Columns

2017.09.20 Indiana begs for visit and I answer the call

By RICH FOLEY

Three years ago, I wrote about making a trip to Angola. Not the one in Africa, but the one in the northeast corner of Indiana, the seldom-visited third of our tri-state area. At the time, I found it so interesting, I returned just three weeks later. Because of a variety of issues, I didn’t go back again until last month. This time, however, the excursion was so enjoyable that I revisited the town the very next week.

Adding to the fun this time was the fact that a section of U.S. 20 was closed for repairs, requiring an alternate route. We went west on Territorial Road until reaching M-49, then turned south to meet up with U.S. 20 west of the construction zone.

 While on 49, we crested a hill and found a family of wild turkeys crossing the road on the downhill side. Mama Turkey and most of her brood had already crossed and were waiting on the berm for a straggler. With no oncoming traffic in view ahead, my chauffeur calmly drove around the family, then returned to our lane.

 Looking in the side mirror, I could swear I saw Mama wave a wing in thanks. Since there were no incidents of bird droppings on the car for the entire trip, I think she might have broadcast an alert on the fowl internet to leave us alone.

After the obligatory lunch at the Angola truck stop Hardees, we checked out the adjacent truckers store. The inventory included a large section featuring pens, pencils, notebooks, clipboards and related items. Above the area was a large, professionally-made sign reading “Stationary.” Obviously, the sign painter couldn’t spell, or am I being too quick to judge? After all, the entire store was indeed stationary.

We visited an antique mall that decades ago was a Chevrolet dealership. In the back of the building, I found a box of dusty promotional auto art. For many years, dealers used to have framed artwork of the current models hanging on their showroom walls. Each year, new art would replace the old. No pictures of Corvettes or Camaros were available, but fans of the Vega, Chevette or Citation had a wide variety to choose from.

At another mall, I found a postal first day cover featuring the Stanley brothers, builders of the Stanley Steamer automobile. Another in the box had a Richard Nixon stamp and artwork, postmarked the day of his resignation. The price tag read “Buy any cover, get this one FREE.” Since it was more than 40 years old, I wondered how long it had been sitting there. When I took them to the checkout counter, the cashier got a laugh out of my Nixon “purchase.”

With much left undone, seven days later it was back to Angola. This time, we went all the way to Indiana on Territorial, turning south at Fremont. No turkeys on this trip, but we did see several Amish buggies along the way, including one at the Phillips 66 station in Fremont.

I was surprised to see a Phillips station so close to home, not to mention one with an Amish buggy in the parking lot. Just a few minutes later, the future of both the buggy and the Phillips station came into view.

As we neared Angola from the north, I saw the Tesla recharging station discovered on a previous trip. Parked next to one of the “pumps” getting a charge was a Tesla Model S. I got out to take a few photos and noticed that instead of a legal license plate, the Tesla had a plate-size sign reading “Zero Emissions” in its place. I’m not sure how the driver gets away with that, but having no license plate was the one thing the Tesla and the Amish buggy had in common.

In downtown Angola, we found that the Strand Theater had closed. I later learned it shut down in 2016, ending 102 years in operation. It was sad to see plywood covering the area where the marquee used to be. Luckily, just a couple of doors away from the shuttered Strand, the Brokaw 1 & 2 theatres are still in operation after 85 years.

The town’s taste in music is changing, too. Three years ago, the Charlie Daniels Band was in concert the night of our first visit. Three weeks later, a concert by the Marshall Tucker Band was being promoted. I was thinking the latest version of Lynyrd Skynyrd might be the coming attraction this time, but instead, a show by Amy Grant was being advertised. Maybe Skynyrd will be there next trip.