April 21, 2006

Round 3

Jamesoldguy asked the question of the day/week/year in the comments to the 3 Questions for Hoosierboy post. He asked me to give three reasons to live in Indiana. James is a wiley one. What he forgot to mention is that he was born a Hoosier. He does not live here any more.

Why would anyone live here? The topography is flat and boring in the top 2/3 of the state. This picture stolen from Jerry shows a fairly accurate idea of the area I was born and the area I now live. The early 20th-century geographer C.R. Dryer referred to the terrain of central Indiana as so monotonous that a visitor to the region "may ride upon the railroad train for hours without seeing a greater elevation than a haystack or a pile of sawdust." Clearly, we do not have mountains and ocean beaches. Nor are breathtaking canyons and waterfalls a regular feature of the landscape.

The temperature is cold in the winter, and hot in the summer. I regularly hear denizens of the Southern States complain about the heat and humidity in the summer. Is there really a big difference between the 100 degree day with 100% humidity in Atlanta compared to the 95 degree day with 100% humidity in Indianapolis? We get snow and subzero temperatures in the winter. (that is the little one in baseball uniform hiding behind the post on my porch a few years ago).

No one would claim the Hoosier State is a fine arts center. We do have fine museums, theaters, and symphonies. We have sports, racing, and of course, basketball. We have excellent colleges and universities. Not all of us live on farms, nor is the entire state the steel mills of Gary and Hammond. Lots of Hoosiers make a living producing parts for the automobile industry. More steel is produced in Indiana than anywhere else in the country. Sorry Pittsburgh and Bethlehem, but Indiana has held that distinction since the 1950's.

It is not the scenery, the weather or the culture. How do I answer James' question? Give three reasons to live in Indiana.

1. Family. This is who we are. My ancestors were among the first to settle what is now known as Indiana. My family, my wife's family all live within 2 hours. Only Otter has strayed away. We are all more comfortable with what we know.

2. People. I have traveled all over the world. The people of the Midwest (and South) are among the most generous, helpful, and honest you will find. They are hardworking, as evidenced by the manufacturing and industrial centers. They are religious, and mostly conservative. Stores keep a jar of pennies next to the cash register in case you are short on the sales tax. Work is done on a handshake and a promise.

3. Variety. If I were to drop you blind into "da region" of Northwest Indiana, you would think you were in Chicago, or any other big industrialized city. The hills of southern Indiana are as scenic as any in Kentucky or Tennessee. We have steel mills, coal mines, rivers and lakes. We have farms and factories, and the lights of the big city. I live in a rural, small town, yet I can be at one of 6 major shopping malls Indianapolis in less than 40 minutes to the farthest. We have the Colts, the Pacers, the world's largest Children's Museum, and zoo an international airport. I could canoe on the Blue River, fish streams lakes and resevoirs, or hunt a variety of wildlife.

I guess I do not have the skills to describe what is great about Indiana. I am sure life here is not much different than life in Kansas or Ohio or Maine, or even South Carolina. The lyrics to an old and obscure song (and one of my favorites) say it best:
Written by John Mellencamp

Everything is slower here, everybody's got a union card
They get up on Sunday and go to church of their choice
Come back home cook out in the backyard

And they call this the Great Midwest
Where the cornfields row and flow
They're all 5 years ahead of their time
Or 25 behind, I just don't know

All the young men talk about their 4 wheel drives
And how much money they're gonna make on Friday night
And, they like to brag about how they mistreat their girlfriends
Hey, let's get drunk, party it up, start a fight.

There is more, you can look it up and listen for yourself.

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