You can listen to Hoosier History Live! live on the air each Saturday, or listen online at the WICR website during the broadcast. Or join our listening group at Bookmama's in Irvington to listen to, and discuss, the Saturday show. We invite you to visit our website!
Jan. 8 show
Medical treatments of early settlers
To help cure a family member struggling with a disorder, would you serve a delicacy known as fried mice pie? Believe it or not, that was a treatment suggested to pioneers in the Old Northwest Territory, including early Indiana.
To find out what disorder the repulsive-sounding pie was supposed to cure, you will have to tune in to the show, which is an encore broadcast of one of our most popular programs from this past year. Nelson's studio guest is Hoosier storyteller Sue Grizzell, who has extensively researched medical "treatments" practiced during the late 1700s and early 1800s, often using archives at the Indiana Historical Society. In fact, the IHS and Storytelling Arts of Indiana commissioned Sue awhile back to put together a presentation she titled "Root Doctors, Midwives and Fried Mice Pie: Medicine in Early Indiana." She has uncovered the story of a so-called "root doctor," Dr. Joseph Burr, who was run out of early Connersville, for example.
According to Sue, many of the bizarre or crude early folk remedies were the result of desperation on the frontier.
"Early Hoosiers only occasionally had access to doctors. ... They mostly lived in isolation, faced economic uncertainty and practiced self-sufficiency as much as possible."
A lifelong storyteller, Sue has collaborated with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on various projects; in 2002, her story "Porch Swings and Prairie Wings" became part of the "Sharing Hoosier History Through Stories" series. You won't want to miss this fascinating show, during which Sue explains how our ancestors dealt with ailments and terrifying illnesses such as malaria and cholera.
"Whether ill or injured, the inhabitants of the Old Northwest Territory and early Indiana were subjected to all manner of medical treatments," Sue says. "Ranging from the common-sensical to the bizarre, these treatments sometimes worked but could often be fatal."
She notes that Thomas Jefferson once remarked, referring to doctors during his era, that they "let loose upon the world, destroy more human life in one year than all the ... Cartouches (a murderous French bandit) and Macbeths do in a century."
Families on the Indiana frontier typically ended up doing most of their own doctoring because contact with physicians was infrequent, Sue says. Hence the popularity of folk remedies. She points out that although pioneers had as many challenges surviving some of the "cures" as they did the initial illnesses, "modern science has proven some folk remedies effective."
All of this will be fodder for a show that will be as intriguing as Sue's popular, fact-based storytelling presentation about fried mice pie and root doctors.
Because this is an encore broadcast of a show that originally aired last Feb. 13, there won't be an opportunity for call-in questions or guesses for the History Mystery. All of that will return next week, though, with another live show.
Chris Gahl of the ICVA suggested that we take a sweet tour of the South Bend Chocolate Company.
Your team on the Hoosier History Live! e-project,
Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Chris Gahl, Roadtripper
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
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Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities Council, Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Chelsea Niccum and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships, grants and through individual tax-deductible contributions through the Indiana Humanities Council. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.
Hoosier History Live! to celebrate three years on the air!
Come join in the festivities as we celebrate three years on the air at the Morris-Butler House, 1204 N. Park Ave. in Indianapolis, on Thursday, Feb. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Thanks to our hosts, Indiana Landmarks. Check our website for details.
Jan. 15 show
Hoosier humor with Dick Wolfsie
Ever wonder why some Hoosiers used to tell Kentuckian jokes? Interested in exploring the humor of Vincennes native Red Skelton or Herb Shriner of Fort Wayne, who was nationally known as "the Hoosier Humorist" during his heyday as a radio and TV star of the 1940s and '50s? And what about cartoonist Kin Hubbard, who created the iconic Abe Martin character that was a hit in newspapers across the country during the early 1900s?
Well, to sift through the yuks and guide us as we explore Hoosier humor, we have called upon one of today's best-known contemporary humorists based in Indiana. Nelson will be joined in studio by long-time Channel 8/WISH-TV personality Dick Wolfsie, who also writes a weekly humor column for 25 newspapers in Central Indiana.
Dick is the author of 12 books, including Indiana Curiosities (Globe Pequot Press) - remember when he visited our show to share insights about his journeys to oddball sites across Indiana? - and Mornings with Barney (Sky Horse Publishing), which focused on his beloved, late canine companion who became a familiar face to TV viewers.
From the quips of Abe Martin (a folk philosopher who lived in Brown County) and Skelton's characters such as Clem Kadiddlehopper (see Skelton ad-lib admirably in a video clip from his Clem archives) and the "Mean Wittle Kid" to the monologues of Indianapolis native David Letterman, Indiana has been at the forefront of American humor almost ever since there was a good laugh to be had.
Shriner, who actually was born in Ohio in 1918 but moved to Fort Wayne as a 3-year-old with his mother, used to say, "I came to Indiana as soon as I heard about it." Dick, whose humorous essays also have been heard on WFYI-FM, will help us analyze commonalities in this full house of jokers Indiana has dealt to the rest of the land.
Our trove also has included the late Jean Shepherd of Hammond, who created the classic A Christmas Story and entertained millions for years as a late-night, New York-based radio personality who even occasionally did standup comedy.
No need to wipe that grin off your face when you tune in to this show!
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