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

Friday, March 29, 2013

Stained Glass at Brushwood Methodist

The Lenten Luncheon last week was at the Brushwood United Methodist Church, and I noticed that they had stained glass windows in their sanctuary. It has been a while since I have had a chance to do a post on stained glass windows, so I jumped at the chance to take some pictures.
There were five windows with episodes from the life of Jesus. First, the nativity.
My guess is that this is the baptism in the Jordan.
Jesus as the Good Shepard.
There were two with a Holy Week theme. I think this is the Agony in the Garden, after the Last Supper.
And finally Jesus carrying the cross, a scene appropriate for a Good Friday post.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Depot and more

Last week the base was set for the new Amtrak depot. This week a concrete foundation was formed. On Tuesday the first pour took place.
On Wednesday new forms were put up on the concrete base of Tuesday.
And on Wednesday a second concrete pour took place, this one with two concrete trucks.
Over at Monnett the demolition is complete and the crew is smoothing black dirt that was trucked in. The fence was taken down today.
Meanwhile, behind the Eger substation on Melville a different crew was busy installing a fence. (No picture.) Below you can see work on the other substation that is under construction, the one next to the power plant. A series of trenches have been cut and some kind of wiring will go into them.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Business news and moves

Rensselaer will soon be getting another pay day loan business, Lending Hand. It is a branch of a company located in Lafayette Monticello. The Rensselaer office will be in the Fase appliance building, in the space that Curves had a while back, and before that, the 2Bobs General Store.
 Lending Hand will give Rensselaer a second pay day loan office; the other is Advance America in the strip mall anchored by Strack and Van Til. The pawn shop, which used to be a pay day loan office, still makes this kind of loan.

Construction has not started yet for the Farm Credit Services building, but there is now a construction trailer on the site. Once the porta potty arrives, they can begin.

The Louck Family Medicine Building a bit to the east now has an opening date: April 8th. The address is 118 W. Drexel Parkway. The current office is in the College Mall, between Devons and Fiesta Salons.

The Chamber of Commerce has a ribbon cutting scheduled for April 2 to open the Chubby Pickle, which will be a second bar at Sprigz Pub & Grub.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


On March 19 the Historical Society held its monthly meeting. An acquisition that was mentioned was a painting of the old Bowstring Bridge that is now the decorative part of the pedestrian bridge linking Potawatomie Park with the downtown. It was painted by Anna Marlin in 1978 when it was north of what is now Laird's Landing. Bicentennial Park has a shelter named for her husband, the Ervin L.Marlin Sr Picnic Shelter. It is near a pedestrian bridge, but not the one in the painting.
 The name "Old Hoover Slough Bridge" was mentioned in discussing the painting and that is the second time I have heard that name in reference to this bridge. I doubt if there is still a Hoover Slough--most of the swamps have been drained. I think that was south of Rensselaer and was the original site of the bridge.

The focus of the program was scrapbooks. While the business meeting was going on, I paged through a scrapbook from E.L Hemphill who served on the battleship U.S.S. Oklahoma during World War I. (Planning for a tea party, tentatively scheduled for June 2, just was not my cup of tea.)
 It had a variety of newspaper clippings and photographs, but what caught me attention were a couple of programs of activities on the ships.
 This one looks like it was a play of some sort. Google does not return anything for "Theda the Vamp Stenog," so this may have been something that the sailors wrote.
My father served on a ship during World War II and I recall seeing some documents similar to this, though I think they were for special meals. That association may be why I found them interesting. I also was impressed with the printing. It must have been done on the ship, which means that they had some kind of printing press.

A second program was for a smoker in 1919. (Does anyone use the term "smoker" anymore in this way?) It appears that the U.S.S. Oklahoma was one of several battleships at Guantanamo Bay because some of the boxers on the program were from other ships.
After the boxing program, they enjoyed some music.
 The U.S.S. Oklahoma was not involved in any battles during World War I. It was still in service on December 7, 1941 and was one of the battleships sunk by the attack on Pearl Harbor. Over 400 of its crew were killed. For more, see here.

For the program at the meeting, we were invited to look at the various scrapbooks on display and find something interesting. One scrapbook that I did not get much time to look at was that of one of the Babcocks. He was a businessman and active in politics. Included in the scrapbook was his delegate ticket to the Republican National Convention in 1932. That would have been the convention that renominated Herbert Hoover, who went on to be wiped out by Franklin Roosevelt in the general election.
A scrapbook I looked at a bit more closely was the Warner scrapbook. It was a Mark Twain Adhesive Scrapbook--Mark Twain invented, patented, and made a lot of money from a scrapbook with prepasted pages. It mostly had newspaper clippings, but the large certificate below stood out. Apparently Charles Warner served as a sergeant at arms at the Republican National Convention in 1912. That was a convention that saw the Republican Party split. It renominated William Howard Taft over Teddy Roosevelt, who then created his own party and ran on it. The result was the election of Woodrow Wilson.
However, the first thing that caught my interest was this telegram. At one time telegrams were an important way of communicating, much like e-mail or texting today. The development of decent long-distance phone service killed telegram, but in 1920 they were still important. Young Helen Warner spent some money to send the news that she had joined a sorority at DePauw University.
Paging a bit further, I was shocked to find that two years later, in 1922, young Helen died. What a tragedy.
There are a lot of interesting stories in the collection of scrapbooks that the Historical Society has.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Arma virumque cano

Winter storm Virgil dumped about six inches of wet snow on us last night. It could have been a lot worse. The storm dumped a foot on some places in central Illinois.
 I was impressed with snow removal. The city streets were clear, and because it was so near freezing, they were wet with little snow or ice on them. The snow removers who clear the various parking lots had also finished their work early. One place where the snow was not cleared was the Talbert Bridge. I thought I would be the first one over, but as I got close, I noticed tracks. A cat had used the bridge earlier today.
The forecast is for a warm up this week--we will have a week of spring slush.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

New locaton for a house of prayer

(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 ran 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.)

I recently noticed that the Northern House of Prayer, previously mentioned here, had moved to the old WRIN building north of Rensselaer. The address is 2430 N. McKinley. The pastor is still Mac Howard. Sunday services are at 10:00 am.

This building has had at least two other uses since this blog began. In 2010 it was a Mexican grocery, and before that it was the Bargain Barn.

Since I finished the series on Rensselaer churches a couple years ago, many of them have had changes. I probably should do a couple posts of updates.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Odds and Ends 03-23-2013

The annual Lions Club/Rensselaer Republican Easter Egg Hunt took place this afternoon. It was pretty much like events in past years. The kids (or their parents, for the little ones) clear the field in a matter of seconds. In the picture below, the little girl running toward the camera must have been told to get to the far end of the field, but when she got there, she just stood as kids picked up the eggs around her.
 This morning volunteers were laying out the community garden that is behind the Harvest Baptist Fellowship, or east of Hopkins Trucking. As part of the effort, they were making paths between plots and covering them with wood chips. There are still plots available. They cost $15 and you can find the address at the link above. On Good Friday they will have a planting ceremony at 3:00.
Tractor Supply began its Grand Opening this morning. If you were there early, you might have gotten a free Tractor Supply cap. The ribbon cutting took place on Thursday, March 21.
 In construction news, the workers have not done much this week at the Monnett site. Nothing is happening at the Farm Credit Services site. There has been a lot of dirt moved at the electrical substation site on North Melvillle, and also activity at the substation site near the power plant, but none of it is pictorially interesting. And at the depot site, after digging out the foundation of the old depot, a couple truckloads of coarse stone were put into the hole, then a truckload or two of somewhat finer stone that was tamped down. It appears that next week they may be working on forms for a concrete pour.
From the train station platform, you could see a new roof going up on the Harris Homes duplex that had a fire recently. Usually I saw the trusses lifted into place with a little crane, but these were being manually put in place.

Will Monday's post be about the snowstorm that hit us, or the snowstorm that missed us?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Open House CDC Resources

On Thursday CDC Resources had an open house at their Rensselaer offices to acquaint the public with what services it offers to developmentally disabled adults. Their office is located at the east end of Angelica Street. Because it is not a place you pass by to get to another place, many people may not know it is there.

Also located there is the Treasure Keepers preschool, run by the Tri-County Bible Church. CDC-Resources began as an organization serving children with developmental disabilities, and until recently it had a preschool called PlayScape. However, it found that a church group was able to offer the same services more economically than it could--a church run preschool is subject to different regulations. Treasure Keepers rents space from CDC Resources.
 Snacks for the open house were provided by Strack & Van Til, Save-A-Lot, Subway, and CDC Resources.
 Everyone got a tour of the facilities. There are offices for some of the divisions of CDC, such as Supported Living Services, which goes into the homes to provide services, Heartland Employment Services, which cooperates with the State of Indiana to help disabled people find employment, and the Rest Park Attendant Services, which keeps the two nearby rest stops on I-65 clean. (They have a sense of humor--their office has a sign that says "Janitor Closet."

A project that is in process is the development of an exercise room. It has most of the needed equipment, but still needs a TV and some other items. The Monticello office has a very successful fitness center, and the goal is to provide the consumers and staff in Rensselaer with something similar.
 For me the most interesting part of the tour was their workshop. One project that they have is packaging dry-wall tape. They start with stacks of cardboard boxes that have to be assembled.
 They also have boxes of spools of tape.
 Their workforce assembles the boxes and puts a dozen rolls of tape in each.
 The finished product looks like this. The work is done for the National Gypsum plant in Rensselaer.
 In another workroom work is done constructing shipping boxes for Emerson Electric. Part of this work is done in the workshop in Monticello and part is done in Rensselaer.
 I do not know what they ship in these boxes, but the relationship between CDC Resources and Emerson Electric has lasted for several years.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Vote for Helen

Helen Heinig, a junior at RCHS, is a finalist in a contest promoting girls in science. The contest centers around a video that is aimed at getting girls interested in one of the STEM fields. (If you have never seen the acronym STEM, it comes from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.) She is especially interested in the field of Informatics, which is a field that I had not previously heard of. You can see her video below.

Helen also has a webpage and a blog. If you are interested in the demolition of the Monnett School, you will find her entry on Picker Bob fascinating. If you like band, you will want to read about her summer plans touring with the Blue Star Drum & Bugle Corps. And our course, if you want to help her out with a vote (limit one per day and only for a few more days) you can go here to cast a ballot.

(PS: If you want to help another blogger with ties to Rensselaer, vote for Gretchen Baker's Desert Survivor blog at the Circle of Moms Top 25 Outdoorsy Blogs. She is currently at 21.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vernal equinox 2013

Last year on March 20 fruit trees were blooming on the vernal equinox. We had a week of weather with highs in the upper 70s and into the 80s. This week we may have a day or two where we do not make it above freezing. What a difference a year makes.

I took the picture below yesterday because I was struck by lack of any sign of spring in the color of the lawn.
The weathermen at WLFI say we may see a change in the weather pattern in early April. I am worried that we will go from winter to summer with no spring transition.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Art shows

There are a couple of art shows ongoing. In the lobby of the Core Building at SJC, you can find the 20th Anniversary Regional Middle Level Art Exhibition. Sponsored by Prairie Arts Council and Saint Joseph's College, it features work by sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students in area middle schools. It will run until April 7 and will have an awards ceremony on April 7 at 2:00 pm.
 At the Lilian Fendig Gallery in the Carnegie Center the Prairie Arts Council has the Saint Joseph's College Annual Art Faculty and Senior Show. It runs until April 12 and the artists' reception is Friday, April 5 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm CST.
 When I took these pictures, the installation was not compete. The identification tags were not yet up.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Odds and ends around town 03-18-2013

On Friday I noticed that Rich's Cycle Solutions had a new location, on Walnut Street. It had been located on the corner of Washington and Weston. Bently's is still in the old location.
Walnut Street has always been a mystery to me. At the end of Walnut is a large complex that looks run down. On Friday three flatbed semis were there unloading what looked like very old equipment of some sort. I have not found out what they were doing, but I did discover that this old complex once housed the Earl Soesbe Company. I had heard of it but never knew what they did. One of their products was a self dumping hopper.
I missed the truck that unloaded re-bar at the Amtrak stop. Maybe construction will get going now.
I thought it a bit funny that FedEx was making a delivery of some very large metal apparatus at the construction site for the new substation next to the power plant. I had never thought of FedEx as a delivery company for this kind of item.
And while on the topic of substations, there is something going on behind the substation on North Melville. The field has been bulldozed and crushed stone laid down around the existing substation. My guess is that this substation will also be enlarged as part of the 69K line project.

In news downtown, the future home of Bubs Barbeque now has the letters BBQ in the windows. There are no more JC Penney signs on Anders' Water Conditioning. SB Photography thought it might open today, but does not seem to have finished relocating. It is moving into the old SPAW space. The office will also have a computer repair and supply store called ABComputers--a side window has the coming soon message for it.

SJC has some news as well. Following Purdue's lead, they are freezing tuition. And one of my favorite people from the years I was there, Father Dominic Gerlach, passed away Saturday. He taught history and German and was the archivist for the college.