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Sunday, May 1, 2016

It's not easy being green

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

They may have trouble in River City, my friends, but we in Greencastle have an identity crisis.

It's bad enough we have that whole PutMAN instead of PutNAM thing that tends to creep into the local lingo, but the preponderance of "green" in Indiana -- and we don't mean cash money -- can just be too confusing at times.

After all, no fewer than nine Hoosier cities have "Green" in their names. And that's not even mentioning good, old Greene County.

Consider for a moment being an outsider (that's a non-Hoosier, by the way) and encountering Greencastle, Greenfield, Greenwood, Greentown, Greenville, Greensburg, Greens Fork, Greensboro and the two tiny Greendales (one in Dearborn County near Cincinnati and the other in Allen County near Fort Wayne).

It is not unlike all the "Wood" streets we have in Greencastle. Northwood, Highwood, Ravenwood, Dogwood, Kingswood, Queenswood, Cedarwood, Cottonwood, Woodhaven, Greenwood (both Avenue and Drive), and plain, old Wood Street. Is it any wonder we are a Tree City USA!?

Honestly, none of this had bothered me much until our identity crisis reared its ugly green head again in the past week.

At least three times recently, I have encountered the green issue.

The first time it was a press release from the Indiana Statehouse. They write the laws that make the whole state sing, so you would think at least they would be able to sort out the greens in this Hoosier salad.

But no, here comes a press release about a couple of recent local teens from Greencastle High School who recently served as pages for -- at least according to the statehouse release -- Rep. Jim Baird of Greenwood. Funny, just saw Jim at the Legislative Update program Saturday morning at the local office of the Farm Bureau. If he lives in Greenwood, that's a tough commute for an 8 a.m. meeting.

But it wasn't the only such green identity mix-up. Talking to another Hoosier recently about my long and winding road home from Mexico via Chicago, he suggested I might have been better off flying into Cincinnati and renting a car to drive to Indianapolis.

Of course, he thought we lived in Greenfield or Greensburg.

Meanwhile, one of wife Ruth's co-workers was trying to convince her of the merits of taking a shortcut to the home office in Batesville, telling her it shouldn't take 2 or 2.5 hours to get there "if you go the back way" around the south side of Indy. Of course, he was giving her directions to Batesville via Greenwood.

So repeat after me and commit this logic to memory:

* Greenfield ... It is the one that can claim James Whitcomb Riley, he of Lil' Orphant Annie and "The Old Swimmin' Hole" fame.

* Greensburg ... This should be simple. It's the one with the tree in the courthouse. Supposedly it is a mulberry tree and has been there since the 1870s.

* Greencastle ... Tell them we are the ones with our own WMD on the courthouse lawn. Home of the Buzz Bomb and DePauw University.

That should be simple enough, right? But people tend to argue with you, and soon it becomes an Abbott and Costello routine.

"Who's the one with the big mall?" someone asks.

"I think it's Greenfield," comes the reply.

No, I interject, that's the home of James Whitcomb Riley.

"No, no," upstages me, "I think that's Greencastle."

No, I interject again, that's the home of DePauw University, although its library possibly houses James Whitcomb Riley's ghost.

"DePaul University?" comes another response. "That's in Chicago. Remember, Coach Meyer was there for years."

Yes, he was at DePauw, too, coached baseball -- as James Whitcomb Riley might say -- for many moons.

"Greenwood, that's the one with the tree in City Hall, isn't it?" my misguided acquaintance asks, proud of himself for keeping up better than Abbott or Costello.

That's Greensburg, and the tree is in the courthouse. But who's counting at this point. I am now exasperated.

"Oh, I know Greencastle," our original questioner insists. "Don't they dye the river or something green there on St. Patrick's Day?"

Yes, yes, that's us, I concede. James Whitcomb Riley comes back to life every St. Paddy's Day, flies over the Big Walnut Creek in the Buzz Bomb, lands in the tree in the courthouse and dyes everything green.

Yes! Yes! Yes! That is us! (I know it isn't but I couldn't take any more).

Like I said, it's not easy being "green." Just saying ...

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