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

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Culver's Root

A couple of weeks ago I noticed this plant along one of the area roads. I did not know what it was, so I went to the guide books to find it. It seems to be Culver's Root, or Veronicastrum virginicum.
Below is a closer look at the flower spike. It is cultivated in some flower gardens. It name reflects a past of medicinal use.
The leaves help with the identification.
Have you ever seen it in a flower garden?

I do not have it listed in the Bulletin Board, but NICHES has a native plant walk at the Fisher Oak Savannah on July 15 at 6:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


On June 24 the Upstairs Gallery (above Clauss Bakery), opened an exhibit called the "Retro Art Exhibit" featuring works that members of the Jasper County Art League had done during the 1960s and 1970s. During the reception for the exhibit, the members of the Art league tried to dress in period clothing. It was humorous. 
The clothing that was on exhibit was the element of the show that was most clearly from the 1960s and 1970s. I recall women wearing garments made of bright polyester similar to that in these garments. These were designed by Linda Reiners, who had a number of interesting items on display.
They did not have blue jeans, which became the uniform of campus students during the 1970s. Maybe that is part of the era that many would rather forget.

Very little of the art reflects currents of the age. Dorothy Scipio painted pictures in this style throughout most of her career. The Gazebo went out of business several year ago and the location now is home to the Food Pantry.
The watercolor below is by Lillian Fendig.
Marsha Timbrook Johnson painted this boat scene. I have not seen many of her pictures except on her Christmas cards.
This watercolor of the court house is by Judy Kanne.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Things I missed

On Wednesday night the storm broke a branch near my home and took out my Internet connection. By the time it was fixed on Friday, I was out of town for a family event.One thing I missed as a result was the Taste of Rensselaer. How was it?

When I got back and checked my e-mail, I found two messages of other things I missed. The first was a week old. (I say on the right that I do not check this e-mail every day.)
Hi....thought you may be interested in knowing the High School Rodeo is at the south end of the Jasper Co. fairgrounds today, and I believe tomorrow...
I had seen some stuff about it but did not have time to follow up. There was also some kind of horse shoe out there this past weekend.

The second was something I had not heard about:
Did you see the tents behind (on west side) of ConAgra?   I guess the CEO will be here either tomorrow or Saturday to do the first ever address to the employees from an actual plant.  Also they are having the Marshall Tucker Band to preform. 
Thought you would like to know.

I did get a picture of the tent on Sunday night.
Feel free to comment on these events or on any other things I have missed recently.

Update: Something else I missed: the floor of the new park shelter has been poured and the electrical work is partially finished.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Big Ouch

The Big Ouch. That is what my two-year-old granddaughter calls this familiar religious icon. I think that could be worked into a sermon by a good preacher.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Halleck Park plaque

As I have been watching the demolition of the old jail, I noticed a plaque, this one quite small, in Halleck Park.
In case you cannot read it, it says, "Another Lions Club Project Halleck Park."

Here is the larger view. The plaque is on the top left corner of the closer bench.
Halleck Park does not seem to be a city park because it is never mentioned with the city parks. Is it a county park?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Biking adventures

On Thursday morning I met a young man who was on a cross-country bicycle trip and had camped overnight at Brookside Park. He said he had started from Jacksonville, FL on April 30 and was headed for Seattle and then San Francisco. At first he was riding about 75 miles a day, but now was doing only about 50. When he was doing 75, he was getting to his overnight destinations late and he was very tired. I asked why he had camped in Brookside Park, and he said that he had asked the police if there was any place he could camp, and they recommended the park.

He said that Rensselaer is three miles from a frequently-used bike route that follows secondary roads. He had had three flats and one broken spoke, and the broken spoke seemed to been a bigger problem than the flats. He was able to carry an amazing amount of stuff on his bike.

The storm Wednesday night impressed him a lot (it did me as well because it knocked down my TV-cable/Internet connection), and he enjoyed the softball game in the park. In fact, I am sure if he remembers Rensselaer at all, it will be for the storm.

I kind of envy those who can get out and do a real journey like this guy. In the past almost all trips of any length were journeys, but now with our transportation system you can go half way around the world in comfort. But I am now old enough to settle for comfort and forgo the adventure.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


As part of the Morocco Homecoming about a month ago, I visited the Morocco library, which is part of the Newton County Library system. The library is new, built in 2005, and located on the west edge of Morocco, near the pool and the ball field.
The Newton County Public Library headquarters are in Lake Village, with branches in Morocco and Roselawn. It has a website and an active Facebook page. I wondered what had happened to Kentland, Brook, and Goodland, and was told that they had their own libraries. When the northern libraries realized that the Newton County name was open, they grabbed it. We have something similar in Jasper County, where Remington maintains its own library, while Demotte, Wheatfield, and Rensselaer are part of Jasper County Public Library.

The inside of the library is as attractive as the outside.
The library was open for a few hours on this particular Sunday for a special event in their history room. A resident was donating a large collection of Indian arrowheads and other artifacts that he had collected in the area.
His collection joined an already large collection of arrowheads. The picture below shows just one of the displays of arrowheads that were in the small room.
A few days ago an older resident of Jasper County was talking about how arrowheads used to be much easier to find when the farmers plowed their fields in the fall. The wind would erode the soil on the tops of hill, leaving the arrowheads exposed in the spring. Now with no-till agriculture, there is less erosion and less soil disturbance.

It is nice to see that Morocco acknowledges the history of the area before white settlement.  However, while these displays are artistic, they do not provide any information about what the artifacts can tell us about how these people lived. It would be nice to see a good interpretive display in addition to these decorative displays.

The most peculiar thing in the history room was this little critter. Judging by names (Beaver Township, Beaverville, IL) beavers must have been everywhere in the days before settlement.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A weird story from the pool

On Tuesday as we were leaving the pool in Brookside Park, the pool director was busy tending to a little girl who had injured her arm on the playground during the 15 minutes of adult swim. About half an hour later I heard an ambulance going to Brookside Park. So today I asked the pool director if the ambulance had  been for the little girl. She said it was not. Some time after I left a kid had climbed out of the pool down near the diving board without using the ladder. He or she got his or her knee stuck in the drain that runs around the entire pool. (If you are familiar with the LaRue Pool, this should make sense, and if you are not, it may not make sense.) The staff tried for 15 minutes to unstick the knee, using lotion as a lubricant, but to no avail. So they called the ambulance, and the medics used some kind of gel to unstick the stuck knee. No one associated with the pool could recall that any kid had ever gotten a knee stuck in this way. Tuesday was an unusual day at the pool.

Thinking fall

This week SJC is hosting a team football camp. Schools attending are Indianapolis Bishop Chatard, Portage, Rensselaer Central, Indianapolis Broad Ripple, South Vermillion, Vincennes-Lincoln, Tri-County, and Riverton Parke. I did not see any football activity in the middle of the day, but at about 3:00 the teams were heading back out. I think this group were the Mustangs, but I do not know what school that was.
Another group was doing stretches on a practice field that had been created just north of the bowling alley.
It appeared a scrimmage was underway in the field east of the Evans Arts and Sciences Building. this field is more often used for band practice.
These guys have the right idea--watch the activity from the shade.
Today is the last day of the camp.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shelter update

On June 17 I had a blog post showing the JC Cruisers building a new park shelter in Brookside park. They left the structure uncompleted because of bad weather that moved in. Last Saturday they finished it except for the concrete floor.  They even put a ceiling in the structure so that you cannot see the rafters.
It will be ready for their 25th annual car show on July 10.
Earlier in that week, the park people finished the new put a ceiling in the new park shelter next to the LaRue Pool by putting a ceiling in it. I took the picture below the evening before they finished it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Farmers' Market

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Tomorrow the days will start getting shorter, though you probably will not notice it at first. Did I ruin your day with that observation?

One of the things I like best things about summer is gardens. I stopped by the Farmers' Market on the Court House Square to see what was for sale, not really to buy anything, but to see how other people's gardens were doing. There were new potatoes for sale, and before I came there were a few green beans. Mine still are a few days away from ready. And someone had turnips. I grow a few of them not because I like them, but because they grow so well. I think before Columbus introduced new foods into Europe from the Americas (potato, green bean, corn or maize, squash, peanut, and sweet potato were all developed in the Americas), turnips probably were a major crop. That is a thought as depressing as the realization that the days will be getting shorter.
I was impressed to see cabbages there and also some broccoli in the cooler to the left. They lady selling them said that she had started them very early and that they were an early variety.
This may have been the last weekend that strawberries were on sale. I saw a couple buying strawberries and rhubarb for a pie. Rhubarb does seem to be better mixed with something. How about rhubarb-raspberry pie? I did not see any raspberries there, but there are plenty of wild ones throughout the county.
Several vendors had onions and one had small red beets. There were not too many peas for sale--I think people do not want to take the time to shell them. The cucumbers surprised me. I forgot to plant some this year, but I never have had them this early. And I think there are some gooseberries in the picture. What do you do with them--eat them fresh, or cook with them? I have a few that have come up in the back yard and am not sure what I should do with them.
The bottom line--there is now enough for sale at the Farmers' Market to make stopping by worthwhile.

Update: I forgot tomato, another vegetable developed in the Americas.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pulaski Centennial

When I see a garage sale, I often stop to browse, but rarely buy anything. A few Sundays ago I found a booklet that was the souvenir program for the centennial celebration of Pulaski County and also Winamac. It was only a quarter--I had to buy it.
I showed it to a former colleague who used to live in Winamac, and she found some parents or grandparents of her husband listed. She also said that today no one gets very involved in Winamac. That certainly was not true in 1939. They had a very ambitious program for the centennial. Included was a huge re-enactment of the entire history of Winamac that was described in some detail (but not shown here.)
At least as interesting as the articles in the booklet was the advertising. It seemed that just about every business in Pulaski County had put in an ad. Most were very simple. An exception was Hoch Hardware, which had a two-page spread. Back in 1939 you could buy a tractor for less than $500. Of course back then earning a dollar an hour was a decent wage, and you could mail a letter for three cents. If you multiply by 12 or 15, you get a more realistic view of what those prices would have looked like back then.
It would have been a lot more interesting to me if the booklet had Jasper County content, but it does give some insight into what small-town life was like 70 years ago.

Free movies

Fountain Stone Theaters is hosting free Wednesday matinees this summer, with the last one on August 14. They seemed to be drawing a good crowd.
Fountain Stone has a Facebook page and over 2000 fans, which may be the record for anyone in Rensselaer.

I am not sure that they are showing anything I want to see, and even if they are, I am not sure I would want to see it with a theater full of little kids. Here are the upcoming movies: Alvin and the Chipmunks, Aliens in the Attic, Planet 51, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Astro Boy, and Tooth Fairy. Are any of them worth seeing if the price is zero? Have any of you attended a past showing? What were your impressions?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Forest fire

On Saturday June 12 I was jogging out Mattheson when I noticed some smoke in the little cluster of trees on the west side of the road. I wondered why someone was burning there, and why a car was stopped. The smoke was coming from a fire in a hollow of a tree and the car was a police car.

On the way back I found a Marion Township fire truck with two firefighters sprinkling the area. I guess it is a bit of an exaggeration to call it a forest fire, but if it was caused by a lightening strike a few days earlier, it started the way many forest fires do start. And it may be as close to a forest fire as we have around here. 
Last summer there was a muck fire north of town that I wanted to see but never did. At least I did not miss all the excitement with this one.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Give me shelter

On Saturday, June 12, the JC Cruisers began to build a picnic shelter in Brookside Park. This shelter will be accessible from SR 114 and takes up a corner of the expanded parking lot. It will be used by the JC Cruisers for their car show on July 10.

The first task was to drill the holes for the support posts.
About half an hour later, after I had checked out the forest fire that was raging north of town (I will have a post about it in a few days), I came back and saw that they had begun to erect the posts. Three of the people there do this sort of job for a living, and they soon took over and did most of the work. They clearly knew what they were doing. Jobs that seem impossible to most of us are not that hard for those who have the right knowledge and the right tools.
About half an hour later they were placing the last of the trusses in place.
Once the trusses were approximately in place. a couple of boards formed the peak of the roof.
Then more boards were placed onto the trusses to support the roof. The two guys on top manually hammered in their nails, while the guys working below the roof used a nail gun. There were plenty of guys there, but most of them were not needed too much, and they left the work to the pros.
Given the speed at which they were working, I expected to see them working on the roof very quickly. But instead it took them a long time to do all the little jobs that they had to do to get all the woodworking done.
Finally in the afternoon the roof went on.
Just before the rains came, they put on the metal pieces that seal the crack at the peak of the roof. Notice that there is a lot of metal work that is being done just below the roof. I am not sure why they did this--it is not on the other shelters.
Late in the afternoon thunder and rain stopped their work before they were finished. There was still some work around the edge below the roof, and the ends of the buildings were not finished.  If they are going to have a concrete floor poured, they have not prepared for that.
If you attend the car show in the park on July 10, give a close look at the shelter that the JC Cruisers have built. It is a nice addition to Brookside Park.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2nd Annual Mustang Roundup

The second annual Mustang Roundup on Sunday, June 13, had over 60 cars registered and was about three times as big as the last year's event.
There were a lot of people looking at cars and socializing. I visited with several people I know as I searched for interesting cars to photograph, such as this one below.
This blue Mustang has customized doors and is locally owned.
The organizers made an effort to contact area Mustang enthusiasts, and had people attending from Indianapolis and Illinois. I met a former student (who I did not remember, but he was a student back in the 1980s) who had come from either Saint John or Crown Point.

Rein Borntrager of Reinforcements Design was selling tee-shirts and exhibiting this strange looking Mustang. I wonder what year it was.
The sign said that the car below was a 1949 Cobra Special "Big Car", raced with MVARA, built by Ed Arter and restored by Scott Hermanson 2007-2010. I do not know what most of that means. On the right of the picture you can see one of two Mustangs used by the State Police that was at the event.
Someone got to take pictures from the bucket. They probably are much, much better than what I have.
At 5:00 a parade (which was a bit like a tiny Cruise Night) was scheduled, but it was moved up to 4:30 because of approaching rain. I did not stay for it, but on my way home I saw it. Unfortunately I did not have my camera ready at the appropriate time and missed a shot I wanted. There were two Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders at the event, and they rode in the back of one of the Mustangs for the parade. By the time I got my camera out and ready, all I could get was the shot of them below riding off into the distance.
Mustang Roundup is one of several local group that needs a simple web page. I helped the Jasper County Historical Society get started on this one, and if any other local group wants a little help (little is a key word--I will assist, but will not do the work), contact me. You can do a simple one for free, it is fairly simple, and once you get a few people to link to it, it should appear on google searches.