Friday, August 12, 2022

Morgan County "History Buff"alo Returns

 You can't celebrate Morgan County's Bicentennial (1822-2022) without Brutus.

 MPL's Ms. Catherine with Brutus (August 12, 2022)



Brutus, the official Morgan County (Indiana) Bicentennial Bison, is visiting Mooresville Public Library (MPL) during the month of August, 2022.  Get to know the big fella.  We have a bunch of photos.

 "Whoa, Big Fella!"
MPL Executive Director Diane Huerkamp & Morgan County Historian Don Adams coax Brutus to graze in the Grand Hall Directors' Alcove


Say, Brutus, did you make that carpet stain?  Bad bison!

   Heading East & West Across the Hoosier Plains

Let's take a peek at those signs, shall we?

What's Brutus' neck tag say?


More close-ups?  Sure!

"How ya doin' out there?"

"Wouldn't mind some grass or hay.  Just saying."


There's one more REALLY IMPORTANT sign:


Does Brutus look familiar?  If you happened to drop by the Library during the 2016 Indiana Bicentennial celebration, you might have seen Brutus wearing different colored fur.  We blogged about his 2016 visit (click here), and Cauli Le Chat, MPL feline roving reporter (2010-2019), also talked about it (click here).

Brutus in 2016 during the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration

Brutus welcomes photo ops, so stop by and take some "selfies" with Morgan County's official Bicentennial Bison.  Just don't climb on or touch him.  He's a friendly dude, but we don't want to get him riled up.  Stampedes we don't need inside the Library.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Returning to Roost (or Roast)

About a year ago, we posted on the Mooresville Public Library's Facebook page about the old Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) restaurant that was located on the northeast corner of South Indiana and East South Streets in Mooresville from the late 1960s through spring 2011.  Since earlier this year (2022), a new KFC restaurant has been under construction about a half-block south, at the far north end of the Village Shopping Center (just south of the McDonalds restaurant).  Learn more here.

2022 construction photo by Peter Blanchard, Martinsville Reporter-Times, February 4, 2022

(Click Images to Enlarge)

New KFC Restaurant on South Indiana Street (Looking North)

(Photo Above & Next Eight Photos by William R. Buckley) (August 11, 2022)


In the photo above, you can see KFC's original location in the middle-right background.

New KFC Restaurant on South Indiana Street (Looking South)

(Intersection Cross-Street is South Street)

The photo above (looking south) was taken next to KFC's original location on the northeast corner of South Indiana and East South Streets.

So, what's now (2022) located at the old KFC site (360 South Indiana Street)?  Let's have a look.

Sal's Famous Pizzeria Express Is Now Located on the Old KFC Site

(Looking North Across East South Street) 

Sal's Famous Pizzeria Express (Looking Southeast Across South Indiana Street)

Originally, the KFC restaurant was situated at 360 South Indiana Street, just northeast of its new (2022) location.  Here's what it looked like when it closed in 2011, from about the same vantage point as the picture above:

KFC Restaurant Closed (Spring, 2011)
(After Over 40 Years at This Location)
(Looking South)
(Photo by William R. Buckley, May, 2011)

Kentucky Fried Chicken had been a Mooresville landmark on South Indiana Street for decades.  This was where my wife was first employed, if you don't count babysitting.  It was upon this establishment's floor in the mid-1970s that fruit drink was spilled, removing the tile's finish.  (In fairness, any sugary or carbonated beverage would have done that, if left too long on the floor.)  Cherished coming-of-age stories have been exchanged over the years about working there, when we lived in more carefree, prosperous times (isn't that the way we often see the past?).  In those days, long ago, you could get fried chicken AND beef & ham sandwiches there.  Employees occasionally exchanged chicken buckets, slaw, mashed potatoes, etc. for pizza (from staff working at a nearby pizza parlor), which was obviously frowned-upon by management.  There were many regular customers who would phone-in their carryout orders--you could set your watch by them, always on the same days and times.  Sometimes, employees could take home extra chicken wings for their families (and dogs or cats) to enjoy.
Take a look at this vintage photo below, which my wife, who, let us not forget, was born and bred in Mooresville (or, maybe, "breaded" is a better word, since she worked with the chicken batter), has identified as circa 1973 or 1974.  My limited knowledge of C-41 print photography color processing confirms this estimate.

KFC Restaurant on South Indiana Street (circa 1973-1974)
(View Looking North)

Drop by the new place sometime.  Use the drive-through or come inside.  You will get the same friendly service you would have received if you had visited a third of a century ago, when my wife dressed in something like this.

KFC Ad from 1974 Mooresville High School Yearbook, Wagon Trails
(Not My Wife in This Photo)
A few years before my wife worked at KFC, uniforms looked like this.
Vintage KFC Uniform (circa late 1960s)

That's not my wife in that photo, either.  She has red hair, and her posture is straighter.  She's also much prettier.  Plus her hands don't detach at the wrists.

Monday, July 25, 2022

"Utter Devastation Everywhere You Looked"


Just published (this past May), The 1965 Palm Sunday Tornadoes in Indiana by Janis Thornton (Charleston, S.C.:  The History Press, 2022) features eyewitness and published accounts, photographs, and official weather reports and records detailing the appalling destruction that claimed some 137 Hoosier lives on April 11, 1965.  If you or your family or friends experienced this horror, this book will stir poignant memories.  It certainly did for me.


 MPL Book Trailer 813

I was an eyewitness to some of the devastation, although my immediate family was spared.  I was nearly seven years old the night of the terrible thunderstorms.  About 20 miles south of my hometown, Lafayette, tornadoes tore through the tiny farming community of Odell, where my parents later owned farmland that had been struck by the twisters.  We lived on the south side of Lafayette.   Around 7 p.m. golfball-sized hail struck our house, denting our siding.  Tornado warnings were issued on the radio, so my family fled to our basement, huddling in a corner next to the furnace.  We were fortunate not to have been in the tornadoes' paths, but several extended family members in Howard County were not so lucky.  The tornadoes passed directly through their farms and neighborhoods.

As news of the ravaged communities came in across radio and television, we repeatedly attempted to contact my paternal grandparents, who lived southeast of Greentown where tornadoes had been reported to have tracked.  The telephone lines were down, so the next day we decided to drive our 1963 Dodge motor home to my grandparents' home in case it had been reduced to rubble.

We drove east on State Road 26, encountering a trail of damaged homes and businesses in Rossville and Middlefork.  When we reached Russiaville, the Indiana State Police and the Indiana National Guard had setup roadblocks to  detour vehicular traffic.  Seeing our red-and-white bus suggested that we must have been from the Red Cross, so police and soldiers opened their barracades to allow our vehicle to pass.

As we drove through Russiaville, houses and buildings had been wiped off the face of the earth.  In many cases, nothing was left but foundations or concrete slabs.  Debris was littered everywhere, making it difficult to navigate through town along the roads.  It looked like a war zone.  It was utter devastation everywhere you looked.  The memory of this absolute annihilation has stayed with me for nearly sixty years.

Driving through Kokomo, we checked with an aunt and uncle (and cousins) who lived just west of town.  Their house had had minor damage, and fortunately no one was hurt.  So we proceeded east to Greentown, my father's hometown.  The area south of town was a checkerboard of destruction.  Some homes and businesses were only mildly affected; others were absolutely obliterated.  Eastern High School was ripped apart.

Driving down my grandparents' county road just east of Greentown was a nightmare.  Almost every house or barn was mutilated, and many were simply blown to smithereens.  The house about 200 feet north of my grandparents' farm was so heavily damaged that it was unrecognizable.  My grandparents' home, however, lost only three shingles, and their barn and outbuildings were more or less untouched.  The arbitrariness of the injury seemed capricious, even to my nearly seven-year-old sensibilities.  So many had lost so much.  It was heartwrenching, but I was nonetheless overjoyed that my grandparents had been spared.

Janis Thornton has assembled an impressive collection of stories about this fateful day when so many suffered such unthinkable loss.  We can, however, take this positive message from the events of Palm Sunday 1965:  people came together to help their neighbors, and communities rebuilt and unified, sharing each others' strength.  For those who weren't there, it will be a riveting read; for those who lived it, the book is a testament to the best people have to offer in times of crisis, and it honors the dead, injured, and affected families by preserving an important historical event.  Terrible things can happen in life, but it is reassuring that helping hands arrive when the need is greatest to aid in the recovery.

Remember Fold-Out Paper Maps?

In the "good ol' days," before smartphone digital apps directed us along precise routes to our destinations, we had digital maps we could view using MapQuest or Google Maps or some such web-based system (using our laptops or desktop computers).  Some of us remember the even further-back "gooder ol' days" (apologies for being ungrammatical for the sake of a laugh) when people used paper maps.  You know, the kind that you'd unfold, stare at blankly, then struggle to refold correctly.

"You Are Here .."  Where's That, Now?

Perhaps paper maps have gone the way of the dinosaurs, but they can be valuable historical documents, as they're a snapshot-in-time of the way a place used to look (at least on a map).  There are old streets that may no longer exist or have been renamed.  Routes may have changed, or new highways constructed.  Advertisers place the map in time, too.

The Mooresville Chamber of Commerce produced a paper map that they distributed (ca. 2005) that shows Mooresville, Indiana as it looked then.  There are a few copies floating around, but we've digitized one so you can see it online.  Click the image below.

The reverse side of the paper map shows Morgan County, Indiana.
If you have a paper copy of this map, tuck it away safely for your great-great-grandchildren to look at a century from now.  Mooresville will undoubtedly look quite different.  It certainly has changed significantly since a century ago.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Following Paul Hadley's Footsteps

Depending upon our road trip budget, which is frankly zero, this may be the first in a series of blog posts following the footsteps of Paul Hadley (1880-1971), a Mooresville artist who designed the Indiana State Flag.  Read more about Mr. Hadley on this blog. You could also check-out several books about Mr. Hadley from Mooresville Public Library's Indiana Room (see the Evergreen Indiana online catalog for details).

Paul Hadley (left) and Ralph E. Priest at the
John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis
applying gold leaf to Hadley's Indiana State Flag
design (ca. 1923)  Hadley was an instructor,
and Priest a student, at Herron

Mooresville Public Library is fortunate to have many original Paul Hadley paintings on display.

Paul Hadley Painting Gallery at MPL
(January 2012)
(Click photos to enlarge)

Let's consider one of Mr. Hadley's fine watercolors, shall we?

 Paul Hadley Painting of Cataract Falls
(Mill Creek, Owen County, Indiana)
South of Cloverdale, Indiana

I took a road trip in July, 2014 to compare the modern Cataract Falls to those Mr. Hadley painted nearly a century ago.

Cataract Falls (Lower Falls) (July 4, 2014)

I'm thinking Mr. Hadley painted the lower falls, since the water spilling over the rock face looks similar on the far left and near right.  The rock on the right was exposed in Mr. Hadley's painting; in our photo, you can tell it's beneath the water by the way the stream spills outward over the top of the outcropping.  The general rock shapes in Mr. Hadley's painting also resemble those in our photo of the lower falls.

Or is it the upper falls?  You be the judge.

Photoshopped Cauli Le Chat at Cataract Falls (Upper Falls)
(July 4, 2014)

The upper falls don't really resemble Mr. Hadley's painting, but take a peek at the video below. The video (2002) was recorded when the water level of Mill Creek was lower, and some of the underlying rock face was exposed.  My vote remains with the lower falls, however.

We have a boatload of photos from our adventure at Cataract Falls, but I'd like to include them in another blog post.