10th Street in Indianapolis, is pictured circa 1930. Efforts are afoot to save the structure. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Collection.Our in-studio guests include Mark Dollase of Indiana Landmarks, who in his off-duty life has been a key organizer of the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts, a non-profit that now owns the theater. (The city of Indy recently announced that a $300,000 federal grant will be used to repair a portion of the Rivoli's roof, merely one of a long list of needs for the vacant theater.)

Mark and Nelson also are joined by Jeannie Regan-Dinius of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, who, with her husband, once owned the historic Huntington Theatre in Huntington. In her capacity as the DNR's director of special initiatives in historic preservation, Jeannie has been assisting a range of landmark theaters across the state, some with uncertain fates and others undergoing restoration.

The latter include the Tivoli Theatre in Spencer, which opened on New Year's Eve in 1928. Located on the town's courthouse square, the Tivoli drew crowds from surrounding communities and featured stage shows and concerts, as well as movies. A few years after a fire, the Tivoli closed in the 1990s and has been vacant.

Last summer, though, a restoration of the Tivoli began, thanks to funding from the Cook Group. The Damm Theatre in Osgood, Ind., is named for German immigrant Louis Damm, who purchased it in 1922. "The Whole Damm Family" literally operated the theater from 1922 to 1989. It reopened in 2008 with funding from the Reynolds Foundation, and it currently is open weekends. Hoosier History Live photo.Details of the Tivoli, past and present, are shared by a third guest on our show, Spencer resident Jason Kinney, a board member and the historian for Owen County Preservations Inc., which owns the Tivoli.

Jason, who also is the president of the Owen County Historical and Genealogical Society, has been researching and providing historical photos for the extensive restoration of the Tivoli's auditorium.

Nelson and his guests also explore the vintage Fowler Theatre, which has been restored in the Benton County town of Fowler, and a bygone movie palace, also called the Rivoli, that was torn down in Muncie.

In Bloomington, though, the Buskirk Chumley has been restored; during its Act One life, it was known as the Indiana Theatre for decades after it opened as a silent movie house in 1922.

Among the single-screen survivors and success stories are the Devon Theatre, an Art Deco-style theater in Attica that opened in 1932, and, perhaps one of the best-known, the historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin.

In Indianapolis, the Rivoli initially was owned by Universal Studios and cost $250,000 to build during the 1920s. Located in a sprawling building with four storefronts, the Rivioli featured a decorative lobby with terrazzo floors made of marble, balconies, an orchestra pit and state-of-the-art acoustics. The Tivoli Theater in Spencer, Ind., is undergoing renovation, thanks to assistance from the Cook Group. Hoosier History Live! photo, 2007.During the late 1970s, the Rivoli became a venue for live music, then an adult movie theater.

Since its closing in 1992, the Rivoli's once-ornate interior has deteriorated to a state of "advanced decay," according to a recent Indianapolis Star article. In addition to the grant money for a new roof over the auditorium, Mark and others involved with the Rivoli Center for the Performing Arts are seeking more than $3 million to renovate the landmark.

In Fowler, the town's historic movie theater also had deteriorated. When the community learned in 2001 that artifacts from the theater's interior - and even its marquee - might be sold separately, a nonprofit, the Prairie Preservation Guild, formed. The Fowler Theatre reopened, with an all-volunteer "army" that continues to undertake tasks ranging from ticket taking to running the projector and selling concessions.

An issue expected to confront many vintage, single-screen theaters concerns the upcoming distribution of first-run movies only in digital formats. Many lovers of historic theaters worry that owners in small towns won't be able to afford the steep costs of converting their projection areas to digital.

Roadtrip: 'America's Music' in Vincennes opens March 4

A blues musician at left and a gospel singer at right are part of a collage for the America's Music event in Vincennes, Ind., in March of 2013.Chris Gahl of VisitIndy will suggest that we take the Roadtrip to Vincennes for the kickoff of "America's Music: A Film History of our Popular Music, from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway."

The opening film and discussion, presented by Tribeca Film Institute and Vincennes State Historic Sites, will take place Monday evening, March 4, at 6:30 p.m. in the Shircliff Auditorium at Vincennes University Campus and is free.

On the following day, March 5, Greg Gilpin will perform in the Skelton Center on the university campus at 7 p.m. For more information about the entire series featuring documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th-century American popular music, visit America's Music or Indiana State Historic Sites.

History Mystery

On the north side of Indy, the Vogue Theater opened in 1938 and was a popular neighborhood movie house for decades. Later, it became even better known with its recreation as a nightclub. The Vogue is now one of the most popular venues in the Indy metro area for dancing and contemporary music, with its movie-style marquee serving as a landmark on North College Avenue.

Farther south on College Avenue, a neighborhood movie house once was a popular destination near East 42nd Street. The movie theater opened in 1926 and was designed by the architectural firm that also created the Circle Theatre in downtown Indy. The movie house near College and 42nd closed during the 1970s. Unlike the Vogue and the Circle, it was demolished.

Question: Name the bygone movie theater that was a familiar site for decades at College and 42nd on the north side of Indy.

This week's prize is two tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 27 in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as a gift certificate for The Sanctuary, the Art of Nancy Noel in Zionsville, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Wine heritage in Indiana

Richard Vine. Photo by Shannon Zahnle.(Feb. 16, 2013) - When you put together a mix of wine, broadcasting and Indiana, doesn't one person's name pop to mind? Indy's own Jill Ditmire, a nationally known wine expert who also is a radio and TV veteran, joins Nelson to co-host this show about various aspects of our state's wine heritage.

Jill is the owner of Mass Ave Wine Shoppe in downtown Indy, a member of the American Wine Society and a popular speaker about food and wine. She also is a judge at international wine competitions. Nelson and Jill explore Indiana's wine heritage with two guests who are household names among Hoosier connoisseurs.

Jill Ditmire.They are joined in studio by Richard Vine, a professor emeritus at Purdue University of enology (that's the study and making of wine) and the author of a new book, The  Curious World of Wine: Facts, Legends and Lore About the Drink We Love So Much (Perigee Books).

Deeply knowledgeable about Indiana wineries, Richard is the namesake of the wine library at Purdue, the Richard P. Vine Enology Library, which includes his collection of hundreds of books about wine and wine-making. Mark Easley.He has been knighted by three international wine brotherhoods and is the retired chairman of the Indy International Wine Competition.

Also joining us are Mark Easley, who with his wife Meredith owns Easley Winery in downtown Indianapolis. They are second-generation owners of the winery, 205 N. College Ave., which was founded by Mark's parents, Jack and Joan Easley.

(More than 40 years ago, Jack Easley, an attorney, was a key member of a group that formed to change Indiana's laws, which greatly restricted wine-making in the Hoosier state. The elder Easleys opened the winery in the 1970s in a former ice cream factory; they had their first "grape crush" in 1974.)

We're grateful to Mark because he joins our show by phone from a remote location in the Caribbean! That's even relevant to the topic because the Easleys apparently came up with the idea for a "reggae" wine when they visited an exotic locale near the site where he'll be calling in.

An 1895 map of Switzerland County, Indiana, shows the small town of Vineyard, which no longer exists. It was the location of America’s first commercially successful vineyard.Some more fun facts:

  • The Indiana Wine Fair, one of the largest wine festivals in the state, will be April 27 in Brown County.
  • According to a recent article in Nuvo Newsweekly, Indiana currently has about 60 wineries.
  • In addition to being the author of his new book about wine, our guest Richard Vine has written four wine textbooks. He also was hired for many years by American Airlines to select the wines to be served aboard their flights.

Jill Ditmire's co-hosting gig with Nelson is something of a return to WICR-FM (88.7). Regular listeners will fondly remember Jill's sparkling segment - called "So Many Wines" - that was featured on Too Many Cooks!, the former "sister" show of Hoosier History Live!

"Learn more" websites:

Roadtrip: Toboggan at Pokagon State Park

Suzanne Stanis, with family and a friend, survived a recent toboggan run at Pokagon State Park.Guest Roadtripper Suzanne Stanis of Indiana Landmarks recently took the Roadtrip up to Pokagon in the far-northeast corner of Indiana, where she and her family survived a run on the famed refrigerated toboggan run.

Pokagon State Park is located near Angola, just off I-69, and, although its original name was Lake James State Park, in 1925 its name was changed to acknowledge the rich Native American heritage of the state and region.

Leopold and Simon Pokagon were father and son and the last two most notable leaders of the Potawatomi, who made their home in the area. Other winter activities at Pokagon include cross-country skiing, sledding and ice fishing.

History Mystery

In 2005, a famous Hoosier announced that he was teaming with a California winery to produce a line of wines. Indiana Wine Grape Council logo.Apparently the famous Hoosier, a former star athlete, had been dabbling in growing grapes for several years. Even so, he was not usually associated with California. In addition to owning homes in Indiana, the famous Hoosier in recent years also has lived in Naples, Fla.

Question: Who is the famous Hoosier?

This week's prize is four tickets to the Indiana Wine Fair on Saturday, April 27 in Brown County, courtesy of Story Inn, as well as a $25 gift certificate for merchandise at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Long-forgotten man who designed Indy

Alexander Ralston also located and designed this governor’s mansion, which was built in 1827 in the middle of Monument Circle. It was demolished in the 1870s. No governor ever occupied the residence. This sketch is from c. 1850s. Courtesy Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Collection.(Feb. 9, 2013) - Finally and at last, the surveyor who traveled to the Indiana wilderness and laid out the state's new capital is getting some respect.

A boutique hotel that just opened in downtown Indianapolis is named in honor of Alexander Ralston. So is a pub-restaurant that opened last year on Massachusetts Avenue, one of the dozens of streets designed by the planner who even had slipped into obscurity by the time he died in 1827.

Hoosier History Live! not only will explore the unheralded life of the surveyor (Ralston also helped design Washington D.C.) who had such an enormous impact on the Hoosier capital, we also will analyze issues that historians have debated for decades: The reasons Ralston gave various names to specific streets in the new city.

For this show about Ralston (1771-1827), Nelson is joined in studio by Ratio Architects founder Bill Browne, who has delved into the pioneer surveyor's street-naming process. Other guests are Indianapolis historian Sheryl Vanderstel and Joan Hostetler, co-owner of Heritage Photo & Research Services, both of whom have researched Ralston's colorful life.

A Scottish expatriate, Ralston was an assistant to French architect Pierre L'Enfant when he laid out the nation's capital. But Ralston came to the "west" - the Indiana frontier - at least partially because he was linked to controversial politico Aaron Burr. With surveyor Elias Pym Fordham, Ralston was hired to design the new state capital that was created in marsh and swampland during the 1820s.

A detail from Alexander Ralston’s original Plat of the Town of Indianapolis. For nearly 200 years, though, virtually nothing in Indianapolis was named in his honor, although some Hoosiers advocated naming I-465 for Ralston. (Do you remember when Indy native David Letterman led a mock crusade to have I-465 named after himself?)

Now, though, Alexander Ralston is becoming "a bit of a rock star," as Urban Times editor Bill Brooks put it in a recent column in the monthly newspaper that serves Indy's historic neighborhoods.

The Alexander, the boutique hotel (with extensive, urban artwork) that recently opened as part of the large CityWay development on the south end of downtown, is named in tribute to Indy's initial designer. The hotel's bar, Plat 99, takes its name from the site's location on Ralston’s grid.

And Ralston Draft House on Massachusetts Avenue also is named in honor of the long-unheralded city designer.

In addition to sharing his insights into Ralston's street-naming process on our show, our guest Bill Browne, who is board chairman of the Indiana State Museum, will share his conclusions in an upcoming article in Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, the magazine published by the Indiana Historical Society.

Our guest Sheryl Vanderstel researched and wrote the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis (Indiana University Press, 1994) entries for Ralston, who planned Indy's original Mile Square plat, as well as for surveyor Fordham.

Our guest Joan Hostetler, who specializes in local historic research and in preserving, digitizing and archiving historic photos, collaborated with Nelson and photographer Garry Chilluffo on the Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press, 2004) visual history book.

Grave of Alexander Ralston in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis. His gravestone, featuring a drawing of his Indianapolis plat, was erected in 1937 by the Indianapolis Teachers Federation.With her deep knowledge of Hoosier history, Joan has been a studio guest on our show several times, including a program in October 2011 during the controversy about whether to rename Georgia Street in downtown Indy. (Joan launched and led the Facebook crusade to retain the Georgia Street name.)

Not only did Ralston come up with the Georgia Street name, Ralston assigned state names to most of the thoroughfares in the city's original Mile Square, including Pennsylvania Street and Massachusetts Avenue. He made exceptions for Meridian Street, Market Street (which was designed with the idea of having a City Market on it) and Washington Street.

Like many residents of early Indy, Ralston never expected the city to grow beyond the Mile Square, which is bounded by North, South, East and West streets.

In his native Scotland, Ralston had been an engineer. After the Revolutionary War, he immigrated to the new United States and assisted L'Enfant with the city plan for Washington D.C. Ralston also was at least somewhat involved with Aaron Burr, the vice president who later was charged with (but subsequently acquitted of) treason.

In his new hometown of Indy, Ralston was influenced by the Washington D.C. design. He planned the central circle (what eventually became known as Monument Circle) in the center of the Mile Square grid, with four diagonal, radiating avenues, including Indiana Avenue and Virginia Avenue.

But the city's designer even was forgotten during his lifetime for reasons that Nelson will explore with his guests.

Like former world champion bicyclist Major Taylor, who was the focus of last week's show, Ralston was buried in an unmarked grave. More than 100 years later, he received a headstone on his burial site at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Even so, nothing in the Hoosier capital was named in his honor until the new hotel and the pub. Ralston Avenue on the northside of Indy was named in honor of Samuel Ralston, who was elected governor in 1913 and was not related to the city planner.

Roadtrip: Black History picks with Dona Stokes-Lucas

This historical marker about the Indiana Federation of Colored Women's Clubs stands in front of the Clubhouse at 2034 N. Capitol Ave. in Indianapolis.Guest Roadtripper Dona Stokes-Lucas will be calling in with a live report from the inaugural Sankofa Black Heritage Festival, which will be going on from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Great Hall at the Indiana State Museum. Admission to the Great Hall is free (parking is $3 for the first three hours), and regular admission costs apply to the other exhibits at the museum, including the just-opened blockbuster Lincolns: Five Generations of an American Family.

Dona has a couple of other downtown Indianapolis Black Heritage picks, including the Crispus Attucks Museum and the Indiana Federation of Colored Women's Clubs Clubhouse.

Then at 5:45 p.m. you can head over to Central Library for the Meet The Artist reception, where the African American History committee of the Indianapolis Public Library is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The reception is free and runs from 5:45 to 10 p.m., with free parking. You'll experience a showcase of visual artists, music and spoken word, along with a fashion show with commentary by Indianapolis designer Alpha Blackburn.

History Mystery

Like most of the other major streets designed by Alexander Ralston in the original Mile Square of Indianapolis, Capitol Avenue initially was named after a state. Indiana’s capitol building, as seen from Capitol Avenue, which formerly had a different name.Many thoroughfares continue to have their original "state" name to this day: Illinois Street, Indiana Avenue, Pennsylvania Street, Massachusetts Avenue and Ohio Street are examples.

The current Indiana Statehouse - or Indiana State Capitol Building - was built for $2 million in the late 1880s on a street that still carried its original "state" name. But not too many years later, during the 1890s, the Indianapolis City Council voted to rename the street "Capitol Avenue," dropping the state name.

Question:  What was the state that Capitol Avenue initially was named for?

This week's prize is a gift certificate of $70 to go toward tickets to a performance at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club, as well as a $25 gift certificate for merchandise at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Major Taylor, world's greatest bicyclist of early 1900s

(Feb. 2, 2013) - Amid the international controversy swirling around Lance Armstrong, Hoosier History Live! explores the dramatic life of the Indianapolis native who was the world's top bicyclist during the 1890s and early 1900s - and whose amazing victories were accomplished without performance-enhancing drugs.

Even so, Major Taylor (real name: Marshall W. Taylor) coped with a mountain of challenges, including extensive racial prejudice in Indiana and elsewhere. Major Taylor, in the lead, racing in Paris in 1908. Image courtesy Andrew Ritchie.Despite achieving wealth - and meeting the kings and queens of Europe - Major Taylor (1878-1932) died in poverty and was buried in a grave without a marker.

This show about one of the first African-Amerian athletes to become famous around the world kick-starts our salute to Black History Month.

Nelson is joined in studio by guests including Kisha Tandy, assistant curator of social history at the Indiana State Museum, which has an extensive collection of Major Taylor artifacts. They include lettters, rare photos, postcards and nine scrapbooks kept during his heyday by family members.

Kisha has been the local escort for Major Taylor's descendants, who live in Massachusetts but have visited sites in Indy connected with their legendary ancestor. Those sites include a historic marker erected on the Monon Trail near East 38th Street, the location of a bygone track where Taylor had been banned after setting a record.

Of course, the best-known Hoosier site named in honor of the former world champion is the Major Taylor Velodrome, a cycling track on Indy's westside. Built for $2.5 million, the velodrome opened in 1982 and helped accelerate belated recognition for Taylor, who died in obscurity in the charity ward of a Chicago hospital.

Our studio guests also include:

  • Judy Keene, an Indy-based editor and writer who, beginning in the 1970s when Major Taylor's triumphs had been forgotten, started writing articles about the athlete who once had been internationally acclaimed. Judy also did local research for California-based author Andrew Ritchie, whose biography Major Taylor: The Extraordinary Career of a Champion Bicycle Rider (Johns Hopkins University Press), helped call belated attention to the cyclist.
  • And Keith Cruz, organizer of Indiana Bicycle Polo Cooperative.

Coincidentally, Keith and his family live in a 100-year-old house in the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood of Indy that sits on the site of the bygone Newby Oval, a spectacular track that was said to be matched only by Madison Square Garden in New York City for excellence as a bicycle racing venue. Major Taylor competed at the Newby Oval in 1898, 1899 and 1900.

The Loving Cup trophy, presented to Major Taylor in 1901 after his victory at Parc des Princes in Paris, is on display at the Indiana State Museum. From the collection of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites.Taylor was just 16 when he won his first significant race, in 1895, even though spectators yelled racial slurs as he pedaled the 75 miles from downtown Indy (the route took the cyclists northbound up Massachusetts Avenue) to the Grant County town of Matthews.

During that era, many bicycle tracks in Indiana were open to whites only. Even when Major Taylor was setting world records in other countries, he was not spared from prejudice. Gangs of white cyclists often worked together during races to box him in or force him to wreck. In many American cities on the racing circuit, he had to hunt to find places to eat and sleep.

In addition to exploring Major Taylor's dramatic life, Nelson and his guests also will delve into the Newby Oval and other Hoosier cycling venues and competitions during an era before the ascendancy of the car, when bicycle racing was a wildly popular sport.

The northeast turn of the Newby Oval is now the site of Keith's house. A year-round bicycle commuter, Keith works as a designer and draftsman in the parks and greenway department of BF&S, a civil engineering firm.

Major Taylor, whose father was a Civil War veteran, was born in rural Marion County. (According to foklore, his "Major" nickname derived from his habit, beginning at 13, of wearing a military cap and uniform while performing bicycle tricks on local sidewalks.)

He moved to Massachusetts in 1896, seeking greater opportunities with sponsors and on the bicycle race circuit. Taylor reaped national, then international, fame, competing everywhere from France to Australia and winning the world sprint championship in 1899.

Major Taylor on bicycle, circa 1900.Throughout his life, Taylor, known as the "Ebony Streak," refused to compete on Sundays because of his promise to his mother to "lead an upright Christian life."

Unfortunately, he confronted almost overwhelming problems, particularly once Americans rapidly lost interest in bicycle racing with the popularity of cars. A combination of factors, including bad financial investments and a divorce, left him destitute.

When he died in 1932, Major Taylor was buried in an unmarked pauper's grave in Chicago. (Years later, a bronze tablet was erected in a ceremony organzied by Frank Schwinn of the Schwinn Bicycle Company, who never forgot Taylor's heroics.)

Long before then, the Newby Oval had been torn down. Built on 15 acres near 30th Street and east of Central Avenue, the quarter-mile track had cutting-edge electrical lights and grandstand seats; it regularly drew crowds of nearly 20,000 bicycle racing fans.

But the track's developer, Arthur Newby, eventually joined partners who were car enthusiasts, including Carl Fisher and Jim Allison, to focus on the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Some recommended "learn more" websites:

Roadtrip: Love Your Heart/You Are There 1939: Healing Bodies

With Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy out on assignment, our guest Roadtripper will be statuesque Amy Lamb of the Indiana Historical Society. On the heels of Valentine's Day and in celebration of American Heart Month, Amy will tell us about the "Love Your Heart" program on Saturday, Feb. 16, at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center in downtown Indianapolis. Free admission will be offered to guests, and the day includes presentations and heart-healthy activities.

To learn more about early heart health in Indianapolis, guests will also be able to step back in time with You Are There 1939: Healing Bodies, Changing Minds to learn the story of Dr. Harvey Middleton, a black physician who was one of Indianapolis' early heart specialists.

"Love Your Heart" at IHS is a program of 2013 Indy Talks, which has the theme of Indy's Kids. IHS's daylong program will focus on heart and general health - especially for youths. Other participants will include the JCC with presentations about food choice, and energizing and educational activities will be offered by IUPUI's Schools of Physical Education and Tourism Management. Kroger also will be on hand to offer healthy food samples.

History Mystery

In the three "B" sports that captivated Americans from the 1890s through the 1920s - baseball, bicycle racing and boxing - Indianapolis was the hometown of two African-American superstars. Bicycling champion Major Taylor was the first to attain fame.

The other athlete was a baseball star - a slugger, pitcher and outfielder in the early era of the Negro Leagues who became known as "the black Babe Ruth."

A program for the Negro Leagues features the Indianapolis Clowns team. Beginning in 1915, his rookie year with the Indianapolis ABCs team, he spent 33 seasons playing for or managing various Negro League teams. Several baseball analysts have called him one of the greatest players who ever lived, although his achievements are hard to pin down because early record-keeping in the Negro Leagues was sketchy.

After a stellar career as a player, the Indy native became the manager in the 1930s of the Pittsburgh Crawfords, a team considered one of the greatest in Negro Leagues history. Later in life, the former player returned to his hometown to manage the Indianapolis Clowns.

Question: Who was the Indy native who became an early superstar of the Negro Leagues?

This week's prize is two tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home and two tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Pioneer music in early Indiana

Erik Peterson holding a banjo.(Jan. 26, 2013) - The jaw harp was popular. So were the fiddle and dulcimer. Community bands played flutes, whistles and drums.

There even were pianos before 1840 in Indiana, despite the significant challenges of transporting them to frontier communities via horse-drawn vehicles and river boats.

Musical instruments that weren't widely seen (or, in some cases, not present at all) in the Hoosier state of the 1820s, '30s and '40s: the guitar, banjo, harmonica, mandolin, ukulele and accordion.

"Keep in mind that, during the pioneer era, Mozart had not been dead for as long as Buddy Holly has been gone today," says Erik Peterson, an Indianapolis-based musician and historian who has performed at Prairietown at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park and at other history-focused sites.

Erik has been researching pre-1840 music of central Indiana for a postgraduate degree, thanks in part to a fellowship from the Society of Indiana Pioneers. Adept at various instruments, Erik often performs traditional Irish, American folk and Celtic music with various ensembles, including Hogeye Navvy, an Indy-based band known for sea chanteys.

To share insights about the music cherished by early Hoosier settlers - and to perform a few musical interludes to convey a flavor - Erik joins Nelson in studio for what is certain to be a lively, memorable show. Erik has been gaining insights by tracking down diaries, letters and journals of pioneer families.

"People in that era were incredibly musical," he says. "Music was a daily part of their lives, and it served as a way to build community among neighbors."

This ad for singing instruction appeared in the Indiana State Journal on Jan. 20, 1838.The jaw harp, a hand-held instrument about the size of a harmonica, was played frequently. Erik, who notes that the jaw harp primarily is relegated today to the soundtracks of cartoons, will play a rendition on the instrument during our show.

"The fiddle was the king of instruments here during the pioneer era," he says. "It's loud, and it's portable."

According to Erik, reliable accounts indicate the presence of a piano in Switzerland County in 1814, two years before Indiana even became a state. The extraordinary effort undertaken to transport pianos here decades before railroads underscores the importance of music in the lives of pioneers. Many towns in early Indiana, Erik notes, even had community bands.

Like later generations, early settlers differed along gender lines when playing musical instruments. But the gender preferences often were reversed from those that unfolded later, Erik says. Many men tended to play flutes and violins, while  women played guitars and banjos once they finally made their way to Indiana, primarily after the Civil War.

A guitar once owned by folk musician Woody Guthrie is in the “Guitars!” exhibit that will open March 9 at the Eiteljorg Museum. Image courtesy EMP museum.Before that, advertisements for academies such as the Indianapolis Female Institute touted instruction in piano for young women.

In analyzing journals and letters of early settlers, Erik has combed through the extensive diaries of Calvin Fletcher, an attorney, banker and civic leader in Indianapolis. Fletcher (1798-1866) wrote about hearing an Irish bagpiper in the Hoosier capital early in the city's history. Fletcher moved to the  newly developing city during the 1820s.

During our show, Erik will play a few verses of a song that would have been played frequently in early Indiana: Hail, Columbia!, the unofficial national anthem of the era. (The Star Spangled Banner was not adopted as the official national anthem until 1931, about 100 years after the era that will be the focus of our show. Since then, Hail, Columbia! primarily has been played to introduce the American vice president.)

In addition to researching Indiana pioneer music for a master's degree at IUPUI, Erik is serving as a historical music consultant for an upcoming "Guitars: Roundups to Rockers" exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum. He also has worked at the Children's Museum.

Erik also recommends the following "learn more" websites:

  • There are a few pages on the history of the banjo. Music Folk, a guitar shop in St. Louis, has a nice and readable summary.
  • About.com's music education project has a pretty good page on the history of Hail, Columbia!, as well as a sound sample of its melody.
  • There are pages upon pages of material on music from the Civil War, but the University of Houston's Digital History project has one of the few summaries of pre-Civil War American music. UNC-Pembroke also has a page on the subject.

Roadtrip: Hiking and history in Delphi

Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi, Ind., has many hiking trails for exploring. Pictured is a red bridge.With Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy really on the road this week, our Guest Roadtripper will be the glorious Glory-June Greiff, Indianapolis public historian. She has made the day trip more than once up to the old canal town of Delphi in Carroll County, which is about 15 miles northeast of Lafayette.

There's plenty of hiking and history at the Wabash and Erie Canal Park in Delphi, which is open year-round and includes an Interpretive Center, lots of trails for hiking and biking, and canal boat rides (in season, however!).

Don't miss the Latrrope and Ruffing Opera House and adjacent shops. Glory-June also has an eye for great small-town restaurants; she says Delphi has the Stonehouse Restaurant and Bakery, and for your dining pleasure either coming or going, there is Treece Restaurant in Rossville. If you go, tell them Hoosier History Live! sent you!

History Mystery

The Crown Hill Cemetery Tour includes the National Cemetery, which is located within Crown Hill. It is called the "Field of Valor Veterans Section.” These tombstones recently were cleaned and restored. Harps of all kinds are built in a factory that has become a tourist attraction in a small Indiana town. Located in a former speakeasy, the factory building also includes a venue for concerts of harp music. The family-owned business makes instruments ranging from large symphonic harps to smaller harps, which they call "harpsicles," that are made in an array of colors. The former speakeasy-turned-harp factory is located on Main Street in its scenic hometown.

Question: Name the Indiana town.

This week's prize is two tours of Crown Hill Cemetery presented by Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, and two tours of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

L.S. Ayres & Company history

Listen.
(Show length 55:30)

The first Ayres Tea Room was on the fifth floor from 1905 until 1929. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.(Jan. 19, 2013) - The marketing slogan for its women's fashions: That Ayres Look. The eighth-floor dining spot beloved by generations: The Ayres Tea Room. The signature dish: Chicken velvet soup.

The holiday-season attractions: The lavish display windows and the Santaland Express children's train. The exterior landmark: The clock, which still perches in downtown Indy above the sidewalk at Meridian and Washington streets, once the site of the flagship L.S. Ayres & Company store.

Here's how a new, lavishly illustrated book sums up the impact of the legendary retailer on Hoosiers for more than 100 years: "Ayres was as much a part of Indianapolis as Monument Circle or the Indianapolis 500."

Ken Turchi, who has devoted years to researching and writing L.S. Ayres & Company: The Store at the Crossroads of America (Indiana Historical Society Press), joins Nelson in studio to explore all aspects of the company that grew to include Ayres department stores in suburban Indy neighborhoods such as the Glendale area, as well as in Fort Wayne, Muncie, Bloomington, Terre Haute and other Indiana cities. Ayres also opened chains of retailers such as Ayr-Way discount stores and Sycamore Shops, which catered to youthful preppies.

L.S. Ayres had an in-house advertising department with talented artists who captured "That Ayres Look" in sketches such as this one from 1960. Image courtesy Tiffany Benedict Birkson, Historic Indianapolis.With origins dating to 1872, when founder Lyman S. Ayres Sr. acquired a controlling interest in a dry-goods store called the Trade Palace in Indy, L.S. Ayres & Company (this link includes Ayres Storybook and Magic Mirror videos) was overseen by three generations of family members.

As our guest Ken Turchi puts it, they "took the store from its early silk-and-calico days to a diversified company with interests in specialty stores and discount stores - before Target and Wal-Mart."

The Trade Palace had just 27 employees when Lyman S. Ayres Sr. acquired control. By 1922, more than 2,000 employees worked for his son, Frederic Ayres, in Indianapolis. According to Ken Turchi's book, both Lyman Sr. and Frederic were modest, work-focused men who shunned the limelight and treated their employees with a nurturing style.

Lyman Sr., who had been a retailer in Geneva, N.Y., before moving to Indy, died in 1896. At that point, the opening of a department store at the corner of Meridian and Washington. an intersection then known as the "crossroads of America," was a dream. (The initial Ayres store was located elsewhere on Washington Street.) Frederic oversaw building of the flagship store, which opened in 1905 amid great fanfare.

The store's commitment to women's fashion gave Ayres, as our guest Ken Turchi puts it, "the same cachet as its larger competitors in New York and Chicago."

Ken Turchi. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.Ken, a former board member of Indiana Landmarks, grew up in Crawfordsville, worked at an Ayres store while attending college and has spent most of his career in aspects of marketing and strategic planning. Today he lives in Indy and commutes to Bloomington, where he is the assistant dean at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law. His home, built in 1954 in the northside Indy neighborhood of Arden, was featured on last June's Mid-Century Modern Home Tour. It is decorated with photos and memorabilia from Ayres and its major competitor, the locally owned William H. Block department-store chain.

He describes the flagship Ayres as "a traditional department store where you could spend the day browsing for everything from furniture to sheet music to sewing machines to typewriters."

In many ways, though, Ayres was more than just a store, Ken writes. "It was an experience."

During the 1980s, Ayres was acquired by May Company. A series of local blows followed, beginning with the closing of the Tea Room and the Top of the Stairs restaurants in the flagship Ayres store in the early 1990s. In 1991, the May Company announced that Ayres would not be part of the planned Circle Centre mall, which then was in a fragile state of development.

Cherub on clock at L.S. Ayres department store in Indianapolis in 1947. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.By the mid-2000s, the Ayres name had vanished from retailing after a local presence of more than 100 years. A portion of the sprawling, flagship Ayres building is now Carson Pirie Scott in Circle Centre, although the landmark clock continues to adorn the exterior. Part of Oceanaire restaurant is in the area where Ayres kept men's designer suits.

Some fun facts:

  • The "S" in L.S. Ayres actually was an abbreviation for nothing, according to Ken's book. He quotes the founder's great-granddaughter, Indianapolis civic leader Nancy Ayres, as revealing that the family patriarch did not have a middle name and created an "S" because "a store called L. Ayres wouldn't look or sound right."
  • The Ayres clock was designed by Kurt Vonnegut Sr., father of the famous novelist, and was installed in the 1930s. Decades earlier, the architectural firm of Kurt Sr.'s father, Bernard Vonnegut , had designed the Ayres building.
  • Fashion models strolled among diners in the Tea Room, a popular destination for well-dressed women and children, who could pick out a toy from a treasure chest when exiting.

Roadtrip: Henry Louis Gates Jr. to speak in Kokomo Jan. 25

Henry Louis Gates Jr.Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we take the Roadtrip to Kokomo to hear a presentation about genealogy titled "Finding your Roots." The speaker is the acclaimed Harvard professor, author and literary critic, Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., who also is host of the popular PBS television series Finding Your Roots.

This event commemorates the celebration of Ivy Tech Community College's 50th anniversary on March 15, 2013. Tickets for this event are available online at the Ivy Tech website.

While in Kokomo, you can also take the Wildcat Creek Walk of Excellence, which winds its way through several of Kokomo's city parks and historic areas. Auto buffs can also visit the Kokomo Automotive Museum, which houses more than 100 classic cars, including the first gasoline-powered car built in 1894 by Kokomo native Elwood Haynes.

History Mystery

Beginning in 1919, Fort Wayne residents patronized an upscale department store that became the equivalent of L.S. Ayres for shoppers in the state's second-largest city. Generations of Fort Wayne families enjoyed the store's holiday season windows and visited Santa Claus in the downtown retailer.

Wee Willie Wand doll.The store's Christmas mascot was a four-inch Wee Willie Wand doll, according to Ken Turchi's new book. In addition to the flagship store in downtown Fort Wayne, the retailer eventually opened a store in the city's Southtown Mall.

But Indianapolis-based L.S. Ayres, a competitor, opened a large branch store in Glenbrook Shopping Center on the north side of Fort Wayne in 1966. About three years after that, Ayres went a step further and bought the Fort Wayne stores run by the beloved retailer.

Question: Name the department store that, for more than half a century before its purchase by Ayres, was cherished by generations of Fort Wayne shoppers.

This week's prize is admission for two to the Eiteljorg Museum, two admissions to the Indiana Experience and two admissions to the Crispus Attucks Museum. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

A Hoosier amid the British royals

(Jan. 12, 2013) - How did a slice of Queen Elizabeth II's childhood birthday cake from the 1920s end up in the home of a Hoosier? How did he witness the post-wedding kiss on the balcony between Prince William and Duchess Kate?

Andrew Lannerd is pictured with Queen Elizabeth at her 80th birthday party at Buckingham Palace in 2006. Image courtesy Andrew Lannerd.And how has Andrew Lannerd, general manager of the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, been able to mingle with the royals at Buckingham Palace garden parties, present the queen with bouquets of flowers, speak to her half a dozen times and see her on about 40 occasions?

Fresh from spending the holiday season in England - where he stays near Sandringham Estate, the country retreat where the royal family is in residence for Christmas - Andrew joins Nelson in studio to share insights, anecdotes and the links between this young, energetic Hoosier and the world-famous Brits.

An avid collector of all things royal, Andrew estimates he owns about 500 books about British monarchs, plus countless artifacts and curiosities such as the birthday cake, a marble bust from 1860 of Queen Victoria and a chair from Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1952.

A couple of years ago, Andrew even lived in London and did commentary on royal-themed tours.

He's been the general manager of the 150-voice Indianapolis Symphonic Choir since 2010. Andrew, a native of Anderson, Ind., also enjoyed a five-year stint as house manager for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Prince William, son of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana, married Kate Middleton on April 29, 2011, as the world watched.As a fund-raiser for the symphonic choir, he will lead a group of Hoosiers on a "Britten in Britain Tour" to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of English composer Benjamin Britten. The travelers from Indiana also will enjoy special visits to sites associated with the royals. (For more details about the tour, visit indychoir.org).

Even though well-known protocol is involved when interacting with the royals - "you never extend your hand to the queen," Andrew notes - he emphasizes the royals are far from stuffy.

"Queen Elizabeth has a great sense of humor," he says. "She has a wonderful way of putting people at ease."

He's fond of all of the royals, including Queen Elizabeth's husband, Prince Philip, who has a reputation as cold.

"He's just no-nonsense," replies Andrew, who was seated near Prince Philip and his son, Prince Charles, during a historic service at Westminster Abbey in November 2011. The event, with the Archbishop of Canterbury presiding, celebrated the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.

"History came to life for me there," Andrew says.

The Hoosier's interest in British nobility was sparked by news coverage of the tragic death of Princess Diana in 1997. He began collecting memorabilia and traveling to England.

Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. In 2012, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee marked the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne following the death of her father, King George VI (subject of the movie The King’s Speech).Some of his entrees to exclusive events have unfolded because he has established and nurtured contacts within the royal household and staff. Others have come because Andrew camped outdoors to get the perfect vantage point to observe proceedings such as the post-nuptials kiss between William and Kate.

During Queen Elizabeth's visit to the United States in 2009, Andrew arranged to present her a bouquet when she toured the historic settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. (Jamestown, the first English settlement in what became the United States, was celebrating its 400th anniversary.)

In addition to a slice of the Queen's cake from her second birthday in 1928 - as well as cake from the wedding of her daughter, Princess Anne, in 1972 - Andrew's vast collection of artifacts includes:

  • Gloves owned by Wallis Warfield Simpson, the American divorcee for whom Prince Edward, the Duke of Windsor, abdicated the throne in 1936.
  • Dozens of documents and letters signed by various royals.
  • A chair from the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952.

Andrew's first visit to England and interaction with nobility was in 2001.

"It was," he says, "magic."

Roadtrip: Jackie Robinson play premieres at IRT

Jackie and Me cast performs at Indiana Repertory Theatre. Photo by Zach Rosing.Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we take the Roadtrip to the Indiana Repertory Theatre in downtown Indy to check out a compelling new play about Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player to play in the major leagues. Jackie and Me, written by Steven Dietz, is based on the popular young adult novel by Dan Gutman. In this theatrical presentation, a young boy's school report on Jackie Robinson finds him traveling back in time to meet one of the most influential baseball players in history. Now through Feb. 16.

History Mystery

Queen Elizabeth's second son, Prince Andrew (the Duke of York), came to Indiana in 2002. He visited the Hoosier state as part of the festivities leading up to a major sporting event. Prince Andrew, a former helicopter pilot, did not stay for the actual sports competition. But he visited businesses and helped build excitement for the upcoming sports event, which had many European competitors.

Question: What was the sports competition?

Hint: It's no longer held in Indiana.

This week's prize is a gift certificate to Mikado Japanese Restaurant in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy.

By the way, you'll notice that our questions are getting a little more difficult. Why? Because the number of listeners and fans is steadily increasing (as well as the number of visits to our website), so there is a larger pool of listeners who are well-versed in Indiana history!

Sharing memories in captivating ways

Around 1915, the Warsaw Band was formed. During its seven-year history, the group received acclaim when, during a parade in Anderson, Ind., the street lights went out and all of the bands were forced to stop playing except the "lively" Warsaw Band. Unlike all the others, the Warsaw Band could not read a note and played only from memory. Image courtesy remember.com.(Jan. 5, 2013) - It's the dawn of a new year, and you have history - personal history - to share. But how do you package your memories and reflections in ways that will interest other people?

This is the show for you, whether your memories are about Labor Day on Lake Monroe, the Pan Am Games of 1987, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or the crowd sensations inside Lucas Oil Stadium during the Super Bowl last February. Click for more!

Memories about several of these places, milestones and events have been posted on remember.com, a website founded by two native Hoosiers that's intended to be a "global memory bank" for people to share common experiences.

One of the co-founders of remember.com, Indianapolis entrepreneur Jason Becker, joins Nelson in studio to offer tips and advice about how to spark interest among other people (particularly total strangers) in verbal snapshots of your experiences.

Jason Becker.Another expert in studio on the topic of sharing memories is Lyn Jones, an assistant professor of English at Ball State University who has taught a wide range of Hoosiers - from at-risk youth to war veterans, mothers of children with disabilities and senior citizens - how to write memoirs. Lyn helped launch the Memoir Project at the Writers' Center of Indiana.

A sampling of Lyn's tips: Talk to someone who can help you cue a memory. And hunt up photos, objects and mementos that will help you remember.

Jason, a 2004 economics graduate of DePauw University, advises: "Re-immerse yourself totally in the experience, in what it felt like - what you saw, heard, smelled and felt."

Lyn Jones.He shares some of the most compelling memories that have been posted on remember.com since its debut in 2010. If the collaborative memory website develops as planned, noted an article in the Indianapolis Business Journal, it could become "the one-stop kind of site (for memories) that Wikipedia is for knowledge or Facebook is for friends."

Sitting at the Feet of Our Elders book cover.Jason founded remember.com with DePauw classmate Brandon Sokol, who grew up in Anderson, Ind., and now lives in New York City. The two co-founders are assisted on remember.com by about half a dozen friends and colleagues.

For the Writers' Center, our guest Lyn has been the co-editor of two anthologies of memoirs. They are Flanner House Speaks: Sitting at the Feet of our Elders and I Remember: Creative Writing by Indianapolis Youth. She also is the author of two editions of Painless Reading Comprehension.

"Memoir is the best search mechanism we are given," she notes. "Memoir is how we try to make sense of who we are, who we once were, and what values and heritage shaped us."

Jason, who has "day jobs" with two Indy-area software companies, says he has been surprised to notice that collaborative memorials - memories about people who have died - have become among the most popular entries on remember.com.

Whether writing a memorial or another type of short memory, he offers this suggestion: "Don't try to mimic someone else's voice. Do it in a way that's authentic to you."

Roadtrip: Cross-country skiing and sledding in Indy

Friends and dog cavort with a sled in the snow in a park. Image courtesy Indy Parks.Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we take advantage of snow on the ground (though will it last?) to explore cross-country skiing and sledding opportunities in Indy. The Indy Parks website tells us that there is great skiing at Eagle Creek Park, Northwestway Park, Southeastway Park Trails, and of course on the Indy Park Greenways if conditions permit. Provide your own equipment.

And remember, if you'd like to leave the Circle City and escape for a couple of snuggly winter nights, you can get “two nights for the price of one” at many of the state park lodges around the state through Feb. 28.

Winter is the perfect time for quietrelaxation! And if you do like snow, you can always look at the e-newsletter for last February's "Snow history with weatherman Chris Wright" show from the Hoosier History Live! archives.

History Mystery

A memoir by an Indiana-born entertainer begins with this quote: "Please, can I go home?"

She made the request to return to the Hoosier state for her father's funeral on the eve of her big break. As an 18-year-old in the early 1950s, she had been cast in the leading role in a national touring company of a popular musical. Question mark.The show was scheduled to open the next night, there was no understudy, and she had endured a complex relationship with her deceased father, an impoverished alcoholic.

Although the native Hoosier opens her memoir with the dilemma about her father's funeral - and despite other challenges that she recounts - she went on to achieve early success on Broadway, followed by a leading role in a TV series that has been seen in reruns almost continuously ever since its premiere more than 40 years ago.

Question: Name the entertainer from Indiana.

This week's prize is a gift certificate to MacNiven's Restaurant and Bar on Massachusetts Avenue in Indy, and two tickets to Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy.

By the way, you'll notice that our questions are getting a little more difficult. Why? Because the number of  listeners and fans is steadily increasing, and there's a larger pool of listeners out there who are well-versed in Indiana history. When we started the show five years ago, we had to make the questions a lot easier so we wouldn't eat up a lot of air time with wrong answers!

Lincoln's ally, our Civil War governor

Oliver P. Morton photograph. created from a wet collodion glass negative made by the Mathew Brady Studio, circa 1867. Library of Congress, Brady-Handy Collection. Research courtesy Heritage Photo and Research Services.(Dec. 29, 2012) - "If it was worth a bloody struggle to establish this nation, it is worth one to preserve it."

So declared (in a speech delivered a few months before the firing on Fort Sumter, S.C.) one of the nation's most ardent advocates of the Northern cause, an avid supporter of President Abraham Lincoln and the dominant figure in Indiana politics for much of the 1860s and '70s.

Gov. Oliver Perry Morton even was considered as a presidential nominee by the Republican Party (which he helped found in Indiana) more than a decade after Lincoln's assassination.

Amid the acclaim and awards being heaped on the current movie Lincoln, we explore the colorful life of the attorney from Centerville in Wayne County who rose in politics to become Indiana's governor from 1861 to 1867.

Our distinguished guest is an educator who also has been garnering awards - and who has purchased Oliver P. Morton's historic home, which had been greatly deteriorating.

Ron Morris stands in front of the Oliver P. Morton home in Centerville, Ind. He purchased the home in 2012.Ron Morris, a Ball State University professor of social studies, is renowned for the ways he uses landmarks to spark interest in history among young people. In September, Indiana Landmarks named him a winner of the Sandi Servaas Memorial Award for his outstanding achievements in historic preservation.

Ron shares insights about the life of Oliver P. Morton, whose statue in front of the Indiana Statehouse is a familiar sight for thousands of Hoosiers every day. Thanks in many ways to Morton's dedication to the Northern cause, Indiana ranked second in the percentage of men of military age to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War.

"To admirers, Oliver P. Morton was a strong, decisive and effective leader, most notably during the Civil War, and one of the state's greatest governors," according to Governors of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006). Civil War-era Indiana Gov. Oliver P. Morton is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis."To detractors, he was a crafty opportunist who shifted positions according to the prevailing winds and a power-hungry schemer who used questionable tactics to assemble and perpetuate his political machine."

Morton's critics accused him of greatly exaggerating the presence in Indiana of Copperheads and other Southern-sympathizing groups late in the war so he could expand his powers and become, as some argued, a "virtual dictator."

His historic home in Centerville was purchased last July by Ron Morris, who plans to stabilize it from the elements, then restore it, room by room, to the period between 1848 and 1862. Ron lives nearby in another historic home built in 1830 on the Old National Road in Centerville. He is the author of  Bringing History to Life: First Person Presentations in Elementary and Middle School Social Studies (Roman and Littlefield, 2009).

"You can step outside of a classroom in any community and give a class a 3D sense of place and the past," Ron told the Indiana Preservationist, a publication of Indiana Landmarks.

Morton (1823-1877) was the first Hoosier by birth to serve as the state's governor.

Known as the "soldier's friend," he worked tirelessly during the Civil War to make certain "our Indiana boys" were supplied with everything from uniforms and overcoats to weapons and medical supplies. He visited training camps and battlefields, establishing hospitals near the front lines to care for wounded soldiers who could not be transported back to Indiana for treatment.

Oil painting of Gov. Oliver Perry Morton by American artist James Forbes. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Bureau.Morton even traveled to Washington to personally request that Lincoln intervene and supply overcoats to shivering Indiana soldiers who were on Cheat Mountain in West Virginia as snow was falling.

Several years before the war, Morton had been an anti-slavery Democrat. Then he helped form the People's Party, a forerunner of the Republican Party in Indiana.

The pre-Civil War era in Indiana is familiar turf for our guest Ron Morris, who has produced video games about the Underground Railroad and Morgan's Raid, the swath of destruction waged by Confederate soldiers across southern Indiana.

After the war, Oliver Perry Morton suffered a stroke but was elected to the U.S. Senate. He was serving there in 1876 when, partially paralyzed from the stroke, he placed second on the initial balloting for the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention. The ultimate nominee was Rutherford B. Hayes from Ohio, who moved into the White House  in 1877. Later that year, Morton died following another stroke; he is buried at Crown Hill Cemetery.

Roadtrip: New interpretive panels along Indiana National Road

A new interpretive panel goes up in front of Rising Hall, one of the architectural gems along the Old National Road on the south side of U.S. 40 at the Putnam-Hendricks county line. Image courtesy Greencastle Banner-Graphic.Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests we forgo I-70 and take a slower Roadtrip along Indiana's historic Old National Road, also known as U.S. 40, where 15 new interpretive panels have been installed by the Indiana National Road Association (INRA).

The Old National Road in Indiana stretches east to west from Richmond to Terre Haute and was our nation's first federally funded interstate highway. In 1811 construction started in Cumberland, Md., and went westward toward Vandalia, Ill., and by 1834, Indiana's section of the road was completed.

Thousands of settlers used the road to move west, and by the 1850s, the traffic included families in covered wagons and stagecoaches, as well as farmers moving their livestock to market.

In 1994, the Indiana National Road Association (INRA) was created to assist in designating the National Road as a National Scenic Byway. More information is available from Joe Frost, the association's executive director, at (317) 822-7939 or jfrost@indianalandmarks.org.

History Mystery

Oliver Perry Morton, Indiana's governor during the Civil War, studied at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, for a few years as a young man. He left to study law.

Pictured is Upham Hall at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in 2009. Indiana Gov. Oliver P. Morton and another famous Hoosier both studied here as young men.  Miami University in Ohio also was the alma mater of another famous Hoosier who, like Morton, had a connection to the Civil War.

Question: Who was this other famous Hoosier?

This week's prize is two tickets to the Indiana Experience, two tickets to the NCAA Hall of Champions, and two tickets to the James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Encore presentations

Lincoln's youth in Indiana and historic high school gyms: two classic shows

(Dec. 22, 2012) - The new movie Lincoln - currently playing in theaters and generating widespread critical praise - focuses on the final era of the life of "The Great Emancipator." So how about a refresher about the character-shaping and life-impacting events that happened during his youth in the new Hoosier state?

Abe Lincoln's years in Indiana - he moved here from Kentucky with his family at age 7 in 1816 (the same year we became a state) - are often overlooked.

Many people associate the Hoosier state with high school basketball. Is it any surprise, then, that creative reuses have been found for historic high school gyms in towns across the state?

Those two topics - Lincoln's youth in Indiana and Historic gyms across Indiana - are be the focus of "encore" broadcasts of two popular Hoosier History Live! shows. Instead of a one-hour broadcast, you can enjoy two back-to-back shows from our archives.

Lincoln's youth in Indiana

Andrea Neal.For the first classic show (original air date: Feb. 7, 2009), Nelson is joined in studio by two young people and their well-known teacher, who immersed themselves in Lincoln and Indiana lore.

His guests are Andrea Neal, a history teacher at St. Richard's Episcopal School (and Nelson's former colleague at the Indianapolis Star, where she was editor of the editorial pages and continues to write a column), as well as two of her outstanding students. They are Courtney Burke and Caroline Tucker, who were eighth-graders at St. Richard's when the show was originally broadcast.

Because Abe Lincoln and his family didn't move to Illinois until he was 21 years old, all of his "wonder years" were spent as a Hoosier. Young Abe, who was tall and gangly as a 7-year-old, helped his father clear the unbroken forest in southern Indiana so they could build the family's cabin.

Courtney Burke and Caroline Tucker visited the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill., c. 2008.During our show, Andrea, Courtney and Caroline explain the dramatic changes in the Lincoln family - and in their Little Pigeon Forge settlement - that unfolded during the future president's boyhood.

They discuss his schooling, his tastes in reading (which became a lifelong passion during his Indiana years) and the influence of various adults during his youth. They included his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who is buried in Spencer County.

Nelson's guests also share insights about the Lincoln family's motivations for moving to Indiana - as well as explanations for why they eventually left to resettle in Illinois.

Historic gyms across Indiana

The Little York gym in Washington County was built in 1936 and resembles a barn. Image courtesy History Press.During the second classic show (original air date: Jan. 1, 2011), the focus is on the fates of former gyms, which often served as "town halls," pulling basketball-crazed communities together on Friday nights from the 1920s through the '50s.

One historic high school gym is owned now by the Miami Nation of Indians. At least two others are private homes. In another small Indiana town, a high school gym built in 1925 is a fire station.

To explore these and other former gyms, Nelson is joined in studio by Indianapolis Star sportswriter Kyle Neddenriep, the author of Historic Hoosier Gyms: Discovering Bygone Basketball Landmarks (The History Press), and by Chris May, executive director of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle.

Chris shares folklore about well-known current high school gyms across the state. Kyle's lavishly illustrated book spotlights 100 former gyms; he photographed these "gym gems" in their current uses, which include a church. (That's in tiny Honeywell in far-northeastern Indiana, where a hoop and basket hang over the pews of the Eden Worship Center.) A former gym in the southern Indiana town of Sidney now is a flea market.

The midcourt line at the College Corner gym is the Indiana-Ohio state line. The gym and school were built in 1925. Image courtesy History Press.In Peru, a former arena for Peru High School that was the home court of Kyle Macy, 1975's Mr. Indiana Basketball, has been owned for more than 20 years by the Miami Nation of Indians. They have used the gym in various ways, including as the setting for bingo night three times weekly.

In far-eastern Indiana, the Wayne County community of Greens Fork has turned its historic gym (built in 1925) into a fire station.

Tune in as we explore these and a hoops-high stack of other gyms, including the New Castle Fieldhouse, which opened in 1960. As many Hoosiers know, the Henry County landmark seats more than 9,320 spectators and is the world's largest high school gym.

Tipton County history and Obama ancestral home

(Dec. 15, 2012) - Take a turn in the spotlight, Tipton County. Not only is there a new visual history book about your history, but a documentary is also in the works about the farmhouse owned by ancestors of President Barack Obama that's located near the tiny town of Kempton.

The grand re-opening of the Diana Theater in Tipton, Ind., in 1948 brought back a beloved landmark that was destroyed by fire in 1947. Owner Nick Paikos rebuilt the theater with new amenities, including air conditioning and a baby cry room. Photo provided by Janis Thornton.Speaking of our commanders in chief: Did you know President Teddy Roosevelt gave a rousing speech to a crowd in Tipton in 1902? Not long afterward, the Rough Rider was hustled to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis for surgery on an injured leg.

That presidential trivia comes courtesy of Images of America: Tipton County (Arcadia Publishing), a visual history book by Tipton-based writer Janis Thornton, who joins Nelson in studio.

So does residential contractor and historic preservationist Shawn Clements, owner of Dunham House, the 19th-century farmhouse built by Obama's maternal ancestors. (Several generations of Dunhams owned the house, until 1969.)

Shawn joined Nelson for a Hoosier History Live! show about the historic homestead in the spring of 2009,  almost exactly a year after Obama (then just a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination) visited the spacious farmhouse accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, with about 100 journalists in tow.

Janis Thornton.Shawn returns as a guest to share updates because so much has unfolded since his initial appearance on our show, including the documentary under way titled A Single Root.

Janis covered the headline-making visit because she then was an editor at the Frankfort Times newspaper, although she grew up in Tipton. As a teenager, her first date was at a hometown landmark that has become a rare breed: An independent, locally owned cinema house (with a vintage marquee) called the Diana Theater.

Built by a Greek immigrant to Tipton in 1926, the Diana was devastated by a fire in the 1940s but was quickly rebuilt (with the added enticement of air conditioning) and continues to be run by a descendant of the original owner.

Also during the 1940s, the Tipton County town of Windfall was the setting for a World War II prisoner-of-war camp. Thanks to the help of the Tipton County Historical Society, Janis was able to obtain a rare photo taken inside the camp, which became a temporary home for hundreds of captured Germans and was one of several in Indiana administered by Camp Atterbury.

During our show, we also explore the significant impact of railroads on Tipton (in 1910, there was a tragic collision between a freight train and an interurban, resulting in half a dozen deaths) and the annual event for which the town probably is best known across the state. Six people died when a southbound freight train collided with the northbound Indiana Union Traction Company's interurban in 1910 near Jackson Station, two miles north of Tipton, Ind. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.That's the Tipton County Pork Festival, which the community has hosted for more than 40 years.

The festival draws tens of thousands of visitors to the lawn of the Tipton County Courthouse and surrounding streets. In her book, Janis refers to the county's signature commodity as "a hot, juicy, barbecued pork chop."

Both Tipton County and the town that serves as its county seat are named after Gen. John Tipton, a military leader who battled Native Americans. Miami Indians in the Tipton County area were among the last Native American tribes to leave - or, in most cases, be forcibly removed from - Indiana.

In the 1840s, Barack Obama's maternal ancestors, the Dunhams, became the first white settlers of 120 acres they acquired from a government land grant. Some of their descendants - who included farmers, a physician, attorneys, teachers and even a Democratic state legislator - built the Dunham House and were buried nearby in a family cemetery.

Our guest Shawn Clements has moved some of their headstones, which were deteriorating, inside the house for display, with the permission of descendants of the initial settler, Jacob Dunham (1795-1865).

Candidate Barack Obama was escorted by Dunham House owner Shawn Clements during a 2008 visit by the candidate to his family’s ancestral home in Kempton, Ind. Photo by Robert Nichols.Some of his descendants eventually moved to Kansas, where Obama's late mother, Ann Dunham, grew up.

Shawn, who grew up in Lebanon and had been living in Noblesville, bought the Dunham House in 2005. As he explained on our show in 2009, Shawn was unaware of the farmhouse's link to Obama, who then was merely a rising political star unknown to much of the general public. Acting on a tip from an elderly Tipton County resident that Shawn explore the home's history, he established the  multi-generational link to Obama.

The house has 12 rooms, a spacious porch and 5,000 square feet. When Barack and Michele Obama visited it in May 2008, they were accompanied by their daughters Mala and Sasha, as well as by Secret Service agents, a caravan of news media and bomb-sniffing dogs.

Photos of the visit are featured in the new book by Janis Thornton, who returned to live in her hometown of Tipton after spending 20 years in Los Angeles. Since then, she has worked as a writer, editor and communications director for St. Luke's Methodist Church in Indianapolis, the Frankfort Times and Purdue University.

According to her new book, railroads greatly stimulated Tipton's growth, beginning in the 1850s.

"So eager were farmers to get their grain to market by rail that they donated rights-of-way, despite some old pioneers who insisted nothing could ever replace a good team of horses," Janis writes.

She notes that north-south and east-west tracks eventually formed a junction in Tipton County; at the turn of the last century, passenger trains from each direction met at the junction three times daily.

In addition to the visits by Obama and Teddy Roosevelt, President Harry Truman made one of his whistle-stop speeches in Tipton in 1948. According to Janis' book, Truman's visit drew 9,000 people.

The Tipton County Pork Festival often has drawn even larger crowds. In 1991, for example, about 20,000 festival-goers jammed the courthouse square to enjoy musical entertainment and the assortment of pork products.

History Mystery

President Theodore Roosevelt addresses a crowd during a train stop in Tipton, Ind., in 1902.Two years after President Teddy Roosevelt's speech in Tipton in 1902, his vice presidential running mate was a Hoosier. The vice president from Indiana was a conservative selected in part to balance the Republican ticket because Roosevelt was regarded as a crusading progressive. The conservative Hoosier had been an extremely successful attorney for railroads. Then he served as a U.S. senator from Indiana.

Roosevelt and the Hoosier won a landslide election in 1904. However, the two men had a cool - and sometimes even antagonistic - relationship during Roosevelt's presidency.

Question: Name the Hoosier who served as vice president in the Teddy Roosevelt administration.

This week's prize is gift certificate to any Arni's Restaurant, and two tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: Schimpff's Confectionery in Jeffersonville

Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we enjoy a Roadtrip to Jeffersonville to visit Schimpff's Confectionery, which is decked out for the holidays and has been operating as a candy store, soda fountain and lunch counter over 120 years.

Schimpff’s Confectionery has served Jeffersonville, Ind., for 120 years.Schimpff's is in Jeffersonville's historic, walkable downtown, with its many enticing shops, at 347 Spring St. You can watch candy being made at the candy museum next door. Stroll south down Spring Street and you come to the Ohio River and the Jeffersonville RiverStage with its magnificent view of the river and Louisville on the other side.

You'll also see the long-abandoned Big Four Railroad Bridge over the Ohio River being converted to a bicycle and pedestrian bridge connecting Jeffersonville and Louisville.

Other sites in the area include The Depot in Jeffersonville at 600 Quartermaster Station, an 1874 formerly segregated restroom that serves as headquarters for the Southern Indiana African American Heritage Trail. You can even have lunch at The Depot in its attractive small cafe. Also in the area is the Howard Steamboat Museum, and of course the splendid Falls of the Ohio State Park. This Roadtrip was recommended by Eric Grayson and Glory-June Greiff.

Colombian and Venezuelan immigration to Indiana

(Dec. 8, 2012) - Their percentage of the Indiana population is still relatively small, but immigrants from Colombia and Venezuela have grown explosively here - and across the country - during the last 20 years.

So Hoosier History Live! explores immigration from the two South American countries during the next show in our rotating series about the ethnic heritage of the Hoosier state, which has included looks at German, Irish, Scottish and Greek immigration here.

Marco Dominguez.During our nearly five years on the air, we also have focused on the arrival of Italian stonecutters in Indiana, our Cuban and Brazilian heritages and even the growing Sikh community here. (Click on the link to see the Hoosier History Live! archived enewsletter for that particular ethnic heritage show.)

Nelson is joined in studio by Venezuela native Marco Dominguez, who co-anchors the Spanish-language news webcast launched this summer by WTHR-TV/Channel 13 in Indianapolis.

Our guests also include Fishers resident Bertha Torres, a native Colombian who is past president of the Friends of Colombia Society, and Danny Lopez, executive director of the Indiana Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. Bertha Torres.Danny, who is of Cuban heritage, joined Nelson last May for our show about Cuban immigration to Indiana; because of his statewide position, he has informed perspectives about an array of Hispanic communities.

"In all, there are three times as many Colombians as Venezuelans in Indiana," Danny reports. He notes that Colombian immigrants are most heavily concentrated in Lake County and Marion County, whereas their Venezuelan counterparts have tended to settle in north-central Indiana and in Hamilton County.

Our guest Marco Dominguez immigrated from Venezuela to Indiana twice, beginning in the 1980s to study at Vincennes University, then at Butler University. He is former station manager for Univision in Indianapolis and is community sales director for the Finance Center Federal Credit Union. A pioneer in Hispanic media in Indiana, Marco was a producer for WTBU, Butler University's TV station, for eight years.

Our guest Bertha Torres met Manuel A. Torres, her husband of 53 years, when they were children in Bogota, Colombia's capital city. Because Manuel Torres had a long career in the U.S. Army, they lived everywhere from Germany to San Francisco (as well as in Indianapolis during the 1970s when he worked at Fort Benjamin Harrison) before they settled permanently in central Indiana in the early 1980s.

Juan Pablo Montoya of Colombia won the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race in 2000.Bertha is retired after a varied career, including a long stint at P.R. Mallory and Co., the now-closed, Indy-based electrical components manufacturer where she oversaw the international/exports division. Bertha and her husband are the parents of three grown children.

According to information supplied by our guest Danny Lopez, much of the Venezuelan immigration has occurred during the late 1990s and early 2000s. In fact, almost 75 percent of Venezuelans living in Indiana came during that period, a trend that many analysts link to the ascendancy of Hugo Chavez, the controversial president of Venezuela.

Venezuelan immigration, in fact, is said to mirror (on a smaller scale) earlier waves of Cubans, with both groups having higher-than-average levels of education and financial resources.

Statistics supplied by Danny indicate about 3,890 people who describe themselves as Colombian live in Indiana. However, he notes wide discrepancies between estimates about immigrants from the Colombian and American governments.

Danny Lopez.The average Colombian in this country, according to Danny's information, is 34 years old; for the overall Latino population here, the average age is 27.

In addition to exploring immigration patterns, Nelson and his guests share insights about the culture, impact, contributions and challenges of Colombians and Venezuelans here. He also asks Bertha and Marco to share their personal stories about coming to the Hoosier state.

Some other insights:

  • In the Indianapolis area, native Colombians who have become civic leaders include a vice president at Key Bank; the physician-founder of Alivio Health Center, a clinic that provides medical care for a range of Hispanic residents, and an extension educator for Purdue University.
  • At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, several Colombian and Venezuelan drivers have become familiar to racing fans. They have included Juan Pablo Montoya, a native of Bogota who won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000. In 2007, he switched to NASCAR racing; three years later, Montoya was the pole sitter for the Brickyard 400. Other drivers in recent Indy 500s have included E.J. Viso and Milka Duno, both from Venezuela. During the 1980s, popular Roberto Guerrero, a native Colombian, was the runner-up at the 500 twice.
  • According to information from Danny, 29 percent of Colombians in the United States have at least a bachelor's degree. That's far higher than both the overall American population and the overall Latino population.

History Mystery

During the early 1960s, children who were evacuated from Cuba because of the Fidel Castro regime were brought to more than two dozen American cities designated as havens. The cities included one in Indiana where Catholic parishes and social service organizations had stepped forward to assist Cuban families.

Cuban families at a Pan American plan during Operation Pedro Pan in the early 1960s.Because of the city's significant role during the Cuban evacuation of children - a project often referred to as "Operation Pedro Pan" - Cubans have had a more significant presence in the Hoosier city ever since.

Question: What is the Indiana city?

Hints: It is not South Bend, where Cubans also have been a significant presence for generations, generally attributed to Cuban students and alumni of the University of Notre Dame. The other Indiana city - which played a role with "Pedro Pan" children from Cuba - was mentioned on Hoosier History Live! by our guest Danny Lopez during a show last May about Cuban immigration.

This week's prize is two tickets to the 1836 Outdoor Adventure and Winter Fun Days at Conner Prarie, two tickets to the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, and two tickets to the Indiana Experience, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: The Nutcracker around Indy

Alyona Yakovela-Randall.Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we enjoy Tchaikovsky's magical holiday music with a performance of The Nutcracker at the Tobias Theater at the Indianapolis Museum of Art the weekend of Dec. 14. The Indiana Ballet Conservatory will stage the classic Christmas ballet under the artistic direction of Alyona Yakovela-Randall.

The Indianapolis School of Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker will be the weekend of Dec. 21 at Indy's Scottish Rite Cathedral in a set that recreates Indy's Victorian-era mansion, the Morris-Butler House. Please take time this holiday season to enjoy our local performers and dance organizations!

Live from the Holiday Author Fair

History-making sheriff, immigrants to Indy, crusading politico and public gardens

(Dec. 1, 2012) - For the fifth year, Hoosier History Live! was broadcast from a remote (non-studio) location: the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, which bustled with captivating interviewees, as about 80 authors with Indiana connections gathered for the 10th Annual Holiday Author Fair. Nelson conducted round-robin chats with a range of fellow authors.

Here are highlights of our special program:

Going Over All the Hurdles A Life of Oatess Archey book cover.History-making sheriff. Seven years after the notorious lynching in 1930 of two African-Americans in Marion, Oatess Archey was born in the Grant County city. He grew up to become the first African-American to be elected sheriff in Indiana.

Mr. Archey, who also was the first black teacher at Marion High School, where he had been a state champion in high hurdles in 1955, joins Nelson for an interview.

So does John Beineke, the author of a biography of his former teacher titled Going Over All the Hurdles: A Life of Oatess Archey (Indiana Historical Society Press). Oatess Archey.The book describes the hurdles that Mr. Archey encountered during a diverse career.

After teaching at Marion High School (where he initially had been rejected for the faculty and, despite being a college graduate, was hired instead as a janitor), Mr. Archey became the first black track coach and administrator at Ball State University. That was followed by a stint as an FBI agent and firearms instructor at the agency's headquarters in Washington D.C.

He returned to his hometown and was elected Grant County sheriff in 1998. Mr. Archey served two terms (the Ku Klux Klan denounced his initial election with a protest on the courthouse square), resulting in headlines that caught the attention of John Beineke, a Marion native who now is an administrator and professor at Arkansas State University.

Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants book cover.The two share insights with Nelson about various historic events in Marion that are described in Going Over All the Hurdles, including the court-ordered desegregation in the 1950s of a swimming pool in the city's Matter Park. (As boys, Mr. Archey and his brother had to be taken to Anderson if they wanted to swim in a public pool.)

Teresa Baer.City of immigrants. Later during our show, Nelson is joined by Teresa Baer, the author of Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants (IHS Press), a booklet that explores the waves of ethnic immigration to the Hoosier capital. It begins with a look at Native Americans (Delaware Indians) during the pre-1800 wilderness era and explores immigrants from Britain, Ireland, Germany and southern and eastern Europe.

Derived from a suggestion by former Mexican consul to Indianapolis Sergio Aguilera, the booklet also explores African-Americans in early Indiana, the immigration of Asians such as Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Vietnamese, and also Hispanics from Mexico and other Central and Latin American countries.

According to Teresa, the booklet is intended as a supplement for high school juniors at schools in central Indiana as they study ethnic immigration; it includes a timeline about the waves of arrivals of various groups.

The People's Choice Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana book cover.Teresa makes the point that, almost from the very beginning, immigrants have been confronted by resentment and hostility from people who arrived earlier. Initial targets in the 1800s were Germans and poverty-stricken Irish Catholics who came to build canals and railroads.

"Ultimately, all of us came from somewhere else to be here," notes Teresa, who is managing editor of family history publications at the historical society.

The booklet, which was sponsored by the Efroymson Family Fund, includes vintage photos of a German immigration guide from the 1930s; Greek children during the same era in Indianapolis, and students at Hasten Hebrew Academy during a Passover seder in 1998.

Ray Boomhower.According to Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants, Hispanics in Marion County increased from 33,000 in 2000 to 84,000 nine years later. The booklet is being sold to the general public as well as being used by students, with a free teachers guide available.

A "long shot" political career. Nelson also interviews Ray Boomhower, author of The People's Choice: Congressman Jim Jontz of Indiana (IHS Press). It's a biography of Jontz, a populist U.S. congressman and crusading environmentalist from Indiana who died of cancer in 2007 at age 55.

Ray looks at the "long-shot" political career of Jontz, a Democrat known for his frugal lifestyle and "shoe leather" campaigns who repeatedly won various races, beginning as a state legislator, in northern Indiana districts considered to be conservative and Republican.

In 1974, at age 22 while working as an unpaid caretaker for a local nature preserve, Jontz unseated a top Indiana lawmaker by merely two votes. ("One vote more than I needed to win!" Jontz remarked, according to Ray's biography.) After a defeat in his final political race, an effort to unseat U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in 1994, Jontz became an advocate for environmental groups.

The Visitor's Guide to American Gardens book cover.As a young newspaper report in Rensselaer during the early 1980s, Ray covered one of Jontz's campaigns. Several years earlier, Jontz had been inspired to enter politics by a controversial dam project in Warren County that threatened the Fall Creek Gorge area.

Ray is the editor of Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History, the colorful magazine published by the historical society. He has been a Hoosier History Live! guest several times, including shows about astronaut Gus Grissom and suffragette May Wright Sewall, who are subjects of some of his other biographies.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp.Gardening with Jo Ellen! Another favorite guest, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp of "Hoosier Gardener" renown, also joins us during this Holiday Author Fair show. That's because Jo Ellen, an Indianapolis-based director of the Garden Writers Association, is the author of The Visitor's Guide to American Gardens (Cool Springs Press), a state-by-state exploration of public gardens.

Nelson talks about Indiana's public gardens with Jo Ellen, a former Indianapolis Star colleague whose "Hoosier Gardener" column is a popular feature of the newspaper. She also has a regular stint as the "Hoosier Gardener" on WXIN-TV/Fox 59.

Her new book explores about 400 gardens in the United States and Canada and features maps as well as info about garden talks, walks and other events. Many of the gardens in the book are on the National Register of Historic Places. They include the gardens at Oldfields at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Garfield Park (the oldest city park in Indy) and New Harmony State Historic Park, where the gardens feature a well-known labyrinth.

Fun facts, courtesy of Jo Ellen:

  • At Oldfields, the Ravine Garden was designed as a "bright, sunny spring garden" because the owners were away during summers. The gardens at Oldfields were designed by the famous landscape firm of the Olmstead Brothers; the Olmstead firm also designed Central Park in New York City.
  • Jo Ellen is a landscape consultant and the owner of Write for You!, a freelance writing business. Her new book pulls together information about attractions and features of public gardens that is unavailable in a single resource elsewhere, including on the Internet. Jo Ellen has been writing and speaking about natural gardening for more than 20 years.

Dan Wakefield on Kurt Vonnegut's letters

As part of an Indianapolis public art program in 2012, artist Pamela Bliss painted this three-story mural of Kurt Vonnegut on a Massachusetts Avenue building. Image courtesy Nuvo.(Nov. 24, 2012) - Over a 60-year period beginning when he was freed as a POW in Germany during World War II, an internationally known novelist from Indiana wrote letters to family members, friends and even literary critics.

Now his longtime pal, another novelist from Indianapolis, has edited the letters, which range in tone from haunting, poignant and blistering to witty, warm and irreverent.

Dan Wakefield, the author of Going All the Way (1970) and other bestsellers, returns to Hoosier History Live! to share insights about Kurt Vonnegut Letters (Delacorte Press/Random House).

Dan wrote the introduction for the book, as well as decade-by-decade biographical summaries and (for many of the letters) explanatory notes. The book is being published this month, when Kurt Vonnegut would have celebrated his 90th birthday.

Kurt Vonnegut Letters book cover.Descended from a German-American family that influenced business, cultural and civic life in Indianapolis (as well as the look of the city) starting in the 1850s, Kurt Vonnegut died in April 2007. That year, the Hoosier capital was in the midst of celebrating a "Year of Vonnegut" as a tribute to the literary lion who drew worldwide acclaim for Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), a novel based on his harrowing ordeal as a POW during the firebombing of Dresden, Germany. Vonnegut, who had been a leader of the POWs because of his ability to speak German, was ordered by guards to haul away corpses of children, women and the elderly.

"Reading these letters has allowed me to know my friend Kurt Vonnegut better and to appreciate him even more," Dan Wakefield writes in the introduction. "Nothing came easy for him."

Both Vonnegut and Wakefield attended Shortridge High School and were editors of its legendary newspaper, The Daily Echo. Because of their age difference (Vonnegut was a member of the class of 1940; Wakefield of the class of '50), the two did not meet until the early 1960s. Even so, Dan says that as a high school senior he heard about the impact his future friend was beginning to make as a writer.

Years later, Dan credited Vonnegut with a crucial role in making Going All the Way a bestseller by writing an influential review of the novel for Life magazine.

A Kurt Vonnegut fan sports a tattoo of the author’s famous “So it goes.” Courtesy Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.Letters about their mutual hometown are included in the new book. In one, Vonnegut expresses frustration about an infamous book signing for Slaughterhouse-Five at the bookstore in the flagship L.S. Ayres & Co. department store in downtown Indy.

"I sold 13 books in two hours, every one of them to a relative," Vonnegut wrote Wakefield in 1969. "Word of honor."

At that point, cities and colleges across the country were clamoring for a Vonnegut visit, with hundreds of eager book buyers standing in long lines. So the dismal turnout at Ayres (the building was designed by Vonnegut's grandfather, acclaimed architect Bernard Vonnegut; its landmark clock was designed later by Kurt Vonnegut Sr.) was particularly exasperating.

In 1997, Vonnegut wrote a blistering letter to the Junior League of Indianapolis (it also is included in Kurt Vonnegut Letters) over the organization's handling of the sale of a historic home designed by his grandfather.

Dan Wakefield (right) was joined by childhood friend Jerry Burton on Nov. 10, 2012, at the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis for a signing party for Wakefield’s new book, Kurt Vonnegut: Letters. But Kurt Vonnegut, who was based in New York City and elsewhere on the East Coast for much of his post-World War II life, also cherished many aspects of his hometown and came to feel a sense of pride in its rejuvenated downtown.

Dan Wakefield, who also lived in New York City for many years, as well as in Miami and Boston, resettled in Indianapolis nearly a year ago. Last January, he joined Nelson on Hoosier History Live! to share insights about landmarks from the 1950s (some bygone, some persevering) such as the Red Key Tavern, the Athenaeum and the Ron-D-Vu Drive-In that are mentioned in Going All the Way. A movie version of Going All the Way (1996) starring Ben Affleck was filmed in Indianapolis.

In September, Dan received the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Author Award for lifetime achievement. In addition to Going All the Way, his books include an acclaimed memoir, Returning: A Spiritual Journey (1988); Creating from the Spirit (1996) and Under the Apple Tree (1982).

Illustrations by Nathan Gelgud are featured in the book Kurt Vonnegut: Letters.For Kurt Vonnegut Letters, Dan combed through more than 1,000 letters written by the literary lion. To another famous novelist, Norman Mailer, Vonnegut once wrote: "I am cuter than you are."

Some of his letters from the late 1950s were written on stationary from a Saab dealership on Cape Cod. That’s because Vonnegut, while struggling to support his young family, briefly had the unlikely job of selling Saabs, the Swedish-made car.

As Dan notes in the introduction to Kurt Vonnegut Letters, "Nothing deterred him" as a writer - not even when a relative to whom he had dedicated The Sirens of Titan (1959) his second novel, told him he was unable to finish reading it. (Another relative, who ran a bookstore in Louisville, Ky., apparently refused to stock his novels because they disgusted  her.)

After Vonnegut achieved fame, he occasionally fired off letters to school boards and communities that banned his books. They included a town in North Dakota that threw copies of Slaughterhouse-Five into a furnace.

Throughout it all, as Dan notes in Kurt Vonnegut Letters, he maintained and cherished lifelong friendships, including many dating from his Shortridge years.

History Mystery

When Kurt Vonnegut Jr. was a boy in the 1920s, he lived with his family in a three-story, Arts & Crafts-style home on the north side of Indy. Kurt and his two older siblings, Bernard and Alice, left their palm prints in cement outside the back door of the elegant house, which has leaded-glass windows and his parents' monogram on the front door.

Kurt Vonnegut's boyhood home in Indianapolis.With the onset of the Great Depression when Kurt Jr. was about eight years old, the Vonneguts were compelled to move to a far less impressive home nearby.

Later in life, the famous novelist occasionally referred to his initial boyhood home as "the house where nothing bad ever happened."

Question: What street was the initial Vonnegut house - which is still standing - located on?

This week's prize is four tickets to the Indiana Experience (which can also be used to attend next week's Holiday Author Fair) at the Indiana History Center, as well as a copy of both Indianapolis: A City of Immigrants by M. Teresa Baer and The People's Choice: Jim Jontz of Indiana by Ray E. Boomhower. Both of these authors will be at the Holiday Author Fair, and they also will be featured as guests on the Dec. 1 Hoosier History Live! show. These prizes are courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society.

Roadtrip: World War II 'Band of Brothers' member appears in Greensburg

Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy tells us about an opportunity to meet and to listen to former Army Ranger Herb Sueth, 88, of Minneapolis, who was part of the famed 101st Airborne, also known as the "Band of Brothers," who parachuted into Normandy before D-Day during World War II.

A "Chautauqua Celebrating Courage and Tolerance" is open to the public and will be held Thursday, Nov. 29 at Greensburg High School Auditorium in Greensburg, Ind., from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is $5.

According to Greensburg High School history teacher John Pratt, who has also been a guest on Hoosier History Live!, the discussion also will feature four Holocaust survivors who will be coming to Greensburg from all over the country. More information is available from John Pratt at (812) 663-7176, ext. 1222.

Enjoy 'encore' return of Covered bridges across Indiana

 

(Nov. 17, 2012) - Note: Because of WICR-FM's coverage of the University of Indianapolis football team, which has advanced to the NCAA Division II post-season for the first time, Hoosier History Live! will be pre-empted on the air Saturday. As a treat for our listeners, though, we are offering an encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our archives.

 

Listen to the show!

Listen to the show!

 

The show (original air date: Oct. 22, 2011) explores covered bridges across Indiana. More than 600 wooden, covered bridges were built in our state from 1820 to 1922.

The Dunbar covered bridge is in Putnam County, Indiana.Today, about 90 of these historic gems remain.

During this show, Nelson is joined by Margaret Smith of Indianapolis, past president of the Indiana Covered Bridge Society, and Larry Stout of Rush County, who helped spearhead the restoration of the historic Moscow Covered Bridge, which had been demolished by a tornado.

Some fun facts, courtesy of Margaret:

  • The Medora Covered Bridge in Jackson County is, at 434 feet, the longest covered bridge in Indiana.
  • The Edna Collins Covered Bridge - the last covered bridge built in the state - is said to be haunted. Constructed in 1922, the bridge, which crosses Little Walnut Creek, is haunted by the ghost of a little girl, according to folklore. In the 1920s, she is said to have enjoyed swimming in the creek, but she drowned while doing so at night.
  • The Ramp Covered Bridge at the north entrance to Brown County State Park is the only two-lane covered bridge in Indiana. The bridge, which crosses Salt Creek, has another claim to fame: It's the oldest covered bridge still standing in Indiana. In 1838, the bridge was built in Putnam County. During the 1930s, it was moved with the creation of the state park in Brown County.

Old and new wood was used in the reconstruction of the Moscow bridge.The heyday of covered-bridge construction was the 1880s; bridges were covered to protect their flooring and interior from the elements.

Parke County, which is known as the "Covered Bridge Capital of the World", has 31 covered bridges that remain.

In Rush County, a tornado that roared through in 2008 tossed the Moscow bridge (built in 1886) into the Flatrock River. Reconstructed using 30 percent of its original wood, the Moscow Covered Bridge reopened with a community celebration in September 2010.

Last year, Indiana Landmarks honored our guest Larry Stout, president of Rush County Heritage and a resident of the village of Gowdy, with the SerVaas Award for lifetime achievement. His preservation efforts extend far beyond covered bridges, but his county - as well as Parke and Putnam counties - is particularly known for them.

Why those counties? Although there were several builders of covered bridges across Indiana, the three generally considered to have been the most significant were two historic bridge builders based in Rockville in Parke County (the businesses of J.J. Daniels and Joseph A.. Britton), as well as the firm run by A.M. Kennedy (and later by his sons and grandsons) in Rushville.

The longest historic covered bridge in America still standing is the Medora Bridge in Jackson County, Ind., which appears here before its reconstruction.Rush County has five covered bridges, all still in use. Some of the other covered bridges across the state no longer carry traffic. They have been bypassed by modern roads or preserved in parks.

"The bridges are located in many out-of-the-way places today, but they once were hubs of commerce," Margaret notes. "Many were railroad bridges. Often, they were the largest covered areas in a community."

That meant, she adds, that they frequently served as the setting for "political rallies, community gatherings and revival meetings – even weddings."

More fun facts, again courtesy of Margaret:

  • Many covered bridges were painted red. The Kennedys, though, preferred white.
  • Franklin County once had more than 20 covered bridges. Four remain.
  • Of about two dozen covered bridges once in Hamilton County, the only original that remains is Potter's Ford Covered Bridge on the west fork of  the White River, two miles north of Noblesville. And there is a footpath going north from Potter's Ford Bridge Park that leads to a great swing that has a spectacular view of the White River.
  • Larry Stout.At Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, the Cedar Chapel Covered Bridge was not originally in Hamilton County. Built in Dekalb County, it was moved to Conner Prairie in the 1970s.

According to Margaret, the restoration of Potter's Ford is "one of the true success stories of covered-bridge preservation."

She says Potter's Ford, which originally opened in 1871, now even has a sprinkler system to prevent arson and a coating of special paint to resist graffiti. Arson and graffiti have plagued other covered bridges across the state.

Roadtrip: Sandhill Cranes at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area

Sandhill cranes gather each year at Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area.Glory-June Grieff and Eric Grayson report that the greatest spectacle in crane watching is going on right now at the Jasper-Pulaski Fish & Wildlife Area in northwest Indiana near the town of Rensselaer. There's a viewing platform at the edge of Goose Meadow in the wildlife area where on a good late afternoon you may see 15 to 20 thousand of these fascinating birds gabbling away and dancing as a part of their fall migration routine.

Glory also says, "Seeing them come in from all directions with their distinct bugling call is a sight - and sound - not to be forgotten."

Try to arrive at least a half-hour before sunset. This gathering takes place at sunrise as well, but then you'd miss the chance to eat at the Whistle Stop several miles south on US 421 (a little north of Monon), where the food is great and the experience heightened by no fewer than four electric trains running on overhead tracks. Allow time for the adjacent train museum, the Monon Connection.

Tell them you were sent by Hoosier History Live!  

Enjoy 'encore' return of Tee Pee and other drive-ins

(Nov. 10, 2012) - Note: Because of WICR-FM's live coverage of University of Indianapolis football, Hoosier History Live! was pre-empted on the air for this date. As a treat for our listeners, though, we are offering an encore broadcast of one of the most popular shows in our archives.

 

Listen to the show!

Listen to the show!

The show (original air date: Nov. 27, 2011) explores the distinctive-looking Tee Pee Restaurant in Indianapolis, a favorite hang-out during the "cruising" craze of the 1950s, as well as other drive-ins, bygone and surviving. Nelson is joined in studio by two enthusiasts of the eateries. The Tee Pee drive-in restaurant was a cruising mainstay for many years. Located by the Indiana State Fairgrounds, it is pictured here in 1957. Image courtesy Bass Photo Co. collection, Indiana Historical Society.His guests are public historian and preservationist Glory-June Greiff and retired WRTV-Channel 6 cameraman Dick Baldwin, one of the Tee Pee's most loyal customers.

Actually, the Hoosier capital spawned two Tee Pees. The first, which opened in the 1930s and initially was called the Wigwam, enjoyed a high-visibility site next to the Indiana State Fairgrounds off busy Fall Creek Parkway. Years later, a second Tee Pee opened on the Southside.

Glory-June spearheaded a much-publicized (but, alas, unsuccessful) crusade to save the first Tee Pee from the wrecking ball in the 1980s. Its site is now overflow parking for the fairgrounds.

The Bonny Doon in South Bend, Ind., remains open for business.Although the Tee Pee was the favorite drive-in of Dick, our other guest, he also patronized the bygone Pole, a popular drive-in at Lafayette Road and West 16th Street in Indy.

During the show, Glory, who grew up in northern Indiana, dishes about Bonnie Doon Drive-Ins in South Bend and Mishawaka. Some Bonnie Doon locations continue to thrive today.

Nelson shares insights about the bygone Knobby's Restaurants in Indy, popular drive-ins patronized by his family during the 1960s and '70s.

According to The American Drive-In (Motorbooks International, 1994) by Michael Witzel, many of the beloved restaurants were once settings for "some of the most enjoyable diversions" for young people and families alike. The interior of Knobby’s restaurant, at Keystone Avenue and 52nd Street in Indianapolis, is shown in the late 1950s.They suffered an "astonishingly sudden fall from grace," Witzel writes, because of the booming popularity of fast-food chains, particularly when drive-through windows became common.

"Waiting for a carhop to serve a meal and remove the dishes became a luxury of another era," Witzel notes.

Even so, the Mug n Bun on the westside of Indy and The Suds Drive-In in Greenwood (which opened as the Dog n' Suds in 1957) are still going strong amid so many drive-in casualties. So is Don Hall's Hollywood Drive-In in Fort Wayne. Its promotions assure customers "the fabulous '50s will live on forever" there.

Not only do Nelson and his guests share insights about those eateries, they explore the bygone Ron-D-Vu near the Butler University campus, the North Pole at Illinois and 56th streets, and Al Green's Famous Food Drive-In on the eastside.

A vintage free-Coke card from the Ron-D-Vu, a drive-in diner near Butler University in Indy.Although the Tee Pees were known as a hub for cruising and for fare such as Big Chief burgers, our guest Dick Baldwin, a member of Tech High School's class of '54, says many folks have forgotten that "wonderful" prawns and a special salad dressing also were served. During our show, Glory reveals which current restaurant in Indy continues to serve salads with the Tee Pee's special dressing.

She also reflects on her crusade to save the cherished Tee Pee, which was patronized for decades by high school and college students. She practically stood in front of bulldozers to try to stop the demolition of the northside landmark.

The southside Tee Pee, which was located on Madison Avenue, also has been torn down.

But we invite you to tune in to our "encore" show and savor, once again, the culture of cruising and the drive-ins that served as its epicenter.

Roadtrip: International Festival, and 'still-around' Indiana drive-ins

Tenderloin sandwich from Edwards Drive-In in Indianapolis.The International Festival, in its 36th year, will be at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Nov. 16-18. This year the festival will feature a traditional Punch and Judy show, a Celtic heritage night with the Indy Ceili Band and the Richens-Timm Irish Dancers, and the world-renowned Polish dance ensemble Polonia. You also can watch hundreds of immigrants become U.S. citizens at the Naturalization Ceremony on Friday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m.

Also, we thought we'd let you know about drive-ins around Indiana that are still in operation. Getting a mention on the show were Don Hall's Hollywood Drive-In in Fort Wayne, The Lemon Drop in Anderson, The Flagpole in Rochester, Bonnie Doon in Mishawaka, Edwards in Indianapolis at Raymond and Sherman, Mug n Bun in Speedway, and The Suds in Greenwood, complete with active Hot Rod Club.

Check before cruising to these venerable establishments to see if they are open in winter. If you stop in, tell them you learned about them on Hoosier History Live! Here is also a list of Indiana drive-ins still in operation from Dine.com.

Fourth-anniversary celebration

An eclectic mix of 150 at soiree celebrate Hoosier History Live!

"I can't remember the last time I attended a party with such a terrifically eclectic group of people," said Billie Scott, longtime Indianapolis public relations exec.

Party photos.About 150 people crowded into the historic Morris-Butler house on the evening of Feb. 16. The fourth-anniversary party for Hoosier History Live! was graciously hosted for the fourth year in a row by Indiana Landmarks.

"We've gotten so crowded, it looks like we'll have to move the party next year to the Cook Theater!" said Indiana Landmarks CEO Marsh Davis.

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, the Hoosier Gardener, commented: "It was nice catching up at the party with Nelson Price, Molly Head, Richard Sullivan, Marsh Davis, Suzanne Stanis, Dick CadyEunice Trotter and many others at the 4th anniversary celebration of Hoosier History Live, a fab show on WICR-FM (88.7)."

Some of the party guests included:

  • Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis.
  • Judy O'Bannon, former Indiana first lady.
  • Mayor Wayne Seybold of Marion, former Olympic figure skater.
  • Dan Wakefield, novelist-screenwriter.
  • TV personality Cowboy Bob (Bob Glaze).
  • TV personality Janie (Janie Hodge) of "Popeye and Janie" fame.
  • Barbara Boyd, former WRTV/Channel 6 anchor.
  • Reid Duffy, former WRTV/Channel 6 restaurant reviewer.
  • Jim Lingenfelter, architect and president of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Board.
  • Dick Cady, Pulitzer-winning investigative reporter.
  • Lawrence "Bo" Connor, former managing editor of The Indianapolis Star.
  • Ralph Taylor, past president of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame board (and former outstanding Washington High School basketball player).
  • Pat Garrett Rooney, civic leader.
  • Phyllis Geeslin, director of the Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site.
  • Jeff Miller, Indianapolis City-County Councilman.
  • Steve Campbell, former deputy mayor of Indianapolis.
  • Stephen Smith, Rhodes Scholar, retired partner, Barnes & Thornburg.
  • Chris Worden, district director, Office of Congressman Andre Carson.
  • Bill Briscoe, historian, Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

The party was made possible not only by our friends at Indiana Landmarks, but also a host of other show supporters, including Pam Fraizer, Richard Sullivan, Bill Holmes, Garry Chilluffo, Michele Goodrich, Dana Waddell, Emily Kelso Barker and Jed Duvall. The birthday cake was personally provided by Maureen Dunlap, pastry chef at Divvy in Carmel. Shirley Judkins of "The Real Thing" provided piano accompaniment in the historic home's parlor.

The party invitation went out electronically to all of the subscribers to the Hoosier History Live! e-newsletter, so ... always be sure to check your inbox!

Street names in Indy + Trees, trees, trees

(Nov. 3, 2012 - encore presentation) - Ever wonder how streets throughout Indianapolis got their names? And why some have been changed over the years?

Prior to any streets, of course, there were towering trees on the site of the Hoosier capital, as well as across the state, most of which was a dense woodland forest. How has our tree canopy evolved, and what's the latest on an array of aspects about our towering friends?

These topics - Street names history in Indy and Trees, trees and trees - will be the focus of "encore" broadcasts of two popular Hoosier History Live! shows. Instead of a one-hour broadcast, you will be able to enjoy two back-to-back shows from our archives.

Street names history in Indy

For the first classic show (original air date: Oct. 15, 2011), which focuses on the heritage of street names, Nelson is joined in studio by two experts. They are historian Joan Hostetler, who initiated the crusade last year to keep the 190-year-old name on Georgia Street in downtown Indy, and Steve Campbell, a former Indy deputy mayor who has been working on a book about street names.

Sprinkled throughout the older neighborhoods of Indianapolis are a few remaining old blue sidewalk tiles naming the nearby streets. This Brookside Parkway marker was photographed by Joan Hostetler in 2006.Some were changed because of landmarks such as the Indiana Statehouse. Its construction resulted in Tennessee Street being renamed Capitol Avenue in the 1890s, according to Joan. She is co-owner of Heritage Photo & Research Services, which specializes in local history research and preserving, digitizing and archiving historic photographs.

According to Steve, the founder of Campbell Strategies, an Indy-based consulting firm, the street naming process in Indy can be divided into two categories: Names in the "old city" (pre-Unigov city limits), and then names in the suburban neighborhoods that were developed later.

During the show, Steve explains that Hague Road on the far-northeast side was named after a farmer who owned large tracts of land in the area.

According to Joan, some street names were changed because of anti-German sentiment after World War I. They include two streets on the west side: Bismarck Avenue, which became Pershing Avenue, and Belleview Place, which once was called Germania.

In the 1890s, an African-American city councilman pushed to change the name of Mississippi Street. It was renamed Senate Avenue in 1895.

Tune in to our "encore" show to hear more insights about the naming - and re-naming - process involving Indy streets.

Trees, trees and trees

For the second classic show (original air date: Oct. 29, 2011), which focuses on all things trees, Nelson will be joined in studio by David Forsell, president of Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. During the show, David identifies the tree in Indy that he considers "the most beautiful tree I've ever seen."

The Kile oak in Irvington on the eastside is the oldest tree in Indianapolis.David and Nelson also share details about the city's oldest tree, a bur oak in Irvington that may be about 400 years old. David's organization, which is known as KIB and headquartered in a renovated warehouse in Fountain Square, has planted hundreds of trees in that neighborhood alone by partnering with various community groups. KIB has a goal of eventually planting 100,000 trees across Indy.

During the show, David shares details about how his volunteer-based organization decides where to plant trees - and which species to plant.

To top it off, David and Nelson share insights about Indiana's official state tree. It's the tulip tree, sometimes called the yellow poplar.

They also explore a tree native to Indiana that's praised for its fall coloration, the sugar maple. Its dense crowns are known for turning brilliant shades of orange and red.

Cafeterias across Indiana

Shapiro’s Delicatessen and Cafeteria, on South Meridian Street in Indianapolis, is pictured in the early 1970s. IUPUI Digital Collection. Caption research by Heritage Photo & Research and Historic Indianapolis.(Oct. 27, 2012) - As we enter the season known at least in part for its focus on food, Hoosier History Live! chows down. Rather than feast on Halloween candy or Thanksgiving turkey, though, we dig in to our state's cafeteria culture.

Unaware that Indiana was famous for its cafeterias?

Well, think how many have flourished for generations of hungry Hoosiers. Gray Brothers Cafeteria in Mooresville has received national acclaim for its fresh-made rolls, fried chicken and old-fashioned pies. Indiana-based MCL Cafeterias is described in Tray Chic: Celebrating Indiana's Cafeteria Culture (Emmis Books, 2004) as "arguably the largest family-owned cafeteria chain in the nation." Poe's Cafeteria in Martinsville is cherished by devotees of its persimmon pudding, gooseberry pie and other scrumptious fare.

And Shapiro's Delicatessen has been a landmark in downtown Indy for more than 100 years, although fourth-generation owner Brian Shapiro has been quoted as saying he dislikes the term "cafeteria."

Tray Chic book cover. By Sam Stall.Even so, all of those beloved cafeterias (and a platter of others) are featured in Tray Chic, and its author is among Nelson's in-studio guests. He is Indianapolis-based writer Sam Stall, who also pens a question-and-answer column in Indianapolis Monthly magazine called "The Hoosierist". A native of Goshen, Sam is the author or co-author of about 20 books, many focusing on aspects of pop culture.

In addition to Sam, Nelson is joined on our exploration of cafeteria culture by a culinary queen who is well-known among Hoosier foodies. Daina Chamness of Greenwood has carved out a long career thanks to her work both in broadcasting and in the kitchen. Now known for her wine cake mixes, Daina formerly specialized in single-serving pies of all varieties.

Speaking of pies: As part of our cafeteria conversation, Nelson and his guests will discuss sugar cream pie, which was the focus of our show (with ever-delightful Daina as a guest) four years ago. At that point, legislators were debating whether to anoint sugar cream pie as Indiana's "official state pie". Not only did the lawmakers end up doing so by a vote of 99-to-1 (Nelson will share details), but sugar cream pie also is the official pie of the Indianapolis Colts.

A piece of sugar cream pie. Mmm, delicious!Sugar cream pie is relevant to our topic because Jonathan Byrd's in Greenwood and other cafeterias are among the few eateries that regularly serve it. (Sugar cream pie also was the focus of a "Hoosierist" column by Sam awhile back.) In Tray Chic, Sam describes the sprawling Jonathan Byrd's as the cafeteria version of an "epic, Cecil B. De Mille-style scale" production.

Noting that Hoosier cafeterias long have been hailed for their comfort food, Sam writes: "Some would say that the long view down the tray line is what heaven looks like."

According to Tray Chic, though, cafeterias are vanishing in many parts of the country.

"Today, they're as state-of-the-art as a brontosaurus, and almost as rare - unless you live in Indiana," Sam writes. In the Hoosier state, he explains, cafeterias are "culinary landmarks."

Sam Stall.The former Laughner's Cafeterias chain, which traced its beginnings to a storefront restaurant in 1900 in downtown Indy, opened the state's first cafeteria and was on the cutting edge then of "food service technology," according to Tray Chic.

Expansion of the Laughner's chain included the 1964 opening in Southern Plaza shopping center of a cafeteria in a structure that, as Tray Chic puts it, resembled a "big, Tudor-style house." In 1987, the chain opened a Laughner's Super Cafeteria on the far northside of Indy. After about 100 years in operation, though, the last Laughner's closed in 2000.

The MCL chain, however, has survived with signature fare, including cloverleaf rolls, carved roast beef, Swiss steak and Irani iced tea. According to Reid Duffy's Guide to Indiana's Favorite Restaurants(IU Press, 2006), the chain resulted from a business relationship between co-founder Charles McGaughey and George Laughner, a son of the Laughner's founder. (The "L" in MCL stands for Laughner.)

Ann’s Cafeteria is an old-style cafeteria in Jeffersonville, Ind., serving food that “tastes like grandma made it.”By 2006, the MCL chain had more than 20 cafeterias, including restaurants in Anderson, Bloomington, Muncie, Richmond, Speedway, Terre Haute and West Lafayette.

In Mooresville, Gray Brothers seats 500 and often feeds 3,000 patrons per day, according to Tray Chic. With homemade dishes that have won praise from national food critics, Gray Brothers has been a landmark on State Road 67 since the late 1960s.

Shapiro's roots go back much farther. In 1905, two years after immigrating from Russia because of anti-Jewish pogroms, Louis and Rebecca Shapiro opened a kosher grocery shop on what's now the south side of downtown Indy, according to Reid Duffy's book. Daina Chamness holds a package of her wine cake mix.  The transition to a restaurant - with cafeteria-style service lines - began in the 1930s when Louis delegated the store to his sons Abe, Izzy and Max.

And about 120 years before that, hundreds of Quakers from North Carolina traveled to Indiana to settle. Our guest Daina Chamness noted during our previous show that sugar cream pie may have its origins in a dessert made by Quaker farm wives.

In any case, food historians say sugar cream pie became a favorite on Hoosier farms because its ingredients consisted of staples (including flour, cream and sugar) available year-round in farm kitchens. Wick’s Pies,, a multi-generational business in Winchester in far-eastern Indiana, is the country's largest maker of sugar cream pies.

Speaking of farms: In Tray Chic, Sam write that, for Hoosiers, cafeterias often conjure up "ancestral memories of old-fashioned farm dinners, or fond reflections of Sunday after-church suppers at Grandma's." Typically, he notes, cafeterias serve fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, pecan pies and "pretty much anything else that farm wives set out for their families 150 years ago."

Some fun facts:

  • The word "cafeteria" is derived for a Spanish term for coffee shop, according to Tray Chic.
  • According to Reid Duffy's book, Louis Shapiro's grandfather had been a primary food supplier for the czar of Russia's naval fleet.
  • At Jonathan Byrd's in Greenwood, Sam Stall writes, the serving line is about as long as a tennis court.

Roadtrip: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Poster detail from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we scare ourselves with a couple of classic vintage film this Halloween night! The 1920s German Expressionist fright movie, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, will be screened at Indiana Landmarks Center at 1201 Central Ave. in Indianapolis from 7 to 9:30 p.m. on Halloween night, Wednesday, Oct. 31.

Also on the bill will be the 1921 Buster Keaton comedy The Haunted House. Film historian Eric Grayson will introduce the films.

As an added bonus, along with flashing lights, you'll hear the restored 1892 pipe organ in Cook Hall playing scary music to accompany the silent films with organist Mark Herman. Cree-ee-py! Cost is $10 for Indiana Landmarks members, $12 for non-members, and a cash bar will be available.

History Mystery

During the 1960s and '70s, a family-owned chain of restaurants flourished in the Indianapolis area. Frequently patronized by families with young children, the restaurants were not cafeterias. They specialized in char-broiled hamburgers, baked potatoes, tossed salads, steaks and other traditional American food.

Locations of the restaurants included 56th and Illinois streets, the Nora area and the Devington shopping center at East 46th and Arlington.

The chain, which also included a restaurant on East Washington Street, had a family-ownership relationship with an Indianapolis-founded drug store chain.

Question: What was the once-popular Indy-based restaurant chain?

This week's prize is a pair of tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Indiana History Center, and a gift certificate to Ram Restaurant and Brewery in downtown Indianapolis.

New time! ... Noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays

Hoosier History Live! expands to one hour

The nation's only live with call-in talk radio show about history, Hoosier History Live! with Nelson Price, has expanded to a one-hour format and now is on the air at a new weekly time slot: noon to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

The show will continue to be heard over the air at WICR 88.7 FM in the central Indiana area, or online anywhere at www.hoosierhistorylive.org.

We thank all of our sponsors and individual supporters who have helped us over the years. With so many forms of media disappearing or diminishing, and in particular locally focused content about history, we are pleased to still be around.

Landmarks and lyrics across Indiana

The Randolph County Courthouse is in eastern Indiana. Photo courtesy Indiana Landmarks.(Oct. 20, 2012) - A beloved, now-vacant diner in Plainfield, a vaudeville theater in Vincennes and the historic Colgate Palmolive plant and clock near Jeffersonville are among nearly two dozen landmarks across Indiana that have become the muse for Hoosier poets.

How can you wax poetic about the Plainfield Diner, which was placed a few years ago on the "10 Most Endangered Places" list by Indiana Landmarks, the historic preservation organization? Well, four members of Brick Street Poetry, inspired by the diner and other landmarks, join us to share insights about the well-known sites - and a sampling of the poetry that has resulted.

Our guests include Joyce Brinkman, Indiana's former poet laureate. Although she lives in Indianapolis today, Joyce grew up along the Ohio River and has chosen to write about the Colgate Palmolive plant, which opened in 1924, and its clock, which is the largest in the state and visible for miles. She is a board member of Brick Street Poetry, a statewide group based in Zionsville that publishes the Tipton Poetry Journal and hosts a monthly reading series, Poetry on Brick Street.

Also as part of "Landmark Lyrics", a partnership between Indiana Landmarks and Brick Street, award-winning poet J.L. Kato of Beech Grove has written about the Plainfield Diner on the National Road/U.S. 40. Laurel Smith.Considered a rare surviving example in the Hoosier state of the Streamline Moderne style, the Plainfield Diner opened in 1954, still has its original interior and inspired a Facebook crusade to spare it from possible demolition.

Hoosier History Live! focused on the Plainfield Diner's fate - which remains uncertain - during a "Diners Across Indiana" (click to read that show's enewsletter) show in 2010. Joyce Brinkman with Bobb, her cat.J.L. Kato, who joins Nelson and Joyce in studio, says he drew on boyhood memories of learning to drink coffee in a diner for his poem, "Coffee, High and Dry",  which uses diner and trucker lingo.

Nelson's guests also include Laurel Smith, an English professor at Vincennes University who has written a poem about the Pantheon Theatre, which is on the current "10 Most Endangered" list. Built from 1919 through 1921, the theater hosted vaudeville shows, early performances by Vincennes native Red Skelton and touring theatrical productions. According to Indiana Landmarks, the now-vacant theater is deteriorating to such an extent its decorative interior is threatened - and the historic theater could be auctioned at a tax sale.

Laurel says her poem inspired by the Pantheon, Talking Snapshots, is intended "to suggest the spirit of a family scrapbook; in this case, the family is the whole community."

The Pantheon Theatre on the corner of 5th and Main streets in Vincennes, Ind., opened in 1921, with a capacity of 1,200. Image courtesy Indiana Landmarks.Landmark Lyrics also includes a poem about the Randolph County Courthouse in far-eastern Indiana. The historic courthouse is the subject of a poem by Ben "Kahlil" Rose, a photographer and filmmaker who grew up in Tipton County. Ben, the first African-American graduate of Tipton High School, is working on a documentary about the history of black farming settlements in Indiana. Ben says he was intrigued by Randolph County because of its early, significant African-American farming community.

Built in the 1870s, the Randolph County Courthouse in Winchester has drawn widespread attention in recent years because of a crusade to save it by local "calendar girls." Members of a bridge-playing club  (some in their 80s and 90s) who were aghast at a plan to demolish the courthouse, the women disrobed to pose for a calendar that was sold to help fund its renovation. J.L. Kato.Ben's poem about the courthouse is titled For Old Time's Sake.

Other landmarks that are the subjects of Landmark Lyrics poetry include the spectacularly restored Lerner Theatre in Elkhart;  Beck's Mill in Salem; the Frankfort Roundhouse, a vacant turn-around terminal for trains in Frankfort; the Greyhound Station, a former bus terminal in Evansville, and Lyles Station, a historic African-American settlement in Princeton.

The partnership between Brick Street Poetry and Indiana Landmarks culminate Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. with a visual presentation and poetry reading at Indiana Landmarks Center, 1201 Central Ave. in Indianapolis. After the free program, a selection of the visuals and poetry will be published in the Tipton Poetry Journal.

The Colgate Palmolive plant, the focus of Joyce Brinkman's poem, opened in a former reformatory. The Colgate Clock in Clarksville, Ind., can be seen from downtown Louisville, across the Ohio River. It has a diameter of 40 feet and was first illuminated in 1924. Image courtesy Joyce Brinkman.According to Indiana Landmarks, a former cell block became the Laundry Soap Building for the Colgate complex, which manufactured soap and toiletries. (The former warden's house became the recreation building for the plant's workers, who numbered 1,500 at the factory's peak.)

The massive Colgate Clock originally was located atop a Colgate factory in New Jersey. The clock was moved to Jeffersonville in 1924 and faces Louisville, Ky., across the Ohio River.

In Vincennes, the Pantheon Theatre, the subject of Laurel Smith's poem, also has a rich history. In addition to Skelton, entertainers and musicians who performed in the historic theater included W.C. Fields, Duke Ellington, Sally Rand and Will Rogers.

"Like many small communities, we are constantly challenged in Vincennes to balance historical preservation with modern development to meet the needs of people who live here," Laurel notes. Of several current suggestions for re-use of the once-glorious Pantheon, Laurel has a favorite idea. Nelson will ask her to share details during the radio show.

More about our four poet guests:

  • Ben Rose.Laurel Smith currently is serving as the chair of the English department at Vincennes University. Her poetry has appeared in several publications, including the book And Know this Place: Poetry of Indiana (Indiana Historical Society Press, 2011). She also is the co-author of Early Works by Modern Women Writers: Woolf, Bowen, Mansfield, Cauther and Stein (Mellen, 2006).
  • Joyce Brinkman is well-known for creating collaborative poetry projects with visual artists and various organizations and businesses. Her poetry is featured on a 25-foot-high stained glass window by British glass artist Martin Donlin at the Indianapolis International Airport; in lighted glass at the Indianapolis Public Library's Central Library and on an artists' wall in El Salvador. Her published works include two chapbooks, Tiempo Espanol and Nine Poems in Form Nine.
  • A native of Japan, J.L. Kato has spent most of his life in Indiana. He describes his immigrant experience in Shadows Set in Concrete, which won the 2011 Best Book of Indiana Award for poetry.
  • In addition to poetry, photography and filmmaking, Ben "Kahlil" Rose has been active in theater and is the father of four children. His multi-media work can be viewed at theidentitycomplex.com

History Mystery

The two dozen or so historic structures that are the focus of the "Landmarks Lyrics" collaboration between Brick Street Poetry and Indiana Landmarks include Bush Stadium, the home of the Indianapolis Indians until the opening of the $20 million Victory Field in 1996.

Art Deco relief for “Perry Stadium” on the structure now known as Bush Stadium.The baseball team had played its first game in Bush, then known as Perry Stadium, in 1931. The sports facility on West 16th Street was renamed Bush Stadium in 1967 in honor of Owen Bush, a former manager of the team.

However, in between the Perry and Bush eras and beginning during World War II, the stadium was known by another name.

Question: What was it?

This week's prize is a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie, courtesy of Conner Prairie, and a gift certificate to Iron Skillet Restaurant on West 30th Street in Indianapolis, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: Indianapolis Pop-Up Modern Tour

Move over, Columbus, Indiana. Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy tells us that downtown Indy will show off its modern architectural marvels with a free tour this Saturday, Oct. 20, from 2 to 5 p.m. The Pop Up Mod Tour begins on the southeast quadrant of Monument Circle, starting with a discussion of the c. 1970 landscape installation on the Circle.

Barton Tower in downtown Indianapolis is an example of the Brutalist style of architecture. Photo by Vess Ruhtenberg.You'll also see the 1970 American Fletcher National Bank (now Chase), the 1962 City-County Building, which replaced the historic county courthouse and came to symbolize the unification of city and county governments, and the 1975 Minton-Capehart Federal Building, complete with a recently restored Milton Glaser mural.

Also on the tour is the James Whitcomb Riley Center (a residential complex now known as Riley Towers, completed in 1963), which was designed by the well-known Chicago firm of Perkins + Will.

Your last stop is Massachusetts Avenue to learn about Barton Tower; it was designed by Evans Woollen and Associates and was completed in 1968.

You also can take the tour in any order; just look for a vested docent outside each location. And you can download a tour map here. This Roadtrip was recommended by modern enthusiast (and two-time Hoosier History Live! guest) Connie Zeigler.

If a town is on the state map, he's been there

An old grain elevator in Plymouth, Ind., appeared in After the Harvest, one of photographer John Bower’s Indiana books.(Oct. 13, 2012) - On state maps of Indiana, there are about 2,099 cities and towns, according to a count by John Bower, an award-winning photographer.

He has counted them because John, who specializes in black-and-white photography, has an unusual distinction: He has visited every city and town. With his artist wife Lynn, he owns Studio Indiana near Bloomington, the base for their travels.

His photos - which often, as he puts it, depict "the ignored, forgotten or cast aside" - have been collected in several books, each with a different focus.

Nearly two years ago, John was Nelson's guest to share insights and anecdotes from his journeys. They have included stops to photograph courthouse attics, barn roofs with advertising, historic jails, monasteries, abandoned lodges and houses of worship in cities like South Bend in northern Indiana, as well as towns like Vevay on the Ohio River.

Now John returns to share more stories, which he and Lynn (who often writes the text) recount in photo books such as The Common Good (2010). Not only does that book include photos of historic jails in Nashville and Vevay, it includes a close-up image of "Old Sparky," a onetime electric chair at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.

This image of “Old Sparky,” the electric chair at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, appears in photographer John Bower’s book The Common Good. Photo by John Bower."It was constructed of worn, dark wood that had been carefully crafted, with dovetail joints used in some places," John writes. "A small sign explained that the wood had been salvaged from Indiana's old gallows. ... Overall, it was an eerie combination of antique, mundane and grisly."

Other photos are evocative for far different reasons. His book 2nd Stories (2005), which explores "what's upstairs, on top and overhead," includes photos of the attics in the Hancock County Courthouse in Greenfield and the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington.

It also features several photos of the the Monastery Immaculate Conception in Ferdinand, known as the "Castle on the Hill." Built between 1915 and 1924 (work was suspended during World War I) and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the monastery is the home of the Sisters of St. Benedict. John and Lynn Bower visited during an extensive renovation designed to give the monastery, as a nun explained to them, a "feminine feel."

He also photographed an abandoned synagogue in South Bend that was built in 1901, as well as a massive vacant Knights of the Pythias Lodge in Shelbyville. (Its first floor once had been occupied by a Murphy's Dime Store.) John and Lynn were struck by the "once majestic" Lodge Ballroom on an upper floor.

"While our society values the newest, the costliest and the flashiest, I'm motivated to rediscover that which has been ignored, forgotten or cast aside," John says. "By using the inherent drama of black-and-white photography, I'm able to capture the essence - the élan vital - of these subjects."

John Bower, photographer, with photographic equipment.John and Lynn Bower will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary next month. The couple met when they were teachers in Kendallville. After school, they often would hop into a car and travel an unfamiliar route.

On their journeys, John has taken photos of barns with "billboard" advertising on their roofs in Orange County and Martin County. And his book After the Harvest (2007) focuses on historic grain elevators and feed mills.

Some notes from their journeys:

  • In Cloverdale, John photographed a historic retail shop described as "the oldest continually operating hardware store in Indiana." Founded in 1887, the Cloverdale Hardware Store is featured in 2nd Stories.
  • According to The Common Good, the historic electric chair at the Indiana State Prison was used 62 times to administer the death penalty, beginning in 1914. Last used in 1994, the chair is a museum piece and today sits in the prison's Indiana Room.
  • In addition to feed mills, After the Harvest features photos of their "ancestors": grist mills. According to the book, Indiana had more than 700 grist mills in 1860. The Bowers call them a "powerful civilizing force" because grinding grain was so important to early Hoosiers that trails were created between farms and the mills. Then pioneers began forming towns near the grist mills.

History Mystery

In his travels around the Hoosier state, John Bower of Studio Indiana has taken countless photos of distinctive barns. For many decades, Indiana had more of one kind of barn - round barns - than any other state. In fact, one of Indiana's 92 counties promoted itself as the "Round Barn Capital of the World."

The Edward May True-Circular Barn, just east of Columbus, Ind., was built in 1903 and razed in 1976 to make way for widening of the highway. Pictured are Edward May and his daughter, Martha May, circa 1910. Image and caption courtesy Charles Snyder and Heritage Photo & Research Services.Round barns were said to be efficient in many ways, including saving farmers steps when feeding their livestock because all of the animals faced the same direction.

However, round barns fell out of favor for several reasons, including the inability of modern tractors and agricultural machinery to fit through their doors. In Indiana, the last round barn apparently was built in 1936.

Even so, they still are celebrated in the county known as the "Round Barn Capital of the World."

Question: What is the Indiana county?

Hint: It is not the county where the Edward May barn (pictured) was located.

This week's prize is a gift certificate for a 10-pack of tickets to Heartland Film Festival, courtesy of Heartland, and a pair of tickets to a public tour of Crown Hill Cemetery, given by the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation, courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: Parke County Covered Bridge Fest through Oct. 21

The Narrows Covered Bridge across Sugar Creek in Indiana’s Turkey Run State Park was built in 1882.  Roadtripper Chris Gahl of Visit Indy suggests that we head west from Indianapolis to the always fabulous fall foliage on display at the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival, which is going on now and runs through Oct. 21. With a total of 31 covered bridges, Parke County promotes itself as the "Covered Bridge Capital of the World".

This countywide festival first started in 1957 and is headquartered around the courthouse lawn in Rockville. You'll find plenty of food booths, crafters and antiques around the courthouse square, as well as maps for self-guided tours throughout the county to check out all those great bridges and little towns!

Don't want to drive or bike yourself? Bus tours leave the courthouse lawn daily during the festival at 10:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. ET. All tickets are $15 per person, and tours will travel to either the northwest or southwest part of the county. Bus-tour information is at (765) 569-5226, or email info@coveredbridges.com to reserve your seat.

Hollywood icons Red Skelton, Robert Wise and Irene Dunne

Irene Dunne.(Oct. 6, 2012) - Aside from being icons of Hollywood with links to Indiana, what could three luminaries - comedian Red Skelton, acclaimed director Robert Wise(The Sound of Music and West Side Story) and 1930s and '40s movie star Irene Dunne - have in common?

All three are the subjects of biographies written by movie historian Wes Gehring, a film professor at Ball State University who will be Nelson's guest. Wes' newest book is the just-released Robert Wise Shadowlands (Indiana Historical Society Press), a biography of the Academy Award-winning director who was born in Winchester and grew up in Connersville.

With Wes in studio, not only do we focus on the life and career of Robert Wise (1914-2005), we also explore the Hoosier roots and careers of Red Skelton, a native of Vincennes, and Irene Dunne, who grew up in Madison.

Wes delved into their lives in Red Skelton: The Mask Behind the Mask (IHS Press, 2008), which explores, as Wes puts it, the comedian's "hardscrabble beginnings with a shockingly dysfunctional family in southern Indiana" and Irene Dunne: First Lady of Hollywood (Scarecrow Press, 2003). Robert Wise, director, at his desk at RKO studios in Hollywood, mid-to-late 1940s. Wes D. Gehring Stills Collection.It's a look at the versatile actress, who won critical acclaim for her roles in genres ranging from musicals like Show Boat (1936) to comedies (including The Awful Truth in 1937 with Cary Grant) and dramas such as I Remember Mama (1948).

Like Irene Dunne (1898-1990), Robert Wise was known for astonishing versatility, directing movies ranging from the science fiction cult classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and the horror movie The Haunting (1963), which is set in a spooky New England mansion, to the two musicals for which Wise won Oscars as Best Director, The Sound of Music (1965) and West Side Story (1961).

In fact, many film historians contend Wise's versatility explains why he never quite became a household name like fellow directors Alfred Hitchcock and Steven Spielberg, who are associated with specific genres.

Certainly Red Skelton (1913-1997) became a household name, achieving major stardom in movies, TV, radio and on Broadway after getting his start in vaudeville shows and, before that, in burlesque.

On his enormously popular TV series, which enjoyed a run of nearly 20 years (1951-1971), Skelton delighted audiences with the antics of characters such as Clem Kadiddlehopper, a confused bumpkin, and Freddie the Freeloader, a hobo who never spoke.

Indiana native Red Skelton performs as “Clem Kadiddlehopper,” circa 1951.Like Freddie, Skelton endured dire poverty. As Wes recounts in his biography, Skelton, the youngest of four brothers, was born two months after the death of his father. Years later, Skelton claimed his father had been a circus clown, but Wes disputes that with extensive research indicating the elder Skelton was an alcoholic grocer in Vincennes.

Although Red (real name: Richard) Skelton worked his way up to stardom, he continued to cope with, as Wes puts it, a "sometimes tragic personal life" that included three marriages, the death of his 9-year-old son from leukemia in 1958, the suicide of his second wife and his lingering bitterness at the entertainment industry after the cancellation of his TV series.

Robert Wise and Irene Dunne had more stable personal lives, although her father, a steam vessel supervisor, also died when she was a child. She had been born in Louisville, Ky., but moved with her widowed mother to Madison. In the Ohio River town, she attended St. Michael's Catholic Church, graduated from Madison High School and sang at civic gatherings.

Her talent resulted in a scholarship to study music at a conservatory in Indianapolis; eventually, she landed roles in touring stage shows.

Wes Gehring at his Ball State University office, surrounded by film memorabilia.At Connersville High School, the auditorium has been renamed in Wise's honor. In his biography of the filmmaker, Wes quotes from columns (titled "Wise Crax") he wrote for the high school newspaper.

After graduation, Wise attended Franklin College. Short of money, he left school during the Depression and followed an older brother to Hollywood. One of his big breaks involved working as a film editor for Orson Welles on the classic Citizen Kane (1941).

Long before The Haunting, Wise had experience directing horror and thriller movies. His credits included The Cure of the Cat People (1944) and The Body Snatcher (1945) with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.

Some fun facts:

  • Irene Dunne was nominated five times for an Academy Award but never won. She also served one term as a delegate to the United Nations. According to Wes' biography, she called her appointment to the U.N. in 1957 by President Eisenhower "the highlight of my life."
  • During Robert Wise's boyhood in the 1920s, his father ran a meat-packing plant in Connersville. Dazzled by silent movies, young Robert often saw three per week at the town's three theaters, which all were in walking distance of the family's home, according to Robert Wise Shadowlands.
  • In Vincennes, Skelton, a poor student, dropped out of school when he was about 13. His gigs included touring with traveling medicine shows that sold "magic" bottles of elixir.

After years of pratfalls in his famous slapstick routines, Skelton needed to wear leg braces, although he concealed that from his fans.

History Mystery

In 1966, Robert Wise directed an epic movie that starred an actor who, like the director, was an Indiana native. Set in China during the 1920s, the critically acclaimed movie had an antiwar theme and a running time of about three hours; it was filmed on location in Asia. The USS Isabel gunboat patrols Chinese waters, 1920s.For his leading role as a machinist in the U.S. Navy on a gunboat, the Hoosier-born actor earned his only Academy Award nomination; he did not go on to win the Oscar.

Question: Name the Indiana-born actor and the epic movie in 1966 in which he starred that Robert Wise directed.

This week's prize is a gift certificate to Dave and Buster's restaurant in Castleton in Indianapolis and a pair of tickets to a public tour of Crown Hill Cemetery, given by the Crown Hill Heritage Foundation. These prizes are courtesy of Visit Indy.

Roadtrip: Heartland Film Festival Oct. 18-27

Our charismatic Roadtripper, Chris Gahl of Visit Indy, returns to our airwaves this week to remind us that one of Indy's premier events, the Heartland Film Festival, is just around the corner, October 18-27.

Man climbing mountain with snow and rocks around him. Eleven veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan join an expedition to climb the 20,000-foot Himalayan giant Mount Lobuche in the documentary High Ground. Courtesy Heartland Film Festival.A little "history" ... In 1991 a group of Indianapolis film lovers united to create a unique film festival to honor beautifully made films that celebrate the positive aspects of life. The Heartland Film Festival started in 1992 as a small event in Indianapolis and has expanded over time to become one of the fastest-growing film festivals in the country.

Today, the annual film festival is a 10-day event full of independent films and a variety of special events for film enthusiasts of all ages.

This year's movies will screen at AMC Showplace Traders Point 12 and AMC Castleton Square 14. Opening night is Thursday night, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m. at the Indianapolis Museum of Art for a screening of High Ground.

Admission is free, and popcorn, beer, soda and wine are available for purchase. Tickets for all events may be purchased online at Heartland Film Festival.

Ancient people here - and agricultural beginnings in Indiana

Tent dwellings of eastern woodland Indians - United States.(Sept. 29, 2012) - With our expanded, one-hour format, we can dig deeper (pardon the pun; the guest will be an archaeologist) with topics that have sparked great interest from listeners. So we are going to explore more aspects of the so-called "Very First Hoosiers," or ancient people who lived more than 10,000 years ago in the densely wooded forests that became the site of Indiana.

Dr. Christopher Schmidt, an archaeologist, biological anthropologist and popular University of Indianapolis faculty member, returns to share insights about these early residents - as well as fresh insights about the beginnings of agriculture.

Chris, the director of the Indiana Prehistory Laboratory at UIndy, has overseen excavations across Indiana and is credited with discovering the oldest known man-made tool in Hoosier soil. Created from the leg bone of a white-tailed deer, the tool is an awl (used for making clothes) discovered during a dig near the town of Flora in Carroll County.

This awl made from the leg of a white tail deer is 10,400 years old. It was found on a UIndy archaeological dig in 2003 in Carroll County, Indiana. Image courtesy UIndy.Chris discussed the tool, which is 10,400 years old, and other aspects of  the "Very First Hoosiers" when he was Nelson's studio guest in June.

Now he returns to share more details about the ancient Hoosiers, as well as the animal and plant life that surrounded them. Chris describes the ancient people of nearly 11,000 years ago as hunter-gatherers who ate both meat and plants.

As centuries passed, the people began to develop agriculture, a move that, according to Chris, also meant an increase in various diseases. He plans to share insights about the correlation as well as about the origin of maize in Indiana.

During our show in June, Nelson asked Chris about the relationship between the ancient people and Native Americans.

Dr. Christopher Schmidt."They were Native Americans - not culturally, but biologically," Chris replied. Their ancestors are believed to have traveled from the Bering Straits to North America, then dispersed.

Although ancient people had arrived in the future site of Indiana more than 10,000 years ago, the origin of agriculture did not begin until much later.

"The first time we've seen evidence that people manipulated plants in the Eastern Woodlands that became Indiana was about 3,000 years ago," Chris says.

The ancient people, who lived in structures similar to wigwams, initially cultivated four varieties of plants that, according to Chris, today might be dismissed as "weeds." Among them was a plant commonly known as goosefoot, including a species of it that recently has become popular in today's cuisine with its Spanish name, quinoa.

Sunflowers also were cultivated by ancient people in future Indiana. Then as now, quinoa, sunflowers and other plants were cultivated so their seeds could be eaten, according to Chris.

Conclusions about the ancient people's diet and agricultural cultivation come from analyzing a variety of sources, including fossils found in Indiana.

"I've looked at thousands of casts of teeth over the years," Chris says.

Maize.In addition to overseeing excavations in Carroll County, Chris has led digs in Monroe County (at a site not far from Oliver Winery) as well as Johnson, Jackson and Dearborn counties.

Particularly once early Native Americans began cultivating maize - a term Chris says is generally synonymous with corn - they often selected floodplains as the sites of their fields.

"Floodplains provided good ways to irrigate your crops," he explains.

He describes the maize consumed by the ancient people this way: "The actual corn they cultivated to eat was very similar, nearly identical, to the corn we eat today, except smaller."

Initially, though, the plant did not produce multiple seeds in cobs. In what Chris calls a "huge achievement," ancient people selectively bred their maize to produce cobs filled with corn kernels. "The plant in nature didn’t do that."

That accomplishment didn't originate in the future site of Indiana, but stalks of corn with cobs quickly spread across North America, including the future Hoosier state.

Excavations here also indicate the "Very First Hoosiers" eventually cultivated various types of gourds. Then as now, gourds were not eaten. Instead, they were cultivated for what Chris calls "utilitarian" purposes, including serving as water jugs.

History Mystery

Ancient people who lived more than 10,000 years ago shared the wilderness that became Indiana with various animals, some of which became extinct in the Hoosier state. They included a pig-like creature that was discussed by anthropologist Dr. Christopher Schmidt when he was a studio guest in June on Hoosier History Live!

Aerial view of the historic Athenaeum building in downtown Indianapolis, home to the Rathskeller restaurant.Although the creature, which has a snout like a pig, has long been extinct in the Midwest, it can be found in other parts of North America, as well as throughout Central and South America. The medium-sized creatures prefer to eat roots, grass, seeds and fruit. Their tusks are shaped differently than those of pigs.

Question: Name the pig-like creature found during ancient eras on the site of today's Indiana.

This week's prize is a gift certificate to The Rathskeller Restaurant and a pair of tickets to the Indianapolis Zoo, courtesy of Visit Indy. You will not find the meat of this particular animal on the menu at The Rathskeller, nor will you find this extinct animal at the Zoo. But there sure is a lot to savor and enjoy in Indy.    

Roadtrip: Amazing Maize at the Indiana State Museum

Children check out the combine simulator at the Amazing Maize exhibit at Indiana State Museum.Our regular Roadtripper, Chris Gahl of Visit Indy, is off this week, so a guest Roadtripper will bring us up to speed on the Amazing Maize: The Science, History and Culture of Corn exhibit, which should be your next stop after listening to this week's Hoosier History Live! show about early agriculture in Indiana.

The exhibit at the Indiana State Museum runs through March 24, 2013. According to the Indiana State Museum's website, it takes 25 corn plants per person per day to support the American way of life. This 10,000-year global genetic journey explores the relationship between people and corn, arguably the most productive domesticated plant and the greatest plant breeding achievement of all time.

You can also play an online "corny" game for kids, presented here by the Indiana State Museum. And if you're a teacher, here is a Teacher's Guide for all ages.

Unique history of New Harmony

The interdenominational Roofless Church is one of many striking examples of elegant architecture in New Harmony, Ind. Photo by Darryl Jones.(Sept. 22, 2012) - A small, idyllic village that became world-famous because of two experimental utopian communities during the early 1800s is the this show, one in our rotating series about Hoosier towns.

New Harmony, located on the Wabash River in far-southwestern Indiana, was the setting for two historic attempts at communal living.

The town's founders in 1814 were German immigrant George Rapp and his followers, who became known as the Harmonists. Devoted to hard work and self-sacrifice, including celibacy, they built the village while waiting for the second coming of Christ.

The Harmonists eventually sold their scenic village to Scottish industrialist Robert Owen, a social reformer who attracted some of the era's most progressive educators and scientists to New Harmony, many of whom arrived in a "Boatload of Knowledge" in 1826.

Book cover of New Harmony Then and Now, by Donald Pitzer and Darryl Jones.To explore these two attempts at utopia, why they did not last, the current vitality and cultural appeal of the village, as well as a wealth of other aspects of its heritage, Nelson is joined in studio by the collaborators on a new book, New Harmony: Then and Now (Indiana University Press). They are:

  • The author, Donald Pitzer, a professor emeritus of history at the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville. He also is director emeritus of the university's Center for Communal Studies and has spent more than 40 years researching the Harmonist and Owenite communities in New Harmony.
  • Acclaimed photographer Darryl Jones, who is known for his images of Indiana. Darryl also has collaborated on books written by two favorite Hoosier History Live! guests: Historical novelist James Alexander Thom (they collaborated on Spirit of the Place: Indiana's Hill Country, and you can click on the Thom link to hear the podcast of the Hoosier History Live! show) and Ray Boomhower of the Indiana Historical Society, who partnered with Darryl for Destination Indiana: Travels through Hoosier History.

Colorful aspects of New Harmony heritage - beyond the intriguing attempts at utopia - that Don, Darryl and Nelson explore include the village's interdenominational Roofless Church, which was designed by legendary architect Philip Johnson in 1960.

George Rapp.In the early 1800s, the followers of prophet George Rapp fled Germany because they objected to some teachings of the Lutheran church. After initially settling in Pennsylvania, the Harmony Society came to the Indiana wilderness in a quest for spiritual fulfillment.

According to our guest Don Pitzer, the Harmonists of George Rapp, who numbered about 2,000 in total, "are thought to be the largest religious group to immigrate to America following a single leader."

Harmonist building techniques, which used Roman numeral markings still visible on some of the historic New Harmony structures, "anticipated modern pre-fabricated construction," Don Pitzer writes. Rapp's followers built dormitories to separate the sexes.

The Harmonists sold the village and 20,000 acres of forests, orchards, meadows and farmland in 1824 to Owen, a wealthy cotton mill owner in Scotland. He had been born in Wales in 1771. At the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, Owen became appalled at miserable living conditions, lack of sanitation and rampant crime.

Darryl Jones.Owen vowed to create a haven free from poverty and inequality that would emphasize education, culture, science and technology. That's why he brought distinguished scholars, scientists, intellectuals and educators to New Harmony via the Wabash River on a so-called "Boatload of Knowledge."

Alas, his utopian community didn't last. Nelson will explore the reasons with Don and Darryl, whose striking color photos in New Harmony Then and Now depict historic structures from both utopian communities, including an original Harmony Society cabin, now part of the Barrett Gate House, as well as Harmonist Community Houses.

Much of the credit for saving and restoring historic New Harmony is attributed to philanthropist Jane Blaffer Owen, a Texas oil heiress who died at age 95 in 2010. Mrs. Owen married a descendant of Robert Owen, then crusaded to restore the community's heritage, as well as celebrate art and culture.

Well-known sites built in modern times that draw visitors to New Harmony include the Roofless Church, as well as the Red Geranium, an acclaimed restaurant. Today, New Harmony also is known for its cultural retreats, interfaith seminars, musical performances and art galleries.

Some insights related to New Harmony:

  • Donald Pitzer.Although the Harmonists' practice of celibacy fascinates the public, the initial utopia seekers found other endeavors to enjoy. According to Don Pitzer, the Harmonists set up the first town band and the first commercial brewery in Indiana.
  • The second utopian society also created "firsts." Writes Don Pitzer: "Robert Owen set up the first infant school in the United States at New Harmony, starting what became the kindergarten movement in America." The pioneering "infant school" was housed in Harmonist Community House No. 2 on Main Street, a historic structure that has been preserved; Darryl's photo of it is featured in New Harmony Then and Now.
  • Descendants of Robert Owen had an impact on Indiana in many ways. His son David Dale Owen became known as "the pioneer geologist of the Midwest" and is regarded as the founder of the Indiana Geological Society. Another son, Robert Dale Owen, was elected to the Indiana legislature and became an early advocate for women's rights. Yet another son, Richard Owen, became the first president of Purdue University.

History Mystery

A fictional town in Indiana named Harmony is the setting for a series of novels by a contemporary Hoosier storyteller known for his folksy humor. The protagonist in the novels is a Quaker minister, as is the Hoosier author of the books. Danville, Ind., sign.His fictional Harmony is a "small town with a kindly spirit," although it bustles with gossip, small-town scandals and eccentric characters.

Even though the author gave the name "Harmony" to his fictional Hoosier town, he has conceded the community closely resembles Danville, Ind., his own hometown.

Question: Name the Indiana author who has set a series of books in a fictional town named Harmony.

This week's prize is a gift certificate to a deluxe room at the New Harmony Inn in New Harmony, courtesy of the New Harmony Inn, Resort and Conference Center.

Roadtrip: Panning for gold in Gatesville in Brown County

Panning for gold in Brown County, Ind.Chris Gahl of Visit Indy returns to our airwaves this week to let us know that there's a free visit to Salt Creek behind the Gatesville Country Store in Brown County if you're interested in panning for gold!

The Gatesville Store rents and sells gold panning equipment, and it also offers camping, rest rooms and a small restaurant. It's owned and operated by entrepreneur Robin Stevens, a native of Brown County who has a background in chemical engineering, geology and hospitality; all skills that seem to intersect with her business offering.

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, panning for gold as a hobby is definitely alive and well in Indiana. Gold is not a naturally occurring metal in Indiana; instead, it was slowly relocated here from Canada by the glaciers, and some of it wound up in the streams of Brown County.

The Gatesville Country Store is near the intersection of Gatesville Road and Salt Creek Road in Brown County and is open seven days. The phone number is (812) 988-0788. No, they don’t have a website, but the food is home cooking at its best.

Amelia Earhart and her Indiana connections

Amelia Earhart in stride beside her plane. Image courtesy Purdue University.(Sept. 15, 2012) - She vanished 75 years ago over the South Pacific while attempting to fly around the world in a Lockheed Electra 10E twin-engine airplane sponsored by Purdue University.

That's just one of the connections between famous aviator Amelia Earhart and the Hoosier state. She was particularly associated with Purdue, which has the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of artifacts associated with the famous aviator, whose disappearance in 1937 remains a mystery.

During the final two years before she vanished, Amelia Earhart was a sort of visiting-celebrity-in-residence on the West Lafayette campus, where she was a career counselor for women students, and where she lectured and conducted conferences. She also was an adviser to the university's department of aeronautics.

Despite her fame, Earhart chose to stay in a women's dorm (then known as South Hall, today it's part of Duhme Hall) and eat with students in the cafeteria.

Amelia Earhart in 1931 set a world altitude record of 18,415 feet in a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro plane.In 1935, the same year she joined the Purdue faculty, "Lady Lindy" visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. She became the first woman to receive an official position during the Indianapolis 500, serving as a race official. Earhart also demonstrated a parachute training device before the race began.

To explore these and a sky-high stack of other Earhart links to Indiana, Nelson is joined in studio by Purdue staff writer and historian John Norberg, an aviation expert who has written extensively about her colorful life. The huge collection of Earhart memorabilia at Purdue includes some of her flight suits, logs and diaries, lecture notes, letters, poems and even a pre-marital agreement with her husband, George Putnam.

She wasn't a native Hoosier. Born in Atchison, Kansas, in 1897, Earhart earned her pilot's license in 1922 and within a month set an altitude record (14,000 feet) for a woman aviator. Subsequently, her list of record-breaking achievements included becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, in 1928, and two years later setting a speed record (181 mph) for a woman in flight.

Another famous aviator had Purdue ties. Astronaut Neil Armstrong was in Purdue’s class of 1955. His statue on campus was covered with flowers on the day of his death, Aug. 25, 2012. Image courtesy The Exponent.Invitations to establish a relationship with Purdue apparently were appealing for several reasons. She liked the fact that engineering and mechanical training were fully open to women students, and she was appreciative that, in 1935, Purdue was the only university in the country with its own airstrip.

With this year's 75th anniversary of her disappearance, Amelia Earhart (click to view a Discovery News video clip) has been in the news again. Nelson asks guest John Norberg for his reaction to the recent discovery in the South Pacific of a jar of anti-freckle cream, apparently of a kind used by the redheaded aviator.

Fun fact: When Earhart, who loved buttermilk, was observed drinking it several times in the Purdue cafeteria, a campus craze for the beverage kicked off.

A statue honoring Amelia Earhart stands in front of what today is known as Earhart Dining Hall. The statue was arranged by Purdue's former president, France Cordova, an Earhart fan. Cordova, who stepped down in July, was Purdue's first woman president.

John Norberg. Nelson also asks the aviation historian for insights about the Purdue years of astronaut Neil Armstrong, who died last month at age 82. John, the author of Wings of Their Dreams: Purdue in Flight, spoke at a recent memorial service for Armstrong, who was a member of Purdue's class of 1955. He also was an official guest at this week's celebration honoring Armstrong at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C.

At Purdue, the trove of Earhart artifacts began with donations from Putnam, who had his wife declared legally dead in 1939. In 2002, his granddaughter, a descendant from an earlier marriage, donated nearly 500 items to the university.

Purdue's sponsorship of her Lockheed Electra included arranging for financial assistance from Indianapolis business leader J.K. Lilly and other donors. Between 1930 and 1935, Earhart had set seven women's aviation records. She also was the first person (man or woman) to fly solo from Honolulu to Oakland, Calif.

The pioneer aviator was 39 years old when she disappeared with her navigator, Fred Noonan, while flying from New Guinea to the Howland Islands. She was attempting to become the first woman pilot to circumnavigate the globe.

History Mystery

Purdue University has been nicknamed the "Mother of Astronauts." From the beginning of America's space exploration program, many of the men and women who have become astronauts attended college on the West Lafayette campus. From the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong (class of '55), to physician-scientist David Wolf (class of '78), the first Indianapolis native in space, Purdue has influenced the exploration of "the New Frontier."

David Wolf.However, from the 1960s through the 1990s and beyond, Purdue waged a perpetual one-upsmanship battle with another institution of higher education over which school could claim the most Americans selected for space flight.

The other university also counts many alums among American astronauts - perhaps, on occasion, close to as many as Purdue.

Question: What is the other institution of higher ed?

Hints: It's not located in Indiana, and it is a private university.

This week's prize is a gift certificate to Rick's Boatyard Café on Indy's west side, courtesy of Visit Indy, and a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie, courtesy of Conner Prairie

Roadtrip: Eleutherian College, and 1950s Union Street in Indy

Eleutherian College in Lancaster, Ind.Amy Lamb of the Indiana Historical Society steps in for Chris Gahl of Visit Indy this week with a kind of double Roadtrip exploring the heritage of Hoosiers from special ethnic groups; free African-Americans who had the opportunity to study at Historic Eleutherian College near Madison, Ind., and a visit with displaced Eastern European Jews resettling in Indianapolis after World War II.

The fall festival to celebrate historic Eleutherian College will take place the weekend of Sep. 21-23 on the grounds of the college itself at 6927 W. State Road 250, near Madison, Ind.

The college site is actually in the country; from Madison go north on State Road 7 and turn east on State Road 250, and soon you will come upon the beautiful village of Lancaster and see the college, a three-story limestone building, on your left.

Berek and Frania (Bennie and Fanny) Kaplan’s are portrayed in the exhibit You Are There 1950: Making a Jewish Home. Courtesy Indiana Historical Society.Eleutherian College was one of only a few institutions before the Civil War to intentionally adopt a model of multiracial and coeducational education. Its location less than 10 miles from the slave state of Kentucky made it exceptional among its peer institutions. For more information about the fall festival, visit Facebook or call (812) 866-7291.

And, it is coming up on your last opportunity to visit You Are There 1950: Making a Jewish Home at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center in downtown Indianapolis, which closes on Sept. 29.

Find out about a family's story of tragedy, courage and new beginnings by visiting the kitchen of Berek (Benny) and Frania (Fanny) Kaplan's Union Street home in a southside Indianapolis neighborhood on April 5, 1950, just a year after their resettlement from a post-World War II displaced-persons camp. Guests will join Mrs. Kaplan as she prepares a kosher meal and learn how Hoosier hospitality helped the Kaplans create a new home.

As always, visit the Hoosier History Live! website to for links to more information about these events.

Yearbooks: How to use in historical detective work

A page from the 1926 Broad Ripple High School Riparian shows a picture of the Class of 1900. The page lists where each graduate lived in 1926 or if the graduate was deceased. Courtesy Indiana State Library.(Sept. 8, 2012) - For the first show in our newly expanded format, Hoosier History Live! headed back to school. High school, that is. On a treasure hunt. The trove is ... yearbooks from across the state, including some that date back more than 100 years.

Our guest, Rachael Heger of the Indiana State Library, shares tips about using high school yearbooks across Indiana to discover historical insights about everything from local businesses to people, fashions, fads and community news.

The state library, where Rachael is director of the Indiana division, has a stash of yearbooks available for the public to use. They include several from long-closed schools such as St. Agnes Academy, a Catholic girls school, and Harry E. Wood High School, both in Indianapolis, as well as from small high schools in towns like Monticello, Logootee and Salem.

Not to mention yearbooks from Culver Military Academy in northern Indiana, Ben Davis High School in Indy, and Bedford High School in southern Indiana. And although Rachael says high schools mostly gave "birth" to yearbooks beginning in the early 1900s, the state library's collection even has some from the 1890s.

A page from the 1949 Fairmount High School yearbook shows student James Dean. The caption says “N.F.L. (National Forensic League) state contest winner, dramatic declamation.” Dean’s signature is above the picture in pencil. The yearbook was sold recently by Antique Helper. Image courtesy Antique Helper.They include yearbooks from 1894 for Shortridge High School (then known as Indianapolis High School) and from 1897 for Wabash High School in Wabash, Ind. Other historic yearbooks include those from 1900 for Manual High School in Indy and from 1906 for Converse High School in Converse, Ind.

Fun fact: According to Rachael, a yearbook from the former Fairmount High School featuring future movie icon James Dean (class of '49) recently sold at an auction for $2,000.

"The ads in the back sections of yearbooks are an incredible resource about local businesses of the era, particularly those that marketed to teenagers," Rachael says. "You often see photos of their interiors, get a flavor of their products and pick up all kinds of other information."

Dig deeper, she urges, than just hunting up who was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" and who may have been regarded as the class nerd. Consider the insights available about ancestors or acquaintances who worked as teachers or school administrators. Town histories also unfold in yearbooks because many feature accounts of local news ranging from blizzards to festivals.

Sometimes you don't even have to turn pages when embarking on a yearbook search. IUPUI has digitized yearbooks for Attucks High School, and the Indianapolis Public Library did the same for Shortridge High School.

Rachael Heger.Even ancestry.com, the genealogical website, features various Hoosier high school yearbooks, albeit spotty runs for them. For example, North Central High School yearbooks on ancestry.com include the volumes for 1957, several years in the 1960s and some in the mid-1970s.

The bottom line, according to our guest Rachael Heger: "Yearbooks can be used as a research tool for more than just nostalgia."

Some more fun facts:

  • Rachael was our guest in January 2012 for a show about another area of her expertise: The Hoosier connections of Rev. Jim Jones, a native of Lynn, Ind., who founded his infamous Peoples Temple in Indy. You can click to see the Hoosier History Live! enewsletter from the Jim Jones show.
  • In the Shortridge High yearbook for 1940, Kurt Vonnegut Jr. gave himself a fake middle name ("Snarfield") in the caption for his senior photo. He's identified as Kurt Snarfield Vonnegut Jr. "He spoofs the whole yearbook process," says his lifelong friend, Majie Failey, who was a guest for a Vonnegut-themed show last year. You can click to see the Hoosier History Live! enewsletter from the Vonnegut-themed show.
  • According to the Broad Ripple High School yearbook for 1965, senior David Letterman was voted "Class Smart Alec." Anyone surprised?

History Mystery

Tri-West High School sign.If you looked through the 1989 yearbook for Tri-West Hendricks High School in Lizton, Ind., you would notice a familiar face in a photo of the senior who was elected prom king. While attending Tri-West, the future celebrity actually lived in the nearby town of Pittsboro with his parents.

Both then and now, Tri-West High School is attended by teenagers who live in three Hendricks County towns: Lizton, Pittsboro and North Salem. While living in Pittsboro and attending Tri-West, the future celebrity and his family often dined at Frank & Mary's Restaurant, a popular eatery known for its catfish.

Name the future celebrity who was a member of Tri-West's class of 1989.

This week's prize was a gift certificate to Crowne Plaza Hotel near the Indy airport, courtesy of Visit Indy, and a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie, courtesy of Conner Prairie.

Roadtrip: A weekend of festivals

Chris Gahl of Visit Indy will be Roadtripping about with 250 travel journalists from all over the world this week, so standing in will be Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography with the message that if you can't find the right event to suit your mood or ethnic persuasion this weekend, you are simply in the wrong state of mind!

Indianapolis Chinese Festival, 2011. Photo courtesy theredthreadjourney.blogspot.com.Indianapolis seems to enjoy celebrating its diversity. Greek, Chinese, German, French and, the venerable Penrod Art Fair on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art at 4000 Michigan Road, all take place this weekend all over the city.

And if you are a regular listener, you will know that "Penrod" is actually a rather mischievous boy character created by Indiana author Booth Tarkington.

Pick from:

Garry will be calling in live from the annual meeting of Indiana Landmarks at Indiana Landmarks Center at 12th and Central in Indianapolis.

As always, check the links on the Hoosier History Live! website and enewsletter for all your Roadtrip details.

Architecture around Indy with Jonathan Hess

(Sept. 1, 2012) - At least as much as anyone during the last 25 years, Jonathan Hess has left his fingerprints on landmark Indianapolis buildings. And he's about to do it again by designing the International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo.

Jonathan Hess, architect.Jonathan first made headlines in the 1980s when, as a young architect, he was selected by octogenarian Hoosier industrialist Harrison Eiteljorg to design the $14 million museum that would exhibit his vast art collection. Years later, Jonathan oversaw the renovation of his own work with the expansion of the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in 2005. Also that year, he designed the expansion of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

So Jonathan, president of Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf, is our in-studio guide as he shares architectural insights about Indy landmarks, both those he did not design and those he did.

The latter include the towering Pagoda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; the current Herron School of Art, which opened in 2005 in a building that once housed the law school on the IUPUI campus; and an addition to the Children's Museum.

Is it any wonder The Indianapolis Star once referred to Jonathan Hess as "the rock star" of Indy architects?

The Pagoda at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was designed by architect Jonathan Hess."Kids have this innate desire to make things," Jonathan, who dreamed of an architectural career as boy, once told Nelson, our host.

Nelson has interviewed Jonathan several times over the years in connection with the blockbuster debuts of his various projects. The list includes a renovation at St. Luke's United Methodist Church (the state's largest Methodist congregation) and Lilly Hall at Butler University.

Even though he's primarily known for his extensive work in Indy, Jonathan also has had an impact elsewhere in Hoosierland. He was the architect for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame in New Castle, for example.

Indy, by the way, is his adopted hometown. Jonathan grew up in Normal, Ill., and studied architecture at the University of Illinois. In reference to that, here's another quote from an interview with Nelson more than 20 years ago:

"Most of my college friends in architecture went to Chicago or other large markets. When I told them I was coming here, they said, 'Indianapolis? Architecture? Good luck.'"

Now that Jonathan has had such a major impact on Indy - and is about to design the atrium that will be the epicenter of the world's largest center for orangutans, the endangered ape species - it's an ideal time to ask the architect to share his insights.

Artist rendering of the International Orangutan Center at the Indianapolis Zoo.The $20 million orangutan center, which will include a climate-controlled 90-foot-high atrium, is scheduled to open in 2014. Jonathan has been spending hours observing orangutans (their natural habitat is the rain forests of Sumatra and Boreno) to analyze their needs in terms of, well, creature comforts.

The exhibit will include indoor as well as outdoor vantage points for observing orangutans and a tower stretching 150 feet high. Orangutans will be able to illuminate the tower themselves at night by activating a switch, according to news accounts.

At the Speedway, the Pagoda designed by Jonathan (at the request of owner Tony George) pays tribute to the racetrack's heritage. Beginning in the 1920s, an eye-catching, Japanese-style pagoda was a landmark at the Speedway for decades.

Painted green and white, the first was built of wood and burned to the ground in 1925 on the day after the Indianapolis 500. Herron School of Art and Design, on the campus of IUPUI in Indianapolis, was designed by architect Jonathan Hess.Although a second pagoda was erected, the Speedway began to take on a modern look in the mid-1950s, with aluminum and steel seats replacing wooden ones. So the modernistic Tower Terrace was built and became a fixture until the debut of the Pagoda (which is 153 feet tall) designed by Jonathan.

His career was fast-tracked in 1985 when Jonathan, then in his 20s, was chosen by Harrison Eiteljorg to design his namesake museum. Nelson will ask Jonathan to share details about the trips the two men took to the Southwest in search of inspiration for the museum, which opened in 1989 and helps anchor White River State Park.

For the expansion and renovation of  the IMA, which was unveiled in 2005, Jonathan designed, among other aspects, a new Entrance Pavilion. According to an Indianapolis Star account, he had an epiphany about the pavilion's design and placement while watching his children draw with chalk on the family's driveway. Filled with sudden inspiration, Jonathan grabbed a piece of chalk and sketched the Entrance Pavilion to the art museum.

Jonathan and his wife, Jody, are the parents of three children.

History Mystery

In 1903, construction began of a Neoclassical building in downtown Indianapolis. Its grand architectural style combines elements of Greek, Roman and Renaissance classicism. In addition, the massive building is lined on all sides by Doric columns.

Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain, is an example of neoclassical architecture.The building started a trend in the architecture for large public structures in Indy. Other buildings influenced by it included the initial Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, a portion that's now known as the Cret Building.

Question: Name the large public structure that influenced architecture after it was built in the early 1900s. Hint: The historic building is still in use.

This week's prize is a gift certificate to Lorenzo's Ristorante in downtown Indianapolis at 15 E. Maryland St., and pair of tickets to the Indianapolis Zoo, courtesy of Visit Indy (formerly ICVA).

Roadtrip: New guided walking tour of downtown Columbus, Ind.

Interior of 301 Washington Street in downtown Columbus, Ind., former private office of J. Irwin Miller. Design by Alexander Girard. Photo by Don Nissen, courtesy Columbus Area Visitors Center.Chris Gahl of Visit Indy (formerly the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association) reminds us that, just as many New Yorkers have never been to the Statue of Liberty, many Hoosiers also have not taken the various architectural tours offered in modern architectural mecca of Columbus, Ind., just 50 minutes south of Indianapolis on I-65.

According to the Columbus Visitors Center, in addition to the guided Architectural Tour, which takes two hours by motorcoach, and the separate guided Miller Home and Garden tour, which takes 90 minutes, a new downtown guided Walking Tour of Columbus is offered every other Saturday.

One of the highlights of the Walking Tour includes the interior of 301 Washington St., the former office of Columbus industrialist and architectural aficionado J. Irwin Miller.

"It's like looking into a time capsule; a look at the Mad Men office architectural era," says Erin Hawkins of the Columbus Visitors Center.

For detailed info on all the tours, check the group's website.

Aug. 25 show

Carmel city history

Maybe not every Hoosier is aware that, 175 years ago, Bethlehem was the initial name of the village in Hamilton County that became Carmel. Or that Range Line Road apparently once led clear south to Monument Circle in downtown Indy.

Looking west on Main Street in downtown Carmel after the 1913 fire, circa 1920s. Range Line Road crosses in front of the white general merchandise store on the left. Courtesy Carmel Clay Historical Society.Is any Hoosier, though, unaware of the explosive growth that has occurred in Carmel, which barely had 500 residents in 1900? Just this week, Carmel landed the No. 1 spot on the "100 Best Places to Live" published by Money Magazine.

To explore the history of the city that (according to 2010 U.S. Census info shared by a demographer on Hoosier History Live! awhile back) now has 79,191 people, Nelson is joined in studio by three guests with some deep perspectives on the bustling city.

They are historian Katherine Dill, executive director of the Carmel Clay Historical Society, and lifelong Carmel residents Nancy Childs and Karla Katterhenry, whose ancestors once owned a business in the Old Town area of the city. Today, the Old Town area anchors the Carmel Arts & Design District, which includes galleries, boutiques and other shops.

They share insights about the community that formed in 1837 as Bethlehem. (The name change occurred because it turned out a town of Bethlehem already was under way in far-southern Indiana.) Many early settlers were Quakers who had migrated to the area from North Carolina. They included the ancestors of our guest Nancy Childs, who attends Carmel Friends Church, 651 W. Main St., which evolved from the early Quakers in Carmel.

The Carmel Public Library, early 1900s.The town got its first boost in the 1880s when the Monon Railroad opened a Carmel depot. Next to the Monon in the early 1900s was Brunson's Sawmill and Lumberyard, which was owned by the great-grandparents of Karla Katterhenry, our guest. Her grandfather became manager of the lumberyard.

Today, the Monon Trail, the reclaimed railroad right-of-way, is a popular urban greenway that runs from 146th Street nearly to downtown Indy. In Carmel, the $55 million Monon Community Center, a family recreational facility with a lavish water park, opened in 2007.

Carmel High School is the state's largest, with 4,600 students enrolled. Its girls swimming team holds an ongoing national record. Beginning in 1986, the team has won 26 straight state championships, more than any other girls team in any sport across the country. Carmel High also repeatedly has won state championships in other sports, including football, boys swimming and tennis.

Our guests Karla and Nancy have been involved with the Carmel Clay School District in several ways. In addition to being Carmel High alum (both are members of the Class of '61), Nancy taught at Clay Middle School (then a junior high) during the 1970s. Karla was an instructional assistant for 28 years, retiring last May from Carmel Elementary School.

The Carmel Grain Elevator in the process of being torn down, May 2012. This monolith stood along the Monon Railroad (now Monon Trail) in downtown Carmel and once served area farmers. Hoosier History Live photo.As a teenager, Karla worked at Brown's Pharmacy, a bustling hang-out for the after-school crowd that longtime Camel residents will recall with fondness. The drug store was located at 20 N. Range Line Road.

Also on Range Line Road - at its intersection with Main Street, to be precise - one of the country's first automatic traffic lights was installed in the early 1920s. The stoplight was created by Carmel inventor Leslie Haines.

The historic stoplight is exhibited at the Monon Depot Museum operated by the Carmel Clay Historical Society. Our guest Katherine Dill, its director, has lived in Carmel for eight years and previously worked for the Indiana Historical Society.

Some fun facts:

  • Carmel has been called the "roundabout capital of the nation" because of the development of so many of the circular intersections on local streets.
  • In 1913, downtown Carmel was devastated by a fire. Ironically, 1913 also was the year of the greatest flood in Indiana's history; torrential rainfall caused massive flooding across the state, including in Carmel.
  • The Money Magazine list of "100 Best Places to Live" showcases small cities with populations of 50.000 to 300,000. Among other factors, Carmel was hailed for its schools, art and design district, and bicycle paths. Its neighbor in Hamilton County, the city of Fishers - which, like Carmel, has more than doubled in population since 2000 - was ranked No. 12 on the list.

History Mystery

In Carmel, a family of exceptional tennis players was known as "Indiana's first family of tennis" from the late 1970s through the 1990s. One of the eldest brothers among eight siblings in the family achieved perhaps the greatest success on the professional circuit of any tennis player in Indiana history.

As a Carmel High School student, he won the state championship in tennis. In college, he was a three-time All-American. As a touring pro, he competed against many of the sport's biggest names, reaping international attention at the U.S. Open in 1986 with an upset victory over superstar Jimmy Connors.

He eventually became director of the Indianapolis Tennis Center. Sadly, he was just 34 years old when he died of brain cancer in 1998.

Question: Who was the famous tennis player from Carmel?

This week's prize was a pair of tickets to a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie, courtesy of Conner Prairie, and an overnight stay at University Place Hotel on the IUPUI campus, courtesy of Visit Indy (formerly ICVA).

Roadtrip: Indiana African American Heritage Trail

Chris Gahl of Visit Indy (formerly the Indianapolis Visitors and Convention Association) recommends that we check out the Indiana African American Heritage Trail, which starts at The Depot in Jeffersonville, Ind.

Maxine Brown, founder of the Indiana African American Heritage Trail, stands in front of The Depot in Jeffersonville, Ind.The Depot is a former segregated restroom that was, interestingly, divided for white males, white females, black males and black females. It is located at 600 Quartermaster Station in Jeffersonville, Clark County, and there one can pick up brochures and self-guided tour information for such sites as nearby Taylor High School in Jeffersonville, Leora Brown School in Corydon, or the farther-away Lyles Station in Gibson County, an early African-American settlement.

If you'd like to learn more about Indiana African-American history, be sure to sign up for the Progressive Journey Conference to be held in Jeffersonville on October 10-12.

One of the highlights of the conference will be a lunch at Cedar Farm, also known as the Kintner-Withers House, an antebellum home overlooking the Ohio River in Laconia, Ind. It was purchased in 1985 by the William and Gayle Cook family of Bloomington, Ind,, and is generally not open to the public. The house is painted light yellow with white trim and green shutters, based on an 1898 painting by Indianapolis artist William Forsyth.

Mrs. Cook will be greeting her guests for the luncheon, which will be followed by a re-enactment of an 1814 Indiana court case in which a woman of color successfully sued the white man to whom she had been indentured on grounds of assault, trespass and false imprisonment. Following the re-enactment, a group discussion about the 1814 case will be led by Judge Maria Granger, judge of Floyd County Superior Court 3.

More information about the Progressive Journey Conference is available here, and you also can register for just specific days or events, rather than the whole conference. You also can receive more information by calling Heritage Trail founder Maxine Brown at (502) 550-0484.

This n' that

A retrospective of Pan Am Games impact, and more

Margaret Drew, a 1987 Pan Am Games volunteer, poses with Nelson Price, host of Hoosier History Live, in the show's studios.(August 2012) - Remember Indianapolis's "Naptown" days? In the early 1980s, Indianapolis was at a crossroads, and civic leaders developed a vision that set the city on its path to becoming the amateur sports capital of the world.

Much like Super Bowl XLVI, the 1987 Pan Am Games, which were the focus of two recent Hoosier History Live! shows, put Indianapolis on the map.

Join Indiana Humanities and Indiana Sports Corp for Chew on This, a series of dinner conversations at 10 various bars and restaurants across Indianapolis to discuss the success, failures and lasting impact of the Pan Am Games on its 25th anniversary.

Chew On This: Crossroads 1987 is presented by Hoosier History Live! partner Indiana Humanities.

  • When: Wednesday, Aug. 22 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Cost: $20.

Other bits of Hoosier History Live! news:

  • Thanks again to James Alexander Thom, a best-selling author of historical fiction, and Judy O'Bannon, former Indiana first lady and public television producer, for providing letters of support. Hoosier History Live! has been nominated for the Indiana History Outstanding Event or Project Award for 2012 with the Indiana Historical Society.
  • Nelson is newly featured in the Historic Indianapolis website as a "heritage steward." Author/historian Tiffany Benedict Berkson, who has appeared on Hoosier History Live!, interviews our host about his career, family and current activities. Check out the Q-and-A here.

Ask Nelson

(Aug. 18, 2012) - The last time we turned the tables on our host, author/historian Nelson Price, and let our listeners interview him, a caller wanted to know why novelist Kurt Vonnegut Jr. wasn't buried at Crown Hill Cemetery near several generations of his extended family. (Answer: The literary lion, who died in 2007, had expressed a desire to be cremated.)

The talk was all about Indiana's covered bridges on the Oct. 22, 2011 Hoosier History Live! show.  Left to right are host Nelson Price, Margaret Smith of Indianapolis, past president of the Indiana Covered Bridge Society, and Larry Stout of Rush County who helped spearhead the restoration of the historic Moscow Covered Bridge. Hoosier History Live! photo.Another caller inquired about one of the most sensational news stories of 1913: the mysterious disappearance in New Castle of a 9-year-old girl named Catherine Winters. Despite an exhaustive national search that persisted for years, she never was found. Dozens of theories about what happened to "poor little Catherine Winters" (as she became known across Indiana) were suggested but never were proved.

To give our listeners another opportunity to question Nelson, who calls himself a "garbage can of useless Hoosier trivia," Hoosier History Live! occasionally opens the phone lines and does an "Ask Nelson" show wherein listeners call in and ask questions of Nelson, who writes books about famous Hoosiers (both historic and contemporary figures) and Indianapolis city history.

As a commentator on motor-coach tours across the state, he also has shared insights on trips to destinations such as Wildflower Woods, the historic cabin near Rome City of Gene Stratton-Porter, the famous author, photographer and naturalist of the early 1900s. Other destinations of his tours have included the T.C. Steele State Historic Site in Brown County, which includes the studio and home (known as the "House of the Singing Winds") of Indiana's most famous painter.

Indianapolis TV news personality Patty Spitler joined Nelson Price on July 28, 2012 for a Hoosier History Live! broadcast about pets. Price has interviewed thousands of Hoosiers over the course of his reporting career. Photo by Shirley Ann Dennis.Nelson welcomes questions about any Indiana-related topic and loves to share anecdotes and insights. His books include Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman (Hawthorne Publishing) and Indianapolis Then and Now (Thunder Bay Press), a visual history of the Hoosier capital that features historic and contemporary images of about 70 sites. Those sites include the Columbia Club (did you know that, in the mid-1800s, a doctor's home and office were located on the Monument Circle site?), Broad Ripple and Beech Grove.

Speaking of Broad Ripple and Beech Grove: In our four-and-a-half years on the air, Hoosier History Live! has explored the heritage of those communities, as well as the histories of places ranging from Fort Wayne to Vincennes. We also have done rotating shows about our state's ethnic heritage. So we've explored immigration from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Cuba, Greece and Brazil, among others. That means Nelson enjoys passing along insights that our expert guests have shared.

Freely conceding he can be stumped, Nelson hopes that won't be the goal. Instead, the idea is to enjoy a spontaneous, informative conversation with listeners about our state's fascinating heritage.

Some fun facts that may inspire questions, drawn from his books Indiana Legends and Legendary Hoosiers, which include profiles and vignettes about 160 famous men and women:

  • Indiana Legends: Famous Hoosiers from Johnny Appleseed to David Letterman, by Nelson Price. Book cover.Although the woman who alerted federal authorities to the whereabouts of bank robber John Dillinger has gone down in history as the “Lady in Red”, Anna Sage always contended she was wearing an orange skirt on July 22, 1934. That's when she informed federal agents that she would be accompanying Dillinger, a former Mooresville farm boy who became "Public Enemy Number One," to the Biograph Theatre in Chicago. Dillinger was killed in the resulting shootout.
  • Popcorn king Orville Redenbacher (1907-1995), who grew up on a farm near Brazil, is credited with making the first substantial alterations in popcorn since Native Americans introduced it to white settlers more than 250 years ago. After spending more than 40 years crossbreeding hybrids, Redenbacher created a variety that was whiter, fluffier and able to expand 40 times its original size when popped.
  • When Indianapolis native Marilyn Tucker Quayle was the nation's second lady, she co-wrote a novel titled Embrace the Serpent, a political thriller. Nelson interviewed Mrs. Quayle, the wife of then-Vice President Dan Quayle, about the novel, which focused on a power play between Cuba and the United States. Her co-author with the novel, published in 1992, was her older sister, Nancy Tucker Northcutt; the sisters are graduates of Broad Ripple High School.

Want to know more about any of this - or any other Indiana-related topic? Questions or insights always are welcome from our wonderful listeners.

History Mystery

An earlier History Mystery question asked for the name of this small Grant County town, which built an extra-wide main street at the turn of the last century, thinking the town might become the state's next capital. Hoosier History Live! photo.Among the famous Hoosiers featured in Nelson Price's books Indiana Legends and Legendary Hoosiers is a baseball star of the late 1940s through the 1950s who is the pride of his Hoosier hometown. He was a pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers during the Jackie Robinson era, playing in five World Series. His claims to fame include being chosen to pitch the opening game in Los Angeles when the Dodgers moved there from Brooklyn in 1958.

After retiring from pro baseball, he resettled in his Indiana hometown, where he became a civic leader, serving as a bank president and a board member of the city's largest hospital. As a teenager, he had been a high school baseball star in his hometown. In recent years, he has been named a Living Legend by the Indiana Historical Society and is known for playing a rendition of Take Me Out to the Ballgame on his harmonica.

Question: Name both the famous Hoosier and his Hoosier hometown.

This week's prize was a pair of tickets to IndyFringe, courtesy of IndyFringe, a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie, courtesy of Conner Prairie, and a pair of tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum, courtesy of the ICVA.

Roadtrip: Quilt Show at Nancy Noel's The Sanctuary

Stained-glass windows at The Sanctuary in Zionsville, Indiana. Photo courtesy Nancy Noel.Chris Gahl of the ICVA suggests that we could easily make a day of it by Roadtripping to Zionsville to see Nancy Noel's astonishing collection of hand-crafted quilts.

The renowned Central Indiana artist is holding her annual quilt show at her gallery, The Sanctuary, in the historic village of Zionsville. The show continues through Saturday, Sept. 1, and vintage and  contemporary quilts will take their place alongside Nancy's artwork in the beautifully restored 150-year-old Victorian church that is home to her largest and most complete collection.

Also available are gallery tours, dining at The Sanctuary's restaurant, Ghyslain, quilt history sessions and quilting demonstrations. Enjoy!

Tiny towns that refuse to die

The S.B. Niblack & Son store in Wheatland, Ind., sold canned goods, barrels of pickles, dried fruit and dry goods such as calico, flannel and gingham. It was named for Susan Brooks Niblack, great-grandmother of Nancy Niblack Baxter. 1903 photo courtesy Hawthorne Publishing.(Aug. 11, 2012) - Even though only about 200 to 400 people live in some Indiana towns - and their head count 100 years ago numbered in that range as well - some of these tiny places on the state map are chugging along. To explore four towns that refuse to die, Nelson is joined in studio by well-known author and editor Nancy Niblack Baxter, whose father grew up in the early 1900s in one of these Hoosier burgs.

His hometown was Wheatland (pop.: about 200), a Knox County town east of Vincennes that's been revitalized thanks to an annual festival known as Wheatfest; the opening last month of a new branch of the Knox County Public Library, a bustling gathering spot called the Crossroads Café and other factors.

As described by Nancy's late father in his newly re-released memoir, The Life and Times of a Hoosier Judge: John Niblack, Second, Wheatland Edition (Hawthorne Publishing), the town in 1900 had "two main dusty roads," one of which had been created from an old buffalo trace - a path carved out by buffalo in their migrations, then the route often was used by Native Americans, followed by the earliest white settlers.

Nancy Niblack Baxter.In addition to Wheatland, Nancy shares insights about Merom, a southwestern Indiana town on the Wabash River in Sullivan County.

With a current population of about 300, Merom has resurrected its historic Chautauqua, a festival featuring speakers and music. During the early 1900s, a Chautauqua circuit flourished across the country, with towns serving as hosts for visiting performers, speakers and musicians.

The Life and Times of a Hoosier Judge John Lewis Niblack book cover.At the other end of the Hoosier state, the town of Bryant (pop. 252) is the home of Bearcreek Farms, a 200-acre complex with a dinner theater. Located about three miles south of Geneva in Jay County, Bryant also is the site of Loblolly Nature Preserve and hosts an annual Loblolly Days festival. Apparently a Loblolly Queen is chosen based on how much hay she can bale in one minute.

Loblolly Marsh was a setting for A Girl of the Limberlost, a bestselling novel in 1909 by Gene Stratton-Porter, the famous Hoosier naturalist and photographer. She crusaded to preserve the marsh.

Kudos to our regular listener, Terri Gorney of Fort Wayne, for suggesting Bryant to feature in this "tiny towns" show.

We also plan to explore Monterey, a town in Pulaski County that almost withered in the 1950s. With just 250 people then, Monterey was in danger of losing its post office (it had been condemned) and folding up.

Instead, residents decided the town could survive if a doctor and dentist were lured to the community, a story that's recounted in Hoosier Lore (Brooks Publishing), a new collection of human-interest columns written by the late Al Spiers. (His daughter, Sally Spiers, was Nelson's guest in April for a "True Tall Tales" show on Hoosier History Live!) In Monterey, the Lion's Club, then the smallest in the state, took up the cause to keep the town alive with a "civic miracle."

In Wheatland, Ind., a newly opened “book station” – a branch of the Vincennes Public Library – is one of the amenities aimed at keeping the town vibrant. Image courtesy Hawthorne Publishing.Our guest Nancy Niblack Baxter is the author of eight books about Indiana or the Civil War. She also has edited more than 200 books and currently is the senior editor at Hawthorne Publishing.

Much of the memoir of her father, John Niblack, is set in Wheatland about 1910. His grandparents' general store then sold canned goods, barrels of pickles, dried fruit and dry goods such as calico, flannel and gingham.

The self-sustaining town included a barber shop, drug stores, a bank and two institutions Nancy identifies as the strength of the tiny community: the school and the church.

Some other then-or-now tidbits about the tiny towns that Nancy and Nelson explore:

  • In tiny Bryant, Ind., you will find the scenic Loblolly Nature Preserve. Courtesy Indiana State Museum.In Bryant, Loblolly Marsh includes 440 acres and has been named the state's 250th nature preserve this summer by Gov. Mitch Daniels. In a recent column in The Indianapolis Star, outdoors writer Skip Hess analyzed the various definitions of "loblolly." Some say it means "low, wet place," while others define it as a "mud hole" or "mire." (On Hoosier History Live!, Skip joined Nelson, his former Star colleague, for a "Fishing across Indiana" show two summers ago.)
  • Merom is the setting for Bluff Park, which overlooks the Wabash River, and a large conference center.
  • To keep Monterey alive when the town struggled in the 1950s, its Lions Club had auctions, bake sales, fish fries and amassed enough pledges to construct a new civic center. It included medical offices in the hope they would attract a doctor and a dentist - a "big dream," as Al Spiers put it, that came true.

History Mystery

A gourmet restaurant in northern Indiana has attracted national attention from food critics and helped revitalize the small town in which it's located. The town of about 1,700 residents is in a region that once was a popular hunting and fishing area for the Miami Indians.

This wedding was held on a canal boat on May 16, 1872, in Attica, Ind., on the Wabash and Erie Canal. However, the name of another historic town on the canal is this week’s History Mystery. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Bureau.With the construction of the Wabash & Erie Canal, the town flourished as a trading center and shipping point. After World War II, the town declined; many vacant storefronts lined its Main Street.

Beginning in the 1990s, though, its historic downtown was revitalized. The gourmet restaurant - a destination for foodies from across Indiana and beyond - opened in 2000 in an old bank building.

Question: What is the town?

This week's prize was a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie and the 1859 Balloon Voyage, courtesy of Conner Prairie, as well as a gift certificate to Tastings, A Wine Experience, located at the Conrad in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of the ICVA.

Roadtrip: Following Lydia at the Indiana State Fair

Have you heard that fair-train whistle blowing? Roadtripper Chris Gahl of the ICVA tells us that now is the time to head to the Indiana State Fair!

In 1852, the first Indiana State Fair was held in downtown Indianapolis at what is now known as Military Park. Cast and crew members of Following Lydia, 2012 Indiana State Fair.In 1860, the fair was held at the old Marion County Fairgrounds near 19th and Delaware streets, which later became Camp Morton, a Civil War prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers. Now the area is a downtown neighborhood known as Herron Morton Place.

And the gates opened at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on East 38th Street for the first time on Sept. 19, 1892, when that location was pretty much out in the country. The first electric interurban trolley in Indianapolis traveling to Broad Ripple from downtown had a special line to serve fairgoers, and the Monon Railroad had a siding for cattlemen and farmers to drop off goods at the fair, as did the Nickel Plate, the diagonal railroad line that now runs the fair train.

While you are at the Indiana State Fair, be sure to check out Indianapolis writer Rita Kohn's new play, Following Lydia. The Fair Lady Players portray seven women traveling down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh in 1824. The play is presented at the Pioneer Village at the following times:

  • Aug. 12 at 12:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
  • Aug 15 at 10 a.m. and noon.

Admission to Following Lydia is free with fair entrance.

And don't forget the free park and ride lot located behind Glendale Town Center, which offers free bus service to the fair.

Bits-o'-news

A helping hand, plus a nice nomination

Thanks to new individual donor Sharon Butsch Freeland, and remember you can always visit Support us to learn more about keeping us going. Our Irvington Library listening group continues to meet to listen to and discuss the show on Saturday mornings.

And thanks to volunteer Gavin Viegas for extra help with tech support this week.

Also, we're happy to mention that Hoosier History Live! has been nominated for the Indiana History Outstanding Event or Project Award for 2012 with the Indiana Historical Society, with letters of support from James Alexander Thom, a best-selling author of historical fiction, and Judy O'Bannon, former Indiana first lady and public television producer.

Pan Am Games of 1987, Part II

(Aug. 4, 2012) - Weren't the details riveting that Mark Miles shared during our July 14 show about dealing with Fidel Castro?

The U.S. trap shooting team won gold medals at the 1987 Pan Am Games in Indianapolis.Mark, chairman of the organizing committee for the Pan American Games of 1987 in Indianapolis, also shared a fascinating anecdote about a red "hotline" telephone that was placed at his seat during the closing ceremonies of the historic games.

And our other guest on the show, sports columnist Bill Benner, shared insights about how Pan Am's basketball final (which was won unexpectedly by Brazil) dramatically changed international hoops competition.

The insights about Castro - who laid down conditions before agreeing to send a Cuban delegation to Indy - and other anecdotes were compelling. But the insights from our two "heavy hitter" guests meant that much turf was left uncovered about the Pan Am Games, the world's second-largest multi-sport event. Only the Olympics are larger.

We did not get a chance to explore stories involving the astounding 36,000 Hoosiers who served as volunteers in August 1987. So they will be the focus of our "Part II" show, along with other aspects of the historic games that served as Indy's "coming-out party" on an international stage.

As we advance toward the 25th anniversary of Pan Am - the Indiana Sports Corp plans a celebration Aug. 23 in downtown Indy - Nelson's guests will be two Hoosiers who immersed themselves in the games as volunteers:

  • Margaret Drew of Indianapolis was among those who donned a lime-green costume to portray Amigo, the parrot that was the mascot for the games. At the time, she was an administrative law judge for the Department of Natural Resources.
  • Suzy Henschen of Indianapolis headed up the massive aides-de-camp program. Of the more than 900 international VIPs who attended the games, about 130 were assigned a local aide-de-camp, who became a sort of "personal assistant" on call 24/7.

"It changed my life," Suzy recalls.

Pan Am Games 1987 logo.Consider: Because of her experience with Pan Am, Suzy was hired in Honduras by organizers of the Central American Games. They asked her to train their aides-de-camp for those games in 1990 and even hailed her arrival in their country with a front-page newspaper article about the "expert" from Indianapolis.

Next up: Organizers in El Salvador hired Suzy to train aides-de-camp for the Pan Am Games of 1994, which were held in that Central American country.

You are invited to phone in at (317) 788-3314 and share your Pan Am anecdotes and insights. And Nelson, our host, plans to share details about his media duties covering the history-making diving and swimming competitions. We ran out of time for those in our first show.

Nor was there time then to explore the Athletes Village, which was housed at Fort Harrison, then still an active military facility.

Suzy Henschen.More than 4,000 athletes from 38 countries competed in 30 sports, ranging from baseball, boxing and gymnastics to tae kwon do and volleyball.

Equestrian events, which were held at Camp Atterbury's horse park in Johnson County, had a crew of volunteers that included Margaret Drew, our guest, who was not in her Amigo outfit for that duty. Eight years earlier, she had moved to Indy from Wisconsin.

"I never intended to stay here at all, but the Pan Am Games were a wonderful experience and made me feel very connected to this place," Margaret says.

Suzy Henschen, our other guest, grew up in Speedway and, for Pan Am, trained primarily college students to serve as more the more than 130 aides-de-camp to the VIPs. During our show, Suzy will describe how a student from Stanford University - who traveled from California at her own expense and arranged for local housing so she could be an aide-de-camp - was devastated when her VIP never showed up. The incident began as a crisis but eventually paid unexpected dividends for Suzy.

Olympic diver Greg Louganis gave one of his Pan Am Games gold medals to 15-year-old Ryan White.The aides-de-camp, like hundreds of Hoosiers, immersed themselves in conversational Spanish and in foreign cultures for the Pan Am Games, in which countries across the western hemisphere are represented by their national teams. Participating nations ranged from Cuba, Canada, Mexico and Jamaica to tiny Suriname, a nation with only one swimming pool then.

Even so, Suriname swimmer Anthony Nesty won gold and bronze medals at Pan Am. He went on to capture a gold medal the next year at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, meaning his Pan Am success served as a predictor of his Olympic accomplishments, as it did for other athletes. They included diving superstar Greg Louganis, who swept his sport's gold medals both in Indy and in Seoul.

According to subsequent estimates, the Pan Am Games drew more than 150,000 visitors to Indy. (The total spectators at all events was estimated at 900,000.) Easily the largest sporting event ever staged in Indy at that point, the Pan Am Games secured the city's reputation as an amateur athletics capital and as a host city.

History Mystery

Conner Prairie’s big balloon floats high above the crowd during a Symphony on the Prairie evening. Image courtesy Conner Prairie.In August 1987, the same month Indianapolis hosted the Pan American Games, another international sports event was held in the Hoosier state. The other event was in northern Indiana, the only time it has been held on Hoosier soil. Like the Pan Am Games, this other event was attended by then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and involved multiple sports.

Question: What was the international event? Hint: It was discussed during a recent Hoosier History Live! show.

This week's prize was a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie and the 1859 Balloon Voyage, courtesy of Conner Prairie, as well as a pair of tickets to Symphony on the Prairie at Conner Prairie, courtesy of  the ICVA. Now, doing all that in one day, especially a day in the 80s weather-wise, would be wonderful!     

Roadtrip: IndyFringe is coming up fast!

Rob Johansen is featured in After Paul McCartney during the 2012 IndyFringe festival. Image courtesy IndyFringe.Roadtripper Chris Gahl of the ICVA tells us that Massachusetts Avenue in Indy will explode again for the eighth time in August for the annual IndyFringe Festival.

A free opening-night party for the theater festival kicks off on Thursday, and the festival itself runs from Aug. 16 to 29.

Among this year's internationally flavored offerings are SimpliCity, by Colombian playwright Carlos Monte, and Do Re Me Fa So Latino, a comedic Hispanic re-imagination of American pop culture, presented by the Yes Theatre Co. of Indianapolis. See you on the avenue!

Online audio continues to grow

Tornado show gets perma-archived with a kind assist

(July 2012) - Thank you to Phil and Pam Brooks for underwriting the podcast of "Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of 1965," and thanks to Jed Duvall for editing the show.

If you would like special shows to be archived as audio on the website, please let us know, and we do appreciate financial support for the additional tech work involved.

Thanks also to recent individual donors Gretchen Wolfram, David Willkie, and Dana Waddell and Clay Collins.

Never-ending kudos to Richard Sullivan of Monomedia, who continues to make our enewsletter and website look so professional, and to our unflappable artist, Pam Fraizer of Fraizer Designs, who created the Hoosier History Live! "look" in 2007, including the caricature logo with our charismatic blond host, Nelson Price.

Thanks also to the staff of Indianapolis Public Library Irvington Branch, who facilitate a weekly listening group for Hoosier History Live! at the branch library by providing a place for patrons to meet, a radio, and learning materials to go along with each week's topic. All are welcome to stop by the library about 11:15 a.m. each Saturday to listen to the show in a group.

Dog days in Indiana with Patty Spitler

Patty Spitler rides horses with Indianapolis police mounted officer. Photo by Shirley Ann Dennis.(July 28, 2012) - Hoosiers, this show is your chance to bone up on insights about our best friends. To explore the good (canine assistance programs), the bad (unwanted and neglected pets) and the ugly (the surging popularity of breeds so ugly they are adorable), Nelson is joined in studio by a popular Indianapolis-area TV personality long known for her love of - and detailed reports about - dogs.

Patty Spitler not only is the host of Pet Pals TV, a syndicated program broadcast every Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on WNDY-TV/Channel 23, she is the owner of Louie, a Bernese mountain dog. She shares details about the Indiana Canine Assistant Network, an innovative statewide program in which dogs spend 18 months to two years living with hosts who train them to be service dogs.

In addition, Patty and Nelson explore the surging popularity (both nationally and in Indiana) of English bulldogs, a breed that, according to the American Kennel Club, hit the top 10 in 2008 for the first time in more than 70 years.

For the past two years, English bulldogs have ranked No. 6 among 157 breeds listed by the kennel club. In Indiana, much of the recent popularity has been attributed to the basketball triumphs of Butler University and its beloved bulldog mascot, Blue II. Patty plans to share concerns about health and maintenance issues associated with the breed, as well as other breed-specific advice.

Butler mascot Blue II, English bulldog.The American Kennel Club announced earlier this year that the most popular breeds in the country are, in order, the Labrador retriever, German shepherd, beagle and golden retriever. Larger breeds have been steadily moving up the list, according to the kennel club.

Also during our show, Patty discusses her reports involving Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, where 17,000 unwanted pets or lost animals were taken last year. (In addition to dogs and cats, animals brought to the shelter have included horses, owls and even bears, according to Patty's reports.)

On a personal level, Patty shares details about how Louie, her cherished 6-year-old dog, helped pull her out of a depression. Her bout with depression occurred after she left WISH-TV/Channel 8 in Indianapolis in 2004; she had worked 23 years as an anchor and entertainment reporter at the CBS affiliate. Patty left because of health issues; she is a spokesperson for Hear Indiana, an advocacy group for the hearing impaired.

She also volunteers for various organizations concerned with animal welfare and is an advocate for spaying and neutering pets.

In addition to hosting Pet Pals TV, which also is broadcast on WIWU-TV in Marion, Ind., as well as in Dayton, Ohio, Patty continues to appear regular on WISH-TV's weekend morning shows and Indy Style, its weekday mid-morning program.

On Pet Pals TV, Patty has reported about the Indiana Canine Assistant  Network, known as ICAN, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Paul Poteet and Patty Spitler with their “Pet Pals.” Courtesy PPTV.The program brings together dogs training to be service dogs; children and adults with disabilities, and incarcerated offenders. After a screening process, men and women in Indiana correctional facilities become trainers for ICAN dogs. (The dogs-in-training live with their trainers, called "handlers", inside the prison.)

The Labrador retriever's use as a police and search-and-rescue dog - as well as its reputation for playfulness with families - account for the breed's continuing popularity, according to the kennel club. The club also reports that Bernese mountain dogs (like Patty's own Louie) are increasing in popularity, rising from 54th to 34th place among the breeds this past year.

English and French bulldogs, although increasing rapidly in popularity, are among breeds known for various health issues, including breathing difficulties. Also, according to Patty's research, more than 80 percent of all bulldogs now must be delivered by Caesarian; the percentage is even higher for French bulldogs and for Boston terriers. Yet the English bulldog, because of its gentle nature, distinctive appearance and association with sports teams like Butler's, is rising every year in popularity lists.

History Mystery

The History Mystery is a carry-over from last week because there wasn't a correct answer. Our guests  included Indianapolis civic leader Georgia Buchanan, whose parents were Greek immigrants, so the question focuses on an aspect of Greek heritage.

JW Marriott hotel in downtown Indianapolis.For nearly 50 years, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church was located at 40th and Pennsylvania streets. In 2008, the congregation moved to a new building in Carmel with an eye-catching, Byzantine-style dome. Before either of those sites, however, the Greek Orthodox community in Indy worshipped downtown. Beginning in the 1920s, the parish church was located at a site near a current landmark building. A historic marker near the well-known building of today describes the original Greek Orthodox church on the site.

Question:  Name the spacious building that's on or near the original Greek church's site.

Hints: The current landmark building opened in 1999. And it is not Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse or Fire Station No. 13, which were incorrect guesses by callers last week.

This week's prize wais an overnight at the new JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis, and two tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum, courtesy of  the ICVA.

Roadtrip: Freetown Village 'living museum' of African American history

Mixed Medicine is a Freetown Village performance that explores historical issues surrounding health care in the African American community. Image courtesy DePauw University.Roadtripper Chris Gahl of the ICVA tells us that Indianapolis living-history museum Freetown Village is a great opportunity for Hoosiers to learn more about African American lives and culture in Indiana through theatrical performances, storytelling, folk crafts, heritage workshops, music and day camp.

Founded by Ophelia Wellington of Indianapolis in 1982, Freetown Village was created to theatrically  present the predominantly African American settlements scattered throughout Indiana during the post-Civil War era.

Many Indiana settlements were created by former slaves who had moved north and who could now be paid for their work, purchase land, attend school and be legally married.

In Indianapolis, many African Americans settled in Indianapolis just west of downtown in the old Fourth Ward, now home to IUPUI and surrounding neighborhoods.

Contact Freetown Village via its website or at (317) 631-1870 to book one of their many performance options, including the Touring Troupe, Freetown Village Singers and Craft Workshops. Tell them the Roadtripper sent you!

History of Special Olympics, other opportunities for special-needs Hoosiers

(July 21, 2012) - Amid the "Olympics summer" hoopla under way, Hoosier History Live! will explore the unfolding of opportunities - in sports competition and all aspects of life - for Hoosiers with special needs. What options were available (and not available) more than 40 years ago? How has the evolution unfolded? What have been the challenges and joys along the way?

Sam McNew (left) and James Foster, both of Hamilton County in Indiana, compete at the 2011 Special Olympics Summer Games. Courtesy Special Olympics Indiana.Nelson is joined in studio by two Hoosiers who for decades have been on the front lines of advocacy for young people with special needs. Indianapolis civic leader Georgia Buchanan not only is the author of a new memoir, 428½: My Journey Beyond the Railroad Tracks(IBJ Book Publishing), she is the mother of a special-needs son, Bryan Hadin, who will turn 49 next month.

Georgia and Nelson are joined by Mike Furnish, who has been president/CEO of Special Olympics Indianafor 22 years. Before that, he was a manager at what today is known as Noble of Indiana, which was founded in the 1950s by parents of children with developmental disabilities. (Many of the pioneer parents were ignoring advice from doctors to institutionalize their children.)

"Doctors answered most of my questions as best they could, but there was so much that was a question mark, even to them," Georgia writes in her book, referring to Bryan's childhood in the 1960s and early '70s.

An arts advocate and journalist, Georgia, 85, is the daughter of Greek immigrants who settled in Indy during the 1920s. Georgia Buchanan and son Bryan Hadin are pictured at the Dead Sea c. 2006. Image provided by John Sherman.Her memoir's title, 428½, refers to the street address of their walk-up apartment in a near-westside neighborhood with a mix of immigrant families. (As regular listeners will recall, she was Nelson's guest three years ago for a show about Greek immigration to Indiana.)

She also is a past board president of Special Olympics Indiana. Its first Summer Games in the Hoosier state were held at Indiana State University in 1970, two years after the international games were launched by founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Georgia's son, Bryan, has competed in Special Olympics events, including the Frisbee toss, track and bowling. After receiving a diploma from North Central High School, he became a worker at the greenhouse in what was then called Noble Industries. At Noble's annual celebration on Sept. 12, Georgia will sign copies of her memoir and share remarks about being the mother of a special-needs son. She also will sign books at 1 p.m. Aug. 18 at Black Dog Books in Zionsville.

Our guest Mike Furnish has served as a global trainer for Special Olympics, traveling to assist programs in such countries as Russia, Hungary and South Africa. In Indiana, Special Olympics' outreach program in 22 years has expanded from 44 counties to more than 75 of our 92 counties.

Fun fact: In August 1987, the same month that Indy hosted the Pan Am Games, the International Special Olympics Gameswere staged on Hoosier soil for the first time. The games at the University of Notre Dame were attended by celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Whitney Houston.

Georgia and Bryan also attended the international games and watched the parade of athletes from around the world.

"Notre Dame, with its golden dome, added an amazing backdrop," she writes in 428½.

428 and a half book cover.In August 2006, Indiana sent a delegation of 82 athletes to compete in the first USA National Games in Ames, Iowa. The Hoosier team returned with more than 100 medals, according to Special Olympics Indiana.

All of that is a universe away from opportunities in the early 1900s, when, according to Georgia's book, a few schools in the Indianapolis area offered classes for students who were categorized as "mentally defective." Individualized instruction was available, she writes, "for 'slow' students and those suffering from tuberculosis."

Various advancements occurred, most significantly on a national level in 1973 when the U.S. Congress passed legislation requiring public schools to provide an education for all school-age children.

Twenty years earlier, parents of special-needs students had organized to open Noble School, the predecessor of what became Noble Industries.

Today, Noble of Indiana, which has five sites (including ones in Broad Ripple, Carmel and Richmond), offers an array of services. They range from youth summer camps to employment services for adults.

History Mystery

In honor of the Greek heritage of our guest, Indianapolis civic leader Georgia Buchanan, the History Mystery focuses on an aspect of Greek culture. JW Marriott hotel in downtown Indianapolis.For nearly 50 years, Holy Trinity Greek  Orthodox Church was located at 40th and Pennsylvania streets. In 2008, the congregation moved to a new building in Carmel with an eye-catching Byzantine-style dome.

Before either of those sites, however, the Greek Orthodox community in Indy worshipped downtown. Beginning in the 1920s, the parish church was located at a site near a current landmark building. A historic marker near the well-known building of today describes the original Greek Orthodox church on the site.

Question: Name the spacious building that's on or near the original Greek church's site.

Hint: The current landmark building opened in 1999.

This week's prize was an overnight at the new JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis, and two tickets to the Eiteljorg Museum, courtesy of  the ICVA.

Roadtrip: Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond

The Roberts Log Cabin was moved in 1938 to the grounds of the Wayne County Historical Museum, where it remains. Courtesy Morrisson-Reeves Library.Roadtripper Chris Gahl of the ICVA tells us to head east from Indy on either I-70 or on the Old National Road (U.S. 40) to the eclectic Wayne County Historical Museum in Richmond, Ind.

Composed of eight buildings on a compact site, the museum is an eclectic repository of Wayne County and Richmond history from early pioneer life through the industrial revolution into modern times.

Exhibits include two original local log cabins, a Conestoga wagon, a blacksmith shop and a 3000-year-old mummy and a recently updated gallery telling the story of life and death in ancient Egypt. The museum was also mentioned on the July 17, 2010 Hoosier History Live! show about Wayne County history with guest Carolyn Lafever.

Pan Am Games of 1987 with Mark Miles, Bill Benner

The Pan Am Games opening ceremony at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 7, 1987, was a lavish production. Image courtesy Indiana Sports Corp.(July 14, 2012) - It's been called Indy's "coming-out party" on an international stage. More than 4,000 athletes from 38 countries in the western hemisphere descended on the Hoosier capital in August 1987 for the colorful Pan American Games, the second-largest multi-sport event in the world. Only the Olympic Games are larger.

Jumping the gun on next month's 25th anniversary of this milestone in Indy history - which also had ramifications across the sports world - two "heavy hitters" will be Nelson's guests to share insights about the Pan Am Games, which drew an astounding 36,000 Hoosiers as volunteers.

Mark Miles, president of PAX/I (Pan American Games Ten/Indianapolis), will be one of our guests. Of course, Mark went on to serve as chairman of the host committee of the 2012 Super Bowl, the only Indy event to eclipse Pan Am in magnitude.

Nelson also will be joined by sports columnist Bill Benner, who covered Pan Am's basketball competition for The Indianapolis Star. Today, Bill is a senior associate commissioner for the Horizon League, as well as a columnist for the Indianapolis Business Journal.

Pan Am Games mascot Amigo holds flags with children at baseball diamond in 1987. Image courtesy Indiana Sports Corp.The dazzling Pan Am Games featured 30 sports, ranging from boxing, field hockey and baseball to tae kwon do, archery and gymnastics. As a writer at The Indianapolis News, Nelson covered two of the marquee sports, swimming and diving. In fact, he reported the triumphs of one of Pan Am's superstars, Greg Louganis, who still is considered to have been the best diver in competitive history. (Louganis made history in Indy by becoming the first to pull off a "triple double" - that is, win both of diving's gold medals in three consecutive Pan Am Games.)

Indy was designated as the host late in the game - and only after Chile, then Ecuador, bowed out.

Countless stories unfolded after that, culminating with concerns from the American Legion, which is headquartered in Indy, about the spotlight that would fall on communist Cubaduring the closing ceremonies, which were planned for American Legion Mall in the open air. Greg Louganis and Ryan White at 1987 Pan Am Games in Indianapolis.Closing ceremonies were moved to the stadium then known as the Hoosier Dome; performers included Gloria Estefan, a Cuban exile, and the Miami Sound Machine.

Cuba, in fact, resulted in headlines every step of the way. Before the games, Mark traveled twice to Cuba to meet with dictator Fidel Castro to convince him to send his athletes to Indy. Their participation sparked tremendous interest, along with tensions. During the boxing competition, a brawl broke out between Cuban athletes and anti-Castro exiles who stomped on a Cuban flag.

Even so, the games were considered such a spectacular success that they, as the Indianapolis Star later phrased it, "cemented Indianapolis' reputation as a can-do host city and an amateur sports leader."

For 16 days at 24 venues in Indy and elsewhere across the state - the yachting competition was based in Michigan City; a horse park at Camp Atterbury hosted equestrian events - Pan Am became, as The Star put it, "a rip-roaring, heart-stopping celebration of sports and civic pride."

Mark Miles.The opening ceremonies, a sensory bombardment that featured everything from parachutes and balloons to roller skaters and fireworks, were held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and staged by Walt Disney Productions. Spectators included then-Vice President George H.W. Bush.

Emotional scenes unfolded at the finals of basketball when Brazil beat the USA at Market Square Arena. Not only did Brazilian basketball star Oscar Schmidt fall to the floor in tears - photos of his reaction became some of the games' most enduring images - but the tournament also "changed the course of international hoops history," to quote our guest Bill Benner. He will elaborate during our show.

Another emotional scene came in baseball, when Cuba surged from behind to pull out a victory, also over the USA, at the former Bush Stadium.

At the IU Natatorium, Nelson reported on the triumphs of a previously unknown swimmer from Costa Rica, 16-year-old Silvia Poll, who stunned spectators by winning eight medals. In diving, Louganis gave one of his gold medals to a spectator: Ryan White, a 15-year-old with AIDS who had crusaded to attend school in Howard County.

Bill Benner.To highlight the 25th anniversary of the $34 million sports spectacle, the Indiana Sports Corp.and Indiana Humanitiesare launching a series of events and forums about Pan Am memories and the continual impact of the historic games. Nelson is among those who have shared reflections in the sports corporation's blog.

Some fun facts:

  • During the games, Fort Harrison served as the Athletes Village, complete with lodging, a dining hall and a nightclub.
  • In swimming, Anthony Nesty of Suriname captured gold and bronze medals, even though there was only one swimming pool in the entire country for his training.
  • The mascot of the games was Amigo, a lime-green parrot.
  • The horde of Hoosier volunteers served in capacities ranging from Spanish translators to chauffeurs.
  • Total spectators for all events exceeded 900,000.

History Mystery

Just three years after a lavish renovation, the Circle Theatre on Monument Circle in downtown Indy served as the unlikely venue for a sports competition during the Pan Am Games in 1987.

Kathy Callaghan (standing on bench) cheers as the U.S. team wins the gold medal in women’s handball at 1987’s Pan Am Games in Indianapolis.Critics expressed concerns about potential damage to the historic Circle Theatre, which was not yet known as Hilbert Circle Theatre. The theater, a former silent movie palace built in 1916, had deteriorated for decades before the $6.8 million renovation in 1984, after which it became the new concert hall for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Before the Pan Am Games began, a platform was built on the Circle Theatre's stage to protect it during the athletic competition.

Question: For what sport did the Circle Theatre serve as the unlikely venue during Pan Am?

To win the prize, you must call in with the correct answer during the live show and be willing to be placed on the air. Please do not call if you have won a prize from any WICR show during the last two months. The call-in number is (317) 788-3314, and please do not call until you hear Nelson pose the question on the air.

This week's prize is two admissions to the Indianapolis Zoo and two tickets to the Indiana State Museum, courtesy of the ICVA.

Roadtrip: Middle Eastern Festival on Indy's eastside

Smiling young woman with platter of food at Indy's Middle Eastern Festival.Our intrepid Roadtripper, Chris Gahl of the ICVA, returns to our airwaves to suggest that we check out the Middle Eastern Fest. It's coming up the weekend of July 20-22 at St. George Orthodox Christian Church at 4020 N. Sherman Drive on Indy's eastside.

Live Middle Eastern bands and dancers will perform throughout the weekend, and tempting treats, including lamb shanks, gyros, stuffed grape leaves, and falafel, will be available.

This year’s festival will be the 17th annual, and next year the festival will move north to the new St. George church in Fishers.

Parking is free, and admission is $5 for those 12 and older. Opa!

David Willkie on grandfather Wendell - and roof-living

A charismatic Wendell Willkie drew a huge crowd in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., for his speech to accept the Republican presidential nomination on Aug. 17, 1940.(July 7, 2012) - More than 50 years after his colorful grandfather, as a dark-horse, maverick presidential candidate, took on Franklin D. Roosevelt, David Willkie made his own headlines. In 1992, he lived for 60 days on the slate roof of the Athenaeum in downtown Indy as a fund-raising ploy to help save the historic structure from possible demolition.

So David joins Nelson in studio to share insights about two topics: the life of Wendell Willkie, the Republican Party's nominee for president in 1940, and the roof-living stunt as a recent college graduate atop the building that was designed in the 1890s by architect Bernard Vonnegut and became the hub of German cultural life in the Hoosier capital.

A caveat: David never personally knew his grandfather, who died suddenly in 1944 at age 52. He has fond memories, though, of his grandmother, Edith Willkie, who almost became the country's first lady. She was from Rushville, the town from which Wendell Willkie, a native of Elwood, based his rollicking presidential campaign. David, who grew up in Rushville, recently settled in Indianapolis after serving for several years on the staff of U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar.

David Willkie.During several Hoosier History Live! shows, studio guests have shared memories or anecdotes about the unlikely presidential campaign of Wendell Willkie, a self-made business leader who never had held elective office of any kind before his unsuccessful crusade to stop FDR from winning an unprecedented third term.

The chant "We want Willkie! We want Willkie! We want Willkie!" swept delegates to the 1940 Republican convention, which had been deadlocked on more traditional candidates.

"The miracle of modern politics," analysts called the upset nomination of Willkie.

Subsequently, his speech on a sweltering Saturday in Elwood drew a crowd of 215,000, making it one of the largest political gatherings in Indiana history. (By the time Willkie wound down on the 102-degree afternoon, nearly 360 people needed to be treated for heat-related disorders.)

Although Willkie had been sharply critical of aspects of FDR's New Deal and was defeated in the general election, he became a good friend of his rival. In fact, President Roosevelt even designated Willkie to be his personal representative to the Allied nations of Europe.

Das Deutsche Haus (now the Athenaeum) has long been a community hub in Indianapolis. This photo is from c. 1910.Decades after her husband's untimely death, Edith Willkie periodically brought her young grandson, David, to the Athenaeum, 401 E. Michigan St. So those visits were among David's personal connections when he camped out atop the building's roof in 1992, the 20th anniversary of which will be celebrated this fall during GermanFest.

During his 60 days of roof-living, David, then 22 years old and a recent Indiana University graduate, was interviewed by everyone from WFBQ-FM's Bob and Tom to national media. He says he even received a phone call from literary lion Kurt Vonnegut Jr., the grandson of the architect, who expressed concerns about David's health and safety.

On the roof, David lived in a metal shed. At that point, the Athenaeum was rapidly deteriorating. Not only did the roof leak, birds were seen flying inside the historic structure. David's roof-living stunt raised $157,000 for structural repairs, with the Lilly Endowment eventually contributing $645,000. David Willkie stands atop the roof of the Athenaeum in 1992. A recent Indiana University grad who wanted the building to be preserved, the grandson of Wendell Willkie lived for 60 days on the slate roof of the historic building in downtown Indianapolis. Photo courtesy David Willkie.(To salute the 20th anniversary, as well as to raise more funds, Cassie Stockamp, president of the Athenaeum Foundation, will live on the roof for a week in October.)

If roof-living sounds scrappy and adventurous, those traits also were attributed to David's grandfather. As a young man, Wendell Willkie held down a series of jobs, including working as a short-order cook and driving a bakery wagon. Eventually, though, he became an extremely successful attorney, then one of the country's top utility executives.

He tangled with FDR over the government's new Tennessee Valley Authority, which Willkie regarded as competing with his electric company's holdings in Tennessee. However, Wendell Willkie also was regarded as socially progressive, a champion of civil rights and as an internationalist. (After his defeat by FDR, he wrote a bestselling book titled One World.)

"I won't be dropped into a mold," he said several times. "I want to be a free spirit."

Tune in to our show to hear insights from the grandson of one of the most intriguing political figures in Hoosier history - as well as David's recollections about life atop a distinctive roof.

History Mystery

Wendell Willkie had a lifelong Hoosier rival. The rival, a Democrat who became Indiana's governor in the 1930s, had attended Indiana University with Willkie. On campus, Willkie's rival attained amazing success, serving as student body president, editor of the newspaper and several other leadership roles. He became dean of the IU School of Law at age 34, the youngest dean in the school's history.

The rival was touted as a Democratic presidential candidate (although he never was nominated by the party) and, after World War II, became ambassador to the Philippines. Two dormitories at IU are named in honor of Wendell Willkie and his rival.

Question: Name the lifelong rival of Wendell Willkie.

This week's prize was two admissions to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, courtesy of Conner Prairie, and two admission to Symphony on the Prairie, courtesy of the ICVA.

Roadtrip: Indianapolis City Market Catacombs

The catacombs beneath Indianapolis City Market.With Roadtripper Chris Gahl of the ICVA out on assignment, we thank Garry Chilluffo of Chilluffo Photography for stepping in to tell us about a mysterious Roadtrip with new, regularly scheduled tours that are open to the public.

Indianapolis City Market and Indiana Landmarks have joined forces to offer public tours of the City Market Catacombs, the still-existing basement beneath what was once Tomlinson Hall, the huge public building built in 1886 by architect Dietrich Bohlen just west of the City Market. Tomlinson Hall burned to the ground in 1958, but the catacombs remain, and their exact purpose remains a bit of a mystery, although we expect Garry to be able to tell us more.

Fun fact: According to Historic Indianapolis, in 1912, the mayor of Indianapolis, Samuel Shank, allowed homeless men to sleep in the catacombs, and donations of food and clothing also were offered.

Public tours are offered every Wednesday during the weekly Farmers Market in front of City Hall and on the fourth Saturday of each month.

Famous fashion designers from Indiana

A 1963 evening ensemble by Norman Norell features wool crepe and rhinestones. Photo courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art.(June 30, 2012) - Is it surprising that three of the top fashion designers of the last 100 years had Hoosier connections?

Bill Blass, who became internationally known for his classic sportswear and evening gowns, was a native of Fort Wayne.

In Evansville, Roy Halston Frowick attended Bosse High School. Eventually calling himself just Halston, he created the pillbox hat worn by Jacqueline Kennedy as first lady. Then he designed dresses worn by celebrities such as Liza Minnelli and became a celebrity himself at the epicenter of Manhattan's fast-paced nightlife of the 1970s.

And from the early 1940s through the late 1960s, the country's foremost fashion designer was Norman Norell, who grew up in Noblesville and Indianapolis.

To explore the lives, creations and careers of these icons, Nelson is joined in studio by Petra Slinkard, curatorial associate at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The museum features clothes created by the three designers in An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston & Sprouse, an exhibit that opened earlier this year. It includes an evening gown created for former first lady Nancy Reagan by Blass, who designed the red dresses she made famous in the White House.

Although the three designers flourished during different eras, which were reflected  in their designs, there may be some common, uh, threads.

"All of them were intensely creative individuals with a strong work ethic that was very Midwestern," Petra Slinkard notes.

Blass (1922-2002), a 1939 graduate of South Side High School, had a turbulent family life in Fort Wayne - his father committed suicide in their parlor when Bill was 5 years old - before he moved to New York to study fashion. His eventual mentor was Norell (1900-1972), a member of the Levinson family, well-known clothing retailers in Indiana.

Norman David Levinson created the name "Norell," which he explained this way: "Nor is for Norman. L for Levinson. Another L for looks." His clients included some of the world's most glamorous women, such as Lauren Bacall.

A sample of garments by fashion designer Halston appears in the Indianapolis Museum of Art as part of the exhibit An American Legacy: Norell, Blass, Halston and Sprouse. Image courtesy Indianapolis Museum of Art.Unlike the other two famous designers, Halston (1932-1990) was not born in Indiana; he was a native of Iowa. But he spent most of his youth in Evansville and even attended Indiana University before heading to New York. The IMA exhibit includes a green and yellow gown he designed in1972 based on "flowers" paintings by Andy Warhol.

"Warhol and Halston were friends, had a similar outlook on life and surrounded themselves with the same people," Petra Slinkard notes. "It was inevitable that the most popular artist of the era would collaborate with the top designer."

All three designers won multiple Coty Awards, the top honor in the American fashion industry. In fact, Norell won so many Cotys in the late 1940s and 1950s that he was the first designer inducted into the industry's hall of fame.

Petra Slinkard.Norell also became the first fashion designer to market his name on a perfume, which made its debut in 1968. Eventually, he was vastly eclipsed in product marketing by Bill Blass, who lent his name to everything from bed linens and fountain pens to chocolates and fragrances.

When Blass, who was known for designing classic looks that always stayed in style, retired in 1999, he sold his company for $50 million.

Halston's business experiences did not have positive outcomes. In the 1980s, he negotiated a deal with JCPenney to sell his creations, which backfired because more upscale retailers immediately dropped him, Petra notes. Even worse, Halston eventually lost the right to use his own name because of tangled agreements with conglomerates.

In the designers' heydays, though, clothes by all three not only were purchased by celebrities, they also were sold to Hoosiers by locally owned retailers such as L.S. Ayres, Block's and Wasson's.

Some other tidbits:

  • Designer Stephen Sprouse (right) poses with his fellow Columbus High School art friend Pamela Ferry at the famed 1900 Zaharakos soda fountain in Columbus, Ind. 1970 photo courtesy Pamela Ferry Smith.In addition to the creations of Blass, Norell and Halston, works by another top fashion designer are featured in the IMA exhibit. Stephen Sprouse (1953-2004), who grew up in Columbus, got his start working for Halston in the late 1970s. Influenced by punk rock and graffiti, he introduced what the IMA calls "street style" to high fashion. Like Halston, Sprouse died after a fast-paced lifestyle.
  • In addition to being the home state of top designers, Indiana also produced the fashion industry's best-known publicist. Crawfordsville native Eleanor Lambert (1903-2003) revolutionized fashion coverage by inventing the International Best Dressed List in 1940.
  • During World War II when restrictions were  placed on fabrics such as silk, Norell used sequins and jewels on dresses to mask cheaper fabrics. Eventually, his sequined "mermaid" sheaths in various fabrics became one of his signature styles; they also became some of  the most expensive dresses in America.
  • Partially because of the impact of World War II on French designers, Norell elevated the American fashion industry to unparalleled esteem in the 1940s. "Made Seventh Avenue the Rival of Paris" was the front-page headline in The New York Times when Norell died  in 1972.
  • In his posthumously published autobiography Bare Blass (HarperCollins, 2002), Bill Blass indicates his boyhood interest in fashion was inspired in part by a fellow Fort Wayne native. While watching movies, he was intrigued by the glamorous gowns worn by actress Carole Lombard.

History Mystery

On Monument Circle in downtown Indy, a department store replaced the lavish English Theater and Opera House, which had been built in the 1880s. The demolition in the late 1940s of the ornate English structures, which also included a hotel, to make way for the new department store continues to be regarded as an outrage by historic preservationists.

English Theater and Opera House on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis is pictured in 1941. And it was demolished for what department store chain?The department store, part of a national chain, was in a building that, like its English predecessors, was curved to mimic the curve of Monument Circle. The department store remained on the Circle for not quite 30 years, closing during the 1970s with the decline in downtown shopping before the rejuvenation of downtown.

Question: Name the department store.

This week's prize was a gift certificate to Tastings at the Conrad Hotel in downtown Indianapolis, courtesy of the ICVA. The prize package also includes a pair of admissions to Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, as well as a pair of 1859 Balloon Voyage tickets, courtesy of Conner Prairie.

By the way, a big congratulations to last week's winner, who called in from the Irvington Library Hoosier History Live! listening group. The group meets informally each week to listen to the live show. Thanks to the Indianapolis Public Library, Irvington Branch, for providing a place for the group to meet, as well as a radio and books and other "learn more" materials that pertain to the show's topic. The group welcomes new members.

By the way, it's easy to form your own listening group; all you need is a quiet space to meet weekly and access to a radio and/or a laptop for online listening. It's a great way to explore history in a face-to-face setting. If you are a small business, it's a good way to bring people into your business each week!

Roadtrip Re-trek: German Park on Indy's far-southside

German Park, on the southside of Indianapolis, has a long history of hosting family-friendly festivals. Here, climbers try out a climbing wall. Image courtesy German Park.As Roadtripper Chris Gahl of the ICVA was not able to get through our ever-humming phone lines on last week's show, we thought we would again have him call in about one of Indy's hidden treasures: German Park on Indy's far southside.

At German Park, you don't have to be German or have a membership card to dance the night away at the German Park summer festivals. Expect beer, brats, fun and games for the kids, and dancing in the old pavilion with a live band.

In 1881, 30 acres were purchased at 8600 S. Meridian Street to create Germania Park. Now known as German Park, the private park is owned and operated by the Federation of German Societies in Indianapolis and boasts a number of summer festivals.

The next Summerfest will be Saturday, July 21, hosted by the Indianapolis Saenger Chor. Die Freudemacher will be playing that evening, and gates open at 5 p.m. Admission for adults is $3.

Also located on the grounds of German Park is the Edelweiss Restaurant, which is open to the public for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. The restaurant serves sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel and other German delights.

Civic and business leader Andre Lacy as Living Legend

Andre Lacy.(June 23, 2012) - His towering list of civic and business endeavors - from serving as board chairman of one of Indy's largest privately held firms to leadership posts at the Indiana State Fair Commission, Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp., Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indianapolis Public Schools, United Way of Central Indiana and the Indianapolis 500 Festival Association - almost could stack as high as Mount Kilimanjaro.

Adventure-seeking Andre Lacy has climbed that volcano in Tanzania. He's also an avid motorcyclist, scuba diver and whitewater rafter. Not only that, Mr. Lacy pilots a plane that he owns.

A few weeks before Mr. Lacy and his sister, civic leader Margot Lacy Eccles, are named Living Legends by the Indiana Historical Society, Mr. Lacy joins Nelson in studio for a look at his life, career, civic endeavors and passions.

Andre Lacy is the chairman of LDI Ltd., formerly Lacy Diversified Industries. It, in turn, evolved from a company founded by his grandfather, H.J. Lacy, in 1912 that became one of the country's largest makers of cardboard boxes. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the company that initially was known as U.S. Corrugated-Fibre Box.

The Test Building at 54 Monument Circle in Indianapolis was built in 1925 and houses the headquarters of LDI.Today, LDI Ltd. is a holding company headquartered on Monument Circle that, according to a recent Indianapolis Business Journal article, has enjoyed steady growth ever since 1961, when Mr. Lacy joined the company; it now buys regional distribution businesses and helps them grow to national expansion. (Although Mr. Lacy retired as CEO in 2007, he remains board chairman.)

But Andre Lacy is known as much for his civic activities as his business success. Not only is he an alum of Shortridge High School (a member of the Class of '57, Mr. Lacy was inducted last month into his alma mater's hall of fame), he served as president of the IPS board in the mid-1980s.

He's also an alum of the renowned Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series, a program for emerging civic leaders. It was established in the 1970s by his mother, Edna Balz Lacy, in honor of Mr. Lacy and Mrs. Eccles' brother, who was killed in an automobile accident.

Andre Lacy and his wife, Julia, have three adult sons. One of them, J.A. Lacy, has been named chief operating officer at LDI, which, according to the IBJ, is preparing to hand off leadership to him. The IBJ also reported that Andre Lacy, despite being in his early 70s, rode a motorcycle to the Arctic Circle last year.

Yet, according to several accounts, Mr. Lacy also has agricultural roots. Active in 4-H as a youth, he worked on weekends at a family farm with dairy cattle.

Out of the Box: 100 Years and Counting, the history of LDI book cover.During the 1930s, his grandfather purchased farms in Speedway, Westfield and Brownsburg. According to Out of the Box: 100 Years and Counting (IBJ Book Publishing), a corporate history of LDI, one of the farms eventually became the site of Speedway High School.

"Even to this day, I can tell you the butterfat content properties relative to Jersey and Guernsey and Holstein cattle," Andre Lacy told The Indianapolis News in 1987.

Long before Mr. Lacy's teenage years in the 1950s, his family's business had become a national force in the packaging industry. During the 1920s, corrugated boxes replaced wooden crates as the major way of shipping many products, including fruits and vegetables.

Upon the sudden death of Andre Lacy's father, Howard J. Lacy II, in 1959, Edna Lacy became chairman of the company, making her one of the first women executives of a major Indiana business. Mount Kilimanjaro.(After graduating from college, Andre Lacy joined the company and worked for years with his mother, who died in 1991.) The company was renamed Lacy Diversified Industries in 1972, and later LDI.

Away from the office, Mr. Lacy has a full schedule with his civic endeavors and various adventures. According to Out of the Box, he has attended every Indianapolis 500 race since he was 7 years old. His enthusiasm for motorcycles revved up when LDI acquired Tucker Rocky, a Texas-based distributor of motorcycle parts.

So there's much turf for us to cover with this Living Legend-to-be.

By the way, other Hoosiers named Legends at the historical society's annual gala include a fellow inductee into the Shortridge hall of fame: Max Schumacher, the longtime president of the Indianapolis Indians. Others to be named Legends at the July 20 gala are Gerald and Dorit Paul, arts and cultural leaders in Indy.

History Mystery

President Franklin D.  Roosevelt meets with polio patients at Warm Springs, Ga., the rehabilitation center that he made available to any polio victim in the country.Our History Mystery is a carry-over from last week, when there wasn't a correct answer. The question concerns one of Franklin D. Roosevelt's visits to Indiana.

During a visit while president in the 1930s, FDR attended the dedication of a massive memorial in southern Indiana. The memorial, which honors a military leader who shaped Indiana's history, is said to be the largest memorial west of Washington, D.C., that pays tribute to an individual.

Question: Name the famous historic figure honored with the memorial dedicated by President Roosevelt.

Hint: It's not a memorial to Benjamin Harrison, which was an incorrect guess by a caller last week.

This week's prize was four tickets to the Indiana Experience, including You Are There: 1955: Ending Polio. These tickets are courtesy of the Indiana Historical Society. You also receive a one-night stay at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott Indianapolis Downtown, which is courtesy of the ICVA.

Roadtrip: German Park on Indy's far-southside

German Park, on the southside of Indianapolis, has a long history of hosting family-friendly festivals. Here, climbers try out a climbing wall. Image courtesy German Park.Hoosier History Live! has explored German heritage in Indiana in a number of past shows, but did you know that you don't have to be German, or have a membership card, to dance the night away with friends of all ages at German Park on Indy's far south side?

Roadtripper Chris Gahl of the ICVA tells us that back in 1881, 30 acres was purchased at 8600 S. Meridian Street to create Germania Park. Now known as German Park, the private park is owned and operated by the Federation of German Societies in Indianapolis and boasts a number of summer festivals which include beer, brats, live bands, dancing in the old pavilion and fun and games for the kids.

This Saturday night, June 23, German Park is open to the public for a Summerfest from 5 to 11 p.m. with live music by Alpine Express. Admission is $3, and children under 12 are admitted for free.

Also located on the grounds of German Park is the Edelweiss Restaurant, which is open to the public for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m. The restaurant serves sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel and other German delights. Don't be surprised if an accordion player stops by your table while you dine.

Polio epidemic during the 1940s and '50s

Replica polio vaccine vials were created for the You Are There exhibit. Image courtesy Indiana Historical Society.(June 16, 2012) - With its devastating impact and its tendency to strike children, teenagers and young adults, polio created widespread panic during the 1940s and '50s. Epidemics of the often-fatal disease occurred in earlier decades as well, but Hoosier History Live! will focus on the 1940s and '50s because of some significant aspects that unfolded in Indiana then.

"It was so frightening because, even though we knew polio was caused by a virus, we didn't know how it was being transmitted," recalls Wanda Fortune, an Indianapolis civic leader who is one of Nelson's guests.

"Feeding the fear," says Eloise Batic, "was that the treatments seemed to be as frightening as polio itself. The image of an iron lung terrified people, particularly children."

Wanda Fortune.Eloise, the director of exhibitions research for the Indiana Historical Society, joins Nelson and Wanda on our show to share insights about the era and the Hoosier aspects.

Wanda has been widowed twice. Both of her husbands were involved with the "polio story" as it unfolded in the Hoosier capital. Her first husband, a surgeon who was treating child patients with polio in 1945, contracted the disease himself and spent a week in an iron lung. Her second husband was a top analytical chemist at Eli Lilly and Co. in the 1950s.

That's the era depicted by the historical society in a new "You Are There" multimedia exhibit that is set on the Lilly campus, where employees rushed to pack vials of the new vaccine discovered by Dr. Jonas Salk.

More than 20,000 cases of polio were reported every year across the country during the early 1950s. According to the historical society, about 75 percent of the cases in 1954 - the year before Salk developed his vaccine - occurred in people under age 20.

Eli Lilly and Co. production line for polio vaccine in 1955. Photo courtesy Eli Lilly and Co.The peak years for the polio epidemic in Indiana were 1949 (when 1,147 cases were reported) and 1954 (with 1,448 cases), according to the historical society.

In the mid-1940s, Wanda's first husband, Dr. K. Randolph Manning, was in his residency as a young orthopedic surgeon. He was treating child patients at Indianapolis hospitals when he was afflicted with polio; Wanda had been married to him for just three months.

"Randy was very fortunate because he recovered and was able to resume a full life, including his medical practice," she says.

Her second husband, Dr. Brooks Fortune, helped oversee research and development (as well as quality control) at Lilly. Wanda married him long after 1955. That's when employees - including women assembly workers at Lilly depicted in a photo that has inspired the new Indiana Experience at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center - hurried to pack and send the vaccine around the world. Salk's discovery of the polio vaccine is considered one of the greatest medical breakthroughs in history.

Lilly was one of five companies across the country funded by the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (which later became the March of Dimes) to begin, in advance, mass production and distribution of the Salk vaccine.

Dr. K. Randolph Manning.The polio virus, spread by contaminated water or food, entered the central nervous system of victims. In severe cases, it caused lifelong paralysis or death. Although cases of polio had been reported in the United States before the 20th century, the first major epidemic occurred in 1916, when more than 27,000 people were paralyzed and 6,000 died, according to the historical society. After 1916, polio outbreaks occurred almost every summer.

Treatments before the Salk vaccine - hailed as a miracle - included surgeries to lengthen tendons and limbs; electrotherapy; the "Sister Kenny" treatment (named for an Australian nurse) that involved the application of hot, moist packs to relieve muscle spasms as well as forms of physical therapy; injections of antibody serums and the iron lung.

A pediatric iron lung - used for infants and toddlers stricken with the virus - is displayed in the historical society's You Are There exhibit; it is on loan from the Indiana Medical History Museum.

Some victims remained in iron lungs for years. Fortunately, Dr. Manning, Wanda's husband, spent only about one week in an iron lung before he began to recover.

Not only was he able to resume treating young patients, Dr. Manning and Wanda had four children of their own. When they married, Wanda had been training to be a nurse in Indianapolis; one of her nursing-school classmates was stricken with the polio virus and has suffered extensive paralysis ever since.

Visitors to You Are There 1955: Ending Polio will meet real-life characters from the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (known today as the March of Dimes), such as Mrs. Marjorie Williams. The organization was instrumental in raising money to aid in the fight against polio.Wanda, a member of the historical society's board of trustees, was widowed in 1984 after nearly 40 years of marriage. In 1990, she married Dr. Fortune, the analytical chemist who had an extensive career at Lilly. Even decades later, Dr. Fortune was being thanked by physicians as far away as South Korea for his role in overseeing the manufacture of the Salk vaccine, which was shipped around the world from the Lilly production and packaging center.

"Lilly was a well-oiled machine by the time the Salk vaccine was becoming available," Eloise notes. The manufacturing and packaging at Lilly began in March 1955 - a photo that inspired the new exhibit was taken March 16 at Building 314 on Lilly's campus - even though the Salk vaccine wasn't approved for distribution until April. That way, shipments were ready instantly.

By 1960, polio cases in America had dropped to just 3,000, according to the historical society. In 1970, there were about 10 cases in the country. Elsewhere in the world, where access to the Salk vaccine is difficult, polio rem