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Hoosier History Live! to celebrate three years on the air
Can you believe it? Hoosier History Live! has been on the air for three years! We are proud to have become a unique asset to the state of Indiana, producing original content every week that is then added to our growing online archive. Thanks to all who have listened, clicked, browsed and supported the show!
We plan to be around quite awhile longer, contributing to Indiana's culture and offering a well-reported take on our state's rich and varied history.
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 8 p.m.
You can click here to RSVP, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to our hosts, Indiana Landmarks.
Stop by anytime during the event. We will be delighted to see you!
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.
Dick says he has a theory about why so many humorists have had Indiana connections. For more than 20 years, Dick has been a popular on-air presence at WISH-TV thanks to his live reports from across the state as well as his video essays. His travels around the state also spawned Indiana Curiosities, which became one of the biggest sellers ever in a state-by-state "curiosities" series produced by his publisher. So he's an ideal guest to weigh in on notable Hoosier humorists, including:
- Skelton: In addition to radio and TV, the comedian (1913-1997) starred in movies and, earlier, in vaudeville and the circus. He quit school after the seventh grade in Vincennes to tour with traveling medicine shows and perform on showboats on the Ohio and Missouri rivers. His characters featured on the Red Skelton Show, which enjoyed a 20-year run on TV (1951-71), included Freddie the Freeloader, a hobo who never spoke.
- Hubbard: The homespun wisdom of his crackerbarrel Abe Martin character (sample quip: "You can take a voter to th' polls, but you can’t make him think") resulted in national syndication for the cartoon as well as 26 books. At the peak of his success with Abe, who made his debut in 1904 in The Indianapolis News, Hubbard died of heart disease in 1930 at age 62.
- Shriner: His folksy, easygoing style sometimes was compared to Will Rogers. During the 1940s and '50s, Shriner hosted variety and quiz shows on radio and TV. He was killed in a car accident in 1970. Shriner's twin sons, Wil and Kin, both have pursued show business careers. Fun fact: Kin was named for Kin Hubbard. (Upon the birth of his boys in 1953, Herb Shriner told TV audiences, he looked at the nearly identical babies and wisecracked, "Am I supposed to have a choice?")
No need to wipe that grin off your face when you tune in to this show!
History Mystery question
Film and TV comedian Steve Martin isn't a Hoosier, but in the late 1970s he drew national attention to an Indiana city by referring to it as the most "nowhere" town in America.
Question: Name the Indiana city.
To win the prize, you must call in with the correct answer during the live show. The call-in number is (317) 788-3314, and the prize is a a pair of tickets to the Indiana Experience at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, courtesy of the Indianapolis Convention and Visitors Association.
Chris Gahl of the ICVA suggests a wintry Roadtrip to the toboggan run at Pokagon State Park. The park was founded in 1925 and offers more than 1,200 acres dedicated to nature. Its toboggan run races down an icy track to speeds up to 40 mph and has been up and running since 1935. This Angola, Ind. staple attracts more than 90,000 visitors annually.
Sleds are rented on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to arrive early. Toboggans are $10 per hour and allow for four riders. The toboggan run is open this winter from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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
Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support: Coby Palmer Designs, Yats restaurants, Indiana Historical Society, Lucas Oil and Story Inn.
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.
Jan. 22 show
He's visited every Indiana town on the map
John Bower is an award-winning, Bloomington-based photographer with a rare distinction. He has visited, as he puts it, "every city and town on the map of Indiana."
As a result, John has a silo-high stack of anecdotes and stories about towns he never had heard of until he visited, such as Merom, where he says there’s "an amazing spiral staircase in an attic" and West Terre Haute, where he discovered an abandoned brick and tile factory.
During one of his trips to Alexandria, he photographed a factory where rock wool, a precursor of fiberglass, was invented and manufactured.
"While our society values the newest, the costliest and the flashiest, I'm motivated to rediscover that which has been ignored, forgotten, or cast aside," John says. "By using the inherent drama of black-and-white photography, I'm able to capture the essence - the élan vital - of these subjects."
John, who owns Studio Indiana with his artist wife Lynn, estimates he has traveled 90,000 miles to visit every city and town (a total of 2,099 localities) on the Indiana Highway Map. His seven photo books include Lingering Spirit (2003), which he calls "a tribute to Indiana's fading, forlorn and forgotten places"; After the Harvest (2007), which features images of Indiana's historic grain elevators and feed mills, and his newest, The Common Good (2010). The latter includes photos of the former main post office in Gary, a once-grand, now-abandoned Art Deco structure built in the 1930s.
In the town of Hovey, he photographed a shuttered hardware store that once had been a popular tavern. When he explores the state's back roads, John says he is fascinated by hand-made objects ("an oak balustrade, a marble cemetery statue, a forged iron gate") and by abandoned homes that may not have been inhabited for 50 years, yet "there are still clothes hanging in the closet."
His other books include Guardians of the Soul (2004), which features photos of cemetery sculpture across Indiana.
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