The Bears of Blue River by Charles Major

Vintage book cover

When I was in 4th grade I, like most every other 3rd to 5th grader in Indiana was introduced to and told to read The Bears of Blue River by author, lawyer and politician Charles Major. The website Yesterday’s Classics shares a concise summary of the book: “Balsar, a pioneer lad, enters manhood at the age of 13 when he encounters a great bear while fishing on the river and proves his mettle. This book, full of harrowing adventures, great danger, and many acts of valor, tells of Balsar’s subsequent encounters with bears, wolves, Indians and the legendary one-eared ‘demon’ bear, offering a dynamic portrait of the daily life in Indiana during the 1820s.”
Charles Major lived most of his life in Shelbyville, and his influence has been most appreciated in the community for years. Major’s first book was published in 1898, When Knighthood Was In Flower which was very successful, having been adopted into both theater and film. He published The Bears Of Blue RiverĀ in 1901.

The statue of Balsar holding his pet bear cubs Tom and Jerry was placed in front of an elementary school named for the author. After the school was demolished in the sixties, the statue remained in storage until it was placed on the town square years ago. Once the new downtown project to redo the square was designed, the statue of Balsar and the cubs was restored and placed in the center of the structure housing the fountain and nice seating.

Graves of Charles Major and his wife, Alice, in Forest Hill Cemetery, Shelbyville

Back when Sher and I were in elementary school, reading The Bears of Blue River was a requirement. I so remember being totally absorbed while reading the book. What a series of adventures Balsar enjoyed. I’ll always remember the excitement and danger of the stories. (Wait ’til you read about the Fire Bear!) I’d suggest if you have family in the 7 to 10 year old range, get them a copy of The Bears of Blue River. Heck, get one for yourself. You might enjoy an exciting trip back to Indiana in the 1820’s.

DIY margaritas

We wanted to make our own margaritas this evening, so I called our son who is a professional bartender. Here is the recipe he shared with us:

  • 1 1/2 shots Blanco 1800 tequila
  • 1/2 shot orange Triple Sec
  • pour in margarita mix, stir
  • add ice
  • finish with a splash of orange juice

And yes this recipe was very tasty! We thought it was as good as some we’ve had in bars and restaurants.

A refurbished local landmark back in service

The Joseph Fountain was first dedicated in 1923 on the center of the town square in Shelbyville, Indiana. It has been the center of the “square” (as the center of town has been known for decades by the locals) and has supported the Christmas Trees and for one year in the 1950’s it was coveredĀ  with cornstalks in the fall.

Vintage photo showing the Fountain in the center of the square

New information plaque placed at the rededication of the fountain

During the years 2020-2021 a massive project completely reconstructed the square, entrance streets, sidewalks and parking. There the fountain, after complete restoration, was replaced in its historic location. With water again flowing freely, the fountain is once again the center of the square delighting young and old alike.


Views around our yard

Wild strawberries

Water drops and fungus

Morning glories

Morning glory vines on mint

Wild strawberries, sage, and a Canadian rock

The last photo shows a rock labeled “Canadian”. We did not get it from a trip to Canada, rather it ended up in Central Indiana by means of widespread glaciation during the Pleistocene epoch. This piece is a metamorphic rock made of granitic minerals. There are thousands of such rocks of all sizes that were pushed here by the glaciers, and left here when the glaciers melted. This one now has a home in our flower and herb garden.


Tomatoes and onions on the way

Our tomatoes are coming along

An early step in tomato growth

The first one to show up

This one is catching up

One of three sprouts we got from one onion

We had an onion that sprouted in a sack with some others. We went ahead and split it and planted three separate sprouts. We’ll see how this goes. We’ve read that when the green shoots begin to dry out and turn brown, or if the onion starts to flower, it is time to “harvest”. We’ll let you know in about three months or so…

Morning views of some of our garden plants

Wild strawberries on a decorative rock. Do the berries remind you of anything?

Rose in full bloom

Asiatic lilies, sage and tomato plants

Not sure what this one is. Any ideas?

Sher’s project is still vacant, but hope it will be occupied soon.

A visitor to one of our Asiatic lilies

Got some pictures this morning before it got real hot. Our high today is forecast for 95 +/-. It is not desert hot, but the humidity (near 90%) is what gets you.


Grackle feeds its youngster

The gray bird landed, and we did not recognize what kind of bird it was. Soon however two grackles showed up and it was obvious that they were here to feed their offspring.

We did not recognize this species

Ah, looks like a parent is here to feed the youngster

There is the second parent and the youngster demanding more to eat

This was an interesting and enjoyable event for us to observe. It was the first time we had seen an immature grackle. There is always something going on with the wildlife in our backyard! We enjoy sharing our photos with you.


Portrait of a mourning dove

We see doves nearly every day in our yard

Here is another one of our welcomed friendly backyard visitors. The mourning dove is in the same taxonomic family as pigeons. It is one of the most common North AmericanĀ  birds. Doves have very sad and mournful calls, and have been compared to the cries of owls. Doves also make a very characteristic pulsing sound as they fly. Amongst agricultural societies this bird is known as “the rain crow” due to the legend that the calls of doves warn of the impending arrival of rain.