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November/December 2010

November/December 2010


A magazine for and about

Posey County, Indiana

Copyright 2010 No material can be reproduced without the written permission of Posey Magazine. Contact us at:

Cover story

Writer Alison Baumann followed the making of a Mt. Vernon High School Children’s Theatre production. Kira Irons (cover), Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother, uses puppets to play the Ugly Stepsisters. At left, David Cole as the Wolf in Little Red Riding Hood, explains to a frustrated Grandmother, played by Kaci Turner, that he’s become a vegetarian. BEGINS ON PAGE SIX

© Photographs by J. Bruce Baumann

14 Feathers/By Sharon Sorenson Hoot owls sometimes scare the wits out of people 16 I’m just sayin’ Posey County Students write about teachers 18 Beauty and the Feast The war beween farmer and deer — By Leigh Ann Tipton 20 © A look back in time 22 Posies/By Alison Baumann Spent flowers 26 Jesse Butler Closing in on a hundred years — By Linda Neal Reising 34 No. 236 Goes Home — By Alison Baumann

Posey Then & Now

Special thanks to the following for their help

Amanda Bryden, Shanna Bush, Mary Feagley, Fred Frayser, Sherry Graves, Janet Kahle, Joseph Poccia, Kathy Riordan, Erica Thomas

CELEBRATIONS By Charlene Tolbert


aybe it’s the chill in the air, deepening by the day. Maybe it’s the waning of the light, driving us indoors earlier and earlier. Or maybe it’s the oh-so-human need to celebrate together the passage of time and the triumph of enduring. Whatever it is that demands that we gather together to mark an annual occasion, that ineffable something is in full cry in the late fall and winter. The celebrations range from the religious to the secular, from the solemn to the silly, from the personal to the public. In November and December Americans may observe Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Eid al-Adha, and Las Posadas. They may celebrate Veterans Day, the Winter Solstice and New Year’s Eve. They may have a birthday party for their child or observe Dewey Decimal System Day with their favorite librarian. But it’s rare for anyone to celebrate any of these days alone. We celebrate as families, as extended

families and as families of the heart. Some of us meet every Sunday morning for breakfast. Some of us meet on the third Thursday of the month for dinner and to catch up. Some of us meet for an annual outing to celebrate a parent’s birthday. We meet to eat, to laugh and cry, to dance and sing. We kiss; we hug; we shake hands. We tell each other stories time and time again, the same stories we’ve shared for years and sometimes for a lifetime. We do this to stop time. Our lives are so busy, so filled with must-dos and deadlines, with meetings and cleaning and cooking and shopping, that we lose sight of the reasons we do all of those things. We lose touch with the people who mean the most to us, the ones who wait patiently and often silently for us to find time for them. We tell ourselves that they will always be there to listen to our cares and problems, to offer sage advice and a soft caress. We believe that they understand why we don’t have time to

visit. We’re sure that their feelings aren’t hurt when we make choices that don’t include them. And then one day we look around and their chair is empty. We’re trying to fill out a family tree worksheet and there’s no one to ask how a great-grandparent died or how many children Great-Aunt Mary had. We’re hungry for a special cake, the one made with black walnuts, and no one knows the recipe. And so we find a way to stop time. We celebrate those holidays we shared with them, people without whom we are never quite whole. We approximate the cake recipes and tell ourselves that the result tastes really almost just like what Mama made. We sing the songs and tell the stories, and for that moment we’re all whole. We laugh with the telltale tear in our eyes, we stretch the goodbye hug for just a moment longer, and we mark our calendars for the next time we’ll meet. Happy holidays! Charlene Tolbert is a nearly lifelong Hoosier who continues to be captivated by the people and places of Southern Indiana. She can be contacted at:



“ ife has got a habit of not standing hitched. You got to ride it like you find it. You got to change with it. If a day goes by that don’t change some of your old notions for new ones, that is just about like trying to milk a dead cow.” —by Woody Guthrie

Copperline Road, Posey County, Indiana

Š Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

“Do you like stories about superheroes and teenage mutant ninja turtles?”


They’re just starting rehearsals for the

Children’s Theatre production of “Once Upon a Wolf”, a fresh and funny mélange of half a dozen old fairy tales. “I hope I don’t get the baby the week we’re performing,” Kaci Turner, a senior at Mt. Vernon Senior High School, tells her fellow actors, “because if I do, it’s going to be spending a lot of time with its grandmother.” Kaci is talking about the “Think Again Baby” doll used in her Child Development Class, but the rest of the 8-member cast is sympathetic.

Narrator Kaci Turner revs up her young audience for a new kind of fairy tale.

Š Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

Melanie Davis, Kaci Turner, and Michelle Walker are already beginning to ham it up as the Three Little Pigs (Norman, Pink Ears, and Stanley, respectively) in an early rehearsal. They’ll learn their stage directions in a couple of weeks and have their lines memorized within a month. They’ll be putting on five performances for about 1,200 students at the four Mount Vernon elementary schools, and they know they have a lot of work ahead. Most of the Children’s Theatre participants are involved in at least one of the other performing arts programs at the school. It makes for a busy schedule when the play requires twice-weekly rehearsals, and the music groups meet several times a week after school. And then there are all the lines and music to be memorized—not to speak

of “Think Again Baby” and that pesky math homework. No one is complaining, though. Before rehearsals start, they gather in the first row of the auditorium, sharing fast-food dinners, snacks and gossip. Senior Jared King, who plays Papa Bear and the Giant, clowns around with the teddy bear that will be Baby Bear in Goldilocks, while senior Andrew Abad, the Prince and the Lion, sits on the floor working on his homework. Senior Kira Irons, who doubles as

Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother, credits the theatre program with making her feel at home when she transferred to Mount Vernon from Illinois last year. “They made it sound like a big deal and fun, and it has been,” she says. Freshman Melanie Davis, who plays Norman the Pig, Mama Bear and Sleeping Beauty, agrees, admitting that they have so much fun in rehearsals that sometimes it’s difficult to stay on task. Keeping everything under control

More than one act


he Children’s Theatre is just one part of the multifaceted performing arts program at MVHS. The Theatre Department also puts on the Thespian Troupe Fall Play, under the direction of Steve Wilson, and a Spring Musical. On the music side, there’s the Marching Band, the Jazz Band, the Concert Choir and two touring singing groups—Angelus, a girls’ group dedicated to the performance of sacred music, and Cûl, a new boys’ group that focuses on a Celtic repertory. Angelus toured New York last summer.

Student Director Erika Adams enjoys playing the boss as she directs Faculty Advisor Dana Taylor to find her a stuffed cow on the Internet for the Jack and the Beanstalk segment of “Once Upon a Wolf.” Because of both portability and cost, they finally settle on an 18” inflatable Holstein.

and moving forward is senior Erika Adams, the student director for “Once Upon a Wolf.” Adams got the assignment by writing a paper for faculty advisor Dana Taylor about why she wanted to try her hand at directing. Abad notes that Adams is “as new as we are” to Children’s Theatre, but everyone agrees that she has risen to the challenge. “I’m going to need a stuffed cow,” Adams announces, going over her list of concerns with Taylor in his cramped office before a rehearsal. At the computer, Taylor searches “stuffed cow” and scans the results. “ How big does it need to be?” he asks. “Here’s an inflatable cow…hmmm… Do you think a piñata would work?” “We could dress up my little sister— she’s cute,” Adams suggests. Taylor swivels back to his computer screen. “Cow costume,” he murmurs, typing furiously. The Children’s Theatre rehearses in the large state-of-the-art auditorium at the high school, but the actual performances will take place on gymnasium floors at the elementary schools. Props will have to be minimal and costume changes lightning-fast. Regina Maiers, a long-time parent volunteer, takes charge of costumes. She frets over what she can use for a lion costume until Abad struts in sporting a fur-trimmed jacket he found somewhere. Add a lion tail and a pair of clip-on ears, and he’s good to go. Enlarging a pretty ruffled dress so David Cole has a lot of costume to keep in place when, in search of a kinder, gentler part that doesn’t require him to eat anybody, he plays the Wolf disguised as Goldilocks.

Playing the Lion in Androcles and the Lion is only one of half a dozen extracurricular activities for Andrew Abad. Next year, he’ll head for college and a pre-med curriculum. senior David Cole can play the Wolf disguised as Goldilocks presents a bit more of a problem; Maiers decides she can add a strip of blue fabric, attached with Velcro for easy access, down the back. “I’ve always wanted to be involved in something like this,” she says with a smile. “I would hate for this program to disappear.” Pending school budget cuts, of course, are on everyone’s mind. Although no one questions that MVHS’s Theatre Program is outstanding, Abad observes that sports still seem to be a priority for many. Turner, who has a major role as the Narrator, the Grandmother and Pink Ears the Pig, says, “I’m so afraid they’ll cut things. I have

Seen here as Cinderella before the Fairy Godmother shows up with a white taffeta party dress, Nick Siefert is also an accomplished musician and an award-winning sculptor.

a brother in 8th grade, and I’d love to be able to come back and see him perform.” MVHS Principal Steve Riordan offers some reassurance. “I don’t have a crystal ball,” he says, “but we’re working extremely hard to make sure that programs don’t get cut.” The program offers something of value to everyone involved. Irons appreciates the fact that everyone is dedicated to perfection: “They make sure you do everything right so we have the best possible show.” For senior Nick Siefert, who plays Cinderella, Androcles, and Jack (of Beanstalk fame), the theater “brings out totally different personalities you never knew you had before.” Asked about his over-the-top portrayal of a sobbing Cinderella,

he admits, “Yeah, well, I guess that’s one of those personalities.” The actors have a lot of help in developing and displaying their talents. “People who come to the plays don’t realize that the reason we look good is because of Technical Theatre,” says Cole. When the high school performed “The Annex,” based on the diary of Anne Frank, Cole recalls that the tech group built an attic onstage—complete with running water. “We cooked meals in that play,” he says, his voice still full of amazement. Mount Vernon’s award-winning Technical Theatre program not only sets up student productions at the junior and

The children at Marrs Elementary can hardly keep their seats when the Little Pig’s house blows down. senior high schools but also works on the Philharmonic’s Peppermint Pops and Cirque de la Symphonie programs, the Evansville Ballet’s Nutcracker, The ARC Really Big Show, and Castle High School productions. Taylor sees both performance and technical theater as vital educational programs. By working and developing relationships beyond the confines of the high school, he says, students get a sense of community with theater professionals and begin the process of connecting with the larger adult world. Riordan agrees: “It’s a

great program that provides a creative outlet for our kids. Not everyone wants to be an athlete or a mathematician.” In fact, everyone in the cast intends to continue in theatre or music after high school. Siefert plans to be a music teacher. Cole says he’ll “try theatre” but has a back-up plan to be a social worker or counselor if he can’t make a living as an actor. Turner and Abad both hope to have time for some theater as they work toward medical degrees. Junior Michelle Walker, who plays Stanley the Pig and Snow White, admits that her future is

“kind of muddled right now,” but says she’ll “definitely” pursue acting in some way after she graduates. Tension mounts as the week of dress rehearsals and performances arrives. Davis zips her skin into her skirt in the rush of costume changes. Turner can’t find her pig ears when she needs them, and Cinderella’s wig keeps slipping off. Actors forget or flub their lines, and there are nervous, wide-eyed silences as they try to think of ad libs to fill the holes. Finally, the first performance, for the

West Elementary K-2 students start laughing almost before the play begins and never stop. K-2 classes at West, is at hand. Before the audience files into the gym, Adams gathers the cast for a last-minute admonition: “After everything I’ve said to you, all this time, if anyone isn’t loud enough, I’m going to come right out and—stab you,” she warns them, her blond curls and delicate features belying her stern message. The actors, now totally serious, move to the side of the gym for a hasty prayer circle, and they’re ready to go. “Do you like stories about superheroes and teenage mutant ninja turtles?” Turner asks the audience. “Yes!” they call out in unison.

And the show is on. The children join in making scary woods sounds on demand and laugh uproariously when the Little Pig’s house blows down. “They got most of the jokes,” King says. “And when they didn’t, someone would laugh, and then they’d just laugh at themselves laughing. It was fun.” Today, it’s first graders. Tomorrow— the world.

Alison Baumann shares a small farm in Savah with an assortment of creatures, both wild and domestic. She can be contacted at:

Feathers/By Sharon Sorenson

In early winter, you may

hear them, our two resident “hoot” owls. No such critter named “hoot owl” appears in any bird guidebook, but the calls merit the moniker. The “hoo-hoo-hoo” kinds of calls belong to one of two big birds: barred owls or great-horned owls. Other owls live here, too, hunting in the dark of night in their characteristic, silent-flight manner. But they don’t hoot. Screech owls, little guys half the size of “hoot” owls, manage a mere horse-like whinny. Short-eared owls, gracing Hoosier grasslands only in winter, bark much like a dog. And barn owls, now extremely rare here, only hiss or scream—sounds apropos for a haunting Halloween. So, during the dark of early winter nights, hoot-owl calls, whether by barred or great-horned owls, sometimes scare the wits out of folks. Even snuggled in my comfy bed, I’ve been awakened by owls’ prolonged hooting, sometimes from off in the woods, sometimes from close-by trees. If I didn’t know the calls for what they are, I’d likely shiver in the warmth of my covers.

Barred Owl No wonder, according to traditional folklore, the owl’s call is said to foretell someone’s impending death. Barred owls, however, also occasionally call in daylight hours, especially early and late, boldly asking, “Who-cooks-foryou? Who-cooks-for-you-aawllllll?” Great-horned owls, on the other hand, call out a deeper, five-hoot “You a-wake? Me, too.” Unlike the barred, however, it’s rarely heard during daylight. Beyond their haunting hoots, our two big owls live fascinating lives. The largest, strongest, and fiercest of all our owls, the great-horned generates fear, even among its own kind; for a great-horned will rip apart a barred owl for lunch and snack on a screech owl for dessert. And it’s the only animal—bird or otherwise—that regularly

eats skunk. So there you have it: a dinner companion you’d best respect but can readily do without. Bully of the bird world, boasting a four-foot wingspan and nearly five pounds of sinew and muscle, a great-horned new to the neighborhood finds no avian welcoming committee. In fact, to witness the not-in-mybackyard attitude, watch crows. Discovering a roosting great-horned, they’ll gather clan members from far and wide and mob the napping giant. Crows face their greatest threat from great-horned owls—as do baby eagles and ospreys. By comparison, the barred owl is a gentle soul—except to those who wander into its territory—lunching on small mammals, frogs, and large insects. Although he carries only a quarter of the weight of a great-

Great-horned Owl


“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” —Alfred D. Souza

© Photographed by Charles Sorenson

horned, his wing span slightly exceeds the great-horned’s. The advantage: fast, nimble travel through dense swampy forest. Our cypress sloughs, including Hovey Lake and Big Cypress Slough, are made-in-heaven homes for barred owls. But given a feasting opportunity, they’ll visit wooded yards as well. In early fall, mostly monogamous owl pairs, both barred and great-horned, reestablish their feeding territories, chasing away their now-self-sufficient offspring, sending them off to establish their own territories. Hooting helps establish boundaries and warn off intruders, including other owls’ offspring that might be flying through in search of their own new territory. But now, in early November through December, hooting marks more than territorial

battles. It’s the onset of mating, and love is in the air. Owls, the earliest breeding birds in North America, typically nest in January; thus, snow-covered owls incubating eggs are not an uncommon sight. So, while we’re still raking the yard of the last of autumn’s fallen leaves, the owls are thinking spring. And dear reader, you’re eavesdropping on their love-talk! Sharon Sorenson and her husband, Charles, settled in St. Philip in 1966 and continue to improve their certified backyard habitat that to date has hosted 160 species of birds and 46 species of butterflies. She can be contacted at

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” —Henry David Thoreau “Life’s not about waiting for the storms to pass….it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” — Christie Luckett “The world is mud-luscious and puddlewonderful.” —e.e. cummings

I’m just sayin’ Teachers can be very confusing and complicated. For instance, although many students don’t picture teachers having an actual life, the teacher can have his or her good or bad days. This means if they are in a bad mood, then they could possibly take it out on their students. For example, I had a teacher just yesterday who said he was tired, and he showed that by being a little edgier and stricter. Kids are like police sirens, the first people to know that the teacher is on edge, then they go and tell someone who goes and tells someone, and before you know it everybody straightens up for the day or is a little more mischievous with their devious schemes. What I’m saying—kids, if you hear the word that your teacher is cranky, straighten up, and, teachers, if you are tired or want an easy day, just get mad at your first class and snap, instantly an easier day. Carter Niehaus Mt. Vernon Junior High I’ve been a teacher to my little brother. I teach him to play baseball and how to catch a ball. He was very excited, actually too excited. He didn’t want to stop playing ball. When he gets older he might be really good at baseball. That was when I was a teacher. Dillon Howell North Posey Junior High Teachers They bring you joy; they bring you pain. Then they do it over again. They give you homework for hours a night, Merely hoping they taught you right. If you do it, you’ll be smart; If not, you’ll work at Wal-mart.


I’m Just Sayin’ is a sounding board for young people. All middle and high school students (including homeschoolers) in Posey County are invited to submit essays, stories or poems on the designated topics for each issue. Submissions must be no longer than six sentences. Topics and deadlines for the next two issues: January/February: Making Plans Deadline November 20, 2010 March/April: Staying Up Late Deadline February 20, 2011 Email to: If you do what they ask and stay on task, Then you won’t need to ask what we did last in this class. For you will have it done and get an A; Then you can finally celebrate! Craig Beeson Mt. Vernon Senior High When I think of the word “Teacher” I don’t just think about the people who teach me in school; I think about everyone and every little thing around me. My family and friends are my teachers because they teach me right from wrong. My coaches are my teachers because they teach me how to shoot a ball, how to serve a ball, and how to be a family with my teammates. My preacher is my teacher because he teaches me wisdom and the ways of God. Then there are the strangers who teach me that being rich doesn’t make you better than everyone else and hiding behind your mask doesn’t make you seem better than you really are. Most of all, teachers are the

people you look up to and who help you out with everyday life situations. Kendall Morris New Harmony High I walked into the same classroom day after day anticipating the knowledge that would soon follow. I developed a passion for writing; a genuine desire to learn; a thirst. I challenged myself to excel at everything I committed myself to from that moment forward. I owe all of my dedication and my perseverance to my teacher, Mrs. Reising, for her care. Her wisdom and excitement for English bestowed on me a yearning for selfaccomplishment. I only wish the year would have continued... on...and on...and on... Cody Devine North Posey Senior High Teachers are people who teach people to be smart. They are wonderful people who will help you when you need it. They are great at answering questions. Without teachers we would all talk incorrectly and be stupid. Collin Niehaus Mt. Vernon Junior High One of the greatest teachers in life could be the scar on your arm, the things you can’t buy, your own life influences, or even an everyday average Joe. You don’t find teachers only in the classrooms but in the most unexpected

places. My greatest teacher so far in life has been my own mistakes. I’ve always been taught that you live and learn, and the things that might break you are the things that make you stronger in the end, but those, in fact, can be the smallest or biggest mistakes. Everyone makes them, but sometimes going through your own personal experience is a better teacher than listening to someone else preach about it. The things you carry with you down the road are the lessons that the teachers in life prepare you for, and the ones that you appreciate the most. Kaila Winerberger New Harmony High A teacher doesn’t have to be someone with a college degree; he or she can just be someone important in your life who helps you to become better. Someone you look up to, or he gives you advice. For example, my grandpa was a teacher to me. He taught me how to be a better person; he taught me how to use my manners; he taught me how to ride a bike; and he teaches me Hoosier jokes. Teachers can be anywhere—just look for them. Aaliyah Glenn Mt. Vernon Junior High People and things are not the only teachers; there are feelings and opinions, too. These great things are here to lead us to better understanding and knowledge of how to deal with life. I have learned from death, a very important teacher. Death has taught me to love and not to take people for granted because tomorrow is never guaranteed. I have learned to be myself, to overuse the phrase “I love you,” and to make the most of every

moment. Our friends and our family are the most important things in our lives, so don’t hold back, never regret what you’ve done, and learn as you go. Holly Walden New Harmony High Teachers are the drill sergeants of school. They keep us in order and make us smart. Luke Thompson Mt. Vernon Junior High Asking questions, expecting answers
 Handing out papers, expecting them back
 Getting the joke...not getting the joke
 Scowling at the joker (all in good fun, I hope)
 Half-hearted laugh—as good as a pardon
 Thank God teachers aren’t robots! Jade Kopp Mt. Vernon Senior High Some people think that teachers are always in a bad mood, but I think they are just tired from all the different kinds of kids and attitudes they have to deal with like the class clown, the trouble-makers, the gossipers, the depressed kids, the jocks, and the preps. Some students think that teachers don’t like them, but now I realize that it’s not that they don’t like you, it’s just that they are stressed. Either way, I respect teachers for all their hard work and effort they put into their job. Thank you, teachers! Clara Baggett Mt. Vernon Junior High Teachers are the people who guide us through the day. From kindergarten to high school, we

depend on teachers. They teach us things we need to know to have a bright future. Without teachers, nobody would have a job or know right from wrong. Emily Miller New Harmony High When people hear the word “teacher,” most people think of school, but teachers don’t always have to be associated with school. They could be coaches, family, friends, or anyone that has taught them something important. My mom taught me that if I don’t do very well at something, I shouldn’t get upset and down because it can affect something else I do. I used to get down when I had a bad race at a swim meet, and I would let it affect the rest of my swim meet. I should’ve forgotten about it and treated the next race as a new opportunity to do better. Now, I don’t let bad races affect me and I do a lot better in my races. Rachel Burke Mt. Vernon Junior High My grandpa is my teacher. My grandfather has taught me how to appreciate everything, not just the little things but everything. He is 92 years old, and I think he has lived his life to the fullest; I live off his example. Even though he is 92, he doesn’t ask for help. He cuts his own firewood, mows his yard, and builds furniture out in his old shop. So my grandpa is my teacher—my teacher in the class of Life. Clinton Mathews New Harmony High

BEAUTYand the


The war between farmer and deer is an annual contest. Crop damage is always expected, but the degree of damage can’t be.


By Leigh Ann Tipton

ho doesn’t love to watch a graceful, glossy-eyed doe lift her head and twitch her tail as a green and gold ocean of cornstalks waves around her? Bufkin’s Brent Knight has the answer — him. And other farmers like him who know that picturesque midwestern scene of a deer in a field means one thing — that profits are disappearing into that doe’s belly. Not that Knight minds a single or even a few deer. They’re interesting creatures to watch, and on a small scale they don’t cause a noticeable amount of damage. “I haven’t had much of a problem with them this year,” he says, adding there may be a few stragglers in some of his 900 acres of field. Drought and heat have made a bigger impact on yields this year, though. Still, Knight watches the local deer population with a cautious caveat for good reason--a few years ago he lost an entire field he’d leased in southern Illinois to those

graceful, grazing intruders. They enjoyed the fruits of his labor night after night. “Just about every evening, you could see 100 deer in a 60acre field,” he says. “They kept the tops eaten out of that whole field. The field was a total loss.” It made the landowner happy — he had bought the farmland, which lay next to a wetland preserve, as prime hunting ground. It also taught Knight a lesson about the destruction deer can cause where their numbers are high, like near a preserve. Needless to say he didn’t lease the same farm the following year. Jon Neufelder, Agriculture Extension Agent for Posey County, said in the northern end of the county deer don’t seem to be much more than a minor nuisance. He suspects deer damaged about a quarter of an acre of his farm this year, but he, like other farmers, prepare for a certain percentage of loss each season.  And in some cases, letting deer fill

up on a certain amount of crop actually has an advantage — it may eventually lead to a freezer full of venison. “There’s some farmers who like feeding those big bucks so they get ‘em fat and know where they’re at,” Neufelder says. Conservation officer Paul Axton said he gets a number of calls from farmers all over the county each year who find deer to

© Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

Conservation officers often suggest alternative solutions to farmers before issuing permits to hunt deer out of season. be a problem. He refers them to Wildlife Biologist Jeff Thompson at Sugar Ridge Fish and Wildlife, who visits the farm to analyze the damage and help the farmer find a solution. In small areas that can include installing deer fencing or such tricks as dispersing human hair gathered from the floor of a barber shop around a garden. But in other cases it means issuing a permit for the farmer

to hunt the deer out of season. This year there were five such permits issued in Posey County, allowing farmers to kill a total of 70 deer out-of-season. By early October all but one of the permits had been turned back in to Thompson, with a total of 44 deer killed out of season. “The deer population is strong and healthy, and there’s more urban areas in the

county now, which means less habitat for them,” Axton says, adding that the damage deer can do is no old wive’s tale. “There are crops that are decimated from deer damage.” In other cases, if there’s only a little damage done, the four-legged creatures can be tolerated--even enjoyed. There is something special, after all, about looking into those big doe eyes.

Posey Then & Now Circa 1897

Courtesy of David L. Rice Library

Completed in 1823, Community House #3 on Church Street in New Harmony was originally a dormitory for unmarried Harmonists of both sexes and the guesthouse for out-of-town visitors to the community. The Owenites, who succeeded the Harmonists in1824, used it as temporary quarters for new arrivals to their community. It continued to serve as a hotel and rooming house (tavern) until 1943, despite a fire in 1880 that required a new roof and balcony. The New Harmony Memorial Commission bought the property in 1939, and the Indiana State Conservation Department razed the building, which had fallen into disrepair, in 1960.

Posey Then & Now Circa 2010

© Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

After the Tavern was razed, the old Train Depot was moved to the site and served as the Office of the Justice of the Peace and then as the Visitors’ Center. When the Train Depot was moved in the late 1970’s, the owner of the land, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, State Museum and Historic Sites, created what is locally known as Redbud Park. A plaque introducing visitors to the early utopian communities of New Harmony stands in the park, which is used for vendors’ stands during Kunstfest and is maintained by the New Harmony Garden Club.

Posies/By Alison Baumann

Spent Only after our garden became a graveyard strewn with shriveled leaves did the white stem arise from the hermetic bulb… out of phase, like an angel strayed into Time, our world. ­—Lisel Mueller

Who would guess these delicate seedpods and tiny seeds would produce four-foot tall cleomes with stems almost an inch in diameter?

© Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

As time and the drought eat away the coneflower’s petals, its green-gold center glows in the autumn sun.

The flower stalks of black-eyed susans can easily be pulled up by the roots, but they make a pretty mahogany cluster in the garden—and feed the birds all winter.


ell-meaning garden advisers love to tell us what a busy time fall and early winter should be for the gardener—plant bulbs, divide perennials, practice “good garden hygiene”—as if we were looking for something to do until we could start making Christmas craft projects out of dried grasses and seedpods. But, especially after a long, hot summer of lugging hoses to quench my desperately parched flowers, I’m spent. And I think my garden is, too. We both need a rest— for ourselves and from each other. My garden uses the winter respite

to go to ground, to re-arrange itself, cull the weaklings and fortify the strong. The American toads that have cheerfully accompanied me in my garden chores will dig themselves backwards into cozy hibernation dens under the daylilies. Ditto the snakes that can startle me off my knees in the blink of an eye, but the less said about them the better. The birds will feast on the seeds of all the black-eyed susans, sunflowers, cosmos and coneflowers I have neglected to cut back, then they’ll head south to my feeders or warmer country for the hard months.

The birds, of course, are responsible for much of the re-arranging that gets done over the winter, but even the catmint I carefully trimmed back after it bloomed showed up twelve feet away the following spring. Violets I know I never planted anywhere near the Impossible Garden appeared last spring and began merrily colonizing its slopes. Bee balm, for some reason, uses the cold months to send its long roots underground clear out of the garden and into the surrounding grass. And the lamb’s ears—well, we’ll talk about lamb’s ears in another column.

Arums erupt like bayonets from the earth, unfold into lovely umbrellas of leaves and, when everything else is failing, produce cones of bright-colored fruit.

I usually cut off the flower stalks when yuccas finish blooming, but the hippo-like spent seed pods are pretty cool. The winter disappearing acts are not always easy to understand, either, and they’re harder to take. Voles, of course, will spend the winter cleaning up all those pesky tulip bulbs I’ve carelessly left buried in chicken wire cages that were intended to keep them out. But what happened to the big patch of blanket flowers I cultivated in memory of a beloved friend, which had spread and bloomed all season year after year? Why did the sedums on the north end of the garden never make it through the winter, while the southenders came back strong? The best of winter surprises, though,

are the unexpected transformations. A pure white strain of self-seeding cleome, for example, suddenly sprouts flowers in the more common pinks and lilacs. Showy hybrid daylilies are replaced by blooms that look suspiciously like the wild “ditch lilies” we see along the roadside. I think the winter rest, the “spent” time,” gives plants as well as people a time to re-consider themselves, to shed some of the fancy accoutrements of modernity and get back to where they came from. Far be it for me to interfere with that.

Jesse Butler closing in on a hundred years By Linda Neal Reising

The year was 1913. Woodrow Wilson had just chosen Franklin Roosevelt as Assistant Secretary of the Navy. Ty Cobb was batting .390, and Knute Rockne played receiver for Notre Dame. Charlie Chaplin was filming his first movie, and Al Jolson reigned as the most popular singer. Harriet Tubman, famous director of the Underground Railroad, died, while Rosa Parks, the woman who began the Montgomery bus strike, was born.

That same year, on July 13th, Jesse Lloyd Butler came into a world in a tenant house on the Levi Creek farm about two miles northwest of Wadesville. He was named for his greatgrandfather, Jesse Nash, who was a major in the Civil War. Born when the life expectancy for a male was just over 50, Jesse attributes his longevity to the fact that he tasted beer only once and didn’t like it, and “whiskey never touched my lips.” As the son of a sharecropper, Jesse had little time to develop bad habits. By age 15, he was hoeing weeds in corn patches 11 hours a day, earning a nickel an hour from a farmer named Ed Douglas. “My boss said, ‘I don’t expect you to do much—just keep up with me’,” says Jesse with a laugh. He soon learned that “keeping up” was no easy task. In 1935, Jesse landed his first “real” job, as an auto mechanic for the Chevy dealership. He worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, and made $12 a week. “I always whistled when I worked, and my boss told me

if I would whistle faster, I might be able to work faster,” Jesse recalls with a smile. When World War II began, Jesse was a service manager for the Nix Chevy dealership. After his boss refused to raise his salary, Jesse went to work at a defense plant in Evansville. He started out making bullets, then he re-built Sherman tanks and finally worked at re-boring the engines on Dodge 4x4’s. Jesse served as a volunteer fireman from 1937 until 1986. He remembers when a teenager named George Mobley was helping dig a trench, and a huge slab of concrete fell across his legs, breaking them. He was trapped and in terrible pain. Jesse grabbed a shovel and started digging. Onlookers tried to convince Jesse to stop because they feared a cave-in, but George continued to call out, and Jesse didn’t feel that they should wait for a crane to arrive from Evansville. Finally, Jesse freed the boy, who was rushed to the hospital. George credited Jesse with saving his life. If you want to know anything about the old days in Poseyville, Jesse Butler is

Jesse Butler has 55 years of memories from sitting on this porch in Poseyville.

Š Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

At 97, Jesse’s spirit and memory will match anyone’s in Poseyville. Always active, he continued to ride his bicycle into late last year. the man to ask. Having lived all of his life in Posey County, Jesse recalls a gentler, more innocent place. As a child, he and his friends played marbles and “Andy Over” and rode bicycles. “I’ve rode a million miles on a bicycle,” Jesse says. In fact, he continued riding a bike until he was 96. He remembers when free movies were projected onto a big canvas downtown on Saturday and Sunday nights, and people sat on the steps of stores to watch. Of course,

there were also real theaters—an old one on the south side of Main Street and the “new” Marian Theater, built about 1926, next to what is today Patty’s Restaurant. Poseyville used to be a bustling place on the weekends. People gathered to meet and chat. A street vendor sold warm popcorn and peanuts for a nickel a bag from a cart equipped with a kerosene heater. One Sunday evening in 1936, young Julia Mauck from Owensville was visiting friends when

she spotted Jesse eating popcorn. “She told her friends, ‘I’m going to see if that boy will talk to me’,” Jesse recalls. He asked if he could buy her some popcorn, and that was the beginning of the great love of his life that lasted through four years of courtship and 67 years of marriage, until Julia passed away in 2007. Jesse remembers the days when Alvey Freeman ran a roller skating rink on South Cale Street, and the nearby Mary Dean

The “Picture Box Tree”, designed by Jesse, includes portraits of his wife, five children, and 28 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Boarding House competed with the Mansion Inn and the Hansborough Inn. He can tell you about a taxi driver named Sid Wilsey, who stayed busy transporting drummers from the train depot to the downtown area where they hawked their wares, and about the excitement when the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus train came to town loaded with lions, tigers, and elephants. He can point out where the hardware store used to be, along with a grain elevator, a

monument company, tailoring and millenary shops, two drug stores, four groceries, a jewelry store, an oil/grease dealership for wagons, and two saloons. He remembers when there were four regular barbers in town who charged 35 cents for a haircut, but “the poor guys like me went to John Walters on St. Francis Avenue—he only charged 15 cents.” Over the years, Jesse has seen the town decline as a business and entertainment hub. “I’m afraid that one day Poseyville

might be like Bug Town that used to have a store, a post office, a garage, and several houses.” With a wistful expression he adds, “I wish Poseyville could be the way it once was.” A Posey County resident since 1980, Linda Neal Reising lives in the historic “Cale House,” where she writes fiction and poetry, as well as fending off rowdy raccoons and voracious Virginia creeper. She can be contacted at:

Gift Nine days before Christmas, I step outside, dog in tow, to be greeted by the Cry! Cry! of gulls, a flock, rising from tulip poplars and red oaks, oscillation of gray-white, gray-white, as they sail into the last light. I have seen these birds bobbing on ocean caps off the coast of Bar Harbor, swooping in a feathered flurry as they dove for bread flung on the beach at Padre Island, or riding on the backs of Charlois bulls in Oklahoma’s fescued pastures. But never have I seen them here, in mid-December, in southern Indiana, bringing this unexpected gift, this blessing.

— Linda Neal Reising


December Gathers In (A Pantoum*)

Watchful and undreaming, bowing their great, stolid heads, the horses are standing at the gate waiting for last summer’s apples. Bowing their great, stolid heads while icicles braid ringlets in their manes, they wait for last summer’s apples as December gathers in. Icicles braid ringlets in their manes. Somewhere, a heron cries, alone. As December gathers in, already fish are burrowed, sleeping. Somewhere, a heron cries, alone, circling the black eye of the pond. Already fish are burrowed. Sleeping mice have nested in the rafters of the barn. Circling the black eye of the pond, the wind picks up. The geese are gone, and mice have nested in the rafters of the barn. Only the unborns count forward. The wind picks up, the geese are gone, the horses still stand waiting at the gate. Only the unborns count forward, watchful and undreaming.

— Alison Baumann *A pantoum is a verse form composed of four-line stanzas where the second and fourth lines of one stanza become the first and third lines of the following stanza.

Posey Portrait

Father Tom Kessler, St. Philip Church

Š Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

Posey Portrait will feature a random photograph of a friend or neighbor — in a place we call home

Another Whopper By Mark Williams


y name is Harold Hubley, Millie Magoo’s high steppin’ dance partner, as she described me earlier this evening. I’m sitting in the last row of Murphy Auditorium between Bish Mumford’s unfortunate wife, Siss, and Rex the Wonder Dog. The storytelling is over. The room is empty, save for us: three unwitting targets of tonight’s sharp barbs. Bish wasn’t all that funny, Siss says, her face red as the toilet seat Bish had freshly painted and—moments ago—described. Wait ‘til he gets home, we’ll see what sticks to him, Siss says. Rex—who doesn’t look near big or fierce enough to dismantle a Tyrannosaurus rex all by himself—I don’t care what his fool owner said—can only nod. As for me, I’d heard about the tales Millie had been telling about our dance contest, and I wanted to hear them firsthand. To set the record straight, I wouldn’t have a steel plate over my frontal lobe if Millie hadn’t insisted on swinging me in a tango. As for the healing magnets she’d duct-taped to her ankle, that was my idea, not hers. But how could I have known they’d be so powerful as to glue my head to her not-soshapely ankle? Stuck as I was under Millie’s dress, I couldn’t see much. Of all times for KDVV

Tammy Cole kicks up the winner in the 2010 Big Whopper Liars Contest. out of Topeka to start playing Vertigo—a song my steel plate picks up whenever it’s played within 500 miles. Hello hello, it echoed, I’m at a place called Vertigo…Hello hello… Clueless as usual, Millie steered us up a flight of steps onto the stage, where I—subjected as I was to repeated vertiginous suggestion—did suffer from vertigo, causing

me, not Millie, to swing us into dancing fame. But, I have to admit, things don’t always work out so famously. By day, I’m an ordinary filling station attendant. One day, I tell Siss and Rex, a woman drives up to the pump, steps out and asks me if she can use the restroom. Only just as she begins to speak, the band strikes up inside my head, and what I hear is her asking me if she can use the whisk broom. Sure, I say, I’ll go look for it. When I come back, I say, I just used it a little while ago, but now I can’t find it. She reminds of Millie, the way she stomps her foot. I’m still trying to be helpful, so as she’s driving off I yell, But I can blow it out with the air hose, if you want! Siss laughs so hard—slipping her arm into mine—that I think there might be some justice to this evening after all. Rex can only nod. Mark Williams, a/k/a Harold Hubley, was inspired by the Big Whopper Liars Contest in New Harmony to tell this tale, though he was too chicken to actually go up on stage and compete. If you have a good one to tell and aren’t afraid to embarrass yourself, call Jeff Fleming at (618) 395-8491, and he’ll send you an application for next year’s contest.

Farmer Bish (Mumford) keeps the audience glued to its seats with his tale of a honey-do list gone wrong.

ŠPhotographed by J. Bruce Baumann

No.236 looks like a typical courthouse pigeon, but her yellow ankle band shows she’s no ordinary bird.

By Alison Baumann

“There’s a pigeon standing on the porch

railing,” I said last Sunday afternoon. For those of you who live in town, a pigeon sighting is scarcely a matter for comment, but where we live, about six miles from town as the crow (or in this case the pigeon) flies, we’ve never seen one among all the hundreds of birds that live in our woods and frequent our feeders. It just stood there for the longest time looking at us. We got out the binoculars and saw a black band on its right leg and a yellow band with letters and numbers on its left. It acted as if © Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

it expected us to do something, but when we opened the door to go out for a closer look, it turned and flew off over the pond. On Tuesday it re-appeared, this time at the front door, right up against the glass, peering in. It didn’t move when the dog barked at it. It didn’t move when I put my face against the other side of the glass. It didn’t move when my husband slowly opened the door, bent down and picked it up. It rested quietly in his hands, looking around with its bright pigeon eyes. As far as we could tell, it wasn’t injured in any way, but it made no attempt to escape. We couldn’t just let it go; apparently it had no intention of going anywhere. So we found an old cat carrier in the pole barn, lined it with newspaper, and put the bird in with a scatter of sunflower seeds. Now what? We thought it must have an owner somewhere, but how to find him? I started making phone calls —the Humane Society, the DNR office, Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve. All these people must be trained to end every call with, “Thank you for caring,” which made me feel good but didn’t get us any closer to finding our pigeon’s owner. Thank goodness for the Internet. While I was running out of people to call, my husband googled “pigeon banding” and hit the jackpot. The bird’s numbers, COV 236 AU 2010, identified it as a member of the Greater Covington (Kentucky) Racing Pigeon Club. One call to the club’s secretary in Erlington, and we were on our way. “The owner of No. 236 will call you,” he assured us. And he did. Devere Burt, a wellknown wildlife artist from Cincinnati, told us that members of the club had released birds in Lexington on Thursday to race back to their homes. With a tail wind, racing pigeons can fly 55-60 mph, and they frequently get back home before the owners do. “Mine are 600mile birds,” Burt said. “We don’t know how they do it, but you can release them anywhere, and they’ll find their way home. Every time I see it, I’m just in awe.” For some reason, though, more than half of the birds released in Lexington that day failed to return. Burt estimated that No.

©Photogaph by Alison Baumann

DeVere Burt thinks No. 236 may have flown 300 miles off course to end up in Posey County. 236 had probably flown 250-300 miles, off course and against the wind, before she gave up and landed at our door in Posey County. He told us that another one of his birds from that ill-fated race had been found in Indianapolis and was being shipped back to him, but he feared the others would not survive for long. He confirmed our suspicion that, like pet dogs and cats, domesticated pigeons usually can’t live in the wild because they don’t recognize wild food sources. We made arrangements to meet Burt on Saturday in Henderson. In the meantime, we kept No. 236, who turned out to be a young hen hatched just last spring, in her cat carrier in the garage. She liked cracked wheat, but she picked out the soy grits from the uncooked hot cereal mix we gave her. The shell corn we feed our domestic geese turned out to be her beak-down favorite, though. Even after she seemed to be feeling better, she never tried to get away when we opened the carrier to feed her or change the newspaper. After a day or so, she began to

chortle happily when she heard us approach and when we petted her in that soft little crease at the nape of her neck. We got pretty fond of her, as you do taking care of an animal. “She’s the granddaughter of a champion who won a big race in Florida,” Burt told us proudly when he was reunited with his bird. Although this was her first race, Burt didn’t think it was inexperience that sent No. 236 and the others off course. “We think it might have something to do with sunspots,” he said, “but no one really understands it.” It’s good sometimes to be reminded that Nature still holds a few secrets in her bag. And, although the garage seems awfully quiet and empty all of a sudden, it’s good to know that No. 236 is safely home. Alison Baumann shares a small farm in Savah with an assortment of creatures, both wild and domestic. She has had poetry, essays and fiction published in numerous regional and national literary journals. She can be contacted at:

The Encounter M

ost of us remember learning the traditional Thanksgiving story when we were in elementary school, and our memories are filled with iconic images of people dressed in severe black and white clothing sitting down to share a steaming turkey with smiling Indians. Of course, we now know that those stories were sanitized, if not down right fabricated. The encounters between white settlers and native peoples have never been easy ones as the history of Posey County will attest. Before the white settlers moved into this area, the land was home to a number of tribes, including the Shawnee, Miami, Kickapoo, Fox, Sacs, and Pottawatomie. Naturally, the natives resented the pioneers moving into their territory and saw them as interlopers. Just over the border in Gibson County, two miles west of Owensville, tensions came to a head in 1807 when Captain Jacob Warrick and his followers set fire to a village belonging to the Piankeshaws. History does not record whether the Indians fought back or how many people were killed or injured, but the Indians were understandably hostile after the episode. Settlers over the border in Posey County felt compelled to prepare for the worst. In about 1809, John Cox, known as “double head” because of his unusually odd-shaped cranium, and his neighbors erected a fort or blockhouse about one mile southwest of Stewartsville. Built of heavy round logs, the two-story structure contained loop-holes from which the pioneers could fire their weapons and then re-plug the holes. However, this precaution did nothing to help John’s wife, Sarah, avoid an encounter with the hostiles.

By Linda Neal Reising The incident occurred after John had left on a journey to Vincennes to pick up a load of salt. During his absence, the Indians in the area started becoming more and more troublesome to the settlers. However, Sarah was still unprepared for her encounter. For just a moment, imagine what she must have faced… All morning Sarah had been working even harder than she normally did since John was still away. After feeding the horses and milking the cow, she had returned to the cabin where her young children were just waking. After tending to them, she set about preparing a hearty stew in hopes that John might be returning home that evening. The day before, she had baked his favorite cake in the hearth oven. Her day continued like any other, filled with cleaning and sewing, until she heard a noise outside her cabin door. When she peeked through the one window, her blood ran cold. Standing in her yard was a small band of Indians. They carried rifles, and their faces and bare chests were covered in war paint. Hastily, Sarah forced the children under the bed, pled with them to remain quiet, and pulled the quilt down to cover the opening. Now what was she to do? She had no gun, and she knew that even if she had, she would be no match for the warriors. With trembling hands, she opened the cabin door. At first the men stood still as oaks, but Sarah put out her hand in a welcoming gesture, beckoning them to enter, and they finally obeyed. Once her guests were inside, Sarah nervously motioned for them to sit in the chairs around the table. Shakily, she ladled

the steaming stew onto plates and passed a loaf of bread from which the Indians tore large chunks. They ate with only a few words exchanged with each other. As they were finishing, she remembered the cake she had made for John. Still struggling to control her fear, she cut the cake into pieces and served each one as if she were hosting a tea party. Her visitors seemed quite surprised and pleased with the sweet treat, nodding and smiling for the first time. What would happen after they were done, Sarah wondered. Would she and the children be kidnapped or worse? To her surprise, though, after the fearsome-looking guests finished, they quietly rose and headed to the cabin door before disappearing into the surrounding woods. After barring the door, Sarah felt her knees go weak beneath her, and she sobbed into her apron to think of what could have happened. Of course, the above scenario is simply conjecture, but The History of Posey County does relate the story of Sarah’s encounter with the Indians by saying she “received them with marks of great respect, sat cake and eatables before them, and thus reaching their hearts through their stomachs, they departed without the least molestation.” So, single-handedly Sarah Cox conquered the fierce war party—not with guns or knives, but with kindness and cake. A Posey County resident since 1980, Linda Neal Reising lives in the historic “Cale House,” where she writes fiction and poetry, as well as fending off rowdy raccoons and voracious Virginia creeper. She can be contacted at:

Out In The Back Of Beyond/Editor’s Notebook

Every November the hunter-

gatherer in me takes over. A primitive part of my soul, probably going back thousands of years, tells me it’s time to climb a tree. It’s deer season. I made mental notes from last season, and would like to share them with you. This is not going to be what you think.

I’m watching and listening. A squirrel traverses small branches like a trapeze artist, collecting future meals with the instincts that have helped it survive many winters. A bird cocks its head, first left, then right. It moves closer, ever so slowly. Circles and lands just out of reach. A winter bird in drab feathers, probably a sparrow. The muted sounds on the ground indicate life — but I can’t see what made them. The sun rises slowly over the horizon, then immediately disappears behind an overcast sky. The temperature hasn’t changed, but without the sun the day seems a little colder. If I’m lucky, it won’t rain today. If I’m

really lucky, the wind will not visit me, the tree will not sway. The silence gives way for another world to emerge — a world that I’m generally too busy to see, or even think about. My mind is free to dream of things I’ve never known or have forgotten. I have time to explore my thoughts. Some make me happy. Others scare me so much I have to work hard to leave them behind. Why do I bundle up like I’m going to trek Alaska during the last days of November? Do I really care about sunrise — or sunset — any other time of the year? No. Well, not for most of the other 350 days. My fingers grow numb from the November chill, and I curl them up inside my gloves, leaving five strands of soft leather. I may have started to doze off — and catch myself before I fall 15 feet to my death. I start eating a candy bar, something I would otherwise never do at this hour. Quietly unwrapping it so as not to expose my position. Slowly, like I used to do in my third-grade classroom. I’m certain that it can’t be heard, but the squirrel makes an abrupt stop. The branch it balances on moves up and down, but the squirrel doesn’t seem to notice.

My back begins to ache. I notice my toes have caught up with my fingers. Should I try to pour a cup of coffee, or will the smell alert everything in the forest that a 67-year-old human is perched in a hackberry tree? I think about the family back in the house. The fireplace is roaring, and the pancakes have butter dripping over the edges. They are talking, moving, laughing. They are warm. I think bad thoughts. How many should I say I saw today — but were too far away to do anything about? What about a little one with spots that stopped under my tree? I’ve never seen a 12-pointer in my life. I decide to lower my standards. An 8or 10-pointer would be OK, and still give way to stories that grow over the winter. Maybe even become a 16-pointer before spring. The pancakes, the fireplace, and the laughter replace the thoughts of what it would be like to survive in the wild. Maybe tomorrow will be the day.

J. Bruce Baumann is the editor of Posey Magazine, and can be contacted at:


Posey Magazine November/December 2010  

Posey Magazine is a bi-monthly feature publication on Posey County, Indiana, edited by J. Bruce Baumann. It focuses on the people and geogra...

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