Archive for the ‘Unique Indiana’ Category

After finding these Hoosier businesses, we just had to add. Truly Unique Indiana at its best. You can also find them on our “We Like” page, along with many other Indiana’s finest and funnest.

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Butt Drugs, Corydon, IN

Butt Drugs, Corydon
An Indiana treasure . . .
. . . And whatever you do, you gotta watch their video . . .

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Claeys Candies, South Bend
(My favorite is Sassafras)

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Zachary Confections, Frankfort
(My favorite is the candy corn)


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This is for my friends I graduated from high school with, celebrating our 35th reunion and with whom I cannot be on this occasion. If anything gets broken or if anything questionable happens in the next 24 hours, you can assign it to me. Have a great time tonight. I will be thinking of you and will truly miss you all.

As for me, it is remarkable that today, as you prepare to get together over Jeff’s pulled pork and some brews and very changed faces and lives, I am reminded that almost a year ago my father passed away, a moment I still feel today; and that in just two days, my son, Jace will begin his freshman year in high school.

Dad and Jace, Mowing, 2005

Instead of being at the West Vigo Class of ’80 Reunion, I am at the family farm in Kansas this weekend, one last excursion for Jace before school, and recalling that it was while sitting on the front porch of this house just a couple-few years ago that I called and spoke with Robby Cooper, whose father had just passed away. I never knew Rob’s and Roger’s dad, but I read the obituary in the paper and was powerfully compelled to call. We had a nice chat, and though it was entirely unexpected, Rob was gracious and I think we enjoyed our catching up.

By all accounts his dad was a remarkable man, and a veteran as I recall. And most of all, it was clear how deeply he was loved and appreciated. He was a man who made a great difference in the world and would be missed immeasurably by his family and friends.

Enjoy each others company tonight, and stay in touch. It’s really all we have left, and we don’t really need anything else. It is everything, and it is enough.

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Reign, Westside Bash, 1980

I think back, I remember how important, how central to our daily lives our music was to us. And now, of course, when we think of it or hear it, we are transported back in a way that nothing else can do.

How many of you recall the group Ten Years After? I got to know them as a sophomore. A new guy came to my school, then State High, from Frankfurt, Germany and we became friends. Chris von Slatow was into wind surfing, which I had never heard of until I met him; he was a runner and joined the track team; and he was into music I had never heard of, including Ten Years After. He lived with an elderly couple near Union Hospital who raised springer spaniels; my grandparents had bought their hunting dogs from them many years before.

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Now we are all 35 years after high school, and while a lot has changed, our memories are fixed.

These are just two particular things I remember vividly, and they are memories – among hundreds, I suppose – so many of my classmates and good friends are a part of. In fact, these memories would be nothing without you.

I guess distance really does make the heart grow fonder.

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Rare Earth In Concert

In my opinion, one of the best albums ever made; certainly one of the best live albums.


My senior year in high school I sang in a band. Reign.

So on a Monday morning, second hour, my chemistry-zoology teacher was reading the week’s announcements. After Friday night’s homecoming football game, Reign was to play for the “Welcome Back Mixer.” Unfortunately, I sat in the front row.
So as he read, he came to us. “And at the Welcome Back Mixer West Vigo’s own Reign will play….”

Then he paused, looked over his half-lens reading glasses at me and said, “Does this mean you REIGN OVER your fellow students?” I was sick. I don’t remember what if anything I said in response, probably nothing. I am pretty sure the only appropriate response would have been, “No, Sir.”

We covered Foreigner, The Beatles, Ted Nugent, Journey, and a few others, including REO Speedwagon – aside of the Peter Gunn theme, Ridin’ The Storm Out was our theme song – whatever was popular in 1979 and ’80.

We also made some tragic efforts: Get Down, Boogie-Oogie, Oogie by Taste of Honey. Wow. Sorry. Enough said. And Just When I Needed You Most, by Randy Vanwarmer. Whaaa? I had never even heard nor heard of this song or the guy. Someone just showed up at practice one night with the sheet music. Whiniest song and guy I ever heard. Again, sorry everybody.

A couple of other efforts were not quite as tragic only because they were well intentioned. We tried (well, the guys did, and I tried) Aerosmith’s Walk This Way, which went way too fast for me to master. Embarrassing. Then finally, Clapton’s Cocaine, which is a great tune, but I couldn’t feel okay about using that word, so I changed it to Spokane

Anyway, it was fun, but I can’t believe either we as a whole or at least I, individually, didn’t get fired.

So this brings me to Rare Earth.

In retrospect, I am frustrated considering the lost opportunity to play their songs. We didn’t do one. Jeez – they had been one of my favorite bands since fifth grade, about 1971-’72.

My uncle John, the coolest guy on the planet (still, and co-subject of my post “Todd Rundgren and the Sacred Den of Cool” Nov, 2010) had given me his 8-track of Rare Earth In Concert – their 1971 live album – the “backpack album.”


In fact, I was so crazy about them, in fifth grade art class I made a clay plaque with the band’s name in balloon-bubble letters and flowers on it. It was decorated in many-colored glaze, baked in the furnace. I put two holes at the top so I could lace a string through and hang it in my room. Cool.

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I cannot believe it did not even occur to me that we should learn and play those songs. Makes me want to get back into a band just to sing a few of those. All those great songs – I mean really great – like Get Ready and Hey Big Brother and I Just Want To Celebrate. I knew intimately every song on In Concert and Ma. If I ever wished I could go back it would be to correct history and play Rare Earth in the gym or at the Banks of the Wabash Festival.

Ah, such is life.

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The Internet is awesome.

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So all these years later – about 2001 – I was able to find the CD at Amazon. It was expensive but worth it. I also sent a CD to John, sort of a “thank-you-payback.”

Meanwhile, Jace, my son whom I had introduced to Rare Earth when he was about two, was four in 2005 and now playing drums on a cheapo-set from some cheapo-store. I’d say to him, “Play some Rare Earth,” and he’d whack and bang away. At that age, all his Rare Earth sounded exactly like his U2 – which sounded pretty much like random whacking and banging.

I also found Peter Rivera, Rare Earth’s original lead singer and drummer. A little Google search, and Vwalla….he’s got a website. That voice and those drums. That has to be one of the best packages to ever come together in rock music.

So I wrote to him, telling him my Rare Earth history and about Jace now carrying on to the next generation. He wrote me back, thanked me for my years of loyalty, and thought the Jace story was pretty cool. He also said, “Make sure he learns to read music. I never did, but should have. It’s really not that hard.”

Rare Earth, along with co-founder Gil Bridges, still plays, though Peter is not with them. But when they were together in those early days, nobody put more energy into a concert. Check out this video of “…Celebrate” at California Jam in 1974.

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Promotional insert: Checkout Peter’s site. Pretty interesting and encouraging life. Reading through it, he comes off as the kind of guy you’d really like to know. You can find him on Facebook, too. In searching, you may want to include “Celebrate” along with his name.

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I bought a set of signed sticks for Jace, which he still has, though one is broken; he drums with gusto. No matter. They are sacred and so remain on his bookshelf like religious icons.

So as old as Rare Earth’s music is, the songs are staples in my running-riding-lifting regimen.

To get your own copies, check them out on iTunes.

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Rossington Collins Band
Don’t Misunderstand Me, Rossington Collins Band (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, 1980)

Summer 1979. We’ve just officially become seniors and Karl and I are driving all over West Terre Haute in his white 1969 Triumph TR6 convertible. We’re smoking Swisher Sweets and listening to this hard-hitting, top-down, post-Lynyrd Skynyrd near-rock anthem.

Man, we feel free and light. Our junior year is over. We’ve made it.

The sun is bright and the open cockpit is a swirl in the wind and it’s anywhere we want. So we want DQ on National Avenue, then we want to go to South Lake, which requires a cruise through Toad Hop to get there.

We park on the west side of the white cinderblock building and saunter into the open-air pavilion, across the cold concrete floor, shaded in the basement of the raised building; we’re in a breeze-way of a concession stand full of neatly aligned green wood picnic tables. We move to the counter to order a follow-up to our DQ visit of just ten minutes before.

We each get a huge Coke and keep glancing out, through the open lake-side of the room, to the beach, its coarse gravel pit-quality sand, same as it ever was, just as it was when we were kids. The tall, galvanized slide standing half in and half out of the water is still there, too, as it has always been. And the warm water in its color of weak coffee with a little cream; that too, just as it has always been.

We were searching for our friends – mainly girls; probably strictly girls, come to think of it – who have come to get a tan.

We are searching when we get there, and searching when we finally leave. Jeez, this is good. And summer has only started.

We continue to search through the summer and all the way through our last year of high school and beyond. And life has only started.

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Find it at iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/rossington-collins-band/id64790

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To read all this and a little bit more in the original, just go Top 5 page, scroll down to the original June and July Top Fives, and look for Rare Earth and Don’t Misunderstand Me.

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The following is an excerpt from Indiana-born Nick Popaditch’s book, Once a Marine.

We are grateful to Nick and his publisher, Savas Beatie, LLC for his contribution at AAH.

But far more than that, we are grateful for his service to our country.

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The Cigar Marine

April 8, 2003

Central Baghdad

A wide boulevard with landscaped islands in the middle, lined with nice urban-type mid-rises in surprisingly fine shape. A very attractive and peaceful-seeming city, especially compared to the suburbs we just went through, where looting of government buildings has already broken out—it’s like a combo carnival and open-air Wal-Mart where everything is free.

But here, deep in Baghdad, we don’t see a soul.

I keep thinking of the old Charlton Heston sci-fi flick Omega Man, where the last non-zombie human male on earth speeds up and down the streets of a major metropolis in his car. I’m part of a column comprising two tank platoons and our infantry platoon in three amtracs, but still the silence and sense of isolation closes in. Very eerie.

In the distance, straight up our boulevard, stands an enormous statue that can’t be anybody but Saddam Hussein. His likeness is everywhere, to the point that guys make up funny names for some of the images—in a white suit and hat he’s Fantasy Island Saddam.

Photograph by Alexandra Boulat

The statue, flanked by shorter commemorative columns, stands in a round mini-park within a traffic circle where our boulevard ends. The big open area is nothing but round, but for some reason they call it Firdos Square. The tallest building on the square is the Palestine Hotel, in front of which we see a growing crowd. Westerners one and all, it turns out, most of them media types loaded down with journalistic weaponry. As our tanks pull in, the crowd crosses toward us like iron filings drawn to magnets. We follow the circle and take up positions at points where streets lead away from the square. It turns out to be a perfect set-up for a defensive perimeter. I park my tank next to the Palestine Hotel, orienting down a street that stops at the banks of the Tigris River just a block away.

People now pour out of the hotel, mostly really happy to see us and shooting bazillions of pictures. But then—can you believe it?—the first person to talk to me is a truly repulsive British woman belonging to a small flock of anti-war protestors. They call themselves Human Shields and carry a big banner that reads, “Go Home U.S. Wankers.”

Great, I’m thinking, I get the —holes. The battleaxe, who seems to be trying to bring back the Sixties, stands next to the tank and shouts up abuse like “You f—ing murderer!” while I crack up, which drives her more wild. With the banner in front of my tank, facing away, her group obviously wants international photo and video coverage, heroes in front of heavy armor like in Tiananmen Square. Of course my tank ain’t moving, much less shooting, and nobody buys their bull—-. The reporters totally ignore these clowns.

I lean down and say to my new girlfriend, “This is just grandstanding. If you really want to be a Human Shield, you should go across the river. They’re bombing over there right now. Listen, you can hear it.”

“F— you,” she says.

Great comeback. After a little more total indifference from the press, the group, disheartened, wanders away.

About this time, Capt. Lewis, puffing on a stogie, comes by and asks to use my radios. As he takes the handset he gives me the cigar.


I look at it a few seconds.

Why not?

I take a few puffs. Can’t call myself a connoisseur, but it tastes damn fine to me.

While I am puffing on the captain’s cigar, a French journalist takes a still shot of me. Little do I know it, but my smiling mug, with Saddam’s statue in the background, will run on front pages all over the world. It’s Black Six’s cigar and only a loaner, but I become known as The Cigar Marine.

All the while, Iraqis arrive. At first they come by ones and twos, acting very cautious. After nothing bad happens, word gets out and people pour into the square until we’ve got a happy mob, an anti-Saddam Woodstock. Locals love abusing the statue, gesturing and throwing stuff. Many pitch shoes, which shows particular disrespect because to them the bottom of the foot is lower than low. Every good hit on the statue gets wild cheers.

I give passing thought to the security implications of the mob scene. Could be die-hard Baathists all around, guys checking out our defensive positions and firepower. Who cares? We can take all comers and attack in any direction at battalion strength. And who could deny the people their party? Until the loyalists hauled ass this morning, nobody would have dared to flip off Saddam’s image. A banged-up Portugese reporter shows us video footage taken by a friend. In it one of Hussein’s henchmen clubs the reporter repeatedly with the butt of an AK-47. That happened right here, just yesterday. The guy’s a mess but deliriously happy to see us. The joy and gratitude of the Iraqis beats all, though. People shout out their thanks and try to hand up flowers and other gifts. I can’t help but get caught up in the celebration and what it means, both to them and to me.

Three weeks back, I thought about nothing but defeating the enemy’s military and knocking off their regime. Now that defeat looks like a victory beyond anything I imagined. This is what I fought for. It’s why I put heart and soul into the Marine Corps way back when. A pure, one hundred percent Marine mission, setting people free from a tyrant they couldn’t get rid of on their own. Forty years, they knuckled under to this murderous son of a bitch because they had no choice. Now, with our help, he’s on the run and they’re dancing in the streets, literally, because he will oppress them no more.

The crowd goes especially wild when a big, burly Iraqi whales away at the statue’s pedestal with a sledge hammer. This guy is huge, like a circus strong man, and he attacks the statue’s base so it will fall over. Not such a bad idea if he had a jackhammer, but it’ll take forever with his hand tool.

Kadom al-Jabouri attacks Saddam Hussein's statue 2003

I don’t know who should get credit, but the Marines come to the strong man’s aid. People go beyond wild hearing the V-12 diesel on our M88, our maintenance vehicle, fire up and then seeing its long boom swing up and out in front like an arm. Here’s our statue killer. It’s a miracle nobody gets run over or hurt climbing on the vehicle’s deck while it creeps through the crowd toward the statue.

Now all eyes are on the M88 guys. After the driver, Lance Corporal Riley, positions the machine, a mechanic, Corporal Chin, climbs up to throw a loop around Saddam’s neck and hook it up to the winch cables that run out the boom. Our corpsman, Doc Rose, also rides the M88, the reasoning being that broken tanks will likely have broken Marines on board. He assists Chin. Pictures of Chin and Doc Rose will go out all over the world, great for them because they usually labor in obscurity. After one good pull on a heavy rope loop around Saddam’s neck breaks the rope, the guys rig a towing chain.

Later rehashes by unfriendly press aside, nobody in the square takes the least bit of offense when an American flag goes over Saddam Hussein’s head. The Iraqis cheer like crazy. The flag doesn’t mean we conquered anybody—just “Saddam, you’re through.” Obviously, though, it doesn’t play so well politically, because an order comes down from on high to remove the Stars and Stripes. So an Iraqi flag goes up, and people cheer for that, too. The McDonald’s flag would do the trick, or a giant bedspread. I like both flags fine and dig the image of Saddam with his head covered by cloth and a noose around his neck, like he’s about to be hanged.

The M88 commander, Gunnery Sergeant Lambert, a famously methodical and fastidious individual, makes a major production out of pulling the statue down. He does it by inches, backing up and winching out cable bit by bit, retrograding to where the statue won’t fall on his vehicle. “Come on, Gunny, yank that f—er down already, you’re killing us.” Though we expect the statue to topple over, it does something cooler, buckling and breaking at the shins so two feet still stand. Not only is the guy down, we can see inside his statue. He’s hollow.

My crewmen ask if they can dismount and mingle. Sure guys, you earned it. They come back looking starry-eyed, and then it’s my turn to get down and be amongst the crowd, one happy Moe among many. One man and I actually show each other our kids’ pictures. The more I get to know the locals, the more I see they’re just like me, and the more I want them to have a shot at a life as good as mine. Glad to help, more than glad, and proud.

Inadvertently, I’m a huge help to that Frenchman who took the cigar picture. A couple hours after he took the picture, he finds me in the crowd, shakes my hand and says, “You have made me a lot of money, my friend.” As I understand, his shot got picked up by the Associated Press and made a big hit worldwide.

After some back and forth, I say to him, “Since I did this for you, I want to ask you to do me a favor.”

“It will be my pleasure,” he says.

“I will write down my home phone number. Could you please call it and tell the woman who answers to watch what’s happening here on TV? I want her to see this.”

“Call her yourself, my friend,” he says and flips me a satt phone. After April picks up, I tell her to turn on the news, and she laughs and says she and other wives have been watching together and taping everything, having their own Firdos Square in Twentynine Palms.

“We haven’t missed a thing,” she says, “We’re so proud of our guys.”

Can it get any better than this?

Well, yes, it can. We were married twelve years ago today.

“Happy Anniversary, Beautiful Woman,” I say.

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Firdos Square was an incredible moment, as anybody lucky enough to have been there will tell you. I was fortunate to spend a few more weeks mopping up and keeping the peace on the streets of Baghdad. When I think of that city during those times, I think of people I liked, kids, smiling faces, laughs, and happiness. The promise of freedom was pure and real.

However the situation in Iraq comes out, I’m proud that I fought to give those people a shot at a better life.


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You can read more about Nick including his biography and those of AAH’s other contributors here.

You may read more about Nick here, too, at Cigar Marine.com.

For you Kindle users, an audio version of Once a Marine is available as well:

OAM Paperback (LR)

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Frankton eighth-graders visiting D.C. despite shutdown
The Herald Bulletin, Anderson

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Alumni Association prohibits twerking
The Daily News, Ball State University

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Indiana releases new voter registration forms
The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute

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International students struggle to find post-grad jobs in the U.S.
The DePauw, DePauw University

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Trine embarks on $75 million ‘Invest in Excellence’ campaign
Dekalb Star, Auburn
Inside Indiana Business

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Bicentennial Train The Kankakee Valley Post News– – –

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Indiana Bicentennial Train
The Kankakee Valley Post News, DeMotte

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Government shutdown risks veteran benefits
The Shelbyville News

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Who is Kevin Williams? Livesaver, baseball player and more
Kendallville News

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Some students excel, while others struggle with ISTEP+
The Herald-Tribune, Batesville

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Photo courtesy of ISU Communications and Marketing

Churchill Revisited:
ISU professor’s biography will be transformed into TV series

The Statesman, Indiana State University

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Hospitals will accept MDwise network
The News-Dispatch, Michigan City

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Michigan Auto parts manufacturer moving operations to Howe, Indiana
Dekalb Star, Auburn
Associated Press / Indiana Business Journal

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Soraja Muhic-Columnist Purdue Exponent– – –


Opinion: Lawmakers’ indecision hurts Americans
Purdue Exponent

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Dog that crashed half-marathon gets medal
Boogie Butts the chocolate Labrador beat 1,128 racers
The Kokomo Tribune

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A Czech experiencing America
The Record, Goshen College

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South Bend ranking doesn’t surprise realtors
South Bend Tribune

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Career Center looking for funds to grow
The Versailles Republican

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Krauthammer featured at upcoming Sinai Forum
Herald-Argus, La Porte

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Indiana’s Open For Business
The Courier-Times, New Castle

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Ritz anticipates effort to reduce her authority
The Associated Press / Gary Post Tribune, Merrillville

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Safety commission created
The Brazil Times

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Ghost Brothers - King-Mellecamp-IU

‘Ghost Brothers’ premieres at IU
Indiana Daily Student, Indiana University

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Indiana utilities predict small jump in heating bills
Chesterton Tribune

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Indiana schools sue over IRS health overhaul rules
Chesterton Tribune

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Columbus’ Purdue College of Technology has nearly 18 percent drop after closure of Greensburg satellite facility
The Republic, Columbus

Sabra Northam

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CHS Grad A Member Of Indiana Leadership Forum Class Of 2013
The Hoosier Topics, Cloverdale

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Hoosier girls face many challenges
The Tribune, Seymour


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Relocating business brings employment opportunities
The Post and Mail, Columbia City

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The Star Press files - Muncie

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Open Door waiting on ObamaCare status
The Star Press, Muncie

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Madison, Southwestern join suit against IRS
Schools join state in fight over employer mandate
The Madison Courier


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Festival of treasures opens in beautiful Parke County
The Tribune-Star, Terre Haute

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Connersville News Examiner - Pence

Pence opens Bicentennial Legacy Conservation Area
News-Examiner, Connersville

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Corydon Democrat - Horse Carriage

Horse enthusiasts start carriage company
Corydon Democrat, Corydon

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Casey Farrington-IDS

Commentary: Stop fetishizing guns
Indiana Daily Student, Indiana University

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Fall harvest

Harvest yields meet expectations
Journal Review, Crawfordsville

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Anti-bullying group makes stop in Elkhart
The Elkhart Truth

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Credit for all graphics and images:
Their respective owners, photographers and publishers at each site as linked.

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Photo By Jennifer Shephard- Elkhart Truth

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Notre Dame is home for QB Hendrix
The Elkhart Truth

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Retirement requires strategy
The Herald Bulletin, Anderson

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Hoosier Topics Staff Photo

Hundreds see ‘The Moving Wall’ in Cloverdale
Hoosier Topics, Cloverdale

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Local farmers, Purdue predict large corn crop
Journal Review, Crawfordsville

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Photo by Denny Simmons, Evansville Courier & Press

Cyclists from around the world compete in The Burning Quad
Evansville Courier & Press

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Only the open road for cyclist after stroke
The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne

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Little River Wetlands Project to host monarch festival
The Waynedale News, Fort Wayne

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Photo by Michelle Davies - The Journal Gazette

Scouts gather to earn aviation merit badges
Associated Press, The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne

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Ivy Tech opens Monday: Local leaders see site as boon to growth
Frankfort Times

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Energizing Indiana shortfall means Indiana customers due $32M from big power companies
Associated Press and Daily Journal, Franklin

Photo by Brenda L. Holmes - The Flyer Group

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‘Miracle baby’ becomes competitive gymnast, longs to be U.S. citizen
The Greensburg Daily News

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Truth Photo By Jon Garcia

Sterling RVs coming back with the smallest class A motorhome on the market
The Elkhart Truth

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Emails show Daniels favored Bill Bennett over Zinn
Associated Press, Indianapolis Business Journal

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Federal health overhaul pinches Ivy Tech’s part-time faculty
Associated Press, Indianapolis Business Journal

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Star file photo

Medicare penalties for Indiana hospitals
IndyStar.com, The Indianapolis Star

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A SEAT AT THE TABLE: Restaurants ready to capitalize on Big Four Bridge’s impending opening
News and Tribune, Jeffersonville

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Kokomo Perspective

A second career in Nicaragua
The Kokomo Perspective

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The president gets a letter . . . about coal energy
The Lebanon Reporter

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Staff photo by Ken Ritchie

PigMania contestants test their chops
The Madison Courier

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Bickering of Fertilizer Cartels Spells Opportunity for Farmers
The Farmer’s Exchange, New Paris (northern Indiana, southern Michigan)

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Affordable Care Act affects residents in different ways
Princeton Daily Clarion

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The following article is republished here with permission from the author. I found it posted at the Bruce McLaren Trust website while generally reading about Formula One drivers of the 1960’s and ’70’s.


Mr. Eoin Young is a distinguished and celebrated auto sports writer, and his heart lies squarely in open wheel racing – and primarily Formula One, so he has my attention.

As a New Zealander and Formula One expert, Mr. Young encapsulates in this piece the historical and social experience – the phenomenon – of Indy, from a well-informed and knowledgeable outsider’s perspective.

In 1970 he went to Indy as a writer, but cheered on the teams and drivers of the cars bearing the name of one of his best friends, Bruce McLaren.

He wrote with the eye of a highly experienced, professional journalist, of course, which he is, but also from the multi-faceted perspective of a Formula One aficionado and more impressively, a founding director and teammate, but most importantly, close friend to his fellow New Zealander.

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McLaren initially hired in 1963 him as his personal secretary. When Young asked him what a secretary was to do, McLaren didn’t know exactly; he just knew the other drivers had one, so he should, too.


Today the name McLaren not only permeates all F-1 history, but continues to dominate the sport (notwithstanding the powerhouse team Red Bull and the resurging Mercedes). Until the beginning of the 2013 season the formidable and attractive team of Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton regularly took turns streaking their way to the podium in the flashy and unique silver livery of the McLaren MP4-27 chassis.

So far, as Lewis has removed to Mercedes and begun a renewed upward trend (most notably with a fourth win in Hungary, tying another legend there, Michael Schumacher) 2013 has seen Jensen, his new teammate Sergio Perez and McLaren struggle to continue their top-shelf performances, now an automatic expectation of the storied team. What is so significant in this is that after so many years after McLaren’s death his name and legacy – his team, in the form of the McLaren Group – are one that others still aspire to be like. Simply remarkable.

Eoin Young is a living legend himself, having not only written about, but lived, worked, played, and essentially raced with so many of the greatest.

Insert sales pitch here: Another of those greats was the Brit James Hunt.

It is one of my personal habits (and faults, perhaps): I like to recommend movies. Ron Howard’s soon-to-be released production, Rush.


Young wrote a biography on James Hunt, and while he states he was not so much a fan of the driver Hunt, he was very fond of him personally. Consider reading his book, James Hunt – Against All Odds, after you see the movie.

Even if you’re not an F-1 fan, you’ll find a quite dramatic and compelling human story. It’s what we find in so many stories: Ultimately it’s not really about Formula One or racing. It’s about people and their relationships – tragic, amazing, inspiring, heart-rending, redeeming. It’s about the power – and fragility – of life itself.

Now, on to the reason we’re here. The following story is Eoin Young’s account of the 1970 Indianapolis 500, the first he attended. It is his view of a piece of history, of the Brickyard during some of its greatest days.

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I was a Rookie at Indianapolis

By Eoin Young

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I was a rookie at Indianapolis, journalistically speaking, and before I arrived in the Hoosier capital the picture people had painted for me was anything but encouraging.

indy_66 - E Young Indy Rookie Feature - McLaren Trust Site

It had been abdominally described to me as the culinary armpit of the United States. I was assured that as the plane began its final approach to Weir Cook Field the pilot would crackle the following message over the speaker system: “We are now approaching Indianapolis, please set your watches back 15 years…” In fact he didn’t actually say that, but after a fortnight in or around the Speedway I began to form the impression that all the descriptions bore more than just a grain of truth.

You may be interested to know that the place for good steaks and antiquated race atmosphere is St. Elmo’s in a sleazy area downtown, that the night life swings at the Holiday Inn Northwest and doesn’t at Howard Johnson’s across the freeway. HoJo’s room service didn’t even extend to a pot of coffee. And their barman figured he was doing you a favor just standing there.

In Indiana they don’t encourage moving drinkers. Signs caution you to drink sitting down. Don’t move your drink to another table, buddy, the barkeep will handle that tricky operation. In the garage area at the track a sign warns against attempting to smuggle in girls, shorts, or beer. Bruce Walkup fought a losing battle with the gateman because he was wearing Bermuda shorts. Would you believe these guys take their vacations to work at the track?

During the race the boozers, carousers, and sleepers in the Indianapolis infield probably have something. I was sitting on the grass just through the fence from the human zoo down at Turn 1, and I couldn’t follow the progress of the world’s most famous contest of speed, skill, and ballyhoo any better than the soberest of them could. And they looked as though they were having a lot more fun than I was.

Mrs. Unser Sr. went down to the victory circle for the second time in two years to collect the rent money from youngest son AI. In 1968 it had been Bobby. Al won the 500 at a reasonably leisurely pace slowed with a quarter-hour yellow light to 155.749 mph in his Johnny Lightning Special for sponsors Topper Toys and Firestone, and Ford, and Parnelli Jones and George Bignotti.

Statistics also gave the chance of rain on race day as 30 percent, and at 11:20 a.m. 40 minutes before the start umbrellas started sprouting like mushrooms all round the oval. It looked like being a tomorrow race but the humid gray skies were just teasing. The start was delayed half an hour and then it was delayed a further half hour when Jim Malloy’s racer dragged a radius arm out of the monocoque and walloped the wall on the pace lap which played hen with the grouping of the field which was hardly military in ranks of three to begin with.

– – –

The race really started at HoJo’s at 5:30 a.m. when the alarm call came through and we set out for the track. We could have eased the haste until after the all-night waiters had been swallowed up. When the gates opened at 6 a.m. there was a fair amount of action. At one gate a gridful of motorcyclists were waiting with revs wound on and the charge down into the tunnel was really something. Especially when the lead rider laid it down in the darkness. The all-night waiters were generally less than sober when the track opened and the continued supping throughout the night had turned most of them into either lovers, fighters or sleepers. Steve Krisiloff, who qualified on the first day and was first to be bumped, got bumped again when he walked into a fist and collected a 15-stitch cut above one eye. His assailant relieved the dizzy driver of his wallet as well.

Denny Hulme arrived out at the track early with his hands bandaged for his second day out of the hospital and sat himself on the pit wall to watch the endless stream of wall-to-wall marching girls and bands. And celebrities. And don’t forget the biggest drum in the world. It was carried on the back of a pick-up truck with a hefty drummer on either side swinging alternately with giant bats that threatened to turn the truck over.

Two and a half million people waiting for action and the spitting rain didn’t fill the drivers with great confidence. Graham Hill was all dapper in his role as non-combative commentator for closed circuit TV, with arch-rival Jackie Stewart joining him from up in the tower. He took time out to assist Denny in the appraisal of some of the better suspension characteristics in the parade.

Down at Turn 1 the zoo was getting restless. The half hour delay from rain had only partly dampened spirits and with the second delay with the pace lap crash, other diversions were arranged. Blanket tossing earned a lot of attention and applause until the law arrived. A respected protector of law and order in Indiana is known as a Billy Bad-Ass for some reason.

Rain delayed the start of Indy this year. Here Al Unser's crew holds sheets of plastic over the car while Foyt enjoys the scene

Rain delayed the start of Indy this year. Here Al Unser’s crew holds sheets of plastic over the car while Foyt enjoys the scene

James Garner, film star and sometime race driver, received instant recognition from the caged section of the community when he wandered down with Larry (“Big T”) Truesdale, boss of Goodyear’s racing activities. Mr. Garner conducted one vocal group through the opening lines of “Back Home Again in Indiana” to wild applause.

The excitement as track owner Tony Hulman did his piece about starting the engines neared hysteria. Everybody waved and shouted to the drivers on the pace lap as though they honestly believed the drivers heard or cared.

Johnny Rutherford led into the first turn, courtesy of A. Unser, Esq., who didn’t feel like taking his line on the inside if it was going to trigger a shunt. That’s already been done. It reminded me of Bruce McLaren’s story of the 1966 fiasco. He had been watching down at Turn 1 and when he saw a car arrive into the corner without any front wheels, he was about to turn to Chris Amon and say, “that’s a funny way to start a motor race!” when he realized he was alone on the bank. Chris had seen the wheels in the air and departed. As it turned out he was one of the few casualties in the crash because he tripped over somebody’s wheelchair and gashed his leg!

– – –

Al baby took the lead, kept it and cooled it, while Rutherford rode shotgun and all the other hot dogs tried to be third. My little lap chart was progressing in a surprisingly accurate manner as Lloyd Ruby marched up through the field from his lowly 9th row grid spot, but my mistake was in checking figures with the tower. Apparently instant electronic lap scoring isn’t a feature of the Speedway yet. The electric eye was watching a race already ten minutes old. So I gave up and sat in the sun fighting off a doze. So much for the electric excitement. Peter Revson parked his McLaren not far away with magneto failure. Again. So I was able to do something constructive and ask him what had happened. He didn’t know. It just stopped.

Jack Brabham had arrived late for qualifying because his crated car was delayed with truck strikes. He put his Offy-¬powered car on the 9th row with Lloyd Ruby, and then set about sorting it out.

Some doubters in Gasoline Alley wondered whether Jack would make the field, but the general opinion was that if Jack couldn’t make the grid with the car he was quite capable of qualifying the crate the car came in.

His Offy was really pouring out the horsepower and Mark Donohue reported after the race that the Brabham had him out-gunned on the straight with his new Lola-Ford. Sorry, Sunoco Special. “If Jack hadn’t waved me through, I’d have had difficulty getting by,” reported Captain Nice to team boss Penske.

Jack’s race ended with a Goodyear-smoking slide through the chaos surrounding Roger McClusky’s wreckage at Turn 3. Jack came into the pits with square tires, some down to the canvas, and took on fresh rubber as is mandatory at the Speedway. He went back into the bunched field creeping round under the yellow and being herded through Turn 3 on the grass to dodge the safety workers cleaning up the muck on the track. When the green came on, Jack turned the wick up and passed several cars but then the fire went out and he pitted with number one piston in pieces. Bobby Unser also went sad in the down paced yellow running while he headed the pack which also included brother Al and hot-to-charge A.J. Foyt nigh on a lap down and unable to improve because the Unser family had him surrounded.

Bobby’s engine lost manifold pressure and he trickled round to the finish with what was then a 2.4-liter normally aspirated Ford V-8. Foyt dived out of the pack on the green, unlapped himself and set out to try and catch Al but then the Coyote’s 2-speed box had a seizure and the top cog went up the slot. This left SuperTex in low running that TurboFord mutha just as high as it would go. Eleven-four made the Ford really wail as he crept along below the pit wall. It finally expired and AJ was given 10th place three laps down on the leaders.

The Foyt crew had done quite a job getting four cars in the lineup, but when it came to pit work on the boss’s car they weren’t so razor sharp. Fighting fractions of seconds on the track in his pursuit of Unser, AJ arrived for his pit stop to find the lot so cluttered with Coyotes that he couldn’t find a place to park. He made another hurried lap by which time a space had been cleared. In his haste to get out on the last pit stop he departed before the last wheel jack had been removed. When the power came on, the wheel dropped to the road flinging the jack over the wheel and coming close to beaning Mr. Foyt.

Donohue came in second with the immaculate Sunoco Lola. Penske certainly does the job right. I think he plans on winning next year. He has to keep that Lear in the air and pay for the groceries somehow, although I believe American Motors have taken care of that for the next few years.

Mario didn’t star. The McNamara started out just fine, but after four or five laps the handling went sour and by his own admission in the papers the next morning he was an accident looking for a place to happen. Oddly enough Mario took to the grass in the place where the accident did happen and clanked over something that rectified the handling problems.

– – –

It was a bad year for road racers, except for Donohue and Gurney. Bruce McLaren had made up his mind beforehand that he wasn’t going to drive anyway, Denny Hulme fell victim to nasty fuel burns on his hands when a breather cap snapped open during practice and he watched the race with bandaged hands, while Chris Amon called his attack off after (a) seeing the extent of Denny’s burns, (b) seeing Bobby Unser run four laps in the Amon McLaren for a pair at 166 when the best Chris had managed all month was 163, and (c) he was generally unhappy with the whole operation. He was fighting a losing battle and he knew it, so he went home. Hulme tried to persuade him to at least have a try at qualifying but Amon left Denny’s hospital room saying, “no way I’m going out there again. If I do, I’ll probably wind up in the room next to you.” We pondered on the chances of them getting a twin room if this should happen.

Denis Hulme was a spectator this year after suffering burned hands as a result of fire in his McLaren-Offy.

Denis Hulme was a spectator this year after suffering burned hands as a result of fire in his McLaren-Offy.

John Cannon was thwarted at every move in the Bryant Heating and Cooling Volstedt. He hung one on the wall in practice, but the engine in the other car just didn’t want to go, and it wasn’t until it finally blew and had to be changed that they discovered a crack in the intake manifold. Tony Adamowicz was robbed by his own Indy inexperience as well as that of his crew. The yellow was flashed at him by mistake during his first lap and he slowed to 160.829. He picked up for two at 166 and one at 164 but the damage had been done and he was bumped by Billy Vukovich on the last day. His crew should have hauled him in earlier. The Adamowicz tale became worse.

Having another try in a Gerhardt-Offy he was trying to summon up the boost pressure in one of the turns when it suddenly came on strong and kicked the tail out. He spun twice (deliberately, he said) and to retard his progress up to the wall again he slammed his foot on the brake. Hard. Harder. CRASH. The problem was that the good Tony hadn’t driven the car before and the pedal he was pumping to the floor just happened to be the clutch which was in the center where the sprint car drivers prefer it. “It was in the center, and I knew it was in the center,” bemoaned Adamowicz at dinner that night. His natural reactions had overpowered his recently attained knowledge. Sam Posey lost three Offy engines with burned pistons and then walloped the wall because, at his own admission he had come into the turn at twelve-tenths and locked up the back brakes.

The three McLarens circulating in line astern on the first day in May really shook up the establishment. Nobody did things like that on the first day, let alone funny-car road racers. The funny cars were awarded a certificate “of recognition in the field of car design for the Indianapolis 500” by the Indiana section of the Society of Automotive Engineers. And just about everybody remarked at the high standard of construction and preparation. Chief Engineer Tyler Alexander (now a director of the McLaren team) enjoyed the compliments to begin with but finally started to smoulder as the month dragged on and he thought the plaudits were being premature and laid on a bit thick. But they were certainly deserved.

Peter Revson was the logical choice to replace Denny because Peter had done a good job for Brabham last year finishing fifth after starting from 33rd and last place on the grid. He had also driven Formula Junior cars with the Mayer brothers way back when, and Teddy was pleased to have him in the team. Peter was hopefully trying to inject some life into the story about Floyd Davis who qualified 33rd in 1940 and the following year started from 17th position and won. Revson fulfilled the first part by starting 33rd last year and at one stage in the proceedings he was 17th in the line-up although he spoiled his statistical chances by moving up to 16th when Krisiloff was bumped.

Carl Williams replaced Amon and he was a driver I had personally never heard of, however in the last couple of seasons he had driven back-up cars for Granatelli and Foyt and so obviously knew his way round in USAC circles. After a minimum amount of practice in the car he qualified at 166.590, and the demanding Mr. Mayer was well pleased with his choice of a number two driver. Mr. Williams also won favor with McLaren by turning out a very tasty barbecue steak at his apartment.

I liked the story about Amon who had been battling time, the walls and the track in general but being totally unable to raise a competitive time. Harlan Fengler came down the pits and cautioned Christopher to keep low out of the groove if he couldn’t go any faster. “Keep low?” Chrissy is reported to have replied, “Hell, if I run any lower I’ll be driving round the golf course!”

Eoin Young - IMS 1970 starting grid - A Unser Sr Win - B-W Trophy

Pursuing the driver statistics we were told that Jack Brabham was the oldest at 44, and Mike Mosley youngest at 23. Dan Gurney was tallest at 6 ft. 2 in., and Mario Andretti shortest at 5 ft. 6 in. Mario was also lightest at 138lb and Jerry Grant heaviest at 200lb. The average age of the 33 starters was 33.7 years, the average height 5 ft. 8 1/2 in., and the average weight 171.5 lb. There were 31 married drivers and only two bachelors: Peter Revson and Art Pollard.

I’ve decided that Indianapolis is a twin race to Le Mans. The race is a dead bore, an anti-climax to the enormous build-up during qualifying, and the day after it I already decided I won’t be back again. But I’m sure I will be.

– – –

You may read Mr. Young’s biography and more at the Contributing Writers page.

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July 4th, 2013: The Fast Track Mile, presented by the Wabash Valley Road Runners.  

It started many years ago as the Mayor’s Cup Mile…

To this point I have never believed there ever was an actual cup. I expect I never saw it because every year I ran it the winner had happily hauled it off long before I finished.

Two summers after I graduated from high school I ran the inaugural 1982 Mayor’s Cup Mile, straight down Wabash Avenue, from 3rd to 14th (streets, that is, not race results).

It felt like a high-speed gauntlet, and it seemed that as we ran we were on a sort of display, flanked on both sides by spectators and storefronts.  The competition was serious, with serious runners coming from all over the place – every high school in the area and even beyond; college runners, too. And no-kidding grown-ups who ran to stay in shape. It was fast and exhilarating.

I was anxious to compete. It wasn’t like high school now; for the first time I was independent of a team, of any external obligation to perform well; it was just me.  I was free to do it or not, and it felt like a new sort of competition. It was a new sort of responsibility, too – I was responsible only to myself this time. It felt like some sort of new freedom.

Well, almost.

Ok. The whole truth is this:

I actually had this peculiar “independence” experience my first summer after graduating from West Vigo High School. My running-hunting-BB gun wars-adventurizing buddy, Mark and I ran a race – a 5k, I think – from somewhere downtown to Deming Park. While I don’t remember much detail, the one key detail remains vivid in my mind: Mr. Phillips, my elementary school principal in West Terre Haute FROM THE LATE 1960’S beat me.

I was stunned. But I was also incredibly impressed.

My respect for him was always strong. And it had been violently intensified during second grade when, after catching me and a couple of other boys throwing erasers at Melody Dillingham – twice – and he told us to get in his office NOW (which of course, was way too close to Mrs. McDermott’s classroom anyway, just around the corner practically). He yelled and slammed the world’s largest paddle on his desk to emphasize each – word – as – he – declared – our – lives – would – be – snuffed – out – in – a – blazing – instant – of – hard – wooden – pain. I can still feel the heat of fear that we were consumed in as we sat petrified in his office, crying, or going in our pants, or both. I won’t name names, but as I remember, they’re spelled R-o-b-b-y-C-o-o-p-e-r  and  D-e-n-n-i-s-M-o-r-g-a-n.

I’m sure they’ll let me know.

(I have said this before: if I could possibly find Melody now I would apologize to her. Perhaps, at least sometimes, justice lies in lingering regret. I am sorry, Melody.)

Anyway, I respected Mr. Phillips immensely even then.

Then years later, he doubled-down on the whole respect phenomenon by smoking me in this race. He instantly transformed into a hero for this naïve and perhaps formerly a bit arrogant college student.

– – –

So came July 1982 and the Mayor’s Cup Mile. Over the three decades  – exactly, I should note – since then, I have run it – now the Fast Track Mile – several times. My best time (that I know of) was achieved in 1993, when I ran a 5:34-something.

But I consider that my best race came in 2001, because two particular people were there: my 5 month-old son, Jace, perched happily in his baby backpack and again my friend Mark, who ran it with me.

(In the end, Mark was gracious and ran right along with me. Not far from the finish line, I said, “Come on!” and we kicked it up. He let me take third – in our age group – I believe, because he appreciated the one-thousand miles I drove to get there; I’m pretty sure there was no other reasonable way I could have beat him. You’re a good and loyal friend, Mark.)

– – –

I didn’t reach 5-anything last year, but that’s not what was on my mind.

Jace, then 11, ran it with me. Again I was running on a team – the most significant team I have ever been on, and it was a different kind of competition; not anything like high school. For the first time I was not only the leader of this team, but I had a special sort of external obligation to perform well, and it is far more than just running well.

Jace finishing the FastTrack Mile

We saw so many people at the start I recognized from my growing up and living years in Terre Haute, and to be on the starting line with my son was an experience of fulfillment; there was a sense of having come full circle, and it was gratifying.

Jace took off fast, as I thought he might. Though he was inexperienced, he was enthusiastic. He got a little burned out after the high-speed start, and we had to walk briefly a couple of times. But as those last few blocks neared and the finish line came clearly into view, I said, “Ok, Jace. See it? It’s time. Let’s go. You can do it!”

And man, did he.

He took off like a shot and finished about ten yards ahead me. It was beautiful. And my wife shot the picture to prove it.

– – – This year my friend Mark’s daughter, Annie, and another friend, Paul’s (who is, himself, a top-shelf runner and first-place finisher in his age group in the Fast Track Mile) son, Justin are the WVRR scholarship recipients, and we are very proud of them. Ask A Hoosier.com is again proud to promote the Fast Track Mile.

Go, Annie and Justin, go.

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