Southern Indiana Living JulAug 2012




July/August 2012

outhern I ndIana

Te BEST of Southern Indiana

top 10



for summer

Bob Hill’s

Plants, art &


Speedy Old


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racer roger brown

Louis Le Français

brings FRANCE to

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in THIS issue

July/August 2012

Top 10 Summer Outdoor

Destinations • 6





PUBLISHER | Karen Hanger

EDITOR | Sam C. Bowles



Kimberly Hanger

DISTRIBUTION | Jim Hamilton,

Chase Scott, Summer Whelan


Lee Cable, Michelle Hockman,

Kathy Melvin,



pictured: Hemlock Cliffs in

Hoosier National Forest


A little about us • 10

Meet the staff of SIL!

Bon Appétit • 14

Louis Le Français brings

France to Southern Indiana

Plants, art and whimsy • 18

Bob Hill’s hobby “run amuck”

Would you like some

monosaccharides with that? • 26

Local teen wows science community



Speedy Old Geezer • 30

Roger Brown is not slowing down

A Step Back • 36

A labor of love

The John Hay Center • 40

Briefs • 8

Flashback Photo • 42

Everyday Adventures and Chicks in the Kitchen

will return in the fall issue of SIL!

Contact Us

SIL Magazine

P.O. Box 145

Marengo, IN 47140



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Ind. 47140. Any views expressed in any advertisement,

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are those of the author and do not necessarily

reflect the position of Southern Indiana Living

or its parent company. Copyright © 2012 SIL

Publishing Co. LLC. No part of this publication

may be reproduced in any form without written

permission from SIL Publishing Co. LLC.

July/August 2012 • 4


Michelle actively teaches others to reach their personal fitness

goals. When a serious back injury threatened to keep her

from training, she turned to the world-renowned experts at

Norton Leatherman Spine Center. They helped her get back in

the gym – and back to what matters. If you suffer from a serious

neck or back injury, call the experts at Norton Leatherman

Spine Center.


CALL (888) 4-U-NORTON Or




Restoring lives. • 5


Story // Abby Laub

1. Delaney Creek Park

The lake at Delaney Creek Park in Salem is your summer swimming

destination, with a deep end that includes two diving boards and a diving

platform. The lake is monitored by lifeguards and the park includes

a cafe and concessions close to the beach. The remote, tree-lined location

is a quaint way to cool off this summer, and the park has many other

outdoor activities., 812-883-5101

2. O’Bannon Woods State Park

Indiana’s newest state park will please history and outdoor enthusiasts

alike. Consisting of 3,000 mostly-wooded acres surrounded by

Harrison-Crawford State Forest, O’Bannon Woods borders the Ohio and

Blue Rivers. Enjoy hiking, fishing, boating, hunting, naturalist services,

picnicking and more.

O’Bannon Woods was the location of one of the few African-American

Civilian Conservation Corps units. The O’Bannon Woods Nature Center

and Farmstead has a uniquely restored, working haypress barn, complete

with oxen for power and a mid-19th century pioneer farmstead., 812-738-8232

Southern Indiana has plenty of places to

go for a swim this summer

3. Patoka Lake

Your ultimate summer cool-off destination, Patoka Lake will appease

the daredevils and loungers alike — offering everything from houseboating

to wakeboarding to fishing. You really don’t want to miss it this

summer!, 812-685-2464

May/June July/August 2012 2012 • 6• 6

top 10 Outdoor summer


Tired of the same old summer hangouts? Get off the

couch and enjoy Southern Indiana’s outdoor attractions

that will make this season one to remember!

4. Veteran’s Trail at Lake Salinda

The brand new Veteran’s Trail at Lake Salinda in Salem was

dedicated in May and includes two trails — a paved walkway

and a primitive trail. Hikers can enjoy the lake, bird watching,

hiking, picnic areas and a fielded area for frisbee or other activities

all while honoring the military with commemorative plaques

on picnic tables throughout. The excavated primitive trail is .65

miles behind the lake, and the paved road trail is .8 miles with

lake views. The trails also can be combined into one longer walk., 812-883-4265

5. Hoosier National Forest

With 200,000 acres and truly something for everyone, the

Hoosier National Forest leaves plenty to explore for the entire

summer. Pack a cooler and head out for a weekend of camping,

hiking, biking, boating, swimming, sightseeing, wildlife spotting

and geology explorations.

Included in the forest is the Hemlock Cliffs Trail, a 1.2-mile

trail that leads you into the canyon under a lush canopy of large

trees, through rock shelters and past high seasonal waterfalls., 866-302-4173

7. Buffalo Trace Park

Add some disc golf, sand volleyball and tennis to your summer

fun at Buffalo Trace Park near Palmyra. The park packs a lot

of punch into 147 acres, including a swimming area, canoe and

paddle boat rentals, fishing, a walking trail, petting zoo, picnic

pavilions, horseshoe pits and more. Call it a fun summer day!, 812-364-6112

8. Sycamore Springs Park

One day will not be enough time to explore all 250 acres of

this privately owned farm, so plan to spend the night in one of

the primitive or RV lots. The property includes abundant wildlife

spotting opportunities, playgrounds, fishing, ponds, cliffs,

bluffs, lazy river rafting and much more., 812-338-3846

9. Letty Walter Park

Sports enthusiasts will not be disappointed with this park

along Little Indian Creek in Floyds Knobs. Contained in just 35

acres are basketball courts, football and soccer fields, horseshoe

pits, baseball field, tennis courts, sand volleyball court and a

playground., 812-948-5360

6. Blue River Valley Farm

Need a getaway from modern life this summer? Visit Blue

River Valley Farm in Milltown for an agricultural weekend stay

at the 120-acre farm’s renovated farmhouse while exploring all

aspects of farm life with your family. Bordering Blue River, the

farm has all kinds of farm animals to interact with and observe,

you pick produce, nature trails, river swimming, and a 5,000

square foot garden. The farm is a close drive to Marengo Cave,

wineries and Cave Country Canoes., 812-633-7871

10. Springs Valley Trail

With 12.7 miles of hiking, horseback riding and mountain

biking, the Springs Valley Trail circles and offers scenic views

of Springs Valley Lake. There also is a campground available.

Horse riders and mountain bikers must have a trail permit., 812-547-7051 • 7


History Comes Alive

Bicentennial style show/luncheon offers stories, fashions of the past

New Albany’s rich history came alive recently at the second Bicentennial Style Show and Luncheon this spring featuring several members of the

Bicentennial Commission’s Living History Committee in authentic costumes as they related their stories as first-person interpreters. This year, the

event’s focus was 1830 to 1890, while next year’s final Bicentennial Style Show and Luncheon on April 6, will cover fashions from all 200 years.

Lucas to speak at

Pearls of Wisdom

Charlotte Lucas (right) of

Lucas Oil Co., Inc., will be

the guest speaker at the

next Pearls of Wisdom, sponsored

by 1si, Wednesday,

Sept. 19, from 8-10 a.m. at

Kye’s I in Jeffersonville. Don’t

miss an opportunity to hear

Charlotte’s success story. For

information or to make a reservation

for Sept. 19, call 1si

at (812) 945-0266 or log on to

Judy Miller of Milltown vacationed with Erin Parker and

Theryn Parker in Okaloosa Island, Fla., in May. The trio

brought along some reading material for the trip!

Hot Business at Chillers

Troy Ward and his wife, New Albany native Susan Walters Ward,

posed at the counter of their new business with their children Sarah

and Ethan. Residents of Marysville, the Wards recently opened the

Chillers franchise at 1515 McClain Ave. in Scottsburg and offer a vast

array of sandwiches, beverages, and other items, with a specialty in

soft-serve and hand-dipped ice creams in dozens of flavors.

July/August 2012 • 8

A little

It is an absolute joy bit

about for


to tell you

about what is going on

in Southern Indiana!

So, we thought we’d turn the tables.

// karen hanger


// hometown: Marengo, Ind. (I’ve

lived within a 30-mile radius my

entire life.

// what made you interested in SIL?

I was born with ink in my blood. My

great-grandparents owned a community

newspaper, my grandfather

was an editor, my mother was an

editor and my father was a printer. I

cut my teeth on a linotype (hot metal

type), so when I left my job of 30

years in newspapers I wanted to do

something in publishing ... I lived it,

I breathed it, I loved it. It would allow

me to have a flexible schedule to

spend more time with my family. It

would give me the freedom to attend

my grandchildren’s recitals, games

and school programs.

// the best part about living here?

The caring, loving people.

// then why do you drive to lexington,

ky., so much? Because that is

July/August 2012 • 10

// sam bowles


// hometown: Marengo, Ind.,

though I grew up in my grandparents’

general store/gas station, The

64 Market, a few miles down State

Road 64 in Taswell, Ind.

// school: Crawford County High

School, class of 2004. University

of Southern Indiana, class of 2008

with a degree in English.

// family: I’m the oldest of five boys

(the youngest will be a 4th-grader).

// favorite part of working with

SIL? I don’t really fancy myself

a “journalist,” as I have no training

and little experience, but I

thoroughly enjoy meeting people

and hearing their stories. In a

year, I have been to so many great

places and met so many wonderful

people that I might never have had

the privilege of meeting otherwise.

// so you ride a motorcycle? I bought

// abby laub

creative director

// hometown: Argyle, N.Y. Currently

live in Lexington, Ky. Don’t

ask me how many times I moved

in between.

// school: Argyle Central School,

class of 2001. Palm Beach Atlantic

University, class of 2005, Journalism

// family: World’s best husband,

Jeff. Dog, Murfie. I’m one of five

siblings, including an identical

twin sister. My family lives all over

the globe so we don’t see each other

nearly as often as we’d like.

// favorite part of working with

SIL? Working with Karen and Sam

is the best. We are a great team,

and I love watching the magazine

get better with every publication,

thanks to our readers, writers and

advertisers. I’ve enjoyed learning

more about Southern Indiana. My

husband is from Louisville, but I

had never ventured across the river.

karen hanger

where my granddaughters live. I want to be a part of

their lives. I want to be their “Nonny” who sees them in

preschool, school, dance recitals and church, who reads

to them, listens to them as they read and tell stories, who

laughs, dances, prays and talks with them, has sleepovers

and pizza and swim parties. I want to know their hopes

and dreams, and be a part of their fun memories.

sam bowles

my first bike, a 250cc Suzuki in 2008, but last year I upgraded

to a Harley-Davidson Dynaglide (or as my uncle

said, “A real motorcycle.”) After signing the papers and

being handed the keys to my bike, I turned to see my

dad point to a yellow bike and tell a salesman, “I think

I’ll take that one.” We’ve been riding together since then.

// why are you crossing the river this fall? It’s always

been my plan to continue my education, and I’m happy

to be doing that in the fall. I’ll be pursuing a master’s

degree at the University of Louisville and am privileged

to have an assistantship in the English Department. UofL

is close enough that I can stay involved at my church in

Marengo and still work with Southern Indiana Living.

abby laub

// your life is about to change dramatically? My husband

and I are expecting our first little Laub child in July,

so I am bracing myself for a drastic change in sleeping,

working and social habits. We are thrilled! •

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Creating an Access Database • 11 • 13



Story & Photos // Sam C Bowles

Louis Le Français

brings France to

Southern Indiana

Louis Retailleau has been fascinated with food

since he was a toddler in France swiping ingredients

from his mother.

Having worked in, owned, and operated restaurants in numerous cities in five

different countries on three different continents, Retailleau’s spectacular journey

has brought him to New Albany where in January he opened Louis Le Français.

Born in the 1930s in Miradoux, a small village in the southwest of France,

young Louis’ first cooking instructor was his mother, whom he says was a “very

fine cook.” He recalled that as soon as he was tall enough as a toddler, he would

steal her fresh capers from the table when she turned her back.

When he was nearly 15, he began working

on a farm processing pigs, gaining experience

that would serve him well, as he

soon after got an apprenticeship in a delicatessen

specializing in cuts of pork in a

nearby city.

When Retailleau was 18 he moved to

Paris, joining his older brother, a chef at a

renowned restaurant, who helped make

sure Retailleau got a job in the business.

“I came from the little town to the big

city and had to learn all kinds of things

that I didn’t know,” Retailleau said.

He worked in Parisian hotels and restaurants

until he was drafted into the

French Navy two years later. Recognizing

his talents, the Navy assigned him to food

service and preparation for the duration

of his two-year service in Morocco. Then,

after a brief stint in a London restaurant,

Chef Louis moved to Montreal, Canada,

where he worked until he got a call that

changed his life.

When he was living in Paris and only a

teenager, he and his friend were walking

in front of the American Embassy.

“My friend said to me then, ‘Lou, why

don’t we go to America?’ I said, ‘Why


They waltzed into the embassy on a

whim and asked the lady at the front desk

how to go to the United States. The woman

gave them some papers to fill out, and they

never thought anymore about it.

“We were 18 years old thinking, ‘Who

cares?’ because the world is in your

hands,” Retailleau said. “So we filled out

the applications and forgot about it.”

Six years later, while he was living in

Canada, the American Embassy called and

told him he had been approved.

“It was amazing because I had completely

forgotten about it,” Retailleau said.

Retailleau went to New York City in

March of 1960 on a Saturday, and by Monday

morning he was already working in

a restaurant. Five years later he became a

citizen of the United States.

While in New York, Retailleau worked

at numerous eateries and eventually even

started with another chef a firm through

which he did consultation work for numerous


Eventually, he moved to Chicago, working

briefly on the 95th floor of the John

Hancock building. But in 1970, at just 32

years old, Chef Louis opened his first sole

venture — a restaurant called Bon Appétit,

in Calumet City on the south side of Chicago.

With only 32 seats, it was small venue,

but Retailleau was very successful and

was a bright spot in a very rough town.

“I had a fantastic business, small but

beautiful.” Retailleau recalled.

After six years in south Chicago and

July/August 2012 • 14

“You can only open a

French restaurant if you

are French. Period.”

-Louis Retailleau

looking to build on his success, Retailleau

purchased a historic mansion in

Crowne Pointe, Ind., and transformed it

into a new restaurant, Louis’ Bon Appétit.

With more than 10,000 square feet and

seats for 120, it was quite an upgrade.

“It was really my dream come true,”

Retailleau said.

He operated the restaurant with great

success for 27 years before selling it and

enjoying a semi-retirement with his son

Sascha in San Francisco and daughter

Natalie in Crowne Pointe.

Looking to escape the harsh winters

of the north, Retailleau was traveling to

Florida but stopped in Louisville to visit

with a friend who encouraged him to

consider a move to the area. He began

looking around, found a storefront for

sale in downtown New Albany, and decided

to relocate.

After a massive renovation, the chef

opened Louis Le Français and has been

charming guests for almost six months.

So far Retailleau loves the area and the


The chef and his small staff, including

hostess Betty Weber, will make you

feel right at home from the moment you

walk through the front doors. Retailleau

Some of Loius Retailleau’s specialties

include French classics like escargot (top),

ratatouille (center), and the menu also

includes lighter fare like soup (bottom.)

regularly takes time to walk from table to

table interacting with guests. In fact, he

has plans to put a table in the kitchen so

some lucky patrons can be right in the

middle of the action.

Business has been good in the short

time the restaurant has been open, and Retailleau

is quick to emphasize that he does

not want people to be intimidated by the

perceived “fanciness” of French dining. • 15

While the food is excellent, he and his team have created an

atmosphere somewhere between “casual” and “fine dining”

that is perfectly comfortable anytime of the day.

On Wednesday nights, guests can even enjoy the smooth

stylings of jazz musician Dick Sisto who plays the vibraphone.

While the menu changes weekly — sometimes even day-today

depending on the availability of some ingredients — you

can almost always enjoy French classics like escargot, ratatouille,

French onion soup, and crème brûlée among other fine

dishes including steak and fish.

Retailleau is aided in the kitchen by Chef Mike Ems, a native

of the area who graduated from Ivy Tech’s culinary program

and also had an extended internship in France. Ems saw Retailleau

on the street one day, introduced himself, and asked if he

was looking for help.

“He said, ‘No, I’m not looking for help. I’m looking to give

someone an opportunity,’” Ems remembered. “I realized early

on that cooking was something I had a knack for, and I like it

because there is always something new to learn.”

Chef Louis loves the slower “country” pace and hospitality

of Southern Indiana. It reminds him a little bit of the rural area

of France in which he was born and raised.

“The people are very warm, very friendly, very nice,” Retailleau

said of the area. “It’s a great place for me.”

There were no culinary schools when he began his career, but

he has been to the “school of hard knocks,” as he says, taking

the recipes of his mother and his years of vast experience and

sharing it with all who walk into his restaurant.

“You can only open a French restaurant if you are French. Period,”

Retailleau said. “Because you’ve got to have your heart

into it.”

After just a few minutes with Chef Louis you’ll have no questions

about his heart. He loves people and loves the great food

that is part of his proud heritage.

“It’s difficult to please everybody,” he said with a smile, “but

my mission is to make people happy with what I do — not just

the food but the service and atmosphere as well — and most of

the time I succeed.” •

Louis Le Français is located at 133 E. Market Street in New Albany

and is open for lunch Tuesday-Saturday from 11:30-1:30 and

for dinner Tuesday-Saturday from 5:30-9:30 with a Sunday brunch

served from 11-2. For more information, visit them online at www. or call (812)944-1222. Reservations are accepted

but not required.

July/August 2012 • 16





Established in 1943



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Marvin and Louise Alstott

200 South Capitol

Corydon, IN 47112


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Pizza, Ice, Groceries,

Hardware, Coin Laundry

618 W. Hwy. 62


Open Mon - Sat, 7AM - 8PM • 17

plants, art and whimsy:

Bob Hill’s “hobby run amuck”

July/August 2012 • 18

Story // Sam C Bowles

Photos // Michelle Hockman

Bob Hill was a popular columnist and feature

writer for the Louisville Times and the Courier

Journal for 33 years, retiring in 2008. But when

he and his wife, Janet, moved to the area in 1975

they also began another project — one that is still ongoing

— turning a six-acre property in Utica, Ind., into the

nursery and sculpture garden they now call home.

“When we bought this place, it was six acres of grass

and weeds and an old, leaky tin-roof farmhouse,” Hill

recalled. “I like to say we’re in the 37th year of our fiveyear

remodeling plan on the house.” • 19

Bob and Janet Hill (above) opened Hidden Hill Nursery in


Both Bob and Janet had spent plenty of time working on

farms during their childhood in northern Illinois, and Bob Hill

says his wife fell in love with the quaint home when she saw a

picture of the front porch at the realtor’s office.

They started with a simple vegetable garden, but Hill’s interest

in horticulture began to grow, and the garden began to


“I started making trips around the country and even the

world.” Hill said. “I just got hooked, and this place just evolved

from there. I never imagined it would be this big or complex


In 2001 the Hills turned their hobby into a business venture,

opening Hidden Hill Nursery, which is now in its 12th year of


“We didn’t know a thing about running a business or a nursery.

It was just on-the-job training, and we’ve probably got 10

times more stuff now then we did that first year,” Hill said.

It is certainly difficult for a small, independent nursery to

survive and compete in the world of mega-stores like Lowe’s

and Home Depot, but the differences between those places and

Hidden Hills are many.

First of all, horticulturalists will be impressed by the shear

variety of plants both on display throughout the property and

for sale in the nursery. Unique and hard-to-find plants are a

Hidden Hill specialty.

“I’ve got a lot of unusual plants, shrubs and trees that you’re

not going to find anywhere else around,” Hill noted. “We don’t

have a lot of any one thing, but we’ve got a little bit of everything.”

Another strength is the first-rate customer service provided

by Bob, Janet and their staff, all of whom are very knowledgeable.

“Everybody on our staff knows plants really well. We take

pride in knowing our different plants and where they are going

to work,” Hill said.

But undoubtedly the biggest strength of Hidden Hill is the

place itself. It is well worth a short trip to Utica just to walk the

paths, rest on the benches, and enjoy the multitude of plants of

all colors, shapes and sizes, not to mention the other unique and

whimsical features of the property.

“You’ve got to want to come here. It’s not exactly on the way

to anywhere, but the first thing people say is that it’s just so

peaceful. It’s a great place to come and visit,” Hills said.

An added bonus to the abundant plant life on display, are the

July/August 2012 • 20



6am—9am • 21







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Depauw, IN 47115

$2 OFF per person*

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more than 40 sculptures scattered and

tucked throughout the property.

Hidden Hill features sculptures of all

sizes including carved stone, chainsaw

carvings, as well as pieces crafted from

steel and aluminum. Many of the large

pieces are on consignment and are available

for purchase, and almost all of the

works come from local artists.

canoe trip!

The kids loved

the cave. It was

larger than I


“I was interested in sculptures and

working with local artists from day one,”

Hill said, adding that he’s determined to

become a venue for local art.

In addition to the sculptures and garden

art, guests also enjoy a 90-foot rose

and clematis armor, the goldfish pond,

and a double-decker outdoor electric

train that is particularly popular with

children. There is truly something

for everyone.

Bob and Janet’s years of work

have not gone unnoticed. Hidden

Hill was voted the region’s best

nursery-art venue by the Kentucky

Arts Council, has been praised by

the Indianapolis Star as “one of the

top ten attractions in the state within

two hours of Indianapolis,” and

was even featured on HGTV’s Secret

Gardens. Yet, it all started with

a simple vegetable garden many

years ago.

“I like to call it a hobby run

amuck,” Hill said.

The Hills’ home is more than 150

years old, but the way Bob looks

at it, he and his wife have now

occupied the place for more than

a quarter of its history. And they

have transformed it into something

truly remarkable. Fortunately, they

are happy to share it with everyone

else. •

Hidden Hill is located at 1011 Utica-

Charlestown Rd. in Utica, Ind. and is

open Friday 10-6, Saturday 9-6, Sundays

12-5 and by appointment. Visit

them online at

or call (812)280-0347.

July/August 2012 • 24 • 25

Would you like some


with that?

Paoli teen is “third in the universe” at

international competition

Story & Photos // Sam C Bowles

Jordan Cadle grew up on a farm in Orange County, so when

he was tasked with creating a science fair project for a Science

Methods and Techniques class at Paoli High School

where he is a student, doing something that involved agriculture

was a natural choice.

Cadle, who will be a junior this year, decided to tackle the

very complicated problem of world hunger by attempting to

increase the yield of wheat, and he wanted to do so through

means that would be simple and accessible to all.

His idea was to apply simple sugars (different concentrations

of milk, honey, and corn syrup) directly to the wheat plant, to be

July/August 2012 • 26

absorbed through the leaves, that would aid the plant’s natural

process and therefore increase the yield, or as it is explained in

the project’s official title “Utilizing Assorted Monosaccharides

from Foliar Application for Glycoside Linkage to Enhance Triticum

Aestivum Yields.”

“Basically, it uses the energy of the simple sugars to increase

the yields of the wheat,” Cadle explained. “The idea is that

you’re giving the wheat cell a simple compound, versus it having

to create that compound. So it’s just linking those simple

compounds together to form a starch chain.”

Most people, including his family and his advisor, Laurie Jo

Andry, a teacher in Paoli’s science department, were skeptical

of the idea at first, but they could not be more proud of his accomplishments.

“In the beginning I said, ‘I don’t know if that’s going to

work or not, Jordan…but even if it doesn’t work, we will have

learned it didn’t work’,” Andry said.

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Cadle’s data indicated a statistically

significant improvement when a honey

mixture was used, and milk showed favorable

improvement as well. On average,

his data indicated an increase of six

percent in the wheat’s yield.

He compiled his findings and first

presented the project at a regional science

fair competition at Ivy Tech in

Bloomington, Ind. He advanced from

there to the state science fair in Indianapolis,

before finally being advanced

to the INTEL International Science and

Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburg,

where he won second place in the plant

science division.

ISEF is the largest international precollege

science fair competition in the

world, with more than 1,500 students

from more than 65 countries participating.

There were more than 100 students

in the plant science division in which Cadle

competed, and with only the grand

prize and first place finishers ahead of

him in the category, Cadle’s second place

is quite an accomplishment.

“I keep telling him he is third in the

universe,” Andry said. “His project is

what I call ‘elegantly simple.’ It’s just

well done science.”

Cadle plans to take the input he received

from the competition’s judges

and build on his work, attempting to

track and prove the point at which the

simple sugars are absorbed and used by

the plant.

“The next phase is to find economic

efficiency because this was only to see

if it would work,” Cadle said. “I’m also

isolating the lactose and doping it with

radioactive carbon to track the reaction

mechanism inside the cell.”

He is currently seeking a mentor

from the collegiate level who can help

him with the radioactive substances he

would need for the project.

After high school, Cadle plans to pursue

a degree in something related to

agriculture at Purdue University before

returning to work on his family farm.

“Basically I’m always trying things

on the farm to find something new,”

Cadle said. “The idea here was trying

to use organic products to help one of

the most underdeveloped field crops in

modern times.”

Admittedly, Cadle may still be several

stages away from wide-scale commercial

application, but his lofty idea to

put a dent in world hunger by improving

a common plant’s yield through a

very simple process is exactly the kind

of youthful ingenuity science fairs are

designed to encourage. He has already

made his family, school, and community

very proud. •






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Roger Brown is not slowing down

Story // Lee Cable

Photos // Lee Cable and Abby Laub

Speedy Old






• 30


Roger Brown inched the car forward until

the light beam was broken by his front tires,

making the top yellow staging light on the

pole come on. The light indicated he was

on the starting line. He pushed the transmission

lock button on the custom gearshift

down with his thumb and waited. The car’s oversized

souped-up engine idled roughly with a “urumpurump-urump”

sound. The crowd in the bleachers

at the U.S. 60 Raceway on Hardinsburg, Ky., dug into

buckets of popcorn and compared the two cars on the

track, evaluating which one was their favorite. • 31

I built this last one with extra

horsepower, and it scares

me some. But with these

cars, you’d better be a little

scared. They’ll hurt you.

-Roger Brown

Seconds later, everything changed.

The next yellow light on the pole came

on. Brown nudged the accelerator and

watched the tachometer climb to 4,000

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July/August 2012 • 32

RPMs. The engine smoothed out and the

“urump-urump-urump” changed to a


Another yellow light, and Brown

gripped the steering wheel firmly with

his left hand, his right hand still on the

gearshift, waiting for the green one, muscles

tensed. Too soon and the red light

would come on, disqualifying him. Too

late and the car in the other lane would

get off the line first. And every good drag

racer knows that races are won and lost

at the starting line.

When the green light flashed on,

Brown’s right foot was already slamming

the accelerator to the floor and at

the same time, his thumb released the

transmission lock button. The rear tires

screamed and smoked, the front wheels

lifted off the ground as the engine went

from a roar to a deafening noise that

shook the eardrums of nearby spectators

and caused the bleachers to vibrate.

The car shot down the dragway like a

bullet and passed the finish line, an eighth

of a mile away, before the smell of burning

rubber from the tires reached the audience.

Brown braked hard to slow down

before running out of pavement. His car

is equipped with a rear parachute that he

uses sometimes on quarter-mile tracks

where the car can reach high speeds, but

on the eighth-mile tracks, his disc brakes

serve him well. He exited the raceway

and eased along to the spot where his

trailer was parked. The car once again

idled with a “urump-urmp-urmp”.

Brown, of Elizabeth, is one of about 20

members of a group of drag racers called

“Geezer Gassers”, made up of mostly

retired men who have been drag racing

most of their adult lives. Brown, at 72, is

the oldest of the group.

As he got out of his car, the look on

Brown’s face was one of a kid getting off

a roller coaster after a first ride.

“It’s a rush,” he said. “Even after doing

it all these years, I still love the thrill you

get when you come off that starting line.

You have just a piece of thin sheet metal

between you and a 500 horse-power engine,

and when you build a fire under

it (accelerate) and come off the line, the

pressure pins you back in the seat, and

the whole interior of the car becomes violent.

“The noise, the shaking and actual

twisting of the car as the engine torques

up and the thrust is transferred to the

rear wheels and the tires are squealing

— I just love it,” he continued.

Brown, who was raised on a Harrison

County farm, was always fascinated by

fast cars. He graduated from high school

on a Thursday and entered the Navy the

following Monday, so it wasn’t until after

his military stint and landing a job that

he was able to build his first drag racing

car — an old British-made 1948 Anglia,

sometimes referred to as an English Ford.

“During the second World War, they

pretty much quit making cars in this

country,” Brown said. “Most of the factories

were put to use in the war effort.

So that’s how quite a few Anglia automobiles

ended up being shipped here. • 33

July/August 2012 • 34

They’re small cars, with a short wheel-base, they don’t weigh a

lot. And that’s why, back in the 60’s, a lot of them were converted

into drag racers. I’ve built twelve of them through the years

... I enjoy working on them as much as I enjoy racing them.”

And Brown always had a unique way of “running across”

old cars. He’d take a trip to South Dakota, drive through rural

areas and spot them sitting in fields.

“I got most of mine up there on the prairie,” he explained.

“There’s an Indian reservation there and for years, when they

got done with a car, they just left it sitting where it stopped.

There’s not much humidity there, so they don’t rust too badly.

But a lot of them are full of bullet holes. The Indians use them

for target practice as they drive by. But bullet holes can be repaired.

The Anglia I have now came from Wisconsin, and it’s a

1948 — identical to the first I restored.”

In the mid-1960’s there were no drag strips in the area, so

Brown and a friend, Vance Fink, decided to build one. Another

friend allowed them to use some empty land between Elizabeth

and Laconia, along State Road 11, and they built the Harrison

County Dragway.

“We didn’t have much money,” Brown said. “But we’d pave

a little at a time until we had a pretty nice drag strip. We held

meets there into the 1970’s and eventually had to shut down.

The liability insurance became so expensive, we couldn’t keep

it open.”

During the drag

strip days, Brown

kept his job at Ford

I’m a person who likes to do

things and stay busy. I

needed some action.

-Roger Brown

Motor Company

in Louisville. After

the dragway closed,

he began building

show cars in his

spare time. He preferred

restoring old Fords and one of his first was a 1934 fivewindow


“I had it looking good,” Brown said. “And I put a big engine

in it. It was a nice car and I even drove it to work some. One day

at work the plant manager, an older guy, came over to me and

asked if that ’34 coup in the parking lot was mine. I told him

it was, and he said that back when he first came to work for

Ford, it was his job to bolt on the running boards of 1934 Fords.

I asked him if he wanted me to take him for a ride — and he

did. We drove down the road a ways and he wanted to know

what was wrong with the engine, why was it running so rough

(“urump-urump-urump”). When I turned around and headed

back, I fired it up real good. Needless to say, it didn’t take long

to get back and when I looked over at him, he was as white as

a ghost.”

Brown continued to build show cars for several years, winning

scores of trophies and awards at car shows all over the


“I really enjoyed taking an old car and turning it into a street

rod, or show car,” Brown said. “But once it’s finished, you just

take it to car shows and sit in a lawn chair while people walk by

and look at it. There was nothing to do, and I’m a person who

likes to do things and stay busy. I needed some action.”

So finally, Brown decided to build another drag racer. He

never raced anything but Anglia cars and wanted another one.

He bought the Wisconsin car, brought it home to Elizabeth, put

it in his garage, and went to work.

“It took me about a year to get it where I wanted it,” he said.

“The only thing I use is the body. Everything else, I build myself.

I took the body off the original frame, laid the frame out on my

garage floor for a pattern, and built a new one. The old frames

will twist too much when you race then and cause problems at

high speeds. So I use box steel and build

one I can trust. Then I built the engine,

piece by piece. I use 351 cubic inch Ford

engines in all my cars.”

According to Jeff Hanger, sales representative

for Ray’s Ford in Brandenburg,

Brown only trusts Ford products.

“He’s bought a lot of family cars from

us through the years,” Hanger said. “He

also buys his pickup trucks here. And

when he talks about the cars he builds,

his face lights up like a kid in a candy

store. He gets all excited. You can tell he

just loves it.”

Brown takes great pride in the way his

cars look. He does his own painting and

body work, and the engines themselves

are showpieces — immaculate, with

many parts chromed and shining, concealing

the raw power and torque that

Brown’s engines are known for.

“Hey, I remember you,” said a man

walking by Brown’s car at the racetrack.

“Didn’t you have a little Anglia back in

the 60s that had a big ol’ Hemi engine in


“Yeah, that was mine,” Brown answered

rather sheepishly, admitting that

he used a non-Ford engine. “That was a

pretty fast car.”

Brown and the “Gasser Geezers” make

the rounds of several drag strips during

the racing season. The National Hot Rod

Association pays them a fee to go to the

races and put on a show for the crowds.

They are old professionals, and their cars

are always top-notch crowd pleasers.

“We don’t really worry about competing

much anymore,” Brown said. “But

you still have to be careful. I’ve never

wrecked a car, but that doesn’t mean I

won’t. To me these Anglia cars are the

ultimate race cars — I love them! But

they’re lightning fast, and with that

short, 90-inch wheelbase, they’re a handful

to drag race. I built this last one with

extra horsepower, and it scares me some.

But with these cars, you’d better be a little

scared. They’ll hurt you.”

After the US 60 Raceway meet, the

Geezers are scheduled to race at Norwalk,

Ohio, then a three-day competition

in Bowling Green, Ky. From there they

will go to Muncie, Ind., and other race


“I worked at Ford for 30 years and retired,”

Brown said. “Now this is what I

do. And I enjoy every minute of my life.

I enjoy where I live. I’ve been to Australia,

Hong Kong, and many other places

while I was in the service, but there’s

no place like this. Southern Indiana is a

great place to live. I’ve got Mary, a great

wife and we’ve been together for over 50

years, I have a son and a daughter, Allen

and Janet. I have a good life. I’d like to

keep racing for another five or six years,

then maybe think about quitting.” •





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A Step BAck

Marvin and Beverly Maxwell’s labor of love

Like many long-time residents of New Washington, Marvin

and Beverly Maxwell would regularly drive by the

historic “old lodge” building and wish someone would

step up to save it from razing. It wasn’t until the city had

requested bids for demolition and, Marvin jokingly said, “the bulldozers

were idling out front,” that they knew it was up to them.

The Maxwells believed the building was a community treasure

that could also be a successful business, so in 2000, they

bought the building and spent two years restoring it to its original

splendor. Today it is a restaurant, meeting facility, museum

and dinner theatre operating under the name A Step Back.

Life is what happens when you are making other plans

Marvin had lived in New Washington all his life; Beverly

since sixth grade. They had been married more than 45 years,

had three grown children, six grandchildren and one greatgrandchild.

They had turned a small shop called Mom’s Music

Story & Photos // Kathy Melvin

into a big business. They should have been thinking about retirement

instead of undertaking a massive renovation project

and starting a demanding new business enterprise.

It was both an exciting and bumpy road for the couple, but

they have no regrets. Many years later, their passion for A Step

Back is still clear.

In 1894, the building was constructed as a school house, with

grades first through eighth on the first floor and high school students

on the second floor. The Indiana Free Masons paid $400 to

finish the third floor and held their meetings there until December

of 2000. In 1926, the lodge became a movie theatre. When the

school closed the Masons moved to the second floor and when

the movie theatre closed, they used the first floor for fish fries.

A Step Back was closed for the winter, but opened again

April 1 for brunch. On Saturdays, Beverly and her good friend,

July/August 2012 • 36

Every photo, every piece

of furniture, every framed

print, every display case,

has a story.

Sylvia Jones, spend the better part of

the day cooking and baking for Sunday

Brunch. The Sunday buffet is served each

week from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The menu

changes weekly, but usually includes

several breakfast items such as biscuits

and gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, and

hash brown casserole. Dessert choices

vary weekly, but you may find coconut

cream pie, pecan pie, Sylvia’s apple cake

or chocolate sour cream cake with caramel


When A Step Back hosts special events

such as a murder mystery, a musical performance

or the Ladies of Liberty doing a

special patriotic tribute, Beverly says the

menu goes a little more “upscale”. Several

groups have made pilgrimages to the

building, including car clubs. The American

Legion Shawnee Post #193 brought

its antique steam engine, full of people,

for a special event.

With very little prompting, Marvin

and Beverly will give you a tour. Every

photo, every piece of furniture, every

framed print, every display case, has a

story. Many items were brought to the

Maxwells from New Washington residents

wanting to preserve a piece of the

community’s history. Many other things

were unearthed in the renovation.

Just off the dining room, which seats

about 80 and has an 18-foot screen and

projector for meetings and special events,

is a door that hides, what could best be

kindly described as a “rickety” staircase

leading to the old projection room. The

projectors are still there, as are the carbon

sticks that started the fire to power

the projectors. It burned so hot, that there

were stove pipes to exhaust the heat. Marvin’s

brother, Larry, who is a few years

older, remembers going with friends to

movies in the building and then getting

a hamburger across the street.

In the lobby are more treasures — ads




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“I appreciate people and it’s what I can do

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for old movies, original New Washington postcards and Eastern

Star memorabilia. Beverly said, early on in the renovation, they

found a signed, numbered print of Indiana University’s Maxwell

Hall, so they hung it in the lobby of their Maxwell Hall. “It just

proves that it was meant to be,” she said.

The second floor houses an eclectic museum of Washington

County history. The centerpiece is a Conestoga Prairie Schooner.

In 1815, Andrew and Margaret Bower came from North Carolina

to what was then Indiana territory, in the schooner with their 15

children. They were among the first settlers of New Washington,

and Chris Bower, a descendant, loaned the Maxwells the schooner

because he wanted to share it with the community. A saddle

belonging to Cole Younger is also on display. He allegedly rode

with the Jessie James gang and helped rob a bank in North Minnesota.

There are three bullet holes in it.

There’s an old log cabin out back that has been disassembled.

Marvin hopes to make it the centerpiece of an outdoor amphitheatre.

They would also like to put a regulation croquet court in

the yard. And Marvin can endlessly articulate new projects that

he’d like to add, however, Marvin and Beverly would like very

much to sell A Step Back, but not for the reasons you might think.

In 1981, Marvin was in a serious car accident. Doctors told him

he’d likely never walk again. He has a slight limp, but it doesn’t

seem to have slowed him down. Nor did the five bypass surgeries

he had in 2002, as they were restoring the building.

Their goal was to save the old Masonic Lodge and build it into

a thriving enterprise. They’ve done that. They want to sell the

business to the right person for far less that they’ve invested, in

order to see it continue as an important part of the community.

The third floor of the building had been closed for 70 years.

They painstakingly restored it and believe it would make a great



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July/August 2012 • 38

apartment for the future


WhatÕs next?

So what are they going

to do after A Step Back?

Marvin continues to play

music with the same band,

“Soul Inc.” that joined

the Dick Clark Caravan

of Stars, back in the late

1950s. Beverly babysits

for the great grandchild a

couple of days a week, but

their next gig is the open

road, setting up franchises

for their latest venture,

“Jammin’ Johns,” beautifully,

handcrafted toilet

seats in the shape of musical


Marvin is looking forward

to going on the road

again, but this time with

his true love, Beverly.

“She was the most beautiful

thing I’d ever seen in

6th grade and that hasn’t

changed. I’m still in love

with her.” •



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Assistant Manager


Service Manager

Find the Coffee News Guy


Help Support Your

Local Community.


Laff Worx is a Newsless Paper featuring Jokes,

Puzzles, Coupons, Ads & Recipes.

Pick up your FREE copy today!”

We’ve teamed up with local businesses to provide

YOU with some great coupons and deals.

Join our mailing list today. IT’S FREE & EASY!

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Coffee News ®

New Albany Edition

Clarksville/Jeffersonville Edition

Delivered to over 150 restaurants and

waiting areas. For a complete list of

distribution or to add your favorite

restaurant to our distribution, visit:

or call Stacy at (812) 786-2224.

Pick up your free

copy TODAY! • 39

DId you know?

John Milton Hay began his public career as a secretary

to Abraham Lincoln! Therefore, his writings during the

Civil War became historical sources. The Salem native

even served as an ambassador to Great Britain in 1897.

Looking for a way to beat the bored summer

blues and learn some new, fascinating

history about your own backyard?

The John Hay Center, operated by the

Washington County Historical Society, is rich

in history waiting to be explored. It includes

The Stevens Museum, John M. Hay Birthplace,

Depot Railroad Museum, Pioneer Village and a

Geneaological Library.

The library alone is home to more than 6,000

articles, books, periodicals, magazines and pictures.

For more information on The John Hay Center

and how you can include it in your summer

plans, visit

July/August 2012 • 40




A celebration of hope,

survival, and life to

benefit Women’s Services/Health

Education of

Clark Memorial Hospital

Kye’s in Jeffersonville,

sponsored by Clark Memorial

Hospital Foundation • 41

Flashback Photo


Georgetown-Lanesville Road, Jesse Burkhart saw and flour mill

Horses ready to haul a six-foot, four-inch chestnut log. Tobias Seacat, who blew the whistle, is in front (right side.) The rest of

the workers are unidentified. This photo was taken in 1894 or 1895 by Albert Burkhart.

// Photo reprinted with permission from the Indiana History Room of the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library.

July/August 2012 • 42

Floyd Memorial Baby Fair

Saturday, August 25

10 am - noon

Floyd Memorial’s Paris

Health Education Center

There’s no such thing as too much information…

especially when you’re expecting a child.

So we’re making it easy, giving you the useful

information and resources you’ll need, all

in one place!

• Local pediatricians

• Physicians who deliver at Floyd Memorial

• Birth doulas

• Certified lactation consultants

• Certified pregnancy and infant

massage therapists

• Booths and displays featuring

4-D ultrasound, hospital and community

resources, baby specialty stores and

much more

• Take guided tours of our birthing center

Plus, great giveaways and

fantastic door prizes!




If hip or knee pain is keeping you from doing what you love, Clark Memorial’s

Center for Orthopedics and Spine is here to help. Specializing in advanced joint

replacement and minimally invasive procedures, the Clark team provides you with

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improve your recovery time and your outcome. Visit to

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Kathryn Raines Education Conference Center

(812) 282-6631 |

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