One of the interesting realities of growing up in the Midwest of the United States is quiet that is the middle. Most of the things that happened in the early stages of developing the country happened on the East Coast. The great gold rushes and other expansion events tended to happen on the West coast. The middle is the middle; time seems slower there.
In Indiana there are some parks, as a child, we wandered through most of them over the years. We did have one particularly memorable trip to Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home. Abe Lincoln was born in Kentucky, moved to Indiana when he was fairly young and then eventually moved on to Illinois. All three states of course claim that they are where we learned to be the person he was to be later.
His boyhood home is a park in the southern part of Indiana. We spent an afternoon wandering the exhibits and the home where Abe was a child. It was an interesting learning experience. In school, you are taught about the president, Abraham Lincoln. At his boyhood home, the focus is on the child growing up. The mix of reality and legend made for a great learning experience.
(authors note, pictures and stories do not match. That has more to do with the fact that in scanning the slides we put them into holding folders, and I just haven’t had time in the ensuing three years to properly sort them).
Middle of the Middle Historian
As I wander thru the old photos that my father left me, I am reminded of so many day trips. As we wander through the folders, there were many day trips that my father missed though. Led by my mother who loves water, more than I do! There were trips to Wisconsin that were fun. We had an old sedan that didn’t heat very well. I remember my sister in the backseat covered in blankets as we drove to Wisconsin. Dad was doing something at IU, so it was just the three of us heading up in the winter time.
I think it was for Thanksgiving. Dad was always around at Christmas time, so it had to be Thanksgiving. It was cold though; I remember the cold. I don’t remember anything other than being covered by blankets in the back of our old sedan. I couldn’t even tell you what make and model the car was. I know, that we bought a Mercury station wagon (blue) in 1969 but beyond that, I don’t remember the make and model of the early cars we owned.
The best day trips were the summer trips to Fairfax beach. Fairfax beach is located on the shores of Lake Monroe. Lake Monroe is an Army Corps of Engineers project to control flooding in Southern Indiana and to create a safe water source for people to drink in the area. It is the largest man-made lake in Southern Indiana with tons of interesting places to relax. The state built a couple of recreation areas on the lake with beaches, including trucking in the sand. Fairfax was a large beach area near the commercial marina. The other beach was Paynetown, and it had a state run marina. We spent many magical hours at Lake Monroe!
In the early 1970’s when we lived in Thailand we took many day trips. There are so many trips to recall, hopping in our Opal and heading off on an adventure. The one that I remember the most is one that happened more than one time. It was the trips to Pattaya, which is a beach on the Gulf of Siam south and west of Bangkok. We stayed a bunch of us in a group of Cabins that were away from the main beach resort area.
I remember the first time, after being exposed to Lake Ripley what it was like to suddenly have the ocean available for exploration. We found the world where crabs scurried around on the beach and in the water. We followed them more than we probably should have. One of the coolest things about where we stayed was the sand bar that appeared at low tide and then was gone at high tide. We played Cricket on the sand bar and explored every inch of it at low tide.
The cabins where we stayed had bedrooms and a main area/kitchen. I remember the kitchen we were often in there. I don’t remember sleeping and waking up in the cabins. I suspect I ran myself into the ground and probably fell asleep at the dinner table and had to crawl to bed. It was the most amazing place filled with magic and wonder. All the images shared on the blog today were from Pattaya 2005 when we stayed at the Dusit Report actually on the beach. We didn’t wander down to where the cabins we used to stay in; I doubt that they were still there (it was more than 30 years later).
As I wander through the old pictures, there are a few technical issues that are frustrating. One of the most frustrating is some of the slides we scanned are huge. As in they are more than 16 megs in size and do not well on the various blogging platforms I use. So there are a few images that I really can’t share. The memories, however of the events I can share. Sometimes they are my memories. As John Boyd taught us, modify the orientation of the observation to get different results. I am not my sisters or my mother, so I see things differently.
When the families (my sisters and mine) were young mom and dad used to rent a Houseboat on Lake Patoka for a week. I think in part to replace the summers we had as kids at Lake Ripley. Grandpa and Grandma moved closer to the city and sold the Lake House in the later years, but we had many summers on, in and over Lake Ripley. My kids (and my sister’s kids making it) Our kids had the experience of the houseboat on Lake Patoka and later going to Hawaii.
Both my mother and father loved water, so my love of being on the water is a natural progression, I inherited it. When we moved to Bloomington Indiana from Chicago Illinois, they were just finishing up the dam for the lake (they, in this case, the army corps of engineers), and the lake was filling. In the summer of 1967, we started wandering down to Fairfax beach on Lake Monroe to enjoy the beach, sand, and water. I learned to swim in Lake Monroe! Well, I first started to swim in Lake Monroe. I suspect all the hours spent in the water of Lake Ripley may have helped and contributed. So today I am sharing pictures of water, none of Lake Monroe or Lake Ripley, just water!
boat and water lover!
The trip to Colorado was one of many. For the most part we drove where were were going. There were a few times we flew. We flew to Thailand, we flew once to Bill Mitchell Field (Milwaukee Wisconsin) and we flew to Thailand. We drove to Washington DC once, through the twisting hills of Virginia as we all alternated sharing a flu bug and throwing up. That trip was in March of 1976. I remember it because that was the year the then undefeated Indiana Hoosiers were marching towards the National Championship in Philadelphia.
We were in Philly before the tournament arrived (during the earlier rounds in fact) watching the games being played elsewhere. Dad was at an NSTA convention and the rest of us were on Spring Break. So we hit the sites of Philly. Seeing the Liberty Bell and its cracks up close and personal was breathtaking. Seeing the place where the constitution and the future of a nation were debated was also amazing.
We were in Philly for the first two rounds of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. I remember being on pins and needles. The year before we had been undefeated but had an injured Scott May, so this year we were healthy and hoping to go undefeated and win the whole thing. It was very nerve-wracking watching the games on the little hotel TV. IU did, by the way, win the National Championship that year, the last undefeated team to be national champion in Men’s Basketball (UConn has done is 4 or 5 times in Women’s College Basketball since then). It is kind of the wrapped that I put around Philadelphia now.
We drove once, for a summer vacation to Estes Park. Estes Park is located in the Rocky Mountains West of Denver Colorado. We drove from Bloomington Indiana all the way to Colorado. An expedition similar to what many pioneers experienced 200 years before us. Except we were following roads, they were making the roads. We wandered across the 1/2 of Indiana we were in the middle of, Illinois and Kansas. In Kansas we stopped at historic Fort Hayes and spent a day relaxing out of the car.
From there we continued our westward trek. I suspect mom and dad were sick of the three of us in the back seat by then. We often, per my mother’s memory, bickered in the back seat. Mom bought the world’s largest car seat for my little sister in hopes, I suspect, that we wouldn’t fight in the back seat because the seat was huge and we were small. That, sadly wasn’t true. It still had a small space you could annoy your seat mate via. So we did, you know, both each other. My parents on occasion, probably beyond fed up, turning around and offering to turn the car around. We never did, in all the years the threat occurred, never did turn the car around. Not sure what we would have done had we, anyway had we returned home. I think that is an eternal parent child question.
Colorado, which those of us in the backseat were lucky enough to survive to see, was amazing. Estes Park is nestled in the mountains, and even though it was June (and already hot, hot, hot in Indiana) there was still a mountain of snow. I have only seen snow that deep one other time in my life. The two story visitor center for the Rainbow pass (on the mountain itself) was covered in snow. The road had places where it was cut through a hill of snow. It was a wonderful experience, although we did not get to go as far on the road as my dad had wanted to at the time.
There was a time, a long time ago now, when we would hop in the car and drive around both as entertainment, but also as an activity. We were exploring the small world around us by car. My father, driving along the back roads of Southern Indiana. My mother up front, talking to dad and us. No radio, my father didn’t listen to the radio in the car. It wasn’t until 1969 that we even had that new fangled Air Conditioning in a car, and that wasn’t often turned on either .
The thing that was interesting in the 1966 to 1970 range was the reality of Limestone quarries. They, the Cutters, (that is the local name for people that work in the Stone Quarries, Cutters. If you watch the movie Breaking Away that is the name of the bike team ridden by Locals) were long gone by the 1960’s. The massive gaping holes they left were not. In fact, some of those holes are still there. They were massive holes in the ground. Nature has now, wandering Southern Indiana in 2017, begun to reclaim the holes. But in the 1960’s they were only 30 years removed from the gradual decline and fall of Limestone as a primary building material.
One of those holes exists still, nearly in the heart of Bloomington Indiana. It was on the way to my parent’s old house on North Kinser Pike. A hole still used to produce gravel by the local supply company. There is another hole that has now been partially filled with Condos and homes. I wonder if, when walking the dog people realize they are walking on history. If you read historical accounts of the process for taking Limestone out of the ground you will be shocked. Death wasn’t possible in many of the pits, it was probable. Many people died pulling the Limestone out of the ground to build America. But that is now, then I was amazed by the huge holes in the ground left when the Cutters were unemployed and Concreate was the preferred front face of buildings.
Family Historian Limestone Quarry lover…
One of my favorite trips as a child was to Lake Ripley. It was a long journey when I was young. President Eisenhower began the great expansion of the US Highway system in the mid-1950’s. Called the Interstate System, the new roads would eventually cut nearly two hours off the trip to Wisconsin from Indiana. But when I was young and just starting to realize we were going to Wisconsin, it was a long and winding trip.
There was no great Interstate 65 that cut across Indiana leading to Chicago. The trip was along the backroads of Indiana, Illinois and then finally into Wisconsin. There were so many things to see, and you weren’t flying along at 70 MPH on the closed system (an interstate). You did occasionally have to stop for a stoplight in a small town or a little hamlet that wasn’t a town or a village just a collection of 5 houses clustered around a stoplight. There was so much you could see then from the window of a car.
Not like today, I actually commuted to Chicago for a year (I only had one account there at the time). It took me between 2.5 and 3 hours going to between 4 and 4.5 hours coming home. It wasn’t that bad of a trip later when the interstates were built. But back in the day it was a slower more personal trip through the countryside. You saw things then that you don’t see now. Or perhaps life itself passed me by, in my childhood I was wandering to a place. As an adult I was making a beeline to a place. The difference between a destination and a commitment.
Considering the pictures we have (and the ones we’ve lost) let me begin my wandering of old pictures wander project with the following plea. Have two or more copies of the pictures you love. Think about the reality of disaster and make multiple copies. I highly recommend Carbonite offsite backup, the cost is less than 100 dollars per year, and with that, you get a complete copy of your family history offline and away from your house in case the house and all the hard drives in it are destroyed.
One of my favorite day trips, when I was a little kid, was the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I remember touring the German U-Boat exhibit a few times, as well as the farm exhibit and other exhibits (they always had chickens being either watched, incubated or in the process of hatching). I have many memories of that museum. We took the boys there in the mid-2000 range. I don’t think they were as excited by it as I was all those years before.
There was more of course, then in that great Chicago museum triangle. I loved going to the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. We took Jakki and the Boys to the triangle (all three) in 2004 on a trip to Chicago. We had an enjoyable weekend wandering the various museums. Nick then (and still) doesn’t like museums where there are stuffed animals. We spent less time at the Field Museum, because of that. But Shedd Aquarium was still amazing.
In part, the kids were underwhelmed with the Museum of Science and Industry. But then we were living in Greenwood and they were at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum almost every week. It changes your perspective. If you ever wander to Indianapolis for the Race, make sure you take the kids to the Children’s Museum, it is one of the best in the world.
Chicago Lover and family Historian!
Why a wander project? I’ve answered that before, but it comes from the 5th-grade assignment in Indiana where you (as the student, not you the reader) are assigned the task of picking a place in Indiana, having your parents take you there, and then documenting that journey with pictures and words. The wander project was a way to pull together all the images of the past.
My first true memory is a porch in Iowa. I have a fuzzy recollection of a living room with my mother ironing in Skokie Illinois, and another fuzzy recollection of being near a plate glass window in Libertyville Illinois. But I know I am in Iowa as maybe a four year old. I remember my sister being little. I remember it is hot and I remember the frogs (my father was doing a frog census that summer). I also for some reason have the tag Iowa in my mental image of the porch.
For the next few days, I am going to share old pictures again. Some of the pictures are from my father, some from my grandfather Andersen. Most of the Johnston family pictures were lost in a sad event a couple of years ago. But I do have many of the Andersen pictures going back to the late 1950’s. I will share the pictures over the next couple of days. It is an extension of my wander project. Wandering the old pictures of who and what was once. I will apologize now at the beginning; time is not a friend to printed pictures. In fact, it is best known as the enemy.
finding old pictures