Driving to visit one of the recipients for this year's Master Farmer class, I discovered a piece of history that signifies the type of history that still dots the Indiana countryside. Many buildings could tell tremendous stories if they could talk of a time that was far different, but that laid the groundwork for the Indiana agriculture scene we have today.
Since we have a policy of not releasing names of the winners of the Master Farmer award early, I'll omit some names in this tale, but it's worth telling. The Master Farmers will be recognized on Tuesday, June 20, during the evening program of the Indiana Farm Management Tour, to be held in Marshall County in and around Plymouth. The Master Farmer program is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
As I turned off the main highway to make this visit, I noticed an old brick building on the corner that was obviously stately in its day, but which was no longer used. It isn't preserved, but yet it's still in preservable condition, or so it appears. My mind imagined an old brick schoolhouse, the kind with old style desks, a pot belly stove in the back, and an old chalkboard upfront. There are still some around, although many have given way to the elements over time, or been converted to other uses. A few have been preserved and moved to sites where current and future generations can get a glimpse of what education in rural Indiana used to be like.
In this case, as it turns out, I guessed wrong. The farmer's grandmother operated a country store out of there until the mid-1950's. His grandfather ran the old wooden grain and feed elevator across the intersection from the store. It's long gone. But the farmer assured me that if we could have gotten inside the old brick building, the sliding shelves with a ladder attached and all the fixtures are still there. There once was an old-fashioned gas pump that collected gas in the top bulb that sells for thousands today if restored as an antique, in front of the store.Times changed and when the store was no longer profitable, they simply took out the perishable goods, and locked the door, the farmer says. It's a piece of history that is truly 100% Hoosier. No sign tells about it. You have to know someone that knows. Someday those someone's will be gone. Let's hope their knowledge gets preserved before that happens.