Milestone alert: Coffee and Chrome returns today for a 17-week run. Lots of exteriors and interiors of the swank days of restaurants. The era is roughly defined as "anything after the war up until the point where you couldn't smoke inside." It's almost a sign of spring! Because after restaurants, as we all know, it's the return of Motel Postcards, celebrating the open road, hard soap, scratchy towels and the perfume of chlorine.

I’m now a-VOIPing for reals, as they say. My wife was attached to the landline phone - not literally, sorry - because it let her cradle the receiver between jaw and shoulder, and chat and do things. This did not matter to me, since I don’t spent any serious time on the phone, and when I do, I use earbuds. I’ve no idea how it sounds on the other end, but since no one ever shouts EH? WHAT? like an old man leaning forward and swiveling his ear trumpet towards the source of the noise, I assume it’s okay.

I think most people have become more comfortable with tinnier, less instantaneous voice chats because they don’t do it much, and don’t like it. Who knew that the more advanced a cellphone became, the more it would push actual phone calls to the margin? We have the capacity to do video chats, and they’re fun and novel and so 21st century, but texting is easier than anything else.

For a while I resisted giving up the landline, because of The Emergency Situation. What if the cell towers were knocked out? What then? Why, if I had a landline, I could call all my friends, who . . . only have cellphones. I resisted the VOIP, because what would happen if the internet goes out? Neither of these things ever happen, and it’s not worth paying $$ in case they do.

When I called the phone company to cancel, the rep immediately set about knocking my bill down, because I have been a Valued Customer for so long. I always feel bad cancelling, like I’m a living, talking representation of the forces that will cause the rep to lose her job some day. Eventually she dropped the bill to $14, for a period of four months, because I am Valued, after which it would balloon again, because I am Valued but also obviously an easy mark.

Anyway, my internet is literally a land line. It’s a buried cable. It’s more protected than the phone line, which stretches over my backyard; it’s always there, even though I never think about it.

I wonder if I can get them to take it away.

This house has seen a lot. Don't know if it had a phone when it was built; big holes were drilled in the woodwork of the dining room for the thick phone cords, so I think not.

I stopped reading comics when I was no longer a callow youth, but I never stopped loving them. As you might know there’s a huge site buried in the Institute devoted to comic books of yore, mostly before my time. One of the not-inconsiderable joys of life has been seeing the Marvel universe on screen, although its trend toward empty quippy exhausting action has cooled me on the whole project. (Liked the latest Ant-Man movie, though; the scale and tone seems right.) After I stopped reading comics I still enjoyed talking about them with friends who grew up with the same stories.

Graphic novels came along, and now it was legit again. Maus, of course. The Dark Knight, which made DC cool, something we Marvel fans thought as likely as giving Galactus a wedgie. I loved the remarkable works of Chris Ware before he settled into a sullen vat of self-satisfied misanthropy and theatrical performances of self-doubt paraded on an over-lit stage. (I’ll still be interested in what he does in the future, though.) I also became interested in old old old comics, the strips of the Teens and 20s, and I’m surprised to find myself as the Nation’s Expert on Jerry on the Job, which does not pay as much as you’d expect.

What I didn’t read was comic books. I don’t see why I should; I’m not 17. But I did get interested in “Comicsgate,” because all of these social-issue fractures in pop culture are illustrative of the times. When one of the critics of the direction of modern comics rolled out a kickstarter to produce his version of what he thought the medium should do, I backed it. It arrived in the mail the other day.

It’s about disgraced superheroes who form a mercenary group and end up in the jungles of Africa fighting an enormous monkey full of gold and jewels.

About four pages in, I thought: I love this. I missed this. I'm still not going to go back to reading comics, though.

Then again, I wonder what this was like.



Gwen Stacy's death was the early-70s version of Luke I Am Your Father; no one saw it coming, and it ripped up your expectations of the genre. Main characters didn't die. IIRC, right before that, her dad, a policeman, had died when Doc Ock threw some bricks on him, and his parting words let Spiderman know Capt. Stacy had known his Secret Identity all along. This was heady stuff. We loved it.

Why wouldn't Mexicans accept it?












Fargo-sized, at least by my estiation of these things. Sixty-plus thou, which is a perfect size for a town - big enough for intra-city rivalries and old buildings o substance downtown.

Indiana has some old towns, and this is one; dates back to 181. Midwestern, but of the easterly variety.

Any doubt what this is?

The courthouse AND the jail; one stop shopping. Second Empire style. But what’s next door?

It’s the historical museum now, but don’t you suspect it was once an important civic building in its own right? You’re right : the old Sheriff’s resident.

All the fashion once. Addams-Family cliche today.

Courthouse Square is the area around, well, you know. It’s historic, but some buildings have been touched, shall we say, by the rude hand of modern tastes:

Who built it?

It’s tough, but searching for “AYLOR,” which was all I could make out for certain, yielded CAYLOR, which indeed was the store that occupied the ground floor.

That’s . . . interesting.

Times must have been good when you could give up that much rentable space.

I can’t resist the old neon::

From their website:

The first tavern opened in the new J.L. Evans Building. The tavern benefitted from nearby railroad traffic and it offered lodging on the upper floors. The building has always been used as a tavern except during the years 1909 to 1933 when alcohol sales were prohibited by the government. Walter Carey and Sid Gill opened Syd's in 1945 and installed the locally famous shuffleboard game in the middle of the bar. They also coined the familiar Syd's catch-phrase "Howdy Bub".

Nearby railroad traffic, eh?


Let’s go back to street level, and see if there are any signs of a station - whoa.


Indy Star:

It’s been the talk of the courthouse square for three weeks.

The old-fashioned, 70-foot-long passenger rail car just seemed to appear one night, with no explanation, between a couple of restaurants and a dry cleaner in the heart of downtown. It doesn't pick up any passengers, and no one gets on or off. But there it sits, on the Nickel Plate tracks at 8th and Logan streets, and few people know why.

As it turns out, the 1929 passenger car is on loan to the Nickel Plate Express, but the train operator doesn't have anywhere to put it just yet. So railroad officials decided to park it in the safest place they could think, a busy downtown intersection, but out of the way of auto traffic.

You know a form of transportation has fallen out of the public imagination when people cross the trakcs without looking or caring.

Well, that’s . . . an interesting way to do it.


What are the K of P?

The Knights! The Knights who say Pythias!

The Knights of Pythias is a fraternal organization and secret society founded in Washington, D.C., on 19 February 1864. The Knights of Pythias was the first fraternal organization to receive a charter under an act of the United States Congress. It was founded by Justus H. Rathbone, who had been inspired by a play by the Irish poet John Banim about the legend of Damon and Pythias. This legend illustrates the ideals of loyalty, honor, and friendship that are the center of the order.

This might be one of the most mystifying small town Main Street buildings I’ve ever seen.

The bricked-up windows look as if they’ve always been bricked up. If they weren’t, that was one hell of an expanse of glass.

Leonard had every reason to be proud.

It’s a solid thing, with those little touches on top to provide a bit of . . . whimsy? No. Grace? No. Delicacy? Perhaps.

I love these. If humankind was wiped out by a plague, and a few decades later aliens landed, they might conclude that this was the Roman Embassy.

That presumes a lot of anthropomorphic assumptions about aliens and what they would figure out. Anyway, I think the reason I went to Noblesville in the first place was a plate I found in an old architectural mag.


The interior:


A great place to wear a fez and send a confused time-traveling girl back to the future, if you ask me.

If you got that reference, feel free to preen in the comments. ;)

That'll do. It's Thursday! The best day of the week! If my column's done on Wednesday. Which it isn't. Yet.





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