Farewell Fayette County & Environs

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

I’m help­ing my mother move from my an­ces­tral demesne this week. I feel lit­tle sor­row re­gard­ing the move from this par­tic­u­lar home, the third of three I lived in when I lived in Fayette County; but a much deeper sense of loss re­gard­ing cer­tain other places that have sen­ti­men­tal value to me. Of course, me be­ing I, they al­most all re­volve around food.

For lunch to­day, Abraham and I stopped at J’s Dairy Inn, lo­cated in Liberty, IN. Since the pre­vail­ing wind is from the west, if you’re in Connersville and you spit, it’ll land in Union County. In ad­di­tion to be­ing the lo­ca­tion of J’s, it is also home to Whitewater Memorial State Park (the only lake I’ve ever swum across), and the pret­ti­est girls per cap­ita of any­where I’ve ever been. I used to stop in at J’s semi-reg­u­larly dur­ing my high school days, and quite reg­u­larly when I worked as sum­mer help do­ing warehousing/​teamster work for E.W. Brockman Company. When they’d place an or­der I’d ba­si­cally de­liver any and every pa­per good they’d use. The most de­li­cious greasy-spoon burg­ers, crispest crin­kle-cut fries, and most gi­gan­tic milk­shakes around. You could drive from Connersville to Liberty, eat at J’s and get back to work in just barely un­der an hour.

Dinner was from Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken. Just a reg­u­lar fast food joint. Can’t hold a can­dle to the St. Gabriel’s Fried Chicken  din­ner at the Fayette County Free Fair, but it was the best fried chicken in town oth­er­wise, and to my taste-mem­ory, no other fast food fried chicken will ever be the same. We ate our chicken din­ner at Robert’s Park, home to the afore­men­tioned fair, de­mo­li­tion der­bies, har­ness rac­ing (and il­le­gal gam­bling), clas­sic car shows, and fre­quent cross-coun­try prac­tice des­ti­na­tion. In the pre-sea­son, we’d run past the dirt track, into the woods and go swim­ming in the Whitewater River.

Tomorrow will be Kunkel’s Drive-in for lunch. Tenderloin bas­ket with heavy mus­tard and a vanilla coke. The cute girls al­ways worked at Dairy Queen, K-mart, or Kunkel’s in high school. I re­mem­ber sit­ting in the back of my dad’s van as a lit­tle kid and un­wrap­ping the smell of deep fried pork, the later taste of mus­tard crusted in the cor­ner of my mouth. Pizza King for din­ner. Holiest of holies. St. Louis-style pie. Do you prefer west­side or south­side? It mat­ters. I’m a south­side feller, the over­sized gooey choco­late chip cook­ies and table­top ar­cade games as a boy, and its liquor li­cense as an adult. I spent more time at west­side though, where the teens hung out in my day. Dairy Twist for dessert, even if Abraham doesn’t eat his din­ner. I went there every evening one sum­mer for a large cherry milk­shake, try­ing to put on some weight, and never had the con­fi­dence to ask out the girl who handed them to me night af­ter night. Didn’t put on any weight ei­ther. Fencing in col­lege fi­nally did that. Now, the fight is to keep it off. Just not this week.

I’ll still have the mem­o­ries of be­ing perched on the hill at 514 Franklin Street, over­look­ing the whole city and feel­ing like a trip-step would send me sprawl­ing onto St. Gabriel’s steeple. But I won’t be dri­ving past that house any­more. I’ll still have mem­o­ries of the house on Stoneybrook Lane, the en­tire days spent in William’s Creek, swing­ing on grape vi­nes, socks cov­ered in bur­docks, be­ing forced to strip out­side and be cold-hosed off be­fore even be­ing al­lowed near the house. But I won’t be near that creek again. I’ll still have mem­o­ries of rolling up to­ward Richmond with the boys, 45 min­utes to the near­est movie the­ater, the back­road route, Pennville to Pottershop, late night truck stop stop for the Night Owl Special: a plat­ter of bis­cuits and gravy for $2.00. Now just a 10 min­ute stretch on I-70 as I bar­rel to­ward Indianapolis.

I’ve hated on Connersville in my day. Even wrote a let­ter to the ed­i­tor once upon a time. But it’s a great place to raise a kid, and the grow­ing-up-to-hate-it-and-leav­ing is kind of nec­es­sary; if we didn’t drift away like dan­de­lion fluff, Connersville wouldn’t be Connersville. Water flows away from the spring to nour­ish other ar­eas.

514 Snapshot

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Rosie & Adam circa 1986

This im­age has been on my About page for years. Before that, as ev­i­denced by the crinkly, thumb­tack-bestabbed bor­der of the pho­tograph, it was on my bul­letin board for years. It was taken at my first home, 514 Franklin Street, in Connersville, Indiana.

There’s a spe­cial place in my heart for this photo, de­spite the com­pletely in­cor­rect white-bal­ance. Rosie, my bea­gle, was my boon com­pan­ion for 10 years. I still re­mem­ber the mo­ment this was taken, the con­crete on this side porch was al­ways cold and slightly damp, I could feel it through my sock-feet, and the sand­stony grit un­der my hands. I’ve got my arm locked around Rosie so she would be forced to look at the cam­era for the photo.

There were al­ways slugs on the side­walk.

Summer Rant

Monday, 1 July 2002

my writ­ing has started to change in many sub­tle ways. it is be­com­ing less rigid in struc­ture and less angst filled in con­tent. per­haps i am fi­nally get­ting a sense of per­spec­tive and a use­ful out­let for what­ever wis­dom i have gained dur­ing my time on this mor­tal coil. only prob­lem is, i still don’t know if it is good or not. i tried to set up an ap­point­ment with one of the eng­lish profs but i found the sec­re­tary to be un­help­ful and rude. she told me to do it on my own. why per­chance is she a sec­re­tary ex­cept to fa­cil­i­tate and di­rect traf­fic through her de­part­ment?

i com­plain too much.

july is here. fire­crack­ers and heat. grasshop­pers and fire­flies. bratwurst and home­made ice cream. my un­cle in a hawai­ian shirt run­ning away from an il­le­gal fire­work that catches the whole stock­pile of black­pow­der beauty on fire. Dante’s Inferno never had it so good. vodka ton­ics. dogs pant­ing in the shade. heat waves and the hot smell of oil from a burned out lawn­mower. pink lemon­ade. sen­tence frag­ments. too hot to say more. grey­bearded thun­der­storms. rain and hail. wind. corn­stalks shoul­der high by the fourth of july. cows chew­ing their cuds wait­ing for some grain from the farmer. pigs wal­ler­ing in their sties to keep cool. walleye and perch. sit­ting on a boat all day. no con­ver­sa­tion with grandpa. it’ll scare the fish. zen fish­ing. tree fish­ing. log salmon. diet coke and baloney&mustard sam­miches on white bread. maybe i’ll have fresh fish tonight. grease spat­ter­ing my legs. sit­ting on the porch watch­ing the evening wake up the rab­bits and rac­coons. pop­si­cles and ice cream sand­wiches. splash­ing through the creek. hid­den forts. ticks and chig­gers. the sound of a bea­gle rab­bit hunt­ing. char­coal and bon­fires. too short too long. un­pre­served un­mit­i­gated. please pass the salt.