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.