Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Posts Tagged ‘Bloomington Indiana

When Thirsty in Bloomigton

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Like any college town, Bloomington, Indiana, has an abundance of bars, including sports bars, where you can cheer on your alma matter, in which case Indiana University.

Some of these bars are local traditions, having been around for decades and multiple generations of students. That helps sustain them as scads of alumni return to campus to relive some of the more memorable moments of their college days. And those don’t involve siting in a classroom.

Nick’s English Hut was founded in 1927 and has a prime location about two blocks west of the campus on Kirkwood Avenue, a major street connecting IU and downtown Bloomington. Most people know it as simply Nick’s.

Aside from beer, Nick’s also features the typical pub grub that you would expect in sports bar, but it also known for its stromboli sandwiches. The menu describes the traditional strom as a pizza sandwich.

While in Bloomington last year I didn’t venture into Nick’s and in face it has been many years since I’ve been inside the place.

But I did pause to photograph the exterior, making a mental note that it hasn’t changed at all from how it appeared when I first began attending IU in August 1983.

However, as I studied the bottom photograph I realized I didn’t remember there being sidewalk tables back in the day. So maybe the place has changed slightly.

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Romantic Traditions at IU

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The Rose Well House on  the main campus of Indiana University in Bloomington is one of the school’s oldest structures and has a long history of being the location of romantic encounters.

Legend has it that a woman wasn’t a true coed until she had been kissed in the Well House. The kiss had to occur at midnight and had to last for the 12 strokes of midnight from the bell at the nearby Student Building.

Given that in the early years of the school women were to be inside their dorm rooms by 11 p.m. it was risking punishment to be out that late.

Countless couples have gotten engaged at the Well House and many women were “pinned” there.

Being a campus landmark, the Well House is often the site of graduation photographs.

The Well House wasn’t created to be a romantic oasis or the backdrop of photographs. It was in the early years of the campus the site of a cistern pump for obtaining water.

The roots of the Well House date to 1907 when IU trustees formed a committee to investigate moving the fronts and ornamental stone fixtures of the Old College Building and using them to create a house for the existing cistern pump.

Theodore Rose, who had graduated from IU in 1975 funded the project, hence the well house was named for him.

The eight sides of the Well House are said to have been inspired by the shape of Rose’s fraternity pin from Beta Theta Pi. The building was completed in 1909.

The Well House is less today a destination for a romantic getaway than it was in the school’s early years.

Nonetheless, the Indiana Daily Student in February 2017 listed “kiss someone special at the Rose Well House at midnight” to its bucket list of things for IU students to do before graduating.

Pounding Out Another Story

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Ernie Pyle is a name that was familiar to those who lived during World War II.

The Indiana-born journalist was, arguably, the best known war correspondent of his day, earning the Pulitzer Prize in 1944 for his accounts of the life of ordinary soldiers.

Writing for the Scripps-Howard chain of newspapers, Pyle was killed on April 18, 1945, during the Battle of Okinawa.

For many years the building housing the School of Journalism at Indiana University was named after Pyle.

There was a bust of him inside the building and, if my memory serves me correctly, a photograph or painting of him elsewhere.

Some incorrectly thought the School of Journalism itself was named after Pyle, but that was not the case.

Not long ago the School of Journalism was merged with a couple of other programs to create a new Media School, which was moved to Franklin Hall.

As part of that move, a statue of Pyle pounding out a story on his portable typewriter in the war zone was commissioned and placed near the entrance to Franklin Hall.

The statue brings to life a glimpse of a time that virtually all college students today only know from history books.

All That Remains is the Glitter (and Some Memories)

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It is graduation season at the nation’s colleges and high schools and millions are donning caps and gowns and going through ceremonies and rituals that have been around for as long as any of us alive today can remember.

And graduates have probably been saying for just as long that they were only doing this for their parents.

I suspect that if the graduates could take a vote they might do away with all of the pomp and circumstance.

But many of them go through it anyway even though I know a number of people who skipped their graduation ceremony and at least one who was there, but sitting with the audience and not walking across the stage like the rest of us.

When I taught at John Carroll University, faculty members were expected to participate in the ceremony.

After one particular commencement, I remember going the next day to get a haircut or some such mundane activity and wondering what the graduates were thinking today.

All of their lives they had been preparing for going to college. Then college came and it must have seemed like an eternity before they would graduate.

But they did and now it was the morning after. What are they thinking now that a major part of their life is behind them?

I was reminded of that question when I ran across this “glitter” on the bricks in front of the Rose Well House on the campus of Indiana University.

The Well House is one of the more iconic landmarks on the Bloomington campus and countless grads had their picture taken in front of it.

Graduation Day at IU had been four days earlier and some graduates had left behind – although probably unintentionally – some reminders of that day.

Now it is time to get on with the rest of their life. But cheer up grads. There is always graduate school if you don’t want to face life just yet. And you will always have your memories.

One of the Magnificent 92

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Indiana has a lot of stately courthouses that tower over the square of the county seat communities that they serve. Most were built in the late 19th and early 20th century.

I don’t know if this makes Indiana unique or any different than any other Midwest state.

Nearly three decades ago, the late Ira Wilmer Counts, Jr., a professor of photojournalism at Indiana University traveled the state and photographed the 92 courthouses in the Hoosier State.

I don’t know how long that took, but it probably wasn’t done in a week.

His work was placed on a display with the exhibit text written by his colleague, Jon Dilts, who was my adviser during my time in graduate school at IU.

Their work was eventually made into a book titled The Magnificent 92 Courthouses of Indiana and a poster. I had a framed copy of that poster that sat on the wall above my desk for many years.

Professor Counts didn’t have far to go to photograph the courthouse in Bloomington, the home of the IU main campus and the county seat of Monroe County.

I admired Professor Counts’ work for his ability to vary the angles and compositions of the courthouses.

I never had Professor Counts for a class during my time at IU. I only knew him casually, if that.

He had a distinguished career that landed him a place in the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.

An Arkansas native, Professor Counts is best known for his prize-winning photograph of a black student seeking to integrate a segregated high school in Little Rock in 1957.

When he died of cancer at age 70 in 2001, Professor Counts merited an obituary in the New York Times and other publications. His book about Indiana courthouses was mentioned in the Times obit.

Whenever I see a courthouse in Indiana I’m reminded of Professor Counts and his devotion to telling the story with images of the architecture of another era.