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June 12, 2021
Moravian heritage of Hope, Indiana - Encore
Columbus, Ind., in Bartholomew County, south of Indianapolis, is known as a "Modernist Mecca" for its striking examples of midcentury architecture, which draw visitors from far and wide. The nearby small town of Hope in the county's northeast Haw Creek Township is much less well known, but has its own distinctive cultural heritage, which we explore in this encore of a show that originally aired in September of 2016. The show is guest-hosted by Hoosier History Live producer Molly Head.
Hope was founded in 1830 by Protestant Moravian Martin Hauser. Like many persecuted religious minorities seeking autonomy and religious freedom, Moravians moved into different parts of Europe and on to America, where they settled mostly in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. German was the language spoken by Moravians coming to America.
As Hope was originally founded, the church owned and ran the town. Somewhat similar to social experiments in New Harmony with communal property, the "congregational town" concept ended in Hope in 1837 when the town was opened up to individual property ownership, and non-Moravians also were allowed to settle there.
Some early residents of Hope were descendants of the settlers of the ill-fated Moravian Mission that operated near Anderson, Ind., along the White River, from 1801 to 1806. The mission's purpose was to bring Christianity to the Native Americans in the area. The mission members and its Native American "converts" were met with strong resistance by local tribes, and in particular by The Prophet, or Tenskwatawa, the brother of Shawnee leader Tecumseh. The Prophet, full of his own religious zeal, carried out "witch hunts" against converted Native Americans, and the Moravian missions in the area eventually disappeared.
The Hope Moravian Church, founded in 1830 and originally housed in a log cabin on the town square, remains the only Moravian Church in Indiana. Many of its traditions continue today, such as display of the "putz," or elaborate Christmas scene in miniature, in the church at Christmastime, the tradition of hanging Moravian stars, and the making of Moravian sugar cakes, a type of sweet, raised coffee cake widely sold at local festivals.
Since the 1830s, Hope Moravians have also gathered in God's Acre, the historic section of the Hope Moravian Church Cemetery, for the Easter Sunrise Service, which includes a trombone choir and a processional by all church members that involves singing songs and watching the sunrise.
Molly's guests include two retired Hope elementary school teachers who also are great storytellers: Barb Johnson and Beth Newman. Both Barb and Beth have taught 4th-grade Indiana history and also have played the role of schoolmarms at the Simmons School, which is a brick one-room schoolhouse that was moved from its original location in the country to the back yard of the Hope Elementary School in 1989. Guests Barb and Beth are also involved in the Yellow Trail Museum, the history museum located on the town square. Much of downtown Hope and surrounding residential areas is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Editor's note: Since the original airing of this show in 2016, Barb Johnson has passed away.
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June 19, 2021 - Coming up
Paul Page on motorsports broadcasting and some wild rides
Not only did he recover from a harrowing helicopter crash that almost struck Speedway High School in 1977, he also had to cope earlier that year with the suicide of his mentor, Sid Collins, the original "Voice of the Indy 500" on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network.
Veteran motorsports broadcaster Paul Page - who was inducted into the IMS Hall of Fame last month - will be Nelson's guest to share insights from his eventful life, including his close friendship with three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser, who died in May at age 87. Unser periodically had been Paul's sidekick in the broadcast booth on both radio and TV.
Paul, 75, who semi-retired in 2016 but still can be frequently heard on the airwaves (sometimes billed as the "Voice Emeritus"), had a multi-faceted career that stretched beyond commentating about auto-racing and other sports. As a news reporter in April 1968, he was standing only a few feet from Bobby Kennedy when he made a historic speech in Indianapolis about Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination.
These episodes - including his stint as a licensed paramedic (he participated in many emergency runs) - are described in Paul's new autobiography, Hello I'm Paul Page: It's Race Day in Indianapolis (Cardinal Publishing).
The book opens with the plummeting of the helicopter - a news chopper for WIBC Radio - in 1977 with Paul and two others aboard. Although all of them survived the crash of the aircraft onto the football field at Speedway High (the helicopter narrowly missed the school building), Paul suffered severe leg injuries and endured a long recovery.
After his return to broadcasting, he landed gigs with national TV and radio networks - including NBC Sports, ESPN and ABC Sports - and covered sports ranging from fencing to Sumo wrestling.
First and foremost, though, Paul always will be identified with motorsports broadcasting, particularly the Indy 500, which, he writes, has been his "obsession" since he first visited the Speedway as a 15-year-old in 1960.
His enthusiasm has never waned, even during the 1973 race, generally considered one of the most disastrous in Indy 500 history. With massive crashes, two driver fatalities (as well as the death of a pit crew member) and weather delays that meant it took three days to complete, the 1973 race is described in Paul's new book. He also writes about his unexpected friendship that developed four decades later with the daughter of driver Swede Savage, who was among the 1973 fatalities. Paul escorted Savage's daughter, Angela, when she visited the Speedway in 2014, including to the site of her father's horrific crash.
During our show, Paul will discuss the 1973 race as well as his interviews with iconic drivers, including four-time winner A.J. Foyt, who is renowned for being, as Paul puts it, "intimidating." But he also describes episodes - including an incident that unfolded at Foyt's ranch in Texas where Paul was a houseguest - that demonstrate the driver's compassionate side.
In 1977, Paul and a colleague discovered the body of his mentor, Sid Collins, who had taken his own life. During the early 1950s, Collins had developed the concept for the IMS Radio Network and was able to convince long-time Speedway owner Tony Hulman of its merit.
In his book, Paul praises Hulman (1901-1977) for his kindness. He also celebrates the inclusive spirit of the Indy 500:
"It's a place for everyone: the wealthiest sponsors, owners and stars; the middle-class ticket holders, and the blue-collar fans in the infield."