Thursday, August 05, 2004


By this time tomorrow I will be well and truly reestablished in the second homestead. On June 2 in the year I turned 10 we left the first homestead, the house my great-grandfather had built. Dad's commute was horrendous. It took him anywhere from 15-20 minutes to get to work. So we moved. Our new place was more do-able. Five minutes. In traffic. But we were still in the "country." I believe I inherited my aversion to covenants and homeowners' associations from my father. He bought well. Our fencerow to the south was the city limits. On our side of the fence you could do cool stuff like burn trash, have cows and sheep, and drink well water. You crossed the line and you were standing in the biggest town in Daviess County, Indiana. Washington. County seat. Population: 12,000. If you need me this weekend, that's where you'll find me. I will be somewhere near the dessert table of the 86th Houts-Barber family reunion, which is on the property of my folks. I have not lived there since 1978, but that it's still home to me in many ways.

Be Saved and B-Ball
In case you're wondering what charms Indiana might hold, you should know that plenty of famous individuals have called Indiana home. Evangelist Billy Sunday moved his home base to Winona Lake in Northern Indiana. At the southern end of the state, a gangly youth named Larry Bird played high school basketball. He went on to play college ball at Indiana State, but then he moved to Boston.

A Prez, a Poet, Better Living through Chemicals, and I'd Like that in Large Bills
Not everybody has lived in Indiana. Some people have died there. President Benjamin Harrison, Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley, Colonel Eli Lilly, and monetary emancipator John Dillinger are contributing to the enrichment of soil in Indianapolis's Crown Hill Cemetery.

From the Front
And before there was CNN and Baghdad, there were other, more adventurous war correspondents. Ernie Pyle, whose goal was to report on the real story of life on the front lines of war, hails from Indiana.

Where's the Horse?
A couple of brothers in South Bend owned and operated a blacksmith shop. They made wagons for the U.S. Army. Entry-level management books talk about trying to create better buggy whips while your market moves on. Clement and Henry Studebaker successfully negotiated the paradigm shift from horses pulling in front of the wheels to horse's asses pulling into traffic from behind the wheel.

I Fought Authority, then Ate Lasagna
John Mellencamp hails from near Seymour. Just look for the little pink houses. Garfield the Cat's creator, Jim Davis, was born in Fairmount. If Garfield seems like a rebel with little cause, that may be because James Dean came from the same town.

Abraham Lincoln moved to Southern Indiana as a child and lived here until age 21. He moved west to begin his career in law. Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Mike--better known as the Jackson 5--moved west from Gary, Indiana to launch their careers. There have been some interesting moments with the law there, too.

And Out of this World
Avery Brooks, Captain Benjamin Sisko and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? Yup. More terrestrial beginnings. The list goes on far longer than most are willing to read. What follows is by no means comprehensive, but peruse away. If you want to know, Dave, who in the hell is ___________? just drop me a line a dlcolb at yahoo dot com

Anne Baxter
Arija Bareikis
Avery Brooks
Benjamin Harrison

Bill & Gloria Gaither
Bill Blass
Bob Griese
Booth Tarkington

Carole Lombard
Cole Porter
Crystal Gayle
David Anspaugh

David Letterman
David Wolf
Elwood Haynes
Ernie Pyle

Eugene Debs
Evan Byah
Florence Henderson

Gus Grissom
Hoagy Carmichael
James Dean
James Muir

James Whitcomb Riley
Jane Pauley
Janet Flanner
Janet Jackson

Jeff Gordon
Jessamyn West
Jimmy Hoffa
John Andretti

John Dilinger
John Mellencamp
John Purdue
John Wooden

Johnny Appleseed
Joshua Bell
Karl Malden
Kurt Vonnegut

Larry Bird
Little Turtle
Madame C.J. Walker
Mark Spitz

Marshall "Major" Taylor
Max Ehrmann
Michael Jackson
Oscar Robertson

Phil Harris
President Benjamin Harrison
Red Skelton
Robert Indiana

Ryan White
Sandy Allen
Scatman Crothers
Shelley Long

Tavis Smiley
Steve Burton
Steve McQueen 
Steve Wariner

Studebaker Brothers
Theodore Dreiser
Thomas Marshall
Vivica Fox

Wes Montgomery
Wendell Willkie
Will Geer
Wright Brothers

So I may live here. And those folks listed above may not live there (if they live at all). But the moonlight's still fair and you might catch a glimpse of something through the sycamores while your allergies are acting up. And pretty soon I'll be back home again. In Indiana.