Wednesday, October 15, 2014
We just finished the Canal Days weekend a week ago. The number of vendors was down, but it seemed the number of visitors was as good or better than past years. During last year's Canal Days, Sunday was a total washout with heavy rain and flooded vendor spots- some even lost some product to the wet. We think that probably kept many of them away this year, since rain was again forecast (though fortunately, mostly a no-show.)
The village is looking better this year, as several of the historic buildings have received facelifts or fresh paint- the Masonic Lodge, the Martindale Hotel, and the Jonathan Banes House to name a few. The Thorpe House is in the middle of receiving a complete exterior paint job.
Several new shops this year, noteably the one named Mosaic, on Main Street in the building that once housed the Pizza place. The have regional fine art, music instruments, provide music lessons on several instruments including fiddle, dulcimer and guitar, and serve snacks to boot (to pay the rent?) Holly and Rick Garrett run the place, and provide live entertainment on many weekends at their shop, as well as weekend evening comedy and music shows.
The Cat and Fiddle, run by the charismatic Catrina Campbell, has moved her facility into two locations- her bed-N-breakfast into the former Whitewater Inn in Duck Creek Crossing in the west end of the village, and her music venue and gift shop into the old Blacksmith Shop on Columbia Street (the main entrance road to the village.) As she once did at the Thorpe House, she has thoroughly transformed the Blacksmith Shop interior appearance into a visually pleasing, comfortable dining and music venue.
Last weekend was the first of two for the "Haunted Village of Metamora", a guided evening tour of the village past/through spooky haunting vignettes in keeping with the Halloween season. This weekend is the final weekend for the event, Friday and Saturday, Oct 17/18, starting at 7:30 pm at the entrance to town. Cost is $5 to benefit the advertising efforts of the Merchant Association.
Most shopkeepers are making plans for the upcoming Christmas Walk season, typically the most beautiful time of year in Metamora, with the canal lit by lanterns, shops open until 10 pm on Fridays and Saturday all decorated and lit in holiday beauty. (That is Thanksgiving weekend and the next three weekends following.)
My wife, Brenda, and I live above our shop in "downtown" Metamora. It's our home and our life, and we love it, but that doesn't mean everything is always perfect. It is a very busy life with little time off.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
In wanting to evaluate the comment, I reviewed what I know about open shops and made a list of them. This list does NOT COUNT some of the main attractions to town, such as the canal boat ride, the Grist Mill, the Whitewater Valley Railroad, and the horse and carriage ride.
Below is a list of most of the shops that I am aware of that are in business as of today, April 16, 2014. I know there are a few others, but I cannot name them. Read the list below- there are 38 of them listed here. (location numbers refer to the Metamora Map building number):
1. Woodworks Etc.
2. Country Peddlers
3. Buttons & Bows
4. Appreciative Treasures
5. Serendipity Frog
6. Cranberry Junction Gifts
7. Duck Creek Restaurant
9. (Ben's shop- map location 23a)
10. (The produce place- location 23b)
11. Unique Creations
12. Smelly Gourmet
13. Leather Hatchery
14. Mr. Ed's (new management)
15. (Bob's place- location 35)
16. Healing Cross of Metamora
17. Museum of Oddities
18. Auntiques & Uncle Junques
19. Words & Images
20. Train Place
22. Martha Jane's
23. Mr. Fudge's Confections
24. (Earl's place, next to Mr. Fudge)
25. The Shed (alley next to Mr. Fudge's)
26. Canal Shops
27. Meeting House Antiques
29. Grannies Cookie Jars/Ice Cream (Guinness World Record)
30. Jackie B's
31. Kathy's Country Cooking
32. Gem Mine/Luina's Garden
33. Metamora Engraver
34. Salt Creek Antiques
35. Cat & Fiddle
36. The Basket Case
37. Patty's Quilt place (now in Duck Creek Crossing)
38. Amish Cheese Shop
Not all shops are open every day, and many of them are closed January through May, but most will be reopened soon. A number of those listed are open currently, especially on weekends.
There are other shops in town that either say they will open/reopen this year that I did not count, such as Anne's, Jeannie's five shops on the east side of Columbia Street when you enter the village including the Comic Book Shop, local artist's museum, and other gift shops, and the former bakery/PJ's Quilts on Clayborn St.
For what its worth…
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Indiana Governor's Office to Present Guinness World Record and Distinguished Hoosier Award in Metamora
2,653 different cookie jars! Eva "Granny" Fuchs, proprietor of Grannie's Cookie Jars and Ice Cream Parlor in the small historic village of Metamora Indiana is being awarded the Guinness World Record for having collected that number to establish the World's Largest Collection of Cookie Jars. The award presentation ceremony will be conducted on Friday, May 17, 2013, beginning at 2:00 p.m. on the outdoor patio of Grannie's shop in Metamora.
Connie Ragle, 765-265-2902
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
I very rarely eat breakfast, but for some strange reason late this morning the thought of bacon and eggs at Ruth Ann's Country Diner sounded irresistible. So, putting on my shoes, my green baseball cap with 'Metamora' embroidered on it, and my billfold, I headed out the door. As I rounded the corner of Bridge Street, I noticed a car slowly driving up the street behind me. I stopped and turned toward the car thinking that it might be one of my friends. The car stopped but I didn't recognize it or the driver.
I started over to the car as I could see the driver rolling down his window, a scene I have encountered several times with people wanting directions or information about the village or the many events that are scheduled here. As I knelt down next to the car door my gaze fell upon the frail, elderly, smiling face of a gentleman who had seen many more sunrises than I have. Then, I guess drawing an inference from my hat, he asked 'Are you you the main man here?' I replied, keeping a chuckle to myself, 'No, I'm not but is there anything I can help you with?' By then I had noticed an equally frail, elderly, and smiling lady sitting in the other seat. He then asked, 'How is the town doing?' 'It is doing pretty good' I told him. Then he said something that was to make my day ; 'Today is my wife's birthday and she was born here.' My mind was immediately flooded with thoughts of the knowledge she must posses about the history of Metemora as I hoped that I could persuade them tarry long enough to have a cup of coffee and share a conversation with me. They accepted my invitation and we walked on to Ruth Ann's.
After selecting a table, ordering coffee and a cinnamon roll each (that the lady had spied as we walked past the display case), introductions were exchanged, and the questions soon would start flowing. As I looked at them a vision of Grant Woods 'American Gothic' popped into my mind, and with another chuckle that I keep to my self, I thought these two could be the parents of one of those two people in his painting. That is how adorable this couple is.
Their names are Louise and Ellis Myers. She is 91 and he is 95, and they have been married for 70 years. Even though Ellis has all of my admiration for being a lifelong independent farmer (and their farm is still in the family, being operated by their son), it is Louise that captured most of my attention.
Louise was born on May 21, 1921 to the couple Beecher and Winifred Matthews. Her father, Beecher, was also born in Metamora. She grew up in the last house at the East end of the South side of the canal. The house is no longer there. She attended Metamora Elementary School (in a class of 8), graduated from Brookville High School, and left Metamora shortly afterwards.
Throughout our conversation I could sense that she was struggling to bring forth the memories that I was eager to share with her. It is heart-rending that age can rob us of precious memories that we wold love to share with others.
One of the memories that Louise shared with me was clearer in her memory probably because of it's intensity. It had to do with the day the grist mill caught on fire. She clearly remembered that the whole town turned out. She was 14 at the time and clearly remembered helping to carry 25 pound bags of flour from the burning mill across the street to the Banes house. The fire department got the fire put out without the loss of the mill. When questioned about the method of shipping the flour, she replied that most of it was sold locally with very little be shipped elsewhere.
As we parted company, her and her husband were planning on coming back for another visit during the Strawberry Days festival on June 2nd and 3rd. I certainly hope they can. I am looking forward to another visit with them. It is strange the way some things work out. If I had left my home one minute earlier or one later, I would have missed out on this wonderful experience.
By the way, I never did get my bacon and eggs today.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
New this year is the Metamora Museum of Oddities- a unique collection of cool things to see and stories to hear from "Indiana Joe".
And Indiana Joe has a story for each item!
Thirty plus years of collecting and studying world cultures brings a unique perspective to this historic village. And don't forget to check out the adjacent "Healing Cross of Metamora".
If you have not seen Grannie's collection of more than 2500 cookie jars, they will entertain you Grannie's Cookie Jars and Ice Cream.
Of course, the canal boat ride is running, drawn by two Belgian draft horses in the fashion of the 1840's. A half hour ride takes you through the country's only wooden aqueduct that is still in service as it carries the Whitewater Canal seventeen feet above Duck Creek.
Then you can visit the Metamora Gem Mine, panning for gemstones in a water raceway in the fashion as gold miners used to pan for gold.
Smelly Gourmet for one of the "best cappuccino's this side of the Atlantic Ocean" or a cold pop or iced tea, and try one of their 11 varieties of grilled cheese panini sandwiches!
And you can also experience 13 different varieties of gourmet popcorn packaged in recycled liquor, wine and beer bottles as well as pickle jars and other unique looking packages. Free samples are always popping.
They also give free samples of their homemade body and hand lotion, and of many of the coffee bar drinks. They utilize a "two-sip" policy as a money-back gaurantee for every coffee bar drink they make. A truly unique experience.
Or if you're in the mood for pizza, try the new Cat & Fiddle at the Thorpe House where Catrina is make not only pizza, but a large array of gourmet hot dogs and macaroni & cheese.
Next, on weekends anyway, take a ride on the Whitewater Valley Railroad that operates vintage railroad equipment through Metamora. Coming soon for only two weekends, they are bringing a coal-fired steam locomotive to town.
Metamora has much to offer, and it changes often with new things being added to enhance your experience. Come see us!
Saturday, March 31, 2012
As I pondered the beauty along the roadway, my mind was occupied by an upcoming tour I am to conduct in Metamora for a group of blind high school students. I’ve conducted tours of the town before, describing the history and stories as the tour group walked along with me down the canal. But I’ve often felt that my spoken words for such a tour are often just footnotes to the interesting actual appearance of the main street of the village, with its large variety of architecture and age, the way the canal looks with the ducks swimming along, etc., which led me to wonder how I could do justice to the description of the surroundings when speaking to those who have never had the blessing of sight. How can I envelope this high school student group in the magic of Metamora through mere words?
|Metamora Redbud Tree in bloom (in background)|
So as I continued driving past the gorgeous redbud/springtime fresh green color contrasts along the highway, I experimented with trying to describe the appearance of my current surroundings in some fashion that would have meaning to a blind person to help them enjoy their current surroundings.
It’s easy enough to leave color and light/dark out of the words, though that is where the real beauty is for those of us who can see. I understand that the other senses of blind folks usually are heightened over those of us who take vision for granted. So I’ll assume my tour group is probably far more sensitive to taste, smell, touch and hearing than I am. (Of course, my dear wife would interject that everybody’s sense of hearing is better than mine.)
So, as to a non-visual description of the beauty of the redbuds and their contrast to the gentle greens of springtime: From a taste perspective: I love the taste of properly cooked prime rib. With just a hint of peppery crust, the beef flavor of the super tender, warm juicy beef cooked to a perfect medium rare is just to die for. That might equate to the appearance of the redbud trees. Then pair that prime rib taste with the taste of piece of creamy, cool, Muenster cheese. The cheese flavor is very delicate, smooth and subtle. That might equate to the appearance of the light greenery surrounding the redbud trees. Put both on your plate, enjoy a taste of one followed by a taste of the other, and the mingling of flavors, temperatures and textures in one’s mouth might be the taste equivalent to the visual appearance of the gorgeous redbud trees against the fresh springtime growth surrounding us.
As I continued driving, and since I am overweight, I thought I should try to come up with equivalent comparisons with senses other than food. So my mind toyed with the sense of touch: A comparison here might be similar to the feel of running your fingers through a loved one’s fresh clean hair, then letting you fingers drift to smooth skin. (Or one could go back to the previously described taste sensations of the prime rib and muenster cheese- the textural difference in the mouth might be more properly classified as the sense of touch on the tongue.)
The sense of hearing: The redbuds could be the sound of Isaac Stern’s playing of “The Flight of the Bumblebees” (bright, active, exciting) followed immediately by the beautiful sound of an operatic voice singing “Ave Maria”.
I never quite got to the sense of smell, as I was nearing my destination by this time. But it was an interesting experience.
The blind school teacher making the tour arrangements told me to not worry about conducting the tour, just do what I normally do, which I shall. We’ll see how much the students enjoy it.
She also told me the students had been reading the MetamoraIndiana town blog, where I am posting this writing. If so, students, your tour has begun early, as the redbuds will likely be green before you get here- the vivid color is unfortunately very short-term, just as prime rib is not nearly as good once it has been left out on the table overnight.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
We know there is a significant appeal to many who return time after time to visit us, because they keep coming back and enjoying life with us. But, when trying to nail down the specific aspects that make our village a desirable destination, for use in advertising to grow our tourist traffic, we always get stuck on identifying the specifics.
Our conversation turned to the experiences and positive reactions of recent visitors to our shops.
Brenda and I had an experience yesterday when a large group of visitors came in out of the rain at the same time, all looking for lunch. They were part of a tour group numbering about 80 that came into Metamora on a chartered train, and apparently their tour organizer had not made sufficient arrangements for lunch.
So we got busy and did the best we could to feed them all our fine grilled cheese Panini sandwiches (in eleven varieties!). Those who are familiar with our shop know that we have four small tables each normally with three seats. That is a total of twelve seats, and it is unusual for us to feed more than four or six at a time. But here we had eighteen hungry tourists all at once.
So we got busy and cranked out their orders. Some sat outside under the covered portion of our patio, we found some extra chairs to have four at each table, and a couple sat on chairs next to the fireplace with no table. Brenda ran the back cooking like a wild woman, and I ran the front furiously trying to keep everyone happy and cheerful while getting their food to them as fast as she could prepare it.
So our facilities were not satisfactory for such a group, and some of these fine folks had to wait awhile to get their orders. But as I ran around out front and back and forth to the kitchen, I talked with most of the diners, apologizing for delays and joking with them about weather, trains, tour group organizers, etc.
And ultimately they were all happy! When they left, they were full of compliments and seemed all in great spirits (well, there was one lady, the last to be served, that even the “Smelly Himself” charm could not charm.) Many of them commented on coming back in to see us in the future. While maybe not happy with their tour organizer, they were happy with their experience in our place even if food was a long time in delivery.
Then Catrina recounted the time in her shop when she was very busy multi-tasking, preparing breakfast for a group of her overnight guests while getting other things ready for the day. Extremely unusual for her, she told us she burnt the biscuits for breakfast- not black, but overdone. (I know I’m going to be in trouble with her for writing this.)
She said she went out to her breakfast guests and started apologizing, frazzled as she was. And she took the time to engage in conversation with them and they made her slow down and sit down and eat with them (without biscuits, of course.) And Catrina said it was just a wonderful experience for both her and the guests, who have come back to stay at her Inn again despite the biscuits.
Our conversation moved on to one of the local B&B’s that none of us thought was particularly well appointed and could use some facility maintenance (paint, new furniture), but we were all aware (due to talking with customers in our shop who were guests in this B&B) how much these folks LOVE that business and as a result, the village. And we knew the reason for their intense pleasure is the personality of the proprietor of that establishment, whom all the guests just love so much because of the proprietor’s outgoing personality and attention she pays her guests.
So with these stories fresh in mind and with the clarity evoked through the Winking Owl, we realized how visitors don’t necessarily come for glitz and glitter, or night life or a large assortment of fancy shops, or even for fine cuisine (though you can usually get fine cuisine at both of our places), but what they most enjoy, and return for, is the experiences with the personalities.
We care about our visitors, and want them to have a wonderful time. We interact with them and try to have fun with them, tell them about ourselves, our wonderful village and Whitewater Valley, and learn about them- who they are, where they are from, what they do.
Yes, we also try to provide them with the best services and our products we can, but when you are outgoing, and engage personalities with them, most people recognize that despite how hard you work, sometimes stuff happens and things will not be perfect. They are quite willing to overlook things as long as we share ourselves with them.
So, in a sense, we realized, we are prostitutes, keeping our businesses alive by selling ourselves. People come for the experience. That experience is unique in Metamora because this is the only place you will find a Catrina, or a Smelly & Head Stinker, and those characters are real people who work to make visitors and guests have a great time and enjoy our unique surroundings.
Sure, there are some shops in Metamora whose proprietors do not understand this concept. But there is a growing number who do. And we’ll be here when you come to visit us.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
If you crave 24-hour drive-through McDonald’s, or having a shopping mall or Wal-Mart just minutes away on the freeway, then Metamora Indiana may not be the kind of place for you. The nearest McDonald’s is in Brookville, nine miles away, and the closest Wal-Mart is either Connersville or Greensburg- both a half-hour or more away. Traffic on Main Street in the evenings is minimal- mostly local residents taking their trucks to the firehouse to get a load of water for their wells.
If you are in Metamora, full-fledged museums and zoos require a longer drive, though our area does have a fair amount of smaller historic homes, buildings and wildlife habitats open to the public a few days a week- you just have to check their schedules to catch them open. They are loaded with fascinating historic details. Most of these places don't make any money and are staffed by volunteers. In the village of Metamora itself, if you can’t find a local history buff to talk to you about the town, you can get a flavor of the history by walking the streets and reading the historic plaques on the sides of the buildings.
Nightlife in Metamora? Well, after Grannie's Ice Cream closes in the evening, there isn't much, except on the final Friday of each month when there is an open mic night in town (either at Tom's Cabana, or at the music stage on the east end of town, depending on the weather.) And then, Max has been organizing a cruise-in on Friday nights that has been bringing in some interesting cars on Fridays. So far up to six or eight cars. If that isn't your idea of nightlife, you could go out to the Hearthstone Restaurant on the outer edge of town- they have a full bar and pretty good buffet. Beyond that, you’re going to have to settle for a nice evening walk and/or conversation alongside the 170 year old canal with a good friend or loved one.
We’ve got a local bluegrass band and we practice most Wednesday evenings about 6:00, often outside on the street. One evening we were playing on the street when some tourists spending the night in a local B&B walked up and enjoyed the music. We got to talking afterwards, and one of the tourists asked about the nightlife in Metamora. We all chuckled, and I apologized to our guests saying that we pretty much rolled up the streets at five or five thirty. The response from the visitors was “don't apologize- that's why we LIKE it here so much.” Turns out those folks were from Chicago, where they said the city never shuts down, so they like to get away to our peaceful and quiet village.
Some of us with a shop in the village would like to figure out how to draw a few more visitors to town-there's not quite enough business to pay the light and grocery bills for a full time store without some other means of support. That's why a lot of the businesses are only open on weekends.
But, to draw visitors to town, one has to describe the attraction of the village. Now those of us that live here, and the many tens of thousands of visitors that come to visit the village throughout the year, certainly are attracted by something about the place. But describing that attraction in words? That's where things start to get tough.
It’s easy to name the water-wheel-powered Grist Mill, the Ben Franklin III canal boat, and the only working wooden aqueduct in the United States. But that doesn’t come close to describing the addictive qualities in the air.
Many of us who live here refer to our attachment to Metamora and the Whitewater Valley of southeast Indiana as a 'disease'. We're 'infected' by a love for this pre-civil-war canal boat town that is hard to explain. In an attempt to find words that will describe the wonders of our valley and village to potential tourists outside the area, we did a little research by looking at some tourist magazines. It seems that most of the articles and ads trying to draw tourist to their towns focus on the Arts, Food, and Music.
Well, Metamora doesn't rank very high in any of those categories. Yet seventy-something percent of our visitors are repeat visitors, many have been coming back all their lives for a day or weekend, according to a poll done for us a few years ago by a University in Indy. Those visitors, like us residents, have difficulty describing exactly what it is that brings them back.
Last night, as my bride and I were walking back home near dusk from getting our ice cream from Grannies, we came upon and talked with a couple from Indianapolis who were spending the weekend at one of our local B&B's. They were walking down the center of Main Street, holding hands, barefoot and carrying their shoes with them, clearly enjoying the evening. One of the things we talked about was this very problem of describing the magic in the village.
The woman told us that she didn't quite understand it, but just knew how much she loved it here. She said she had a real nice, new home in Indy which she loved, but a new home lacks a depth of character. Metamora is full of character with the amazing architecture of the past. Getting away to Metamora is a perfect retreat. She said she certainly didn't come for the pristine and manicured appearance you find in many tourist towns (which is a good thing because we don't have much of that here!); She said she just really appreciates the peacefulness, natural beauty, fascinating interesting appearance of the town's buildings. She repeated that everyone is so friendly. The people who run the grist mill, the volunteers who operate the historic Whitewater Valley Railroad here in town, and all the shopkeepers.
So, to experience the “Arts”, you’ll have to satisfy yourself with Pat Ramos’s hand-cut silhouettes, or stop in the Post Office building and enjoy a number of paintings by local artists Dorothy Humbarger and a few others. For "Food", you’ll have to satisfy yourself with one of the gourmet hot dogs at the Cat and Fiddle B&B in Duck Creek Crossing or one of nearly a dozen varieties of grilled cheese Panini sandwiches at the Smelly Gourmet. And for "Music", there’s the local Baggy Bottom Boys and other acoustic music on the Final Friday open mic night.
And while all of that doesn’t seem to rise to the level of most of those ads for other larger towns in the tourist magazines, it’s only the tip of the indescribable iceberg that is the wonder and magic of being in Metamora. It’s not for everyone. But it’s our little piece of America that is very satisfying.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
When we walked in, Doris (proprietor of Jackie B’s in the old Post Office building) and Pat (Ramos, of silhouette-cutting fame- her shop is on South Main) were sitting there talking while watching Connie make waffle cones.
Grannie had already gone home, so Connie was running the place by herself, not too hard since there was not too much traffic through the shop after six o’clock.
Connie interrupted her work to serve my wife and me our ice cream, in between pulling waffle cones off the special irons she makes them on. Brenda got to talking with Doris and Pat, as I studied what Connie was doing.
Probably most people just take waffle cones for granted. Buy ‘em full of ice cream, and they taste great and crunchy all the way to the bottom of the cone. But, as I came to realize, there is a real art and skill to making great waffle cones. They are so good that we’ve had people write emails to the Metamora website asking us where they get those great waffle cones from (we tell them they’ve got to go to Grannies to get them.)
Connie was turning out about two waffle cones every two minutes, using two grills. The work station is very hot and steamy as the waffle irons are closed on fresh batter each time. I asked her how many of the cones she had to make- she said three batches was her goal today. I thought, that doesn’t sound too bad- only three batches.
|Connie and her waffle cone making art|
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
We walked down Main Street through the heart of the historic district, down to the Firehouse and then around the back of the village down Mount Street past Al and Pat’s house (the big yellow house whose historic name is the Gordon Brother’s Double Residence), where we continued on into Duck Creek Crossing past the two beautiful log cabins owned by Bonnie.
The shop in the one cabin (Brook Hollow Creations, log cabin number one) will not be opened until Labor Day, and may not open again next year, another sign of the ongoing economic shrinkage of Metamora. The other (The Red Sleigh, log cabin number two) Bonnie opens every weekend. Walking past these two fascinating, well-kept cabins caused us to count how many log cabins there were in Duck Creek Crossing. While there were no log cabins in town originally, their presence since the early 1970's are sort of a Metamora icon to many tourists. We came up with the number
Besides Bonnie’s two cabins, the next one up is Pam and Ron Colvin’s (Wood Works Etc., where they make a lot of their wood furniture) (log cabin number three), followed by Dorothy Wagner’s cabin (Country Peddlers) (log cabin number four) with her great smelling candle selection.
Number five is right next to Country Peddler’s, and I think the people who were in that shop finally gave up on business in Metamora as they had been promising to do for years. A look through the window showed it to be empty.
Number six is at the end of the row, just before the public restrooms, and is known by many as Button’s & Bow’s, a great little place full of miniatures and hand-crafted padded photo albums and other cool stuff. The three ladies that run this shop are faithfully open several days a week.
Before we got to number six, we had already passed numbers seven and eight on the opposite side of the walkway. Both are owned by Jeannie, neither is a shop and both are for sale.
We continued walking up past the Cat & the Fiddle B&B and Food/Gift Shop now run by Catrina (of great local fame, currently the Catrina of the local Baggy Bottoms Boys music group) , and Don’s long-present Wood Shack (Don is thankfully still with us after beating cancer last year) into the Duck Creek Crossing gravel parking area. Turning east in the parking lot, you find yourself staring at log cabin number nine, Angie’s delightful Serendipity Frog.
And just on the other side of the parking lot is Bob O’Rourke’s log cabin (number ten) that doesn’t look like a log cabin from the outside because of the siding now installed, but once you step inside, it is unmistakably an 1811 log cabin moved into Duck Creek in the early 1970’s from Tanner’s Creek in Dearborn County. I know a bit of the history of this cabin because it was our first shop in town eight years ago. Bob’s got the place for sale, price recently dropped to about $80K, if you’re looking for a great little shop in town. Bob’s health hasn’t been the greatest lately- his doctor just made him quit his position on the local Sewer Board. His wife, Chi, had a pretty bad fall recently, so they are both hurting lately. These two have been a significant part of the village life over their close to thirty year business presence.
As we kept walking, we passed Marc and Rachel’s place, the Metamora Country Store, now sadly closed. The bottom half of the structure looks like a log cabin (the upper half has siding) so, right or wrong, we’re counting that as log cabin number eleven.
And I almost missed number twelve- The Leather Hatchery. Rose Marie would be upset with me if I forgot them. Her hubby Dale used to work with my Dad back when they were both Air Traffic Controllers. The Hartledges are still open for business with their leather products on weekends.
Bear with me for a minute: Log cabins closed with no business in them- numbers five, seven, eight, ten and eleven. Open, at least on weekends, numbers two, three, four, six, nine and twelve. Open late in the year and probably not next year- number one.
Almost half the log cabins have no businesses in them. That’s sad. It’s also typical of the non-log-cabin buildings in the village as a whole. That’s sad also. These log cabins represent so much of our nation’s history, just like so many of the other buildings in town.
The past couple of years has been pretty rough on Metamora. We think its mostly due to a lousy economy, but for whatever the reason, tourism is down, resulting in a number of businesses closed. And that makes it even more of a challenge for those of us still here to keep the history alive. But we’ll keep at it, regardless, because we love this place, the beauty and history of the canal and railroad era, and the gorgeous Whitewater Valley. It's like a disease some of us have contracted- this places infects you to where you just love it so much. A number of Metamorons have contracted it- there doesn't seem to be a cure.
p.s.- Lest my nostalgia make anyone think the place is dead, very much the opposite is true. Besides the people already mentioned by name in this post, there are also a number of others thriving in the diminished business environment.
In Duck Creek, there is also Tom and Monica at the Fudge Shop, Janice at Kaleidosaurus, Kathy at the restaurant, Joy with a lot of handmade things and that gorgeous Lenox porcelain at the Briarpatch, Mr. Ed’s Shop, and of course the jewel of Duck Creek, the Cranberry Junction Gift Shop run by Paul and Shari.
And then on down Main Street there’s still Chris and Myrna’s Unique Creations, antique shops run by Nancy, Dave, and George and Gail train and book shop, Anne’s two shops, Donna’s fudge shop, and others. Not to mention our own shop, the Smelly Gourmet. And Doris just opened Jackie B's where Jane & Friends used to be. (It still up in the air if Tom will actually open a restaurant or juice bar where Jane's Road Less Travelled Cafe used to be- time will tell.) Can’t name ‘em all.
The big move of the year award probably goes to Grannie and Connie for moving Grannie’s Ice Cream and Cookie Jar shop into the corner stone building at Columbia Street and Lover’s Lane building recently vacated by Judy (who retired after 30+ years and closed her shop, the Lace Place, to have time to take care of her father.) They’re moving a lot of ice cream and cookie jars these days.
So there’s still a lot going on in Metamora. The State Historic Site still anchors the village by running the Grist Mill and Canal Boat. So come out and check us out.
Sunday, April 03, 2011
I suppose big towns and cities are the same way, but there are more people to go around and do the work in a large population center- and more money too. But our little village of Metamora only has a few hundred people in residence, and many of those just sleep in their quaint little historic homes, mostly on the north side of the canal.
The number of Metamora shopkeepers or business owners that are lucky enough to live in or near the town and care about keeping the history intact, and have the time or resources to actually work at it, is pretty small. Maybe 20 or 30 people. This number includes several local people who don't operate a business in the historic district, but are just as fascinated with the village, and willing to help out.
Those are the ones that make most of the plans and arrangements for the annual Metamora events throughout the year, try to keep the business directories up to date for our visitors (the tourists), get the advertising things made up, decorations put up and taken down, etc. And of course, work their own jobs or operate their own business at the same time.
So if some things aren't always perfect, you'll have to forgive us. We'll try harder next time. If we can just figure out how to re-arrange or stretch some more hours.
But I think we all do it because we think Metamora is one of the most fascinating places in the country. We certainly don't do it for money- there isn't much of that around.
Metamora is truly beautiful and unique. You can almost taste the history of a bygone era that was so important to forming our great nation. So our "little baby" is older than the civil war, but still needs a lot of care to see it flourish.
And that is why we give it our energy- we do it for love of history and the American small town.
Friday, April 01, 2011
Take internet access for example: There is no cable internet access, nor DSL or high-speed wireless. You CAN get Verizon broadband, but it works only when it feels like it, which is a lot of the time, but fails at the critical moment. As best I can figure, there must be a few of the old town ghosts that monitor people's computer usage and send out disruptive energy waves at just the right time...
Then, there is cell-phone service. None work unless you've got Verizon, so don't bother with your AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile- you get the picture.
Computers just don't seem to function well in the rarified Metamora air- I'm sure some geek could come up with a technical reason for this, but I just know it's true. Probably why a lot of local people just don't bother with them- half our locals can't even spell "PC". But then again, more modernization will just erase the term "PC" anyway as it gets replaced by "Smart Phone", another challenge for the old ghosts to take on.
Attitudes of some long-time residents are the same way- they resist modernization of such concepts as incorporation, new sewer systems, working WITH other local merchants and county officials instead of bellyaching ABOUT them.
But then again, I guess the lack of modernization is part of the charm of living here. Sure reminds of me of living in Andy Griffith's Mayberry RFD. Which really IS charming, knowing that this form of community still exists as a part of living history.
Now trying for the FOURTH time to publish this blog article from my computer throught the Verizon broadband thing.....
Monday, March 28, 2011
Many of the handful of visitors that come through Metamora during the winter ask when the "season" begins in Metamora. While there is no official "season", the best answer to the question for this year 2011 is probaby the innaugural Towpath 10K (10,000 meter) Dash that will take runners through the town (past scenes like the old canal boat pictured below) and down the Whitewater Canal Hiking/Biking Trail. More than 500 runners are expected Saturday morning, May 21, 2011, to participate in this new event sponsored by the Whitewater Canal State Historic Site.
Starting around 8 a.m., the events will include a breakfast at the Metamora Firehouse for everyone who comes (free will offering) and live music by Metamora's own Catrina and the Baggy Bottom Boys leading up to the awards presentation at the gazebo in the park.
The Grist Mill reopens for the year on April 1st, and the canal boat begins running again on May 1st, so both will be open that Saturday for all. Full of scenic images and rich in transportation history, our village welcomes back the hundreds of thousands of annual visitors that breathe life into the pleasant springtime scenery.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Friday, December 04, 2009
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Many of the remaining buildings in town constitute an amazing collection of most forms of architecture that were popular in this country in the nineteenth century. Such a variety of different architectural styles all located within a few minute’s walk of each other is rare in this country, and continues to provide great enjoyment to visitors to Metamora as they relax and wander the town, many reading the bronze plates on the buildings to learn some of the history of the building.
The shops that grew up around the historic site continue to change. Despite Metamora’s general appearance of time stopped in the mid-1800’s, the local shops have not been exempted from the ravages of a lousy economy. Many of the shopkeepers have to work weekday jobs to pay their electric and grocery bills, and thus cannot be open five or six days a week.
While there are many shops that carry some made-in-China products, visitors can see the great home-made furniture and other products in Don Buchanan’s and the Colvin’s shops. Then there is the hand sewn dishtowels next to handmade fudge in Tom and Monica’s full service restaurant, Joy Hayes’s beautifully detailed hand painted crafts, and the gorgeous hand-painted glass next to the hand-made flower arrangements in Bill and Jay’s shop. Authentic documented Native American products can be purchased at Cranberry Junction, and fine leather products are found in two shops. All of that, along with a gourmet coffee bar and another full service restaurant, and other made-in-USA items, is located within the Duck Creek Crossing shopping area of Metamora.
Other shops in Metamora today include hand-made gemstone jewelry (made while you watch on weekends) and bath and body products in the same store that wows tourists with the unique handmade wood clocks with old computer parts. There is a collection of more than 2100 cookie jars, mostly made in the USA, with a bazillion flavors of ice cream products that draws people back to town time and again. One can watch a copper-smith at work fabricating beautiful unique products. Between at least seven antique shops, (Antiques and Uncle Junques, Meeting House, Antiques and More, Martindale Hotel, Salt Creek, Banes House, and Words and Images) there is probably at least one example of every gadget ever manufactured in the last century. Gail has a huge assortment of books to suit every taste, including many vintage books. And then there’s Donna making her baked goods and fudge as tourists try free samples of the fresh –made delicious products.
In my travels up and down the east coast of the US and in Italy while I was in the service, it was my experience that many local people never realize what wonderful sightseeing treasures are hidden just outside their back door. I have no reason to believe it is much different with the residents of Franklin County with respect to the historic village of Metamora. But there are tens of thousands of our tourist visitors who keep coming back year after year who know the truth as I write it here.
In my shop, we have many times heard from older visitors to town that the atmosphere in and around Metamora today reminds them of the way Nashville, Indiana and Branson, Missouri were 25-35 years ago. That observation usually comes with a plea to keep Metamora just the way it is, avoiding the slick commercialism that has taken over those other places. This echoes the desires of many residents in Metamora.
While largely sleeping in the winter (even though there are several shops open year-round), Metamora awakens in spring and blossoms throughout the year into a colorful, vibrant, peaceful village enjoyed by many visitors from afar. While the details in the town change, the character and beauty that is the essence of Metamora remains timeless.
Friday, August 21, 2009
We have had the streets modified for a short period of time to try and envision what the town would have looked like in the 1850's with dirt roads. Upon completion, the roads will be restored to near new, but several inches lower than the sidewalk and slanted to carry away rainwater. This photo taken Friday morning (Aug 22). Work should be completed by next Friday. Come on out this weekend and enjoy the view!
Monday, August 17, 2009
This road work should dramatically help the problems of drainage forcing our town visitors to walk down the middle of the street and threats from icing of pooled water, plus stopping much of the storm water entering building basements because the streets are too high.
Please be patient- it will be an inconvenience, but only for a short time.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Metamora offers free events throughout the year. For more information visit http://www.metamoraindiana.com