Thursday, August 4, 2011

What exactly is a Hoosier?

Some things I've learned about the Hoosier State:

1.      Lack of Pepsi:  C’mon, Indiana.  Where is your love for Pepsi?  It’s literally nowhere in this state, except in our hotel. (Yay for Drury Inn!) If I were in Georgia, I would understand. If I were in Kentucky, I would understand. If I were somewhere just a hair below the Mason-Dixon line, I could even accept the fact. But Indiana? Please. Just because you take claim to the Indianaplis Motor Speedway does not give you the right to become a pseudo-southern state by indulging in Coca Cola at every restaurant, bar and vendor. 

2.       Hoosiers:  Natives of Indiana do not refer to themselves as Indianans, but rather Hoosiers. There is no definite derivation of the word, but many theories are running around out there. One hypothesis is the term originated from a frontier greeting, “Who’s here?”  Another theory—and a less folklore one perhaps— is “hoosier” was a term frequently used in the South in the 19th century for woodsmen and hill people.  Supposedly, it is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “hoo,” meaning “high” or “hill.”  One more theory is the term was used in the 19th century to describe followers of the preacher Harry Hoosier.  Harry Hoosier was a black Methodist minister who stood up for morality and the common man, rejected slavery, and was thought to be one of the greatest preachers of his day. This may be a good term for the natives of Indiana, but it’s actually a derogatory term in some places, like St. Louis, MO, where supposedly, it is used interchangeably with “white trash” or “hick.”

3.       David Letterman’s hometown:  Emily, Megan and I went to the Broad Ripple farmers market last weekend, and it was located at the Broad Ripple High School.  Little did I know until we got there that this town used to be David Letterman’s stomping ground!  Letterman had originally wanted to attend Indiana University, but attended Ball State University, in Muncie, Indiana, where he joined Sigma Chi fraternity. Letterman. A fraternity man. From this cute town in Indiana. Where I happened to be one weekend. How neat!

4.       Some cool little facts about “the crossroads of America” include:

·         Santa Claus, Indiana receives more than one-half million letters and requests at Christmas time.

·         The first successful goldfish farm in the United States was opened in Martinsville, IN, in 1899.

·         During Prohibition, the Al Brady and John Dillinger gangs were patrons of the Slippery Noodle Inn, one of Indiana’s oldest bars.  Established in 1850, the Inn considered itself Indiana’s oldest bar.  The gangs used the building in the rear (originally a horse stable for the Inn) for target practice.  Today, several bullets remain embedded in the lower east wall.

·         There have been five men from Indiana who have been elected vice president and earned Indiana the nickname “Mother of Vice Presidents.”

·         In a typical year, almost half of all cropland in Indiana is planted in corn.

That last bullet was shocking, I’m sure. I still can’t wrap my mind around the very interesting fact that Indiana had the first goldfish farm, but these are just some fun things I learned about Indiana during my stay here.  Being somewhere new keeps me engaged to learn a little more about things I would normally not have much of an interest in—for instance, learning Indiana has high vice presidential fecundity. Who knew?

Wikipedia and Indiana's state page were helpful in my learning. And now yours.

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