Here’s a summary of my fourth trip in three years to visit brother Tom Fisher in our hometown of Washington, Indiana!
Wed., July 9, 2014:
Arrived in Evansville (EVV) via American Eagle from DFW at ca. 4:30 pm, very smooth, uneventful, non-stop flight – other than having to walk an extra ½ mile or so when they changed the departure gate at DFW at the last minute from 33 to 1! Oh, well, “consider it exercise,” as Marge would say!
In EVV, picked up luggage and Enterprise rental car and immediately headed out. Could have had a bright red 2014 Mustang, but opted for a more demure steel-blue Nissan Sentra, due to the “target” a vehicle like the Mustang puts on one’s back!
Traveled the newly-completed I-69 N [old US 57 feeds into it], a very quick (55 minutes), relaxing, non-stop ride to Washington, taking the Washington-Loogootee exit just E of town.
Headed directly to Wal-Mart to find Tom. He wasn’t in the Garden Center, as he thought he might be, so I headed for the back of the store – but stopped first in the paint area, and asked if they knew a “Tom Fisher.” No, they didn’t, but when I said “bald guy, big talker,” they knew exactly who I meant and said he was working the registers up front! So stealthily I headed in that direction. And indeed, there he was, dressed in his Wal-Mart uniform, cap and name tag, checking out customers! I watched for a short while in the check-out aisle just behind him [shades of Chris and the Western Sizzlin’ Steakhouse in Orange County, CA! – two people, Alice and Jim, have already commented on the similarity of those two moments!], even took a few pictures [getting some strange looks from the “real” customers my line!]. Eventually I got in HIS line, watching carefully his personal style and technique, which were all good and impressive. At last he saw me standing there, and burst into a greeting, even though there was still a young Amish couple waiting for him to finish with them. They were gracious and patient while Tom told them pretty much our entire family life history. ANYWAY – I waited a short time while he finished his shift, and at about 7:10 he was free to go. He wouldn’t have to work again until Monday, long after I would be gone.
We decided on a sit-down place for dinner – Bobe’s Pizza across from the Moose Club – and had a nice relaxing meal. Of course there was method to my madness, since I had a plan which Tom knew nothing about, and I KNOW he’ll be telling you about the very good news relative to that plan soon. Anyway, when it was all over, back to apt. #311 we went, and in his euphoria, Tom called Chris, to spread the good news. So Chris, you were the first to hear. Thus a full and exciting day came to an end, and I headed back to my digs at the Baymont Inn & Suites at the US 50 bypass and 57.
Thurs., July 10, 2014:
Back over at Tom’s about 11:00 and headed for Mason’s Root Beer for lunch. Foot-long coney for me, fish & chips for Tom. Sat outside where it was relatively cool, shaded and very comfortable. Tom still on cloud 9 from the previous evening’s news, his imagination working overtime on the possibilities.
Next we hit JC’s to buy the meat and other accoutrements for the evening meal Tom had planned at his place: steaks, baked potatoes, salad, asparagus casserole and home-made (and home-picked at 113!) cherry pie with real whipped cream for dessert.
Ate about 5:30; meal was excellent (you’re a good cook, Tom Fisher!), even if he did forget to put the casserole in the oven and by the time he remembered it was too late to heat. So we did without. Also, we decided to skip the cherry pie since we were both stuffed AND our departure time for the evening’s entertainment was looming.
At about 6:30 we headed out the door for the Lincoln State Park amphitheatre in Spencer County to see A. Lincoln: A Pioneer Tale, featuring Washington’s own Dean Dorrell as President Lincoln. Mother, I and Tom had seen him previously in a similar capacity and location about 10-12 years ago, though in a previous production at. Anyway, this was a musical which was informative and entertaining, if also with some rather cliché and uninteresting music. Tom and I agreed the dance numbers/choreography and the historical representation were probably the best things about it. Whole production lasted some 2¼ hrs, and we were home by midnight.
Friday., July 11, 2014:
Started the day with a visit to St. John’s cemetery and Mother’s grave. Her permanent headstone is in place now, matching her parents’, Margaret’s and Andrew’s, next to her, in style, size and lettering.
Also drove around the grounds, looking for a few other people we knew – Jim Summitt’s, of course, was our next stop, still fresh plain dirt. Also found Father Albert Wicke’s [in the priests’ circle at the top of the hill]. He had been a chaplain in the army in WW I (!), and I knew him in his emeritus stage when he was old and frail. Also long-time family friend Mary Louise Carnahan; organist and friend Zarelda Brown; and the Robert Graham family circle.
From St. John’s we picked up Tom’s gardening buckets at Jim Summitt’s farmhouse, then headed to Tom’s garden. Picked a bucketful of cucumbers, and noted progress on his tomatoes and beans.
Next: our annual de rigeur stop the White Steamer! For slaw, a cheeseburger and a pineapple malt I paid $5.49, the lowest price I’ve paid for a meal out in a long, long time.
From the White Steamer it was on to the 113 homestead and a visit with new owner Chad Burrus. The new pillars there (6 very large ones) look GREAT! Fiberglass material so it won’t deteriorate over time. 25-year warranty. Completing the entire porch with smaller pillars, railings, and upper porch repair or replacement will be a multi-stage (and multi-summer) operation, but the first and hardest step is complete and bodes well for the future. His family wants to buy the church parking lot next to the house, and maybe the vacant lot next to that, the one where the Christian Science church once stood. Would put a fenced playground and perhaps a gazebo there for his kids.
Anyway, Chad also presented us with two bibles he found in a drawer – one smaller, the personal bible of “Miss Nelle (sic) Thompson [Gran, of course], Trinity, D.C.,” published 1899, and containing a yellowed, cut-up newspaper copy of her father’s (John Thompson), obituary – very interesting reading; the other bible, much larger, published 1856 by Jesper Harding, Philadelphia, with a number of full-page engravings [with tissue-paper protective coverings] of biblical scenes, had, to my surprise, no family history data. Chad also found a TON of bedding in drawers upstairs – many bedspreads, sheets, pillowcases, etc.; asked if we wanted any or all of it. We said ‘no,’ so he’s going to give it all to Goodwill – unless one of you speaks up first!
Our plan for the evening was to go to Jasper and have a meal with me as host at the Mill House restaurant, one of Jim Summitt and Tom’s favorite places to eat, and where Tom and I ate last year (thanks to the good graces and generous contribution of one Christopher M. [“Mr. Largesse”] Fisher, Esq., JD, LLC, Watch Your P’s&Q’s, Please). This year’s meal was enjoyable – a rusty nail for me and gin-and-tonic for Tom (though he couldn’t drink his, he said – not palatable), ribs and baked potato for me, and a Mill burger, fries and cottage cheese for Tom, since his favorite dish, Cordon bleu, was, quel dommage, unavailable. Both again stuffed as we were, we skipped the dessert and talked about a piece of the cherry pie with whipped cream back at home, where we arrived before 9:00 pm. Tomorrow morning was an early get-go for berry-picking, so it turns out we again skipped the pie and headed for our respective beds.
Saturday, July 12, 2014:
I was up at 5:15, Tom at 5:45, and we were off on the hunt for blueberries at 6:00! But not before a McDonald’s breakfast in town. It’s about 1½ hrs to our favorite site since 2011 – Bryant’s Blueberries, New Salisbury, IN, near Corydon – so we were in the field picking by 8:15 am. Unfortunately, the blueberry crop by this relatively late point in the season was noticeably diminished, and instead of the usual picking techniques (including wholesale stripping of branches and clusters), this year it was basically “hunt and peck [pick]” for individual berries – a MUCH slower, more tedious and frustrating process, yielding way less fruit than last year – after 2½ hrs of work I only got 4.7 lbs and Tom got 5.3 lbs. To put it in perspective, 6 lbs makes a gallon, so between the two of us we were only able to pick less than two gallons. Last year, Tom picked 2 gallons and I picked close to 3! But, hey, in this business there are no guarantees – in fact, every year we go, the conditions and results are different, sometimes dramatically so.
After the morning assault on the berry bushes, we stopped by the Big Boy restaurant outside of the old state capitol, Corydon – just down the road from New Salisbury – for yet more sustenance! [Seems like all Tom and I did was eat…hmmm, what’s wrong with that picture!?] Very pleasant interlude, followed by a little jaunt into Corydon itself, just to drive the streets a bit, see the old square and historic buildings and even find a souvenir store and gifts for unnamed persons at home! All of which we did. The gifts/souvenirs came from a local pharmacy with an old-timey ice cream counter – like the old Williams Bros on Main – called Butts Drug.
Once we were back home, only a couple activities remained for the day: at about 6:00 we ate leftovers for dinner at his place as a prelude to a swim session at the Baymont Inn & Suites. Though both were unusually crowded, the pool and hot tub were refreshing and invigorating. The perfect endcap to the evening was a stop at Scoops ice cream drive-in just S of the 50/57 intersection. We closed the place down at 10:00 pm.\
Sunday, July 13, 2014:
Am returning to Fort Worth today, so checked out of the Baymont at 11:00 and met Tom at his apartment. He was hungry so, once again, we headed out to eat! He insisted on being the host for lunch, at Hardee’s, E of town. Afterwards, we settled in back at his place for the afternoon until 3:00 EDT when I was due to leave for the airport. In the interim we packed the blueberries for travel, and I examined in more detail the two bibles I described on Friday’s entry above, including the John Thompson obituary. When 3:00 came, Tom “escorted me to the border”[i.e., drove as far as Wal-Mart], where he split off while I headed S to EVV and the airport. As usual, the blueberries were no problem going through security, though the three jars of jam Tom also gave me had to be moved over to checked luggage or else they would have been confiscated as “liquids” in a carry-on bag. But I did this right at the airport counter, in front of God and everyone, before checking my luggage, so all was well. And thus this year’s period of fun and fellowship with brother Tom came to an end!
Tom very graciously let me know before I left that he was donating his portion of the picked blueberries this year to me and my family, since there were five mouths to feed at my house, and only one at his! VERY generous and much appreciated. We WILL consume them! [Thanks again, Tom!]