I’m so proud to live in a state where we have the right to choose a license plate proudly proclaiming, “In God We Trust.” I’m not sure many state governments would have the guts to do that anymore. That pretty much sums it all up, doesn’t it? In every aspect of my life, personally and professionally, our gracious heavenly Father is the One guiding me. It’s when my eyes stray away from the cross that I falter every time.
Not only am I native of the Hoosier state, but I can now say I purposely chose to live here. I’m one of those “returnees” who has “been around” in the nicest sense of the word. Born in the southern (I like to stress that aspect) city of New Albany, across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky (called “Kentuckiana”), I left Muncie armed with my Ball State diploma, determined to see the world. As I like to say, “The girl from Indiana met the guy from Rhode Island in Texas, married in Kentucky (reception in Indiana), honeymooned in Hawaii, settled in California, had a child and moved to Pennsylvania, birthed two more children and moved to Massachusetts, recovered her senses and came home again.”
Yes, Indiana is “home in my heart,” and I thank the Lord for a husband and children (highly adaptable) who love it every bit as much as I do. They still laugh, however, when school is called off for the mere prediction of a snowflake. Those who have only lived in Indiana sometimes look at me like I’ve got a loose cylinder for choosing to live here, but after living all across this great country, I can say I know what’s out there, and Indiana’s not so bad, people. Quite the opposite.
That started me thinking, and I’ve gathered a few fun facts to know and tell about Indiana that I’d like to share. I love this kind of thing. Even my fictional core character, Sam Lewis, resorts to reciting historical facts in times of stress. It anchors him and helps him focus. Hey, we all have our comforts…and quirks. For instance, did you know:
*Santa Claus, IN, receives more than one-half million letters and requests every Christmas.
*Explorers Lewis and Clark set out from Fort Vincennes on their exploration of the Northwest Territory (winking at anyone who knows anything about my book).
*Parke County has 32 covered bridges and is the Covered Bridge Capital of the World.
*True to another of its mottos, Indiana has more miles of interstate highway per square mile than any other state.
*The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, the Pentagon and U.S. Treasury, a dozen other government buildings in Washington, D.C. as well as 14 state capitols around the nation are built from sturdy, beautiful Indiana limestone.
*Indiana means “Land of the Indians” but there are fewer than 8,000 Native Americans living in the state today.
*Indianapolis grocer Gilbert Van Camp discovered his customers enjoyed an old family recipe for pork and beans in tomato sauce. He opened a canning company and Van Camp’s Pork and Beans became an American staple.
*In 1905, Sarah Breedlove McWilliams Walker developed a conditioning treatment to straighten hair and amassed a fortune selling her cosmetics door-to-door – paving the way for the Avon Lady, perhaps?
*From 1900 to 1920, more than 200 different makes of cars were produced in Indiana – Stutzes, Maxwells, Duesenbergs and Auburns – prized antiques today.
*The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was organized in Terre Haute in 1881.
*Vincennes was the capitol when Indiana was a territory, and Corydon served as the state capitol from 1816 until 1825.
*Indiana is nicknamed the “Mother of Vice Presidents” for its five citizens elected vice president. Can you name them without research? If so, you get a gold star!
*The first saxophone was made in Elkhart in 1888.
*Of what variety are the two trees that appear on the righthand portion of the state seal of Indiana? (Hint: think of our state song). Sycamore. What animal is on the seal? Buffalo.
*The state flower is the peony.
*In 1992, Indiana ranked number one in the nation in the production of ducks and popcorn (Orville Redenbacher, anyone?).
*The play Happy Birthday, Wanda June was written by what Indiana-born novelist? Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
*While working as a technician for Indiana Bell, John Cougar Mellencamp accidentally cut off phone service to all of Freetown.
*While hiding from Native Americans in 1790, what cave system in southern Harrison County was discovered by Daniel Boone’s brother? Squire Boone Caverns. My genealogy-loving cousin insists we’re related, and Squire is often referred to as Daniel’s “black sheep” brother. Maybe I should find out why...
There are so many more fun facts to know and tell. One last question for you: does anyone have a definitive answer to the question: What does Hoosier really mean?
Keep on writing, fellow Hoosiers (whether native or adopted)! And always remember, In God We Trust. That’s my prayer today as I send off my second manuscript to my publisher! Amen.