Day 1: Oct. 22, 2005
Town of Summer Place



Things started out pretty wet but got drier as I approached Indianapolis and there was a brief flicker of sun light as I turned north on I-465. I knew I was in the right spot when I spotted the group of car guys in standard pre-caravan formation in the middle of a parking lot. That's Pat's dad in the light colored jacket and dark glasses. The '55 Chevy belongs to local Chevrolet dealer Jim Wolf. It's not an Impala and it's not a Super Sport but no one seemed to hold that against him. That is partly because his dealership sponsors the group and partly because it's just a real cool car.

It took about forty-five minutes for the group of mostly big, black, & bad Chevrolets to reach "A Summer Place". The lone pastel Bel-Aire pulled up to a gas station showing prices that were probably common when it was new and a group of Super Sports parked on Dream Street. The middle of Easy Street provided a good setting for the group photo.

"A Summer Place" is the creation of Jim Richardson and it sets in his back yard. One side of Easy Street holds a barber shop, a diner, and police & fire stations. The gas station and a theater are across the street. The diner and theater are operational and so are most of the vehicles. The theater marquee is from the Isis Theater in Kokomo. The 1935 beauty was completely rewired and restored by Jim. Moving and hanging the marquee was a major project but getting the Norfolk Southern caboose to its new home was even bigger. Multiple cranes, trucks, experts, and willing hands were involved in the project and restoration continues.

Inside Angel's Diner, we were served lunch by Jim & crew. Cheeseburger, fries, cherry Coke, and a banana split for desert. The Coke was produced right in front of us with real Coca-Cola syrup, carbonation from the fountain, and a squirt of cherry flavor stirred in by hand. I didn't even consider counting the bicycles and gas pumps gathered here and the walls are lined with all sorts of smaller items plus plenty of posters and photographs. That is a 125cc Harley Davidson in front of the pristine Whizzer. There is even a working Predicta television. That's Jim Richardson chatting with the Bremers at the diner's counter.

I don't know that I have ever been in Kokomo, Indiana, so made the turn when I saw a sign saying it was four miles away. I didn't spend a lot of time there but did get to check out a couple of the town's biggest attractions. A building in Highland Park houses both a giant tree stump and a giant stuffed steer. Both are safe behind glass windows through which the giants are viewable but barely photographable. Storms and age, an estimated 800 years worth, had toppled the big sycamore tree before its stump was moved here in 1916. The stump is 57 feet in diameter. Right next door is "Old Ben". I guess steers are considered old at eight years since that was how long Ben was alive. During those eight years he went from his 135 pound birth weight to 4720 pounds at his last weighing in 1910.

I stayed on IN-26 to Lafayette then headed south on US-231. I stopped near Crawfordsville and was lucky to get one of the last rooms at Days Inn. Even though Rockville is more than thirty miles away, the bridge festival and other events have filled area motels. Before I checked in, I did make a pass through town to see if I could find a non-chain motel. I didn't but I did spot a neon sign shop just north of down town. It's about a block away from the world's only functioning rotary jail which I saw in 2003. I still have the Lew Wallace Home & Ben Hur Museum on my "to do" list and I won't check them off on this trip. After watching part of game #1 of the World Series, I made a brief visit to downtown Crawfordsville to check out some of the neon in the dark. Then it was back to the motel to see the White Sox win one.

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