On the banks of the Wabash

On this day in 1816 Indiana (“Land of the Indians”) became the 19th U.S. state. The Hoosier (“country bumpkin”) state is the 38th largest by area and the 15th most populace.

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The Wabash River, which is the longest free-flowing river east of the mighty Mississippi River, is the official river of Indiana. Thus, its state song is “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away” written in 1897 by Paul Dresser, the brother of noted Hoosier writer Theodore Dreiser. (Apparently Paul Dresser was horrified by his brother’s shocking novels and changed the spelling of his name to differentiate them.)

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The official state flag of Indiana was adopted in 1917. It was designed by Paul Hadley of Mooresville, Indiana; he won a flag design contest sponsored by the DAR for Indiana’s 100th anniversary of statehood in 1916. There are 19 golden stars on a blue field. The 13 stars in the outer circle represent the 13 original colonies of the United States of America; the 5 stars in a half circle represent the states admitted prior to Indiana (but after the original 13), and the larger star atop the flame of the torch of Liberty represents Indiana.

In our family we have a fondness for the state of Indiana because daughter #1 attended and graduated from DePauw University in the charming town of Greencastle.

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During those four years we spent a lot of time in Indiana. We have been to many charming bergs in the state, including Indianapolis, Bloomington, Muncie, Terre Haute, New Harmony, Crawfordsville, Evansville–some a lot more charming than others. Indiana is, of course, a state boasting many fine colleges and universities, including Butler, Purdue, Valparaiso, Earlham, Ball State, Wabash, Notre Dame, and, of course, Indiana University.

Indiana is a state full of history and the birthplace of many famous Americans, including Johnny Appleseed, Gen. Lew Wallace, V.P. Dan Quayle, Presidents William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison, Booth Tarkington, Bill Blass, Cole Porter, Kurt Vonnegut, Red Skelton, David Letterman, Hoagy Carmichael, and my personal favorites:

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Steve McQueen and James Dean

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Yes, Indiana. Way to go.

I could go on and on about the great state of Indiana, but I’ll stop here. I’ll just make one suggestion. In honor of the anniversary of Indiana’s statehood, I recommend watching a really good movie that celebrates the state’s love of basketball: Hoosiers (1986) with Gene Hackman and Dennis Hopper. (BTW, One of the players on the high school team was played by a DePauw basketball player. The NCAA gave him a three-game suspension and he was charged 5% of his acting fee.)

We must also note that today is the birthday of two great actors (neither one from Indiana):

Victor McLaglan (1883-1959)

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and Jean Marais (1913-1998)

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Bon anniversaire!