Haggle towards you into a better deal

15. prosince 2012 v 17:02

Six years I lived in the Hoosier State and fake watches I don't think a day went by when I didn't say to myself---and to any of my friends willing to listen---"God, I can't wait to get out of this place!"

I wasn't completely miserable there. In fact I had some of the best times of my life in Indiana. But I was emotionally and imaginatively dizzied a lot of the time. My complaints were mainly topographical and geographical. The portions of the state I knew best and saw most, between Fort Wayne, where the blonde and I lived, and Muncie, where I worked, and between Fort Wayne and Chicago, to which we escaped as often as we could, were flat, flatter than flat, too flat for my internal gyroscope, which had been calibrated in upstate New York and the Adirondack Mountains, to cope with. I swear I could have set a ball bearing on my dashboard when I left for work in the mornings and it would have stayed put the whole eighty-one mile drive down to Muncie, the road was that flat and that straight. And we were just too far from too many people I loved and missed and from too much that was interesting and exciting. Chicago was three hours away. Our families were nine and eleven hours drives, without stopping, and there were no direct flights home from the Allen County Airport. We considered ourselves very lucky to get back east twice a year.

Culturally, Indiana was a little too whitebread and mayonaise for my tastes and more openly and self-congratulatory Christian than I was used to. The Germans who had been the main settlers of the region in the first half of the 19th Century had long ago assimilated into WASPY blandness. Same with the Irish who followed them. Even the Native Americans, descendants of the Miamis who had not been so much pushed out by the whites coming in as subsumed, were often blond and blue-eyed. Fort Wayne had plenty of people of different ethnic backgrounds besides Irish, German, and WASP: African-Americans, Italians, Asians including many Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees sponsored by the Lutheran and Catholic churches, Hispanics---there was a growing population of Central Americans who were coming in under the auspices of the Amnesty movement---but none of them had enough critical mass to give the city any sort of real ethnic identity. The one minority that made its presence felt strongly enough to leave a stamp on the cultural landscape was the Amish. And people did their God-bothering loudly and in public.

Politically, the state was a strange mix of Progressives, Conservatives, Reactionaries, and wild-eyed members of the Right Wing lunatic fringe. I met more casual racists there than I encountered anywhere else, and I lived in Boston not too long after the busing crisis. I'm sure I've written before about a student of mine who bragged in an essay about how proud she was of her neighbors who were in the Ku Klux Klan and what nice people they were. One of my most talented students was a skinhead. One night when the blonde and I were driving home from a visit to Chicago our car broke down around Valparaiso. The white tow truck driver who came to our aid and gave us a lift to the nearest motel alternated between telling us about his newborn son and giving us his theory on racial politics---the blacks were ruining everything---and he cheerfully seemed to think we'd be equally interested and agreeable towards both subjects.

But Allen County had the best public library I've ever been in, and I hear it's gotten even better. The mayor of Fort Wayne during most of the time we lived there was a Republican who was more liberal than the Democrat who'd proceeded him, more liberal than a lot of Democrats I knew back in Boston. And I mentioned the presence of the Amnesty Movement in the local churches.

Indiana does not like to help make Democrats President. But it has and has had Democratic governors. It's indiscriminate about sending Democrats and Republicans to Congress. Dan Quayle was one of its Senators once. So was Birch Bayh.

Like I said, I had some good times there. Fort Wayne had a surprising number of fine restaurants, a first-rate symphony orchestra, a film series offered by the art museum that made our trips to Chicago easier because we didn't have to pack in any esoteric or foreign movies folks who live in the sticks supposedly never get the chance to see, and there was that great library. But one of the best and most fun things about living there was that we had Nancy Nall as our good friend, colleague, frequent dinner guest, and regular traveling companion. Almost all our trips to the Stratford Festival were in Nancy's company.

You can't really get to know a place in a few years, especially if like me your heart and your head were always somewhere else. We left Fort Wayne at the end of 1990. But Nance stayed on for fourteen more years. And partly because it was her job to pay attention to the place---she was the award-winning columnist for the local paper back when it was still worth something as a newspaper---and partly because she was much less of an East Coast snob than I was---she was an Ohio snob, a very different sort of animal---and partly because she lived there for so long and started her family there, Nance became much more of an honorary Hoosier than I ever did. She hasn't been out of there for that long so there's still a great deal of Indiana in her blood. So when Nance tells you that there are things the Presidential candidates need to know about Indiana you'd better believe she knows whereof she speaks.

This sounds nothing like the place in which I grew up. and yes, eventually the place I left., maybe I grew up too close to Chicago, had parents who traveled the world and let the world in as well. I can read pieces like this and not cringe. There was plenty of narrow-mindedness around me and I sure plenty of quiet bigotry, but it was so far from my experience. I spent my first 23 years in that state and although I knew I wanted to leave, it was also where I learned about the world at large how it was just as wonderful as the childhood I remember.

I hope that state votes tomorrow.

LM kiddeth not about the topography. Like its neighbors Illinois and Ohio, Indiana was shaped by the advance and retreat of the most recent ice age: Imagine a chisel cutting down from the north, rolling rocks and dirt ahead of it like curls of wood--that the southern third of all three states, the north side of the Ohio Valley, scenic and hilly and cave-riddled and full of limestone. Then as the glaciers withdrew, they dropped all the best soil in the northern two-thirds of each state, where all the good farm land is, leaving it flat and green as a pool table.

As you drive east on I-70 from Indianapolis, almost to Richmond, there an official white-on-green highway sign pointing out the highest point in the state, elevation 1257 feet. Search the terrain for that peak as much as you want, but it impossible to distinguish from the 1256-foot Breitling watches elevation farmland around it without a laser transit.

In addition to Nancy piece, the Post also ran this piece about Muncie today. The Hoosier state can forget about hearing from the east coast media again for a generation.

When my father was scouting homes in Indiana, back in the days when firms transferred their workers instead of downsizing them, the announcement from the TWA pilot was "You are now entering Indiana. Please set your watch back one hour and twenty years."

You know what Nancy N. city without fluoridated water-and, of course, some of the worst children teeth, but prime epidemiological research data [in the way that motorcycle riders before helmet laws helped neurological research].)

Daylight Savings Time is not energy-saving. And it took Indiana switching over the give us the data to prove it.

So the state switched because one of its Republican governors had a bad idea. And the true conservatives were right. A bittersweet echo of the past fifteen years.

(Btw, iirc, AZ still doesn have DST.)

I lived in Kentucky all my life, but the above comment about Indiana rings fairly true. It can boast of people like Kurt Vonnegut, Steve McQueen, James Dean--to mention a few. But also Jim Jones, that dude out in California (can remember his name) who was a TV repairman and involved with skinheads and Nazis. It is, in many ways, like an extension of the poor white South. Its neighbors to the east and west (Ohio and Illinois)arer way ahead of the curve as far as social progress goes. Nevertheless, Hoosiers for the most part are good honest people. Backward, when compared to the rest of the Midwest, but still a better place than many other places in the country.

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