August 28, 2010
Every state is home to some strange oddities; giant ball of
string, giant rubber band, monument to high water levels, and
the Polka Hall of Fame. Indiana is no different. I thought it
would be fun to travel around the state to visit a few of the
odd, the interesting and, yes, the bizarre. These are but a few.
To search out these and others go to:
and do a search for the state of interest.
Muncie, Indiana – 5151 E. Memorial Drive is the National
Model Aviation Museum.
The National Model Aviation Museum sits on the large site and
flying field of the AMA (Academy of Model Aeronautics). Inside
the museum they have constructed an absolutely mind blowing
replica of a 1950's hobby shop, including its front exterior
facade. This is a way for the museum to show their collection of
rare, unbuilt model kits. It is quite easy to get lost in this
place just looking at all the old box art and types of models
produced, there is even an ancient telephone on the wall as a
well as a store clerk mannequin to set the tone.
this is a flying model museum, it highlights only the wood kits
and paints produced in the early years of the hobby and so does
not show the enormously popular plastic kits, ships, cars or
trains of the era. The rest of the museum is full of vintage
large scale models and a collection of old gas engines.
Village (or Roselawn), Indiana - 3449 East State Road #10 –
Giant Ladies’ Leg Sundial
The Sun Aura resort
(clothing optional) has been open in Northwest Indiana since
1933. It is a fully functioning sundial, which is most
useful for the wristwatchless nudists at the resort. You don’t
have to get naked to enter and take a picture of the sundial.
OK, I doubt that many of you will drive by this one, but it is
certainly qualifies as “offbeat”.
Oolitic, Indiana –
Main Street – Joe Palooka Stature
I had to look up the location of this city as I had never heard
of it! It is about three miles from Bedford, IN, south and west
of Brown County State Park.
Joe Palooka was the most
successful sports comic strip ever, its title character a dumb
but good-hearted boxer. The strip was at its peak of popularity
when the Indiana limestone industry decided to identify itself
with Joe by carving him into a limestone statue. 4,500 people
came to the statue's dedication in Bedford in 1948, including
"Ham" Fisher, the strip's creator, who otherwise had nothing to
do with it.
After its unveiling, the statue became a
favorite target of vandals, probably the rough and tumble kids
of the local stonecutters. To escape his tormenters Joe Palooka
was moved to a local park, then to a local limestone mill, then
to another park, and finally in 1984 -- the same year that the
comic strip was cancelled -- Joe Palooka was given to Oolitic.
statue, 10 feet high and 20,000 pounds, still stands on
Oolitic's Main Street. Clad in boxer trunks and gym shoes, Joe
is captured at the moment that he sheds his fight robe, sporting
a confident grin above his lantern jaw. A cowlick of sandy hair
hangs over his forehead. These details, however, are overwhelmed
by the statue's most noticeable features: Joe's blank zombie
eyeholes and his cadaverous ribs, which makes him look like one
of those corpse effigies carved during the Black Death.
Jeffersonville, Indiana – Dutch Lane between the lumber yard
and the railroad tracks – The Hubcap Lady
Built as a
tribute to the virtues of womanhood (oddly wedged in between a
lumber yard and railroad tracks and across from the sewage
treatment plant). It is two statues standing close together and
a sign with a poem. The statues are made of various pieces of
scrap metal (hubcaps playing a major role) and is about 20 feet
tall. It is a very impressive and moving piece, regardless of
its odd choice of placement.
The scale behind her shows two
sides. One side balances a rock that says "Commitments" and
under it, a pyramid that says "Always Too Much." The other side
balances a rock that says "Love" and under it, a pyramid that
says "Never Enough
Muncie, Indiana - 2770 W Kilgore
Ave, Muncie, IN – Paul Bunyan Statue
The Paul Bunyan
statue now standing outside of the Timbers Lounge dates from the
mid-1960s, when it was created to advertise Kirby Wood Lumber
Co. An old post card shows the Bunyan originally standing at the
corner of Liberty Street and Hoyt Avenue.
In the 90’s he was
dressed in red, held a Christmas tree in one hand and the axe
covered by a bag of toys.
And my personal favorite:
– I-69, Exit 45, Hwy 28 – West to Alexandria and Intersection of
Hwy 9 2 miles, left on SW 200S – 1-1/4 mile – House on left
#10696 on mailbox. Call for appt: 765 724 4088. – GIANT BALL OF
33 years ago, Mike Carmichael of
Alexandria, Indiana, started with a baseball. Then he added some
paint. And more paint. And even more paint. Now, all those years
later, he’s up to more than 22,000 layers of paint on this ball.
Weighing in at about a ton and a half, the World’s Largest Ball
of Paint has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. If
you’re ever in Alexandria, Indiana, look Mike up and add another
layer of paint to hi famous ball.
There are other offbeat,
interesting, haunted and downright strange places to visit in
Indiana. Let us know if you have visited any of them.