Dysmey Blog Archives  >  late summer vacation, part 1

late summer vacation, part 1

I got my day trip in for this vacation, and came back to watch a parade.


I drove to the county courthouse in Marion in order to discover why my property tax bill had not arrived, since it was due the next day. I found that the escrow account that came with my mortgage was paying the bill, so I wouldn't have to. I had thought the escrow was there so that the bank would get something should my ability to pay my mortgage off fail.

I visited my old childhood neighborhood afterwards. What a difference thirty-seven years makes. Since I moved out, the old house on Keal Avenue has undergone several paint jobs and residings; the patio Padre installed has been turned into an actual room; and there is a garage in backyard, for which the elm tree had been cut down to make room for the driveway. The two trees in front, which were too small for me to climb, now tower over the house.

The neighborhood itself is just as sterile as it was when I was a kid, as such subdivision neighborhoods tend to be, except that the effects of age, wear and the city's long economic decline are there to see. There are cracks in the streets: Keal Avenue is one long crack. Some houses have kept their trees, and those are as tall now as the ones in front of my old house. Others had no trees in the first place, and they look as crappy now as they did then.

There were two grocery stores that served the neighborhood, even though the closest of them was several blocks west of it. One, a large store called Dennisons on Bradford and Adams, is long boarded up. The other, a small store on Bradford and Horton, which kept on into this decade (it is still there on Google Maps), is now a vacant lot. It evidently could not survive the new gas-and-gulp on Bradford and Pennsylvania and the extension of Pennsylvania Avenue into Charles Street which diverted traffic away from Horton Street.


I drove to Bloomington on my day trip to the library. Unlike the day trip to Purdue on my last vacation, there is not much to say about this trip, since I had a focused purpose to my trip instead of an idle ramble.

The Herman B. Wells Library (just the Main Library until 2005) on the Bloomington campus is to the Bracken Library as the Bracken is to my town's new library. The scale of the IU Main Library impresses on you. Its two cubical towers, one tall, one squat, sit on a flat base build into a hill, all made in the ugly International style, contain the general collections of the campus library system with its fifteen branches. The building itself has a snack bar that makes the Bookmark Café look like a shack. It even has escalators! And part of the building houses the only library science department in the state (the one at IUPUI is merely its extension).

I came to the Main Library to gather more information on Caitlin Clarke from the reference books there. But the reference books revealed nothing about Ms. Clarke's later (post-1985) career. They don't even show her in her role as Charlotte Candoza in Titanic: A Musical, probably because she was a substitute for the original actress. And only one reference reported her passing in 2004; and it was neither Willis' Theatre World nor the Best Plays yearbooks.

But I am not surprised. Willis and Best Plays were my primary references on Ms. Clarke's career. But those two have been taking nosedives in quality in recent years. The American theater scene has been scattering in the past one or two decades: New York is too expensive now for most theater folk; Broadway and even off-Broadway are now corporate-funded and too formulaic; beyond New York regional and university theaters offer better opportunities for expression, and that is where the audiences are, anyway, since fewer people go to New York after the Muslim Attacks.

Anyway, Playbook has its own yearbook, of which the IU Main Library had the most recent three volumes. And where the hell was that when I needed it?

In the end I made new photocopies of pages of Ms. Clarke's early career out of Willis. I just now realize that I missed some; but that is understandable given I was under time constraints: I had to use metered parking nearby, and that lasts only an hour at a time. I was there two hours in all.

While I was going in and out of the library I saw five students in eighteen-century costume enacting some comedy-of-manners play on the lawn in front of the library's south entrance. I did not stay and watch because of time constraints.

I did not want to drive back through metro Indianapolis, which is a living, exhaust-breathing hell during rush hour. So I decided on a detour at the intersection of state roads 37 and 44. Surprise! State road 44 is a roller coaster of hills and curves from that intersection to the Morgan County border. That was a thrill!!

The remaining trip past Franklin and Shelbyville to State Road 9, which took me north homeward, was uneventful. But I was amazed at the downtown of Shelbyville, with its cute little square and its well-kept blocks full of shops and stores and not a single crumbling building or vacant lot. It is a contrast to places like Marion, whose downtown is crumbling to rubble despite the weak but earnest attempts of the city to arrest this; and Muncie, whose business district is crumbling, too, although less quickly and despite no help from a city whose various government and private units keep tripping slapstickishly over themselves.

I learned that I did not miss the Shriner parade that evening. I did get to see half of it: The mini-cycles, the horses, the calliope.


Russia is beating the living crap out of Cartvelia for trying to take back a scrap of land called South Ossetia, which juts into its territory. It is likely now that Cartvelia, whose military Russia has effectively destroyed, will never get it back.

What I do not understand is why Russia has not annexed South Ossetia in the first place when it made its intentions clear by making the Alan-speaking inhabitants Russian citizens. Nothing would stop Russia from annexing the land now, since the Cartvelia inhabitants of the land have been driven out and are unlikely to ever return. Nor would world opinion be a limiting factor, since this war has caused the nadir of world opinion about Russia to sink as if in a bottomless pit.

I just hope that Leifa Janovyak, the IPR volunteer who joined the Peace Corps after graduation and was assigned to Cartvelia, is okay. I read the Peace Corps unit there was evacuated to Armenia.

Posted on the Dysmey Blog on 18 August 2008.