I almost forgot that this year was the bicentennial anniversary of INDIANA!!!
And … woah… according to Wikipedia, I’m not even that far off from the actual anniversary date of December 11. Woo hoo!! Go me!!! For whatever reason, I always thought of Indiana as more of a Pisces (Feb19-Mar20) than a Sagittarius (Nov22-Dec21).
Anyway, Happy Birthday, Home State. 🙂
Indiana was admitted to the Union as the 16th state on December 11, 1816 by President James Madison. Madison was a pretty cool dude. According to some “Who is your Presidential Soulmate?” quiz I took in college, all 5’6 emotionally reserved yet utterly brilliant Madison is my soulmate. The “Nerd” President, they said. I’ll accept that.
But I digress.
In 4th grade, we learned about Indiana history. I believe the curriculum (way way back when) had students learning about their particular state’s history in the 4th grade. I remember listening to an old cassette tape narrated by a (I imagined) woodsy old man with a grizzled beard and warm yet grizzled voice who called himself “The Old Hoosier”. There might have been some crackling fire sounds and I expected him to invite us out of the cold into his log cabin in the woods. He told us about important parts in Indiana history, most of which escape my memory. (One of the clearest memories of 4th grade was when the class’s pet hedgehog died so … yeah. But I still remember the image the Old Hoosier’s voice created, just not what he said.)
Now, what is a “Hoosier”? That’s a really good question. The simple answer is, A Hoosier is someone from Indiana. In actuality, the etymology is a lot more complicated. The version I like to believe is the one where the word derives from “Who’s there?”, a greeting from ye olde days. Allegedly. Now it’s the name of the mascot of Indiana University. And people like me.
Speaking of people like me, here’s a list of other famous people from Indiana. Like William Henry Harrison, the nation’s 9th and shortest serving president because he didn’t wear a coat during his inauguration speech and got pneumonia and died. Um ok maybe he’s not the best example. Or Vice President Dan Quayle … who couldn’t spell “potatoe”. (It wasn’t entirely his fault.) Or Nascar Driver Jeff Gordon … with whom my 6th grade science teacher was madly in love. His picture was plastered all over her classroom. Uh ok. what about David Letterman? Late night tv show host, known for his romantic entanglements?
The story of William Henry Harrison’s untimely death ^
Ok but for real, there are lots of cool people from Indiana, like Gus Grissom the astronaut, or Eli Lilly the Pharmaceutical company and patron of the arts or Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hur, or Ernie Pyle who won a Pulitzer for his WW2 Journalism, or Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 out of Gary. We even claim Abraham Lincoln because he lived in Southern Indiana from age 7-21, and those are important years in a young man’s life.
Thanks to Parks and Rec, Leslie Knope helped put Indiana on the modern map. Pretty much my only complaint about the show (I’m from Northern Indiana, which is kind of like Chicago-lite) is that they don’t sound like true Indiana natives when they say Indianapolis. You don’t pronounce every syllable. It’s more like a nasal Ind’n’ap’liss. It doesn’t matter if you have the most non-regional lack-of-accent, you always say your state’s name and capital like a true native.
Our state motto is “The Crossroads of America.” During the 19th Century, Indiana and Michigan were considered to be the Great Northwest of the country. Like how we view Washington State and Oregon now, probably. It earned that nickname by having several major highways intersect in Indianapolis. As the nation slowly expanded westward, soon we became one of the central states in the Union. And then the nation kept going towards Manifest Destiny and Indiana was no longer the wild rugged frontier. It had been tamed.
However, there are some things as a Hoosier I disavow. For example, I don’t know how to play euchre. I kind of hate basketball. To demonstrate any skill at that sport, one needs to demonstrate a certain height requirement, which I most assuredly do not have. Geographically, the Chicago Bears were closer than the Ind’n’apliss Colts so I bear no particular loyalty to the Colts (pun not intended). As for feel-good underdog movies, Rudy beats Hoosiers any day of the week. The only reason I watched Hoosiers was so I could state, with certainty, on this blog, that Rudy is superior. (Although, interestingly, they share the same writer/producer Angelo Pizzo, composer Jerry Goldsmith, and villian who played Dan Devine.) Maybe it’s Sean Astin’s earnest performance as Samwise Gamgee Rudy, or that I could bore your ears off with trivia about the film or that my Notre Dame affiliation kind of trumps everything else. (I did note, with interest, that the final game in Hoosiers was against South Bend Central’s Bears.)
Finally, if I haven’t proven it already, Indiana has a lot of quirks. Sadly, one of my favorites is no longer. Of what do I speak? Why, daylight savings time, of course. Growing up, the majority of the state used to not observe it, although I believe the counties closest to Chicago and in the toe did observe it. So for half the year we were with New York and the other half of the time we were with Chicago. It was confusing when trying to keep track of the tv schedule. Several years ago, though, Indiana finally did adopt daylight savings time, so the majority of the state is now on Eastern Standard Time. Ha, there’s even a Wikipedia page dedicated to time DST in Indiana. Now Arizona is the last holdout against DST. Stay strong, Sun State! (Is Arizona the Sun State…?)
One of my favorite clips in all of TV history^
We might not be the classiest state, or the most glamorous, but we’re earnest and work hard and will always make eye contact and say hello to a stranger in the grocery store. One might say we’re like the Hufflepuff of the nation. We know where we stand. So here’s to 200 years of Hoosiering it up, and here’s to 200 more. Stay classy, Indiana.