With apologies to Dr. Seuss: Oh, the places they come from

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It never ceases to amaze me how often I find myself taking photos at a major local event, and when it comes time to ask my subject for their name and address, I find myself chatting with a man, woman or child from somewhere beyond the friendly confines of Putnam County.

At the pancake breakfast on the Fourth of July, for example, the sausage hounds in my photo weren't from Fillmore or Bainbridge, but visiting from Ohio.

On a sweltering day at the Putnam County Fair last month, I snapped a cute kid trying to get up close but impersonal with a couple of goats. Hometown Cloverdale? Greencastle? Nope. Not Aruba or Jamaica either. But Kokomo.

Honestly, I usually just shrug and chalk up such circumstances basically to my own bad luck.

But then came Saturday when I spent most of my day on the square, enjoying the free music of the Greencastle Music Festival (thanks, Gail Smith, York Automotive, Headley Hardware and others) and chatting off and on with former Chicago Cubs closer Lee Smith, who was a special guest for the event.

Certainly I realized the music festival would draw from beyond Greencastle. After all, our friends from Plainfield, who have enjoyed the Terre Haute rock band Ellusion at The Swizzle Stick in the past, had ventured over for the evening.

But they weren't alone.

As the Phillip Steven Open Road Band was playing mid-afternoon, I sat on the concrete wall at the base of the courthouse lawn on the north side. After exchanging pleasantries with Ken Carrington, Tammy Hunter, Doris Miller, Allen Gilbert and others, I noticed a group of fortysomethings had seated themselves to my left.

There was a break in the music, and emcee David Hunt was telling the crowd about Lee Smith and the availability of autographs from the former major league career saves leader.

"So I take it Lee Smith is from here," the woman immediately to my left remarks in my direction.

"No, actually he's from Louisiana," I tell her, assuming she's a local woman with limited if any baseball trivia knowledge.

Immediately I expound on the story, relating how Gail Smith had become acquainted with Lee Smith during her annual pilgrimages to Chicago for the Cubs Convention. As I continue with a couple more unnecessary details, the woman interrupts me with a bewildered: "Who's Gail?"

Automatically, I want to say, "You're not from around here, are you?" But I bite my tongue.

Instead, she begins to offer the story of how she and her three friends had been up to Crawfordsville for the Taste of Montgomery County event, but said they found only the sangria remotely interesting. Two in the group were from Solsberry in Greene County, another from the heart of Bloomington and our talkative new friend quick to point out that she lives at The Pointe on Lake Monroe.

Driving past the courthouse square, they had stopped after hearing the music and seeing the crowd. And the last time I saw them, they were dancing up a storm six hours later as The Flying Toasters pushed the boundaries of the 11 p.m. noise waiver curfew on the square.

So I find it interesting and exciting that our major local events seem to make us a destination of sorts for fellow Hoosiers around us.

Meanwhile, a Kodak moment is unfolding behind me as four friends in various Cubs' gear are getting Smith's (that's Lee's, not Gail's) autograph and posing for a photo with the big man.

I shoot a couple photos over the shoulder of their female photographer, catching Smith between two grown men in Cubs' jerseys and caps. After dutifully getting their names, I ask where they're from.

"Indianapolis" comes the quick reply.

"Where are you from?" one of them asks in turn.

Me? ... Uh ... sorry, I'm obviously not from around here ...