This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tennis court fence update

In mid December I had a post about the damage done to the tennis court fencing at Saint Joseph's College.  Part of it had collapsed, perhaps due to a strong wind, and then the rest had been pushed over by the maintenance crews at SJC.

In February the lawn crew found time to demolish the old fence, or all of it except the easternmost part of it. I asked what they would do with it, and they said that it would be going to the scrap yard.
With no fence around the courts, the view of the field house and the recreation center was quite different.
Coming back from the midsemester break, the students found that new fence poles had been put into place.

The next day several workers were putting fencing onto the framework of poles. The company doing the work was R&T Fencing from Akron, Indiana, which is east a bit past Rochester, Indiana. The company specializes in fencing, but is not so specialized that it only does one or two kinds of fences. The fellow I talked to said that they would do any kind of fence.
I thought it was interesting how they did the doors or gates in the fence. They first installed the entire fence, and then they removed the fence from where the doors would be placed, and installed the pre-made doors.
The next day the door was in place and the workers were finishing up some loose ends.
The final bit was to install what I guess is a some netting to reduce the wind on the courts. It was fastened to the fence with plastic clips, but the high wind last week snapped some of them and left the netting flapping in the breeze.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Dimmit House, Morocco

If you stop at the intersection of 114 and US 41 near Morocco, you should see a couple of large buildings west of the US 41. One is the building that used to be Intec, and south of it is the Newton County Government Center. Behind the government center is a little pond and an old log cabin, the Dimmit House.
When I spent a morning volunteering at the Nature Conservancy, there was a brief mention of it, and that it had been discovered inside another structure, which happened quite a bit with old buildings. I searched for it in the Newton County: Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory, but it did not give as much information as I wanted:
The Dimmit House showcases log construction techniques with hewn logs dovetailed at the ends and clinking between logs.
From the other side you can see a large stone chimney, and in the background the former Intec building and the Government Center.
There are no historical plaques near the building to provide additional information. Like the Quick Cabin at the Jasper County Fair Grounds, this is not the original site of this structure. It had been disassembled and then put back together.
It was open, but there was little inside. There was a stairs up to a balcony.
From there you could look down on the reconstructed fireplace, which did not look old.
If you know more about this building and its history, feel free to tell what you know in the comments.

Also, this is on the Facebook page of Friends of the Sands:
Friends of the Sands  Right now, the forecast is calling for sunshine! Join us Tuesday, March 30th, at 5pm at the Newton County Govt Center cabin as we clean up last year's planting - then move to the Morocco Library to spruce things up there too. And then on Saturday, April 3rd, we'll be at the Newton County fairgrounds at 3pm to trim bac...k dead vegetation and clean up the native plant walkway.

Monday, March 29, 2010

An app for that

Last week this blog mentioned that Rensselaer has a budding novelist, who now has a fan page on Facebook. In addition, a former Rensselaerian is having success as an iPhone developer. Andrew Schenk recently released the Offline Trip Guide which allows you to download Google maps when you are on-line with your iPhone or iPod Touch, and then use those maps when you a no longer connected to the Internet. Andrew developed the program because he thought it would be useful on a trip he took to Florida. A Canadian publication reviewed it here.

Andrew also does contract work, and the application Chicago Parking that he programmed for another person was reviewed on a Chicago television station. WGN also noticed it.

Andrew's website is

Easter Egg Hunt

The annual Easter Egg Hunt in Brookside Park entertained kids and adults on Saturday. The kids were divided into four age groups. Here those three and under are waiting for the start.

The little ones sometimes get a bit of help from their parents.

The next group was the three to five year olds. They still need some help, though usually the parents just point to the eggs and tell the child to pick them up. That is probably pretty similar to what happens at home with toys strewn all over the floor. After the first group, the other groups were scheduled at fifteen minute intervals. However, no group took more than two minutes to clear their field. (Those toys never get picked up that fast, do they?)
Unlike last year, no one in this group got started early.

This years egg hunt was sponsored by the Lions Club and the Rensselaer Republican. (One of the parents said that they had been to an earlier egg hunt at Walmart.) Below is one of the Rensselaer Republican's reporters taking pictures. They will probably have a nice article on the event today (Monday).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Going to Church the Morocco 1st Methodist way

(I thought it would be interesting to use Sundays to focus on Rensselaer area churches and to see how many Sundays I can go before I run out of material. Indiana is richly endowed with religious denominations, with influences from North and South, East and West. This is part of that series of posts. )

The First United Methodist Church is located in Morocco at 203 S Clay Street. It is not listed in the "Church Services Directory" of the Rensselaer Republican, and it does not seem to have a website, but information about it is available on the United Methodist website and also on the Indiana Conference website.

The pastor is Gregory Waggoner. Sunday School is at 9:00 a.m. and Sunday worship is at 10:00 a.m.

This church building is one of the most impressive buildings in Morocco. The Newton County Indiana Historic Sites and Structures Inventory says it is Gothic Revival, built in 1917 and rates it as outstanding. (Only three other structures in Morocco receive that rating.) The Inventory states: "The Methodist Episcopal Church of Morocco is an elegantly designed building that boasts a corner octagonal tower with crenelated parapet, rounded arched stained glass windows with keystones, and a stone water-table."

Below is a view of the building from the back.
For more on the United Methodist denomination, see the post on Rensselaer's United Methodist Church or follow the links here.

A block away is the Morocco Evangelical United Methodist Church, which is also affiliated with the United Methodists. It will be the topic of some future Sunday post.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lighting up McDonalds

Several days ago I passed by the McDonald's on the south edge of town and saw a bucket truck at work.
Workers were changing lights in McDonald's golden arches. They are from a company in Camden, Indiana that specializes in lighted signs. (Camden is in Carroll County. I have never been there.)
Our economy has specialization and division of labor far greater than anything that Adam Smith ever imagined.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Monon Plaque

Monon has a historical marker just south of its downtown:
It reads:
Monon-Intersection of the New Albany and Salem (org. 1847) and the Indianapolis, Delphi and Chicago (1878) railroads. These roads later merged to become "The Monon Route, " Indiana's beloved "Hoosier Line," and provided over a century of passenger service to the state. The "Monon" was known nationwide for fine passenger and dining service until 1967. One of the first 1st class railroads to completely dieselize (1947), it merged with the Louisville & Nashville (L&N) July 30, 1971.
Next to the marker is a caboose and an old railroad baggage wagon. These seem to be owned by the Monon Connection.

Across the street from the little park that contains the plaque is Monon's water tower. The stairs to the top looks like it would be quite a challenge to climb, especially if you have acrophobia.
There are only four of these historical plaques in White County. One of them is at the Wolcott House.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Really old gardens

Spring is here and I am starting the think about gardening. When I see the tomatoes, beans, and broccoli growing, I realize that those crops were developed long ago by anonymous people to whom we owe a great debt. One of the best books about that debt is Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel.

The book has as its most basic thesis that agricultural societies replace hunter-gatherer societies. Hence, the development of agriculture is the most basic and fundamental economic development of history. Agriculture was independently developed in a number of places around the world. The earliest was in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, and from there we get wheat. In the Americas the two great centers of agricultural development were in Mexico and central American (corn, beans, squashes) and the Andes (potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, peanuts, tomatoes, squashes).

However, there was also development of agriculture in the eastern U.S. starting around 2500BC. A local squash was developed for containers and seeds, and also a sunflower, sumpweed (a relative of the daisy), and goosefoot (a plant related to spinach). These were not enough for a completely agricultural lifestyle. The Indians still needed to gather and hunt. Around 500 BC the addition of three other crops, maygrass, little barley, and knotweed) were cultivated, and the majority of calories could be satisfied with farming.
 What happened to these crops? The sunflower and the squash are still cultivated. The others dropped out of cultivation when the crops of Mexico finally made their way north. That took a while because new varieties had to be developed for the different climate. But once corn and beans arrived, most of the other crops disappeared from cultivation. Diamond writes, "No European ever saw sumpweed growing in Indian gardens because it had disappeared as a crop by the time European colonization in the Americas began, in A.D. 1492."

People plant various kinds of gardens. It would be interesting for someone to plant a garden showing what an Indian garden in the Eastern U.S. might have looked like in 100  B.C. and what it would have looked like in 1000 A.D. I doubt if there were any such gardens in Jasper County--the swampy conditions probably left it to the hunter-gatherers--but maybe there was some agriculture. Perhaps Prophetstown State Park could do something like that, since they have part of the park showing agriculture in the 1920s and another part dedicated to the Indian past. (I have complained before that we as a community ignore the long history of Indian occupation of this area.)

More information on the development of agriculture in what is now the U.S. is here, here, here, and here,

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


A colleague sent me this picture of her nephew and a carp in the middle of a field far from any body of water. She does not know how the carp got there. The picture was taken south of Rensselaer.
Would this photo make a good "caption-this" contest?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Volunteer day at Kankakee Sands

Every once in a while I go to one of the events I list on the "Bulletin Board." On Saturday, March 20, I decided it would be fun to see what the Nature Conservancy was up to in their wild plant nursery, so I drove over to volunteer a couple of hours of effort transplanting seedlings.

Their seed nursery is just a stone's throw from the North Newton Junior and Senior High School. The small parking lot was almost full, probably because the other volunteers had managed to get there on time, not 15 minutes late. (At least I beat the guy and gal who came two and a half hours late.)
The greenhouse is a simple structure, made of a heavy plastic stretched over a metal frame.
Inside there were trays of seedlings that were tightly crowded together. They needed to be to be moved to more spacious quarters.
And that is what most of us did. We broke apart clumps of tiny plants, searched for the ones that were largest and had the best root systems, and put one and only one into each little pot. When we finished one flat, we would start on another. (Those nice holes in each pot were made by the insertion of a finger.)
The people who were there had come from many places, though I seemed to be the only person representing Rensselaer. Some lived close to the nursery, but others came from Lafayette, Indianapolis, and Muncie. They were very friendly and there was a lot of talk. Somehow the topic of Conrad Station came up, and I mentioned that Jennie Conrad was crazy. One of the locals objected, saying that Jenny Conrad was someone she greatly admired. Maybe I should have said she was eccentric and cantankerous. After that, I mostly just listened.

Several different kinds of plants were being transplanted. I was working on something called the Joe-Pye weed. I had never heard of it before, but now I will have to find it to see what it looks like. It prefers damp conditions.
When I finished my first flat of seedlings, I took it to the front (back?) of the green house and set it with the other nine that had been completed. There were only 50 more to go.

There were a lot of people working and some of them knew what they were doing. I kept wondering why I was not at home planting tomatoes and other things to get some seedlings ready for my garden. However, time flew by and soon we had all 60 done and then we moved on to other types of plant. Some people were doing a plant called a Turtle Head. My last flat was with a plant that had the name Ivory in it.
It was a different Saturday morning, and now I want to go back this summer and see what their seed beds look like, especially the seed bed with Joe-Pye Weed.

Their next volunteer day is April 3, and it looks to be more of the same. Go here for other days.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A new Rensselaer author

One of our young Rensselaerians has become a published author with a work of fiction entitled The Lion's Pride. It was published only a few days ago and is now available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. The name Patrick Nicholas is a pen name. Maybe he will someday have his own boulder in Milroy Park.

Pep rally

Last night the fans of Puma basketball team held a short pep rally for the men's basketball team before they set out for Massachusetts and the NCAA Division II tournament. The players were introduced, some words of encouragement were given, and several players thanked the fans for all their support.
Then they boarded the Puma van dressed in matching E-8 (Elite 8) tee shirts.
Their first game will be broadcast locally on WPUM, which is at 93.3 on the FM dial, on Wednesday, March 24 starting at 4:45 p.m. It will also stream live on the Internet at

Downtown Remington

It has been several months since I wrote about Remington, noting that its downtown was laid out along the railroad. I meant to write a bit more about the old buildings in the downtown, but other things kept coming up.

Old pictures of downtown Remington show buildings along both sides of Ohio Street, but those on the east side have been replaced with more recent structures. The west side of the street, however, still has some of the original buildings. The Jasper County Interim Report lists all four of the buildings in this picture. The two story building is an Italianate built around 1895. Next to it is a commercial building from about 1920, then the Bowman building, a parapet-front commercial building from 1918, and finally a commercial building from about 1895.
The Bowman building has a stained-glass window in front with the word "Bowman" on it.
There are three buildings along South Railroad Street that are listed in the Interim Report. I think they are the white two story building with the bay window, the other tall building a bit further down the block, and then the brick building next to it.
Below is a better view of the third building, which the Interim Report likes best of the Remington downtown buildings. It was built about a century ago, and the Report says, "This small parapet-front commercial building has retained its original storefront windows and transom of leaded prism glass." It is rated as "notable."

Nothing on North Railroad Street makes the Interim Report, though some of them look old.
I liked this building because it has such an obvious false front. I wonder why it did not rate a mention.
Downtown Remington has about the same amount of activity as downtown Wolcott, but the old buildings that remain in Remington are not nearly as interesting or as impressive as those in Wolcott.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Going to church the Morocco Assembly of God way

(I thought it would be interesting to use Sundays to focus on Rensselaer's churches and to see how many Sundays I can go before I run out of material. Indiana is richly endowed with religious denominations, with influences from North and South, East and West. This is part of that series of posts. )

The Cornerstone Assembly of God is located in Morocco at 503 E Beaver Street. According to the "Church Services Directory" in the Rensselaer Republican, the pastor is Jeremy Eisele. Sunday School is at 9:30 a.m, Praise and Worship at 10:30 a.m. and Sunday Evening Service is at 6:00 p.m.
The Morocco Assembly of God is part of the larger Assembly of God denomination, to which the Rensselaer Assembly of God church is also affiliated.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Vernal Equinox

Today is the vernal equinox, one of the two days each year when the sun is directly over the equator. Yesterday it should have been setting almost due west. The sun is now high enough to get a tan in the middle of the day, or to give you a daily dose of Vitamin D.
Some more signs of spring: SJC had its first home baseball game, I have seen buzzards overhead, I heard frogs or toads today in Newton County, I have heard flickers, I saw a maple tree blooming. the water on Lake Banet no longer has ice, the grass is starting to green, and the fountain at SJC is spurting water.

Middle school art show

17th Regional Middle Level Art Exhibition is on display in Core Building Lobby at Saint Joseph's College until April 6. This bit of "sculpture" is done with various bits of pasta that are glued onto the paper and spray painted with gold paint. This picture was on the cover of the program for the show.
The schools represented were Demotte Christian, Kankakee Valley Intermediate, North White Middle, South Newton Middle, Rensselaer Central Middle, Van Rensselaer Elementary, Tri-County Intermediate, and Tri-County Middle Schools.

The theme for some of the pictures below was falling in space.
The color scheme and drawing style of this picture, which got a nice award, reminds me of illustrations in children's books. I wonder if that was also its inspiration.
I have a soft spot for tesselations, even when they are not especially creative.
When the first home computers arrived in the 1970 or early 1980s, programming graphics was a matter of filling out grids just as this assignment required. I am not sure that anyone does that any more--computer graphics have come a long way since those days.
These baskets stood out because they were among the very few items that were not pictures.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lincoln exhibit and a rag rug

The Faces of Lincoln exhibit is currently showing at the Jasper County Historical Society Museum. The Museum is open on Saturdays this month from 10 am until 1 pm.

On Tuesday night the Historical Society had an open house and a meeting, and I wandered over to see the exhibit and listen in on the meeting. Below you can see part of the exhibit. It was prepared by the Indiana State Museum, and is a traveling exhibit.
You can see the meeting in progress to the right of the exhibit below. I listened with one ear and also skimmed some of the back issues of Vintage Views. I stumbled on an article by Beulah Arnott telling of her experiences teaching at the South Newton Township School, which I wish I had seen earlier. She taught there five years and then moved to a teaching job in Rensselaer.
After the meeting was over, some of the people played with an old loom that was set up to make a rag rug. Do you remember them? I have not seen any lately, but my mother used to buy them when I was a kid. There are two pedals that control the strings. You pass the material between them.
And then you compact it by pulling a board forward. Then you use the pedals to reset the strings, and repeat the whole process. It does not look like it would take very long to weave the rug. The hard part would be to set up the strings and to cut up the material into strips and put it on the spool.
If you want your own loom, you might check Irene's. Last time I visited, they still had an old loom for sale.