I stepped back in time last week when I visited the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum in Dana.
There are two segments to the tour at the museum. There is this fine old house where Ernie spent a lot of time growing up. He was like many young boys of farm families — a “hand” for his father. A job he did not want very much.
But inside the various rooms was a flashback for me because it reminded me of my grandparents’ farm. The wood stoves, the way the table was set, a huge feather bed, and other furniture items that certainly made me glad I am living in this age. (As a small boy I used to run and jump on my grandmother’s bed and literally be swallowed by the big feather mattress.
I learned that Ernie’s childhood nickname was “Shag” because he had a shaggy mop of red hair and was, of course, easily identified by it. World War I was waging and Ernie joined the Naval Reserve and took training as a sailor. The war would end, the training would stop, and Shag Pyle was released.
Not wanting to be a farmer, he entered Indiana University and studied journalism because it didn’t require extra mathematical skills or studies. Of course, you know Ernie took to writing like a duck takes to water. He got a job at a newspaper in the northern part of the state and left school to earn money.
There’s no doubt about it … he had a knack for meeting rather ordinary people and creating unusual and interesting stories about them. He joined the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain and became a traveling correspondent.
Two, huge Quonset huts tell Ernie’s story in World War II. He was the only (I believe this to be true) embedded correspondent that stayed with a particular unit, took cover when being shot at, slept in the foxholes, suffered from the rain and cold and, in the summer, the heat. But he wrote about the simple soldier who was there to do a job and did it better than anyone else. There are three visual presentations where you get to see what Ernie saw. You get to hear the artillery and see the terrible war we call World War II.
Ernie was gone when I discovered his writings. The book I read was “Here is Your War.” It was about the American GIs in the North African campaign and the battles that brought the Afrika Corp to its surrender.
A visit to the museum is one of the best ways to study World War II without having your nose stuck in a book. It is truly time well spent. My thanks to Joanie Rumple for being an excellent tour guide.
I topped off my stay in Dana with a visit to Brooke’s Candy Co., just one and a half blocks up the street from the museum. I was a popular guy for bringing some of Brooke’s candy home. (Brooke’s Candy was featured on the front page of this newspaper a few weeks ago.)
Like Ernie Pyle, who was a product of farm and small-town Indiana, Brooke’s Candy Co. shows you don’t have to be in a huge city to be successful.
Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on Tribstar.com, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.
I stepped back in time last week when I visited the Ernie Pyle World War II Museum in Dana.
- Opinion Columns
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ERIC SCHANSBERG: The 1040 tax form turns 100
The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution brought us the federal income tax in 1913. A year later, the 1040 tax form was born.
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I watched a TV show recently and the subject was global warming.
RONN MOTT: Bits & Pieces
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I guess I’m going to have to change my mind about the “One and Done” rule. It would seem the future professionals wearing university uniforms — national runner-up Kentucky is an example — has proven me a fool. Why should I care about the education they are getting, or not getting?
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While many little girls daydream about the dream man they hope to find, it seems to me that they concentrate on all the wrong things. I can’t discount the appeal of beauty, brains and virtue, but my dream man was one who was not dedicated to fishing.
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It is better to imagine an ocean as peaceful and calm. The problem is, an ocean is very rarely, ever that way. I remember when a writer took his wife and family from New York to England in his sailboat. And later, his wife commented there was never a time she could have something cooking on the stove without the food spilling out.
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I have always been a person who respects education. Education doesn’t always come to you in the orderly process of school and classroom. Sometimes, it finds you in work-a-day situations.
LIZ CIANCONE: Words can take us on memorable excursions
When The Tribune-Star recently asked the reading public to name “the best” in dozens of categories, I didn’t hesitate in naming Mike Lunsford as my favorite columnist.
MARK BENNETT: Volunteers’ cleanup efforts key to river’s future role in community
People throw all kinds of garbage into and along the Wabash River, aiming to make their used-up stuff disappear from their lives.
RONN MOTT: Even NCAA floors pure Americana
I noticed during the NCAA Tournament games I have been watching that all of them have identical basketball floors, regardless of where the game was played.
RONN MOTT: Guns and Schools
I guess I just don’t get it. Perhaps I’m not smart enough. Those who don’t agree with me very often probably think that is the problem — me not being smart.
The idea that children will be safer if you have a gun in your car in the school parking lot, or somewhere on school grounds, leaves me with the traditional “Duh!” I don’t wish to poke fun at those honest citizens who “pack” and hope they will be able to do something good in the way of helping family or neighbors in the event of a crisis, but often in those situations innocent people get shot.
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Not too many days ago, I heard a reporter refer to Flight 370 as an accident. It wasn’t an accident … it was, most likely, murder. If this aircraft went down in the Indian Ocean, we will be extremely fortunate to find the remains of the plane and any of the people on it.
LIZ CIANCONE: Memories stir desire to collect new ones
I was talking with a friend the other day, a much younger friend. Somehow the conversation turned to early memories. One of her earliest memories had to do with 9/11 and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center towers.
MARK BENNETT: Dues Paid, change under way
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RONN MOTT: Catching up on the here and now
Oh my, write down the date, underline it, and say, “The guesswork in Ronn’s column the other day was wrong!”
RONN MOTT: The Russian Bear
As I’m writing this, the official word from the Crimean election is not yet in. It doesn’t have to be … Putin would not have an election for the Crimea to ask itself out of the Ukraine back into Russia because he does not want to be embarrassed.
RONN MOTT: Thank you, NCAA
The MEAC, the MAAC and the MAC. Do you know? And how much do you know mixed with how much do you care? Now we know the MAC, they’re practically home boys. That’s Northern Illinois, Ball State and a handful of teams in Ohio. But you get reacquainted with some of these schools because of the NCAA Tournament.
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I received a letter the other day from a Yorkville High School classmate. It wasn’t snail mail, it was written in cursive writing and although it required more than the 3-cent stamp of my youth, it found our mailbox within a couple of days of posting.
KIEL MAJEWSKI: Sexual violence demands the world’s action
I have a lot to learn in life, but I am convinced of this: The day men share power equally with women is the day we will see true peace in this world. The day women and girls are valued as much as men and boys, and are treated with the same respect as their male counterparts, is the day we will finally see healthy societies.
MARK BENNETT: All aboard!
Find me a George Mason University basketball T-shirt in Indiana.
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Hoosiers, this time of the year, turn their minds and emotions to the grand old game of “hoops.”
RONN MOTT: Ukraine 2
The situation in the Ukraine should let us know plainly, and openly, the old saying about a leopard never changing its spots is true. Vladimir Putin is a KGB officer, grew up a communist and, from all appearances, still believes like a communist.
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