With no daytime event today, we spent the morning exploring a bit more of Columbus, known as the “Athens of the Prairie” and for good reason. The architecture really is impressive, and much of the town’s good fortune is due to the success of Cummins Inc, a business that was started by a local chauffeur/mechanic who worked for the wealthy Irwin family. With Irwin money backing him, Mr. Cummins designed the first small diesel motor to power an automobile. Now a huge international firm, Cummins builds diesel engines for large equipment and boats, and you can tour their headquarters, where they have an “exploded engine” on display, showing all the parts that go into one of their engines.
Of all the architectural wonders I saw in Columbus, the one I can’t stop thinking about is their Veterans’ Memorial. It’s just a simple complex of columns with names carved into them. Also engraved on the columns are the last letters these dead sent to loved ones, letters expressing fear and love and longing for home. A few minutes there, and I just had to leave because I was crying.
A beautiful drive through rolling hills and woods brought us to the town of Brookville, where Melody Gault, Director of the Franklin County Public Library District, had a treat planned for us: a dinner at the historic Hermitage Inn, once home to the “Hoosier Group” of Indiana artists J. Ottis Adams and T.C. Steele. Hanging on all the walls is a wide selection of works by contemporary Indiana artists, which I loved studying while innkeeper Martha Shea served up a homey meal for our table of library supporters and booklovers.
Then it was on to the event in the local community center. Over 100 people streamed in — what a crowd for a town as small as Brookville! They had chosen THE KEEPSAKE as their community read, and I spent some time talking about mummies, CT scans, and how fiction sometimes can’t compete with the weirdness of real life.
Tomorrow, the local ladies are treating Hubby and me to a tour of the area. They’ve already primed me with a packet of documents about a local mystery called the “Head and Hands Murder of 1936.” Gotta go — there’s a murder I need to read up on!