Listen to Hoosier History Live! at 11:30 a.m. each Saturday on WICR 88.7 FM. You also can listen online at the WICR website during the broadcast or you can join our listening group at Bookmama's in Irvington to listen to, and discuss, the Saturday show. We invite you to visit our website!
Aug. 28 show
Fairmount town history
You may know that movie icon James Dean grew up on a farm near the Grant County town of Fairmount. But were you aware the creator of the most widely syndicated comic strip in the world also grew up on a Fairmount farm? It was the boyhood home of Jim Davis, creator of Garfield, the cantankerous cat.
To explore the heritage of a town with several distinctions, Nelson will be joined in studio by Fairmount resident Cathy Duling Shouse, the author of a new visual history book about her hometown, Fairmount, the latest in Arcadia Publishing's "Images of America" series. Cathy's ancestors settled in the Fairmount area before 1850. Of the 223 rare vintage photos in her book, more than half came from private collections of local residents. The images include a 1904 photo of the construction of the Winslow family farmhouse, where young James Dean was raised during the 1930s and '40s by his aunt and uncle.
There also are photos of Lake Galatia near Fairmount, which was formed by the last glacier. Lake Galatia is where, as Cathy puts it, "the most complete set of mammoth bones ever found was discovered." That was in 1904. The discovery of the huge skeleton of the mammoth (which apparently lived 11,000 years ago) sparked a lawsuit among local residents about their ownership. After the controversy was resolved, the mammoth bones were sold to the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where they remain on display to this day.
Initially part of Miami Indian territory, Fairmount was settled early on by Quakers. Fun fact: The mascot of old Fairmount High School - where James Dean, a member of the Class of 49, was a standout basketball player - was "the Quakers."
Even before the discovery of the mammoth bones, there was a "jumbo" making news in Fairmount. In 1887, as Cathy writes in her book, "this small, primarily agricultural area participated in one of the most dramatic eras in state history: the natural gas boom."
Indeed, a natural gas well discovered near Fairmount that year was so massive it was named "Jumbo," after the famous circus elephant. Thanks to the bountiful gas reserves, entrepreneurs flocked to the Fairmount area and built spacious, Victorian-era houses, many of which still stand.
"The wells produced so much natural gas that it was thought the supply never would run dry," Cathy notes.
Her book, which she put together with the Fairmount Historical Museum, includes boyhood photos of both James Dean and Jim (Garfield) Davis, who suffered from severe asthma during his boyhood on a farm.In interviews with Nelson over the years, Jim Davis has said his artistic endeavors kicked off when he was bedfast with asthma and began doodling.
James Dean and Jim Davis had the same mentor at the high school: drama teacher Adeline Nall, whom the future cartoonist credits for pulling him out of shyness that resulted from the asthma.
Other notables with Fairmount roots include Olive Rush, a renowned artist who even had one of her works displayed in the White House, and a Fairmount High grad who went on to become director of the National Hurricane Center. (Do you think of Hoosiers as likely to become experts on hurricanes?)
Our focus on the town will come just before the James Dean Festival, which draws thousands to the community, with the arrival of vintage autos and pilgrimages to the grave site at Park Cemetery of the actor (1931-1955), every September.
History Mystery question
Although James Dean had a long list of credits in live television shows, as well as a few small movie roles at the start of his career, he had starred in only three films before his death in a car crash in 1955. The three movies were East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant.
The casts of two of those movies included a young actor who, decades later, would come to Indiana to play a significant role in a movie filmed here. In fact, the actor would be nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in the Indiana-made movie.
Question: Name the actor.
The call-in number for the correct answer is (317) 788-3314, and the prize is a pair of tickets to Conner Prairie, as well as a pair of tickets to the Indiana Experience, all courtesy of the ICVA.
If we dial back the clock 200 years and travel to what is now 116th Street and Allisonville Road in Fishers, Ind., we would find William Conner living in a log home beside the White River with his Lenape (Delaware Indian) wife and five children.
Our Roadtripper, Chris Gahl of the ICVA, says that if we travel to Conner Prairie this weekend, we'll see the the four original members of the Broadway cast of Beatlemania perform many Beatles hits such as Hard Day's Night, Twist and Shout and others in an authentic tribute to Liverpool's "Fab Four."
Symphony on the Prairie's tribute to the Beatles will run Friday, Aug. 27 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 28 at 8 p.m.
Pack a picnic, watch the sunset over the prairie, and enjoy live music off Broadway.
Your team on the Hoosier History Live! e-project,
Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Chris Gahl, Roadtripper
Richard Sullivan, webmaster and tech director
Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
Please tell our sponsors that you appreciate their support:
Barrington Jewels, Storrow Kinsella Associates, Henry's Coffee Bistro on East, The Fadely Trust, Indiana Historical Society, Lucas Oil and Story Inn.
Acknowledgments to Print Resources, Indianapolis Marion County Public Library, Monomedia, Indiana Humanities Council, Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association, WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Chelsea Niccum and many other individuals and organizations. We are an independently produced program and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorships, grants and through individual tax-deductible contributions through the Indiana Humanities Council. Visit our website to learn how you can support us financially.
Sept. 4 show
Where did your county name come from?
Lake County is easy to figure out, name-wise. Ditto for Boone County, at least if you are familiar with frontiersman Daniel Boone. But what about Marion, Allen and, for heaven’s sake, Kosciusko or Ripley counties?
Turns out we have an in-house expert on the origin of county names among our WICR-FM colleagues. Nelson will be joined in studio by our attorney friend Charles Braun, founder and co-host of Legally Speaking, the longest-running legal advice show on American radio.
Charles, a Fort Wayne native, is a fellow Hoosier history lover, so he and Nelson enjoy swapping tidbits in between his show, which airs at 10 a.m. on Saturdays, and ours. Now we will go public with the history chatter, with Charles sharing his research and insights about Indiana county names for all listeners to enjoy.
Charles launched Legally Speaking in 1983. For the last 14 years, he has rotated the mike on the show with his co-host, attorney Charles Gantz. Promising to come to the studio armed with the origins of each of our 92 county names, Charles and Nelson will welcome your calls.
A former deputy state attorney general, Charles is an instructor at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, where he helps train police officers from across Indiana. Fun fact: The law enforcement academy is in Plainfield of Hendricks County, which was named after Thomas Hendricks, a Hoosier who served as vice president in the 1880s under President Grover Cleveland.
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