NEW HARMONY’S RESIDENT ECCENTRIC
A magazine for and about
Posey County, Indiana Copyright 2012
No material can be reproduced without the written permission of Posey Magazine. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posey Postcard — Have you ever wondered what the best wood is for keeping you warm and cozy this winter? You’ll be surprised: it’s not oak. I’m just sayin’ — Students from Posey County write about “Family Ties.” It’s an interesting reach into the minds of our young people, giving hope to their parents and all adults that we’re in good hands. One student writes, “My family is like tying your shoes.” Enjoy!
Jim Stinson: New Harmony’s Resident Eccentric — Stinson runs The Old Rooming House in New Harmony. It’s a throwback to simpler times and a treat for those who like something different. —By Linda Neal Reising Bald Eagles — Bordering on extinction in 1963 in the lower 48 states, bald eagles survived and flourished with the help of regulations that banned the pesticide DDT. The muscle-bound birds are best seen in Posey County in January and February. — By Sharon Sorenson.
Special thanks to the following for their help
Posey Then & Now — An 1867 covered bridge between New Harmony and Mt. Vernon was located over Big Creek near the village of Solitude. Today Indiana Route 69, orginally Plank Road, features a new bridge built in 2008. Out In The Back Of Beyond — Our editor’s notebook finishes up this issue with several items that struck his fancy. A slam on cable television, some headlines found on the Internet, and some thoughts about regrets expressed by the dying.
Judy Grebe, Donnie Martin, Joseph Poccia, Kathy Riordan, Tammy Schneider, Kevin Smith
“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” —C.S. Lewis
t’s a breath, only one, that separates the quick from the dead, just a brief moment in time that makes all the difference. Maybe it’s because the fragility of life is so painful to consider that we usually choose not to. Recently a near tragedy in my home made that reality impossible to ignore. A large family of brothers and sisters, the Beasleys, was assembled. They’re a lively, loving bunch who include me, a cousin, in what is routinely a monthly night of laughter and memories. One young woman was laughing and talking one moment and near death the next. She had choked on a piece of cheese and went from coughing to an eerie silence in a few seconds. And seconds is the operative word. Her mother, seated next to her, pounded her back fruitlessly. Becky slumped over in her chair as the skin around her mouth began to turn blue. Her mother’s twin brother, her Uncle Del, who had been seated behind her, jumped up, pulled her to her feet and performed the Heimlich maneuver. It took a couple of mighty
tugs before the food became dislodged. Color and life came flooding back into her face. And all of us found our voices. We all insisted that Del was a hero. He, being a man who routinely turns away praise, said he had done nothing more than any one of the rest of us would have done had we known how. There followed a chorus of vows to sign up for first aid training. We soon strayed from that topic to other things we want to do — not really the cliché “bucket list” but more a welter of wishes. But deferred wishes are denied wishes, and a hope is not a plan. Perhaps, as is tradition at this time of year, resolutions are in order. A friend tells me that she doesn’t make resolutions. It feels like such a failure when she breaks them. Instead she sets goals. That way she can measure the progress she makes on attaining them, rather than focusing on the failure. A group of friends and I have gathered annually for years on Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras)
for dinner and discussion of our respective “life lists,” things we want to accomplish in our lifetimes. It’s been interesting to see those lists grow and shrink and change as people discover, for instance, that their desire to play a musical instrument doesn’t include the required commitment to practice enough to develop “guitar fingertips.” My own list of goals/ resolutions/wishes has for years included seeing the aurora borealis, becoming fluent in another language and making more use of my passport. But I came across something recently while reading an interview with Maya Angelou that I think I’ll try to adopt as my own guide to a better life. Perhaps you’ll enjoy it too. “Every day try to do better. See better. Say better. Talk better. Be better. Ask forgiveness of anyone whose feelings I may have hurt. Ask forgiveness of God. Forgive myself. And then start again. “See each day as a celebration. Every day awaken and be grateful. Be totally present in that day. And laugh as much as possible.”
—Charlene Tolbert Contributing Editor Posey Magazine She can be contacted at: email@example.com
Beechwood fires are bright and clear If the logs are kept a year
Chestnut only good, they say, If for long ‘tis laid away. But ash new or ash old
Is fit for queen with crown of gold. Birch and fir logs burn too fast Blaze up bright and do not last It is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mold, E’en the very flames are cold. But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for queen with golden crown. Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke. Apple wood will scent your room With an incense like perfume. Oaken logs, if dry and old,
Keep away the winter’s cold. But ash wet or ash dry
A king shall warm his slippers by. — Anonymous
ÂŠ Photograph by J. Bruce Baumann
Stinson describes New Harmony as “quiet, peaceful, and beautiful,” but above all, he thinks of it as a spiritual place.
NEW HARMONY’S RESIDENT ECCENTRIC By Linda Neal Reising
Outside The Old Rooming
House in New Harmony, bicycles loiter on the porch or lean against trees, waiting for someone to take them for a spin around town. Metal lawn chairs, dappled in peeling layers of red and green paint, look as if they have timetraveled from the 1950s. In the parking area stands a wooden pole decorated with new and vintage license plates © Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann
Stinson purchased The Old Rooming House in 1992, with a vision that he would make it reflect the influences in his life.
from all over the country. The exterior walls of the Rooming House, an Italianate structure built in 1896, are covered with a myriad of curiosities—unidentifiable metal devices, cast iron pans, and ceramic leaves and suns. The proprietor, Jim Stinson, is as interesting as his lodging house. With his white hair and beard and sparkling eyes behind wire-rimmed reading glasses, Stinson looks a little like Santa if he were to do a Jenny Craig endorsement. He is quick to make visitors feel welcome as he points out the large chalkboard on the back porch, salvaged from a Greyhound Bus Depot, which serves as his record of reservations and check-ins. “It’s sort of self-serve,” he explains in his softspoken way. It’s obvious that this is a laidback type of operation. The front door of The Old Rooming House sports a sign warning guests: Hunting by Permission Only. Inside, the walls are covered with old advertising and travel memorabilia from the American West, reminders of a trip Stinson’s family took when he was in the fourth grade. “We went out west to the Seattle World’s Fair, the Rocky Mountains, Yosemite.” With the hundreds of souvenirs adorning the walls of his tourist lodge, Stinson tries to re-capture that time of innocence and adventure. The eclectic selection of books distributed throughout The Old Rooming House is a reflection of the proprietor’s varied interests. “I just buy a bunch of books at a garage sale, jump in bed, and read. I might read the first few pages or the last. I got a Dfrom Mrs. Redman in American Literature, and I ended up loving books, selling books. You can break the mold and get out.”
Stinson is quick to make visitors feel welcome as he points out the large chalkboard on the back porch, salvaged from a Greyhound Bus Depot, which serves as his record of reservations and check-ins. “It’s sort of self-serve,” he explains in his soft-spoken way. Stinson grew up in Mt. Vernon, Indiana, and Mt. Carmel, Illinois, where he attended primary school. His father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were merchants in the area. “There is still an old building in Mt. Vernon with Stinson Brothers on it,” he says with pride. After graduating from high school in Mt. Vernon, Stinson worked at G.E. before
setting off for California. From there, he hitchhiked to Sarasota, Florida, where he joined the Royal Hanneford Circus, working as a roadie, setting up and tearing down the tents. He also helped with the animals, including the Lippizzaner stallions, elephants, and monkeys. “I never worked with the lions except pushing their cages around. The
elephants loved tobacco. The monkeys were the most dangerous. They would bite people.” Later, Jim moved on to making dolls at the Horsman doll factory. “I mixed the plastics that they molded the dolls from. When the guys pulled the babies out of the molds, they would squeal. Arms, heads, and eyes lying around—it was weird.”
The eclectic selection of books distributed throughout The Old Rooming House is a reflection of the proprietorâ€™s varied interests.
Stinson chuckles as he tells about a couple who were recently directed there. The woman was uncomfortable right away with the looks of the place. When she voiced her opinion that she thought it was a little frightening, Stinson told her that he purposely designed the place that way, “to scare off the ones that don’t get it.” After his stint as a doll-maker, Jim hit the road again, seeking out and buying discontinued china. The owner of Replacements, Ltd., computerized a “want list,” and Stinson—along with Blossom, his Lab/Shepherd mix—would cruise around in his Ford LTD, trying to find the items on the list. “I would pack it at night and ship the next day. I’d sometimes visit 40-50 shops a day—antique malls and junk shops. Sometimes, at the end of the day, there would be that one piece or set.” Stinson purchased The Old Rooming House in 1992, with a vision that he would make it reflect the influences in his life—his grandmother’s old house in Mt. Vernon with its piles of Life magazines, the trip out west when he was a boy, and his treks around the U.S. Of course, not everyone has been pleased with the result. Stinson chuckles as he tells about a couple who were recently directed there. The woman was uncomfortable right away with the looks of the place. When she voiced her opinion that she thought it was a little frightening, Stinson told her that he purposely designed the place that way, “to scare off the ones that don’t get it.” Today, Stinson spends most of his time buying and fixing up houses in the area. He purchases what he calls “Eisenhower houses,” the ones with “wide siding, lowered ceilings, and big, thick shag carpet,” then renovates and rents them out. On a particularly humid day in May, after weeks of rain and flooding in New Harmony, he is busily repairing a bathroom ceiling in one of his houses on Granary Street. “I call this the Nature House,” he says as he makes his way through the work zone. “I give my houses different names to keep track of
expenses in my checking book.” Stinson now divides his time among New Harmony, Mt. Vernon, and Grayville, Illinois, but he is still one of the most vocal supporters of the New Harmony community. “New Harmony has characters! People move in here—they’re still the idealists, the Utopians.” Recently, Stinson added a list of local artists and writers to his website (www.oldroominghouse.com), along with other Posey County businesses and places of interest. “I ran for Town Council and lost by two votes,” he quips. “I guess I should have voted for myself!” Stinson describes New Harmony as “quiet, peaceful, and beautiful,” but above all, he thinks of it as a spiritual place. Many people come off the interstate, he says, and have the same reaction. “They say, ‘I don’t know what drew me in here, but wow!’ It’s an ancient spirituality, the aspect of the Native American part of New Harmony. I think it has something to do with rivers, a convergence of two major rivers… A lot goes back to Father Rapp and his intention in being here.” Stinson would like New Harmony to remain just as it is. “Let’s build on what we have. Let’s restore. Let’s fill up the empty houses, continue our community reinvestment.” He’s convinced that altering any part of the town or its population would be detrimental. “It’s Walden Pond—you take out the tadpoles, you ruin the mix, man!”
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
EVENING MEDITATION I will wait to eat my supper ‘til the bats come out
to hunt the still air above the pond. Swallows have already stormed the barnyard, banking surely through the brambles of the fencerow, diving for a catch and pulling up, the last pink shards of sunset shattering on their wings. In my dreams, I always fly like that. But I wait undreaming now, on the old wood bench behind the barn, for the uncertain lift of naked wings, the raw, ungainly flapping, dart and fall of blind, furred creatures, lost in air, their own shrill voices slamming back against them in the dark. I will wait to eat my supper With the blind, furred souls who never even dream (I think) of swallows, whose only grace is this— a summer dusk, a lift of air, the dim, persistent echo of desire.
— Alison Baumann
John Pate, auctioneer
ÂŠ Photograph by J. Bruce Baumann
Posey Portrait will feature a random photograph of a friend or neighbor â€” in a place we call home
Feathers/By Sharon Sorenson
A magnificent portrait of a bald eagle calling.
© Photograph by Charles Sorenson
National Symbol in Posey County
In 1963, only 417 bald eagles flew the skies above the
© Photograph by Sharon Sorenson
lower 48 states. After extensive protective measures, including the elimination of the pesticide DDT, bald eagles slowly recovered. By 2008, the majestic birds, our nation’s proud symbol, were removed from the endangered species list. Bald eagles also recovered in Indiana, and now Posey County hosts multiple pairs. Depending on winter’s severity, January and February typically offer local residents good opportunities for sighting the third largest bird in North America, outsized only by the golden eagle and California condor.
© Photographed by Charles Sorenson (Both)
A bald eagle’s nest is a great piece of architecture, able to hold the weight of the large birds and withstand the wind. The average bald eagle weighs about nine pounds. Female eagles, however, which are always larger than their male counterparts, may tip the scales at up to 14 pounds. The hollow-boned skeleton accounts for only nine ounces of her weight, but her 7,182 feathers and innumerable down feathers make up 23 ounces. The rest? Muscle. Startlingly strong muscle propels powered flight and powered dives. But eagles’ muscle-powered upward lift enables them to wrench from the waters fish nearly equal to their own weight. Nesting in giant piles of sticks wedged in treetops over or within a mile of water, adult eagles, despite their yard-long bodies and nearly eight-foot wingspans, disappear into the depths of their nest. In fact, bald eagles build the largest tree nests in the world, returning and adding to them year after year. A record nest in Florida measures 20 feet deep, 10 feet across, weighing almost three tons. Ironically, small birds nest within its cavities. While Posey County nests can’t beat that record, they’re not at all hard to spot, especially in winter. Bald eagles, which can live up to 30 years in the wild, pair for life. Nevertheless,
they court annually in a ritual that astounds most first-time witnesses. In a spectacular exhibition called “cartwheel display,” soaring pairs hook talons and tumble beak over feet almost to the ground before releasing their grasp and returning to aerial heights. The eagles’ three-inch-long hooked bills, designed for tearing flesh, let them rip apart fish. But the birds also snag weak or slow ducks, geese, and other mammals and never pass an opportunity for a fast-food feast on carrion. “Eagle eye,” no meaningless expression here, helps these magnificent birds spot a rabbit sneaking through brush two miles away. That’s way beyond 20/20 vision; that’s telescopic. Typically, an eagle pair produces two eaglets. Raising them demands both parents’ total concentration for over four months: a month’s incubation and up to 98 days of unfailing daily effort to feed them until fledging. By the time eaglets fledge, they weigh more than their active parents. Even then, however, youngsters don’t know how or where to hunt. Snagging a fish swimming just below
water’s surface demands incredible flight tactics and eye-talon coordination. The two skills take months to develop. Still, given the adults’ breeding cycle, the youngsters must be independent by winter. No wonder egg laying begins as early as January or February. While the young bald eagle takes four to five years to reach maturity and gain its all-
Two bald eagles fight over the remains of a fish. white head (hence the name “bald”) and allwhite tail, it spends its young years perfecting hunting tactics. Locally, nests at Hovey Lake FWA, near the John T. Myers Dam, and along the Wabash River give folks the opportunity to watch the best sporting practice in the avian world. Strong and majestic, eagles can power-
fly at 45 mph, dive at 75 to 100 mph, and soar at 10,000 feet. Yet in the 1950s they were nearly eradicated by DDT poisoning. Even though they’ve now been removed from the endangered species list, the birds still face multiple obstacles to their survival, including mercury poisoning. We humans were—and still are—their worst enemies.
Sharon and Charles Sorenson settled in St. Philip in 1966 and continue to improve their certified backyard wildlife habitat that to date has hosted 161 bird species and 53 butterfly species. Send your bird questions and comments to them or contact them for publicvenue programs, conferences, or seminars at: email@example.com.
I’m just sayin’
FAMILY TIES I’m just sayin’ family is my life! I’m just sayin’ “blood is thicker than water.” I’m just sayin’ family helps me through it all! I’m just sayin’ family is all I need! I’m just sayin’ family is love! I’m just sayin’ family is always there! Shoshanah Johnson Mt. Vernon High My family is like tying your shoes. The initial knot, like my dad, is the base of our family. The loops are like my mom and sister. Without them, our family would fall apart. I am like the string that gets pulled around because I keep my family together. My older brother is like the double knot because he keeps everything from unraveling. Samantha Crofts North Posey High In my family we are very close, because my dad works in Brazil every other month and sometimes misses holidays and birthdays. When he is home, we try to take advantage of the time we do spend together. This year my dad gets to be home for Christmas and my brother’s birthday! Yay! Shelby Riordan Mt. Vernon High My family and I like to have fun, and we like to eat home-cooked meals, but we also have a lot of fun whenever we are at home and around the holidays. One family tie I remember is my family, a lot of close friends,
and I played a lot of card games and were having a lot of fun. My brother didn’t think it was fun because I kept beating everybody in all the games. When we started playing Texas hold’em my brother got back at me and won the tourney. We ate turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, and a whole variety of pies for dessert. We had a lot of fun, and I can’t wait for the next holiday so we can have fun like we did last year again. Tristin Choate Mt. Vernon Jr. High
I am very close with my family and I love them deeply. No one has, or will ever come between us. We are strong in the way we are united and help each other out. We know how to stand together through the hard times. We have fun and laughter in the happy ones. This is how my family “ties” together. Jasmine Martin North Posey High
Kerilyn Davis Mt. Vernon High
My family means the world to me. My family encourages me to follow my dreams. My family taught me how to succeed and how to love others. My family is a part of me, just as I am a part of them. My family cares for me, and I care for them. My family is me. Kalin Hastings Mt. Vernon High
There are many things that keep me and my family together, but the most important thing would have to be spending time together. My family and I spent ten days together in Florida with my relatives. We stayed in a motel on the oceanfront for five days. Then we went to my aunt and uncle’s home, which is located in a gated community. While staying with my family in Florida, we all became closer as we shared stories and experiences in our lives. I will never forget my time spent in Florida! Miranda Fisher Mt. Vernon Jr. High
Family, that which forms the thread in the tapestry that is life. Remove one thread, and the tapestry is damaged. The more family, the more elaborate the design. For without family, there is only one thread. You, one thread, alone, are worth almost nothing. Don’t pull at these threads, Or your world will unravel! Jacob Driver Mt. Vernon High
F – Faith A – Amazing M – Mothering I – Intense L – Loving Y – Yours!
To me family ties are what ties or bonds a family together. The ties could be a love of a sport or some form of entertainment. It could also be just being there for big events in one another’s life. Or it could be just spending time together, doing what you enjoy, or just doing nothing at all. But love is what ties families, or even people in general, together the most. Katelin Schroeder North Posey High A family tie is somewhat like a rope. When a new family member comes into the picture we tie them onto the rope no matter how different they are. The rope extends far to welcome other people in with warm greetings. Some family ties are unique but yet similar. Family ties are important for a healthy relationship. Sydney Feldhake North Posey High Brothers, sisters, moms and dads—they all have a unique way of life. Some can brighten your day, and others can ruin your day. No matter what they do, just remember that they are family. You can’t get away from them, so you might as well like them. If you don’t, they will embarrass you really bad. Trust me—I grew up with two older brothers. Now, they are somewhat nicer to me. Jake Wenderoth North Posey High
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: March/April: Work Deadline: January 20, 2012 May/June Bad Habits Deadline: March 20, 2012
Family ties occur when we have family traditions for the holidays. We have one special tradition for Christmas when the youngest collects trash wrapping paper and opens presents last. For the past eight years I have been the youngest; now I’m not. My adopted brother Troy is the youngest, and my step-mom is having a baby in about four months. I can’t wait to finally not be the last person this year and years to come! Kendall Knight Mt. Vernon High I tie myself to my family like I tie a bow to a present. I won’t go on without them; I won’t move on in my life, just like a gift isn’t sent without a ribbon. I need my family like a shoe needs a string. Noelle Emge North Posey High
To me, family ties means the relationships you have with your family members. My family is very big, and we like to joke around. Sometimes we argue but we always make up in due time. Family ties makes me think of a mom and daughter locking heads about an issue and fighting about it. Usually our family ties aren’t about big issues; instead we get upset about a lot of small, pointless things. In the end, family is the people that are always there for you, whether we fight or not. Hailee Elderkin North Posey High Some family ties are good. Some are bad. Some you can’t stand. Some you “love to death.” But that’s what makes it family. Hollie Robinson Mt. Vernon High It is sometimes difficult to see who your family is. Everyone says that everybody is your family because of God. I do not think everyone is family because of God, but we are “pretty much” all family. I always wanted to know why everybody isn’t a cousin. We have our first cousins and our second cousins. What ever happened to our 56th cousins, and why do they never come to celebrations with the family? Josh Martin Mt. Vernon High
Out of the frame/J. Bruce Baumann
Out of the frame will focus on moments found, without a story or context. We all pass something that catches our eye and tweaks our curiosity during the course of everday living. Sometimes it makes us smile or even chuckle. You might say it tickles the mind. Other times it makes us think about life in a serious way. Regardless of how we react, in that instant the image touches a part of our brain or heart and becomes part of who we are. For the moment it takes us out of the frame.
Posey Then & Now Circa 1926
Courtesy of the University of Southern Indiana
The covered bridge over Big Creek in Solitude was built by W.H. Washer in 1867 along Plank Road, which first joined New Harmony and the burgeoning community of Mt. Vernon in 1851. The road cost $2000 a mile, and travelers were charged a toll of $.03 a mile to pay for construction. Big Creek repeatedly flooded the bridge, and it was finally razed in 1926.
Posey Then & Now Circa 2011
ÂŠ Photograph by J. Bruce Baumann
After the covered bridge was removed, engineers re-routed and straightened Big Creek to provide better drainage for the communities of Oliver and Solitude, and a new bridge was built along what became Indiana Route 69. That bridge was moved to the west when Route 69 was re-configured in 2008. This view of the new bridge looks over trees that have grown up in the location of the original span.
Out In The Back Of Beyond/Editor’s Notebook
he deer hunting season is over for another year. Venison is stored in the freezer. The cows are safe again.
Cable television offers gruel for the brain. Depending on your channel changer, you have a choice of hours of politicians begging for your mind and money. Religious zealots begging for your mind and money. Drug companies telling you to ask your doctor if their products are right for you — begging for your mind and money. Car dealers telling you it’s time for that dream ride and begging for your mind and money. Not to mention all of those great clothing sales at 50 to 70 % off, which is still twice what the retailer paid and begging for your mind and money. Maybe it’s time to hide the channel changer and read a good book or magazine. I hadn’t heard from an elderly friend for awhile. Phone calls went unanswered. So I decided to do an Internet obituary search. This was the response I received: We’re sorry, there are no obituary search results for “Ed Russell”. They’re sorry that my friend Ed isn’t dead? Think about it.
Here are some intriguing rcent headlines from Internet news sites: Study: No natural gender gap for math skills Same-sex Penguin Pair Find Female Partners
Infamous Strip Club To Be Turned Into Church Eva Green, Ewan McGregor Fall In Love During Apocalypse Alice Cooper On Life, Music And The Night He Almost Murdered Elvis Dog Shoots Man; 2nd Case Of Canine Gun Violence In 2 Weeks George Clooney Talks Fatherhood & UFOs Dead Singer’s Hair Being Auctioned Off
Bad News For Sellers Of Petrified Cats This is what’s killing newspapers and magazines? Really?
Any idea what a “yob” is? Don’t feel bad — that one went over my head, too. A yob is defined as a rude, rowdy youth. Of course, it’s boy spelled backwards. Now do you feel more cool? Winter light has a soul-searching effect on me. Overcast skies creep slowly out of the long nights, reversing the pattern we enjoyed during the summer months. It’s a time I think about life and wonder if I’ve used my own days wisely. Recently I read an article by Bronnie Ware, a palliative care worker who asked people who were dying if they had any regrets. The answers were not particularly ground- breaking or unexpected. People wished they had spent less time working and more time with family. Some wished they had been more true to themselves and less to what others expected. A good number regretted not staying in touch with friends. Many said they held back their true feelings in order to keep the peace with others. But the one that hit me hardest was, “I wish I had let myself be happier.” It reminded me of my own thought —that which doesn’t make you happy kills you.
J. Bruce Baumann Editor Posey Magazine firstname.lastname@example.org
Now she fights the winter kill, in search of food — no longer hiding.
© Photograph by J. Bruce Baumann
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Published on Dec 31, 2011
Posey Magazine is a bi-monthly feature publication on Posey County, Indiana, edited by J. Bruce Baumann. It focuses on the people and geogra...