Nawww… Did They Really Say That?

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

The election is over and many of us have already offered up a sigh of relief and a pre-Thanksgiving prayer of gratitude.
But campaign promises and rhetoric oft carry over into elected officials’ misspeaks, verbal faux pas, or proof that we don’t elect the smartest people.
According to my Bathroom Book of Lists here is what some politicians really said…really.
“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” according to Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin, a Republican from Alabama.
“Men often do need maternity care,” said Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary.
“The earth is about 9,000 years old,”said Rep, Paul Brown (R-GA) who at the time was a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology.
“The Internet…has not done well, just like when Google started doing all their things, it didn’t work out well,” said Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) on the technical difficulties of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
“Presidents Washington, Lincoln and Roosevelt have all authorized electronic surveillance on a far broader scale,” said Republican Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez.
“Every month that we do not have an economic recovery package, 500 million Americans lose their jobs,” said Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. (The current US population is less than 325 million.)
“The temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that,” according to Republican State Senator Brandon Smith of Kentucky.
“My concern is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) in voicing his opposition to stationing 8,000 Marines on the island of Guam.
“Just because the Supreme Court rules on something doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s constitutional,” proclaimed Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) who apparently failed his high school government class.
“We’ve lasted 400 years, operating under a constitution that clearly defines what is constitutional and what it not,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) who apparently failed her high school government and history and math class as the constitution was enacted in 1789, just 227 years ago.
And showing that mistakes can be made at the top: “We’re the country that built the intercontinental railroad,” said President Barack Obama speaking about the transcontinental railroad.
And finally, something from former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich on which we all should be able to agree, “It is perfectly American to be wrong.”
And, my friends, we are frequently good at it.

Random Thoughts And Observations

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener’s Mom

This week’s offering is “Mom Approved”. Or, I guess it is, she sent these to me.
•The location of your mailbox shows you how far away from your house you can be in a robe, before you start looking like a mental patient.
•My therapist said that my narcissism causes me to misread social situations. I’m pretty sure she was hitting on me.
•My 70 year kindergarten reunion is coming up soon and I’m worried about the 200 lbs I’ve gained since then.
•I always wondered what the job application is like at Hooters. Do they just give you a bra and say, ” Here, fill this out?”
•The speed with which a woman says “nothing”, when asked “What’s wrong?”, is inversely proportional to the severity of the crap storm that’s coming.
•The pharmacist asked me my birth date again today. I’m going to be sure I pick up a prescription on my actual birthday. I’m pretty sure she’s going to get me something.
•I can’t understand why women are okay that JC Penny has an older women’s clothing line named, “Sag Harbor”.
•I think it’s pretty cool how Chinese people made a language entirely out of tattoos.
•What is it about a car that makes people think that we can’t see them pick their noses?
•Money can’t buy happiness, but it keeps the kids in touch!
•The reason Mayberry was so peaceful and quiet is because nobody was married. Andy, Aunt Bea, Barney, Floyd, Howard, Goober, Gomer, Sam, Earnest T. Bass, Helen, Thelma Lou, Clara, and of course, Opie— all single. The only married person was Otis, and he stayed drunk
•Marriage is like a deck of cards. In the beginning all you need is two hearts and a diamond. By the end, you wish you had a club and a spade.
•And God promised men that good and obedient wives would be found in all corners of the world. Then He made the earth round… and laughed and laughed and laughed.
•I’m suspicious of people who don’t like dogs. But I trust a dog when he doesn’t like a person.
•You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.
•Show respect even to people who don’t deserve it; not as a reflection of their character, but as a reflection of yours.

I’m Voting “NO” On Question No. 1

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener
If you haven’t already voted, there’s a question on your election ballot next week wanting your decision on a constitutional question
Indiana voters will have the chance to decide if people’s right to hunt and fish needs to be declared in the state constitution.
Hoosier lawmakers, following the lead of the National Rifle Association, have gotten this public question to next week’s ballot:
“Shall the Constitution of the State of Indiana be amended by adding Section 39 to Article 1 to provide that the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject only to laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly to: (1) promote wildlife conservation and management; and (2) preserve the future of hunting and fishing?”
Those who want voters to pick “yes” for this question say this change will forever enshrine hunting, fishing and harvesting wildlife as a valued part of Indiana’s heritage. But with or without this amendment, those things will remain a valued part of the state’s heritage.
So will the right to play basketball, grow tomatoes and sweet corn, race dirt track cars or ride bicycles.
The state constitution needn’t be amended to protect those last two. And it needn’t be amended to protect the first three, either. And those are all a part of our Hoosier heritage as well.
Before readers begin calling, writing, emailing, or tweeting me (good luck with that last one) thinking that I am anti-gun, anti-fishing, anti hunting, anti-outdoors you haven’t been reading this column very long, have you?
I live…in the broadest definition of the word…in the wilderness surrounded by Hoosier National Forest. I have written about my hunting and fishing exploits and want you to have your own outdoor stories to tell, too.
My experience with putting the right to hunt and fish in the state constitution will risk causing some unknowing, uninformed ‘outdoorsmen’ to begin trampling on farmers and woodland owners private property rights claiming their state constitutional right to hunt & fish trumps a “No Trespassing” sign. That is not true now and won’t be true should the constitutional question be approved.
But it doesn’t mean that there will not be occurrences of those instances. Private property boundaries could easily be ignored by unknowing (I am refraining from using the inflammatory word ignorant) gun-toting hunter who thinks the constitution is on his side.
There were times when I hunted (for the first and only time) with some unethical outsdoorsmen who said those ‘No Trespassing” signs meant “Be careful. Don’t get caught.”
What does the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the agency charged with protecting the outdoors and enforcing hunting, fishing and trapping laws, have to say about the constitution question?
The DNR does not have a position on the proposed amendment, according to Phil Bloom, communications director for the agency. Bloom explained that the statutory authority of the state’s DNR would not be affected by the amendment because Indiana Code 14 gives the agency the right and authority to manage wildlife in Indiana.
And let’s be reminded on the last constitutional amendment we approved: placing property tax caps into the law of the land. It was marketed to us that it would be a way to keep our individual property taxes from increasing. But the law of unintended consequences has determined that mayors, town councils, county councils, school boards, library boards across the state have had to deal with decreasing revenues for police, fire and ambulance protection because of the property tax caps amendment we voted to place into the constitution.
But I don’t think lawmakers will be passing any measures to overturn the amendment that will result in increased taxes. And I don’t think the voting public will be approving a raise of their taxes either. So we’re stuck with it.
I voted ‘No’ on that tax cap amendment and I will be voting ‘No’ on the hunting & fishing constitutional question next week.
Voting ‘Yes’ on the question makes an unnecessary political statement and truly degrades the sanctity of what should be the state’s most treasured governmental document.

Thrills, Chills And Cast Iron Cats

by Becky Killian
(We turn over this space this week to an award winning writer, photographer and journalist to share with you a Halloween story. Just keep saying, “I ain’t afraid of no ghost.”)
Before sitting at a desk last week at the newspaper office where I work, I had to move a rat off the chair.
Of course, the rat was a plastic Halloween decoration that fit well with the office’s October décor, which includes spiders, spider webs and pumpkins.
It’s strange but I was better with the rat than I was with the preferred décor at my last daily newspaper office: scarecrows. Lots of them. It didn’t matter where you looked while on the first floor of the building, your gaze was also greeted with the lopsided grin of a scarecrow.
Please understand that there were days when I worked long hours and it wasn’t uncommon for me to be the only one in the building at 2 a.m. It also wasn’t uncommon for me to see shadows seemingly pass behind me, their images reflected on my computer screen, while I diligently worked to get the paper paginated by deadline. When I saw those shadows, I was always alone in the building and nothing was moving in the newsroom that could account for them. Yet, they were there.
Normally, that would freak me out, but I was always so much more freaked out by the looming deadline that I just let the ghosts pace around the room. Maybe they were as worried about deadline too… but of a different sort.
But it was after making deadline and seeing those shadows that I left the building and had to walk through the gauntlet of grinning scarecrows. Those grins seem ominous at night, let me tell you.
It also didn’t help that I recalled some horror movie about a deadly scarecrow come to life that I saw during my misspent youth.
I tried to gently tell the front office ladies, who were the primary downstairs decorators, about the scarecrow creepiness, but they just looked at those grinning scarecrows, looked back at me, and blinked.
It’s hard to describe nighttime creepiness to someone who works an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule.
The scarecrows, and maybe even the mysterious shadows, aren’t the strangest encounters I’ve had. While working my own 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule in an office long ago, I was taking advantage of some quiet time that found me alone in the office to get some paperwork done. As I focused on my work, a thought entered my mind as clearly as if someone had spoken it: “Someone’s here.” I managed to keep my focus on that paperwork as I walked to the back of the office to my desk. As I rounded a corner, I still was looking at the paperwork when I “saw” a misty, human-like figure ahead of me.
I guess you can’t say it was “out of the corner of my eye” since I walked right toward it. But it was like that – I didn’t look directly at it, but I saw it. I didn’t have enough time to process it, so I just kept on walking. Right through it. I remember sensing the spot was warmer than the rest of the office (I thought ghosts were supposed to be colder?). I also thought the figure was male.
Despite these impressions, I walked into my office, sat at my desk,  and finally looked away from that paperwork long enough to wonder, what just happened?
I got up, walked to the doorway and peeked around the corner. Nothing was there. Whatever it was, was gone.
The next oddness I remember also happened around that same time of my life. I was married but home alone in the evening because my ex was working a 16-hour day and wasn’t due back until the next morning. It was October and, to honor the spooky side of Halloween, a couple of special shows were airing that night that I foolishly chose to watch. One was some show about houses reported to be haunted. The other, I’m deeply ashamed to admit, was Geraldo’s “Satan special.” If you missed it, please don’t go looking for it. It just involved Geraldo Rivera and an hour of drama in which “evidence” was presented showing the looming presence of demonic evil in our day-to-day existence. If you want a clue as to how bad it was, he interviewed Ozzie Osborne. The seemingly bewildered Ozzie answered questions as best he could, using the same garbled Ozzie-speak we all came to know and love during the reality show that aired later and featured his family.
Being younger, and alone in the country in a dark house (why didn’t I turn a light on?) I freaked myself out. As part of this, I kept looking at the fireplace. Specifically, I kept looking at a cast iron doorstop that is fashioned to look like a cat…a very, very lifelike cat.
Understand that I love this doorstop. I bought it while in downtown Indianapolis at Union Station when they still had shops there. It’s beautiful. And lifelike, did I mention that?
Well, anyway, I spent the whole evening looking at the cat and remembering a scene from “The Amityville Horror” where a lion statue comes to life and bites the homeowner’s leg.
Eventually, I dragged myself away from the TV and went to bed. I really didn’t seem to think about it anymore until the next day when I got a call from my now ex-husband while I was at work. He was angry and confused. Why, he asked, had I moved the cast iron cat doorstop to the middle of the living room? He could have tripped over it.
I think I stammered a bit. I had walked right by that doorstop that morning while I got ready for work. Nothing was out of order in the living room.
My ex reassured me he had to move the doorstop back to the fireplace hearth.
I couldn’t explain what happened then any more than I can now. But I can tell you I’ve still got that cat doorstop. It sets on my new hearth. On occasion, I look at it and wonder. But I don’t pay it too much attention because I don’t want to get another call about someone in my house almost tripping over it.
And I sure don’t want it coming for me.
Have a happy, safe and relatively spook-free Halloween.

Newspaperman Survives Wild Hickory Attack

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

(This is an encore column from the Curt Comments archives.)
I will tell you up front, this is a nutty story.
I enjoy getting outside in the fall when the air is cool & crisp. And gathering persimmons and hickory nuts are a way to enjoy the out of doors and later enjoy the fruits of Mother Nature. I have learned that while the big tall hickories may grow on the hills and hollows of southern Indiana forests, it is the bottomland hickory that will produce the largest nuts.
Hickories need a lot of water to produce fruit and the hills just don’t have enough moisture. I have seen first hand the quarter sized fruit on the wilderness hills and gasp in awe at the goose egg sized nuts produced in the bottom woodlands.
This past week, after some cool, gentle breezes, I had some extra moments so I took a detour on returning to the wilderness and stopped nearby low ground hickory stand.
Over the years I have learned where three trees that produce goose-egg size hickory nuts are found. I walked past the small cueball size nuts on the ground leaving them for the squirrels.
When I came to the large fruited hickory tree I busied myself with alternatingly focusing my bifocals for looking for nuts then hulling them and dropping them in my bucket, I could relax and contemplate life. When you sit in front of computer or deal with people most of the day, getting away by yourself can be considerable therapy.
I thought about how to use the nutmeat in pies, cookies and just an occasional munching. I also thought about the early Native American hunter-gatherers who had originally inhabited this land before we drove them off and proclaimed it as our own in the name of civilization. And they were doing the same thing I was doing, only for them it was a way of life.
As a combine was busy at work in a field in the distance, I listened to the bluejays as they hopped from oak limb to limb searching for acorns. Drying leaves crunched under my feet as I gleaned for hickory gold.
Then it happened.
As I bent over to pick up some more hickory nuts, a stiff breeze suddenly belted the woods and I heard a peppering from the tree tops as gravity took over.
Squirrel hunters know the sound of a squirrel losing a grip on a hickory nut and hearing it brush leaves out of its way before falling with a thud to the ground.
Multiply that times at least twelve. Folks, it sounded like a machine gun. No, an avalanche of hickory nuts had been let loose and it was right over me. (OK, I jest.)
I had seen enough cartoons to know that if I looked up, one would smack me right in the nose so I hunkered down in a squat, used my arms to cover my head, gritted my teeth and waited for the worse.
Mortar shells from enemy fire seemed to land all around me. Thud! Thud! Thud! Some so close that I felt the thud before I actually heard it. (OK, so I jest again.) I survived the barrage with only a glancing blow to my backside. There is enough padding there that no injury was sustained.
I remained in that head-covered looking like I was taking an outdoor squat for several moments awaiting a second wave of nut bombs that never came so I returned to gathering those monster sized nuts.
I harvested nearly a 3 1/2 gallon bucket full in little time and made my way out of the woods to my old mini-SUV.
But I believe, as a humanitarian gesture for other hunter-gatherers, I shall return to that woods and post a sign near that aggressive hickory: Don’t worry about this tree’s bark but watch out for its bite

First Newspapers: A State & Local History

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Bicentennially speaking over 200 years ago, when Vincennes, Indiana was a small prairie borough just beginning to blossom, a man named Elihu Stout came to town and made history. That year, in 1804, the fledgling frontier settlement of the Indiana Territory governed by William Henry Harrison was in dire need of a printer who could publish the territorial and federal laws as well as legal advertisements. Harrison had to send the first batch of laws down to Kentucky to be printed, Vincennes historian Richard Day said, and the governor was offering $500 a year to any printer who would establish a shop in Vincennes and get a newspaper up and running.

Despite his young age, Stout, a 22-year-old New Jersey native and journeyman printer, was proficient with a press and managed to convince Harrison that he was the right man for the job. Once the wooden Ramage printing press and other tools of the trade that he’d purchased in Kentucky had been shipped to Vincennes by various river channels, Stout got settled in a room in the blockhouse on what is now called First Street.

On the Fourth of July in 1804, the Indiana Gazette was published, kick-starting a 212-year tradition of having a free press in the Hoosier State. “Gazette was the popular name for newspapers back then. Nowadays it would be dot com,” Day quipped.

Stout told his readers he was committed to collecting and publishing “such information as will give a correct account of the productions and natural advantages of the Territory, to give the latest foreign and domestic intelligence — Original Essays, Political, Moral, Literary, Agricultural, and on Domestic Economics — to select such fugitive literary productions as to raise ‘The genius or to mend the heart’.”

The Indiana Gazette came out every Thursday and readers had to pick up the paper at the print shop — with just 300 or so subscribers, there were no newsboys selling copies on street corners yet. In the early days of the four-page paper, it carried mostly legal notices and advertisements, the publisher’s main sources of revenue. Subscriptions were $2.50, payable half a year in advance. Stout also published the occasional obituaries and letters to the editor, though both required a payment to be included in the paper as he had to painstakingly set the type by hand.

In 1806, Stout’s print shop burned down, destroying his press. After getting the funding necessary to start all over, in July 1807 he started publishing a new paper that he named the Western Sun. Other than the image of a rising sun emblazoned on the top of each front page, the Western Sun was practically identical to its predecessor.

Ten years after that fire, in 1817, the name was changed to the Western Sun and General Advertiser for practical reasons.

A second fire in 1819 burned down Stout’s print shop. Again, he had to start all over and through sheer force of will, he was able to get his newspaper back up and running.

For the next four decades, with the help of apprentices and, legend has it, at least for one edition a young Abraham Lincoln, Stout laboriously put together his newspaper. During his tenure, it didn’t change much, Day said, though the number of subscribers may have gone up.

In 1845, the paper was sold to John Jones, a man with political ambitions who used it as a means of supporting his political goals. The newspaper changed hands and names several more times. By the late 1870s, the Sun’s primary competition, The Commercial, had started up which came out in the morning while the Western Sun came out in the evening.

Over the years, the newspaper continued to change hands and names several times and the industry evolved.

It wasn’t until the Great Depression and newspaper magnate Eugene C. Pulliam came along that the paper known today as the Sun-Commercial formed. Pulliam purchased both the Vincennes Sun and the Vincennes Commercial in 1930. He published a combined edition on Sundays, but he continued to publish the Sun as an evening paper and the Commercial as a morning paper until 1931, when they were merged to become today’s Vincennes Sun-Commercial.

Over the years, many newspapers have come and gone. The various small-town newspapers that once dotted the counties have halted their presses and the industry in Indiana has shrunk. Two-hundred-and-twelve years, though, the paper Stout started — albeit renamed — remains dedicated to keeping his legacy alive.

There is a local newspaper legacy for Crothersville though without as much documentation and the consistent consecutive string of publishing history.

In the late 1890’s The Crothersville Herald began publishing local news. The 4-page broadsheet published local and area news on the front and back pages with the two inside pages contained national, international news and ads from now defunct products and companies.

The newspaper lasted until the turn of the 20th century before going out of business. Then in the early 1910’s a new local publication, The Crothersville Index, began publishing local news. That publication, as were many businesses, became a victim of the Great Depression and ceased publication in the early 1930’s.

Crothersville was without a local newspaper until 1974 when The Austin-Crothersville News began publication. The News was a sister publication for the then Brownstown Banner. The News ceased publication in 1983.

Today’s Crothersville Times is the longest published newspaper in Crothersville. The Times was started in December 1980 by David Bartle then owner of the Scott County Journal. Curt Kovener, who worked as a reporter for the Journal, was named the new paper’s editor. In 1983 Bartle sold the Times to Kovener who has continued to publish the local newspaper every Wednesday (so far) for the past 33 years.

In 1984 Kovener began penning this weekly column ‘Curt Comments’.

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Our thanks to Jess Cohen of the Vincennes Sun-Commercial for helping compile the first Hoosier newspaper history.