August 28, 2010

OffBeat Indiana

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.
Because 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.
 Lake 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.
The 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:
Alexandria, Indiana – 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 PAINT

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.