News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 21, 2011

ANDY AMEY: Between the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & a hard place

Andy Amey
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Just in case any of you noticed — with some anticipation — the recent lack of my bylines, I can tell you that your wish (and mine) did come true. It was vacation week for the Amey family.

Budgetary issues were actually going to keep us close to home this time, but you know us better than that. Jenny happened to mention that I hadn’t seen the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yet, so we were off to four days in Cleveland.

We wound up staying right downtown, which was a good way to learn about the city’s nooks and crannies — and there are a lot of those, including what Clevelanders call the Arcade. That’s a little walkway connecting Prospect and Euclid Avenues that included a barber shop, a couple of jewelry stores, at least two more buy-your-gold storefronts, a private gym and at least three places to eat, including the Indian lunch counter where I bought the Plain Dealer every day — all more or less within our hotel.

Unfortunately, I didn’t learn what the Arcade meant until our second day there — after I messed up the directions about how to get to the trolleys that would take us to the Hall of Fame. So we walked way more than necessary to begin a trip that was going to include a lot of walking around, and when we (I?) panicked and got on the wrong trolley, we also saw plenty more of Cleveland than we were expecting.

The trolleys — actually they are free buses — were great, however (unless you ask Darcy) and the drivers even greater. They are called “Trolley Ambassadors” according to the sign at the front of each vehicle, and that proved to be true.

The Hall of Fame itself is everything good that you’ve heard about it. Just going to the restroom involved passing a series of pictures from past induction ceremonies that could have occupied me for at least a half hour, and right next to those was a case that included several Jerry Garcia guitars.

You’ve probably also heard that you can’t do justice to it in one visit, and that also appears to be true. We did a lot of looking last week; on our next trip, we’ll probably do a little more listening.

The highlight for me, besides the Garcia guitars, was probably Roy Orbison’s high school yearbook picture. I never considered one of my favorite voices to be a particularly handsome fellow anyway, but he actually improved as he got older. John Mellencamp’s Seymour High School FFA jacket was a treat, too.

I was a little concerned that Darcy and JoJo would be bored as I stumbled along saying “Look at that!” but the visit may have created the opposite problem. When we visited the gift shop on the way out — Darcy’s rule is that she’ll go anywhere with a gift shop — the girls each bought CDs instead of trinkets (Justin Bieber and Metallica; I’ll let you guess who bought which), and before the trip was over they’d wheedled their way into portable CD players as well.

Being right downtown, however — we were about three blocks from Progressive Field and across the street from the parking lot for Quicken Loans Arena — made it easy to find food, however, even after our late-night arrival, because a nice little restaurant row was less than a block away.

Our first night was Harry Buffalo, where I had a burger, JoJo some Buffalo wings and Darcy some ribs. JoJo said this was her favorite bar so far, in case you’re still trying to figure out who bought Metallica. The pita nachos were pretty good.

The next night we weren’t quite as enamored with Flannery’s Irish Pub. Jenny didn’t like her meatloaf — my pork loin with capers was OK — and the fact that colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes) includes turnips made for an interesting surprise.

Saturday night, even with the Indians playing and John Legend and Sade appearing at the Q, we were somehow able to get a table at House of Blues for our best meal of the trip: salmon on jambalaya risotto for me, shrimp for Jenny (who ordered it, I think, for the cheese grits on the side). Darcy, after a one-night respite, had ribs.

The girls and I had spent a busy day on Saturday, visiting i.m. Sweetie — billed as the world’s largest candy store — early in the day and finishing up at Tower City Center, an indoor mall like Circle City only quite a bit larger.

The candy store — about the size of a mall anchor store — was a dangerous combination of nostalgia and experimentation for me, and I didn’t have a whole lot of success limiting the girls either. JoJo and I also participated in a Jelly Belly challenge — Darcy chickened out — in which the candy I received could have been either strawberry jam or centipede, and the one JoJo got was either cotton candy or baby wipes. The insect was a little peppery, although JoJo did say hers was the best baby wipe she’d ever tasted.

Also learned it’s hard to keep chocolate when traveling with three females.

And Sunday afternoon, on our last full day, we walked to Progressive Field to see the Indians play Toronto. Got great seats — foul balls came to the sections on either side of us though — but I was disappointed by a scorecard with no rosters listed on it (I’m hoping this is an Indians thing, but worry it might be a trend). A great scoreboard helped make up for the lack of names, but I have a serious bone to pick with Channel 10’s Rick Semmler about one of the aftermaths of the game.

Later we had our final dinner at Corner Alley, a combination restaurant/bowling alley/pool hall. Darcy liked the ribs.

Our hotel didn’t have a pool, but it had pool — JoJo and I played three nights, Darcy once — plus great personnel and a free breakfast every morning. It had a machine that enabled even me to make perfect waffles, so you know it’s the stuff of genius. I still haven’t gotten the flash of insight to remember which pro football lineman was staying there (probably for Sade) a couple of days, however.

World Cup note — I couldn’t be disappointed about Japan’s victory Sunday, even though I thought the U.S. women played an outstanding game (with the exception of being able to put the ball in the goal).

Turns out I’d previously written about Lauren Cheney, one of our offensive threats, when she was playing at Ben Davis a few years ago, and Lori Lindsey — I didn’t see her play in the two games I watched last week — is a Pike graduate.

Andy Amey can be reached after 4 p.m. at (812) 231-4277 or 1-800-783-8742; by e-mail at andy.amey@tribstar.com; by mail at P.O. Box 149, Terre Haute, IN, 47808; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.