The Day The Tower Tumbled Down

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Nearly 20 years ago a Crothersville landmark came tumbling down. The original town water tower stood approximately 250’ west of the current town hall. Though, at the time, it was behind to old town hall which, like the old tower, is no longer a part of the town’s landscape.
To enlighten some of the newer immigrants to Crothersville of our history (and to refresh the memories of veteran locals), from the Curt Comments archives here is what was written after the tower stubbornly came down.
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There’s an empty space against the sky in Crothersville.
A major portion of a landmark which the majority local residents took for granted fell to earth with a resounding crash Thursday afternoon. The remnants were to be demolished early this week.
The water tower which for more than three quarters of a century served as the source of water pressure and volume for the 750 or so water utility customers in Crothersville went by way of the cutting torch.
And like many of the advancing age residents of Crothersville, it too, showed a stubborn streak in the end. The plan was to notch the tower and cut it from the opposite side to form a hinge and allow the top of the tank to plummet to earth.
The physics and the mechanics were all okay. But when tension was applied to topple the tank, the hinges started to work but then broke early and the tank wedged itself against it base. And then refused to budge.
Well over two tons of quarter-inch steel sat wedged at an angle more than 120 feet up in the air. It was more cutting and rearranging placement of a chain (and definitely more courage than most of us earthbound sidewalk superintendents had) and a couple of tire squalling tugs from a truck which finally brought the top of the tank to earth.
The tower hadn’t been used in more than a year when it was decommissioned in favor of the new 300,000 gallon tower constructed a block and a half to the north.
Erected in 1922 when the Crothersville Water Utility Company was formed, the 50,000 gallon high tower, just like other water towers in other communities, served as a source of identity for the community.
It had more coats of paint than most folks could remember. Through the years it had been a light blue, gray, and at one time was a patriotic red, white & blue.
For some Crothersville area teens and young adults, the water tower was a rite of passage. Many local youth foolishly climbed the 140-foot tower to prove adulthood. It wasn’t manhood, because some girls were known to have climbed the diagonal braces of the water tower legs.
To mark their territory or to evidence their thrill-seeking ways, names and dates were often spray painted on the tower for earthbound mortals to see.
Adding to the danger, the tower climbing was always done at night so to avoid detection by police and other adults.
More than one well known Crothersville personality not only climbed the tower but went atop the roof to sit on the metal ball at the apex of the cone. In one instance, his peers attested to his daring that night as they saw the intermittent glow of a cigarette he smoked while sitting atop Crothersville’s highest point possibly as he attempted to screw up enough courage to make the trip back down.
And the old tower served as home to thousands of pigeons over its lifetime.
I always thought the old tower could be put to some useful purpose, other than recycled into scrap metal.
Maybe placing a monstrously large spinning gyroscope on top of the tower’s ball would attract visitors to town. Or removing the top and planting flowers and promoting it as the worlds largest flower pot would have attracted sightseers to the community. Afterall, don’t folks know Greensburg in Ripley County as the courthouse with the tree growing from its roof?
But who would plant and who would maintain it and who would pay for the liability insurance all shot the ideas down.
So along with the original Crothersville Water Tower—like Crescent Mill, Crothersville Hardware & Schlueters Store, the multiple general and 5¢&10¢ stores at the stoplight corner, the bandsaw mill, Kern’s Grill, the plethora of grocery stores & restaurants—some of Crothersville’s history and heritage fades into oblivion only to be reminisced over coffee or occasional newspaper columns.

It Said WHAT?!?!

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Two of our recent columns which generated a good deal of smiles and comments were on church bulletin bloopers and newspaper boo-boos.
Some of my Internet colleagues have sent more humorous gaffs from both the religious and journalistic realms for me to share.
•Over the massive front doors of a church, these words were inscribed: “The Gate of Heaven.” Below that was a small cardboard sign which read: “Please use other entrance.”
•Rev. Warren J. Keating, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Yuma AZ, says that the best prayer he ever heard was: “Lord, please make me the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”
•A woman went to the post office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards. “What denomination?” asked the clerk. “Oh, good heavens! Have we come to this?” said the woman. “Well, give me 50 Protestant and 50 Catholic ones.”
•On a very cold, snowy Sunday in February, only the pastor and one farmer arrived at the village church. The pastor said, “Well, I guess we won’t have a service today.” The farmer replied: “Heck, if even only one cow shows up at feeding time, I feed it.” And so the preacher began his sermon. An hour and 20 minutes later he said “Amen” and asked the farmer, what he thought of it. “Well,” said the farmer, “even if only one cow showed up to feed I would give her the whole wagon load.”
•During a children’s sermon, Rev. Larry Eisenberg asked the children what “Amen” means. A little boy raised his hand and said: “It means tha-tha-tha-that’s all folks!”
•A student was asked to list the Ten Commandments in any order. His answer? “3, 6, 1, 8, 4, 5, 9, 2, 10, 7.”
•Bill Keane, creator of the Family Circus cartoon strip, tells of a time when he was penciling one of his cartoons and his son, Jeffy, said, “Daddy, how do you know what to draw?” I said, “God tells me.” Jeffy said, “Then why do you keep erasing parts of it?”
•After the church service, a little boy told the pastor: “When I grow up, I’m going to give you some money.” “Well, thank you,” the pastor replied, “but why?” “Because my daddy says you’re one of the poorest preachers we’ve ever had.”
•My wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to our six-year-old daughter and said, “Would you like to say the blessing?” “I wouldn’t know what to say,” she replied. “Just say what you hear mommy say,” my wife said. Our daughter bowed her head and said: “Dear Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?”
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The Year’s Best Actual News Headlines
•Include Your Children when Baking Cookies
•Something Went Wrong In Jet Crash, Expert Says
•Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted
•Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
•Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents
•Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
•Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
•Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
•British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
•Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms
•Eye Drops Off Shelf
•Teachers Strike Idle Kids
•Clinton Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
•Enraged Cow Injures Farmer With Ax
•Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
•Miners Refuse to Work after Death
•Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
•Stolen Painting Found by Tree
•Two Sisters Reunited After 18 Years at Checkout Counter
•Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years
•War Dims Hope for Peace
•If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
•Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
•Deer Kill 17,000
•Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
•Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
•Man Struck By Lightning Faces Battery Charge
•New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
•Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
•Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
•Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed Needy
•Ban On Soliciting Dead in Trotwood
•Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
•New Vaccine May Contain Rabies
•Hospital is Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Wilderness Growth At Summer’s Solstice

by Curt Kovener
Curt-line
I am writing this on the Ides of June, just a few days before today’s Summer Solstice marking the official beginning of summer. But I can reliably tell you the growing season arrived much earlier in the wilderness.
The hills and hollers and flats are lush and green.
Blackberry blossoms were abundant earlier and it appears that the various bees and flying insects of the wilderness have done a good job pollinating. Now if we can have timely moisture like last night’s inch of rain, there should be plenty of berry picking opportunities in July.
The paw-paws of the wilderness are a confounding fruit. Growing in the under story of the forest and blooming early before any insects are out and about, their pollination is sketchy at best relying primarily on breezes, I suppose. We will have to wait and see if the Hoosier Banana produces much of a crop.
The paw-paw doesn’t have much of a shelf life. They bruise easily and rot quicker. I have to pick them just as their skin turns from light green to lighter yellow and before the raccoons find out they are nearly ripe. I process them like persimmons and freeze their pulp.
Domestically— the intended tended plants— our zucchini is fruiting and there will be a first harvest of that versatile and abundant fruit. We planted two plants and that may turn out to the one too many.
The heirloom tomatoes are blooming and producing fruit thanks to the higher temperatures during the day. They are called heirloom because the seeds can be saved and planted next spring and get the same tomato. That is unlike the hybrids which will produce volunteers but not of the same type as its parents.
We’re growing a tomato called ‘Mortgage Lifter’, a large, meaty slicing tomato. It got it’s name back in the 1930’s when the farmer growing them sold enough fruit to pay off his farm mortgage.
They are planted in large pots next to the sidewalk because I found planting tomatoes in the high fenced garden area keeps deer and raccoons out but tomato hornworms can come right in. At least planted near the house where they can be watered, fertilized and weeded often, they can be inspected for the fat green leaf-eating worm.
And on the topic of worms, there were very few tent caterpillars seen in the cherry trees of the forest. Maybe they are cyclical like the Japanese beetle which are now few and far between in the wilderness.
Without any tending, the weeds, briars, vines, multiflora rose and autumn olive (the last two are invasives) grow quite well without any care. But they are tended to periodically with mower, weed-whacker, and pruners…but not to encourage growth.
As a counterpoint to the work requiring forest flora, the daisies and black-eyed susans provide some summer color in the open flats and the forest edges are abundant with cinnamon, staghorn and maidenhair ferns.
They all make for a pleasing tour during an early evening walk-a-bout.

Patrol Ponderings

Emma

Emma

by Emma the Great Pyrenees
While the Editor was busy with Red, White & Blue Festival coverage, I was tickled when asked to write a guest column for a newspaper. What a treat!
Oh, did I say “tickled?” I meant to say, “I itch. Badly. Usually in the area around my tail. Would you please scratch it?”
And as for a treat, well, I’ve always got room in my belly for a good fried egg…
But I guess I’d better forget about all that for a bit while I tell you about the topic on which I happen to be an expert: security. You see, I’m the guard dog for a secluded wilderness retreat infested with all sorts of threats like deer, turkey, raccoons, and don’t even get me started on those seed stealers that visit what my humans call “bird feeders.”
Like all Great Pyrenees, I work the night shift. My humans call it being “nocturnal.” At least that’s what I hear them mumble as one climbs out of bed at night to turn on the fan. I’ve been meaning to ask them how they expect to hear my warning barks if they turn the fan on high and fall back asleep? Oh well, it’s my job to keep them safe, and you’ve probably figured out I take that seriously as I run up and down the ridge, circling the house all through those dangerous, dark hours, barking.
My humans insist that there’s no danger: silly, sweet, well-intentioned people. I just shake my head and smile at them. They don’t hear the other dog about five miles up the road that’s barking. That’s a danger that could escalate in a hurry if I didn’t tell him I’m on guard and he’d better stay off my land. Then there are those noisy diesel engines going up and down the road a few ridges away. Trouble is always one missed warning bark away. My motto, and the motto of my kind, is “constant vigilance.” (My humans get that wrong too; they call it, “constant barking.”)
Sometimes, just before I fall asleep during the day, my people tell me the story of the Great Pyrenees. They say my kind were bred in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain by farmers who needed big, strong, smart dogs to guard their livestock from bears and wolves. Since we often spent many days by ourselves, we got used to making decisions on our own. I think I’m lucky because I’ve heard tell some dogs can’t do this and must follow things called “commands” from their humans that are learned during some awful ritual called “obedience training.” That’s enough to make a girl shudder.
Another perk to being a Great Pyrenees is that our kind has what my people call a good dash of “flash and dazzle.” I think this has something to do with the way I look as well the way our thick, often white hair doesn’t cling to the dirt we collect as we work, no matter how cooling that mud compress might be that I worked so hard to apply while down at the creek.
They also say Great Pyrenees are known for being stubborn.
But I don’t think they’re right on that one, either. Humans – gotta love them, huh?

Hoosier Knowledge Of Indiana History?

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Maybe you are a life-long Hoosier; maybe you are a recent immigrant to Indiana but you should enjoy knowing more about the state in which we live. (No, not the state of confusion!)
•Nearby Bedford is known as the Limestone Capital on the World.” Admired for its lights color and ease of cutting, Indiana limestone has been used in the construction of the Empire State Building, the Pentagon (both originally and after the 9/11 attacks), National Cathedral, US Treasury, and 14 state capitols.
•Elvis Presley performed his last concert in Indianapolis at the now razed Market Square Area. Presley died three months after that last concert.
•The very first goldfish farm was in Martinsville beginning in 1899.
•Those classic Raggedy Ann dolls were first created by Johnny Gruelle of Indianapolis in 1914.
•Indiana has earned the nickname ‘Mother of Vice Presidents’. Six of the nation’s #2 leaders were from the Hoosier state: Schuyler Colfax, Thomas A. Hendricks, Charles W. Fairbanks, Thomas Marshall, Dan Quayle and current VP Mike Pence.
•Those iconic Coca-Cola bottle shapes were designed in Terre Haute.
•Wabash, Indiana was the first electrically lighted city in the world. Charles F. Brush tested his ‘Brush Light’ on March 31, 1880 in the city of Wabash. The glow at night was visible from a mile away and about 10,000 citizens witnessed the electrical first.
•From 1805-1813 the capital of the Indiana territory was Vincennes. The capital was moved to Corydon from 1813-125 and Indianapolis became the state capital on Jan. 12, 1825.
•The debut of singer Frank Sinatra was in Indianapolis at the Lyric Theatre on Feb. 2, 1940.
•The first rapid fire gun was patented by Hoosier Richard Gatling. Aim it & turn a crank, it was known as the Gatling gun.
•The first State Park was at McCormick’s Creek.
•Tomato juice was first served at the French Lick Hotel.
•The first automatic headlight dimmer was developed in Anderson in 1952.
•The world’s first theme park was opened on August 3, 1946 in Santa Claus, Indiana. It is now known as Holiday World.
•The first transistor radio was made in Indianapolis.
•90% of the popcorn in the world is grown in Indiana.
•The first professional daytime baseball game was played in Fort Wayne in 1871. Fort Wayne also hosted the first night time game in 1883.
•Movie star Clark Gable honeymooned at Barbee Lake in Kosciusko County.
•From 1900 to 1920 more than 200 different makes of cars were produced in Indiana.
• Indiana’s first major railroad was completed in 1847 and linked the river port of Madison with Indianapolis.

Improve Your Vocabulary Over the Summer

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Nearing the end of May, school is almost out for most students but for the true professionals, we know that education is a year-long life-long experience. So to start your summer school, study up on these new vocabulary words so that you will not be forced into remediation this fall.
For extra credit, see if you can attach names of people you know that exemplify these vocabulary words.
•Blamestorming: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
•Seagull Manager: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.
•Assmosis: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
•Salmon Day: The workday experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to die in the end.
•Cube Farm: An office filled with cubicles.
•Prairie Dogging: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.
•Mouse Potato: The on-line, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.
•SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, And Oppressive Mortgage. What adults turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
•TINKs: Two Incomes, No Kids. These selfish adults just hate it when they find out that their new neighbors moving in have 4 kids under 10 years old. (See SITCOMs above.)
•Stress Puppy: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiney.
•Swipeout: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
•Xerox Subsidy: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s workplace.
•Irritainment: Entertainment and news spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. News coverage of the White House is a prime example.
•Percussive Maintenance: The fine art of whacking an electronic device to get it to work again.
•Adminisphere: The rarefied corporate organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve or they solve problems that do not exist.
•404: Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error message “404 Not Found”; meaning that the requested document could not be located.
•Generica: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one travels, such as fast food joints, strip malls, subdivisions.
•Oh-No Second: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake.
•WOOFYS: Well Off Older Folks.
•Crop Dusting: Surreptitiously breaking wind while passing through a cube farm, then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust.