Not a Grocery Store – Day 60

Not a Grocery Store

Day 60 – May 30, 2003 – Friday

The day began in Louisville at the very funky Lynn’s Paradise Cafe. Lynn Winter opened Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in 1991, creating a unique setting, to say the least. Lynn is an artist with an amazing eye and style all her own.

There was a big coffee pot out front that was also a fountain. The parking lot was adorned with concrete wildlife, including a purple buffalo, a lavender crocodile, and a blue bear. The lamps were ugly and the food was great. Nirvana. Lynn’s holds an Ugly Lamp Contest at the Kentucky State fair each year. The restaurant is filled with really ugly lamps…lamps so ugly that they are cool.

Lynn’s has a sign on the door that says “like no place on earth,” and while Lynn’s is wild and crazy and totally enjoyable, Harry and the Natives still ranks #1 for me in the wacky restaurant category.

Next stop was the World’s Largest Baseball Bat and the World’s Largest Baseball Glove. Two World’s Largests in the same place at the same time — doesn’t get much better than this! These were at the Louisville Slugger Factory in downtown Louisville. I am really proud of my photo of the World’s Largest Baseball Bat. I got down on the ground and as close to the bottom of the bat as I could, and I took a photo shooting up. I believe it is one of my very best photos from the entire trip.

You can get a Louisville Slugger bat made with your own name on it. I remember what a huge deal it was every year I played little league baseball when the coach poured out the equipment at the start of each season. It was exciting to look through the Louisville Sluggers to see which players’ names were on the bats we had that year.

I had a wonderful talk at Louisville Slugger with Joann and Jim — two nice folks who now live in Lakeland, Florida but spend 10 months a year on the road in their RV. Their approach is distinctly different from mine. They drive to an area, find an RV Park to serve as home base, and then they thoroughly cover the sights they want to see in each area. I thought that would be wonderful, but you’d sure need a lot of years to see everything.

I visited Churchill Downs, and then I crossed over into Indiana (state #17) and took a very relaxing drive to Indianapolis. I saw a great round barn; toured Story, Gnaw Bone, and Brown County.

I was just cruising when I saw plows on display all over a hillside. The car screeched to a stop. I hooked a U-turn, and when I drove back by, the other side of the hill looked like the place was an old-fashioned gas station. As I drove closer, I saw a big sign that said “Not a Service Station.” Another sign said “Not a Grocery Store.” Another sign said “No vehicles on driveway larger than 1/2 ton.” The sign didn’t say “Keep Out,” so I pulled in. I knocked on the door of the home, and a nice lady came to the door to say “he’s eating,” and then she closed the door. I didn’t know if that meant I was to stay or go, but I stayed.

A while later, a man emerged from the house; it was Mel, the collector. He proceeded to show me his collections of wrenches, plows, gas pumps, and toys. He had been collecting wrenches for 25 years; wrenches were everywhere! He had a number of restored gas pumps, and there were a number of big piles of gas pumps yet to be restored out in the fields surrounding his home. You have to appreciate the spouses of folks like Mel who tolerate the obsessions of collectors. I know I appreciate Bozzie Jane for tolerating my 45 rpm record collection; I managed to amass over half a million records — just what every wife wants to have around the house.

As I drove through Brownstown, Indiana, I noticed the Russell Stover Candies Distribution Center and Factory Outlet. I spent a most enjoyable half hour with the folks at Russell Stover Candies — the employees and several customers. They were my best audience yet for Round America stories. They heard about the Floating Neutrinos, Freddie’s snow cones, and assorted others.

One of the most anticipated stops on today’s itinerary was Mrs. Johnson’s Pies in Ewing, Indiana. There were a relatively small number of must-visit pie places on our itinerary as the plan was to ask the locals where to find the best pies. But Mrs. Johnson’s Pies came to our attention as we did research for the trip many months ago. The “pie shop” is located in Ewing Antiques in Ewing, Indiana. I found the antique store, parked, and walked in anticipating some really great pie. I was so disappointed when the antique lady told me they were already sold out of pies for the day. I kept hoping Mr. Johnson would magically appear with some pie right out of the oven, but the pie lady apparently makes these in her home and delivers them to the antique store each day. I tried to get the pie lady’s address or phone number, but no cigar.

When I reached the one stop sign in the tiny little spot on the map that is Story, Indiana, I glanced to my left and saw a very interesting-looking old general store. I turned in that direction to find The Story Inn, a converted general store. I met some of the weekend guests and some of the staff. I heard some really interesting stories, but as I sat down to write this, my mind was a total blank. I can’t locate a tape for this day, and I have been unable to find a single handwritten note. It didn’t help that the Marriott Indianapolis phone system kept me from getting Internet access, so I was unable to write my report while it was fresh on my mind.

First Story, and then Gnaw Bone. Indiana definitely has some of the funniest town names! I spent some time walking around Brown County, Indiana — packed with tourists. I stopped in the Brown County Indiana Visitor’s Information Office, and I spoke with a sweet young lady, but she didn’t seem to know much at all about the area…but she was very sweet.

I ended the day in Indianapolis with dinner at Union Jack — a great pizza place that I enjoyed 17 years ago. I had dreamed about this pizza for years — deep dish pizza just packed with goodies. It was okay — not nearly as good as I remembered it. While eating, a young woman came up to my table to give me a sample of some new chewing gum. Her name was Theresa, and she was dressed in a blue fluorescent Spandex outfit. She did Spandex proud.

I topped off the evening with a visit to Atlas Supermarket where David Letterman bagged groceries as a teenager while attending Broad Ripple High School. Atlas Supermarket opened in 1947 and closed on May 11, 2002 following a labor dispute with a meat cutter’s union. The store had a special relationship with its customers and the community and featured hard-to-find items. How sad that a union dispute ended a business that was such an important part of the area.  Not a grocery store anymore.

I stayed at the Marriott Indianapolis. There was some type of group staying there (possibly the meat cutters union), and they partied all night long. There was yelling, screaming, doors slamming…. I hardly got any sleep. I called the front desk several times during the night. The hotel was full, and there was no room for me to move to. The noise stopped just an hour or two before my alarm sounded. Very frustrating end to the day!

My thought for the day is that the shortest pencil in the world is better than the longest memory. That has always been one of the philosophies that I have preached in training employees. At some point in my life, I decided my brain must be full, because I just no longer had the great memory that I had when I was younger. Only the really important stuff stuck, because I figured it had to push something less important out of my brain. I have always been a list person and a note-taker, but it became even more important to me. My notes and lists have always given me an “amazing memory.” I don’t know how I managed to lose that memory today. That was as frustrating to me as the rude, rowdy people at the hotel.

The Daily Journal of Round America:

Each day, we collect our thoughts on a web page just like this. We drop in some of the photos from the day. Our goal with the Daily Journal is to write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat. We write about where we are, where we’ve been, and where we are going, but we also make observations about what we’ve seen and done as well as about life in general.

You can follow our travels from the Daily Journal section of this website. Other pages of interest include the running report of “vital statistics” on the Trip Scorecard, our nominations for the Best & Worst of the trip, as well as a rating of the pie we eat. If you’d like to see information for a specific state or town, click here, and then click on the state of interest, and the full itinerary is shown.


More Information on the Sights Visited Today:
Lynn’s Paradise Cafe — Louisville Slugger Museum — Churchill Downs — Mrs. Johnson’s Pies — Story Indiana — Gnaw Bone Indiana — Brown County Indiana — Atlas Supermarket