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Gene Stratton-Porter, Diana of the Dunes, farm cooking and barns
For the third year, Hoosier History Live! will broadcast from a remote (non-studio) location: the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center, which will bustle and abound with captivating interviewees, as more than 70 authors with ties to Indiana gather for the 8th Annual Holiday Author Fair. Nelson will be doing round-robin chats with fellow authors who have a range of Hoosier expertise.
Our show will feature:
Barbara Olenyik Morrow of Auburn, Ind., who has written a new biography for young readers of legendary naturalist Gene Stratton-Porter. The book, Nature's Storyteller: The Life of Gene Stratton-Porter (Indiana Historical Society Press), explores the colorful life of the photographer and author of classics such as A Girl of the Limberlost, Freckles and Laddie. Born in 1863, she grew up on a farm in Wabash County and fell in love with wildlife, particularly birds. As an adult, Stratton-Porter founded Limberlost cabins in Geneva and Rome City, plunged into swamps to explore and photograph wildlife, and fought political and business leaders to preserve Indiana's wetlands. Her biographer Barbara Olenyik Morrow is an award-winning author of children's books.
Janet Edwards, the author of Diana of the Dunes: The True Story of Alice Gray (The History Press). Janet lives in St. Louis but says she has spent many summers as a "Dunebug" in northwest Indiana, where she was told folklore about the mysterious Diana of the Dunes. Janet's biography separates myths from facts about the inspiration for the folklore, a Chicago native named Alice Gray who settled in the sand hills of northwest Indiana in 1915. Cultured and well-educated - Alice Gray was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Chicago - she abandoned the city (she once was quoted as saying, "Life as a wage earner is slavery") - for a secluded life in a fisherman's shack. Did she really splash naked in Lake Michigan and romp on the beach to dry off? Did she find serenity in the Indiana Dunes? Nelson plans to ask Janet, who has put together the first full-length biography of the intriguing woman buried in Oak Hill Cemetery in Gary.
Philip Potempa, a popular food and celebrity columnist for The Times of Northwest Indiana newspaper. Phil, who grew up on a multi-generational family farm near Valparaiso, is the author of Further from the Farm: Family Recipes and Memories of a Lifetime (Pediment Press), his latest collection of food-related vignettes and recipes. With a special emphasis on heirloom menu favorites from Hoosier farm families, Phil's cookbook includes recipes from dozens of readers of his weekly "From the Farm" column. His new cookbook also features recipes from his celebrity interviewees; they include actress Betsy Palmer, who grew up in East Chicago and is best remembered for her long-running stint as a panelist in the 1950s and '60s on the TV show I've Got A Secret.
And agricultural expert Mauri Williamson of West Lafayette, who wrote the preface for Indiana Barns (Indiana University Press), a photo book featuring rustic barns "tucked among bucolic fields from Valparaiso to Vincennes." The images are drawn from the portfolio of Mauri's daughter, Marsha Williamson Mohr, who photographed barns of all sizes, shapes and conditions. Marsha collaborated on the project with Duncan Campbell, a professor of architecture. Among rural Hoosiers, Mauri Williamson is well known for originating the Pioneer Village at the Indiana State Fair and as the retired longtime executive secretary of the Purdue Agricultural Alumni Association; he's also director of the Indiana Corn Growers Association.
History Mystery question
For many of her years amid the sand hills of far-northwestern Indiana, Diana of the Dunes lived in a shack near Chesterton. The town in Porter County also is known for hosting an annual festival associated with a classic book and movie. In terms of plot and characters, the book and movie have no direct connection to Indiana, but Chesterton began hosting the annual festival in 1981.
Question: Name the classic book and movie.
New rules for this week only! To win the prize, you must come down to the Holiday Author Fair (it's free), find Nelson, and give him your answer in person. Nelson has a lot of blond hair and is quite talkative and loves to meet show fans. We've also included a picture of him to help you locate him. The Holiday Author Fair takes place immediately after the show; Saturday, Dec. 4, from noon to 4 p.m. at the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center at 450 W. Ohio St. in downtown Indianapolis.
The prizes (we have several!) are pairs of tickets to Handel's Messiah the weekend of Dec. 11-12. These tickets are courtesy of the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra. Don't pass up this opportunity to mingle with Indiana authors and win the gift of a live musical performance.
No call-in from Chris Gahl of the ICVA this week, as we are live from the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center. He will return next week with a new Roadtrip!
Your team on the Hoosier History Live! e-project,
Nelson Price, host and creative director
Molly Head, producer, (317) 927-9101
Chris Gahl, Roadtripper
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Pam Fraizer, graphic designer
Garry Chilluffo, creative consultant
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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.
You can put Hoosier History Live! on your holiday gift-giving list
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Dec. 11 show
Beech Grove history - and Steve McQueen to boot
It may not have a world-famous racetrack like its counterpart town that's surrounded by Indianapolis (Hoosier History Live! explored Speedway's town history awhile back), but Beech Grove sports its own distinctive heritage. Railroad repair facilities, a major hospital, the birth of a movie icon of the 1960s and '70s and a post-World War II housing boom are chapters in the history of a town in southeastern Marion County that evolved from what had been a beech tree-filled cattle farm in the late 1800s.
Nelson's guests in studio will include lifelong Beech Grove resident Steve Nontell, a veteran announcer for its school district's sports teams whose parents moved into the town's first post-WW II housing developments.
In addition to Steve (who has been connected to Beech Grove High School's wrestling program - as a student manager, then as a scorekeeper and announcer - longer than anyone else in its history), Nelson will be joined in studio by librarian Will Smither, who grew up in the town, lived there for more than 34 years and has helped research the local links of Steve McQueen.
Speaking of the future star of The Great Escape (1963) and Bullitt (1968), who was born in Beech Grove's St. Francis Hospital in 1930: Nelson and his studio guests also will be joined by phone from California by McQueen's biographer, Marshall Terrill. Considered a top expert on the turbulent life of the film actor, Marshall recently visited Beech Grove in connection with his new books, Steve McQueen: The Life and Legend of a Hollywood Icon (Triumph Books) and Steve McQueen: A Tribute to the King of Cool (Dalton Watson); his biographies are being released to commemorate the 30th anniversary of McQueen's death in 1980.
McQueen's birthplace, St. Francis, has been one of the town's largest employers for decades; for much of the early 20th century, so were railroad repair and equipment facilities. One of them was so massive that, according to the Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, it was known as "the largest locomotive hospital in the world."
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