Last Plane of the Summer

Should be boarding in about an hour.  With a little luck, I’ll be back home by 9:30, and won’t have had a moron in my lap for the entire trip.  I think I’ll be taking my A02 boarding position and making a beeline for the exit row, if there’s nothing in the bulkhead row.  I’ll either be up front, or have my legroom regardless.  They serve the free drink either way.

Oh, and there’s no free WiFi at the Indianapolis Airport … and I refused to pay $4.00 for internet access.  It was 8 bucks for 24 hours … but I was only going to need two.  So we’ll do this on Live Writer, and I’ll upload everything when I get home.

Today, I went to the Lawrence County Museum with mom, which she was hoping I’d do since I came through the door.  Mom loves the museum, and has volunteered there for the past couple of years.  I hope we’re able to find a similar hobby for her in Florida.  I wasn’t able to shoot anything in the museum, because I didn’t bring my tripod and there wasn’t enough light to hand-hold the camera and get anything.  But of all the artifacts housed there, there is precious little about the Limestone Industry … which has been Bedford’s claim to fame for 100 years.  I’m surprised it was so under-represented, but maybe with some of the things Mom will donate there’ll be more.  At least  I hope that’s the case.

Bedford Public Library 12On the way home from the museum, I stopped to shoot a few pictures of the Bedford Public Library, which was one of hundreds of Carnegie Libraries build in the 1930’s.  I saw the actual date in a book at the museum, but I’ve already managed to forget what year.  I want to say 1938, but don’t quote me on that.

As with so many things in our fair city, it’s constructed of limestone.  I know, what a shock.  But it is completely in keeping with so many of the architecture of the area.  I can’t tell you how many hours I spent in that library.  Hartie, my dad’s mom, was all about the library, and she took us at least once a week.

In the 80’s they built an extension to the library … a glass monstrosity that is just jarring next to the Carnegie facility.  At the time, they said the glass would reflect the original structure, so it wouldn’t look so odd … but it just looks odd.  Still, it doesn’t matter really what a library looks like on the outside.  It’s what’s inside that counts.

Hartie's House 2

Speaking of Hartie, this is her house.  It’s been out of the family for some time.  Busy and Tim lived in it for a while, but when they moved to Columbus, it had to be sold.  Since then, it’s really deteriorated.  The Patton’s were not nearly of the means of the Fursts, and Hartie and Pat lived modestly just two blocks from the  house where I grew up.  Of course, that meant that we were only two blocks from the coolest grandmother on the planet.  Margie, Mom’s mom, was more staid, very proper, and we loved her a lot.  Hartie was just fun, and Pat could fix anything from a Swiss watch to a diesel-electric locomotive.  When he feigned anger, he’s say “I’ll fly at you like an old settin’ hen”, and we’d run screaming with laughter away from him.  A big, powerful man and an Olympic-class athlete in his day, he worked on the Monon Railroad.  Hartie was a schoolteacher.  She instructed mostly young women in the arts of typing and shorthand at Oolitic High School.  Hartie had an old Karman Ghia, with a stick shift.  I remember her letting us move the gearshift while she drove.

Hartie was an avid quilter, and sat at the window here on the south side of the house at a huge quilting frame for hours making tiny, precise stitches.  After Pat died, she make a quilt she called “Pat’s Pajamas”.  She cut up his old PJ’s and pieced them into a quilt, so she could keep that little part of him with her.  There was always a red or golden delicious apple, occasionally an ice cream bar, and she’d make sweet tea in the sunshine in the hot Indiana summer.  I could write an entire book about Hartie and Pat, and maybe someday I will.

I left mom’s house a little earlier than I had originally planned so that I could shoot some pictures along old highway 37, which meanders north to Bloomington.  It’s gotten a lot more scenic since they cut the new highway through, and it’s less traveled.  I love to get off the beaten track.

Rolling Hills 3 I don’t know how I became such a flatlander after living among the Southern Indiana hills.  It is beautiful country, no matter what the season.  When these hills are covered with a blanket of snow, they seem to go on into a cold, white forever.  But I really don’t want to live in the snow any longer.  In the summertime, the greens of the pastures give way to the hazy grays of the distant hills … each seeming to beckon you on to the next ridge.  You eye can follow a road as it rolls off into the distance … following the uneven terrain before disappearing into the next valley.  I recognize it’s beauty, but it’s far to far away from the nearest ocean for my taste.  I have become an islander … a creature of the tides, but I’ll never forget my Southern Indiana roots.

Abandoned House 2 Sepia

Wending my way up Old 37, I was struck by this old, abandoned house by the side of the road.  Weeds grew waist-high in the long-neglected yard.  Broken windows and one of the two front doors stood ajar.  The tin roof rusting in the July sun.  the photograph begged to be sepia toned, after all of the old sepiaed photographs I’ve looked at over the past three days.  But I had to wonder what was the story of this small house.  I’ve spent my time in Bedford reminiscing about good times, and bad, in mom’s house on 14th street and the cabin at the lake.  How many kids used to play in this yard, and worked in the nearby farm fields in the summer?  How many births, deaths, weddings, funerals, good days and bad days and going half-mad days were experienced by the people who have lived here?  If ever one wanted walls to talk, it is at a house like this.  And how long before it falls in on its self, as old, abandoned houses often do, the victims of benign neglect?  How long before all that’s left standing are the brick chimney and (probably) limestone front steps and the memories of those who have made this place home?

Drive In 2 A little closer to Bloomington is the Starlite Drive-In movie theater.  Drive-in’s used to dot the landscape, and families would sit in their cars to watch the latest summer blockbuster.  Precious few remain, and from the looks of things, the employees need a little bit of remedial spelling.  That, or they had lost the “K” from the box of letters for the marquee.  Although, I suppose ‘Dark Night” is appropriate for a Drive-In.

We used to go to the East 50 Drive-in Theater.  I remember seeing “Jaws” there in the summer of 1976, I believe it was.  But before that, as a kid, I remember the family piling into the station wagon and dad backing into the space.  We’d open the tailgate and sit in the back and watch the movies, the tinny audio coming from awful all-weather speakers that had to be able to withstand the elements.  The megaplex theaters have all but killed the drive-in.  A pity for the generations who will never know the joy of making out in the car while the movie played … and you didn’t have to sit all the way at the back of the theater.

Field and Hills 03 Finally, as I traveled north of Bloomington towards Indianapolis, I found the place where the glacier stopped at the end of the last ice age.  At least an approximation.  About Martinsville, the rolling hills give way to flat terrain that continues all the way to Lake Michigan.  In the wintertime in northern Indiana, the wind will just howl down from the arctic across the open fields, and snow can drift above your head.  But here, at Martinsville, I was able to shoot over the brown corn tassels towards the hills disappearing into the haze.  You can almost see the fingers of the glacier that have cut the valley that is now home to the White River and In. 67.  By the time you reach Indianapolis, any pretence of a natural hill is pretty much gone.


On the airplane now … finishing up so that all I have to do when I get home is upload the pictures and the post.  As we were departing Indianapolis, the weather was barely VFR … about 5 miles visibility in haze.  VFR minimums are three miles and 1000 feet from clouds.  I can remember flying little airplanes in weather like this … barely able to make out the next ridge.  It was in this kind of weather that I nearly had a mid-air collision with another airplane shortly after getting my licence,  I was flying along, showing off just a little for my friends that I’d asked to go flying, and not paying enough attention to what was going on outside the cockpit.  I suddenly looked up and saw a Beech Queen Air filling up my windshield.  I can still see it as plainly as if it were happening now.  I grabbed the yoke with both hands and gave a sharp push down.  A pencil on the dash floated briefly in the air as we all went roller-coaster weightless for just a moment.  I can swear to this day that I could hear the engines of the other airplane as it passed overhead.  One of the passengers said she just assumed I’d seen the other airplane, and didn’t say anything.  I wish she had.  One Tom Patton … my uncle … was killed in a mid-air collision … and I nearly made it two for two.   Even though he was pilot in command, that accident wasn’t his fault.  This one would have been at least partially mine.

I remember shaking badly as I turned the airplane around and concluded our joyride with an uneventful landing.  The other plane was at the Bedford airport refueling.  The other pilot didn’t say anything to me … so I don’t know if he knew how close we came to a disaster, or if he just didn’t know it was me.

Here at 39 thousand … the air is fairly clear and fairly smooth.  I have my VERY EXPENSIVE glass of inexpensive red wine … 100 calories of Nabisco  Cheese Nips, and a little less than an hour before I’m back on the ground in Florida.

I’m ready to be home for a while.



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Filed under Bedford, Black and White Photography, Flying, Heritage, Nostalgia, Photography, Thoughts

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