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May/June 2011


May/June 2011


A magazine for and about

Posey County, Indiana

Copyright 2011 No material can be reproduced without the written permission of Posey Magazine. Contact us at:

Cover stories

More than 1000 horses call Posey County home. They come in all shapes and sizes, some working stock and others trained for competition. Writer Linda Neal Reising reports on the Posey County Saddle Club, cowboy Chris Greathouse, some folks that prefer miniature horses. Sammie Schroeder, on the cover, is already an ardent horsewoman. © Photographs by J. Bruce Baumann


24 Feathers/By Sharon Sorenson Hummingbirds — fast, nimble, curious, smart 28 I’m just sayin’ Posey County Students write about “My Best Day Ever” 30 © A look back in time 32 Posies/By Alison Baumann By their roots shall ye know them 36 Old place. New Plays —The New Harmony Project — By Alison Baumann 40 “I’ve been chiggered” — A story that just scratches the surface

Posey Then & Now

Special thanks to the following for their help

Mary Feagley, Judy Grebe, Gloanna Hodges, Joseph Poccia, Nancy Rapp, Kathy Riordan, Tammy Schneider, Marsha Schneider


now I suspect most of my neighbors think I have taken leave of my senses. You see, I walk around my lawn and sit on my front porch or back patio and laugh and talk, apparently to myself. What they don’t know is that I’m not alone. In fact, none of us is ever completely alone. We are constantly accompanied by all of the people who have taught us and loved us and shown us how to find and appreciate the simple pleasures of life. Most recently I was sitting on my front porch waiting for a group of friends to arrive for our monthly book club meeting. Looking out across my front lawn, I realized that nothing that I had planted in the five years I’ve lived here stands erect or upright or rigid… everything bends or sways or weeps. There’s a weeping willow spreading out its lively green branches, a weeping miniature Japanese maple, a weeping crabapple covered with glorious blossoms in varied shades of pink, and a clump of birches rustling in the breeze. I wondered what that said about me and laughed at the possibilities.

It’s not uncommon for me to be making my halting way from plant to plant at this time of year. I’m checking to make sure that some treasures made their way through another winter. And they have. And I talk to the people they are associated with as I go. Mama, my maternal grandmother, loved lilies of the valley. I have brought some of hers with me, and they are probably in need of dividing and possibly transplanting. I can almost hear her chuckle as I check for tender buds. She taught me so much about love and faith and patience, and she is with me. The bulbs of my paternal greatgrandmother’s rain lilies are spilling out of the planters where they slept over the winter in my garage, and I need to find more willing recipients of this floral heritage. I shared dozens of them last year with a family of cousins, most of whoM also remember that gentle countrywoman who reached out a shaking hand to stroke a young cheek. She, along with my daddy, taught me about the importance of family and fidelity and faithfulness, and she is with me. And most important of all, my beloved

mother’s miniature rose. That tiny bush stretches back some 59 years to a Mother’s Day gift from 5-year-old me. It has never failed to bloom by Mother’s Day and it appears to be on schedule again this year. My mother treasured it, as do I. By the care she gave it and everything and everyone she touched, she taught me what it means to love without thought of reward or return. She is always with me. Maybe it’s spring that brings these memories to mind. It’s the season for rebirth and renewal and regrowth. It’s always been a time of restlessness and excitement for me, a time when I would start dreaming about things I wanted to achieve and places I wanted to go and things to do and see and on and on and on. I can remember talking to my daddy years and years ago about something I wanted to do and he asked, “Do you think this is really going to happen?” I replied, “Well, I hope so.” And he gave me one of those lop-sided smiles and said, “Hope is not a plan.” Now I smile and remember, and he is with me.

—Charlene Tolbert Contributing Writer Posey Magazine She can be contacted at:


“And this realization leads

me to one overriding and inescapable truth, that a life well lived must be a creative endeavor. Whatever form that creativity takes whether it’s carpentry, building, teaching, raising a family, or writing a book the challenge of looking within ourselves to find that creative element makes us who we are. But chances are, if we are genuinely open to the possibilities of a calling, we will find that that satisfaction will come from someplace far different from where we expected to find it.” —Andrew J. Hoffman

© Photograph by J. Bruce Baumann

The Horses of Posey County

Horses are a

paradox— velvet and steel, power and fragility. Ever since they were re-introduced to the New World by the Spanish in the early 1500’s, horses have played a role in America’s history and mystique. They have been used for war, for work, for wooing. It should come as no surprise, then, that the people of Posey County, owners of approximately a thousand horses, share in this great love affair.

Tinker and Comanche cavort in their pasture on North Twig Ranch in Savah.

Š Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann


By Linda Neal Reising

Walking into Chris Greathouse’s home, one instantly re-

alizes that horses dominate his life. The rug in his kitchen reads Welcome to our Stable. Hanging nearby is a clock adorned with horses instead of numbers that neighs on the hour. Chris lives on the farm that has been in his family for generations. “Been here all my life,” Chris says. “This is Greathouse Road.” Chris has inherited a love of the land along with his love of horses. “My dad’s grandfather was in the Civil War. He rode a white horse and carried the American flag in parades for years.” He also attributes his love of riding to his father, who still lives in the house next door. Best known for his appaloosas and ponytail , Chris Greathouse is easy to spot at any Posey County horse event. Zan, twice a world champion appaloosa, is Chris’s pride and joy.

Š Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

Greathouse sounds more like a philosopher than a horse trainer when he explains his methods.

“I’ve never made big money, but it’s fun. It’s just me and the horses!” “When I was little, I wanted to be like him, and then when I was a teen, I hated the comparison. Now, he’s my biggest hero. Without him, I wouldn’t be who I am.” An owner of approximately twenty horses, Chris admits he would own a hundred if he could afford it. “I can’t remember when I was not riding. All I ever wanted to be was a cowboy.” As a boy, Chris spent a great deal of time riding through what is now Harmonie State Park, which contains land that once belonged to his family. “Before it opened, I

would ride all over the state park on my pony. I had a little canteen, and I’d ride and see the deer.” One of the greatest joys in Chris’s life is training horses. “The most enjoyment is being by myself, starting a new horse. The adrenaline flows, putting your bottom on that horse for the first time, and then you see it get better and better. There ain’t no drug or alcohol that’s better.” He is quick to point out the training must be individualized. “I try to make the horse fit the person. So many people say

they’re trainers, and they’re not. Giving a young person an inexperienced horse is not a good combination.” Sometimes, Greathouse sounds more like a philosopher than a horse trainer when he explains his methods. “The horse has the brain, and you have the brain, and you’re trying to get these two brains to work together as one. Sometimes it’s hard to get two humans to do that, and you can speak to each other. You can speak to your horse through your arms and legs.”

Best known for his appaloosas, Chris sees them as a reflection of himself. “I like the colored horses because I always like something different. For instance, having my ponytail. People see me from behind and know it’s me. My hats don’t have a crease. They’re my personality.” Although Chris worked at logging for twenty-five years, he is now employed at regional stockyards. “I sort feeders, grade them, haul livestock. They’re hard put if I’m not there.” However, he does take off once a year to compete in the World Championship Appaloosa Show in Ft. Worth, Texas. “I’ve been in the top ten every year for over twenty years,” he says with pride. Chris’s living room is filled with awards. His coffee table brims with bronze sculptures, medallions, and belt buckles. Much of his recent success he attributes to Zan, a “high caliber” appaloosa he co-owns with Darrel Woods. In 2008, Zan was the High Point Game Horse, finishing in the top ten of all nine classes. The next year, he was named the Over-All Game Horse, finishing with the high points in every class. The competition of 2009 was filled with disappointment, too. Chris was disqualified in the Rope Race. The crown booed, and many people filed protests, but the judges wouldn’t overturn their decision, even after they viewed the tapes. “The judges had to be escorted out of the arena by police because they feared for their safety.” Chris took the disqualification in stride, even though a win would have given him a chance at another World Class Championship, along with the $5,000 dollars in prize money. The next day, Chris was presented the Sportsmanship Award. Greathouse explains the way life was in the slaughterhouse at his parents’ farm — a community event, where hogs were butchered by many area families in the winter and made into bacon, chops, sausage and hams for decades. “They used everything but the squeal,” he says.

“I’ve always been able to work outside. I’ve been lucky to do what I like.” In 2010, Chris received a formal apology from the directors of the competition, along with an invitation to compete again. Shortly before the competition, however, a cow knocked him down, badly bruising his leg. Then, when practicing in Ft. Worth, Chris suffered another blow. “My horse is very physical. Practicing one morning, Zan fell and rolled over on me. That didn’t hurt me too bad, but I was in between his legs. When I reached up to grab his reins, I got the breast strap. He took off and stepped on me with every step.” Zan and Chris still placed second in try-outs, and they went on to win the World Class Championship that should have been theirs the year before. “I couldn’t lift the trophy,” says Chris. “Someone asked, ‘Do you need a doctor?’ I said, ‘No, just give me the trophy, and I’ll be okay.’” Chris is unashamed to admit that his two great passions in life are horses and the young people in the Posey County Saddle Club, of which he has been a member for forty years. Out of all his awards and trophies, Chris is most proud of a plaque presented to him on January 24, 2009, by the Saddle Club kids in appreciation for all he does for them. He hopes horses will have the same impact on them that they did on him. “When I was a teenager, I got into the wrong groove. Horses saved me.” Now, after all these years, Chris has few regrets. “I’ve always been able to work outside. I’ve been lucky to do what I like. I’ve never made big money, but it’s fun. It’s just me and the horses!” 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:

“If I have a bad day, I go out and talk to my horse.”­— Sammie Schroeder

ADDLE CLUB S © Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

THE POSEY COUNTY By Linda Neal Reising

Early on a Saturday morning at the end of September, as the harvest

moon still hangs like a gossamer pendulum and ribbons of fog drift across the fields, riders begin to assemble at the Savah Community Center, the once-abandoned Walker School building that still wears its bell tower. It’s the annual daylong Fall Ride for the Posey County Saddle Club. Keith Woods, President of the Saddle Club, with his scuffed boots and drooping mustache, would look like a character from the Wild West if it

Dust plumes as the music plays and the riders take their horses around the track. Walk, trot, reverse, walk the rail. The paints, appaloosas, and quarter horses are put through their paces as their riders, dressed in sparkly blue, purple, and black shirts, rock with ease in their saddles. weren’t for his sunglasses. He claims, “I don’t remember a day in my life without a horse.” Keith is such a horse lover that when asked how many he owns, he responds, “Four horses, but the day ain’t over yet.” He attributes this obsession to his grandfather, Herb Woods, a farmer who kept draft horses, mules, and saddle horses. With considerable pride Keith recalls his grandfather’s role as ringmaster for the Saddle Club; he was named “World’s Greatest Ringmaster” in 1982, two years before his death. A vocal supporter of the Saddle Club, Keith stresses that the organization is familyoriented. “It’s all about the kids. It teaches responsibility. There are chores to be done. It stays with them for life. The bond between a human and horse is irreplaceable.” Sue Aldrich, acting as organizer for this morning’s ride, produces sign-up sheets, lays out the donation jar for the upkeep of Walker School, and posts “Equine Liability” signs. She is active in the Saddle Club, although she admits she had a late start compared to many members. “I started riding when I was about twenty-seven or twentyeight years old. I was a country girl who was misplaced. I lived in the city.” Unlike many women who fondly remember a gift of diamonds or pearls, Sue recalls, “One of the first gifts my husband gave me was a yearling (Kala).” With a laugh, Sue admits that it’s been rumored that she had to marry Spencer to get the horse. She knows that horses aren’t for everyone, claiming,

“You’re either born with it, or you’re not. Cut my arm, and there’ll be a little horse sweat in the blood.” Perhaps the award for most determined rider should go to Bill Turner, who has been riding for fifty years. “I love it,” he says, “love horses. It’s in my blood.” But it hasn’t been easy. At age thirty-six, Turner lost the sight in his left eye, becoming legally blind. The doctors told him that his depth perception wouldn’t be good enough to throw a rope on a calf, “But I did it,” says Bill. His problems, however, were only beginning. He battled his blood pressure and underwent hip surgery. He tried roping again after the operation, but, without enough strength in his legs, he fell off and broke his femur. As he was lying on the ground waiting for the ambulance, he announced that he was retiring from team roping. However, Bill didn’t plan on retiring from riding. After his horse died, he went in search of a replacement. The horse he was considering kicked him in the head, crushing the bones on the left side. Bill quips, “I didn’t buy it.” Bill owns five horses and a mule. In explaining why he bought the mule at an auction, Bill states, “He was there, and I felt sorry for him because he was almost as ugly as I was. I paid ten dollars for him.” Bill named the mule Izzy after his Grandpa Israel because they were both “woolly and whiskery.” In his truck, Bill even carries “before” and “after” pictures of Izzy. “The people I bought him from said he liked jelly donuts and potato

The start of the rope race brings out the best in riders and horses. Jennifer O’Neil takes an early lead over Chris Greathouse, with Andrew Wilkinson and Teele Temme in hot pursuit at a monthly Posey County Saddle Club event.

Jason Duncan and Phillona Steele have been competing against each other in the rope race for years.

Young riders like Hayley Laidlaw start out in the peewee flag race. chips, but he did a lot better on horse feed.” Dust plumes as the music plays and the riders take their horses around the track. Walk, trot, reverse, walk the rail. The paints, appaloosas, and quarter horses are put through their paces as their riders, dressed in sparkly blue, purple, and black shirts, rock with ease in their saddles. The Saddle Club Annual Show is in full swing at the Posey County Fairgrounds. It doesn’t take long to see that the real stars of the show are the young people; parents and other adults play mostly supporting roles. Sara O’Neil, a fifteen-year-old freshman at

Mt. Vernon High School, is one of the enthusiasts, although she doesn’t own her own horse. “I actually ride my friend’s aunt’s horse.” However, Sara hasn’t let this stop her from accomplishing her goals. “I place a lot. I placed second in Keyhole, and Grand Champion in Halter Class my first fair year. I love it. I really wish I had a horse.” One of the most fearless young participants is Teele Temme. As the horses line up to begin the Rope Race, Teele’s appaloosa, Spunky “D”, dances in anticipation. He is not to be disappointed. They wait for the signal. He charges forward, plows his way to the dan-

gling ropes, and stops just in time to let Teela grasp the loop before spinning and racing for home. “I started riding by myself when I was four years old,” explains Teele. “Before that, Mom would lead my horse around on a rope. I started gaming when I was six.” By gaming, Teele means participating in Pole, Barrel, Flag, Arena, and Rope Races, as well as the Keyhole Competition. She has competed in state contests three times, finishing 6th, 8th, and 14th in her class. Altogether, Teele has won over 300 trophies and enough ribbons to fill four albums. She is especially proud of being named “High Point Rider Champion” at the Posey County Saddle Club Awards Banquet. One of the youngest competitors of the day is 7-year-old Jackie Reed. She has been riding since she was 7 months old and showing since she was 2. On Shelby, the horse she named after her great-grandmother, Jackie has been successful in competitions, placing fourth in the Flag Race the second time she ever competed in the event. Jackie also has definite ideas about what she wants to do when she grows up. “I still want to ride horses, and I want to be a doctor, too.” Sammie Schroeder started riding when she was 8 or 9. “I had an old friend who got me into horses. I started off with English, but I got tired of that. I don’t like the saddles.” She then attended the P-5 Equestrian Center in Evansville for Western riding. “I took riding lessons there for a good two years before I ever got my horse.” Apparently the lessons paid off. Sammie has won the Arena Race four times in a row. “I love the speed. I’m going for my fifth, to get my High Point Trophy this year.” Sammie definitely has a connection with horses, especially Pepper, her double gray quarter horse. “If I have a bad day, I go out and talk to my horse. If I lie down in the field, my horse will lie down five feet from me.”

The world of miniatures

On a dreary Presidents’

Day, rain lashes against the wooden crosses surrounded by a white picket fence. In a corral nearby, two miniature horses in woolly coats, one black and one palomino, stand munching hay, raising their heads curiously, perhaps hoping for a treat. The horses and the cemetery belong to Talmage and Charlotte Lee of New Harmony.

Talmage grew up in Illinois, north of Carmi. “I lived on a little farm with my aunt,” he explains. “That’s the way I was raised. I had horses. I farmed with horses. When everybody else had a tractor, I had three horses.” Eventually Talmage moved to the New Harmony area, where he met Charlotte. The couple first bought a house near Solitude, but after the state purchased the home during the re-build of Route 69, they decided to design the Amish-built home—complete with a barn and corral—in which they now live. By that time, Talmage had sold his quarter horses. “I felt like I was getting too old to ride and take care of them. As soon as we got this place and built a little barn and fence, I got the miniatures.” In reality, the miniatures seemed to choose Talmage and Charlotte instead of the reverse. The first mini, Joseph, came from the

Wade family, who lived near Solitude. Their daughter had outgrown Joseph, and they kept telling Talmage that when his fence was done, they were going to give him the horse. “I thought, ‘Well, maybe.’ Anyway, when we come home one day after we got the barn and fence up, Joseph was out in the pasture,” says Talmage with a grin. One miniature just seemed to lead to another. The Lees chose Moses for his Biblical name, since Charlotte is a pastor. Josey I, a pretty little sorrel with a white face and some white hooves, was small enough to fit in the backseat when they bought her, although they decided to have her delivered instead. Pistol Pete arrived after the owner of a team passed away. The Lees’ friend, Randall Little, a horse lover from Solitude who mainly kept draft horses, was taking care of Pistol Pete. Talmage smiles as he recalls the day when he and Charlotte came home from church and found Pistol Pete out in the pasture. “I called Randall and asked, ‘Aren’t you out lookin’ for your horse? Haven’t you got a horse missing?’ He laughed and said, ‘No, I know where he’s at.’” Josey II and Jacey are the miniatures that grace the Lees’ pasture now. During the Christmas season, Talmage takes them to the Methodist Church in New Harmony where they play a part in a live nativity. He and his friend Jim Wilsey have taken the minis to Evansville’s ARC, allowing the children to see and pet them. The wooden crosses surrounded by the picket fence mark the burial spot of Joseph, Pistol Pete, Moses, and Josey I. When Talmage first erected the memorial, Ted Moore, a friend and one-time coroner, approached him. “He said, ‘I haven’t seen Charlotte for a while. I’ve been thinking about seeing who is buried out there.’” But, of course, they are only the graves of the tiny horses Talmage cared for. It’s easy to believe him when he says, “I’ve loved horses ever since I can remember.” —By Linda Neal Reising




In the distance I hear an owl and think it to be off at the edge of town in the woods where wild things are supposed to be. Each hoot, hoot, like the street light, spaced just so, calls me around the next corner — Steammill, Tavern, South. The hallowed sound searching through springtime air like the scent from the field of peonies only a block away; like the fog ascending on this river town. Yes, that owl searching for the field mouse who runs from  one hiding place to another. I stop, listen, and know the owl is in the cedar that leans over the street, over me. The owl, so close, it desires my own wild heart. —Susan Stark

Feathers/By Sharon Sorenson

They’re back. Ruby-throated hummingbirds, those jewels of

the air, arrive each year early to mid-April. By May and June, Posey County residents enjoy hummers regularly in their gardens and at their nectar feeders. Hummingbirds announce spring for backyard birders more

Hummingbird with the same golden color as autumn pin oak leaves.

A male hummingbird showing a figure eight pattern of wings in flight.

Š Photographed by Sharon Sorenson

Called “jewels of the air” for their iridescent emerald-green backs and the male’s glowing ruby-red throat, hummers are anything but gem-like. Naturally aggressive, they will fight off hawks to protect territory. Ironically, though, they’re lunch for much smaller critters: The number one predator of hummingbirds is praying mantises; number two, frogs. The perfect single mom, a female hummer builds her nest, incubates eggs and, while building a second nest, feeds her first young—all entirely alone. By late June, the male, having fulfilled his only purpose, leaves for Costa Rica; so males sighted in Posey County by mid-July are most likely those moving south from Canada and other northerly climes. As soon as the female fledges her second brood, she, too, heads south, leaving both groups of fledglings to fend for themselves. These two groups of juveniles join northerly migrants to swarm local feeders in late August and September, the busiest time of the season for hummer hosts. Creatures of habit, migrating hummers visit the same feeding sites on almost the same day year after year. The shortening length of day tells hummers when to leave, but how they know the route and how they know the wintering site when they arrive—all these remain mysteries. No wonder backyard birders treasure these fascinating jewels of the air.

Male hummingbird than any other bird, maybe because they’re tiny, ferocious, beautiful, fast, curious, nimble, smart—and well traveled. That a tiny bird can fly 4,000 miles, spend the winter, then fly 4,000 miles back, fighting storms, cold fronts, and freezing night-time temperatures, and return to specific ancestral nesting and feeding sites—well, they leave us lumbering, landbound humans awestruck. Consider the amazing details: • Ten hummingbirds together weigh an

ounce. • During migration, hummers fly 18-20 hours nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico, losing half their body weight. • High metabolism powers wing beats of 70-200 times a second, body temperature of 112 degrees, respiration rate of 250 breaths a minute, heart rate of 1,000 beats a minute. • A 150-pound human with similar metabolism would have to eat 80 meals of 1,000 calories a day just to survive.

Six Criteria for Choosing a Feeder • Appearance. Choose a feeder designed for birds, not for people; functional, not fancy. • Durability. Glass feeders last longer than plastic ones. • Color. Red attracts hummingbirds. The feeder, not the feed, should be red. • Size. Larger is not always better. Choose feeders hummers empty in three days. • Ant/bee Guards. Some feeders offer built-in guards to discourage pests. • Perches. They’re optional but give hummers a chance to rest and you a

Male humingbird with light on red gorget chance to watch. A Dozen Do’s and Don’ts • DO hang feeders April 1 until December 15. • DO keep feeders clean, fresh. Change syrup (four parts water, one part white granulated cane sugar) every two or three days. • DO wash feeders with each filling, using hot water and bottle brush. For heavy soil, use soapy water; then rinse, rinse, rinse. • DO use cotton swabs or pipe cleaners to clean crevices. • DO use denture cleanser to effervesce tiny feeder parts like bee guards. • DO use moat-type ant guards. They contain only water, not pesticides, and

last for years, saving you money. • DON’T use pesticides. Hummers’ diet is 60% protein from tiny flying insects. Kill bugs and you kill hummers’ food supply. • DON’T use ant guards that contain pesticides or say “Keep out of the reach of children.” • DON’T use red dye or commercial nectars that include red dye. Dye may harm birds’ kidneys. • DON’T use commercially prepared nectars that include additives; they can be harmful to birds and waste your money. • DON’T use molasses, honey, brown sugar or artificial sweeteners. • DON’T hang feeders in direct sun or within reach of frogs or cats.

Ten Top Hummer Plants • Wild columbine • Coral bells • Flame honeysuckle • Scarlet runner bean • Zinnias • Hostas • Rose of Sharon • Butterfly bush • Bee balm • Sage species 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:

I’m just sayin’

My Best Day Ever

My best day must have been the day that I bought my first truck. I was 14. It was a dark green1998 Toyota Tacoma with 188,000 miles on it. The ol’ boy had been through a lot in his day. The green body of the beast might just give the story of its life you might say. I had found my first love. The truck was my best friend and would be for the next three years. Jacob Ries Mt. Vernon High My best day ever was when I got a homerun off a bunt down third base line. My team, Mount Vernon Wildcats, was down by four runs and it was our championship game. The bases were loaded and there were already two outs. The pitcher tried a change up on me and I waited until the last moment to show a bunt. The opposite team’s players tried to throw me out but when they threw to the bag I was already at the next. I had done it—I had won the championship for my team! Jody Fisher Mt. Vernon Jr. High All the papers and all the files, All the anticipation as I sit for awhile, Wondering what will happen, And if it’s anything I’ve ever imagined. Now I am on my way To a family and home where I’ll happily stay. Felicia Thomson Mt. Vernon 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: July/August issue: True Love Deadline: May 20, 2011 September/October : Picture Posey See rules on facing page Deadline: July 20, 2011 My best day was when I shot my first buck. I was too young to shoot it by myself, so I had to go with my dad. We had to sit there forever, but then right before I was getting ready to lose my patience, there it was a four pointer. The deer wasn’t as big as I thought it would be, but it was the right size for me. My dad had to carry it because it was too heavy for me. They said that it was a lucky shot. Hannah Gray Mt. Vernon Jr. High “Best” is just a made-up word to try and make tedious and pathetic experiences seem extraordinary. “Best” tries to make you happy about your own achievements and not focus on your flaws. “Best” can try to bring you to some sort of false elation through denying all the flaws that create individuality. “Best” is how you’re made into a slave. “Best” lets you know who dominates the competition.

Nothing is ever “best,” just a little better than the rest. Ian Woolsley Mt. Vernon High Early one morning our last day on vacation, in Canada, my mom said, “Get up, be quiet, and don’t wake the others.” Mom, dad, and I went out to the car and drove about 10 miles. When we parked dad said, “We are going to do something special.” My parents took me to The Journey Behind the Falls, a tour that takes you behind Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. It was an amazing way to see Niagara Falls, but it was also a very wet adventure. Even though we were wearing rain ponchos, we got soaked, but it was still the best day ever because I shared the experience with my parents. Zack Allyn Mt. Vernon Jr. High first day of senior year this year is coming to a near end i’ll be walking across the stage i will no longer be making minimum wage i am going to be coming of age i am so ready to be walking across that stage. Karlee Eickhoff Mt. Vernon High My best day ever was several years ago when I saved enough money to buy my first video


game. My parents refused to buy me the new Playstation II, so for two years, I worked hard to earn $200. In the end I purchased the system, and I was so proud of myself. That’s my best day ever. Brandon Nolan

Mt. Vernon High

My best day ever would start out at 7:00 in the morning. Dad and I would be getting up to go fishing. We would head to the lake at 7:30 with fishing poles in hand. The fish would be biting like crazy and I would catch the biggest bass I’ve ever caught. Next, a lakeside picnic lunch is in order. After fishing until dark, we’d head home to clean our catch and have a fish feast. J.D. Collins Mt. Vernon Jr. High My best day ever was on 2/25/11. It started out like any other day.  It was the day of the talent show.  I got on stage.  I wasn’t allowed. They took me away when I sang to the crowd. Quentin Rutledge Mt. Vernon High

Throughout my whole life i have had really great days but the best one to me would be

With school out of session, we decided to dedicate the September/October issue of I’m just sayin’ to photography. All Posey County middle and high school students (including homeschoolers) are invited to submit photographs. We’ll print the best. The rules are simple. All submissions must be original photographs (no manipulation or photoshop) taken in Posey County. Submit up to five images via email to as an attachment. Size your pictures 10 inches wide on the long side, with an image size of 150dpi. Include your name and school, contact information, and complete captions. The deadline for submissions is July 20, 2011. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us at Good luck.

when i swore in to the Marines. I would rate this day to be number one because it was a life changing day. It also was a commitment and a challenge which i take very seriously and will never give up on. This task that i brought on myself is something that i believe would make me a better person and better my future. The Marines is also a good way for me to pay my respects to everyone else that has or had the same dream as i did. They gave up their lives so i can carry that dream out and i will not fail in doing so. Kyle Mosley Mt. Vernon High

Snow has barricaded the roads and it looks like I’m going to be stuck inside for the day. I heat up some delicious hot cocoa. I curl up on my warm couch and check the movie listings on the television. With my warm blanket, my small dog snuggles with me. These best days do not come often. When they do, I cherish them. Tara Parker Mt. Vernon High My best day ever was when I went to the St. Louis Zoo. It was my first time going, so I was very excited. They have a special exhibit where you can pet and feed stingrays and horseshoe crabs. I arrived there too late so I couldn’t feed them; otherwise it was very fun. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to be a little adventurous. Brandon Mann Mt. Vernon Jr. High Alarm won’t ring; you stub your toe. The bagel’s burnt; the traffic’s slow. The sun is scorching; crops are failing. On top of that, your mother’s ailing! Most will see this time as loss; I see a beautiful day and a wonderful cross. Michael Stevens-Emerson Mt. Vernon High

Posey Then & Now Circa 1915

Courtesy of the Alexandrian Public Library

The Greathouse School was constructed of cinder blocks and wood in 1913 on land that had been homesteaded and still remains in the Dixon family. The school was named after J.M. Greathouse, who was a Point Township Trustee when it was built. The single room school, without heat or running water, housed eight grades, taught by a single teacher, notably Jeannie Tansey and then James Monroe, who boarded with the Dixons in their spacious farmhouse across the street from the school. Beside the school building, a boys’ and girls’ double outhouse still stands, and behind it a paupers’ cemetery grew up to hold the remains of indigent farmhands and laborers from the nearby river docks. The school closed in 1932, its students sent to either Lawrence or Spencer School, depending on which was closest to their homes.

Posey Then & Now Circa 2011

© Photograph by J. Bruce Baumann

When Greathouse School closed, the Trustee came and cleared out the desks and twenty years of papers and records (leaving a few “treasures” to be discovered later by curious children), and the land and building reverted to the Dixon family. After the 1937 flood, a tenant moved in who kept 14 horses as well as hogs and dogs on the small property and rarely paid the rent. When he finally vacated the premises, John Dixon did some repairs and put up partitions to make the building into a four-room house, which, until the late 1970’s, served as home to a succession of hired men who helped Dixon on the farm. The building still stands on a slender strip on land along the river north of Hovey Lake and is rapidly being overtaken by the surrounding brush forest.

Posies/By Alison Baumann

Here in Southern Indiana, where misguided robins hang around all winter trying to find worms under two inches of frozen slush, it’s hard to decide what to call the first real sign of spring. Most years, we know spring is on its way when the horses’ breath starts smelling of onions. Spring onions, the first weeds of the season, show up in the pastures and garden when the grass still crackles underfoot and the earliest daffodils are just breaking the surface of the ground. If you want to have any chance of getting rid of them, the onions will have to be dug out with a trowel or a good weeder; no matter how loose your soil is, it almost never works just to grab the bunch and try to pull it out. Chickweed, another spring classic, is an entirely different story—so delicate of root you can almost pull it just by sweeping the ground with the side of your hand. Henbit is almost as easy to eradicate, although Wild onions are a sure sign of warmer weather.

Š Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

The tiny tips of these dandelion roots that got left behind will grow into new plants in no time. it’s always tempting to let its pretty little purple flowers bloom first. Later in the season, smartweed and dayflowers will work their way through the iris beds and under my Russian sage, and they’ll be easy to pull, too, when I get around to it. Funny what we know without ever really thinking about it. Gardeners spend a lot of intimate time with weeds, but usually we never bother to look them up in our garden books or agricultural extension pamphlets. We don’t talk much about them with our gardening friends. Most of what we know about weeds, after all, is not in our brains but in our hands. And what our hands know about weeds is not their names, their blooming seasons, or whether they’re annuals or perennials (they always seem to come back anyway, on way or another), but exactly what it will take to get rid of them. They know

them by their roots. Dandelions, of course, are famous for their roots. Marestail is another one with a taproot that goes on forever, but it’s stronger and thicker than a dandelion, and sometimes, when the soil is just right, you can wiggle it and pull the whole thing out by hand—which is incredibly satisfying. The one weed gardeners do talk about is grass, which tends to grow much better in gardens than in any lawn I’ve ever owned. Quackgrass is the perennial nemesis, but there are dozens of species of grass that grow in this area, and most of them have the same fine, hairy little roots that are awfully hard to get a handle on. The notable exception is johnsongrass, a beast I had never encountered until I discovered its amazing roots in the soil of a long-abandoned vegetable garden at

the farm. Thick, fleshy, and tinged with pink, johnsongrass roots are so vigorous that I half expected them to squirm when I touched them with my trowel. My neighbor is fond of reminding me that johnsongrass is considered a noxious weed in Indiana, and it is illegal to let it grow here. I imagine my cell, underground, full of writhing pink roots… I guess it’s been too long a winter. Finally, finally, it’s warm enough to get out there, put my hands to the dirt, and let them start cleaning up around the daylilies. Alison Baumann shares a small farm in Savah with an assortment of creatures, both wild and domestic. She can be contacted at:

Posey Portrait


© Photograph by J. Bruce Baumann

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

Artistic Director Paul Walsh will oversee the 25th Anniversary of the New Harmony Project this year.

By Alison Baumann

Quick: where in Posey County can

Š Photographed by J. Bruce Baumann

you hear new original plays produced by professional equity actors and directors? Rub elbows with theatre professionals from L.A. and New York? Watch the development of a new play from its early incarnation to a polished product? Hear a positive, life-affirming message in a fresh, unexpected context? And all for absolutely free? All this, and more, happens at the New Harmony Project, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. It may be the best-kept secret in a town full of unexpected pleasures. In the mid-80’s, a group of theater professionals, including University of Evansville Theater Professor John David Lutz and Evansville-born stage and screenwriter Matt Williams, met in Indianapolis to discuss the state of contemporary theater, which they felt was

Paul Walsh fields questions from the audience after a reading.

Many theater people, Walsh says, have previously thought of the Midwest only as a series of featureless “flyover states.” beset by sensationalism and negativity. Couldn’t they find a way to nurture the development of new works that celebrate the hopeful and positive aspects of the human spirit? And shouldn’t such a program take place far from the pressures of the coasts, in a locale where hopeful spirits have been flourishing for almost 200 years? In 1986, with grants from the Lilly and Blaffer Foundations, among others, the New Harmony Project was born. Since then, it has become an annual event with a $300,000 budget, supported by dozens of private foundations, local corporations and individual donors, according to Administrative Director Joan David. This year the Project received 180 submissions for the two-week program from playwrights and screenwriters from all over the country. Many of the applicants were well-established theater professionals, others relative newcomers. From these, Artistic Director Paul Walsh and his committee selected four plays for full development. Between May 22 and June 4, almost forty writers, directors, stage managers, dramaturges, actors and interns will meet in New Harmony to focus on these four plays, helping their authors develop them into works that will be ready to present in venues all over the country—from small regional theaters to Broadway and Hollywood. It will be two weeks of intense rehearsals, critiques, re-writes, and camaraderie, where every participant will be encouraged to contribute, and all voices will be respectfully heard. There will be nightly games of “Harmony Ball” behind the Inn, workshops for area high school theater students and their teachers, open readings, and

breakfasts at the Barn Abbey prepared by U of E interns from their mothers’ recipes. All of this will change both the participants and the plays. Many theater people, Walsh says, have previously thought of the Midwest only as a series of featureless “flyover states.” The Project gives them a chance to experience the trust and belief that he says “reside in the land of Southern Indiana,” where farmers faithfully put in crops year after year despite setbacks and disappointments. At the end of the workshop, he hopes, the plays will embody a special “celebration of the human spirit” that comes not only from the writers but from the place itself. On June 2, 3, and 4, there will be staged final readings of the four plays in Room A of the New Harmony Inn Conference Center. John Walch’s In The Book Of will be read on June 2 at 8:00 p.m. On June 3, Dan O’Brien’s The Body of an American will be read at 2:00 p.m. and Theresa Rebeck’s Dead Accounts at 8:00 p.m. Alex Lewin’s Alexandria will be read on June 4 at 10:00 a.m. All of these readings are free and open to the public and will be followed by a question-and-answer and critique session in which all audience members are invited to participate. For information about additional open readings and other public events, contact Joan David at:

It’s that time of the year again. Those long beautiful walks that you’ve dreamed about all winter long can become reality. But lurking in the grass and weeds just waiting for you to pass by are critters so small they are barely visible with the human eye, but they don’t have any trouble finding you.


“I’ve been chiggered”

rowing up in rural Oklahoma, I spent a great deal of time during my childhood harvesting fruit, both wild and domestic. In fact, some of my fondest memories center around picking cherries with my cousins at our grandparents’ house, scooping up windfall apricots from the huge tree that grew at the end of our garden, wrapping golden pears in newspaper to be stored in the well house over the winter, and filling my strawberry boxes to the brim before stopping to wade in an Ozark stream—a stream so cold it makes my teeth hurt to this day. However, there is one memory that is not so pleasant. I will call it the “Huckleberry Horror.” The summer day started out pleasant enough. My father had heard of a place just outside of Jay, Oklahoma, not far from where my family once had their Cherokee allotments, where the land was “free range.” It was totally unfenced, open to anyone who wanted to venture into the untamed territory in search of wild game, greens, or other goodies. I’m not sure whether the land really belonged to the U.S. government or to one of the many tribes settled there, but it was open invitation to share in the wealth of the land. The particular spot that my father had heard about was covered in wild huckleberries. When we first parked our Ford Galaxy along the dirt road and entered the field, I thought this was going to be so much easier than picking strawberries since the scrubby bushes came close to reaching my knees and there wouldn’t be as much

stooping. We worked all morning, and when we finally stopped, we were sweaty but pleased with the pails brimming with the dark blue jewels. Little did I know that I was going to pay dearly for the “free” fruit. It was on the way home that I first noticed the itching. Of course, our car wasn’t air conditioned, and my mother reassured me that I was just warm. I would feel better when I reached home and took a nice, cool bath. Sitting in the backseat where she couldn’t see me, I began to scratch. One scratch led to another, and before long, I realized that my legs and arms were covered with red spots. The more I scratched, the more I itched, and the more I itched the more I scratched—the vicious cycle went on and on. By the time we reached home, I was as wild as the huckleberries. I had been “chiggered”! My mother ran me a bath with baking soda. Afterwards, she tried to dot each spot with calamine lotion. I was literally covered from my chin to my toes in pink polka dots. Our house, too, had no air conditioning, and heat only made the itching more miserable. I could not sleep that night, spending most of my time tossing, turning, and trying not to scratch. It was one of the most terrible nights of my childhood. That winter, every time my mother would take some huckleberries from the freezer to make a pie, I relived the terrible huckleberry horror. And

Sure-fire ideas that might take the itch out of the bite


veryone has a remedy, sure-fire protection. Goes like this: Smear flowers of sulphur all over your body but especially where anything elastic snugs in, and you’ll never get chigger bites. Even without the yellow powdery sulphur, if you wander only where cows graze, you’ll never get chigger bites. But just in case, when you come in, lather up and scrub down head to toe with homemade lye soap. All over. Really well. With hot water. That’ll work. Yeah, right. Chiggers cluster in the millions on wispy grasses and weeds and catapult to my well-protected body as I brush by. They hang by the tens of millions from every leaf of every tree near where I tread and join their grass and weed friends via a special magnetism that defies the laws of physics and draws the microscopic red-skinned devils along a secret beam directly to my most embarrassing spots to scratch. So to stop the itch? You have to go through Atlanta first, and then die. Otherwise, stay out of the weeds. Stay away from trees. Stay indoors. Cower in bed. In Posey County, it’s the only escape. — By Sharon Sorenson

Facts that could make interesting party conversation —or maybe not Chiggers are not bugs or any other type of insect. They are the juvenile (or larval) form of a specific family of mites, the Trombiculidae. Mites are arachnids, like spiders and scorpions, and are closely related to ticks. Chigger mites are unique among the many mite families in that only the larval stage feeds on vertebrate animals; they later become vegetarians that live on the soil. Chiggers are tiny -- less than 1/150th of an inch in diameter and are almost invisible to the unaided eye. Chiggers are born red in color. An engorged, well-fed chigger changes to a yellow color. Although adult chigger mites have eight legs, young chiggers have only six. Chiggers do not burrow under the skin or drink blood, but they do bite. They attach by inserting specialized mouth parts into skin depressions, usually at skin pores or hair follicles. Their piercing mouth parts are so short and delicate they can penetrate only thin skin or where the skin wrinkles and folds. That’s why most chigger bites are around the ankles, the back of the knees, about the crotch, under the belt line and in the armpits. You Guntheria is just one of a family of chiggers found throughout the world. This picture was taken by an electron microscope that shows the original scale as 100 micrometers long.

Š Photograph courtesy Dr. David Walter, Royal Alberta Museum, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

It is the stylostome that irritates and inflames the surrounding tissue and causes the red welt and intense itch. The longer the chigger feeds, the deeper the stylostome grows, and the larger the welt will eventually become. The time required for a chigger to complete its meal varies with the location of the bite, the host and the species. If undisturbed, chiggers commonly take three or four days, and sometimes longer, to eat their dinner. When a chigger is removed before it has fully engorged, it cannot bite again and will eventually die. Itching usually peaks a day or two after the bite occurs. This happens because the stylostome remains imbedded in your skin tissue long after the chigger is gone. Your skin continues the itch, an allergic reaction to the stylostome for many days. The stylostome is eventually absorbed by your body, a slow process that takes a week to 10 days, or longer.

Š Courtesy Dr. W. Calvin Webourn and the Ohio State University Acarology Laboratory.

Enlarged approximately 1,500 times, this chigger looks like the latest sci-fi movie star. In life, chiggers are red, but not from dining on blood as many people think. The larval form of a type of mite, chiggers are barely visible to the naked eye. They are the ones that bite you. won’t feel it when they bite. The reason the bite itches so intensely and for such a long time is because the chigger injects saliva into its victim after attaching to the skin. This saliva contains a powerful digestive enzyme that literally dissolves the skin cells it contacts. It is this liquefied tissue, never blood, that the chigger ingests and uses for food. A chigger usually goes unnoticed for one to three hours after it starts feeding. During this period the chigger quietly injects its digestive

saliva. After a few hours your skin reacts by hardening the cells on all sides of the saliva path, eventually forming a hard tube-like structure called a stylostome. The stylostome walls off the corrosive saliva, but it also functions like a feeding tube for the hungry chigger. The chigger sits with its mouthparts attached to the stylostome, and it sucks up your liquefied tissue. Left undisturbed, the chigger continues alternately injecting saliva into the bite and sucking up liquid tissue.

Women and children get more bites than men because they have thinner skin, and thus more surface area that chiggers can easily bite Chiggers are most active in afternoons, and when the ground temperature is between 77 and 86 degrees. The first line of defense against chiggers is the right kind of clothing -- tightly woven socks and clothes, long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and high shoes or boots. Regular mosquito repellents will repel chiggers. By far the most effective repellent for chiggers is powdered sulphur, available through most pharmacies. Chronic scratching will only cause the stylostome to further irritate. Scratching deep enough to remove the stylostome will probably cause a secondary infection that is worse than the original chigger bite. — Charlene Tolbert

Out In The Back Of Beyond/Editor’s Notebook W

hile we were eating breakfast the other day, looking out across the lake, my wife said, “Did you ever notice that the woods gets green from the bottom up?” I can’t say that I had. Come to think of it, a lot of things are like that. Water boils from the bottom up. Ladders are another thing that start from the bottom up. Wouldn’t it be nice if our government worked that way… While putting together this issue of Posey Magazine, we got to meet a whole lot of new people in the county. Horse people. One thing we noticed is how well they treat their animals, and most of the time it seems to rub off on how they treat the humans they come in contact with. I don’t suppose everyone can keep a horse — but I think if we could, it might change how we approach the folks we meet along the way. In the last issue of Posey Magazine, I used this space to write about “Things I think I think.” I was amazed at how many people responded to that column. It came from the heart, and the impressions really are things I think about. Most of the time, we don’t bother to make a list of what occupies our minds when we’re not busy concentrating on something else. We rarely share these random thoughts with anyone, but you might want to try making your own list sometime. If nothing else, it will help you define who you really are. The cover story on Donnie Martin, “The Woodcarver from Solitude”, and Sharon Sorenson’s in-depth look at the eastern bluebird generated a lot of interest with readers. Together, those two articles comprised almost half of the magazine— © Photograph by J. Bruce Baumann

making it, I guess, our unofficial “bird issue.” If you missed it, check out the archives on the home page for those stories and the rest of the magazines we’ve published since last August. For the student photographers in Posey County, we are going to give you a shot at the “I’m just sayin’” space in the September/ October issue of the magazine. See the rules for submitting your work on this month’s “I’m just sayin’“ pages. Posey County is a beautiful place and offers many opportunities to express your vision. Good luck. I saw a quote the other day that will come in handy with another political campaign season coming up: “I’d agree with you — but then we’d both be wrong.” Finally, a few years ago when we were planting a garden, it occurred to me that every

support structure we’d tried for pole beans sagged, fell over in the wind, or needed some kind of tying up or extra support as the beans grew and added weight to the poles. It only took about 40 years of gardening to come up with a solution. The picture below shows how you can use some leftover hog fencing to make an arch for the beans to climb on. As the beans ripen, you just walk under the arch and pick without stooping. It may be the only creative thing I’ve ever done in a garden. What with the new hybrid bean varieties and all the horse manure we dig into the soil, we might have to ask St. Louis if we can borrow their arch this year. J. Bruce Baumann is the editor of Posey Magazine. He can be contacted at:

“Life’s not about waiting for the storms to pass….it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” — Christie Luckett

American Curlies at Grand Chain Farm in Savah.

© Photograph by J. Bruce Baumann


Posey Magazine May/June 2011