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

Saturday, October 30, 2010


When I saw the scene below the other day, I thought my four grandkids were back in town.
But it was just some Halloween decorations.

In past years I had quite a few posts on Halloween decorations, so this year I ignored them. See here, here, here, and here.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The big wind

Yesterday I was astonished to see the fence around the track at Saint Joseph's College and had to stop and take pictures.
The high winds that we had a couple of days ago had blown the corn debris from the field to the west across Sparling and onto the fence. It is hard to capture wind with a camera, but sometimes you can see the effects of the wind, and this was quite dramatic.
Once the fence was filled with corn husks and leaves, the area behind the fence was protected from the wind, so it also filled in with stuff blowing from the field.
I do not think there was much damage locally from the winds. In the wake of the system that passed through, we are getting the first serious frost. I spend parts of the last two days gathering in the last of the tomatoes and digging up sweet potatoes. (In the process, I dug up one of my garden toads--I covered it back up and hope it survives the winter.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New store

On Wednesday morning I noticed a new store downtown in a spot that has been vacant for a long time, between the building featured in this week's Republican mystery photo and the dog grooming place.
It was open, so of course I stopped in to see what was there. A very nice gentleman was quite happy to show me around. The space is quite tiny, and I think he said the name of the store was T-Debs Mercantile. I am not quite sure how to describe it. It offers some things that are antiques or collectibles, but is not limited to that. For example, he had a new generator for sale (not shown)
The store is definitely is not cluttered. I was in a hurry so did not examine it as closely as I should have.
When you are in the area, check it out and tell us what you think.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I went hunting this week and bagged a big one. I wonder where the best place is to have the carcass processed. Is Brook the best, or Monon? I thought I saw that the Remington Locker Plant is open again. Would they handle it? I would do it myself but I have not been able to get instructions from the Internet abut how to field dress a moose mouse,. Any recommendations for a taxidermist? I think this big guy deserves a special place of honor over the fireplace. In the national parks they refer to critters like this as "charismatic megafauna."
(Apologies to anyone who finds this post offensive.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Comings and goings

Monday morning I happened across a house demolition. The house being demolished was discussed here. (It is a house that had a fire.)
I almost never go to DeMotte, but I did on Monday, and found that the DeMotte location of Papa Bill's Pizza was also vacant. The interior was being remodeled, but since the Papa Bill's sign was gone, I doubt that it will be Papa Bill's again.
DeMotte is a strange town. Unlike other small towns in the area, it has no old downtown because it grew up late. At the risk of offending the people of the area, it seems to be one long strip mall with some subdivisions surrounding it.

Nearing completion near the intersection of highways 10 and 231 is the new KV middle school. The picture below only captures some of it--it looks huge.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Collecting seeds

On Saturday I went out to the Fisher Oak Savanna for a volunteer work day. They were collecting seeds from their prairie plants at the south end of the property for use in a reseeding project on one of the NICHES properties in Tippecanoe County.
This bit of restored prairie is just south of a sand hill, and one of the residents who stopped by said that at night from the crest you could see the flashing lights of the windmills to the south. Since they all flash in unison, the sight can be quite impressive.

There were only a few people who showed up: two guys who work for NICHES, a young lady, myself, and a bit later, two students from SJC. We were given clippers and cut off the tops of plants like the one in the picture below, and put them into a big bag.
I could only recognize a few of the plants and met some new ones. The White Indigo (probably this) had interesting seed pods, and the Mountain Mint (probably this) had seeds that smelled very good.

I am not sure what the yellow flowers were in the picture below. I was given a name, but I forgot it. They were growing in the lower and more moist part of the prairie.
There were still some asters blooming, and this picture turned out better than I expected. There are many different blue asters, and I do not know which one this one is. They will not have a lot of time to set their seed.
Blogger has a new option for picture sizes--I can now select "original size" as an option. I like it--what do you think of it?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Post Mortem

I attended the play Post Mortem at the Saint Joseph's College Theater Friday night. It is an entertaining and funny murder mystery. The characters are supposed to be actors in the 1920s, and actors like playing actors because they then get to scream and emote even more than they usually would.
Tonight is the last showing. If you want an entertaining evening, go see it. I guessed wrong on who the murder was--you may do better. (It was not the butler :-)

Friday, October 22, 2010


I missed the closing just as I missed the opening of Papa Bill's Pizza north of town. A couple weeks ago I drove by and noticed that it was empty. There is a for-rent sign on the door, and the pizza sign is gone.
It could be another restaurant--the equipment is all there. However, the location may not be very good--for most people, it is out of the way.
I did stop by J&L'sAntiques and Things a couple of hours before it closed on Sunday, October 10. It had stayed open a week longer than the owner planned and was surprisingly empty.
I asked what would happen to the merchandise that was left, and if I understood the owner correctly, he said that it was not his, but a supplier's. He was getting a commission on what was sold, and all that was left would be taken back by the supplier.

Below is area that held the antique part of the business. At one time the business also rented the next building to the northeast.
The furniture business was in the area that Dollar General used to occupy.
As of yesterday, most of this furniture was still in the store.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A week

What a difference a week makes. Here is Brookside Park on October 11.
 And here is it on October 20.
The locust trees are almost bare, but they are one of the earlier trees to lose leaves.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I noticed this light in the late afternoon, and was amazed at how many dead bugs it had collected. I wonder who debugs these things to get the lights functioning effectively.
Speaking of debugging, I have been doing a bit of that lately, working with a new version of a program that has a number of bugs. I have sent four or five reports back to the programmers, hoping that they fix the problems I have found. And also on the topic, here is a link to an article about debugging with a Rensselaer connection--the programmer grew up in Rensselaer.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Parr was established in 1895 along the railroad to provide a shipping point for agricultural products, including livestock. Today its most prominent feature is the large elevator.
Unlike many of the little settlements that remain in Jasper County, Parr is more than a group of houses along one road. Parr has four east-west streets and three north-south streets, several quite short. In its early days it had two or three general stores, and in its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s it had gas stations, garages, a pool hall, a barber shop, a creamery, and a blacksmith shop, according to the memories put down in History of Jasper County, Indiana (1985). It also had a park south of 114 at the crossroads. And like many other little settlements along the railroad, it had a pickle factory, the Claussen Pickle Factory.

The building below was once a commercial building and for some reason the Jasper County Interim Report likes it. The Report says it was built about 1910.

The Parr school was built in 1917 (or 1916) and was originally a three-room building. In 1938 a small gymnasium was added that was also used for community events. For some years it had grades 1 through 8, and those who attended it went to Fair Oaks for high school. In 1959-60 it had only grades 1 to 6 with and enrollment of 58 and two teachers. It was closed in the spring of 1965.

I do not know if there is any way to get inside of it. I am sure the interior would be interesting.
The most intriguing sentence in the History of Jasper County, Indiana (1985) about Parr was this one: "The location and times of operation of a couple of stills were well kept secrets along with the particulars of the Ku Klux Clan meetings." (p. 263)
I have heard from some people older than I am that the Jasper County Klan was quite active in the 1920s and 1930s. There does not seem to be much written about that bit of local history, but maybe it is something that people would rather forget. (The Indiana Klan was huge in the 1920s and a powerful political force until scandal brought it down. According a map on Wikipedia, Jasper County was a hotbed of Klan activity in the 1920s. Unlike the Klan in the south, the purpose of the Indiana Klan was not to maintain segregation. Although the Indiana Klan was anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant, it was a more complex phenomenon than modern stereotypes of the Klan suggest.)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Videos of Rensseler

I found this site that has collected videos of different towns. It looks like it could be a place where you could waste a lot of time. Here is the link for Rensselaer videos:

Friday, October 15, 2010

At the farmers' market

I swung by the farmers' market last Saturday to see how it was doing. The number of vendors was down a bit, and one of the large ones, Gilmores, was not there. I was told they were done for the season. The Saturday markets will continue to the end of the month.
Across the street is an enlarged Halleck Park. The Lions Club planted the new trees and will try to improve this space. It is not a city park, but is owned by the county. What do you think they could do with this space? It is a pretty little area, but it is across the street from a much bigger park-like area, the court house lawn.
While I was at the farmers' market, I noticed five garbage trucks stopped at the light. Two others had passed through the intersection on the previous green light. This beats my previous record of four garbage trucks in one picture. I am sure the people who have jobs near this intersection can do much better than that.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hospital shell almost complete

The exterior shell of the hospital is almost complete, though I think they still have to place facing bricks on this shell. There will be lots to do inside, but since I cannot take pictures of that, this may be my last post about hospital construction for a while.
Of course if I see a crane out there, as I did on Tuesday morning, I will stop and take a picture.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

More digging

There is more digging on North McKinley, near an old gas station that has been empty for several years. Last year there was similar digging across the highway.
I had some posts on this, but I do not have the time to find them and link to them. (This is a busy week, but you might be able to tell that from the posts this week.) In any case, it is hard to tell that anythere happened here. It looks quite normal.
There are monitoring wells all over the this area. My guess is that they detected more petroleum products in the groundwater and are trying to take out the contaminated soil. If you know more, feel free to comment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SJC homecoming 2010: SJC beats Notre Dame

The past weekend was Homecoming weekend at Saint Joseph's College. The featured event of most homecomings is the football game, and SJC routed Notre Dame. Unfortunately, it was not the Notre Dame from South Bend but a Notre Dame College from Ohio.
Earlier in the day there was a 5K run. I got there in time to take a picture of the awards ceremony. I heard from an alumna in the afternoon who had walked the course that the course was not well marked and most people cut part of it, so times were pretty fast.
Another important part of the day is the beer and brat tent where alums socialize. There was a good crowd. Also popular was a tent of activities for the kids, plus a big inflatable and a climbing wall.

The marching band performed at halftime, but it only did one number in which the band members were moving around, changing formations. Maybe it was too hot to do more--the weather was unseasonably warm. They sounded good, though.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ripping up pavement

Over the weekend a crew was chewing up the parking lot by Donaldsons. By the time you read this, there may be a new surface to the lot.
Have you noticed all the small white asters that are blooming this time of the year? They are everywhere. I took the picture below near Donaldsons. If left undisturbed, the plant will have hundreds of little flowers on it. However, if they are occasionally mowed, as this one was, they still will produce some flowers. Until a couple of years ago,  I had never noticed these flowers, but then they started growing around my house, and I noticed they are everywhere.
The sunflowers are mostly done blooming, and the asters will be among the last native flowers to bloom. Enjoy them.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

More tree planting

There has been a lot of tree planting around Rensselaer this summer. Some was needed to replace trees that were knocked down, as this tree in Weston Cemetery was.
It is nice to see new trees, though I know that the people on the lawnmowers do not care for them.
A bunch of trees were planted by the high school. Below is a line of white pines that will someday be a prominent boundary between the hospital and the high school.
There are more new trees near the football practice field. The Rensselaer Urban Forestry Council has been encouraging some of these plantings.
You can tell that the pictures above were taken a while back--everything is so green. Do you prefer the bright green, or do you like the muted greens, the yellows, the browns, and the reds of fall?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Odds and Ends

The leaves are turning nicely and the sky it is a humidity-free blue. Enjoy the wonderful fall colors for the next few weeks.
Some leaves are dropping, as from the big cottonwood in Austin Park where the park people are putting up a fence.
Also going up last week was a store-front extension to fit the Strack & Van Til sign. The parking lot has recently been resurfaced, and I missed that.
Speaking of groceries, the Mexican grocery north of town is gone and the building is again for rent.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Feast of the Hunters' Moon 2010

I went the the Feast of the Hunter's Moon in West Lafayette on Sunday. I saw several fellow Rensselaerians there. Here are other things that I saw.

It is pretty much the same from year to year, but it is such a great festival that repeated visits are in order.

(Two years ago the transportation was awful. This year it was quite good. The weather was ideal. If you have never gone, you should go--it is the biggest and best of the area festivals.)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Roof roof

I noticed workers putting a new roof on the baseball building at SJC and felt compelled to take a picture.
The workers have been there for several weeks. They began by putting metal roofs on the dugout before they moved to the main building.
Baseball at SJC is its own little world. The baseball players are more into their sport than just about any other athletes. Maybe basketball competes with them on that, but few other do.

Roof repairs were also underway at Halleck Center. That roof was damaged by a storm this summer. There was supposed to be a crane on campus to lift the roofing supplies, but I missed it.
It is hard to see what the guys are doing up there.
Saint Joes is getting ready for Homecoming this weekend. And I was a bit too optimistic in my commentary about crab apple trees. All the trees that the students planted along the walk were crabs. Whoever does the landscaping has a real thing for crab apple trees.

Another roofing job is underway at the Building Trades house on Vine.
Since I missed the Halleck Center crane but I do have a picture of the crane that lifted the trusses for this house into place, I figured I should include it.