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Home, Sweet (Under-Construction) Home

July 24, 2013

Home, Sweet (Under-Construction) Home

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home,” whispered Judy Garland, as the famous character Dorothy, just before she left the Emerald City for her Kansas home. After more than four weeks of road trips, I, too, was saying, “There’s no place like home”—even when one’s home is in the midst of a massive construction project. As Dorothy had Toto at her side for her fantastic travels, I had Zozo (yes, a nickname of my Leader Dog Zoe) at my side for trips to Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana, as well as to some points of interest in Wisconsin. Instead of tornadic activity, construction prompted my whirlwind of road trips.

In the last scene of the 1939 movie, Dorothy is eager to tell of her adventures, but is also quite content to be back home again. Well, in upcoming blogs, I will be sharing some of my little adventures and observations from along the Midwestern highways and rural roads. (No, I did not encounter a yellow-brick road.)

Besides being pleased to be at home again in Milwaukee, I was truly comforted to re-visit my home state of Indiana, including my hometown of Blanford. Two years had passed since I had been “Back Home Again in Indiana.” Yes, I still love that song and place. One of the few times each year when I have a twinge of homesickness is when I hear Jim Nabors’ beautifully singing the Indiana’s state song just before the start of the Indianapolis 500 race.

To me, Indiana will always be equated with home and family; but Indiana also brings to my mind a fragrance and friendliness. At a stop along the road, I first took in that special sweet smell and knew that I was truly home again. I asked my sister, Mary, if she noticed something as soon as we stepped out of the car. Immediately, she knew that I was talking about the fragrance which she and I agree is never evident in her current home state of Colorado nor in Wisconsin, Michigan, or Minnesota. Then, from places throughout our travels, the mourning dove would call us back home to those fragrant Hoosier fields and to cherished family.

Of the five states in which I have lived, I think the friendliest people reside in Indiana. The genuine friendliness and warmth of Hoosiers are among Indiana’s greatest assets. When Mary, Zoe, and I visited the small post office where my mother was
full-time postmaster for 28 and a half years, we witnessed prime examples of Hoosier friendliness earnestly demonstrated by the current postmaster (Melanie) and the patrons. After my sister and I had a nice chat with the current postmaster, bought a bunch of stamps, and enjoyed the display case of Blanford memorabilia, we said our farewells; and Melanie hugged my sister and then me. What a nice postmaster to follow in the footsteps of James Perona, Mary Massa (my mother), and Marge Natale! In my younger days, I spent so much time in the lobby of our little post office that it still seems like a part of my home. A few months ago, I called the familiar telephone number of the Blanford Post Office to check if it was still open. Despite its third-class status, the Blanford Post Office is, fortunately, still serving our hometown—eight hours a day. Being able to visit this slightly remodeled building was a treat.

In addition to the post office, we drove by our former home a few times and are enormously grateful that the family who now resides there is keeping up the property especially well. A swing is still on the big front porch, and the spot appears as peaceful and wonderful as ever. Although some places have not been kept up as well, we still enjoyed driving through this small, rural, west-central Indiana town to recall so many good moments of our lives. Slowly, we passed by the home of my paternal grandparents (the home of their later years, after they had left the farm), the homes of aunts and uncles, the Italian restaurant of my Aunt Zita, as well as the homes and fields of neighbors and friends. The huge building which once housed the grocery store and Italian bakery of my maternal grandparents and where I spent many hours of my youth sadly no longer stands. Even though we drove around the block where Jacksonville Grade School once welcomed the children of the community, the building was torn down decades ago. Just east of our home, the gob pile (left by a coal mining company before I was born) still stands; but amazingly, that hill of shale which we so enjoyed climbing to have a panoramic view of all of Blanford is now completely covered with trees and other vegetation.

As we once more left Blanford (whose population was around four hundred when we lived there), we drove from the cut-off road to highway 163 with corn fields on either side (corn much higher than knee-high by the Fourth of July), the large iron bridge whose powder blue arches soar high above Brouilletts Creek formed a striking contrast to the emerald green trees that line the creek and hillsides. No matter how many times we have crossed this iron bridge to leave our hometown, my sister and I know that we will return because “There’s no place like home.”

Best Wishes to all the Hoosiers and former Hoosiers!
Alice Massa

July 23, 2013, Tuesday


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  1. Judy was absolutely right. Great post.


    Deon Lyons Author of Sully Street Now Available in Paperback @ The Children’s Book Cellar, Downtown Waterville Also Available in Paperback and Digital at the Following Link:

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  2. Hi Alice, I like your analogy to The Wizard of Oz here. That has always been my favorite movie. I’m glad your hometown’s post office was still open after many such establishments were closed because of Budget cuts. Please keep writing. I’m looking forward to reading more on this blog.

  3. Vicky Lanzone Krider permalink

    So much fun to read your Back Home Again in Indiana blog. My brother Dale posted photos of Lanzone’s store a few days ago and it has spurred some great old memories and curiosity . Our Lanzone family ate and enjoyed many meals at your Aunt Zita’s restaurant . I knew the store was gone, but fortunately I have a piece of its history in the form of a beautiful bread basket..Glad to hear that your home is being well taken care of. …what a relief.

  4. PJ Lumb permalink

    Always enjoy your posts, Alice! There is no place like home. Thanks again for taking me back to your home. Sounds like it was a wonderful trip down memory lane, as well! Be well!

  5. Ah, more great memories, Alice, . . . and yes, I still call Indiana “home.”

  6. Spending time with our dear family and friends made the summer very special in spite of, or perhaps thanks to, the construction project!
    With love from the other half of the “Traveling Sisters”

    • Zoe and I thank you for being our chauffeur of the summer. I know that Zoe is missing her car rides. Love, A & Z

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