Friday, June 27, 2008

The Stick Up Our Ass

I know that I joined this discussion about 4 years too late, but apparently my fellow Hoosiers have a real problem with the word ASS being displayed in public.

Really, people? There aren't enough REAL problems in the world, that we have to create petty ones?

For my puritanical brethren, may I remind ye that the King James Version references the ass more than 70 times, starting in Genesis 22. Don't believe me? Type "ass" in the search field of a site like Bible Gateway. There are 76 mentions, to be exact. Seventy-six! And even the Messiah himself used the word on occasion! HOLY MOLY! Well, I guess we should be holier than Jesus by abstaining from such vulgar speech, now shouldn't we?

The word ass in the Bible refers to a donkey. It's in the dictionary. The word ass on the offending coffee shop sign ALSO referred to a donkey. Regardless, we Hoosiers DID NOT want our children reading and repeating this immoral, offensive, vulgar word...King James, Moses, Samuel et. al. be damned! (Oops, sorry...guess I should have rated this post PG-13).

My problem is that I really wanted some more Bad Ass Mocha, but I don't want to pay to have it shipped here. I first tasted it in Florida while on vacation in Reddington Shores last year and it was PHENOMENAL! Plus, everyone needs a break from Starbucks now and then...and I'm not a big fan of Dunkin' Donuts. When I Googled "bad ass coffee indianapolis" I was excited to find a location near me at the Fashion Mall on Keystone. Then, I tried to call their number. Disconnected. No longer in service.

So thank you to my fellow Hoosiers who succeeded in running off this fine establishment because of your puritanical views on the English language. You are INDEED holier than thou!

Some people might tell me to pull the plank out of my own ass before I try to remove the speck from my brother's...and by ass, of course, they would mean my donkey.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Lyles Station: Jewel of American History

I am opposed to the whole system of slavery, in all its heinous forms, and conscientiously believe it to be a sin against God and a crime against man to chatelize a human being, and reduce God's image to the level of a brute, to be bought and sold in the market as cattle or swine.

- Levi Coffin, Letter to the editor of the Cincinnati Commercial dated May 12, 1860

A few miles from the town of my birth--Princeton, Gibson County, Indiana--lies an almost hidden jewel from our Hoosier past and a priceless piece of American history from the 1800's. It is the unincorporated area of Lyles Station.

Originally known as the "negro colony" west of Princeton, it was comprised of three settlements by free African-Americans, Southerners and former slaves--Sand Hill, Lyles and Roundtree. Sand Hill was on the main road, now State Highway 64, about halfway between the Wabash River and the county seat of Princeton. Lyles was north about a mile, and Roundtree was further north and east on the banks of the Patoka River.

Though I spent many a summer visiting family in the area just to the east of Lyles Station, I had no clue that it even existed. I don't remember my grandparents, aunts or uncles ever speaking of the "colored folks" from the river bottoms west of town. Nonetheless, a thriving agricultural community existed there until the floods of March 1913. In fact, the train that ran just downhill and around my grandparent's home and the hospital where I was born, used to stop at Lyles Station on it's way to Illinois through the 1950's. Still, I had no idea there was a veritable treasure trove of American history just a few miles down the tracks. That is until I learned about it online just a few years ago, thanks to the tireless efforts of Stanley and Mary Madison (Pictured above right, Wayman Chapel AME Church, the oldest building in Lyles Station dating back to 1887).

This week was my first visit to the area called Lyles Station (see picture above). The Madisons and the Lyles Station Historic Preservation Corporation were celebrating Juneteenth and I was able to take my family down for the festivities. Before the trip, I was already committed to volunteering my time to help in any way I could. But afterwards, my resolve to help out is even more concrete. My first goal is to register the site as an official stop along the famed Underground Railroad (UGRR) with Indiana Freedom Trails, Inc.

The western route of the UGRR through Indiana is well-documented. The Wabash River valley through southwestern Indiana provided a means of escape for runaway slaves who were brave enough to cross the Ohio River near Mount Vernon (Posey County) and Evansville (Vanderburgh County) or traverse the meandering Wabash up to East Mount Carmel, then head northwards to Vincennes. Free African-American settlements in Gibson County would provide a common-sense resting place for fugitive slaves escaping north. There are oral traditions that say Thomas Cole, a Sand Hill/Lyles resident, owned many barns with hideouts in the lofts that provided cover by day for many a fugitive. Within walking distance of the Cole residence and uphill towards the banks of the Patoka River sat the home of noted station master David Stormont. Other UGRR stops existed in nearby Princeton, Francisco and Oakland City. Some of these are also well-documented, but the area of Lyles Station is yet listed as an integral part of the railroad.

As my research continues, I'll post more about this exciting project and enlist some of you to help. In the meantime, please visit to learn more about this jewel of American history.