Impressive Civil War Memorial includes an anachronism

Sitting on the north side of the Johnson County Courthouse in Franklin, Indiana is a striking memorial/fountain commemorating the valor of Union Soldiers from Johnson County during the Civil War. John Vawter was a businessman and banker from Franklin. He donated the memorial in 1905. It includes a bronze statue by artist Rudolph Schwarz.

This is a wonderful memorial to the men who served in the Civil War. The anachronism? As a history nerd who has been interested in, and studied military history, I need to point out that the arms and accoutrements on the cavalry trooper looking out over the battlefield are of a kind that did not even exist in 1861 to 1865.

Detail of the Model 1873 Trapdoor Springfield

The carbine is a Springfield “Trapdoor” that fired a 45/50 cartridge. This firearm was not invented until 1873, and was issued in both rifle and carbine lengths. The cartridge box on the trooper’s belt appears to also be from the 1870’s and designed for brass cartridges. The statue is a very good portrayal of a trooper from the mid 1870’s on.

This is an impressive memorial, complete with all branches of the services represented under the lion heads fountains. It is interesting that the statue artist picked the wrong model for his rendition of the trooper. It doesn’t take away from the honor given to the Civil War soldiers from Johnson County.

A relaxing Sunday luncheon date

It’s been really hot and dry for the past week, high’s in the upper 80’s and low 90’s with pollen alerts and air quality warnings. Welcome to Indiana in June. Sher and I decided that a nice leisurely Sunday lunch date was in order for today. We enjoyed our last trip to the Blue Agave so off we went for a second visit.

We started with margaritas, chips and salsa!

The Burrito Boom is huge

Beef, pork, chicken, shrimp, onions, beans and rice! Whew!

Veggie Chimichanga filled with grilled onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms and served soft or deep-fried. Topped with cheese sauce and red sauce. Includes rice, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and guacamole

Blue Agave Mexican Grill and Bar is on the north side of Shelbyville, Indiana. Good food, great drinks, lots of TV screens and great service make this a good place to grab a meal.


Highway 40 sale was hot but successful

The US Highway 40 cross country yard sale concluded today after 5 days of very hot, sunny weather. Overall it was a successful sale, though crowds were slightly smaller than in past years.

Wide angle view of the interior of our booth.

The pictures show our booth and some of the other vendors who took advantage of this great site which used to house a church. There were close to 30 different vendors, restrooms and plenty of parking. The first time we set up here several years ago there were at most 7 or 8 vendors.

Displays at Ford’s Garage

Ford’s Garage in Noblesville, Indiana is one of a chain of 24 restaurants. The lion’s share, 18, are located in Florida with others in Texas, Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. The first one opened in 2012 in Ft. Meyers, Florida. It was a mere mile away from the winter residence of Henry Ford himself.

The outside, patio seating is behind the 4 openings

The overall ambiance and décor of the Noblesville establishment, like all of the locations, is based around a 1920’s service station. You have to have cars at a service station, thus you are immediately seeing vintage Ford Model A cars on the outside of the facility.

The entrance

Front door handles

Shop rag and hose clamp for tableware!

Ford Garage branded on the bun!














Once you’re seated, and even on the way to your table, your eyes are filled with all kinds of Ford and automotive items. The more you look, the more you’ll see! Ford memorabilia and 1920’s pictures and car items are everywhere.

The way to the restrooms

Unique RR sink

The quote on the back wall is Ford’s “any color as long as it’s black”

Nice old race car











This is a wonderful and fun place. The food and drinks are great. The whole Ford theme is most interesting. If you want a unique dining experience Ford’s Garage is the place for you.


Historic Seagram’s Distillery in Lawrenceburg

Driving along US 50 through Lawrenceburg, Indiana, it is hard to miss the large complex of tall red brick buildings and multiple silver tanks that are part of the former Seagrams Distillery plant that straddles the Lawrenceburg and Greendale city boundaries. The current owner/operator of the facility is now MGP Ingredients, based out of Kansas.

This building has multiple floors of aging racks for 550 pound barrels of whisky

The Cincinnati Magazine published a fascinating and detailed story about the history of the Seagram’s Distillery, its current owners, and the ins and outs of the distillery business around the country. Read that article here. 

This paragraph is from the Cincinnati Magazine article.  “According to (Master Distiller Greg) Metze, it all starts with the water. MGP Ingredients sits on an aquifer, just a short walk from the Ohio River (most of the facility is actually in Greendale). That 56-degree water—low in sulfur and iron, high in calcium, and limestone-filtered—lets MGP make a lot of whiskey, and also have a continuous source for cooling the equipment. That’s why there were so many distilleries in Lawrenceburg in the 1800s. MGP’s began life as the Rossville Union Distillery in 1847; after Prohibition, in 1933, it was purchased by the legendary Canadian company Seagram. Right next door was Squibb, which opened in 1846 (though another distillery, Dunn and Ludlow, was on that patch of land in 1807) and became part of the Delaware company Schenley in 1933.”

More aging racks, and the tower houses multi-story continuous column stills

We were on a day trip to southern Indiana, the Ohio River and Lawrenceburg. The Seagram’s facility is huge, and we decided to drive over to the site, having never done that before.   Unfortunately we discovered that the new owners do not offer public tours of this historic distillery. At one time the Seagram’s plant employed over 2800 at the distillery and bottling plant. It is truly an iconic business with a rich and colorful history.


LOVE statue is now 53 years old

LOVE outside at the IMA in the early years

Robert Indiana was born in 1928 as Robert Clark. He changed his name to Indiana in 1958 to show his roots in the Midwest. His first widespread use of the stacked four letters of “LOVE” was a Christmas card in 1964 for the New York Museum of Modern Art. This design creation led to the LOVE sculpture constructed of Cor-ten steel in 1970. LOVE in steel was first put on display at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It made the rounds of several American cities for five years until it returned to the IMA. After needed restoration was performed due to weathering of the steel, it is now displayed inside the museum building to protect it from the elements.

Permanent display inside the IMA

Remember 8 cent stamps?

The design was also the inspiration of a USPS 8 cent stamp in 1973. Countless copies of the statue were made and sold over the years, however Robert Indiana had failed to copyright his design, thus he did not reap the benefits. He died at the age of 89.


The Indianapolis AES 500 Festival Parade

The month of May in the Indianapolis area is one reminder after another that the famed Indy 500 Mile Race is coming. Local companies use checkered flags, references to racing, and any other connection to the race that they can think of. Media covers the events of the month including not only activities at the track, but also beauty pageants, balls, concerts, half marathons and of course the parade. All celebrates the 2023 version of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing”.

The 500 Festival Parade again is sponsored by Indy’s electric service company, AES. This parade is one of the original festival events and is one of the highlights of the month of May in Indianapolis. The parade courses through downtown Indianapolis with over 200,000 spectators lining the streets. The parade is filled with floats, giant helium balloons, award-winning bands, celebrities and dignitaries,  and all 33 of the drivers in this year’s Indy 500. One of the premier parades in the country, it stands with the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The 2023 AES 500 Festival Parade will take place on Saturday, May 27, in downtown Indianapolis. The Parade will be broadcast locally on WTHR(NBC), and nationally on Peacock.


Wright Brothers first flight in North Carolina

The National Park Service operates the National Memorial to the Wright Brothers located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, specifically the Kitty Hawk/Kill Devil Hills area.

Hands-on life size sculpture of the plane

Almost everyone has heard of the first manned flight in a powered airplane. Any trip to the area of the Outer Banks should include a visit to this dramatic Memorial. We arrived late in the day, and thus did not have time to visit the Visitors Center. We did, however, enjoy the massive monument and the life sized reproduction of the original Wright flier and associated sculpture field.

Monument on the hill where the first flight occurred

The massive monument is on top of the large sand dune hill where the flights occurred. In the 1920’s the dune was seeded with grass to stabilize the hill in preparation for the construction of the monument.

Wilbur to the right: original photo

Statue of Wilbur running alongside the plane piloted by Orville






Originally from Ohio, the Wright brothers found that the sand dunes of the outer banks would be a perfect place for them to design the gliders and finally the engine powered airplane. Sand dunes provided a relatively safe place to test fly: sand is soft, protects the pilots and lessens potential damage to the aircraft.

The monument

Personnel from the local US Lifesaving Service offered help and on December 17, 1903 several were at the site of the flight.  At the memorial there is a marvelous sculpture field including a life sized reproduction of the plane as well as bronze sculptures of the men who were there at the time. This is a most impressive view that immediately takes you back to that famous December day in 1903.

Plan on visiting this marvelous piece of U.S. history. Here is the NPS website with details and some great information. Note: our National Parks Service Senior Pass saved us the entrance fees to the site. (Seniors 62 and older can get this pass here: NPS lifetime Senior Pass website)



Mt Baker Theatre both historic and haunted

Ghost light on center stage at Mt.Baker Theatre

The historic Mt. Baker Theatre in Bellingham, Washington is reported to be  haunted, similar to most old theater’s claims. We took a theater tour and saw the ghost light which burns on center stage at all times there is no production going on. Ghost lights are a tradition among theaters and actors. The lights provide a means to placate ghosts who either want to perform or who want to watch.

The best well known spirit at Mt Baker Theatre is Judy, an amorous young lady. It seems Judy lost her house (or boarding house room, as some say) when the theater was built in 1926-1927. She is reported to be interested in young male projectionists, actors, or ushers. One theater staff member told me Judy is a flirt! Others ghosts who haunt the theater include a well dressed fellow named Geoffrey who appears in either a fancy pin-striped suit or a tuxedo. Another theater staffer said there is a ghost feral cat that haunts and hunts the basement.

1927 photo shared by the Theatre archives

This really is a magnificent old structure, built in 1926 by the 20th Century Fox group. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The interior was restored in the 1980’s back to its original ornate beauty. Here is a link to the history of the theater. The theater is still very active, hosting shows on stage, live music concerts and other events supporting the arts in the Pacific Northwest.