Thanksgiving Greetings

1911 Thanksgiving Card
Sent from Toledo, Ohio to Saginaw, Michigan in November, 1911. And now, from me to you.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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I’ll Get You, My Pretties

Pretty Halloween Ideas


How to Make the Prettiest Halloween, as told by the Internet.

On a sleepless night earlier this week, I was trawling the web, seeking holiday cheer. I found it, by the hundreds, my dry and insomniac eyes watering into the tiny screen of my mobile device; my feverish, sleep-deprived brain devising ways to build a porch to the house by Friday, October 31st so I could decorate appropriately (I will also be needing an old wooden dining room set and a 1930s truck, preferably both painted in shimmery old-fashioned pastels. I will need these by tomorrow so, universe, not to be demanding but, you know, chop-chop). At any rate, while I’m waiting on the universe to deliver my table, truck — oh, and illuminated dresses! — I compiled some of my favorite photos because they’re just too pretty not to share. No tricks, only charming and very pretty treats. Happy Halloween.

Images: I created my image using two apps, Moldiv and Aviary. The sources for the individual photos, by matching letter: A, B, C, D, E, F, G.


Children and Snakes, Monsters and Omens: Old Hoosier Legends

Indiana Autumn Cornfield

Milk Snakes and Hoop Snakes: There used to be several variations on the theme of Children and Snakes. At the heart of these stories, these were tales of friendship between a toddler and a snake. Generally, the child would leave the house with a bowl of porridge or a tin cup of milk and go off to eat/drink by the Wabash or an idyllic Indiana stream or a glade just off the pasture. The child would later be found by his or her parents sharing the porridge/milk with his/her friend, the snake. At which point the parents would frighten away the snake (who may or may not fashion itself into a wheel shape and roll away like a hoop). Within a matter of days – generally three – of the abrupt end to the friendship, the child would die, an event attributed to the snake. So if you catch your child sharing a spoon with a snake, just bring extra porridge.

And while we're talking about death, these are the death omens your great-great-Hoosier-grandmother always warned you about: A bird in the house, hearing three sharp raps on a headboard or house-front (the closer to you, the worse for you), seeing a ball of fire or a flaming torch (a spectral flaming torch, by the way, an actual torch or the state flag are presumably safe), a vision of an angel or a wraith, or a fallen portrait (it is a sad day for the subject of any painting/photograph when their image suddenly dives off the wall or the shelf). While not an omen, here's as good a place as any to mention that Hoosiers used to tell of death crowns left behind in feather pillows on deathbeds (open the pillow case and there will be a ring or halo made of feathers where the dearly departed had lain his or her head).

And while we're talking about things your great-great-Hoosier-grandmother told you, other old wives' tales include: The seventh daughter of a seventh daughter will always have the gift of second sight. The seventh son of a seventh son will have the ability to “blow off” warts. If a seventh son of a seventh son isn't handy (and we all know how disappointing that can be), warts can also be removed by tying knots in a string or piece of cloth (one knot per wart to be removed) and then burying it: as the knots decay, the warts will vanish. If you're afflicted with thrush, you need to find someone who has never seen their father because that person can heal you. Divining rods work for not only water but also precious metals: but like will find like. If you wish to find gold, a piece of gold must be added to the tip of the divining rod; silver for silver.

There Be Monsters Here: The French-Americans in Vincennes believed there was a loup garou (werewolf) among them. Residents of Churubusco are wary (and proud) of the Beast of Busco, a 500-pound snapping turtle believed to live there. A Bigfoot-like creature known as the Princeton Monster is reputed to live in the woods near the southern Indiana town of the same name. And, most entertainingly named of them all, along the Wabash and Erie Canal roams the Wampus cat, a terrifying, oversized cat who can still be heard yowling on sultry summer nights. Allegedly.

There Be Witches Here: Attesting to the importance of cattle, agriculture, and dairy in this early pioneer state, there were legends of assorted milk-witches, whose evil was worked both on and through cattle: Near Oakland City there lived a Dairy Witch of some repute and there was also the Butter Witch of Giro (a name I think we can all agree totally kicks ass). A witch in Anderson was believed to grow poisoned apples in the yard. But Shelby County has one of the most enchanting tales of witches of all (with a very many similarities to Greek myths and the Brothers Grimm): Three young and beautiful sisters lived separately from the nearest community. They were reputed to be witches who transformed themselves into fawns but there was no proof of this strange magic until one day a hunter went into the woods and chased three agile fawns. He had only one silver bullet with him and with this single bullet, he injured one of the fawns. The hunter followed the trail of blood to its end— which he found at the cabin of the Three Sisters. Two human sisters were ministering to the third, who was in bed with an injured leg. And, although the legends don't say anything more on the tale, I like to think that hunter married that girl.

Source: Baker, Ronald L. Hoosier Folk Legends. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982.

2014 Asylum House: At the Marion County Scaregrounds

Asylum House 2014

If you’re looking for thrills, chills, and a little bit of gore for this Halloween season, the Asylum House is now open. While last year’s haunting was held at the Hannah House, this year’s fright fest can be found at the Marion County Fairgrounds, located at 7300 Troy Avenue on the southeast side of Indianapolis. Admission is $22 for adults, $10 for children under 10 years old. A portion of the proceeds go to local food banks. Discount coupons can be found on the Asylum House website or Living Social. A group discount is also available.

While the haunted house will be open through November 1, a special event will be held on Saturday, October 25 when the Wild Heart Association will be holding their Thrill the World event at the haunt site. From 3-6 p.m. and for free admission, you can wear your freakiest costume, learn the dance from the Michael Jackson “Thriller” video, and then perform it in the largest synchronized dance party with other thrill seekers around the country. And, by doing so, you’ll be helping Wild Heart Association raise awareness for domestic violence prevention and victim assistance.

What: Asylum House, haunted experience Where: Marion County Fairgrounds, 7300 Troy Avenue, Indianapolis When: 10/22-10/26 and 10/29-11/01; 7-10 p.m. Sunday- Thursday and 7 p.m. – 12 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

One-Day Only: Thrill the World, presented by Wild Heart Where: The Asylum House stage at the Marion County Fairgrounds When: October 25, 2014. 3-6 p.m. (Note: the nationally-coordinated performance time is 6 p.m.)

Evaluating the Value of Field Trips in Early Childhood Education

Apples and sunlight

1.) The Orchard: Lessons learned: a.) The air in autumn smells better than any air anywhere at any other time. (b.) Apples with both green and red in them are the prettiest, followed narrowly by the ones which are yellow and the ones which are yellow-green. This is not subjective. (c.) When visiting an orchard on a field trip in October, each pupil will receive a free pumpkin. This is awesome. (d.) Size and appearance matters; the free pumpkin will result in early introductions to comparative studies on the bus ride home. This will involve tears and disappointment for pupils who choose poorly. Their misshapen, flat-sided, and/or otherwise inferior pumpkins will elicit conversation/derision on the bus ride back to the school. (e.) Decision-making.

2.) Kroger: Lessons learned: a.) Each pupil visiting a Kroger grocery store will receive a free donut. The donut shall be glazed; it shall be yeast. (b.) The students will be taken upstairs to look out at the store behind the one-way glass mirror. (c.) Kroger has an upstairs. (d.) There is no privacy in a Kroger.

3.) McDonald’s: Lessons learned: a.) McDonald’s does not give free food to pupils. (b.) Birthday parties at McDonald’s include party favors, unlimited orange drink, and one box of McDonaldland cookies per child. (c.) Parents who truly love their children give them birthday parties at McDonald’s. (d.) Even young children are not fooled by McDonald’s, even though the French fries are good.

4.) The Fire Station: Lessons learned: a.) Dalmatians are optional at fire stations. Do not ask to see one; you will be embarrassed. (b.) There really is a pole in the firehouse. Yes, firemen will occasionally use it but they prefer the stairs. (c.) Firemen don’t fight fires every day. (d.) The grass in front of a fire station is greener than grass anywhere else. The grass in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day in the fulsome mists of spring wishes to be fire station grass when it grows up.

Are field trips in early elementary education worthwhile? Yes.


This October Morning

Johnson County, Indiana

“October was mellowing fast, and with it the year itself; full of tender hints… of a course well-nigh completed.” Kenneth Grahame