Jerry Seinfeld cites him as an influence, and named his third son after him. In his seminal text, Understanding Media , Marshall McLuhan tagged his work as innovative in its use of the medium of radio. But outside the context of the now-classic holiday flick A Christmas Story , the name Jean Shepherd may go unrecognized.
In the last century and a half, Indiana has made been recognized worldwide for its leadership in a variety of industries—from limestone production to automobile manufacture. Advances in medical technology and the graying of the population have conspired to place a different Hoosier-based industry at today’s corporate vanguard.
In August 2007, a resident of Shelbyville earned global recognition for the central Indiana city. Upon the death of Japan’s Yone Minegawa that month, 114-year-old Hoosier Edna Scott Parker rose from the position of the nation’s oldest person to the world’s reigning supercentenarian.
While ghost-trackers in Evansville keep on the lookout for the Lady in Grey, an apparition in different attire haunts the imagination of paranormal investigators in central Indiana. A spectral Lady in Black is said to lurk in the Stepp Cemetery, located deep within the Morgan Monroe State Forest, south of Martinsville.
As the days grow brisker and the leaves take on brilliant hues, many Americans of a certain generation are wont to characterize the season with an expression born in Indiana. “When the frost is on the punkin” is the opening phrase of a classic poem by James Whitcomb Riley.
In August 2007, amidst hourly updates on the fate of six coal miners trapped by a Utah mine collapse, word of another mine accident emerged—this time from the Hoosier State. Three workers in the Gibson Mine descending into an air shaft they were building fell more than 500 feet to their death when the bucket lowering them was somehow upset.
Every summer, the town of Danville, Kentucky sets aside two weeks to commemorate the anniversary of the filming of the last epic film made during MGM’s “Golden Age of Cinematography.” The Raintree County Festival casts a nostalgic glance back to 1957, when Liz Taylor, Montgomery Clift and Eva Marie Saint descended on the Kentucky town to shoot a picture based on a thoroughly Hoosier saga.
Public radio listeners are most likely familiar with the name Will Shortz. The Puzzlemaster from NPR’s Weekend Edition on Sunday mornings has been on the air since that program started in 1987. The estimated sixty-four million Americans who work crosswords have probably also encountered the native Hoosier’s name at some point or another.
For the last twenty years, students with so-so grades have taken heart in a rumor involving Ball State University and a certain gap-toothed late-night talk show host. According to urban legend, Hoosier native David Letterman established a scholarship at his alma mater for students with nothing better, or worse, than a “C” average. The rumor has insinuated itself so thoroughly into reality that the apocryphal “C”- average scholarship has been listed on the Internet and discussed at college financial aid sessions.
Those who follow college football know that the Monon Bell represents the long-time rivalry between DePauw and Wabash Colleges. The 300-pound locomotive bell, first awarded as a trophy in 1932, was a gift from the Monon Railroad. Founded in 1847 as the New Albany and Salem Railroad, the Monon provided service from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River by 1853.