|Lucrecia Guerrero and Melinda Palacio at the Tattered Cover|
|Lucrecia Guerrero and Melinda Palacio at the Tattered Cover|
3:00 am on a Saturday morning—Granny in her nightclothes, repeats a welcoming ritual for our family. We’ve just arrived from Indiana to spend the weekend or a holiday. She and Grandpa knew we were coming.
Granny had prepared for our arrival with her usual comfort feast. She knew we’d be famished by the time we stepped through her door. To stave off those awkward growling sounds that would surely keep everyone awake for the rest of the night, she loaded the groaning board with a southern breakfast. It doesn’t seem to matter to her or Grandpa that by the time we finish eating, and unwind enough to go to sleep, they will be preparing for their farm day.
My brother and I sit at that big farm kitchen table, eyeing the platters, bowls, plates, and jars that she arranges down the center of the space. Medium platter supports three different types of fried eggs: hard, soft, and scrambled.
Her infamous small square biscuit pan sits on a handmade potholder near the homemade jams, jellies, and syrup for the golden brown pancakes hoarding their own personal bowl. Sausage patties, country ham, and leftovers from last night’s fried chicken hold court on a large platter on Dad’s end of the table.
Fresh coffee perfumes the room, aided by fresh milk, and rounds out the “impromptu” meal, along with real farm cream to use on cold cereal.
Yep, we’re down home. An hour later, family talk has dwindled enough to expose sleepy eyes and yawns. Bedtime has come at last.
If we’d come during the winter, those upstairs beds would act as ice cube trays waiting to be filled. The upstairs of that house had no heat of its own. Heck, the down stairs only had Warm-Morning stoves that could take wood or coal. Finances determined which fuel was used.
Mom and I would take one bed and Dad, with brother, would get the other one. There were so many of Granny’s homemade quilts on the beds that Mom would have to hold up the covers so that I could position myself. Once I was comfortable, she’d lower the bedclothes.
I had to be very certain of comfort in that position because once those quilts lowered; I wasn’t strong enough to shift my position under them. They were heavy and cold upon first entry to the bed. As a rule, I would try to put my back to my mom’s. Her body heat would keep me from becoming an ice cube until my own body heat took care of warming my space. Sleep was the only refuge until real heat came along.
In the summer, only those floor to ceiling windows gave relief from the sweltering upstairs heat. No quilts were required for that season. The fear then was melting into the feather beds.
Dawn and downstairs activity led to anxious dreams and disrupted, food-induced sleep. Grandpa had milking to do. Granny had to get lunch on the stove so that she could take a bit of socializing time once all the kin arrived for that meal. These things didn’t take care of themselves.
Throughout our visit, for however long it lasted, that lady of the South, cared for the feeding and comfort of her quests. She prided herself in always having enough for anyone who happened to drop by on any given day. No one left he home without taking a meal with them.
A weekend lunch would supply victuals for a minimum of sixteen to twenty people, depending on family schedAdd a Comment
|classic Indiana mini barn|
When my friend sent me a link with the subject line: Carmel in WSJ! I clicked with trepidation. The last time my hometown made national news it involved a sodomy hazing incident and the high school basketball team. Phew. This time, it was only about a local dispute over an expensive new piece of suburban architecture:
This is the Palladium, a $126 million concert hall, whose controversial price tag is heating up this spring’s mayoral election. My first thought was: why, when Indianapolis theater and concert venues reside a mere 20 minutes south, did Carmel do this?* I asked our resident city expert Sharon Zukin for her opinion on the matter and she wrote:
…so Carmel, Indiana, has entered the global sweepstakes of destination culture!…every city copies every bigger, more famous, more glamorous city to build cultural attractions in the hope of attracting tourists and (hope against hope) They hire starchitects (usually Frank Gehry but in this case…the long-dead Andrea Palladio!) to design flagship buildings that will get media attention (the Guggenheim Bilbao effect). They sign up for the Cow Parade (see the website) if they have a low budget and for “The Gates” (Christo in Central Park, 2008) if they have a big budget and for the Olympics if they have a huge budget. All of which puts them on a treadmill of cultural competition.
And the ironic thing is that the more cities compete, trying to differentiate themselves with “cultural attractions,” the more alike they become. As Zukin also told me:
…so many cities do the same thing that they ALL wind up building the same kind of attraction, so the uniqueness of any of these attractions is submerged in the wave of same-old same-old spectacles; the resulting standardization is called, thanks to the geographer Donald McNeil, McGuggenization.
Think of the Guggenheims, Times Squares, MOMA’s, and MOCA’s across the world. That’s McGuggenization. And your city could be next!
*In the Palladium’s defense, I spoke with my mom and she happened to like the center (they offered a free concert for the grand opening). And she didn’t have much sympathy for the outcry about a potential raise in taxes due to Palladium expenses. Turns out Carmel has one of the cheapest tax brackets in the area, meaning the residents have gotten a lot of bang for their buck over their years. Like a brand new Arts & Design District. Safer roads. And Waterslides.Add a Comment
In memory of the students who died recently at Blacksburg, Virginia, and all those young men and women who've died in the war in Iraq and elsewhere, and because it National Poetry Month (and I haven't posted any poems yet), I offer this poem of Edna St. Vincent Millay:
From "Memorial to D.C. (Vassar College, 1918)"
O, loveliest throat of all sweet throats,
Where now no more the music is,
With hands that wrote you little notes
I write you little elegies!
Let them bury your big eyes
In the secret earth securely,
Your thin fingers, and your fair,
Soft, indefinite-colored hair--
All of these in some way, surely,
From the secret earth shall rise;
Not for these I sit and stare,
Broken and bereft completely:
Your young flesh that sat so neatly
On your little bones will sweetly
Blossom in the air.
But your voice...never the rushing
Of a river underground,
Not the rising of the wind
In the trees before the rain,
Not the woodcock's watery call,
Not the note the white-throat utters,
Not the feet of children pushing
Yellow leaves along the gutters
In the blue and bitter fall,
Shall content my musing mind
For the beauty of that sound
That in no new way at all
Ever will be heard again.
Sweetly through the sappy stalk
Of the vigorous weed,
Holding all it held before,
Cherished by the faithful sun,
On and on eternally
Shall your altered fluid run,
Bud and bloom and go to seed:
But your singing days are done;
And the music of your talk
Never shall the chemistry
Of the secret earth restore.
All your lovely words are spoken.
Once the ivory box is broken,
Beats the golden bird no more.
So far we’ve gone 10,956 miles in 49 days, with only 6 days to go. As I type we’re whooshing down Route I-94 heading toward Michigan. Not too long ago we went into Indiana, a state we’re passing through for only a few minutes—but it still counts! :-) The grass and shrubs have definitely looked more shaggy since Illinois, but that’s new. For the past few days we’ve been in clean, manicured farm country.
Let’s catch up:
Wall Drug, SD and the Badlands
Wednesday, the day after we saw Mount Rushmore, was a long driving day (about 700 miles!), but Karen is never one to let a cool-sounding place pass by without calling out “Stop!” So that’s what we did in Wall Drug, South Dakota, where the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was in full swing. The entire town, which was originally built around a drug store, was filled with bikers, bikers, and more bikers. How could we pass up a chance to buy a Harley Davidson t-shirt in the biker heartland of America?
BIG, BAD BADLANDS
The badlands: Truly bad, or just misunderstood? Here’s Evan:
EVAN: The Badlands were covered with white rock and it seemed sort of like the moon. It was very hot and I liked it because in some places the rock was burned so badly that it made colors (Mark’s note: actually, this was different levels of sediment—and way cool) and suddenly when you leave the Badlands it looks like you’re in the regular world again. There were a lot of motorcycle guys everywhere too.
So then we reached Minnesota. The photo above was the most difficult "entering a new state" photo we've taken. The sign was on the highway, and we had to climb up a hill, through some brambles, and then squeeze into a tiny area of dirt in the middle of some bushes. Note that Evan is parting a shrub with his arm so the state name can be seen.
In Minnesota we stayed Chaska, just outside of Minneapolis, with our friends Patricia Danielson, Vicki Boeddeker, and Mike Weinkauf. Patricia took a couple of days off work to show us around the Twin Cities. We saw first-hand the damaged remains of the collapsed bridge on I-35W—just awful. Five weeks and two days after crossing the Mississippi in the south (into Louisiana), we crossed it in the north. It’s a lot calmer in the north! We also saw the beautiful state capital building. Thanks Patricia, Vicki, and Mike!
A note from KAREN: Mark asked why I’ve only been writing about bad experiences. I don’t see it that way, I see them as different experiences than life in Wayland, MA. For example, my 2nd night in Vicki’s house. Here we are, comfy cozy, away from bears and rattlesnakes, what else could happen at night? My first big lightening storm on the prairies of Minnesota, that’s what!! Holy cow ! I got out of bed and was blinded by the flashing lightning, and then jumped out of my PJ’s when I heard the loud crack and kaboom of the lightning right outside the window! Did a tree fall down? Did we get hit by lightning? Another night of no sleeping because of fear!! The next morning, as usual, everyone including Mark said it was a normal storm, no big deal . WELL, we got an email from a friend in the area who said the storm blew out windows like a tornado and power was out for a few days. She asked if we were in the eye of the storm! See, I’m not crazy!!
Wild Rupus was wild indeed. An amazing independent bookstore in Minneapolis, the whole store was designed to look like it was transforming from an inside space to the outdoors. Helping to create the effect were a whole menagerie of animals, including chickens, ferrets, Australian flying squirrels, fish, tarantulas, rats and many more. The kids were in heaven. Here we are with Manager Kristin Bergsagel bookseller Josh Harrod, Poopsie the ferret, and a Japanese chicken named Elvis. Thanks, Wild Rumpus—you are terrific!
THE RED BALLOON
Like a matching bookend to Wild Rumpus in Minneapolis, St. Paul is home to another amazing bookstore called The Red Balloon. Susan Hepburn was a terrific host, serving up lemon drops and lemonade. The Red Balloon is another must-visit bookstore for anyone the St. Paul area!
As a nice surprise, we were lucky enough to meet Shelley Swanson Sateren, fellow SCBWI member and author of the middle-grade novel Cat on a Hottie’s Tin Roof. Here’s Evan’s review:
EVAN’S REVIEW: Cat on a Hottie’s Tin Roof is a fun book about a girl who is geeky who when her friend moves away from Paris she finds a new friend who is stylish and cool. It was an interesting story because it’s interesting to see how a girl with so much smarts can try and be cool and fit in with everyone else. You should read it.
It was great to meet you, Shelley!
BACK TO THE HONDA DEALER ONE MORE TIME
Penelope’s rattling got kind of dubious so we stopped at the Honda dealer in Hopkins, MN. $560 later, (replaced ‘severely cracked’ exhaust manifold and gaskets, oil change, new battery) the minivan sounded a bit better—at least for the first twenty miles or so. After that, we’re pretty much back to the rattling we started out with. Oh well, it’s only money. :-)
Here’s Shane Beals, the Honda guy who washed Penelope—she badly needed it. Thanks, Shane!
Next we drove through Wisconsin, a land of beautiful manicured farms and more red barns than you can shake a cheddar wheel at. So lovely!
In Green Bay we stopped to see a surprisingly large athletic facility where a local team plays a sport that apparently involves feet and leather hats. I hear that the locals are rather enthusiastic about it.
Just south of Green Bay, in DePere, is Butterfly Books, a roomy and cheerful independent bookstore run by Barbara Wilson. Barbara and her friendly team of booksellers were very kind, staying open later than usual on a Saturday afternoon just so that we could visit. Here I am with Barbara and Samantha Parker, bookseller and saxophone player. Great to meet you!
ROLLING AROUND IN PAIN IN MILWAUKEE
In Milwaukee we stayed with our friends Posh (really Josh, but he’s yet another friend with a mysterious nickname given by Karen) and Boris. They showed us around Milwaukee, and took us for custard at Kopps, a Milwaukee thing-to-do. The custard was a lot like ice cream except a lot denser—it’s made with eggs and who-knows-what-else and it sneaks up on you. Thank god I only had a small cone—by bedtime I felt so full that I rolled around in pain clutching at my stomach. But honestly, it was so tasty it was worth it! :-)
As any fan of Laverne and Shirley can tell you, Milwaukee is home to many breweries, so how could we pass up the opportunity to tour the Miller factory?
In beautiful Cedarburg, WI, about twenty minutes north of Milwaukee, is the terrific Creekside Books. Owner Glen Switalski is a man with an amazing story: After his doctor told him he needed to lose weight, he lost well over 100 lbs by exercise, diet and sheer force of will. Today he can be seen riding his exercise bike in and around his store every day. The guy is an aerobic, bookselling powerhouse! Creekside Books is a great independent bookstore, and Gary is a truly an inspirational guy.
Here I am with Lindsay McLaughlin, a reader and artist who came to see me. She was fun to talk with, and very helpful in suggesting places we could go in the area. Great to meet you, Lindsay! :-)
Illinois: An All-Too-Short Trip Through the Land of Lincoln
Southward from Milwaukee...! Unfortunately, we had only a few hours in Illinois. Still, it counts as state number 31 on our trip! :-)
UNDER THE SYCAMORE TREE
In Grayslake, Illinois, about forty minutes north of Chicago, is a magical bookstore called Under the Sycamore Tree. A new independent store, owner Jackie Harris opened up shop this past November. It’s a roomy, bright place with a big “sycamore tree” inside. The store has taken inspiration from Wild Rumpus (see Minnesota) and filled its space with wild animals. My kids were in their element. Zoe ran at me with a giant grin and a very big python named ‘Snakey’. Under the Sycamore Tree is yet another example of how independent bookstores tend to be run by smart, thoughtful, nice people. Jackie, it was a pleasure to meet you!
Here I am with Jackie and her daughter, Haley:
Because we’re meeting a friend in Michigan later today, we had only about an hour or so to see Chicago. I know, I know—not even close to scratching the surface. So on top of just driving around a little, we decided that with our limited time we’d stop by Lake Michigan. As far as my eyes could tell, the lake might as well have been an ocean. Way cool. Next time, we’ll plan to spend more time here!
Our Trip Through Indiana: Don’t Blink Or You’ll Miss It
If you thought our stop in Chicago was too short, Indiana is only about a half hour of highway to us. Still, it counts as state #32. :-)
Next stop, Michigan!
LEMONADE MOUTH (Delacorte Press, 2007)
I AM THE WALLPAPER (Delacorte Press, 2005)
Sadie from Indiana sent me the following e-mail:
Okay, So I read your book, and (of course) absolutely loved it!
Have you ever heard of anybody who could see spirits?
Not just sometimes, but all the time, whereever they are.
Well I can, and I have a pretty creepy story about my neighbor's house if you'd like to hear...
Of course I'd like to hear! And so Sadie sent me this chilling tale:
When I first moved into my house, my mom made me meet the neighbors (ick). And the one on our left was an elderly man who I guess didn't like kids very much. I ended up being best friends with the girl in the house past his. But being the strange person I am, I had to investigate.
I asked my friend about him, and it turned out he was really weird (and he used to be a circus clown, but that's not important). I convinced my friend to help me. After a few months of living there, I was walking home from my friend's house late one night and I happened to see out of the corner of my eye, my creepy neighbor watching me from his window.
I was a little freaked out, but I didn't think much of it. After a few more times of that happening, I got really annoyed. I asked my mom about him (not telling her about him watching me), saying he was really weird.
Turns out he had died a month before!
Somebody else lives there now, but sometimes I still see the creepy neighbor looking out his window at me.
I've heard of being a good neighbor--this is ridiculous! And beyond CREEPY!! Thanks for sharing, Sadie.
Both my wife and I have rather annoyingly been struck with some terrible back pains at the exact same time. This is especially sucky because both of us are hobbling around the house like a couple of injured camels, complaining, whining, and generally being a pains in the butt.
Yep...lots of fun at the ol' Novak household.
I put a few new zombie designs up recently over at redbubble, including one just in time for the new Indiana Jones flick. Feel free to check them out.
Victoria from South Carolina sent me this tale about something that happened to her in her great-grandmother's house in Indiana. It has a creepy ring to it, as you'll see:
My great-grandma had just died 2 days ago and we were going through her house and getting the things she had let behind for us in her will. Now the one thing that was left to me was her turquoise ring. The only problem was that no one could find it.
I was up in her room and suddenly I got a chill. I looked around but no window was open. Then appearing in the doorway of the room stood my great-grandma dressed in the dress she had died in. She then knelt down and glided her hand under her dresser and picked out what looked to be a ring. She handed it to me and sure enough it was a turquoise ring! I gasped and when I looked up she mouthed the words "I love you" and departed.
I still have the ring 5 years later.
Hope you like the story!
I sure do. Not only did you get a ring that means a lot to you but you got a great story too! Thanks for sharing it.
The Official Poem of Indiana, which is written by Arthur Franklin Mapes: “Indiana” God crowned her hills with beauty, Gave her lakes and winding streams, Then He edged them all with woodlands As the settings for our dreams. Lovely are her moonlit rivers, Shadowed by the sycamores, Where the fragrant winds of summer Play along the willowed shores. Click here to read the rest of [...]Add a Comment
Late Sunset over Lake Winona Originally uploaded by teachergal I marveled, twice, about the fact that the sun sets later in Indiana than it does in Rhode Island (i.e. because it’s on the western part of the Eastern Time Zone). Therefore, after Ruth, Christi, and I parted from Jen, Cathy, and Sarah, I detoured to the [...]Add a Comment
In case you’re interested to see some photos from our little reunion in Indiana, they’re in the digital scrapbook below. Make a Smilebox scrapbookAdd a Comment
Jeffrey Graf published, on the website of Indianan Notes and Queries, an exhaustive survey (revised in February, 2007) of the surmises about the nickname Hoosier. In 1995 William D. Piersen, and in 2007 Jonathan Clark Smith devoted articles to Hoosier’s early days (both appeared in the Indiana Magazine of History), and I am returning to this chestnut mainly because all three authors, though extremely well-informed, missed a work that, in my opinion, deserves attention.
The starting point for everyone interested in the history of Indiana’s nickname is a brochure with the title The Word Hoosier By Jacob Piatt Dunn and John Finley By Mrs. Sarah A. Wrigley (His Daughter). Indiana Historical Publications, volume IV, number 2. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1907, 29pp. John Finley was the author of the poem The Hoosier’s Nest (1833) that seems to have made the soubriquet recognized by a wide audience. The poem takes up three pages of small print. The painstaking research was carried out by Dunn, who knew most of the silly conjectures, as well as the few plausible hypotheses, on the etymology of Hoosier and offered an explanation of his own. He had a healthy attitude toward etymological folklore, for he realized how little trust one can be put into stories of the type “I was there and know the facts.” Thus, in 1929 Oscar D. Short brought out his recollections in the Indiana Magazine of History (volume 25) that begin so: “There has been a tradition in our family, which I have known since boyhood, that Aaron Short, an older brother of my grandfather, gave to the inhabitants of Indiana the name ‘Hoosier’.” The story appeared four years after Dunn’s death, but, if he had read it, he would have found nothing new for himself in it: a very strong man, so Short recounts, was victorious in a fight, jumped up, and shouted: “Hurrah for the Hoosier” (perhaps he tried to say: husher or hussar). Both versions—of Hoosier going back to husher or being a “corruption” of hussar—were familiar to Dunn. The editors of the Indiana Magazine of History had no illusions about the verisimilitude of Short’s recollections; yet they decided to add a new piece of legendary material to the Hooseriana. The authors of fibs like Short’s believe in them wholeheartedly, but such is all folklore. Even the storytellers who know the most fantastic fairy tales, when asked whether they think that enchanted castles and boys becoming ravens at the will of an evil stepmother exist, tend to answer evasively that, of course, such things do not happen here, but at one time and elsewhere…
Smith accords Short’s story a measure of respect. However, Hoosier, as far as we can judge, has always been pronounced with the vowel of hoo. For this reason alone, the suspicious word husher “stiller” (a person so strong that he can “hush, still” anyone) is an unlikely etymon (source) of Hoosier, and could hussar have been such an active word in the man’s vocabulary that he would recall it in midair? It is also Smith’s contention that Hoosier reflects “local pride” rather than “southern scorn.” The OED quotes from a letter allegedly written in 1826, the first extant text believed to have the word in question. As it seems, the date is wrong, and we have to accept Smith’s conclusion that there is no documented use of Hoosier prior to the thirties. But his other contention, namely, that Hoosier emerged with reference to the Indiana boatmen and, far from being a “slur,” showed how people reveled in being called Hoosiers, is harder to accept.
The traditional theory has it that Hoosier originated in the South as a term of contempt, a word like yokel, hayseed, rube, bumpkin, hillbilly, clodhopper, jake, backwoodsman, and dozens of others; that in Indiana it lost its offensive connotations; and that it retained its negative sense outside the state. This reconstruction agrees with what we know about such situations. Peripheral areas usually preserve archaic features, be it phonetics, grammar, or vocabulary. The adoption by political parties and religious groups of the opprobrious names that in the beginning their enemies and denigrators coined in contempt has often been recorded: such is the history of Tory, Whig, and Quaker. The ties of Hoosier to the rest of the South are too numerous to be ignored, and outside Indiana references to those who are called Hoosiers are never complimentary.
Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) treats the word in depth, and Graf has, naturally, consulted this work. Hoosier can mean “a rustic, especially in such combinations as country hoosier and mountain hoosier; an unmannerly or objectionable person; a White person considered to be objectionable, especially because of racial prejudice; an inexperienced or incompetent person among those skilled in a particular field, especially logging.” The verb hoosier “to be a farmer” and hoosier up “to work incompetently; to slow down or shirk on a job, usually on purpose” also exist. According to Smith, Hoosier came to mean “an inept person, a bad worker, etc.” later, and it is true that the word’s pejorative uses in written and printed documents do not antedate 1836. Yet the time gap is minimal, and slang makes its way into books and letters sporadically. Also, the connection between Hoosier and “Indiana boatman” will appear strong only if we disregard all other contexts. On the whole, it is easier to accept the fact of late attestation than of the development from “a doughty boatman” to “hillbilly; jerk.”
Several times those who investigated the origin of Hoosier have mentioned a similarly sounding family name and made it responsible for the rise of the Indiana nickname. Their hypotheses (Piersen is among the most recent advocates of one of them) do not go far and carry little conviction. But in 1999 R. Hooser published an article in Eurasian Studies Yearbook, pp. 224-231, and this is the article even Graf missed. The author documents the history of his extended family. The Hausers came to the United States from Alsace. In their dialect the diphthong designated in spelling by au had the value of Engl. oo in hoo. Consequently, Hauser and Hooser are variants of the same name. According to R. Hauser, the Hoosers migrated to Indiana from Salem, NC and were mocked for their beliefs and customs. He does not explain under what circumstances the nickname was extended to the rest of the inhabitants of the state, why the meaning of the slur was forgotten exactly where it should have been best remembered, and why such an obvious origin did not occur to the people who wrote about the subject in the thirties of the 19th century, but all etymologies of Hoosier are marred by similar inconsistencies (hence the never-ending debate). Especially baffling is the circumstance that even in Finley’s days no one knew why Hoosiers are called this, unless we “buy” the husher theory. Nicknames are invented to belittle or tease their bearers, even when applied to kings: consider such cognomens and Harald Bluetooth and Charles the Bald. The case is certainly not closed, but, if the first Hoosiers were the Hausers and “foreigners,” we begin to understand why there was no love lost between them and their new surroundings, why they chose Indiana as their place of residence, and why other southerners stick to what seems to be the word’s original meaning.
It is not for an outsider to solve the question that puzzled so many specialists in Indiana history, but if this publication makes R. Hauser’s article part of the debate, it will have served its purpose. I will add only a few phonetic details. DARE records the following spelling variants of Hoosier: hoogie, hoojy, hoodger, hoojer, hushier, and hooshur; from older sources hoosher has come down to us. They reflect two pronunciations: hooser and hoosier (-sier as in hosier). If the etymon is Hooser, a third variant emerges. All three can be reconciled. The use of sh for s is old in the history of English. The roots of banish, nourish, bushel, and so forth had final s in French, but they were borrowed with sh. This alternation can also be observed in living speech. In Minnesota, people say groshery for grocery. The same alternation affects the voiced partners of s and sh. For instance (drawing on what one hears in Minneapolis), Fraser is pronounced Frasier (we have Fraser Hall on campus, so that Fraser is a high frequency word where I live). It takes an effort to convince students that the name of Sir James Frazer, the author of The Golden Bough, should rhyme with razor. Hooser, that is, Hoozer, would have become Hoosier, as Fraser became Frasier.
Dunn’s attempt to derive Hoosier from a word recorded in Cumberland, with the resulting meaning “a large man,” has little to recommend it: the connection is tenuous, and the original Hoosiers hardly got their name for their physique. The other explanations rarely go beyond exercises in folk etymology. I very much hope to get numerous responses to this blog. They will probably attempt to demolish my cautious defense of the Hooser theory. This is fine; etymology is a battleground. But, if I dare, I would like to ask my prospective opponents not to write anything before they have read the articles mentioned above. The easiest way to find Graf’s survey is to Google Hoosier (the work will appear at once) or to use the website of the journal Indiana Notes and Queries: http://www.indiana.edu/~/librcsd/internet/hoosier.html (this journal, I believe, is an occasional online publication).
Terry from Florida sent me this tale which took place when he was a boy in Indiana. It involves another boy who used to live in his house but died, then sent Terry a message from beyond...
My family moved to a small town in northern Indiana, into a large house where I got my own room. I was 15.
It started a few weeks after we had moved in. it was late and I was in bed ...really half asleep when I heard my closet door open. I quickly turned on the light and sure enough it was open. I just dismissed it and went to sleep . I truly did not give it a second thought until a few nights later it happened again but this time I was awake reading and watched the door slowly open. Ok now I freaked. But the rest of the family was sleeping. I didn't want to wake them and freak all of them too. So I just laid down on the couch. That is where my Dad found me the next morning. When I told him what was going on he just sort of laughed at me and told me it was probably just the air conditioning kicking on ..and causing a vacuum which caused the door to swing open. He said he would get to fixing the latch. I believed him.
So this went on for a while, the closet door just swinging open. Until one of the neighbors told me that the family that lived in the house before us had lost a son in a train accident two years before we had moved in. The boy had been in his senior year of high school--the same one I would be going to that September. I also learned that I was living in his old room.
Now I was either letting my imagination running away with me or I was tuning into something but I got it in my head that it was his ghost who was opening the door.
It kept happening, and strangely I got use to it ...until it was waking me up more frequently and I had school in the morning and was losing sleep so one night , that last night when it happened again ....I was mad ....and I said out loud ... I said his name ..... and told him he was dead .... he got hit by a train .... and he should go to heaven. The door never opened on it's own again.
Now for the really strange part ..... I started thinking about the closet door two or three weeks later ... if it was this kid's ghost, why was he opening the closet ... so I got out of bed one night ... turned on the light ... and looked in my closet. I moved my shoes and some boxes that were still unpacked from the move and peeled back the carpet. When I did that a section of the floor board popped up and hidden in the floor board was a cigar box. Inside of it was a bunch of stuff ...really nothing valuable, just things a guy would save, an old watch, a buck knife, pictures of friends and family and some cards and letters, just stuff. I just knew what to do with them. I put the box in a paper lunch sack and took it to school with me.
I knew from others that the younger sister of the boy that was killed was in my class. At lunch I went over to her. She was sitting with her friends and I told her who I was ....and after a strange look I let her know that I was living in her old home ... and had her late brother's old room and found something that I think belonged to him hidden in the closet of the bedroom. I slowly pulled the cigar box out of the bag and handed to her she smiled when she saw it and slowly opened it. A few tears came to her eyes..she thanked me as her girl friends comforted her, and I left.
A week later her mother came up to me as I was walking home. Her daughter had pointed me out, and she thanked me too ...and gave me the buck knife from the box as a reward ...I tried to say no but she was tearing up and I smiled and said thank you.
It's been over 30 years and I still have that Buck knife. I never told either of them that it was their son and brother that showed me where the secret box was.
That's it ...Not scary but a real Ghost Story
And a really touching one, too. You were very kind and I'm sure the mother, the sister, and, in his own way, the boy, appreciated your kindness. Thanks for sharing this one.
The flags are at half mast, even here in the CNMI. It's a small gesture, but appropriate, to honor all those who were gunned down in the middle of life on a beautiful college campus.
Details about the lives of some of those who died are here . All life is valuable. These tributes give a glimpse at how important individuals can be.
The personal accounts of survivors and colleagues help with processing the events at Blacksburg, Virginia. For example, see OnTheGroundDiary , NYT (login required) and photo .
It's really sad. Whether violence is perpetrated by a single individual or as part of a concerted action by groups or governments, the end result is immoral. I'm praying for peace here.