I was asked to participate in a Q & A with Lysa from Welcome To My Circus, she, fortunately, lives in Glendale/Phoenix area of Arizona and has no idea how the rest of the world suffers in this winter that won’t end. We decided to swap questions about her little southwestern paradise and my middle of nowhere abode of New Albany, Indiana.
Figuring I am the first and foremost expert on all things in Hoosier Land in the blogosphere (I just gave myself this title, I can do that it’s my blog!), this is what Lysa asked about my charming little state and area.
1. I know that David Letterman and, only because you told me, Michael Jackson are from Indiana but what other famous people are from there? Any historical figures? Who is the most famous or notable person from New Albany where you live?
Legendary UCLA coach John Wooden is from Martinsville, IN; popcorn magnate Orville Redenbacher is from Brazil, IN; famous author Kurt Vonnegut is a native of Indianapolis, and John Mellencamp (I think that is what he goes by now) is from Seymour, IN, are some of the more notable Hoosiers. If I had to choose the most famous Hoosier of them all I would go with Axl Rose (Lafayette, IN) – just kidding. It would have to be Gus Grissom from Mitchell, IN; becoming the second American to ever fly to space looks pretty good on just about any job resume. The most famous figure from New Albany would probably be former Supreme Court Justice Sherman Minton (he even has the Interstate 64 bridge that crosses the Ohio River named after him), but most people my age would probably tell you former PGA golfer Fuzzy Zoeller is our most famous/notorious resident.
2. If I were to come for a visit what are the top five things you would make sure I was able to see/visit? Why are they in the top five?
No trip to Indiana would be complete without visiting our state capital of Indianapolis. The city and area have had a complete transformation in the last 20 years and even hosted the Super Bowl a few years ago that was well received nationally. After leaving Indy, take the short drive over to Speedway, and visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway museum and gift shop. Grab a souvenir, and then head south toward Bloomington. The Indiana University campus is architecturally pleasing to the eye, and the surrounding area is an eclectic mix of a college town with small businesses intertwined together. After a stay in Bloomington head down the road to Santa Claus, and visit Holiday World (formerly Santa Claus Land), often ranking near or at the top in family amusement parks. They run discounted tickets in a variety of different promotions all summer and provide FREE SOFT DRINKS & SUNSCREEN! From there, head south until you run into the Ohio River and drive along the river all the way to Illinois or Ohio, if you like. Regardless of which direction you go, you will pass through various small towns and take in the incredible scenery, as most of the shores on both sides of the river are still intact and not commercialized. Every so often you are going to run into a riverboat gambling center, but other than that put on your favorite CD and enjoy the view.
3. Being so close to Kentucky do you have an accent like they do? My best friend since Kindergarten lives in Kentucky and has some of the funniest sayings… What are some funny phrases people in your town use on a regular basis?
First off, the quickest way to piss off a Hoosier is to compare him or her in any way with a Kentuckian, but being I’m about as far south as you can go in Hoosier land I have to deal with Kentuckians on a daily basis. I just wish it was mandatory that they use public transit. Indiana is actually two states. Draw a line from left to right in the center of the state through Indy, and you have the northerners who all think they are from Chicago and get to talk funny. Really they are just bitter because their winters suck worse than ours. Everyone south of the line is a “hick.” We do tend to enunciate our words a little differently. Off the top of my head the most clichéd term in my neck of the woods would be y’all as opposed to you all, but if you go anywhere north of Indy and talk, people think you are from southern Alabama. It’s really annoying.
4. I Googled New Albany, Indiana and it is a really small town compared to the Glendale/Phoenix area. What is there to do for fun/entertainment there? What type of recreational activities are available to the residents?
Fun in New Albany is looking at pictures of the ocean on the internet and planning your next vacation. It’s an actual sport here! Hey there BIG CITY, don’t be knocking my little community either! There is a little bit of everything to do for someone who is new here. People watch at Wal-Mart; dine at any chain restaurant ever known to man, and we have a library. On a more serious note, the downtown area in pretty neat with all the ethnic restaurants and small business owners. Horseshoe Casino is a huge employer in the area and is located just 15 minutes outside of town, and there are plenty of small parks and a phenomenal youth sports program. Luckily Louisville, KY, isn’t very far away and serves our needs for fine dining and entertainment.
5. What is Indiana most known/famous for?
The Indianapolis 500 (duh), limestone….Bedford Limestone ever heard of it? Bedford is just 90 minutes up the road from me. Basketball is a pretty big deal in this state, more specifically, college/high school basketball. The movie Hoosiers is based on a small school in Milan. Actually, basketball in Indiana would take up a whole book so we will just leave it at that.
6. What are the top 5 things you DO NOT LIKE about living in Indiana?
The worse thing about living in Indiana is allergies; the southern part of Indiana is known as the Ohio Valley, and anybody from St. Louis to Pittsburgh and every town along the Ohio River can tell you about the allergy nightmare we live in. If you are an up and coming medical student, study to be an ENT, and you will have a job for life in this area.
The unpredictable weather! In a span of 48 hours, you can go from wearing shorts to shoveling snow off the driveway (true story).
Indiana is too far away from the ocean to get great seafood without paying through the nose for it.
I glossed over it briefly earlier, but I live too damn close to Kentucky! The quickest way to get a ticket in this state is to have Kentucky license plates; police pull them over for their own safety before they can cause a wreck. God forbid you have to drive near one when it’s raining; they actually treat their vehicles like they’re boats. I can’t describe it in words to properly do it justice.
Last but not least, the mosquitoes! I know Florida and other places have them bad, too, but with our humid summers, it’s like a sexual revolution for the little blood suckers to breed anywhere. I think they need a t-spoon of water, some Barry White music, and next thing you know, 8,000,000 of them are in your backyard. The mosquitoes suck!
7. If someone were to tell you they were just transferred to Indiana and could live anywhere in the state what city/area would you recommend they move to and why?
Indianapolis without a doubt. It’s in the center of the state roughly, and you can access any major city via an interstate (well except Evansville, but nobody wants to go there anyway). Indy has become a major player in all things. Circle Center mall is unique, and a ton of companies and organizations have made Indy their home (thank you Illinois, idiots). For a large city, it’s relatively clean, and it’s the melting pot of Indiana. It boasts great restaurants, plenty of entertainment, and if you are a sports fan you have the Colts and Pacers professionally and a Triple-A baseball team that has a fairly new stadium. Also, the NCAA is now headquartered in Indy, and Lucas Oil Stadium routinely gets to host tournament games and even Final Fours.
8. As a BIG NASCAR fan, I have always wanted to go to the Indianapolis 500! Have you ever attended one of the races? What other BIG sporting events/teams are there in Indiana?
I have never been to the Indianapolis 500, but I have been to a few Brickyard 400s many years ago. The Indy 500 lost a lot of luster some 20 years ago when Tony George screwed it up for everybody. I’ve heard countless tales from friends who have been, though, that it is one big party. Other big sporting events would include the Madison Regatta up the road from me, coincidentally enough, in Madison. It is the Indy 500 for hydroplane racing. As I mentioned previously, we did host a Super Bowl a few years back and get the Final Four ever four-five years.
9. What is the terrain/landscape of Indiana? Is it the same throughout the entire state? If not how does it vary by area?
Southern Indiana has a few hills, and that’s about it. Other than that we are still seeking one more vote from the Great Plains administration to officially be received by them because Indiana is as flat as just about any other plains state. The landscape is cornfields, soybean fields, wheat fields, oh and sprinkle in a maple tree or two. The state tree is the poplar tree, but you would think Indiana was a leading producer of syrup with all the maple trees. They grow like weeds here!
10. The town, New Albany, which you live in, is right off of the Ohio River. I know there is A LOT of American history up and down the Mississippi River is it the same for the Ohio River? Did they have the BIG steamboats there as well? What is the most popular historical story about the Ohio River? Why did people first settle in the area? Give a few examples.
Dammit, what is this, history class? It was founded by the Scribner brothers who hailed from Albany, NY. This whole area was a boomtown way back when for the steamboat industry, and during The Kentucky Derby festival (the two weeks prior to the Derby itself), there is an annual steamboat race on the Ohio River honoring the area’s contribution to the steamboat industry. The area was also pivotal during the Civil War for passage to the north using the Underground Railroad. In its early years, New Albany was one of the wealthiest cities in the midwest due to the steamboat business and other businesses that spun off of it. It was the place to be in the 1800’s before the Civil War. The Ohio River has always been a way of life, which has been both good and bad for the area. In 1937, the river swallowed the whole area in a flood, and if you can still find someone alive that was around back then, they will tell you in vivid detail how high the water was. In the years that winter is brutally cold, it’s actually frozen over, and there are pictures of people driving cars on the frozen Ohio River to gain passage to Kentucky (once again I have no idea why people would willingly flock to Kentucky). Without opening up a Wikipedia page, that is about the best I can remember in the history of New Albany. I kid Kentuckians because I care, but Louisville is actually our media center in my little pocket of the world and isn’t too shabby of a city itself, but that’s for another time.
Here are the questions I asked Lysa in the cross country Battle of the States showdown