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January 16, 2009

Thumbing through a real history book

TERRE HAUTE — My wife and I invest a bit of our time on the occasional Saturday wandering through antique stores and junk shops. We do more picking up and putting down than shelling out and loading up, but I was convinced that I couldn’t have made a better investment last fall when I laid down $7.00 for a history book; at least it’s a history book to me.

It’s a “J.C. Higgins Official College Basket Ball Score Book,” a 5”x8” glance at the past made expressively by Sears and Roebuck & Co. of Chicago, and it was purchased and used for the 1924-25 high school basketball season by tiny Judyville High School.

I kept a scorebook for two local schools years ago, and I enjoyed my time at the scorer’s table. It’s the best seat in the house, and there’s a sense of accomplishment that comes from keeping an accurate and orderly scorebook or getting a thumbs-up from two appreciative game officials or a slap on the back from a coach who is happier with your neat columns of 2’s and completely filled 0’s than he is with his team. Judyville’s coach was, in all probability, more pleased with his scorekeeper, one Francis Regan, than his team in the winter of ’24-’25. His squad, most likely called “cagers” since they weren’t too far removed from the era when a wire cage occasionally enclosed the playing floor, went just 2-5, and one of those victories came by forfeit.

Like so many whistlestops from the glory days of Indiana small towns, Judyville still exists today, but more in theory than reality. Tucked away in Warren County’s Liberty Township, the burg actually grew because founder John Finney Judy (originally spelled Tschudi) owned a prosperous farm. Founded in 1903, the town eventually had its own telephone company and, according to an Internet encyclopedia entry, actually minted a “local form of currency known as ‘Judy Money,’” which was accepted throughout the county. Judyville grew as it gained both a trunk line of the old Eastern Illinois Railroad and a post office.

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Sidelines
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