Even though we were disappointed and didn't get a White Christmas, we certainly had a silver landscape. Not apparent on the ground, is the fine covering of snow which has filtered through the grass and weeds, hugging fence rows and plastered to road banks over northern and central Indiana.
Sunday morning Jack Mowrey and I took off from Warsaw on a journey west and south, which was to take us to Lafayette, Indianapolis and return--just for the fun of it.
Immediately after taking to the air, it became apparent that winter was at work. The day was clear and the air was as smooth as velvet as we headed south by west for Lafayette. lakes were covered by a think sheet of ice and rivers had suffered a quick-freeze as temperatures dropped. They were frozen while the waters were muddy from the last snow-thaw and had the murky, swirling appearance of solidified root beer. Wouldn't the kids enjoy a real river like that?
Temperatures dropping swiftly in some night just past had caught the river waters as they swirled and gurgled, preserving in crystal even the tiny whirlpools found on each curve and above each sunken log.
We traveled southwest across open Indiana countryside for the first 30 minutes or so, striking the Wabash river at Logansport. The fields had the appearance of satin-finished silver. They weren't white like real snow, but they were not bleak and black like winter, either--but rather were mellowed by the skiff of frozen powder which seemed to cling to everything. Sort of like the silver Christmas trees they sell today.
You know, our Tippecanoe river meanders far northward on its lazy path to the Wabash, and it's only just this side of Lafayette that the Tippecanoe once more comes into view and empties into the larger stream.
That junction, as we fly over it, brought back historic memories. For just south of the junction of these two rivers--on the banks of the Wabash, if you please--lies the hamlet of BattleGround, Indiana. It's named that because it was on those now peaceful acres that General William Henry Harrison cornered the last great war-like tribe of Indians and soundly defeated them in battle. He opposed Prophet, brother of the great chief, Tecumseh. Ground which was once blood soaked as the white man marched stolidly over his copper skinned predecessors, is now a peaceful ground. Only a monument now marks the spot which in 1811 spelled final defeat for the Indian in Indiana.
Just a few miles on downstream, the university city of Lafayette came into view. And its beginnings go back to a French fort called Ouiatenon, which was established about four miles south and west of the present town. At that time in the old location, it was just a blockhouse used by early pioneering French to protect themselves against the roving bands of red-skins.
Lafayette proper was founded in the year 1825 after peace had come to the Wabash valley. The great French revolutionary hero, Lafayette, made a tremendous impression upon the infant nation--so townsmen named their village after him. And lafayette it has been to this day.
Today it houses, among other things, Purdue university, a bright light in education, and the St. Francis college for women is there.
We landed at the university airport. There are three at Lafayette--two private fields and the school field. We had visions of hot coffee and the trimmings when we arrived but in circling the airport it seemed strangely deserted for such a normal busy place.
And sure enough, though we tried every door in the big buildings alongside the field, they were all locked. We finally found a sign which read: "Closed for the holidays."
Not to be cheated out of our coffee, we decided then to buzz 65 miles southeast to Indianapolis, and hit the Sky Harbor lunch room for a snack.
Indianapolis, though I have a great deal of pride in our state is a dirty city. Smoke pours in unlimited quantities from its stacks and pollutes the air so badly that even on an otherwise clear day, visibility is lousy over the town.
We broke through the stuff, known to airmen as "smog," on the far side of town, out towards Fort Harrison. In fact we could see the orderly and soldier-like rows of buildings at the fort as we circled Sky Harbor. That place is just about what it sounds like--a real sky harbor. Here we warmed up with coffee and light lunch.
Eventually we started back for Warsaw, riding a wonderful tail wind from the south. And how we scooted over Indiana, at around 110 to 120 m.p.h. Our little trainer just flew!
In just a few minutes, Noblesville went by then Tipton became visible on our left, while the home of Wendel Wilkie--Elwood--was under the right wing. The giant white runways of Kokomo municipal airport marked our passage half-way home and the city in which Elwood Haynes invented on of the nation's first automobiles was a dark spot beyond. Kokomo is proud of the fact that Haynes invented this car in 1893 and Elmer Apperson actually built it and made the first successful run in it in 1894. That's not so long ago, is it?
Northward we droned steadily, eating up the miles, crossing Amboy, Converse, North Grove and Santa Fe to the Mississinewa river. And that is certainly a point of interest that I stare at long and hard whenever I'm fortunate enough to fly that way.
As the river winds its way across north central Indiana, you can see an interesting highway following along beside it. This is the Francis Slocum Trail from Wabash to Marion. Someday I';m going to drive it in a car. It follows the winding river through another colorful spot, the village of Somerset, the subject of James Whitcomb Riley's poem, "Mongst the Hills of Somerset."
You know, Francis Slocum was a white child, who was stolen from the home of her parents in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in 1778 by a wandering tribe of Delaware Indians. She was five years old at the time and what a journey she must have had with the tribe crossing hills, mountains and plains, living in tepees and learning their customs. She stayed with the Indians and settled on the present site of Peru. Her brothers found her there in the year 1837, but she refused to go home with them. Her home was on the banks of the Wabash where she had married a powerful chief of the Miami Indians, and had taken the Indian name of Maconaqua, meaning Bear-women.
Francis Slocum--a colorful and historical life finished-- died there in the year 1847, and was buried in what is known as Bundy Cemetery. Her Indian Chief husband is beside her--and his name is also interesting, Shepoconah, or "Deafman."
We crossed the Wabash at Rich Valley and checked our position by the tall grist mill to our right and the flooded, square stone quarry on our left. Many is the time I've flown over the young people's camp at McClure lake, just as we did Sunday, to then pick up the glistening lakes of Warsaw and know that another aerial trip was over. And over Indiana, it's the best there is, anywhere.
Warsaw Times Union Dec. 28, 1948