Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hoosier Politeness

Whenever I meet a French-speaking person, I always use Spanish to ask them if they speak English. That way I can always say, "Yeah, me neither" and they won't feel so bad if they have to answer "No".


When I run in town I often slow down and peer into the window of the empty building on the corner. It's a very plain-looking brick building, typical of the latter part of the 19th century. It shares a wall with the beautiful Italianate "Hitzler" building to the east of it. I'm not sure which of the two is older.

When I first moved to Warsaw over thirty years ago, the old edifice was still a hardware store. The sun is too bright on that back wall or you'd be able to read the large cursive "Cumberland Hardware" expertly sign-painted in 24 inch letters, directly on the brick. The lettering has artfully weathered and adds a charm to the place.

The building is on the courthouse square, right smack dab in the center of town. And Warsaw's a downtown with some life in it. Warsaw has one of the most vital parks programs in the State. Not only do we have some of the most beautiful municipal parks, we know how to use 'em. Thoughout the entire summer months, our Central Park (a couple of blocks from this building) hosts outdoor concerts weekly.

We have three lakes in town, and those lakes have well-used beaches. Winona -- the largest of the three -- is big enough for skiing.

It's the dreams of a young man that has this old guy stopping and peering into that window. See, the building has been vacant for probably five years now. And if I were a younger man, I'd be seeing that old building coming to life as a folk school in the center of town.

Hopelessly romantic ol' me can envision that building being revived from its deep sleep. I can see hundreds of people -- young and old -- daily walking through those doors to draw from the well of pottery and folk music knowledge of passionate teachers, and with a deep, satisfying drink, escape the sameness of worklives in front of computer screens, holed away in cubicles.


  1. The pull of a downtown studio is strong. We were visiting friends in Madison and fell in love with a store front there on Main St. Had us seriously considering leaving FL for Indiana. Angi grew up in Fairmount and isn't keen on the winters but the building was so perfect it was tempting.

  2. For many years I ran a storefront studio in downtown Fredericksburg. At the time, only one in three buildings were occupied....it was a very satisfying business and I still miss it. When I left there wasn't a space left (I don't take ALL the credit!) Thanks for waking up some memories.