Indiana Wants Me

Lord, I can’t go back there. Okay, so I had a senior moment and a song flashback. It ain’t easy finding a way to start these sometimes. I mean, we’ve all been staying home and social distancing (which is really easy if you live alone. And cats are basically the mascots for social distancing…) so I guess even Indiana would be interesting.

Okay, so I-70 across the State is pretty dull, but at least it is more exciting than Kansas (paint drying is more exciting than Kansas between tornados)…where was I? Or yes, Indiana.
Here’s a shocker, Indiana was named for being a land of Indians. This is rather ironic as there are fewer than 8,000 Native Americans that live there today. I would speculate on where they all went, but I am trying to keep these non-political, and we all have seen all those Casino commercials.

More interesting is the appellation Hoosier, the name given for Indiana residents. Just what IS a Hoosier anyway? As best my exhausting research was able to find, the name comes from am 1835 letter written by Richmond, VA resident Sarah Harvey, who described the old settlers in Indiana as “hooshers”. This probably came from the term “Hoosher Nest”which was what the cabins the settlers were living in. That is the best explanation I could find. Of course it could also just be the sound someone might make with an enormous sneeze. Maybe Ms. Harvey was there during flu season.

The first European to explore what would become Indiana was Rene-Robert Cavalier sieur de La Salle. He came upon the area in 1679 while he was checking out the Great Lakes area. Based on this flimsy claim New France (a new nation based out of what is Canada today) claimed the entire territory. After the French and Indian War, Indiana fell into the evil clutches of Great Britain. There is evidence of human occupation in the region dating from 8000 B.C.
Indiana became the 19th State to join the Union, coming aboard on December 11, 1816. I think they only waited to see how the War of 1812 came out first. Ahead of it’s time, Indiana mandated publicly funded schools in their 1816 Constitution. Going at the speed of most governments, public schools were not established until 1850.
Indiana’s motto is “Crossroads of America”, but the State stole that nickname from Indianapolis in 1837. It was originally coined by Indianapolis because of all the interstate roads that intersected in the City. I suppose the State figured that Indianapolis was IN Indiana, so why not just steal the name. It’s not like the City could do much about it.
When Europeans first arrived on the scene Indiana was more that 80% forest land. There were even over 100 species of trees that are native to the State. Today less than 17% of the State is still covered in forest. Happy belated Earth Day all you Hoosiers!
So, what comes from Indiana? Lots of things that you might not expect.
Professional baseball comes from Indiana. The first professional baseball game was played in Fort Wayne on May 4, 1871. I am pretty sure the Chicago Cubs did not win. (n.b. Before anyone gets their panties in a knot, I have no clue what the teams were. If it’s not the Mets, I don’t care. Go Ron Swoboda!)
Ninety percent of the World’s popcorn comes from Indiana. Orville Redenbacher was even born and raised in Indiana! Indiana is the 10th largest farming State, and 96% of those farms are family owned.
Harlan Sanders of KFC fame came from Indiana, and there is no knowing where the original recipe actually came from.
Pet goldfish and Koi got their start in Indiana. The first goldfish farm was built in Martinsville, Indiana in 1899.
How about that classic Coca-Cola bottle? The pale green glass one we all grew up with? Designed in Terra Haute, Indiana!
The first modern amusement park was built in Indiana and opened in 1946, nine years before the house of mouse debuted in California. I might suggest a visit, but it’s probably closed as of this writing.
The classic Raggedy Ann doll was created in Indianapolis by Marcella Gruelle in 1914.
The long-distance automobile race is another product of Indiana. The first one in the United States was held in, you guessed it, Indianapolis on May 30, 1911. The winner’s average speed was 75 miles per hour. The Indianapolis 500 race is still held every Memorial Day weekend, but the cars probably go faster. The prize money has probably gone up from the $14,000 the original winner received.
The rapid-fire machine gun was invented by Richard Gatling in Indiana in 1862. For some unknown reason this came to be known as the gatling gun.
While the electric streetlight was not invented in Indiana, the first city to light up its streets with them was Wabash, Indiana in 1880. At that time, the population of Wabash was estimated to be 320, yet it is estimated that more than 10,000 people showed up for the lighting event. Now you know why you should have answered the census.
Indiana was also the locale of Elvis Presley’s last concert before he died. He was so overwhelmed by the Hoosier welcome that he died three months later.
There are also many unique things to see in Indiana. Want to see covered bridges? Move over Madison County, Parke County has more than 32 of the things alone.
Batman fan? Skip anyplace named Gotham and head to Indiana. The world’s largest collection of Batman memorabilia belongs to Kevin Silva of Indianapolis.
Anatomy your thing? The world’s largest anatomically correct sculpture of the human brain the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. The brain weighs 10,000 pounds and rises 7 feet from the ground. The brain is built entirely of Indiana limestone.
My favorite attraction though is the world’s largest ball of paint. The ball weighs more than two and a half tons and the visitors can even choose to coat the ball with their favorite color.
And now the obligatory weird laws! You really have to wonder why some of these were made law…
Anyone 14 or older who profanely curses, damns or swears by the name of God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost, shall be fined one to three dollars for each offense, with a maximum fine of ten dollars per day. (Good thing I don’t live there, I would be broke.)
It is illegal for a man to be sexually aroused in public.
Baths may not be taken between the months of October and March.
Check forgery can be punished with public flogging up to 100 stripes.
Pedestrians crossing the highway at night are prohibited from wearing tail lights.
In Elkhart – It is illegal for barbers to threaten to cut off kid’s ears.
In Gary – Within four hours of eating garlic, a person may not enter a movie house, theater, or ride a public streetcar.
On to Iowa, which I am still sick of hearing about, but I can’t put it off any longer.

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Betsey Ellis

Betsey is a recovering agent of Satan (.i.e. a legal professional) now working towards a lifetime goal of becoming a perfectly sane cat lady, medieval clothing designer, and occasional playwright. Maybe even finish my doctorate.....nyah, probably not, who needs another expert in Elizabethan Law and its effect on the growth of the middle class.